Kelowna – Part 1 of 3

Last week Julie and I embarked on a week long holiday to Kelowna for some relaxation, lots of food, wine tours, cider tastings, and to visit my friend Krystylyn. We left on Saturday September 5th and went home on Saturday September 12th.

Saturday September 5th 2020

Saturday was our travel day to Kelowna. We set off towards Kelowna at around 8:00am. On our way we had a quick stop for lunch at Subway in Golden. Continuing on, we also stopped at Dutchmen Dairy to get some delicious ice cream and to see their baby cows. Julie & I both had lemon sherbet flavour, and agreed that it was the best ice cream that we have ever eaten. The baby cows were extremely cute to see as well!

After our stop at Dutchmen Dairy we walked across the street to the farmers market where we picked up some fresh fruit and vegetables. After picking up vegetables we drove to Grass Root Dairies for some delicious gouda cheese. This is the first time in six years since I’ve been to the dairy farm. The 37 year old farm was purchased from the Gort Family 11 years ago by the Wikkerinks Family. The name was recently changed from Gort’s Gouda Farm to Grass Root Dairies. I’ve been coming here every time I drive through the area since I was 16 years old.

After 9 hours of driving, and poor directions from our AirBnb host we finally found our condo building, which was located at Lake Okanogan Resort, about a 20 minute drive outside of Kelowna on West Side Road. We spent nearly 30 minutes looking for the building with the host’s poor directions, but if he had just stated to put Lake Okanogan Resort into Google Maps it would have solved a lot of the problem.

Our well furnished condo was located on the 7th floor of the “Terrace 3” building… well technically it’s the sixth floor according to the elevator, as the elevator starts on floor 2, which it considers as the main floor. The condo was lacking a few amenities which we believe should be standard in every rental, including shampoo, soap, toilet paper, and dish washing tablets for the dishwasher. We ended up having to purchase our own when we went grocery shopping the next day.

After settling into our condo and unpacking we drove into Kelowna to have some delicious dinner at El Taquero. Julie and I ordered some mini tacos and some drinks. I had a Mezcal Sour, and Julie had a Blood Orange Gin.

After eating dinner we went to BNA Brewing for a drink and to fill my beer growler. Julie had a delicious can of SOMA dry cider. I had “Big Mario” IPA as well as filled my growler with the same.

After having a drink we walked around the Marina before heading back to our condo for the evening. During our walk I saw a beautiful floatplane docked next to a nice boat.

Sunday September 6th 2020

Sunday was a supposed to be a lazy start to the day, but we were both awake by 8:00am. We had breakfast at the condo with the fruit and veggies that we had purchased yesterday.

First stop of the day was the Kangaroo Creek Farm, which recently moved next to the airport. The hobby farm has been around for 9 years now and is a wonderful place to visit with anyone, including children. The farm has all sorts of animals including kangaroos, birds, goats, turkeys, sugar gliders, ducks, and porcupines. Entrance fee’s are very reasonable; $12 for adults, $6 for children and seniors, and free for children under 4 years old.

On our way driving to the Kangaroo Creek Farm we saw a cidery next door called Upside Cider. We decided to stop there for a flight of ciders and some lunch. We shared a gluten-free fire cooked Chorizo and Salami pizza, which was delicious.

After lunch we drove to Gray Monk winery for a wine tasting. They had delicious wines and we ended up buying a bottle of Meritage. I was specifically looking for a particular Gammy Noir wine, which apparently they stop making in 2013, but they recommended that we try Intrigue winery, which was just up the road. Gray Monk was founded in 1972 by the Heiss Family, and is one of my favourite winerys. When Gray Monk was first started, they began as an Estate Winery due to regulations at the time. Rules have changed since then, as there is now a simplified distinction between a land-based (farm style) winery, and a commercial winery, but Gray Monk choose to keep the Estate Winery status because of its history and importance.

Located just up the road from Gray Monk is Intrigue Wines. The vineyard was established in 2008 by the Davis & Wong families. Roger Wong originally worked over at Gray Monk before starting Intrigue Wines. I personally didn’t like their wines, and didn’t purchase anything from them.

Ancient Hill Winery was the next stop. Julie and I quite liked the wines here and I ended up purchasing a Baco Noir, and Julie ended up purchasing a Gewurztraminer. Ancient Hill was founded in 2009 by Richard and Jitske Kamphuys.

We then tried to go to Arlo Bee Farm, which we both thought was a disappointment. We thought it would have been a lot more informative, but it really lacked information. We were told that their honey is quite nice, and it is featured at Tantalus Winery, among other places.

Next stop was Okanogan Wine and Spirits, where Darren showcased a variety of Whisky, Gin and Liqueurs to Julie and I. Darren was absolutely hilarious and is very knowledgeable on all the products. I ended up purchasing a Huckleberry Liqueur, which I mix with sparkling water. The distillery was founded in 2004 and utilizes 100% locally grown fruits and grains.

Next up was dinner, which we had at a wonderful restaurant called KRAFTY Kitchen + Bar. Due to COVID-19 they had an interesting way of ordering; you just text them your order and they will respond to let you know they received it, and then a short while later bring it out. I had the Truffled Mac N’ Cheese, which was amazing. Julie had the Saffron Tomato Risotto, which was also delicious.

The final stop for the day was Superstore to pickup some groceries for the week. When we arrived back at the condo we relaxed down by the beach and played some Catan, which is our favourite game.

Monday September 7th 2020

Monday was our day with my friend Krystylyn. We met her at her apartment at 8:00am and drove to the Myra Canyon Trestles for a bicycle ride. Krystylyn brough her bicycle with her on the back of her, and Julie and I rented a bicycle from the rental guys at the top for $39 each.

The Myra Canyon Trestles are a popular area for people to hike and ride along just 30 minutes outside of Kelowna. The history of the trestles stems back to 1915 when the Kettle Valley Railway (subsidiary of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR)) was incorporated. The railway was operated between 1915 and was partially abandoned in 1961, with the last train operating in 1989.

The railways was built for servicing the growing mining demands of the British Columbia Southern Interior. When the original CPR main transcontinental railway was completed in 1885 it had to be routed through the Rocky Mountains at Kicking Horse and Rogers Pass, which left a significant amount of mining towns un-serviced by the main railway. It was decided to build the Kettle River Railway to service the area, at an astonishing cost of $20 million, which was the highest cost per mile of any railway built at the time. The Railway was built in several sections between Kamloops and Midway, with some offshoots heading to Copper Mountain and Osoyoos. The project took nearly 20 years to complete. The most difficult portion of the railway is between Myra Station and June Springs Station; which required 18 wooden trestles and two tunnels.

After the railway was abandoned in 1989 the area quickly became popular with hikers and cyclists, due to its gentle grade. The bridges fell into disarray due to vandals and after petitioning from locals the government designated that section into a National Historic Site in 2002.

In September 2003 the Okanagan Mountain Park Fire ripped through the area and engolfed 12 of the 18 trestles. In addition, the bridge decks of two metal bridges were also destroyed. The bridges were eventually rebuilt by the British Columbia provincial government. Our ride took about 2 hours and was quite chilly since the sky was overcast, and we were higher up in the hills.

After returning our bikes and driving down the hill we went to Smokes Poutinerie for lunch. The menu was fairly limited compared to pre-COVID times, but it was still pretty good. I had a triple pork poutine.

After lunch we walked over to Rustic Reel Brewing and had some beverages. I had two pints of their Hazy IPA. Julie had Sajiva Kombucha, and Krystylyn had an assorted flight of beers.

After lunch we said bye to Krystylyn and drove back to our condo, where we spent the rest of the day relaxing, playing games, and down by the beach.

Be sure to check back soon for part 2 of 3 in my Kelowna series.

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August 15th 2016 – Outback Tour Day 6 of 10

Last night we slept in swags around the campfire. Over the last week or so I’ve been reading the book that Koop Kooper gave to me called Cocktail Nation: The Interviews 2. I finished it the previous evening by the campfire underneath the beautiful stars. You could even see the Milky Way. I’m blessed to have received this autographed book from Koop. I highly recommend it if you’re into classic retro music. Koop talks 19 different artists ranging from Jimmy Borges, to Irwin Chusid (fascinating read about Esquivel), and to Laurie Allyn. You can visit Koop’s website at https://cocktailnation.net/ and purchase his book from Amazon here:

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We woke up again at 5:30am, but someone’s phone was going off again at 5:00am. I ate some toast and cereal for breakfast, as well as had some coffee. I then washed up, packed my bags, and rolled up my swag. It’s very important to roll your swag nice and tight because if you don’t snakes could potentially get in. Simon ended up having to re-roll six swags because they were not rolled up tight enough.

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We left the camp site at 6:30am. We passed through Tennent Creek, which is the largest town in the area. The first telegraph station was built here, but the actual town site is about 8km from the telegraph station. The reason for this is that a truck with alcohol broke down about 8km from the telegraph station, and people congregated around it, and that’s where the actual town site was built.

The next stop, two hours away, was the Devil’s Marbles. Aboriginals felt a devilish creature lived in the rocks because sheep were eaten by dingo’s. Aboriginals also wore belts made of their wife’s hair. The Devil’s Marbles were formed from sedimentation from an inland sea. The marbles were originally underground, but due to erosion they have slowly shown up over time. It is said that there are more underneath and they will be exposed over the years. The marbles consist of sandstone.

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The boulders at Devil’s Marbles can crack and split completely perfectly. This occurs due to very fine secondary cracks, called joints, getting penetrated by rain water. The rain water reacts with some of the minerals in the rock, so that they decompose to clay. The weight of the two halves can cause them to split perfectly and fall apart.

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There are two species that live quite well in the desert like conditions at Devil’s Marbles; a desert frog and crab. The water-holding frog, Cyclorana australis, is known for its ability to bury itself alive in order to survive droughts. Before burrowing underground, this large frog bloats itself with water. While it is buried, the frog slowly absorbs the water through its stomach lining, thus avoiding dehydration. The drought surviving crab, Austrothelphusa transversa, grows up to 50 mm across and lives in deep burrows in the creek bank. During dry times, it blocks the entrance to its burrow and retreats to a small, moist chamber at the bottom where, like the frog, it patiently waits for rain.

The next stop, 20 minutes away, was Wycliffe Well. Wycliffe Well is the UFO capital of Australia. There is a secret army base in Alice springs called Pine Gap, and people in the area claim to have been abducted by aliens. This would be equivalent to Australia’s version of Area 51.

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After our brief stop in Wycliffe Well we continued on to Barrow Creek Pub. One the way to Barrow Creek we did a quiz. I got 11 out of 19 questions correct. Simon said the questions were a bit biased because they were more about Australian things. Luckily some of the questions were the same ones from Alex’s set of questions so I remembered what the answer’s were.

We arrived in Barrow Creek. Barrow Creek is an isolated and tiny outpost that became a piece of famous history when on July 14th 2001 it became a vital part of one of the Australian outback’s most famous horrific and mysterious crimes. On the night of July 14th, Bradley John Murdoch stopped a Volkswagen van driven by an English traveller, Peter Falconio, and persuaded Falconio to leave his vehicle. Falconio was shot, and Falconio’s girlfriend Joanne Lees was tied up. She managed to escape and hide in the bushes along the side of the highway and was eventually picked up by a road train truck driver, who took her 13 km south to the Barrow Creek Pub where the police were alerted. There is a movie based on this called Wolf Creek. I was told I should watch this movie, but it is really scary. He said be glad that you didn’t watch the movie before traveling through the area.

At the pub we ate sandwiches for lunch in a back room. One of the people on our group ate most of the tomatoes, which was fairly disrespectful. He’s done quite a few disrespectful things over the last six days and is starting to get on some of our nerves. Luckily he will not be on the last part of my tour. Simon had to dig into tomorrow’s food because of this. At the pub there is memorabilia everywhere dating back many decades. If you tell the pub owner where you are from he will point you to a section for your country and tell you facts about each piece. You can also write your name on the wall too if you would like. I didn’t write my name on the wall, but I wish I had now that I’m sitting here writing the blog.

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The next stop was Ti Tree for coffee and more fuel. We passed a man who is dying of a rare form leukemia. I was told that this is his third time traveling across the country to raise money. I couldn’t find any information by doing a Google search so if you know who this man is please let me know so I can post a link to his web page.

The next stop was Aileron to see a very odd Kangaroo, who’s name is too vulgar to repeat but we will call him “FN”, and his girlfriend pig called Apples. “FN” the kangaroo was introduced to Apples when his girlfriend passed away because he became depressed. I’m not entirely sure why, or how, but they definitely have an odd relationship. I will let you put the picture together for yourself. Aileron also has a beautiful tall statue on top of a hill.

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We learned some more interesting history as we continued another two hours towards Alice Springs. The word “selfie” is a word invented by an Australian man. The dingo isn’t native to Australia; it came from Asia. The Stewart Highway was one of the most dangerous highway in Australia until it was paved and upgraded in 1987 at a cost of approximately $200 million, as part of Australia’s bicentenary roadwork’s program. There are no police patrolling the majority of the highway, and until the end of 2006 there was no speed limit outside towns and other built-up areas on the Northern Territory part.

We arrived in Alice Springs at 5:30pm and were dropped off at our hostels. The majority of us are staying at a hostel called the Haven Backpackers Resort. I checked into my private room and was greeted by a slightly obnoxious smell of sewer gas. Other than that the room was great, spacious and roomy. I figured the smell would dissipate, but it hasn’t. Other people complained about the same smell in their room too. I did some investigating and even though that we are in the city we are still on a septic system, and it doesn’t handle it very well.

We all did our own things until about 7:00pm, when 16 of 19 people in our group walked over to The Rock Bar, which is on the main road in the city. Simon, our tour guide, even showed up which was fun. I ordered a kangaroo steak, and a pitcher of beer for dinner. Others ordered steaks, burgers, schnitzel, and salads. I had the only kangaroo steak that was left. It was pretty delicious, and didn’t have as much of a “game” taste as I thought it would. I was told it would taste similar to elk, but I wouldn’t agree. We all hung out until about 10:30pm, when we all walked back to the hostel together. This city is known to be extremely unsafe, so we were advised strongly by Simon to walk together in a group, or take a taxi. I went to sleep at about midnight, since tomorrow is a day off from traveling.

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August 9th 2016 – Melborne and Darwin

Today i slept in a bit, which was wonderful. I feel like I have not been able to catch up on sleep since I started my trip due to the early mornings. I had a lazy morning at the hotel editing photos, writing my blog, and making breakfast (more eggs, ham, and cheese on toast).
I left the hotel at 10:00am and boarded the train into the Central Business District (CBD). When I arrived at Southern Cross Station in the CBD I put my large backpack in a locker for the day for $12. I walked around the lanes and arcades, as well as looked at more historic buildings. I was starting to get hungry at about 1:00pm so I went in search of a place where I could find some Kangaroo to eat. I found a Burger cafe that served a Kangaroo Outback burger. The burger was absolutely delicious, albeit pricey. $15 only gets you a burger without fries.

After I finished my burger I travelled north by tram to a park, which had a beautiful small conservatory, and some old buildings. I then travelled East, through the cricket stadium area, to the Royal Botanical Gardens, which are world renowned. There is a lot of art, and memorials dedicated to the men who served in the wars.

After that I walked through an artsy University area, and an area called South Bank (I think) before heading back to Southern Cross Station. I had two pints of beer and some noodles for dinner before going to get my bag from the locker.

After getting my bag from the locker I boarded a double decker express airport bus to the airport. The bus driver, who looked like he was about 16, was the most herky jerky driver I’ve ever experienced in my life. I was actually quite sick to my stomach by the time I got to the airport.

When I got to the airport I was given the good news that I could check my bag for free, which I ended up doing. The only downside is that I have to wait for my bag in Darwin after disembarking the plane.

My phone battery was dead so I sat down next to someone and plugged my phone into the wall next to her. She was laughing hysterically at a video she was watching so I asked her what she was watching. She said “Orange is the New Black”. We kept on talking television shows, politics etc., and then a bunch of other people joined in the conversation too, so it really helped to pass the time. It was about an hour before the flight now so I cleared security, which was the least busy security I’ve ever seen at an equivalent sized airport. I sat down near the gate and continued talking with the people.

It was time to board the airplane to Darwin at 9:00pm. I was handed a census form when boarding them airplane and was told it would be a $180/day (maximum of $1800) fine if I didn’t fill it out, and there would be census staff on the other end to collect the papers. I was told if I did not fill it out and was caught leaving the country without filling it out then I was subject to the $1800 fine. They seemed fairly strict, so I obliged and filled it out. It is a requirement to do the census even if you’re not an Australian citizen and just visiting the country.

The JetStar flight to Darwin was cramped but smooth. On arrival in Darwin I got my checked bag from the baggage carousel, and boarded an airport shuttle bus that delivered me right to the doorsteps of my hotel, called the Poinciana Inn. My room key was waiting for me an a safe in the wall, which I was given the key code for via email earlier on. Off to get about three hours of sleep before my outback adventures!

You may not hear from me for a few days due to the fact I probably won’t have service, but I know I will have service in three days. Check back regularly for the next installment of my great Australian adventure.

If you like the content that I produce and want to donate money towards my travel, or buy me a cup of coffee please feel free to contribute towards it. I really appreciate it.