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Stop number two on our Winter in Canada Tour: Peachland! Located just west of Kelowna in the beautiful Okanagan Valley, we spent the past month there doing a lot of hiking (as usual), a little biking, some golfing, just a hint of socializing and one whole day shopping for used skiing gear after suddenly deciding I was ready to become a skier again at some point this winter.
If you can’t wait to find out how it went, you can skip ahead:
We based ourselves in a very nice AirBnB with an impressive balcony with expansive lake views – it was a pleasure even when the weather kept us from exploring. Yesterday we drove through two separate blizzards on our way to Vancouver Island but, for now, we’ll discuss our time in the Okanagan.
How’s the weather in Peachland in October/November?
Well, if you ask one of the detailed weather sites with complex models based on extensive data collected over a century, they would tell you it is mild (highs of 5-10 Celsius), somewhat cloudy, only occasionally windy and, most of all, dry. Supposedly the area gets an average of just 27 mm of precipitation for the entire month of October. Then, October 23 we got over half that in one day. At least that was the official tally, although it felt like more considering that it was piled 2 feet high on our deck furniture. So, we did some hiking the snow, tested out our new crampons (felt like Spiderman on the steep parts), eventually it melted, then we got dumped on again in early November. Oh yeah, then it rained like crazy our last weekend. I think the good folks of Peachland were happy to see us and our dodgy weather luck hit the road again.
What’s the night life like?
That has never been our specialty, even less so now with a global pandemic making the rounds, but from what we can tell, a night out in Peachland means the Royal Canadian Legion. No, that’s not an ironically named techno club with fog machines and dance cages. It’s actually a Legion, for military veterans, presumably, although the crowd looked a little light on vets when we stopped in. Certainly surprised to see new strangers, and curious about – bordering on offended by – our masks. One of the few remaining places where you can get cheap drinks and leave all your COVID troubles behind. As long as your troubles don’t include worrying about being bumped by the back of the stranger at the very nearby table while they talk really loudly or waitresses who scoff at the idea of wearing masks. On the bright side, it closes at 7 pm.
What’s with those hiking markers?
A little man brandishing a hiking pole and purposefully striding forth – that is the universal symbol denoting a hiking trail. Or I supposed it could be a little woman, assuming she were so bold as to wear pants. In any case, these little people generally look a certain way – generally slim and angular. Which is why on some of our hikes we were surprised to find trail markers depicting pudgy little hikers instead. Or plump, if you prefer, or hefty/chunky/tubby, you get the idea. Whatever adjective you choose, though, they certainly seem more realistic.
Is hiking a COVID-friendly activity?
Absolutely! In many ways it is the ideal isolation hobby, getting us out into the fresh air, far from crowded stores or feverish gas station attendants coughing wetly into the same hand they use to open the door all day. And, unlike during raucous larch season around Canmore, the Okanagan hiking trails were virtually deserted. Most mornings we went for a hike, saw no one and touched nothing (other than my penis once or twice, depending on how much water I drank beforehand).
Are there enough traffic lights around?
Oh, man, if you love traffic lights then, baby, this is the place for you! Maybe because the main highway is physically hemmed in by the lake on one side and hills on the other, it is really the only option, and people have to get on there somehow. I mean, they could build ramps and underpasses and things like most cities do, so that you wouldn’t have to stop and go every 3-4 blocks. But they haven’t, so you do. I find it helped to treat every day of driving there like a scenic tour with most of your time relaxing at stop lights while gazing upon the beauty of yet more Chevrons and A&Ws. Sublime.
What about wildlife?
There were 3 deer that liked to hang out behind our place. They mostly just rooted around underneath this one particular tree, looking for the best grass, or leaves, or nuts, or maybe they just like to sniff each other’s urine like idiot dogs, I’m not exactly sure. What I do know is that every now and then our eyes met and they suddenly, briefly, looked annoyingly smug. As if to say, “Ha, we know you’ll be gone soon but we’ll still be here, we’ll always be here, sniffing and chewing like morons. Sucker.” We also saw a bald eagle on one of our hikes (McDougall Rim), soon followed by a second, presumably crappier eagle.
Will you be able to build snowmen in Peachland?
We sure did. More than once. Except they were always on the table outside which, apparently, isn’t completely level so as it warmed up and the snow began to melt, we’d just be sitting there, minding our own business, when suddenly there would be this alarming thump, and we’d rush to the window to see Laynni’s most recent creation hideously smashed on the floor. Probably ever… so… slowly… sliding off the table, the whole way screaming in terror inside its dense little snow head, slowly coming to the horrifying realization that nobody was coming to help, ever. Thud.
What’s the golfing like?
Easy, so easy. As long as you hit it straight, of course. There are lots of water hazards. And trees, and sand, and other irritating stuff. And long, make sure you hit it long, too. And you’ll need to chip really well because the greens are often raised, with false fronts, steep slopes, and sometimes more than one tier. And they are pretty fast, so your putting better be locked in. If you do all that then, yeah, you should be fine. Unless your ball literally gets stuck in the tree, like Robin’s did. Right where we could see it, too. But if you don’t do that, then, you know, easy. And unless, of course, for the third time this month you’ve had a starter tell you they’ve “never seen wind like this here”. Awesome.
How can you prepare for an afternoon of wine tasting?
A good night’s sleep, eat plenty of bread with breakfast (for soaking purposes) and then, if possible, try to pick out an ensemble that can seamlessly include a protective smock.
Does Kelowna have enough duck crossings?
Obviously, it would take months, years even, of intense, detailed studies to determine exactly how many hand-drawn “duck crossing” signs would be sufficient to fully curtail traffic-related duck tragedies in Kelowna. But we personally saw one sign and one group of ducks on the road, and we didn’t kill any of them. Anecdotal evidence to be sure, but I think they may be on to something.
What are the entertainment options?
Well, as we’ve discussed, in Peachland there is the Legion, and a fish and chips place, and the IGA seemed pretty festive, at least as far as grocery stores go. Venturing farther into Kelowna proper opens up all sorts of dining and drinking alternatives, though, or you can limit your range to one specific AirBnB on Atkinson Drive where you can watch both Exotic Marigold Hotel movies back to back with your in-laws. For a second time. Reviews of the sequel were mixed:
“It was, um, weird.” – Lyle Locke, viewer of movies targeting people of a certain age
Does Peachland have a giant mural showing guys pushing boxes around on dollies while businessmen do a drug deal on the dock?
Now that we’ve decided to spend the entire winter in Canada (our first since 2007), it appears we will have many months ahead of us with lots of time for writing and website development. Which inspired me to enter a submission to become a contributor to The Beaverton. The Beaverton is a satirical news website, basically a Canadian version of Waterford Whispers News, which is an Irish version of The Daily Mash, which is a British version of The Shovel, which is more or less just an Australian version of The Onion, which is an American satirical news site that somehow seems much less insane than real news these days. Anyway, the good people at The Beaverton either spent two months agonizing over my clever headlines before finally, and very reluctantly, deciding to pass, or two months completely ignoring them, eventually giving them a cursory glance and dismissing them out of hand as “obvious shit”. But I thought they were funny and couldn’t bring myself to just delete them, so here they are:
Man enjoying long walk on the beach surprised by lack of soulmate encounters
In downtown Toronto, thousands join hands in support of social distancing
Government funding approved for CFL to complete 2020 season on Sega Genesis
As CERB payments end, luxury yacht sales plummet
“Canadian bacon” revealed to be squirrel
Promising Russian vaccine moves into human sacrifice stage
Sneaky Albertans visiting BC replacing license plates with signed photos of Brock Boeser
Saskatchewan residents prepare to be outraged if they ever happen to receive an interprovincial visitor
Alberta deal to join USA falls through over irreconcilable differences on Milan Lucic
Cruise ships start offering premium breakfast sandwich upgrade to anyone who can prove they contracted COVID on board
Now, a few more photos:
That is all. Next, up: Island life from Courtenay, BC
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