Friday, October 8, 2010

Day 5 - Vancouver to Kelwona via Hope

Today we leave for the Rockies !!!  Can anyone say wooohooo? 

Really excited to be leaving …  although the early starts are killing me as you may all know I don’t sleep well so I don’t wake up well so Tania and I are working around that.  I am trying to wake up before her because that way I have time to fluff around still and wake myself up a bit more. But we are getting on well so far.  So we took off very early around 8.30am but I took off first to do the postcards into the mail and then took some great shots of the Vancouver public library.  Not before dropping off my very bright new bag at the bus because I have to manage that one myself but it is staying on the bus for the rest of the trip anyway. 

Vancouver Library
Vancouver Public Library 

Vancouver Public Library... I love this photo

It seemed like bedlam at the bag loading spot anyway so I got out of there.  Enjoyed my last few moments in Vancouver at least there was blue sky for a little while at least.  Tania and I got lucky and were only 4 rows from the front so we got to see a lot in front of us.  

We puttered along to Hope so we passed the Fraser River at Surrey across a massive suspension bridge but lots of roadwork going on so it was slow going for the first 45mins of the trip. Passed Cotquliam, Surrey and Mt Baker along the way. Mt Baker is on the border and part of the Contential divide and officially on the Amercian side but so amazing.  The mountain ranges were amazing with the old growths and snow capped peaks…  So pretty and majectic… but this was just a taste of things to come.  As we got further from Vancouver we started to follow the Fraser river more and more and we could start to see the beautiful aquamarine colour starting to come through. 

Mt Baker 

Our morning comfort and food stop was a little town called Hope…  I couldn’t get enough of the place it was amazing..  we went to the blue Moose Café because it was close and highly recommended by our tour director…  Expensive for what is was but as it turned out quite nice.  With the wood carvings around the town it was so pretty and amazing. The park in the centre of the town was really pretty and Tania  and myself really enjoyed it there.  Just too bad it wasn’t our lunch stop because we could have more time there.  Actually took photos of Tania with a wood carving of a very funny looking Yeti so it was very good.  Hope has significance in the fact that this would be the last time that we will see the Fraser river until after the Rockies.

The little town called Hope 
How cute and country is this!!!!
Main Street Looking to the mountains 
For my Brother in Law 
The wood carvings... up close they are amazingly intricate

Giggle - strange looking beast 
the moose at the blue moose... giggle 

 Also just outside of Hope was the largest rock avalanche that Canada has seen..  we would later see the 2nd largest one at Maligne Lake.  We passed the Coquihalla Mountain ranges on the way to Merritt which have a a lot of volcanic Activity

We continued along the Trans Canada highway working our way to our lunch stop at Merritt . on the way to Merritt…  we learnt about the Okangkan valley and the extremes that it suffers which was evident because it was very dry through most of the trip which was similar to the Road to Toowoomba. We also learnt about the avalanches and how they affect the roads and the construction work that occurs during the summer/fall months to ensure the roads are repaired. We also went through a number of avalanche shelters which have been built in the alvanche zones to help to protect the roads and also the cars on the road.  As there were particular areas that have been susceptible to avalanches.  The Okangkan valley has extremes in temps from -25 during winter with thick thick snow and then up to 40 degrees in summer with also high wind area. We could actually hear it outside of the bus even though it was not that windy.  We made our way to just outside of Merritt and the information centre and had our lunch on the picnic tables and started to get to know everyone especially Tracey, Carolyn, Nerina and Fran as the 4 of us were sitting right near each other. 
The shear rock faces on the road to Kelwona - Coqualiha Mountains 
A Avalanche snow shed

We made our way to Kelwona that afternoon…  I even had a snore on the bus..I think half the bus was asleep ….  It was pretty boring once you have seen one dry looking rolling hill you have seen them all.  It was starting to get colder though I noticed that in Merritt…  glad for my brother in Laws jacket …  keeping me toasting warm.. just hard to lug around because it is so big and heavy… 

The Barren Valley

We finally arrived into Kelwona after we all got woken up by Frank with him back on the microphone !!!!  Surprise Surprise ….  It is a pretty valley with the Kelwona lake dominating the landscape and we learnt how badly they get affected by bushfires..  and also the legendary lake creature called Ogo Pogo who lives in the depths of the lake just like the loch ness monster. 

Okangkan Lake - with Kelwona on the shore line

We got taken to the Summer Wines Winery which was really pretty especially overlooking the lake…  the whole wine tour was really wasted on me .. Sorry Din….  But I just wandered and took photos and had some fun with the big world that was there…

Summer Hill Winery on the Patio
We got taken up to the pyramid which was designed by the owner to improve the flavour of the wines.  It was quite cold in there also very dark especially going up the stairs. Then we came out to this little room which was so dark filled with chairs, half burnt candles, and the barrels of wine as well as bottles on the racks most impressive was a piano in the middle of it all.  Not sure how they got it up there …  but there is was in the middle of no where. 

in the Pyramid Wine Cellar

She explained the creative passion of the owner and how he was inspired to build the concrete fortress for the wine so it would improve as the wine loves dark and cold environments.  It was something he had heard of in his travels..  more information can be found here:
The pyramid 

She actually asked if anyone could play and Robyn volunteered and she played.  The energy of the room totally changed….  I don’t know about the others but it gave me tingles which I was surprised about …  it wasn't robyns playing… sorry Robyn but it was more what it did to the energy of the room it totally changed it … It was amazing and still words can’t describe it 2 weeks later…  I loved it … actually for that brief moment glad we got made to go … 

We then moved into the main area of the winery and did a wine tasting and I just wandered off to take more photos with no one in them J and snuck down to the grapes and took photos of them… they were smaller than I thought but then again they are only half through the growth cycle. We did find out even though they are organic winery they don’t grow everything on site part of it is grown off site by other growing sites.  But they do ensure that their organic methods are followed. They also produce a ice wine which to me the massive drinker that I am it meant so much … NOT - seemed like a gimmick but according to frank it is a a stronger flavour.  Although this where I have to be honest…  something quite tragic happened here but I am still not sure it is related …. But I dropped my camera on the patio at Summer Hills…  Dean and Angela can attest to this …  the look of horror on my face must have been grief striken.. I thought I had hold of it around my wrist but I didn’t and dropped it when I went to put on my jacket…  it worked after…  so I still don’t know if it is related to what is to come… 

hmmm I think that describes me what do you think :) 
The wine
about the wine producing valley 
The pretty grapes
The Okangkan Lake - from near the grapes at Summer Hills

the Okangkan Lake 
Hug a world!!!!

Salena eventually came back for us and then we had to wait for Frank to give our credit cards back at the hotel as he did all the optional excursion payments.  With not a whole lot to do locally I did some photo sorting also some emailing…while Tania went for a hot tub… also I heard some voices out in the hall and thought it might have been the girls deciding which pub because Tania and I couldn’t remember their room.  Instead it was Marilyn from England and my soon wonderful travel buddy Pete …  we decided to go downstairs for a drink.  I told him I had some emailing to do … not sure about going to dinner with Strange men…  haha so sent my email to everyone and went to the bar to meet pete…  what a great decision that was..  got me happy on 3 vodkas and I am still smiling remembering that night..  we laughed and teased each other so much …  and tarted on Facebook together…  have to love hotel and Dennys wireless.  I ate his fries while we waited for my meal…  was noisy, boisterous and probably scared everyone out of the bar but we had fun…  Really enjoyed getting to know him and nice to laugh so much…  He is my big cuddly teddy bear…  his husband couldn’t travel with him so he enjoys travelling and seeing the world..  rather seasoned tour traveller…  but all the while misses his hubby…  advantages of marrying a Brit..  they allow gay marriages…

As it turned out …  he did become my seat buddy and brought out the good, bad and ugly in me… all in good fun..  remember the pig tails Pete! and later encouraged (tongue in cheek on that one) to become a hydrant whore... 

So all in all …  fun night…  and actually got the blog done and emailing and photo back up all done… 

Next day…..  ROCKIES AND Eileen’s broken heart!!!!! 

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