Liquid Landscape

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Ballet in the Okanagan

Having a post-lunch Okanagan Springs Nut Brown ale with Jer at a new restaurant down by the lake in Summerland. I can see this place doing well, as the kids can break free after eating and run along the beach below, while the parents kick back and enjoy the view.

Jer and I did this ride which took us along a section of the Trans-Canada trail, and then looped over to the southern edge of (Rattlesnake?) mountain. This photo is surprisingly reminiscent of some of the scenery along the Rhine river in Germany, all that would be needed would be a few more dairy cows, and a church bell ringing in the distance. The relatively few and mild climbs on this ride absolutely kicked the shit out of my legs and lungs. Have you ever seen "The Triplets of Belleville"?. Yeah...I was one of the guys heaped over his bike on the side of the road. Shocking what 2 years off of a bicycle can do to you.

It's hard to believe that places like "The Elite" restaurant in Penticton still exist. Lately, I've been reading all about the early Chinese immigrant influence on the Canadian diner in Fred Wah's prose book "The Diamond Grill" (which was graciously given to us by Paul) There's definitely a trend to try and recreate that faux elegance of the 60's small town diner, with the big booths separated by the orange stained glass dividers, and long chrome edged counter tops, but this place is legit. (When a 70 year old guy in a faded pink Sun Ice jacket sits next to you, and the breakfast specials are still under $5, you know it's for real). As I waited for my monster spanish omellete, I dialed up some etch-a-sketch skateboard ramp masterpieces.

Sophie and Ella hanging out in the morning, discussing the highlights of the in-house ballet we were treated to the night before.

Sophie's old friend Colleen recently moved from Victoria with her partner Cory, and onto a 6 acre plot of undeveloped land in Cawston, BC. Their place was only about 30 minutes south of Penticton, and yet it felt completely different. The town is just far enough removed from the Okanagan to retain it's character, giving it an isolated feel that certainly adds to the unique microcosm of the town's inhabitants. Cory was telling us of the Keremeos cowboy, who rides his horse everywhere he goes. He has been spotted countless times at night, slumpeded at 45 degrees on his horse on the shoulder of the road, with a dog in tow, both waiting patiently for their master to sober up and continue onward.

For night, we bunked down in this classic 70's van with the convertible bed. The crisp air smelled of pine, and the stars were magnificent as they became visible over the black mass of the mountain ridge.

Colleen, Cory and Sophie before we head out for breakfast in Keremeos. The night before, they took us out for supper in nearby Osoyoos, to an Italian place called Campo Marina. After supper, we took the car up the winding #3 highway to a roadside lookout, where you can see both the Canadian and American portions of the town. At night, the lights of the town surround Osoyoos Lake in a way that makes it appear as a dragon. If I ever snap at my urban lifestyle, the Keremeos valley is the kind of place I can see myself retreating to, working the land, baking bread, and helping the neighbour build his "end of the world" bunker on Saturday afternoons.

Our BC trip ended by taking the Hope-Princeton Highway back towards Vancouver, where we went through sunshine, rain, and a substantial amount of sleet at one point. Initial plans were to head up to a meadow high above Manning Park, but the season still had the road closed. One of my favorite drives in Canada has got to be the stretch between Manning Park and Hope on the #3. I find myself always having a difficult time finding a balance between crooning my neck at the scenery, and keeping the car on the narrow hairpin corners. When we reached Vancouver, Sophie's friend Meghan got us into the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver for $80. I spent most of the evening exploring the Canada Place pier, and wandering the streets of downtown. If you are ever in the neighbourhood, be sure to check out the HSBC headquarters on Georgia street. The 5-story atrium has a monumental piece of art called "The Pendulum", designed by Alan Storey. This 90 foot hollow aluminum mass swings perpetually overhead, matching up exactly with two pillars on either side of the atrium.

During the 2 weeks that Sophie and I were back in Ottawa, we were invited out by some friends at work to visit Stanley's Maple Farm, for the full "Cabane a Sucre" experience. I think that most of the maple sap was finished running at that point, but we still got to witness the process in the shack where the sticky liquid gets reduced to syrup. If you were watching Rick Mercer's report a week earlier, this was the same place were he took the new Environment Minister, Rona Ambrose.

Springtime in Ottawa. Sophie's planting some flowers, lettuce, and radishes on our 3rd floor deck in an offering to the flee ridden black squirrels.


  • At 6:01 PM, Blogger Heather said…

    Got to love "The Elite". Ryan and I thought it was our own dining discovery when we ended up there for breakfast on one of our trips. Now that's a traditional stop whenever we end up out west.

  • At 6:04 PM, Blogger Develo said…

    And you'd think the food would be of comparable quality to a classic blue plate diner, but I had the best omellete at the elite I think I'd ever had. Homemade salsa and the works.

  • At 9:04 PM, Blogger Jeremy said…

    We were going to go out for fast food a couple of weeks ago -- Wendy's or whatever because we were feeling poor but didn't want to cook -- and then remembered that the food was way better and not much more expensive at The Elite. Strawberry shake in a steel cup...mmmm...

  • At 5:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Had breakfast at the Elite and proposed to my wife the next day - that's the power of quality food served on sparkly gold vinyl.


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