Location: Whitby, Ontario, Canada

Born in Malta but in Canada since age 5. Has written three books and presently does several columns about wine and food for various magazines.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

DAY Six: August 7-----Sites Around Penticton

Breakfast With Kelly
We were out of our rooms and in the lobby by 9 AM. The mornings in this particular part of Lake Okanagan were so serene, it was difficult to walk around without feeling that one was an intrusion. Greg and I were to meet Kelly Reid at the B.C. Wine Information Centre. Kelly was going to show us the cultural and scenic sites around the area and believe me, there were many!
British Colombia Wine Information Centre
The BC Wine Information Centre opened in 1997 and was the first V.Q.A. store in British Colombia. Apart from wine, it displayed and sold gifts, wine accessories, lo cal food items, cooking and wine books. In addition to the above, there was a great deal of information regarding the area and its many travelling destinations. This centre is managed by Laura Kowalchuk. The centre proper was run by the B.C. Wine Information Society.
Kelly was personality plus and made us comfortable very quickly. She certainly had the right temperament for the job. Her agenda was quite full so we were off, first for breakfast and then the tour.
We had breakfast at the foot of Main Street in Penticton and by the water of Lake Okanagan. I believe that the spot where we ate was part of the Lake City Casino. The ambiance was splendid and the day was turning out lovely.
Kelly then drove us to a spacious garden with many lily ponds, varieties of trees and of course flowers. We spent about an hour filming and viewing but then it was off to the Smythe Road Hiking Trail (Skaha Bluffs).
This was rather one of the more humorous parts of the entire B.C. Okanagan tour. It was sunny and warm. Greg, Kelly and I decided to walk up to the bluff area of the trail. We could see the deep blue Skaha Lake below in the distance. Of course, I kept on looking for rattlesnakes at every nook and cranny of the trail (there were many around but they are secretive cusses). Greg filmed us walking up the trail, he and I walking up the trail and a couple of hikers that came along (think that they were from Quebec) made great shots as they hiked and attempted to climb one of the cliffs for Greg while he shot them.
Then came the water bombers. The area north of Penticton and Kelowna was under siege from wild fires. One would not know it here since the most we saw was a slight haze which reminded me of a hot, humid and misty day in Toronto. As a matter of fact, it seemed that the smog in Toronto was worse. However, the planes would come. As soon as Greg got his camera ready, they would disappear. Greg and the planes played hide and seek with each other until he gave up out of frustration. Once he gave up, the planes started coming in droves----one after another. I couldn't help but laugh since this could have been taken right out of an old Warner Brothers Cartoon!
Actually the Skaha Bluffs were a very scenic spot with a vast expanse of hilly country bordered by huge vertical cliffs jutting up into the sky at about 90 degrees. The land was strewn with pines at various stages of growth and there was the desert vegetation also. Then there was the lake below. So blue and lovely. The whole scene viewed as one picture was utterly remarkable. To think that there were other equally if not more beautiful spots in the Okanagan.
Kelly then turned her attention to lunch and the Casabella Princess.
Okanagan Boat Ride on the Casabella Princess
First we went and had a light lunch at a place called Copper Cup Coffee where we had a couple of sandwiches and coffee. We then drove to the Penticton Marina where we were to board the Casabella Princess for a one hour tour. Greg and I got a kick out of a little pooch who was attacking the huge rope that held the boat (more like a ferry) in place. The dog was relentless and would not stop.
Greg and I got aboard and awaited the owners to launch the boat. Andy and Barbara Seifert provided a very entertaining one hour tour. Unlike the famed Gilligan's Island boat, the going wasn't getting rough and the mighty ship did not get lost. We were just entertained to the maximum by the husband and wife duo. One thing that did bug me (no pun intended) was a young 12 or 13 year old kid was capturing wasps in his drink and was having the greatest time torturing the poor creatures----until I couldn't take it any longer and grabbed the container and let them go. I really do not believe that any creature should be put through that. Living creatures are living creatures. I was tempted to give this kid a shove off the boat though!
The boat ride was leisurely and relaxing. Greg and I opted for beer rather than wine this time around. The breeze coming off Lake Okanagan was cooling and comfortable and the guests were great.
Greg and I then went out for a bite to eat and then had a bit of wine and some eats as we watched a movie to end the evening.
End of Day Six