It seemed a shame to leave our peaceful lakeshore cabin early this morning, but as we had a long way to travel today, we didn’t have much choice. Nonetheless, we found time to stop and drink a cup of coffee by the lake before we left.
We kept clear of the highways today wherever possible, and found ourselves interesting back roads to travel along. In a country the size of Canada, the most readily available maps show only the major roads, so find a more interesting route is usually a combination of luck and perseverance. We did pretty well, only hitting the occasional dead end, and found ourselves some good routes that wound along the hillside, looking down onto the lake.
Our most interesting road of the day was a single track gravel road, with the sign “no winter maintenance”, which more or less means “enter at your own risk”. We decided to chance it, and found ourselves on a bumpy, potholed track that clung to the edge of the hillside, with a steep drop on the driver’s side down to the lake. Whilst I clung to the steering wheel, and tried to keep us on the road, with tires intact, Grandmere offered the usual, not particularly reassuring commentary appropriate to these occasions – “I hope we don’t meet anyone”, “I hope we don’t have to turn around”. Believe me, I had no plans of either backing up or trying to make a three-point turn up there! When we finally emerged at the other end of the road, I was glad of a “put your foot down and go” drive along the highway for a while.
We made a couple stops along the way – first at a desert information centre near to Peachland, and later at a lakeside bird hide, near to Oliver. We didn’t find many birds at the latter, though we met an interesting gentleman of Ukranian origin, who, finding Grandmere resting on a bench, stopped for a chat.
This whole area is a mixture of sage bush filled desert and rich farming land. Our route took us through the wineries and orchards, and thanks to all the blossom, I sneezed my way through the countryside. We stopped in Oliver at the Burrowing Owl winery, for a tasting and some lunch, which we ate on the restaurant’s balcony, enjoying the sun and the view over the vineyards.
After lunch we found some more backroads, through farm land and wineries, until we ended up in a small town called Keremeos.
Driving through a section of road side stalls, I was amazed to see stall with clogs hanging up. I stopped, looked more closely, and did a double take. The stall had everything Dutch, and then some… Gouda cheese, clogs, Delft blue “stuff” (both china and tack), herring, smoked eel, and a shelf full of Indonesian cooking ingredients, reminiscent of the Albert Heijn. The crowning glory, though, was a section dedicated to drop (nasty licorice sweets, which come in many varieties, and are much loved by the Dutch). I got chatting to the owner – a Dutch lady in her eighties, and she told me that she imports a container of produce from The Netherlands each month. Even, and here she waved a copy at me, the Aller Hande, the free magazine produced by the Albert Heijn supermarket. How many readers it has locally, I wouldn’t like to guess!
Further along the road, we climbed back up into the mountains, and slowly the landscape began to transform into something familiar – mountains, creeks and forests – it was beginning to look like Vedder country. Aside from a few trucks, the road through the mountains was quiet, and we were able to enjoy a last couple hours of peaceful scenic driving. It was some time since Grandmere had last driven along those roads, and she marvelled at the improvement in the road quality since her day. I can imagine that these windy mountain roads were quite sporty 50+ years ago.
At Hope the road rejoined the Trans Canada Highway and we sped long to the Vedder. Although I don’t consider that our trip is officially over until we reach New Westminster, this really felt like the end point – back on familiar territory and in rush hour traffic.