Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Wine tasting on Naramata Bench

Some photos from our day of wine tasting today on the beautiful Naramata Bench overlooking Lake Okanagan. This is the outdoor patio at La Frenz with its million dollar view.

Next stop was Terra Vista, which focuses on grapes from Spain. I enjoyed tasting the wine and visiting with the dog, while Harry enjoyed chatting with the guys who grow the grapes and make the wine. Because he's the driver, he doesn't do much tasting but he does like talking with the guys about the vats and the equipment and the land.

We had lunch in an orchard at Joie, a farm and vineyard with wonderful wood-fired pizza served al fresco.  And they had a Border Collie puppy for me to visit with. What could be better?
Harry liked the dogs but also the 1942 Ford truck. 

It was a fabulous day and tomorrow we say farewell to the Okanagan and head east to continue our trip towards the Kootenays.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Water and wine

Water and wine are the two things that we've been paying attention to the past couple of days here in Penticton. Water, because this year there's been big-time flooding here and Okanagan Lake is higher than it's been in sixty years. Flooding started in May and was predicted to continue into July.

The beaches along Okanagan Lake don't really exist now as the water is right up to the sidewalks. People are advised not to swim or let their dogs go in the water because it's contaminated from sewage and septic fields. All along the edge of the beach are piles of sandbags and fencing.

People tell us it's starting to recede now but we see lots of places where the docks and the benches and trees along the beach are still under water.  Lots of people are contstantly pumping out their basements but the water table is so high that water just seeps back in. Hopefully now that the warm weather has arrived there will be evaporation and the waters will continue to recede and things can return to normal.

Because of the rain the hills are much greener than normal and it seems there's a magnificent wildflower bloom. The air here smells so sweet and fresh.

Now on to the wine part of this post. We've spent the last two days cruising some of the dozens of wineries in the area. Harry tastes the red and I taste the white and we've been collecting a few bottles. This was the view from a place we had lunch yesterday at Burrowing Owl Winery just south of Oliver. It was serene and delicious but rather pricey. 

Today we decided to do things differently and stopped at a grocery store to pick up a sandwich and a salad plus some olives, cheese, dip and crackers. We ended up at Sage Hills organic vineyard north of Summerland, where we purchased a bottle of cold Pinot Grigio and sat outside sipping and enjoying our picnic lunch. (For the observant ones, the wine in the photo is a rose, which we decided at the last minute to take home with us rather than open for lunch.)
Tomorrow we're heading up to the Naramata Bench, home to some well-respected wineries and we have a list of suggestions from the young woman at Sage Hills to guide us. There are so many to choose from and we're not the greatest researchers. And there's only so much wine that can be tasted in an afternoon. Thank goodness Harry is my designated driver. He usually has only one or two sips.

Here's a last photo of one of the lakes that we've been driving past. It's because of the water here that wine industry flourishes, of course. They really are connected. 

Monday, June 19, 2017

Stories from another time

When I was thirteen I moved with my family from Vancouver to live in a small mining community called Bralorne in the interior of British Columbia. It was quite a change for a girl who had spent most of her years in urban Vancouover.  Bralorne was 380 miles and a world away. It had been built as a company town to mine gold in the early 1900s and when we lived there in the 1960s it hadn't changed much at all.                                               
Driving through the mountains around Princeton brought this time back to me very clearly. Although we drove on paved roads yesterday instead of gravel, the landscape and the bridges looked remarkably similar. This isn't a good photograph but if you look closely in the middle you'll see the old wooden bridge across the river. We drove over lots of these bridges on the way to Bralorne and it's been many years since I've seen a bridge like this.

Beside the river was this sign advertising cabins for rent by the night. These also looked familiar to me. Log cabins like this were tucked away here and there on those roads, many of them abandoned by prospectors years ago.

We went to take a look at these and found they've been operating as a motel since the 1930s. The office indicated it was open but there was a sign on the door to contact the owner by phone. We wanted to stay the night but my phone message wasn't answered for a couple of hours, by which time we'd found another place to stay. Too bad! It could have been fun, although I suspect the inside of these might have been pretty dreary.

Princeton is trying hard to modernize and it has fountains and boulevards and gazebos and modern store fronts, but what drew my attention were the vestiges from the earlier days--like these old cars in an auto garage right on the main street.

Here are a couple more images that remind me of the past: a field of mustard beneath dry hills and the wild roses that bloom along the roadsides.

It was a trip into the past yesterday. Today we are in Penticton, a modern, touristy city set between two lovely lakes in the Okanagan district. We're here for a few days and plan to explore the wineries that are the highlight of this area.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Vancouver secrets

We spent two days in Vancouver and discovered some wonderful things to do and see, thanks to our friend Kath who lives there. In no particular order they are:

1.    The Museum of Anthropology at UBC

This is an astounding collection of British Columbia indigenous art housed in a building that is so connected to the land that it makes you feel you are standing in a First Nations village. After you enter you walk down a ramp with exhibits on each side to arrive at a spot with huge windows looking out on a shingle beach and water and grassy meadows beyond. These are not your conventional carved poles, but pieces of art that show the stunning originality of the Native peoples that created them.

There was also a gallery featuring artifacts from other cultures, hundreds of them. Here's the one I liked the best. It's a collection of carved hanging drums from Fiji (I think). Each one when tapped with a finger sounded a different note.

2.  The Botanical Gardens, also at UBC, were created by David Lam about 25 years ago, offer a serene space to explore the plants native to British Columbia plus others from further afield.

We spent a wonderful couple of hours walking pathways through areas of ponds, forest, and meadow. It's also a teaching garden and a food garden, offering its produce to those in need.

These last two are places to eat, the first one is a coffee shop/store called Le Marché St. George, on a residential corner in the Mount Pleasant neighbourhood. We went there for coffee and crepes for breakfast and spent a wonderful hour sitting outside on a bench talking to neighbours who frequent this lovely place.

And for dinner last night we met up with Jamie at Via Tevere an authentic Napoli pizza place also in an old frame building in the Strathcona neighbourhood. The lineup was huge and we waited an hour but the pizza, olives and arugula salad made it completely worthwhile.

Here we are with Jamie outside Via Tevere after a fabulous dinner.  It's so nice having a local guide to places like this.

Today we headed east towards the Okanagan and tonight we're staying in the ranching town of Princeton. It's quite a change from Vancouver.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

The start of a road trip

After two weeks at home we're headed off on a British Columbia road trip. It's coming a little close on the heels of our Mexico City adventure but it will be an entirely different trip.  Our little car is stuffed with books and a cooler and several changes of shoes, binoculars and other necessities. Very different from the carry-ons that we took with us last month.

We've spent the last two weeks getting caught up and readying our house and our AirBnB suite for guests and yesterday afternoon we arrived in Vancouver.  We're here for a couple of days staying with a friend before heading to the interior of the province. Our destinations are the Okanagan and eventually the Kootenays.

This is Granville Island, where we're heading today to pick up some fresh local food for dinner. When we packed for this trip it was warm and sunny in Victoria and somehow we managed to leave our raincoats back at home. Today it's raining lightly, but that's a Vancouver trademark so we'll just make do with our umbrellas.  I'm hoping that the weather will improve as we head inland.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Jackie's superb photography show

My friend Jackie is an artist of many mediums--and her latest is photography. Today she was showing her beautiful photos in her studio in Oak Bay. I knew I had to go even though it's been a busy, busy day. And I was so happy to spend time with these sensitive, serene photographs.

She calls her show "Quiet Devotion" and the title is so apt. Her photos reflect her devoted eye in finding patterns and textures everywhere in nature.

Here's just a taste of what was on display.

Now if you missed the show opening, which was only today, it's not too late to see her photography. The show is up for the next couple of weeks and you need only email her to arrange a time for a private viewing. I highly recommend it. Email her at

As a bonus you'll get to see here lovely back garden and studio with her collection of succulents.