Where Is The Second Best Place To Live or Visit in British Columbia?
It is the Okanagan Valley. Most maps show it running from Salmon Arm to Osoyoos on the US/Canadian border. The major towns/cities are Vernon, Kelowna, Penticton and Osoyoos. So what does a couple of tourism professionals do when they have time off. Well it is tough to leave Vancouver Island and Greater Victoria, the number one place of live or visit in BC. We have a rule that we don’t leave Victoria in the summer months because of our sensational weather, fantastic scenery, great food and a whole lot more.
We this year we decided to revisit the Okanagan for a week to see what is new. This area has tremendous beauty and a bounty of fruits and vegetables and vineyards. The fruits and vegetables are very reasonable when you buy from local markets. There are 200+ and growing. Pun there! So you can visit a new one everyday for 2/3 of the year! The grape is doing very well in the Okanagan! The local tourism brochures will point out something to do for everyone.
We love to stay in Bed and Breakfasts, so I did an internet search and found what I believe to be two of the best B&B’s in the Okanagan. As we have a cousin in Lake Country that we wanted to spend time with we started our stay in Oyama, a small community a bit north of Kelowna. This was our base for the first five days. Robby, our hostess runs the Country Ridge Bed and Breakfast high in the hills overlooking Woods Lake and Kalamalka Lake. Country Ridge BB is situated high on a hillside overlooking surrounding lakes, orchards and vineyards. Expansive windows and a magnificent wrap around veranda take full advantage of breathtaking views and the very tranquil setting.The views of the valley and lakes are stunning! Her home was built as a bed and breakfast and contains three well appointed rooms with very comfortable rooms. Each room has windows that overlook one or both of the lakes. The out door balcony has plenty of seating where you can enjoy the spectacular views and each room has private seating as well. This B&B has everything you would ever need in your room. Robby has thought of everything as far as we could see. At the entry, there is a ramp for people with movement challenges and the ramp even has a metal non-slip section. The main floor is spectacular. Upon entry through the front door you will observe a magnificent spiral stair case going to the living space of the home. The main floor has two separate rooms where you can watch TV, listen to music or talk with other guests. There is also a reading room with shelves of games to play. The dinning room is spacious and all guests share the same table, so you get a chance to meet the other guests at the 8:30 am breakfast. Robby serves excellent breakfasts. Her chocolate croissants are addictive! Each day were served parfaits of fruit, nuts and yogurt! They were delicious and nutritious! We also had eggs served in a variety of ways along with some of the best bacon I have ever eaten. Linda requires gluten free options and this was handled very well by Robby. Robby also brings out the tin foil, so that if you have left overs and we always did, you can wrap them up and take them with you for a snack later or put them in the common fridge in the foyer for later! Robby has lots of suggestions and information that will help you enjoy your stay in the valley. We heartily recommend a stay at this most excellent B&B!
While we were in the Okanagan we thought we would take in some golf so I looked for a couple of courses that fit our skill level. Those were not championship style courses! The first one we played was in West Kelowna. Two Eagles was well manicured and had par 3,4 and 5 holes. The length of the holes suited us just fine. The weather cooperated and we had a nice time and then visited old friends John and Diane, who live just up the hill. You might notice the wire protective fence that has a number of golf balls stuck in it, all stray shots! (not ours)
The 2nd course that we played was in Osoyoos at the NK’MIP Resort. The resort is a four season playground with a golf course, accommodations, camping, an interpretive centre showcasing their culture, dining and wine tasting. It is located at the south end of the Osoyoos Indian Band’s land, NK’MIP Resort encompasses over 200 acres of the ‘bottomland’ (NK’MIP). “NK’MIP” in the Syilx language refers to the area at the north end of the lake where the mouth of the lake meets the Okanagan River. Note the signing warning to watch out for rattlesnakes! No one wants you to step on them and hurt them!
While in the Okanagan Valley we did some serious research at many of the 200+vineyards and wineries scattered through out the valley. We covered Lake Country (Winfield and Oyama), Kelowna, Penticton & the Naramata Bench, Oliver and Osoyoos. I volunteered to be the designated driver so that Linda could deepen her research and for part of the time cousin debbie joined in! I am not sure how Linda came home with only 18 bottles of wine. Maybe her research was blurred!
Now the most important part of the research. The wine must be tasted. Linda did her best. She found a lot of really good wines and some that did not match her preference. Apparently the research was all good. Grapes are apparently good for many things! Some of the tasting facilities were amazing. Every place we visited made an effort to display their wines appropriately and the grounds and facilities were generally immaculate. Some served lunches and some did not. The staff were always knowledgeable and informative. As you will see below, Linda was deep into her research. Just to prove that the DD was protecting her I threw in a picture of the two of us at the Arrowleaf Vineyard, one of the finer operations in Lake Country. This one had beautiful views of Okanagan Lake, a nice lunch venue and a beautiful wine bar.
While in Lake Country we attended an annual event call Artwalk! The venue was at the high school and community venues across the street. It was to showcase local artists and artisans. There was a lot of variety and some excellent work displayed. The event was very well attended. It is important to ask about these type of events and others like local markets. Our host Robby directed us to this one and it was well worth the visit.
Our stay in Osoyoos was at the Observatory Bed and Breakfast situated high on the east bank of Osoyoos Lake, really high! The owners have a unique operation worth of a visit if you can get one booked! Book early if you are interested. There is something that sets this B&B apart from others in the world! This one has an observatory atop it. It is operated by owner Jack Newton an amateur astronomer and his wife Alice. The difference is that Jack takes you into his observatory each night and shows you his world of astronomy. He is such a knowledgeable person you leave wanting more! What you see through his telescope is amazing and what Jack tells you is oh so interesting. I am not going to spoil your trip there by telling you some of the things he told us. One morning a guest asked if the Lunar landing was a hoax and Jack replied no, I saw it happen through my telescope! Alice makes a very good breakfast and both are very congenial hosts. It was the first time I have ever had hugs at the 8:30 morning breakfast. Well done Jack and Alice! It doesn’t get better and more interesting than this. It was another highlite of our trip!
One night in Osoyoos we head down to the Watermark Beach
We made an overnight stop in Vancouver to visit a school mate of Linda’s (Dawn and Bob) and had a very nice visit with them. Thanks
The final part of the trip was the Ferry ride to Vancouver Island. It reminded me why home was the best place in BC to live! One visitor from England that I talked to described the scenery as stunning! Perhaps it is just a bit more than that! It is our home and we feel extremely lucky to live here!
As you leave Tsawassen Ferry Terminal you will see views of Mount Baker. As you travel the route the views o9f Baker change but it appears often all the way to Swartz Bay!
When I travel from Vancouver to Victoria I spend most of my time out on deck, no matter what the weather. The scenery is truly stunning. Be sure to be on deck as you enter Active pass. On the left (port) side of the Ferry you will see Georgina Point Lighthouse on Mayne island and on the right side (starboard) side you will see the beautiful shoreline views of Galiano Island.
Near the end of Active Pass you will see the navigational light shown below. It usually has rocks around it above the water surface and seals sleeping on the rocks. On this trip the seals were out in the pass near the Ferry.
As you leave Active Pass, look back and you will see mountains over Galiano Island…I believe this is Black Tusk, north of Vancouver.
When you are on deck you have a chance of seeing Orca Whales, sea lions and always seals. One trip Linda and I saw a sea lion get eaten by a transient Orce just a couple of feet from the side of the Ferry much to the dismay of the crowd hanging over the guard rails. On other trips we have seen schools of Orcas close to the Ferry. I have also seen Youtube videos of a school of pacific white-sided dolphins being chased by Orcas. The school had hundreds of dolphins in it. Then there is the rest of the stuff you might see. I tried to give you a taste of what you might see. Also, when they blow the Ferry warning signal as they enter Active pass, try not to wet your pants!
There is always a lot of marine traffic on this route. The three sailboats below are anchored at Princess Margaret Marine Park at Portland Island. Going counter clockwise see a ferry transporting truck trailers only to Victoria, a whale watching boat heading for the whales, a ferry parked on route at Pender Island, a fish boat in Georgia Strait and a marine marker buoy!
Spend some time in the restaurant on board. I think they make the best clam chowder (Manhattan Style) in the world. I have it every time I travel with BC Ferries!
So, this is some of why I think we live in the best place in BC. Personally, I think we live in the best place on earth! Enjoy!