“It’s the fourth driest city in Canada,” he said. “Summerland is at the edge of Canada’s only semi-arid desert.”
“Kelowna looks like it’s right near there,” I said pointing to Google Maps on my phone. “They closed down the airport due to snow two days ago.”
“But Kelowna is way north of there. We’ll be fine.”
According to Maps it’s a four hour, high-way drive from Vancouver to Summerland in the Okanagan valley. Ample time we thought, to take the morning ferry, disembark at noon, drive and arrive before dinner. That might have worked, except that ..
- It was mountain range driving.
- It had snowed the previous two days.
- After leaving Hope, the BC-1 exit signboard warned of fog and ice on the mountain pass.
- Extreme caution and tire chains were required.
I didn’t recall seeing a snow brush in our rental car. I didn’t think there were tire chains hidden in the trunk. I was the trip navigator (Google Maps reader) and with hubby’s assent, we doubled back to Hope and took the slightly longer (30 minutes) but more southerly BC-3 route to Summerland.
After three hours of driving, Maps said that we still had another 259 kilometers and three hours left to go.
I spent my time looking at the mountain views, peering for deer and big horn sheep.
“Pretty scenery,” I said. “I see a deer! But don’t look! Sharp curve coming up ahead.”
By 3pm darkness was falling like a blanket over the winding and steeply descending road. We had forgotten that Daylight Savings Time had pushed the clock back one hour. By 4pm the Maps screen had gone black for the night. It said we still had three hours left to go.
Eventually we reached our hotel in Summerland, nearly six hours after leaving Vancouver. It was pitch black over the lake and distant city lights barely flickered through our room’s window.
But here is what I saw the next morning.
After breakfast we wandered in to the city’s Information Center.
“Oooh, it doesn’t normally snow this much in winter,” the lady with the maps said. “Normally we’re quite dry and warm. It hasn’t snowed like this,” she waggled her eye brows in concentration, “since 1995!”
“What can we do today?” I asked.
“Well, let’s see. The wineries are all closed for the season. Otherwise its a lovely wine tasting trail up through Naramata. And the museum… sorry, that’s closed too. The restaurants … hmmm, probably closed. You could go up Munson Mountain. You’ll see the valley and the two lakes. It’s a very pretty view.”
She was right.
Stretched out below is Penticton, Summerland and Lake Okanagan. On a clear day, we could probably see Skaha Lake. Maybe even Kelowna.
It would have to be a very clear day in summer.
We’ll have to come back then and see.
Summerland &Penticton, British Columbia. 2017