Thursday, June 30, 2011

Myra Canyon Walkabout

Myra Canyon trestle
Thankyou Travelin' Pat for sharing your experience at Myra Canyon.

An engineering marvel not to be missed is only 18 km from the city of Kelowna.  I’m referring to the Myra Canyon trestles. Built between 1910 and 1915 the trestles are part of the legendary Kettle Valley Railroad.

In Aug 2003 a bolt of lightning hit the ground at Squally Point on Okanagan Lake and a fire swiftly spread up the hill and then raged out of control, first burning over 200 homes in Kelowna, then on into Okanagan Mountain Park.  By the time the fire was extinguished several weeks later 12 trestles were destroyed and 2 were damaged.  History gone up in smoke.

Evidence of the fire still apparent
Rebuilt in 2005 they are now available for all to enjoy.

A tunnel on the Myra Canyon Trail
One of the tunnels along the way

Along the way we drove past the posh Gallagher’s Canyon Golf course then made our way into what felt like ever-increasing wilderness. The car bumped and jounced along the dirt washboard road and at one point a gorgeous, healthy looking black bear bounded onto the road, skidded to a stop, took a good look at us then hot footed it back into the bush.  Now we really felt like we were on a mini wilderness adventure!

Looking down towards Kelowna

Track Bed for walking and cycling
We strolled along the track bed awed by the breathtaking views and the truly impressive engineering feat.  The information station gives you the skinny on the fire and the wildlife and the track bed is wide and relatively smooth making it easy to bike ride or hike.  Strategically located benches are situated for folks to sit and take in the view, which stretches all the way down to the city and Okanagan Lake, the reported home of Ogopogo, but that’s another story.

Typical Okanagan mountain view
Make your base at at Kelowna Vacation Rental when you explore the Myra Canyon trail.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Penticton Car Show Shines - Peach City Beach Cruise 2011

Penticton Lakeshore Drive was teeming with action this weekend.  There were cars everywhere and not just any old cars; they were sensational, beautiful, fantastic, amazing colorful vehicles of all types!  There were hot rods and Chevies, Mustangs and Daimlers, cars from the 20s and 30s plus super modern ones I have never seen or heard of.  Not being a car buff myself I could only stare openmouthed at the sheer numbers of them and marvel at the artistry required to get these old things into that pristine condition.  Wow!  You don’t have to be an expert to know these cars were the cream of the crop. 

My favourite novelty entry was a chevy which had been decked out with an A & W tray at the window and The Great Root Bear mascot sporting his bright orange jersey in the passenger seat. A wave of nostalgia hit me as I remembered those carefree days of the 50s with hoop skirts, saddle oxfords, real milkshakes and drive in movies.

One of the cars was black and had doors that opened like bat man wings about to take off, while others were bright orange, baby blue, lime green and oh yes, one called the Pink Panther with guess who as the driver?

The street was packed with enthusiastic looky loos and the atmosphere upbeat and energetic along with the help of some great music.  Bonus….the sun was shining.

Between Elvis roaming the streets and these marvelous classic cars crawling around, Penticton was surely the place to be this weekend.
This is an annual event so think about reserving accommodations now so you won’t be disappointed in 2012.
For more information about this event visit the Peach City Beach Cruise Website

Monday, June 27, 2011

Penticton Elvis Festival 2011 - 10th Anniversary

Sitting at Starbucks lost in a daydream, at the edge of my mind I honest to god thought I saw Elvis.  Of course I knew he had died a long time ago but I could have sworn …..  Snapping out of it I sipped my Grande chi tea latte and darned if I didn’t see Elvis again just a few minutes later!  Woweee was I losing it?  Well guess what?  I DID see Elvis and not just one… I saw lots of them!  It’s that time of year in Penticton…The Elvis Festival is alive and well!

My friend Julie and I, folding chairs in hand trooped down to the event, grabbed the best spot we could and settled in for what would prove to be a delightful “blast from the past” music experience.  The tunes were so familiar and I found myself humming away toe tapping and whopping after each Elvis performance.  These guys are dedicated and talented performers who take their Elvis impersonations seriously.  They are judged on things like stage presence, costumes, singing ability and how much they actually sound and seem like Elvis. The festive atmosphere was very evident and the crowd sang along, beat time with their feet, waved their arms and cheered enthusiastically when a particularly good Elvis belted out a popular oldie.

The guy beside us, David from Cranbrook was a dyed in the wool Elvis fan and filled us in on some Elvis info.  For example: Did you know that Elvis made 31 movies and 2 documentaries?  We were curious to know if the various costumes worn by the performers where actually ones that Elvis would have worn. The answer was yes.  Apparently in the 50s Elvis wore red jackets because he was into Karate at the time and this was a nod to that.  Then in the 60 s it was black leather (must have been his bad boy stage!) and finally in the 70 s he wore his oh so famous white jumpsuits.  David shared many more tidbits of Elvis trivia that only a dedicated fan would take the trouble to learn.

Contestants come from all over the United States, Canada and  other parts of the world to compete in this very popular festival.  This year we were treated to a pro from Australia named Mark Anthony, who apparently has wowed audiences in many countries and was rated top performer by our new friend David. (see video clip below)
When it was time to gather up our things and leave, we both agreed that it was a fun albeit surreal experience even though we are not anywhere close to being Elvis “fans”.  It is amazing that this “King of Rock” as he is called, can be so revered years after his death.
Elvis died on Aug 16, 1977 at only 42 years old.  Judging by the turnout at the Penticton Elvis Festival he left legions of enthusiastic fans in his wake.
This year was the 10th Anniversary of the Penticton Elvis Festival.

For more information visit the Penticton Elvis Festival website.

Don’t forget to book your Penticton Vacation Rental early for the 2012 Festival.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Ogopogo - The Okanagan's Most Elusive Resident

Today's blog post is by our guest writer Travelin' Pat.  Thanks Pat for a great story.

Last night I dreamed I saw Ogopogo.  He looked just the same as he looked when I was a kid. (I should be honest here; I have never actually seen him live) I guess unlike me he never sags or bags or gets all withered up with age.  Lucky guy… Funny, I always think of him as a guy, and always think of him as being all-alone.  You never hear about seeing Ogopogo with his family or friends.  Anyway, I digress.  It was early morning and sunny out and I was perched on him like I was riding a horse.  Regally sitting  between his second and third hump I felt like a sea priestess as we were smoothly cruising down the lake.  At the end of the ride he gently took me to shore, let me off and elegantly glided away. 
Ogopogo Statue at City Park, Kelowna BC
Indian Legend has it that before the white man arrived there was this lake monster with a serpent like body living in Okanagan Lake.  Cool.  His home base is supposed to be just around Rattlesnake Island somewhere but apparently he travels around quite a bit.  I wonder if it is a cave condo or what.  I once stayed in a cave hotel in Turkey and it was great! 
Anyway back in the day I think he was supposed to be pretty snarky and dangerous but now he’s friendly, a gentle giant as they say.  There are copious rumors about him. He is brown or blue or black.  He has fins or feet or legs or maybe all three. He has a head like a horse or a sheep or a cow. Possibly he is shaped like a dinosaur or a giant frog or a 20 to 50 foot long 3ft wide snake…but everyone agrees that he has astonishing speed and that’s probably why we hardly ever spot him.
Since 1870 there have been countless reported sightings of Ogopogo.  Lots of them happen just before tourist season. Hmm…. As for me, I have only seen him in the wee hours of the morning in my dreams. There he is, swimming effortlessly on a lake as smooth as glass before slipping silently away back to the deep. 

Stay in a Kelowna Vacation Rental and see the Ogopogo statue for yourself.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Penticton Farmer's Market - May thru October

Organic Vegetable for sale at the Penticton Farmer's MarketAs I entered Main Street from the north end of Penticton last Saturday morning,  I found myself in the middle of a thriving, bustling market place with vendors and buskers galore.

As far as the eye could see in both directions, tents lined each side of the street, while the middle was a moving throng of humanity and animals.  It seemed like literally everyone and their dogs, were out to enjoy a fine Okanagan morning at this increasingly popular Saturday event.

Ken's Kustom KraftsLocal author David Korinetz
 Local Historian and Author Doug CoxThe variety of goods for sale ranged from organic fresh local vegetables, arts and crafts, yummy looking baked goods, hand embroidered blouses from Mexico, books from local authors, alpaca wool, custom made furniture, ice-cream, and much more. 
Since a picture is always worth a thousand words, I asked a few of the vendors if they would mind posing for me. Ken of 'Ken's Kustom Krafts' comes all the way from Kelowna to sell his beautiful wood work.
It was interesting chatting to local author David Korinetz who has written a series of Fantasy novels called 'Chronicles of the Daemon Knights'. Doug Cox, another well known local historian/author was selling his publications about the history of Penticton.
I also enjoyed chatting to Sandy who sells lovely hand embroidered blouses and dresses to raise money for a small poverty stricken village in Mexico.

The Medicine Man Gallery in Summerland was represented by two sisters.  An array of jewelry, semi precious stones, crystals and other gems were on display at their stall.

Representatives from The Medicine Man Gallery in Summerland

Master Performer and Instructor of Fine Arts DonnaleeEntertainment was plentiful and I took a moment to chat to a woman named Donnalee who was swinging New Zealand poi balls. It turns out that she is also a fire dancer and is billed as a Master Performer and Instructor of Fine Arts. 
Local Entertainer Gillian RussellPeople were also treated to the lovely voice of long time Penticton entertainer Gillian Russell as she accompanied herself on guitar.  See video below.
The market today is a far cry from its beginnings when about one block was all the space it took. Now it goes on for blocks and apparently will expand as the summer progresses.
If you are on a summer vacation in Penticton the market is the best place to buy your fresh veggies and home baked goods to take back to your Penticton Vacation Rental.
The Penticton Farmer's Market is held every Saturday morning from 8:30 AM to 12:00 noon, May thru October.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Opening of the New Penticton Community Centre - June 4, 2011

Opening of New Penticton Community Centre
After returning from a winter in warmer climes, I was eager to attend the opening of our new Penticton Community Centre, which was in the early stages of progress when we left the country last Fall.

Camera in hand I approached the glass front of the building  and was amazed at how large the new facility was.

Penticton Mayor Dan Ashton with children Chantal and Coleton and Bubblee Bubblezz the clown
At the door everyone was greeted by Mayor Dan Ashton and  his two children Chantal and Coleton. Bubblee Bubblezz the clown, aka Darlene Gruetzbach was also there entertaining  children and adults alike in her trademark "joy and laughter"  style.

New Pool at Penticton Community Centre
My first thought as I entered the pool area of the centre was  "Wow this is awesome!" It is huge and includes a big new main  pool, a leisure pool with a bubble pit, water slide and a whirl pool. It was hard for me to imagine which part of the structure was the original building.  The pool area also has new Change Rooms including a Family Changing Room and also a Child Minding Room where Moms and Dads can leave their little ones in safe hands while they get fit.

Fitness Room
As I made my way upstairs I realized how all the windows added so much natural light to the facility. The fitness room was much larger than the original one and held all manner of torturous equipment designed to get us in shape or else!  The walkway adjacent to the room looked down through more windows to the pools  below.

Upstairs I was introduced to Dave Lieskovsky who has worked at the Centre for the past 25.5 years. He told me that he was the city's contact for the whole project and was the liaison  between a team of consultants including architects, construction management and project management.  According  to Mr. Lieskovsky, it would have cost 4 million dollars in upgrading to keep the old facility going. The city applied for an infrastructure grant through the government for a new facility and was rewarded when the grant was approved on Sept 24  2009. The 23 million dollar figure came equally from the 3 levels of  government i.e., Federal, Provincial and the City of Penticton.
The pool was shut down March 2010 and in a staggering only 14 month period, our new Community Centre is now open.  Apparently most buildings of this magnitude would normally  take at least 2 years to complete. As I spoke with Dave I could  sense how proud he was to have made such a big contribution to the city through his, I am sure, tireless endeavors working on the project.

The Penticton Community Centre will be open to the public starting on Monday June 6th and there will be free admission  from June 6 to June 12 for the public to try out the new facility.  I, for one, can't wait to try out the new pool and I might even join the kids on the water slide or take an Aqua Fitness class.

For more information on the recreational activities offered, visit the Penticton Website.