Happy Birthday Canada! Wow! 118 years young. How are you going to celebrate your country's birthday? In style I hope. Me? I'm going to indulge in the festivities on the shores of beautiful Okanagan Lake at Peachland, British Columbia, with my wife and our youngest daughter. It can't get much better than that!
They're in the midst of a super heat wave here in the Okanagan Valley and even this heat lover is finding it a little extreme. The upside is that it is hot and sunny, not cold and rainy, and there are about a million ways to escape the heat. The lake water is cool and refreshing and there are no end to the beaches around the lake. Pick a spot and jump in!
The speedy passing of time is always astounding to me as it seems that we were just moving Emily out to West Kelowna a short time ago. In reality it was ten months ago already and as we were leaving her to her new life out here last year we were already planning the return trip to see her during her summer school break this year.
I cannot think of a better way to celebrate the good life in Canada than to drive 1000 miles/1600kms across three provinces viewing the variety of vegetation, topography and breathtaking scenery along the way.
As anxious as we were to see Em as soon as possible we managed to take our time driving out stopping to smell the roses along the way, as it were. We pitched the tent at Fernie Provincial Park and were blown away by the serenity, the mountain view and the sounds of the babbling brook meters away from our campsite. The experience is highly recommended.
For a prairie flatlander, like myself, the drive through the mountains wasn't as nerve racking as I had anticipated. Even though we'd done this drive merely a year ago it still takes more than a bit of cruising to get used to mountain driving. There isn't much time to "acclimatize" yourself to the conditions, either, as it seems you go from driving in bald prairie to climbing mountains in a matter of minutes.
The highways of BC are great but the drive wasn't totally without the odd belly flip as we bridged over sphincter tightening gorges at least a thousand feet deep and snaked our way up and down mountain sides, hair-pinning all the way.
We drove the Kootenay Pass which is known locally as the "Salmo-Creston" route along the Crowsnest Highway in the Selkirk Mountains connecting the communities of Salmo and Creston. The elevation at Kootenay Pass is 5823ft (1775m) above sea level.
Interestingly enough, Kelowna's elevation above sea level is 1588ft(484m) while Kipling's is 2170ft (661m). Who'd a thunk it? That information is hard to comprehend while sitting on Emily's patio looking around at the low-lying mountains in the background.
While I am not a world traveller, or anything, there can be little doubt that BC, and in particular the Okanagan Valley, is one of the most beautiful places in the world. It's not hard to believe that Kelowna and surrounding district is one of the most popular retirement destinations in Canada making it the third largest metropolitan area in British Columbia.
It's actually hard to find someone who was born and raised here, though. I've met people from Saskatoon, Regina, Calgary, St. Alphonse, Manitoba and Dawson Creek, Yukon. You know, they say that there are six degrees of separation between every person on Earth. My thinking is that it's only three degrees for people from Saskatchewan. On our first day here I found one woman who is Bob and Kay McGaw's daughter Christy's best friend in Regina and another woman who is great friends with Lana Jones, formally from Kipling! Small world, eh?
We'll be thinking of you back home while we watch the Canada Day fireworks over Okanagan Lake and we hope you'll be having as good a time celebrating as we will be. However and wherever you choose to celebrate Canada Day... I hope you did it in great Canadian style!
"It is wonderful to feel the grandness of Canada in the raw, not because she is Canada but because she's something sublime that you were born into, some great rugged power that you are a part of."-Emily Carr (1871-1945).