We left Omak fairly early in the morning. It was quite cloudy and we thought it would be a bad day's drive, but it wasn't; it cleared up pretty quickly. We didn't stop all that often because there wasn't anything in particular to see... there were fields and hills in the distance, but that was it. It was quite relaxing, really.
We reached the border crossing at Osoyoos sooner than we thought we would. This crossing is so tiny compared to the Ontario ones. :) It wasn't even busy. Goodbye, Washington state and hello, Canada!
The change between the US Okanogan and the Canadian Okanagan was immediate and clear: the Canadian side was all built up and commercialized. There were billboards as far as the eye could see on both sides of the road and businesses everywhere. Where the US side was all about growing, the Canadian side from Osoyoos all the way to Kelowna was all about commercialism and tourism.
I was shocked and appalled. There are virtually no national or provincial parks in the area, and where there are parks, people have built right up to the border of them. I'd seen that around San Francisco and I didn't like it there... I don't much like it in BC, either. We even saw signs protesting the formation of a new national park!
We stopped for lunch in Kelowna and wandered around at the beach downtown for a while. Later on we went to another park/beach in the city (Gyro Beach Park) where I'd spent a few weeks the summer I was 15. I had a lot of memories there and I wanted to "see" them again, if that makes sense. It's hard to believe that my niece and nephew are going to be 15 this year - the same age as I was that summer.
Between seeing the parks, we decided to go for a little hike in Okanagon Mountain Provincial Park. It's next to a very, very nice area in Kelowna; there are houses for sale there that are in the $3M and up range. We knew it was an expensive area because there were lots of waterfront properties and other properties overlooking the water... but we were surprised at just how much those properties are going for. Several properties are up for sale right now, if you're interested in a summer cottage in BC.
The park we were in was where the fire of 2003 started; lightning struck a tree and the fire was on. There is still a lot of evidence of the fire with lots of burnt trees and new underbrush growing. You may not be surprised to find out that the hike turned out to be a bit longer and harder than we'd thought it would be. We didn't actually finish our hike but we did enjoy it. We saw a few other people in the area - one fellow was carrying an altimeter and clearly hiked the area a lot. :)
When we finished our hike and visiting the aforementioned beach in Kelowna, we hit the road again. We had thought about staying in Kelowna but it was too .... not right for us. So we drove up to Kamloops and stayed there. That drive was beautiful because we were driving in the evening amongst the fields with the hills in the distance - much like our drive in the morning.
After checking the maps, we discovered that we could actually drive pretty easily to Whistler from Kamloops along highway 99. So we did that. This is a beautiful, windy drive through the mountains. We saw a number of cyclists riding up the mountains as well; when we stopped, we saw their pit crew. Apparently they're driving up from Texas to Alaska to raise money for some cancer-related thing. It looked like they were working very hard.
The place we stopped (ok, it was a pit stop for us, too; there aren't many in the mountains) turned out to be a lovely lake... with a lot of mosquitos. We got some photos before we were driven away by the insects.
From there, we continued to Lillooet, where I looked up and saw a cloud attached to a mountain?... no... no... that was definitely smoke. And then I saw a plane dumping red stuff onto the fire causing the smoke. Once we found a place we could stop, we did, so that we could get some pictures. Many other people stopped as well - we hadn't realized that so many people were behind us. They were fighting the fire as we watched, with three or four helicopters pulling water out of the lake and dumping it onto the fire and also a plane dumping the red stuff. It seemed like every time I blinked, there was smoke in a new spot. It was kind of scary to watch but also cool. I don't think that this was last week's big fire that evacuated part of the town, but it was still pretty big.
We'd sort of thought we could park in Whistler and then find a place to eat. Ha! There's no parking there. Of course it was Saturday, and all the parking lots are under construction, and there are only five parking spots in the visitor's center. So we drove around, got annoyed at all the people and the lack of parking, and left. We ate in Squamish instead and then drove back to Burnaby.
We didn't take that many pictures on this leg of the trip, but what we did take are here. We also added a couple of new small animal pictures here.
Next up: the Vancouver-area sites we saw.