Updated: Sep 28, 2020
Fall is descending upon us quickly and what better way to extend summer a little more than by taking a quick road trip to sunny and warm British Columbia?
We decided to fill up the tank and make our way across the Rocky Mountains to Vernon, British Columbia, in the northern section of the Okanagan Valley, a paradise of fruit farms, mountain lakes and outdoor adventure.
This was going to be a spontaneous get-a-way for just my wife and I and so we filled up the tank to the Honda Fit and plotted a course.
We decided to take a break in Golden, British Columbia - a half-way point to our destination. We found a lot of roadside type hotels and mountain lodges conveniently located steps from the Kicking Horse Ski areas.
Our hotel room finder indicated the cheapest room was $129, but after checking reviews on Google and TripAdvisor it seems the hotel in question, Mary's Motel, should not even be available as an accommodation due to safety and health concerns. Even though this motel was advertised as a "clean and comfortable" motel in official destination guides, it is possibly one of the worst motels I have seen.
So instead, we found a winter lodge offering discounted summer rates. For just $60 more per night, we got a room in the Winston Lodge in a wilderness setting. It boasted a large room, king-size bed, a large private hot tub and a free continental breakfast.
The Winston Lodge only has 11 rooms so it is best to book early if you are traveling through or staying in Golden, BC.
The next morning we awoke above the clouds and drove down the mountain side and toward our final destination in Vernon, BC. My wife had pre-booked a room for us at the Prestige Vernon Lodge and Conference Centre, right in the heart of Vernon.
The name may sound like it would be similar to the Winston Lodge, a rustic post and beam mountain retreat, but this hotel offered something totally unique and my wife was attracted to the design of having rooms circling an indoor pool and restaurant with tropical plants and twinkling light ornaments throughout. There is even a natural creek flowing through the resort-like hotel interior!
On our way to Vernon we stopped in to Fruit World, an amazing all-organic fruit and veggie stand offering BC's freshest and most delicious offerings.
Across the street we stopped in at D Dutchmen's Dairy Farm to grab a scoop of delicious ice cream that was incredibly creamy and possibly the best ice cream I have ever had. Behind the ice cream and milk and butter shop you can visit with the milk cows, see baby cows and stroll to see other farm animals.
I love roadside attractions and so when I saw a plot of land with Tyrannosaurus Rex pulling a stage coach and dinosaurs hanging out with real goats I had to stop to see what the heck was going on.
The Log Barn in Armstong, BC is absolutely mental and has been selling goods to motorists since 1994. Here are a few pictures of the yard:
Inside the circa 1912 barn the insanity begins with ice cream, sausages, table cloths, pies, socks and everything else you think you don't need but really, really want.
We left with a bacon and potato chip chocolate bar and two sausage sticks and a lot of laughs trying to figure out how they acquired all the dinosaurs and animals to decorate the property with.
We finally reached Vernon, BC shortly after 1pm and still had gas in our tank. The Honda did incredibly well with the computer reading out that we got 49 MPGs or 4.8 liters per 100km. (on the way back it got 47 MPG).
In Vernon we checked into the Prestige Vernon Lodge and Conference Centre and then decided to make the best of the day and chase summer one last time and take to the lake.
We hooked up with Stand Up Paddle Boards at Kalavida Surf Shop, conveniently located right on the beach, took a quick 2 minute lesson from an instructor and hit the water. Rentals were very reasonable, in great condition and staff were knowledgeable and friendly. They also rent road bikes, mountain bikes and electric bikes as well for those wanting to cruise around or take to the Rail Trail.
This was the first time we had tried Stand Up Paddle Boarding but it was very easy to get the hang of, especially in the calm lake waters of Kalamalka Lake. My wife, Christine fell in almost immediately, giving me a good chuckle. After a few moments, however, she was doing very well and having not fallen off balance myself, she decided to use the oar and push me in.
It was against the rules, but the water was a good temperature and provided her with vengeance.
Having paddle boarded and returning our gear we hit Marten Brew Pub & Grill, just a short distance away. We lucked out, as it was still their happy hour where food was heavily discounted.
I snagged a huge Salmon Salad for just $12 and together with a few beers this made the perfect spot to hang out and recharge.
The Marten Brewing Company is located at 2933a 30th Ave in Vernon. Street parking is readily available and free after 6pm.
We retired to our room at the Prestige Vernon Lodge and Conference Centre and the next morning we headed over to Planet Bee Honey Farm where we learned about honey bees, tested a variety of honey's and meads and took a lot of it home with us!
Having SUP'ed, swam, hiked, relaxed and enjoyed the mountain air and loaded with fruit, beer, mead and honey, we headed back home and awaited Fall.
On the way, my wife was looking at booking an Arizona trip.
She wants to chase summer a little bit more...