Leaving Golden to start our journey back home we had a choice of a few different routes. Option 1 – return the way we came, was ruled out very easily (Dad has taught me well), leaving us with the choice of a long journey south via Cranbrook and then heading west, or returning via Revelstoke and then heading south along the Upper Arrow Lake, and then west through the Okanagan.
We decided to take the second of these options as it was a little shorter and looked to be quite interesting. The first hour or so didn’t get us very far on our way home, as I wanted to show Grandmere the Blaeberry valley, which I’d seen on my way up to our wolf walk, and was very scenic. Up in the valley, surrounded by farm land, you would hardly know that you were barely any distance from the Trans Canada Highway, it felt like another world altogether.
Once we hit Revelstoke, we decided to stop for lunch. By that time we were officially back on Pacific Time, so it was really only 11.30 am, a little early for lunch, but as the last major town before we headed south, it seemed a good idea to make the break there.
Leaving Revelstoke we headed south along the Upper Arrow Lake. The road winds along the west side of the lake for some distance, until Shelter Bay, and then drops you at a small ferry. Unlike the Trans Canada, which had been fairly busy, we barely saw any other cars during our trip along the lake. A fact which Grandmere was to comment on repeatedly throughout the day.
We had a half hour wait for the ferry, sitting with our books and enjoying the sunshine, before making the 30 minute journey across the lake. Leaving the ferry, we had our moment of great excitement for the day – a bear sighting by the side of the road! Looked to be a young grizzly, but driving along at 100 km/h, it was hard to get a good look.
About an hour further down the lake, we encountered the second ferry of the day, and were lucky enough to arrive just as it was loading up. In fact, this second ferry, crossing over to Needles, was a cable ferry, and the journey took only 5 minutes. I guess we wouldn’t have had to wait long, even if we missed it.
Once we left this ferry, we also left the lake behind, and climbed up into the Monashee mountains. For quite some time we traveled on winding roads, hugging the cliff edge (cue Grandmere: “it’s a looong way down”), and climbing back into snowy pine forests. This was a very slow section, with speed limits often dropping down to 40 or 50 km/h on the bends. Finally, we slowly dropped down into the valley again and enjoyed the views of lush farming landscape until we reached the busier centre of Vernon.
After a peaceful day on quiet roads, the increased traffic wasn’t too appealing so we kept driving, through Vernon, and on through Kelowna. Grandmere’s memories of Kelowna were of a small, pretty town, but from what we saw, those days are long gone. The drive through Kelown along Route 97 brought us along mile after mile of strip malls, and I think we spotted every fast food outlet in Canada.
We continued to Peachland, a small town on the side of Lake Okanagan, and found ourselves accommodation for the night – a cute little cabin on the lake shore. A little fancy, perhaps, for a single night stay, but well worth it. After 10 hours of driving, my hips had completely seized up, and I was glad of finding a quiet place to rest. Whilst Grandmere hadn’t been able to hear all the traffic passing by our last motel, I had certainly been aware of it!