The weather here in BC has finally turned. The rain has been replaced with hot, hot, heat. To celebrate, I took Friday off and headed off to the Okanagan Valley with Emily. The plan was to camp, enjoy the beaches, tour some wineries, and visit my sister in Vernon, but we hit a few snags along the way.
The trip started out good. We were out of Vancouver by 10 am and the highways were clear once we past Abbotsford. The drive into the Interior is really nice – great views of mountains and lakes. Although I wouldn’t want to drive it in anything but perfect conditions – too many steep hills and windy curves.
Friday: Nowhere To Pitch a Tent
The first snag was when we hit the campground on Okanagan Lake. They were full already. We didn’t have reservations, but were hoping we would arrive early enough to secure an unreserved spot. No such luck. The campsite operator informed us the nearest campsite open would be out near Vernon, an hour drive away. I found some phone numbers in a camp guide, and started calling camp grounds, but everyone was already full. Plan B: a hotel room in Penticton. Even that was hard to come by, but we found one.
We settled into our hotel room and walked down to the beach for some relaxation. The beaches in Penticton are fabulous (especially the south one on Skaha Lake). Great sand, shade trees on the beach, clear shallow water for 100 meters, and these fun water slides.
Saturday morning, we hit the local farmer’s market, loaded up on fresh cherries and other food, and then went out to tour some of the wineries. I couldn’t believe how many wineries how sprouted in the Okanagan Valley. We had a list of 10 recommended ones, but there must have been at least 70 within an hours drive of Penticton.
Saturday: One More For the Road
The first winery we hit was Dirty Laundry – an odd name for a winery I thought. I’ve never been to a winery before, so I didn’t really know what to expect. Dirty Laundry was a smaller winery, although they were rapidly expanding. They had the nicest outdoor patio of any of the wineries we saw and they invited us to have a picnic on it if we wanted, although we weren’t hungry at the time. They didn’t have any tours, but they said we could wander around on our own. So we hiked through the vineyards a bit. I wandered down a steep hill to take a picture of a railroad track, and managed to trample through a cactus bush, which decided to lodge itself on my shoe and in my leg. Ouch! We went back to the bar area and sampled their wine selection, and bought a dry white Gewürztraminer that we liked.
Next winery, Sumac Ridge. They had actually had an organized tour here, but our tour guide was useless, a fact she kept pointing out to us. But we did get to see the inner workings of the wine making process, even if she couldn’t explain any of it. We bought a bottle of sparking wine and a port-like wine called Pipe, which tasted like chocolate.
Next stop on the wino march, La Frenz, which was pretty disappointing. We hammered back the sample wines, bought a bottle of Merlot, and jumped back in the car.
Our final stop before we were wined out was Hillside Estate. They had a really neat setup for tasting, and the server’s were really informative. We were told that their Muscat Ottonel wine was one of a kind in Canada because the owner had smuggled the vine from the Czech Republic illegally. Of course we bought a bottle along with a Cabernet Franc.
We were planning to hit Mission Hill on the way up to Vernon on Sunday, it has a a really amazing complex. But Sunday was a bit of a disaster.
Sunday: What The $@&*! Did I Eat?
I woke up at 2:30 in the morning dreaming that I was sick. Turned out it was more than a dream, and I had to empty my stomach in the toilet. I drank some water, ate some bread, and went to bed. Rinse and repeat at 3:30, 4:30, 5:30, and 6:30. At 7:30, I woke up queasy but managed to keep my stomach from doing backflips. I had also stopped eating at 5:30 since it was obvious none of it was staying down. I called a medical hotline, and a friendly nurse told me to keep hydrated and visit a walk-in clinic. Emily picked up some gravel for me and at 11 we went to see a doctor. He thought it was food poisoning, but since we couldn’t pin point a cause (no eggs or meat Saturday night) he thought it could have been another stomach infection. Either way, nothing to do but stay hydrated and wait for a few hours to eat simple food.
I still don’t know what caused the food poisoning. The only thing I can think of is I might of picked up some uncooked meat juices from spatula I used when we barbequed veggie burgers on Saturday night. It’s weird because Emily didn’t get sick, although she wasn’t feeling great on Sunday.
The other pleasant surprise Sunday morning was the dent in the bumper of our rental car that someone left for us. It looks like the insurance from my TD Gold Visa will cover everything with zero deductible, but it’s still a hassle dealing with insurance companies.
We still managed to drive up to Vernon to see Kelsey, and hang out with her and Matt on the beach for a few hours. I wasn’t in much shape to socialize though, and spent most of the time curled up in a ball in the shade. I do think seeing Kelsey put me in better spirits though, because on the way to Vernon I had my head in a plastic bag, but afterwards I was feeling much better.
The drive back sucked. Luckily, Emily was a trooper and did most of the driving without any complaints. We saw 4 accidents, 3 between Vernon and Kelowna that made a 30 minute drive almost 2 hours. 2 were really nasty looking headon collisions, and we also saw the charred remains of a burnt out semi closer to Merritt – it looked post-appocolyptic.
I’m feeling much better now. I even played Ultimate on Monday, even tough I was barely eating solid food. I did manage to roll my ankle though, so I probably should have just watched. But we tied one game and won the other, our best night of the season, so it was worth the personal sacrifice.