10/17/2003: Day 9: A misty travel day through picturesque Canadian Rockies
Slept in till 7:30 after bad night sleep in slushy Rogers Pass. This morning there is light Rain. But we can see the mountains!
Along the road, we stopped in a "Do not Stop: Avalanche Zone" near a curve in the highway so that I could take pictures of some little waterfalls pouring down the mountain we were passing into the creek by the roadbed. Small umbrella plus fast, large trucks in the rain equals wet. My camera got most of the benefit of the umbrella, as I protected it from both the rain above and the spray form the lorries. But it was quite pretty. I noticed on my return to the car that my breath came out in impressive streams of steam.
We later stopped at a little boardwalk pull out. Then we saw a "closed" sign, and a twenty-something guy crawling under the fence across the path to the boardwalk. Karen asked this frequently pierced and red-faced youth if it was worth the effort of crawling under the wire. He said that it was pretty cool.
I was reluctant to violate the "Private Property" and "Closed" signs. Karen led me on under the fence and up the boardwalk to quite a nice view of a waterfall. I appreciated the boardwalk enough to donate a loony (a Canadian 1-dollar coin has the duck-like loon on it's face) to the steel donations pillar even though it was supposed to be closed.
We stopped shortly thereafter at the Back To Nature herbal teahouse in Taft (near Malakwa on the Maple Leaf) for lunch. There was just this little cluster of small buildings right off of Hwy 1. Some billboards alerted us to its presence, but it still requires rapid braking to enter from the highway. It is a new place; cozy, rustic, friendly, good food. Herbs from their garden hung about, as did some artworks. It was a bright and open, yet cozy place to spend a long lunch hour. French Onion soup, clam chowder, home baked breads and pastries, and cappuccino! I enjoyed the elaborate Halloween decorations out front, as well as the toasty wood-heated and artistic interior of the place.
We passed emu & sheep farms, scenic in the misty afternoon. Low clouds hugged the little valleys and clung to the mountainsides. As we got to lower altitudes, the dark firs gave way to the colorful foliage we are more used to back home, but on much steeper hills.
We left 1 in Sicamous for the 97A and then the 97 at Vernon. We stopped at the London Drug in Vernon, BC for various and sundries. Frequent breaks are a big help when driving in the rain and fog on these winding roads with normal traffic.
On down 97, in Kelowna, Karen turned on to Sexsmith Rd. (no kidding) to get to the Geert Maas (www.geertmaas.org) studio and sculpture garden. He was working in the shed on the final touches for a sculpture to send to Munich. His wife led us through the indoor galleries, and we wandered in the light drizzle around his sculpture gardens. A horse farm across the road and the hills and fog streamers across the valley lent an almost surreal feel to the place. We were lucky that the place was open: The AAA book said that it was usually closed after Oct 1 except for special arrangements.
Then we drove on southward on 97 along Okanagan Lake looking for a place to spend the night. It was already dark when Karen stopped on impulse at the Peachland Fantasy Inn: A tall, Mediterranean- looking place built against a steep hill. The roadside sign said that parking was above, but there was an entry looking tall staircase by the sign. We tried going up it. No good. So, we drove around and found the rear, main entrance. We went inside, and eventually found Doug, the new owner. He, his wife Vicky, and their 3 kids had been there for 6 weeks. The former owner was a Lebanese guy who'd left a huge phone debt. Ergo: no phone on the premises. We stayed in the Egyptian Room, a Jacuzzi suite for $69 with a balcony over the roadway and looking out at and across the lake. What a deal! The bathroom wall was entirely decorated with an Egyptian dynastic-style painting (c. 1,500 BC), and the bedroom had a Roman mural (c. 100 AD) with a Grecian styled columns-and-lintel architectural flourish (c. 300 BC). There were hammered brass platters hanging around the walls with 16th century ships and nautical scenes. Anachronistic fun.
We had dinner in their solarium dining room with another pair of guests and the family. We just had a rich turkey soup and garlic bread. We hung out with the family and discussed plans for the next couple of days. Doug and I discussed our career bents: He is a certified firefighter, and heavy equipment operator, and general handyman. If it’s broke, he fixes it. I could relate.
Anyway, it was an interesting stay.