Sunday, July 22


It is official - I have finally been to Canada's westernmost province and can put my total at 6.  The east continues to elude me.  Living out here does have some perks.  I always thought the first place in BC I would explore would be Vancouver; from what I hear, a city after my own heart.  But Kelowna is an 11 hour drive away and Vancouver is 15 so on taking a 4 day weekend still meant that Kelowna was more reasonable in the car.  Otto joined the adventure along with former-red-deer-roommate and another friend.

The drive through the mountains was beautiful.  Even if I napped for a small portion of it.  The long highway is full of attractions to entertain the weary traveler including a mining ghost town, a dairy farm with 30+ flavours of ice cream, a creepy enchanted forest and, the best attraction of all, goats on a ramp.  Unsuspecting travelers are lured to the Log Barn with promise of candy and beef jerky.  Little did they know they would end up spending their quarters on goat feed.  When the goats see humans anywhere near the gumball machine corn dispensers they climb up a ramp to await the treat.  The corn goes in a cup and the goat must turn a bicycle tire attached to a pulley to bring the treat two stories up to its trough.  Brilliant goats!

As for the city of Kelowna itself - it tries hard.  It sits on a lovely lake, has a few trendy little shops and has a significant number of public sculptures/art pieces.  Even with all this the city lacks character, something hard to overcome by newer centres.  Oh well - people aren't going to Kelowna for the town they are going for the 38 degree weather, sunshine, boating and, of course, the wine.  Not that I really like wine but there are tours of wineries every day with tastings.  A few of them are a little hinky.  For example - Summerhill Winery differentiates itself with a 1/8th replica of the Cheops pyramid in Egypt.  The belief is that the sacred shape of the pyramid channels positive energy so they store the wine inside.  Their claims include that people in a blind taste test choose, at a rate of 82%, the wine stored in the pyramid against the exact same wine stored in their "normal" cellar.  Of course, my first questions would be about the storage condition of the control
 wine.  But I digress.  I could have stayed inside that pyramid for hours but that was likely due to the temperature differential and not the result of the massive quartz crystal on the ceiling.  Besides the hokey pokey I also learned that I like gewurztraminer and reisling - so I prefer the Germans.

We also did the apparently obligatory tour of the Mission Hill winery, one of the largest in the region.  The wine here was also stored underground and included the personal pottery collection of wine holding vessels as old as 5000 BCE.  In a group of about 12 people we ranged from a snooty quebecois man who really knew his wine and engaged in all of the less flattering wine tasting practices.  For those of you not in the know, it is acceptable to slurp wine and also good form to spit it into the pail provided instead of deigning to actually drink any.  On the other side of the spectrum were two couples from (of course) Edmonton.  The wine tour must have been a last minute decision because the females of the group (somewhere in their mid-20s) were wearing sandals with thick, colourful fuzzy socks.  One member had taken what used to be a skirt with an elastic waist, hiked it up to her chest and tried to pass it as a dress.  We may have been fooled if the slit didn't hit near her belly button and reveal her "juicy" underwear.  At least the dress partially covered the naked woman tattooed on her chest because that would have been tacky.

Other stops on the Kelowna tour included Carmelis goat cheese factory.  A small place on someone's property with over 20 flavours of goat's milk gelato.  And all you can eat waffles at The Jammery wasn't so bad.  But one of the best parts of the trip, since I was out-voted for couch surfing, was visiting with some locals who happened to be the aunt and uncle of one of our troop.  We sat in the backyard for hours and consumed cherries right off of their trees.  Cherries RIGHT. FROM. THE. TREE.  That's the life.

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