Random road-trip to…um…somewhere!

28 06 2011

After a mellow week of relaxing after a lot of traveling, I didn’t expect much from my Saturday.  I did, however, wake up fairly early.  Thinking I would lounge around most of the morning anyway, I rolled back over and snuggled back into the covers.  Justin, however, had other plans.

“Get up!  I need you to pack some clothes for hiking, some clothes for traipsing around town, and, uh, a bathing suit.  Let’s go!”  He had his bag out and most of his stuff packed before I even managed to get out of bed.   Was he insane?  Maybe still asleep and having a very vivid dream?

No, he was dead serious.  We’re currently out of coffee filters, so I didn’t even get caffeine while I scrambled to pack for an overnight trip I knew nothing about.  Clothes, toothbrush, clean underwear, and away we went.  A quick stop for breakfast to go and we were cruising down the highway, headed north.

At first, I tried to guess our destination.  Okanagan?  Nope.  Spokane?  Nope.  I tried piecing together what little information I had, snippets of instruction from Justin in the packing process.  And we were heading north on 97…what was north?  We must be connecting over to somewhere.  Justin just smiled at my feeble attempts to sleuth my way to an answer.  I finally gave up and just enjoyed the beautiful drive.

Until I saw a large gateway ahead, like a toll booth or something.  Wait, did that sign say “customs”?  The Canadian border??  I had actually asked, jokingly of course, if we were jumping the border to Canada, but Justin didn’t say anything about bringing a passport.  And since the days of 9/11, you now need a passport even for Canada.

The border patrol was fairly friendly, and I sat in total bewilderment as she asked for our passports and Justin pulled TWO small booklets from his back pocket.  The sneaky bugger had brought my passport along, not needing to tell me to bring it, hence adding to the suspense of the trip.  I didn’t even know what to say.

Once the second not-so-friendly border patrol finally let us through, we continued through the beautiful Okanogan Valley and Canada’s greenbelt.  In this southern-most region, orchards and vineyards sprawled as far as the eye could see.  Well, at least as far up against the base of the mighty rock walls as they could get.  We drove up to Penticton, about an hour or so north of the border, and I pretty much just stared out my window with my mouth open the whole way.

Speed limits were in kilometers, gas prices were in litres, and both bikers and hitchhikers were abundant along the road sides.  The crazy rock walls rising on both sides were stunning.

Parking downtown, we caught the tail-end of the Saturday market, catching a glimpse of arts and crafts, food carts, and fresh goodies.  The shops, food, and the people all looked so intriguing.  So many different accents floated by, most of which I couldn’t place.  A little French over there, I think, and that one sounded British.  I relished every minute in happy wonderment.

Penticton, British Columbia, Canada

We checked into our hotel and walked back downtown.  The weather was gorgeous and the streets were packed, due to two huge events: a classic car show and an Elvis Impersonation Competition/Festival.  Hilarious.  There were Elvises and muscle cars everywhere!  Not surprising, the crowd trended toward the older generations, but they were none the less rowdy!  It was still rather idyllic, walking down the sandy lake shore, hand in hand, with Elvis seranading us and revving engines sending the birds flying up around us.  Lovely.  🙂

On the pier in Penticton

Elvis lives!

We came across a miniture golf course and couldn’t resist.  Despite Justin’s terrible score-keeping abilities, I’m pretty sure I won.

After a slight break at the hotel, we headed back out for dinner.  We found this little Greek-Italian restaurant tucked into the downtown area.  The atmosphere was unique, the food scrumptous, and the wine and candlelight romantic.  The slightly late hour meant less people and we sat over our wine talking for a long time.  I’d say it was a perfect ending to a perfect day.

After a lazy Sunday morning, we finally hit the road once more.  We stopped at a roastery and cafe downtown for brunch, to be served by the unusual employees.  Then we headed back south, down the east side of the lakes this time, and stopped above Skaha Lake for a little hiking in the Skaha Bluffs.  It was like the Smith Rock of Canada – a rock climber’s mecca.  Awe-inspiring walls of rock soared above, and climbers could be seen on many of the rocks.  The views were fantastic, the weather gorgeous, the foliage spectacular.  Despite dressing too warm and having my knee cramp up on the way down, it was one of the best hikes I’ve done in a while.  And that’s saying something.

Skaha Bluffs, Canada

Even the trip home was lovely, with the wind through the windows, the radio loud, and a pit-stop for gelato.  It was a quick trip, but a wonderful one.  I have a new appreciation for our friendly northern neighbors, a new understanding of the metric system, and an anticipation for when we get to go back.  Everyone we talked to couldn’t believe we just jumped in the car with no plans, barely even a destination.  Come on people, where’s your sense of adventure and spontaneity??

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