Usually when I travel to the Okanagan, I use the Coquihalla Highway north and the 'Connector' (Hwy 97C) east - a fast, multi-lane route with spectacular views and tremendous heights. Travelling the Connector always feels like I am whizzing along over the very top of the world, pretty much all by myself.
But for this trip, I decided to take Highway 3 through Manning Park, Princeton, and Keremeos. It is a slower route with lots of curves and fewer sections of multiple lanes, which means more cautious drivers like me end up with speedsters and semis riding our tails, but it has more places to pull off the road into parks, rest stops, restaurants, and fruit stands. And besides, it is a journey full of nostalgia for me.
When I was a child, in the 1950s and early 60s, Manning Park was the first stop on our annual two week family camping trips. I still remember the years we drove through after a human-caused forest fire had wiped out much of the forest for miles. By the side of the road was a large gallows with a cigarette hanging from the noose and a sign from the BC Forest Service which read "The one who dropped it should also be hanged". You can see a picture of it here.
It was in Manning Park that my dad taught me to fish and my mom taught me the names of flowers and trees and birds. It was there that I saw my first real live bear. It was there that I developed my love of hiking, camping, and the beautiful outdoors. I attended winter camps there with the Girl Guides and Rangers; and in my adult years I camped there in a small motorhome I owned, hiked all the trails I could manage, fished Lightning Lakes frequently, and enjoyed picnics there with my mom and my sister. It is the 'comfort food' of my outdoor life.
Manning Park is about half way between Abbotsford and Penticton, so on Friday, day two of our road trip, it was a natural choice for a long break and a picnic lunch for Eddie and me.
|Eddie: Ohboyohboyohboy egg salad sammiches! Mah favourite!|
|Eddie and I took a little walk along the trails around the lake....|
|....and did some people-watching too.|
Then onward ho. Princeton area, just north of Manning Park, holds great memories too - I've camped in many forestry sites and provincial parks between Princeton and Merritt, and love the dry uplands landscape and arid climate. And driving through Keremeos, I noted the turnoff for Cathedral Lakes where, in the early 1990s, I experienced some of the most challenging and rewarding hiking I have ever done - hiking to summits with names like Devil's Woodpile, Stone City, Smokey the Bear, and Giant Cleft, and with 360 degree views that go on for ever and ever, mountain range after mountain range as far as the eye can see. You can see some pictures of it here.
It was a bit of a long slow drive to Penticton, and when we arrived I discovered Eddie was not only terrified of stairs but also of apartment hallways and elevators. Getting him in and out of my sister-in-law's third floor apartment several times a day was no easy feat. But when we did go out, it was worth the effort. Just meters from the apartment is access to the Trans Canada Trail, which along this section is combined with the Kettle Valley Railway Trail.
|Hiking the Trans Canada/KVR Trail above Okanagan Lake, Penticton|
|Pleasant rest stop along the trail|
|View of Penticton from the trail|
On Sunday, my sister-in-law Bev (Penticton Bev), her mom Pearl, and Eddie and I took a picnic lunch and spent the day at the place where we spread my sister's ashes last spring. We took along some flowers and the stuffed critters that have always been so much a part of our lives, and had a wonderful afternoon of laughter and peace and photography and remembrances - family time with very precious family members.
O'bear, Robear, Alfie, Bandit, Muffin, Henry W., Bev, Eddie and Pearl.
|Carole's final resting place - a small park by Okanagan Lake|
|Colourful kayaks glide past|
|Ducks entertain us|
|Eddie picnicking by Okanagan Lake|
|A relaxed Eddie enjoys his outing with his extended family|