Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Cottage Time

Going to a cottage or "camp" as we called it in NW Ontario, has always been my favourite summer vacation. When my parents drove across Canada from Whitby in 2010, we decided it would be a great way to show them another beautiful area of BC without going too far afield.  It was almost three years ago, but with summer on it's way I thought I'd post about it and add to your summer vacation idea list.

We found a nice little cottage on Paul Lake about fifteen miles from Kamloops.  It went by the name of "Hidden Gem" on the Cottages in Canada website. If you follow the link you can see they're renting it for $150 a night, which is a pretty good rate when you throw three families into it. We had six adults, one child and one dog, and lived quite comfortably in the two bedroom cottage for four days and three nights.  One bedroom was large, with two double beds and a pull out sofa, the second had one double bed.

We loaded our kayaks onto our little red truck and drove up Highway 97 Friday afternoon with Pitou on my lap and my parents following behind in my dad's caddie.  My sister, her hubby and daughter drove up from the coast in their big black truck with the four wheeler in the back and joined us later in the day.

It was an enjoyable two and half hour drive from Kelowna that took us through Vernon and Kamloops with  lovely scenery along the way.

The description said there was a beach but if there was, it was submerged.  It was lake-front however, with a narrow road between the cottage and the water.  There was a private dock and a boat that you had to rent on top of the cost of the cabin.  Though you couldn't tell from the online photo, there were many cottages along this road with very little space between them.  This didn't turn out to be a problem though, in terms of privacy and noise.  Even when we were all out on deck we couldn't see our neighbours and noise wasn't an issue. 

Hidden Gem is the blue cottage in the middle.

There was no shortage of things to do, with fishing being a popular choice.

There was fishing from the dock,

fishing from the kayak,

and fishing from the boat

There were lots of four-wheeling trails not far up the road.

We saw some lovely sunsets, and there were lots of critters and birds to observe.

Swimming was also an option but I don't think anyone was brave enough to do more than dip a toe in.  The lake was still a little chilly.

The deck got a fair bit of sun and bit of shade which made it a great place to catch up on family news and take in the view.  We also had a visit with family friends who live in Kamloops.  It was a treat to see Mr. and Mrs. McKenzie who had been great family friends in Sioux Lookout.  Their daughter had been one of my closest friends and their son was my first crush.  Ah memories!

One of the highlights for me was mornings spent on the dock with my niece.

The hike I took with my husband, and our dog one morning to the top of Gibralter Rock was another high point, pun intended.  It was challenging but well worth the effort.  

The view from the 900m elevation was spectacular and the boys were exhausted after their efforts.

For the golf enthusiast, Tobiano Golf Course is about a half hour drive from Paul Lake.

All too soon it was time to pack up the toys and head back to the city.  It was a memorable vacation with something for everyone and I'd highly recommend it for you and your family.

I thought Paul Lake was a great location but I don't think I would rent the Hidden Gem cabin again.  Upon arrival were surprised to discover two resident cats along with a note that asked us to feed them from a bin of food they supplied.  My brother-in-law has a cat allergy and though the owner insisted it was in the description, most of us had visited the website before we decided which cottage to rent and nobody had noticed any mention of cats.   

Though the place was relatively clean when we arrived, the bathroom was a bit mildewy and grimy in spots and the barbe-cue was filthy, despite the requirement that the renters were to clean everything before leaving or forfeit the $100.00 cleaning deposit.  It seemed the previous renters didn't follow through.  

I didn't mind giving a cleaning deposit but I was very frustrated to note that when we returned home the cheque had still not been cashed, though they had cashed the cheque for the rental.  When I contacted her to suggest that she just destroy the cheque and we call it even, she refused, despite the fact that she had already been to the cottage and concluded we'd done a good job cleaning. It took several days for her to cash the cheque, and then another week or two and some harassment from me, before I received a cheque in the mail in the correct amount.  She claimed it had to be that way for bookkeeping purposes, but it seemed rather odd to me.  You  may not have issues with any of this but I thought I should give a full report on our experience.

For those with tents, there's a provincial park with a campground on the north side of the lake.  There is some sort of resort on the east side of the lake (pictured below) but I can't seem to find it online,  and there are other cottages for rent in the area.

Friday, May 17, 2013

To Market, to Market

On Mothers Day weekend, my daughter and  I visited the Kelowna Farmers' and Crafters' Market.  I was surprised to see how much produce is available already.  The more often I visit, the more I realize how lucky we are to have such a great little market.

Playing for "potoato golf" for the chance to win cash prizes of 50 and 60 dollars.

If you'd like to see a few more shots of the market check out my daughter's recent post on Young Love.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Kuiper's Peak

If you're looking for a short hike with some great views and a variety of terrain, I recommend a visit to Kuipers Peak in Kelowna's south slopes.  It's a short trip up Lakeshore Road, left on Barnaby, then straight up Southridge.  Blue signs do a fairly good job directing you the rest of the way.

The first part of the hike is a climb up, along, and over the ridge that provides the park's front boundary.  Spring is a great time to hike through this area.  The greenery is lush and these snowy bushes have a subtle sweet scent proving a softening contrast to the craggy coral terrain.

Once at the top you're rewarded with lovely vistas up and down Okanagan Lake.

Since my last visit they've extended the trail down into the valley just before what I would imagine is some sort of utility building. 

As you have probably figured out, this area is recovering from a wildfire.  Just east of Okanagan Mountain this park was devastated by the 2003 fire.  Still I find beauty in the sooty black trunks with spidery legs that alternately stretch towards the sky and curve to the earth, swallowed up by patches of Oregon grape, fluffy wildflowers and sunny clumps of balsamroot.

To be honest the above photos were not taken along the main trail.  There is a path less travelled that angles down the slope and meanders through the fallen logs and wildflowers, eventually merging with the path pictured below.

Looking back on the trail I didn't follow.



I was pleasantly surprised to discover this little pond at the bottom of the trail.  The Ponds development dedicate Kuiper's Peak Park to the City a few years ago.  It's the first phase of a planned  eleven kilometres of linear park that I will look forward to investigating as it develops.  For now, if your looking for a lovely short hike head up to Kuiper's Peak and discover how a forest recovers naturally from fire.