Greeting Spring in the South Okanagan

The plan for Saturday had been to go cruising backroads with Dad, but he wasn’t feeling well so I went out for a while looking for the first Spring blossoms. Once I was on the road, I just kept on going, and checked out places to go when we’re down with the motorhome for a week in May.

I expected the Kettle Valley Steam Railway to be closed, and it was. It’s the top-rated thing to do in Summerland on TripAdvisor, and opens May 8th this year.

Kettle Valley Steam Railway
I haven’t been on this train since 2007 when Dad and I went on it, and am really looking forward to getting back for a ride, with Cathy this time, as she loves trains, too.

Kettle Valley Steam Railway
I went looking for the large bridge that the railway now ends at, and on the way saw the first really photogenic blossoms.

Spring blossoms at Summerland, BC
Almost at the end of the 10-mile line – the Trout Creek Bridge is a few hundred meters behind me.

Kettle Valley Steam Railway - Summerland, BC
Canyonview station.

Canyonview station, Kettle Valley Steam Railway
The Trout Creek Bridge is 238 feet above the floor of the very impressive canyon.

Trout Creek Bridge, Kettle Valley Steam Railway
The end of the line – from there, the line is a hiking path, part of the Trans Canada Trail.

End of the line, Kettle Valley Steam Railway, Summerland, BC
The view down to an orchard, from the bridge approach.

Spring in an orchard along the Kettle Valley Steam Railway, Summerland, BC

I decided to keep going right to Osoyoos, where Cathy and I spend a couple of nights in May. The first stop was the Visitor Information Centre. I asked about a winery with a cafe, and the very helpful young man instead gave me a couple of unique cafes in town. He also pointed to the model railway which I wanted to see.

The Osoyoos Desert Model Railroad is in a small industrial area just up Highway 3 a mile or so from town.

Osoyoos Desert Model Railroad
The Osoyoos Desert Model Railroad is in this warehouse – the 4,000-square-foot railway layout covers the upper floor of the building.

Osoyoos Desert Model Railroad
This is about half of the layout. The control centre is at the right, where one of the creators, Poul Pedersen, was on hand to answer questions. His wife, Ulla, who painted most of the 18,000 tiny people in the layout, handled admissions and the gift shop.

Osoyoos Desert Model Railroad
One of the 45 trains speeds past a quarry operation. The detail is quite overwhelming – an hour gives a basic look at it.

Osoyoos Desert Model Railroad
A bergbahn (mountain train) waits for passengers at an alpine village.

Osoyoos Desert Model Railroad
The layout goes into night view for a minute or so about every 15 minutes. This Harley shop gives an idea of the detail. There is plenty of movement beyond the trains – buses move, a car wash door opens and closes, police car lights flash…

Osoyoos Desert Model Railroad
For lunch, I went to doLci sociaLhaus, and it was perfect. I got a bar seat at an open window looking over the sidewalk to the City Hall with its fountain and flowering trees.

doLci sociaLhaus, Osoyoos, BC
And the soup-and-sandwich special for $11, with a glass of local Hester Creek pino gris, was exactly what I was looking for. It occurred to me as I was sitting there that it had been 35 years since I last visited Osoyoos. While there are a lot of changes, and it was still pre-summer quiet, the town has a wonderful feel to it.

doLci sociaLhaus, Osoyoos, BC
After lunch, I went across the street to get a photo of doLci, and to see the sculpture in the City Hall garden. I quickly realized that the sculpture is a wind chime, though it would take quite a wind to get any music from it.

Wind chime sculpture at Osoyoos City Hall, BC
Out wandering along Osoyoos Lake.

Osoyoos Lake, BC
The final stop in Osoyoos was the Nk’Mip RV Park, where Cathy and I will be spending a couple of nights.

Nk'Mip RV Park, Osoyoos, BC
Recent reviews at TripAdvisor are mostly poor, and one of the complaints is that the sites are small. It looks great to me, so we’ll definitely be coming.

Nk'Mip RV Park, Osoyoos, BC
The temperature had climbed to 22°C (72°F), and the fruit trees were celebrating – the difference in the blossoms in 2 hours was quite incredible. It was pretty cool to be in the Okanagan on the exact day that Spring arrived 🙂

Spring blossoms in Osoyoos, BC
Heading north on Highway 97 at Vaseux Lake, back to Kelowna.

BC Highway 97 at Vaseux Lake
A lovely rest area overlooking Skaha Lake at Penticton. The Penticton airport can be seen at the far left.

Rest area overlooking Skaha Lake at Penticton, BC
I made a brief stop at Sun_Oka Beach Provincial Park. This beach won’t be empty for many more weeks.

A carpet of flowers at Sun_Oka Beach.

One final stop to check out the car museum at Summerland (Nixdorf Classic Cars). It was closed, but the $20 admission probably would have stopped me anyway. Looking at the photos on TripAdvisor, the showroom/museum is far too crowded to really see the cars the way I want to. Now their wine tours in a classic Cadillac convertible – that we just may do.

Dad and I had a nice quiet evening together, and I had high hopes for Sunday.

Sunday turned out to be great. Dad was feeling good, so we hit the road right after breakfast. Westside Road is a beautiful drive with lots of variety, and gets little traffic this time of year, so would be the perfect place to spend a couple of hours.

California bighorn sheep are commonly seen along Westside Road, but finding a group of 6 rams isn’t.

California bighorn sheep are commonly seen along Westside Road
As of 2013, a new regional park on land donated by a local forestry company has protected habitat for these sheep.

California bighorn sheep on Westside Road, Kelowna, BC
We went as far as Fintry Provincial Park, where the last polygonal dairy barn in BC can be found. There are 101 campsites in the park, and as nice as Bear Creek park is, Fintry is much better. For the visiting and touring we want to do, though, the extra 30-40 minute drive each way makes Fintry a poor choice for our stay.

Once back in Kelowna, Dad and I had a particularly nice social afternoon – meeting friends at Whiski-Jack’s pub for lunch again, then over to the Legion for their music afternoon. What a surprise to see my friend John Cole from Whitehorse playing there! When his wife Sheila came in a while later, I shocked her when I came up behind her and gave her a hug 🙂 John even played a special Yukon song by Jim Vautour for me.

John Cole playing guitar at the Westbank Legion

Sunday night, I was on the 8:00 pm Air North flight home. With a stop in Vancouver, I was being greeted by 2 excited dogs and a cat trying to force her way in for a hug – oh, and Cathy patiently waiting in the background! It was a short trip, but a particularly good one.


Greeting Spring in the South Okanagan — 5 Comments

  1. Wow didn’t know there was so much to do for railfans in that part of BC. Definitely is now a must see for me when I make it out there to visit.

    That said, I am jealous – blossoms and 22C????? It was -7 today when I got up and they’re calling for 15cm’s this week here in Ottawa. What I would give to be cruising in my Mustang and enjoying the Okanagan this week……

      • Thanks! I have old friends who moved to Kelowna over a year ago so whenever I get the chance to drop in, this would be a lot of fun to check out!

        Yeah thats too bad. I’ve driven an ATS before (was thinking of buying that before I bought the Mustang) – it’s a nice car, but I was more impressed with the CTS. Primarily the availability of the larger motors!

        • I’ve got a CTS with the 3.6 and awd, and there’s no way I’d move to an ATS. The new CT6 is quite incredible – they took all the best features of my 2010 and improved on them 🙂

          • Yeah the AWD must be great to have on that. Agreed on the CT6. Saw it at the auto show here in Ottawa in march and it was a beautiful looking car that screamed class and style. Incredibly comfortable as well. if only I had the cash……lol