Monday, June 18, 2012

Kamloops to Okanagan Valley

The drive from Kamloops to surrounding areas and then down the Okanagan Valley presented many interesting stops and beautiful scenery.

In Craigellachie, B.C. we visited the location of "The Last Spike" marking the completion of the transcontinental railway used by the Canadian Pacific Railway to link Canada from east to west.  I was disappointed not to be able to tell which was the actual last spike in the tracks (not sure if I expected it to be painted gold or something!) so I took a picture of an arbitrary spike and designated that one to be the "last one" for my memories.  We did take the obligatory photo simulating the historic hammering in of the last spike but it looked pretty silly since we didn't have an actual hammer to hold.

Near Revelstoke, B.C. resides the Three Valley Gap Heritage Ghost Town, consisting of historic buildings and artifacts dating as far back as the 1890s.  The contents for this "town" were lovingly found and collected from across interior British Columbia by owner Gordon Bell, whose goal was to preserve the heritage of the area.  In some cases, he had entire buildings dismantled from their original locations and reassembled on his property.

The resultant town is quite complete with all the necessities of life at the turn of the century including a  dentist, apothecary, general stores, tobacco store, saloon, school house, church, hotel, and even a sheriff's office and jail.  It is like taking  a step back in time.  I liked the barber shop where you could sit and have a beer, shoot the breeze and play checkers while you wait your turn.

There is a railway roundhouse with beautiful flooring that houses a collection of steam locomotives and coaches.  Some of them included sleeper beds and even sinks and toilets within a compartment.   Of note were the Ghost Train, decked out with spooky Halloween fright items, and the Governor General's coach that carried Pierre Trudeau through B.C. in summer of 1982 while he was on vacation.  Trudeau made a rude gesture at protestors who met him in Salmon Arm, B.C., which has since been named as the "Salmon Arm Salute".  This train contained not only bedrooms and bathrooms, but even full sitting rooms. 

Passing through Armstrong, B.C., we found the quirky and charming Log Barn which includes a gift and souvenir shop selling jams, mustards, candy, pies and pastries, Mennonite sausages, cheese and more, as well as a fruit stand and a children's play area.

But the best attraction in the Log Barn and possibly the highlight of our trip was Dave's Goat Walk.  There is a pen full of goats with a ramp that leads up to an overhead walkway.  At each end of the walkway is a pulley with a tin cup attached to it.  For 25 cents, you can buy corn feed to put in the cup.  The goats are trained to turn a wheel to haul it up so they can eat the feed.  Like Pavlov's dogs, these goats are so well conditioned that they actually follow you across the walkway as you head towards the corn dispenser and start pulling up the cup before you even have a chance to put in the food.  We played with these goats until we ran out of quarters.

We pushed onward to Penticton in anticipation of seeing the sculpture of the mythical Ogopogo lake monster, just to find out that it was actually in Kelowna!  But I got the next best thing, which is a photo of  me with a huge Ogopogo holding an ice cream in front of a gelato store.   In the heart of the downtown area, a memorial to "Shanghai Alley" pays tribute to the congregation of male Chinese immigrants who settled in Penticton to run restaurants and dry cleaners.  Today it has been transformed to a graffiti alley much like the one in Toronto.

In addition to an interesting main street, Penticton also has a beautiful waterfront with sandy beaches and a paved walkway following the path of shores of Lake Okanagan.  A playful, joyous bronze sculpture called Romp created by Singapore sculptor Chong Fah Cheong sits on rocks at the western end of the waterfront and depicts three children frolicking by the water.  Even though it was a drizzly afternoon, we still appreciated this scenic area and envied the beautiful homes that faced this view.

The town of Osoyoos marks the end of the Okanagan Valley and represents the last major town before crossing the border to the USA.  We stayed overnight in a beautiful motel that had a private beach with canoes and kayaks, beach volleyball and tennis courts.  In better weather and with more time, this would have been a nice place to stay a few days.  Too bad we were just there to stay overnight, and although it was supposed to be a desert, it was pouring rain as we arrived.  In fact, we felt like the rain gods throughout our vacation, bringing inclement weather with us wherever we went.  I'm sure Osoyoos was happy to see us leave the next morning as we continued our trek towards Seattle.  In fact, I think I saw the sun peeking out from the clouds as we drove away.

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