Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Travel Tuesday - Shuswap Lake

This Tuesday PHS Editor Donna Alward travels down memory lane and brings us a post about British Columbia's Shuswap Lake.

We started camping with the kids when they were old enough to be out of diapers. For the first few years, we tented. Then we bought a pop-up camper (a tent trailer to those of us in NA) and started enjoying sleeping OFF the ground. The clincher for me might have been the camping trip where we deflated the air beds and used half a can of raid to kill the spider so big I didn't want to soil my shoe with it. It was sasquatch spider, I'm sure of it.

One of our favourite places to go was the Shuswap region of British Columbia. Just under an 8 hour drive, it was far enough away without being TOO far. Not only that, but you cross the rockies to get there so the drive itself is stunning. The Shuswap lays at the top of the Okanagan Valley area, and the main town is Salmon Arm. A myriad of other towns are along it - it's a big, skinny lake, and Sicamous is called the Houseboat capital of the world - but Salmon Arm is the main town with all amenities.

The Shuswap reminded both of us of the Saint John River Valley in New Brunswick, where we both grew up. So it felt a little like home. There are tons of trees, hills, water and blue sky. The first year we stayed at Pierre's Point where the nightly train was the only downside. It was a beautiful week spent in the water and playing mini golf. We have also stayed at White Lake which is just west of the Shuswap (and about 10 minutes from Salmon Arm) and also on the OTHER side of the lake at Magna Bay, which unfortunately is not being operated anymore.

The other wonderful thing about the area is that it is at the TOP of a valley known for wine-making and there are a few wineries about. I have visited all three in the area - Larch Hills, Recline Ridge and Granite Creek. The last 2 I have visited more than once, and the owner of Granite Creek, Gary, treated us to a lovely hour outside, just talking about the wine. It is thanks to him that I have a winery book on the go. Not to mention the fact that I got their very last bottle of that year's Syrah or that we enjoyed a lovely bottle of their merlot fortified port this fall.

In Salmon Arm there is also a market called DeMille's. On our first trip through, I saw a sign for Kurt's Sausage. Now when I was younger I used to go to the farmer's market in Fredericton on Saturdays and we would buy a sausage on a bun...mmm mmm mmm. It was Kurt's Sausage. When I went in, I was sure it couldn't be the same family. But sure enough! It was the exact same husband and wife, and they'd retired there because like us, it reminded them of home. Every time we drove through either camping or going to visit my brother in law, we would stop and buy sausage and also gouda from a local cheese maker, Gort's Gouda. Invariably there would be a camping night where we'd sit by the fire with a bottle of local wine with cheese and crackers.

I don't know if and when the winery book will make it on to the schedule, but I do know the fond memories of the time I spent in that area made writing it a little like going home.

Donna's current release is The Rancher's Runaway Princess. She's holding two contests this month - one for newsletter subscribers and one for aspiring authors! For more details, visit the contests section on her homepage at www.donnaalward.com.

1 comment:

  1. Lovely memories and scenery. Reminds me of camping with my parents in Eastern Washington and in later years, where I went to college.

    Most recently I spent time with friends in the tri-cities area in Washington State and we went to 5 wineries. I made the mistake of joining a couple of wine clubs which I have now cancelled due to the economy but really enjoyed the time we spent and met some wonderful people.

    Can't wait for your "winery" book, Donna.