Friday, October 5, 2012

The Trip - Part Two

From the Fraser Valley to the Okanagan Valley (Penticton)

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!

Lightning Lake

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
How I love the Trans Canada Trail!  I have hiked segments of it on Vancouver Island, in Whistler and the Fraser Valley, near Princeton, and in the Okanagan.  When it was initiated in 1992, I 'bought' a metre for me and one for my mom - our names are somewhere on a plaque in the mountains.  According to the TCT website,  the trail began as a project to celebrate Canada's 125th birthday, and it is the world's longest trail system.  When completed, it will "stretch 23,000 kilometres from the Atlantic to the Pacific to the Arctic Oceans, through every province and territory, linking over 1,000 communities.....Four out of five Canadians live within 30 minutes of the trail." (Source: Trans Canada Trail website). The goal is to have it completed by Canada's 150th birthday, in 2017.  Much of it is built on old railway beds, so is level and without too sharp an incline even through the mountains. Eddie and I walked it each morning of our visit.

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.

Family portrait
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

And on Monday, Eddie took his last scary journey down the halls and elevator of the apartment, and headed down the road once again.  Next stop:  Vernon.


Anonymous said...

Love the Teddy Bears Picnic!! I also remember that sign in Manning Park - that is, I remember the sign but not the cigarette hanging by a noose; that is in the days I went camping there with my parents too! Wonder if the cigarette part fell down? Great post Jean.

Dawn said...

Jean, it is wonderful to see that the park you enjoyed as a child is still in good condition.

The lake and surroundings that I enjoyed as a child are not the same now. The water is not as clear. It is harder to find a place that looks as it did in those earlier times.

I wonder if this is a difference between the US and Canada. You still have fewer people in proportion to the amount of land.

Thanks so much for these pictures and the links.

Anonymous said...

What wonderful pictures Jean. I too remember the hanging cigarette. We visited Manning Park shortly after we arrived in Canada.


georgia little pea said...

So many lovely memories. It must have been both wonderful and a little sad to take that route. The cigarette photo is great! Our fire season has already started and we might need a gallows campaign soon ourselves.

When I read the words "stuffed critters", I couldn't yet see the photo of The Family and had visions of heads on walls NOOOO!!! LOL.