Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A Memorable Okanagan Day Trip - Penticton to Oliver and Back

On Saturday my son Dustin took me on a memorable Okanagan day trip for a belated birthday treat.  We started out for breakfast at The Bench Market on Vancouver hill, my favourite coffee haunt.  It was a Canadiano Misto and a veggie bennie for me. Yum! Then off to the Penticton Saturday Farmer's Market.  There were throngs of people as usual but more so because the new Penticton Challenge race was to happen the next day.  Dustin knew that I wanted a certain print of the Okanagan and this was to be my birthday present, so we didn't waste any time getting to the venue of artist  Bernadette McCormack.

"Okanagan Wine Valley"

The print entitled "Okanagan Wine Country" was the one I love because, to me, it truly captures the essence of our beautiful valley.
I also treated myself to a limited edition print of "The Safe Place". It is now hanging in my kitchen and makes me feel happy!!
"The Safe Place"
 After the Farmer's Market Dustin wanted to visit one of his favourite wineries down in Oliver so we left on a little journey south.  On the way we stopped off at the Vaseux Lake Wildlife Centre and did the picturesque little trek down the boardwalk.

View of Vaseux Lake from the Boardwalk
We took the back road to Oliver and weaved our way through lush and thriving vineyards until we arrived at the Silver Sage winery.
The wine was good and there was a particularly novel one to which they add a jalapeno pepper to give the wine a spicy zest.  After the wine tasting we did our share of buying some bottles and then continued on our way. 

We stopped at Aunty Ag's Seafood Cafe in Oliver for lunch. It is my favourite place in the valley for fish and chips.  No wonder they have won awards!  Currently they have a promotion underway to name their new mascot, which is a six foot tall British beefeater.  Fun!!! The contest ends September 30th so you still have time to drop in, taste some fantastic fish and chips and drop your entry into the fishbowl.  You may want to read the blog called A Day Trip to Aunty Ag's Seafood Café.

On the way home Dustin mentioned that he really wanted to pick some blackberries. My recollections of the same were picking them wild at the coast, so really didn't know if they existed in the Okanagan. We were somewhere in between Oliver and OK Falls and I saw a sign that said "Blackberries, You Pick"  I made a quick right turn and "voila", we were right in the middle of a blackberry farm.  Thornless no less!!!!!! I can only testify to the days when you couldn't tackle picking blackberries without coming away with a zillion scratches all over your legs and arms.

Allan Hogg, the owner gave us some containers and took us to one of the rows where the berries were plentiful.  I must say it was great not having to worry about thorns on the bushes, so we were able to pick the small amount we wanted without scratches, and quickly.
Afterwards we chatted to Allan for a while and he told us that the one acre farm was a family run operation started by his father Bruce 7 years ago.  I guess he previously had owned a farm called Greystone in Keremeos and decided to called the new venture Greystone Blackberries.

Allan Hogg under the sign
His Mom Nell was at the end of one of the rows picking for their many customers.  Allan told me that they supply Whole Foods in Penticton, several Okanagan restaurants, a number of fruit stands and truck drivers who haul the berries to Alberta and other locations. 
It is only $2.50 per lb. to pick your own and the berries are big and sweet. 

As we drove home along Skaha Lake on the eastside road I felt so grateful to be living in such a beautiful, plentiful valley.  No wonder the native settles called Penticton "A Place to Stay Forever"
Thank you Dustin for making my birthday such a special occasion!!

Sicamous Paddlewheeler Boat on Skaha Lake

Thursday, August 22, 2013

KVR Bike Ride - Penticton South to Okanagan Falls

Thanks Travelin' Pat for yet another great post!!
Usually when I think of riding on the KVR I think of riding north past all the wineries, doing the odd tasting and maybe even having some bread and cheese (to keep my strength up of course).  Or if I have lots of energy, possibly riding all the way to the little tunnel to savor the breathtaking vistas of the mountains and Okanagan Lake.

This time however, the needle zoomed south and I knew it was time to ride the old Kettle Valley track bed on the west side of Skaha Lake to Okanagan Falls.  It is a sweet ride really.  You are at lake level practically the whole way which keeps it cooler and because it is a little less “well known” there are not too many people on it. 


The trail starts at the west end of the lake at Wrights Beach Camp.  We were happily ambling along as we approached Banbury Green, a little gem of a campground choko block with families.  It’s the kind of place that makes me think I’d like to take my grand kids to sometime. 
Farther along the trail just at Kaleden, Ponderosa Point with its long fabulous beach almost entices us to have a rest stop but we soldier on. 
We also passed right by the Kaleden Hotel.
The old Kaleden Hotel
We know, just ahead is the bridge that takes us all the way in to OK Falls and a homemade muffin and coffee at the Dog Town Coffee Co.


All fueled up we retrace our ride back to Penticton.  Such a good day!

This is just one of the many great Okanagan activities for locals or visitors staying in Okanagan Vacation Rentals.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013 - Okanagan Trail Guide by Andrew Drouin of Penticton BC

Andrew Drouin with his trail guide
I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Andrew Drouin, author of the online + print edition trail-guide.  This publication features over one hundred non-motorized recreational trails encompassing much of the South Okanagan.  Andrew has over 20 years of experience exploring the valley and was motivated to compile a useful descriptor of the area’s recreation trails.

Each chapter of is presented with a written description of the trail, along with details on cell-phone reception, potable water-access and maps - which Andrew created by carrying a GPS recorder in his back-pack over a period of several years.

The guidebook retails for $25 and provides both the physical print edition and three years of free access to the frequently-updated online edition.  This allows you to download Google Earth and GPS tracks for your GPS device or smartphone.

Though Andrew's employment is that of a computer technician, he confesses that his great love is the outdoors, where he thrives on hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding and kayaking.

Andrew riding the trails on horseback
Improving and maintaining trails is very important to Andrew, which is why he and Rowena Tansley originally created the Penticton and Area CyclingAssociation (PACA) in 2008.  Andrew’s vision grew to advocate awareness for all avenues of trail use, including hiking, biking, equestrian and an environment for naturalists.  He was president of the bike club for three years, then it's trail manager for the following year.  The new president of PACA leaned toward bike racing, so Andrew branched off and started the SouthOkanagan Trail Alliance (SOTA): a trail-group dedicated to maintaining back-country trails, bridges and signage. 

As if this guy isn't already doing enough for our trails, he is also on a government committee (the KVR Working Group) dedicated to developing an equitable solution to motor vehicle traffic on the KVR.  I had no idea there was so much controversy surrounding this issue but it makes sense to me to keep motor vehicles off certain sections of the KVR.

Andrew is always discovering, creating and maintaining new trails - which are added to the companion website in ten new installments per year.  Each January, the  print edition grows through reprints / updates of this new information. Partial profits from the sales go towards trail maintenance and signage.

Andrew's words, taken from the back of the guidebook, sum up his kinship with the outdoors.

"In using this guidebook, I ask that you act as stewards of the land.  Every effort you make in preserving and nurturing the environment leaves a legacy to be enjoyed by future generations"

Books can be purchased at Tourist Information Centers throughout the Valley or any of the following locations:

The Bench coffee shop - Penticton
Peach City Runners - Penticton
Both Downtown Book Stores - Penticton
The Bike Barn - Penticton
Freedom Bike Shop - Penticton
Dr. Hitch - Penticton
Wright's Beach Campground - Penticton
Mosaic Books - Kelowna

Friday, August 9, 2013

A Day Trip to Aunty Ag's Seafood Cafe in Oliver BC

For a mini day trip in my neck of the woods (Penticton) we drove down to Oliver to have lunch at Auntie Ag's Seafood Café

 First off we cruised along the East Side of Skaha Lake.  For those of you who haven’t had the experience of driving on that road….definitely do it.  It wanders along the lake and provides excellent views of the water and Kaleden on the west side.  Plus it is not a highway so you don’t have to rocket along and worry about traffic behind you.

Next: you pass through Okanagan Falls, home of a really big, really old flea market.  It’s a cute little village with a pub and a park and a couple of grocery stores and of course the famous Tickleberrys ice cream parlor.

Yummy fun at Tickleberry's

Farther along the road there is Vaseux Lake, a wildlife sanctuary with a scenic boardwalk and convenient washrooms.  A very pretty stroll for those so disposed.

Still further along the way …Gallagher Lake. Blink and you could miss it!

Of course we also passed many vineyards, wineries, orchards and fruit stands because that is what the Okanagan is all about!


Finally, our destination.  Aunty Ag's Seafood Cafe

What a cute little place with its red, blue and white décor in a bright sunny room. 

It’s right on the main drag and serves up a cost friendly fish and chip lunch special for under $10.00.  The fish is light and tasty and the homemade French-fries a real treat. 

The dessert special was Key Lime cheesecake.  Yum! If you are not inclined to fish and chips there are other things on the menu including vegetarian and gluten-free choices.  While you’re there take a look at the family pictures hanging on the wall. It turns out Aunty Ag owned a chain of fish and chip shops in Burton on Trent England.  Her last restaurant called the Seaview Café was in Devon England and looked like quite the place! Happily, the family is carrying on the tradition and I’m sure Aunty Ag would be proud.

Oh and while we were there we found out that Deb, part owner of Auntie Ag's and chief chef, has acquired a mascot for the restaurant. What else but a British Beef Eater.  She tells me they are going to have a contest to name the mascot so stay tuned at Aunty Ag's Website for details.
I also found out that Aunty Ag's has won two awards from Okanagan Life Magazine in the South Okanagan.  One for the best fish and chips and the other for the best chowder!!!! So go try it out.
Below is a photo of Deb and Big Fish Mike Whiles with the new mascot.

On the way back we picked up some fresh peaches and considered our day trip a big success.

Thanks again Travelin' Pat for your input on this blog.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Penticton Farmer's Market - Still Alive and Well

Throngs of people attended the Penticton Farmers Market on Saturday. It is hard to believe how big this event has become!  Following are some photos I took as I strolled up Main Street.

My favourites were the home-made and home grown items because that's what I think a Farmer's Market should be all about.

Flowers and Herbs
Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
Wood Carving - Canes and Signs
Homemade Canned Goods
Bees at work and Honey for Sale
Canadian Handmade Knit and Crochet Items
More Lavender

Street Entertainment
Tacos Anyone
 I wonder how many people at the market were staying in Penticton Vacation Rentals.