Extra long weekend friends trip to the Okanagan

On Friday, since I had an extra day off to extend my long weekend (thank you, work!) we set out on our annual Okanagan trip in a sort of “Jack & Jill” weekend event. Oh, by the way, NPY and I are Jack and Jill. However, we would have gone on this trip regardless of any upcoming big event and there thankfully wasn’t any muss and fuss about it to embarrass us. It was just good friends spending a weekend together.

Days away: 4
Total number of travellers: 10 (8 adults, 2 children)
Max distance away from home: 440km (Vernon)
Distance covered in OK: 115km (Vernon to Penticton)
Wineries visited: 3 + 0 + 2 + 4
Water activities days: 2
Different water activities: 3
Meals at wineries: 3 (twice at Sunset Bistro)

Most scenic moment: Driving south on the Okanagan Highway/Highway 97 and just leaving the Vernon city limits – you’re high above the sparkling blue-green waters and can take in the sprawling length of beautiful and clear Kalamalka Lake.

Most delicious moment (food): Very plump and orange Quadra Island rope grown mussels at Sunset Organic Bistro at Summerhill Pyramid Winery. We went back two nights later and I made a meal out of the mussels appetizer and requested no mint to be added to the Pinot Gris, peas, leek and butter broth so that it was even better.

Most delicious moment (drink): At Quail’s Gate, upon a recommendation from a client, we tried the Family Reserve wines. The Stewart Family Reserve was so buttery you could smell it and it was so “round” and “smooth” with a final oak taste and a great aftertaste. I’m skeptical that I would enjoy it as much under different conditions and having a larger volume – plus it was a pricey bottle of wine – so I did not buy it.

Favourite wineries: Dirty Laundry, which has added some edge to its image – I love the story behind its origins and the cheeky names although all I picked up was a Threadbare Vines Gewurztraminer. Sumac Ridge, where the associate, John, was was so knowledgeable and friendly, sold us onto the wine club and the Black Sage branch of Sumac Ridge, especially their port, er, Pipe.

Most photogenic moment: Coordinating the four guys to take a leap simultaneously off a few steps at Mission Hill with the arch as a backdrop.

Most sad moment: Taking a Best Pic burst of 8 shot of the above photogenic moment but not selecting the best, minimizing my Camera app to check a previous set of Best Pics I had saved, only lose the Most Photogenic Moment photos forever.

Kick things off at Summerhill Pyramid Winery with a tour

A sight different from “the usual” in the Okanagan – a lavender farm!

Delicious mussels we went back for two days later (they are rope grown off Quadra Island) – my first mussel (pictured in the forefront) was twice the normal size, a little scary but turned out to be delicious.

Some solid beach time at Kalamalka Lake. And learning that Kal Tire that we see throughout Vancouver is named after Kalamalka Lake in Coldstream, BC.

Reliving our youth, trying out the waterslide at our hotel which you can see as it juts out of the hotel side. It was crazy fast and dark in there!

Obligatory (and delicious) fancy dinner at Peak Fine in Sparkling Hill Resort – introducing them all to our next “target” when we come back: to stay at Sparkling Hill Resort (or Predator Ridge Resort) and visit Kur Spa and golf at Predator Ridge. I get goofy when I see a big overhead mirror and take a picture like this:

Our dear friend Edna put in so much effort once I told her about the Penticton lazy river channel as something I’d like us to do. We drove by it last year and it was “now or never” to do it this year. I serendipitously learned a co-worker has a floating mattress and Edna ran around looking for other floating recreational devices. The weather forecast in Penticton looked iffy for the time frame we selected to go down the channel and there was some running around to drop off a car at the halfway point for us to pick up. There was a great deal of waiting time to pump air into a mattress, to queue to order a rental inner tube and then to queue to pick up the inner tube. It was during this time that I got to observe the demographics of the population that was floating down the river and we very definitely did not fit into the norm being neither young nor local. However, on the river, you hardly had to notice the other groups for there was plenty of space between floating parties and I really had no need to fear bad behaviour around me. I was a little adamant to see the whole lazy river channel through and not stop halfway and Randy and Simon were game to join me. There was some more waiting at the end point since we didn’t have mobiles to contact those people with the car. There was also a great deal of true, deep belly laughter because it was altogether such a different experience out of our usual comfort zones we wouldn’t normally do in Vancouver.

I was thoroughly soaked while on the lazy river channel from the chest down and we had some serious envy for the floating islands we saw.


Another one of those “are you freakin’ kidding me” beautiful views of the Okanagan lakes. This one is from Grey Monk. It’s crazy how the lakes are so blue/green (cyan) and beautiful while the surrounding hills are semi-desert.

Our haul for six of us for the weekend. NPY and I did the most damage with 30 bottles for the party and then at least a half dozen other bottles. There is another one case behind these.

Great trip… NPY’s long time friends were so good to make this happen, we hope we were good company. We’re already talking about next year’s wine country trip!

On this day..