Now just to explain everything, Nk’mip is the name of the band of aboriginal people who lived and owned much of this land. I’ll get into a bit of the history later and will warn those who have no taste for the past to skip over that section. Then again, people who aren’t into history are probably not interested in this account of what was my history, so maybe that warning was not needed.
So to recap, a random local named George drove us to our final destination at the Nk’mip Campgrounds. We checked in at the entrance and George drove us right to our campsite, spot 157, right along the water, with a beautiful view of the surrounding mountains and town. Shaking his hand I thanked him for his kindness, as this type of event would never happen back home, either out of fear, warranted or not, or simply out of generations of implanted thought processes that humans do not give to each other out of the simple goodness of their hearts without recuperating financial or otherwise. Show me the money, they say, and we’ll pour out our souls, become religious, or marry old, dying people.
And later on I wrote: Well….I am behind to let’s just do a quick update. Osoyoos was great. While the Nk’mip campsite offered nothing beyond a place on rocky patch where RVs usually sit upon to place our tent and a 5 dollar WiFi fee, the pluses were a lakeside view of the beautiful surrounding mountains and rock formations, as well as being near to some amazing trails and pretty damn good restaurant that served it’s sandwiches and burgers on bannock (a terrible slogan to the end of “don’t panic, we use bannock”). The first day we arrived and explored downtown Osoyoos. Not much there, really. One street, a town hall, an arrow pointing in the direction of Subway (I found that sign interesting, I mean, usually the effort and cost to make those prominent displays of importance are usually set aside for historic sites, accommodations…not a chain sandwich store to makes overweight people they are taking a stand against they’re love handles by eating veggies…like a smoker switching to cigars). Ate at Smitty’s, which gave me a heck of a lot of unwanted ammunition that I would later unwillingly unleash within the confines of our small orange tent, much to the “delight” of it’s other occupant.
The next day it was off to the Nk’mip Desert Culture Centre to learn about the original inhabitants on this land and the nature itself that still resided here. A well produced drama about Coyote, the Trickster and a lights and special effects recreated fireside stories to explain some of the myth and history of this tribe that use to roam north and south of the American Canadian boarder. An interesting fact that the Nk’Mip, a tribe of the Okanogan People were not all dragged off to residential schools, as they had their own school on the reserve.
Outside we followed one of the many trails that can be accessed from the centre. Seems quite ironic, come to think of it, that if you do not pay the 8 dollar fee to see the centre you are not allowed to walk among the nature that is described throughout all the exhibits and films as an untamable, unmanageable force that at a better time was free to roam, without lines and boarders restricting the natural ebb and flow of people.
So we hiked. We sweat. We touched a gopher snake. We marched around a faux native village. I know I was suppose to learn something while marching around tee pees and hanging fur pelts, but I’m sorry, when you create a life sized theme park, complete with buildings you can ENTER, you lost the educational part for me.
We read about the flora and fauna and how they were used as medicine, clothing and food. Then hunger set in like an axe into a Californian sequoia. Our first thought was see what the restaurant facilites were like near the centre. Silly us, as the wealthy apartment community near the centre, complete with swimming pools and a winery, had never heard of value for dollar. The saying up here was, a cheque for at least 350,000 dollars for your thoughts.
So down the hill we frolicked, upon the dusty and sun laden trail, passing by vineyards on the left and a iron laser cut Native in full stereotypical feathered regalia on the right. It was time for something I wanted to relive. Something one may not consider a fond memory, let alone something that should occupy even a thin space on the highest, unreachable shelf in the memory library. A Chinese buffet that I had once ate at before was now the object of our crusade into town. Oh wait, first there was locally made ice cream of the peanut brittle variety, as well as nanaimo bar flavored scoopage served in a building set out to look like a windmill, within a theme park set out to attract parents of children that would like to strap them into a ride that spins them ridiculously fast a zillion times and occupies their attention a zillion times more as they slip off on a wine tour or to have marital coutus in the grey scaled and itchy blanketed motel room bed, complete with a bed bug mariachi band playing la bamba.
The sign loomed before us, off colored and titled at a Hitchcock’ian angle. Golden Chopsticks. Chinese restaurant. Buffet. Not a very happy girlfriend. Her expression alone was worth the visit along with the Jello Pudding as an authentic mainland desert. The only reason we went was to relive an old memory of a trip I took through Osoyoos, 5 years earlier, in my love of life car, a putt putt Geo Metro.
And the next day, with the sun, we were off. Slowly. Through the back door of the campsite, following a pack of awkard running quails in the morning light. Even more awkard running was the red suitcase whose wheels were at 45 degree angles of where they are suppose to be to properly be spinning and with a dragging, torn bottom, fighting mercilessly with the puller to take a break, like a heavy packed donkey. So after some swear words rising with the dust from the desert floor and some unnecessary sweating, I finally screeched to halt in defeat, gave into Rachel’s I told you sos and called a cab. The man in the turban who sat beside me, the first Sikh Hippy I had ever met said to my ear’s and soul’s amusement:
“Man, you’re going to Nelson? All you need to do is stand out in the streets and you’ll get high”
Scarfed down some McDix, took photos of this particular member of the yellow arched branch for spelling smokey with an “e”, which makes SO much more sense than smoky, which I had seen at all the Vancouver restaurants advertising their new burger. To me, smoky reads like trying create an adjective out smock, which has no place describing a burger, let alone anything else asides from an actual smock.
With a few hours to kill we marched down to the Main Street Market, where little girls danced to Britney Spears bursting out of an ancient boombox in matching leatards and locals sold pickled veggies, arts and crafts and Graznya, a holistic nutritionist and biochemist, born in Poland, living in Greenwood, gave out samples of her gluten free baking. She invited us to stay and bake with her. A later adventure was set into action and we promised we’d come. As fast as forest fire, we were ablaze along the treeline, our eyes catching everything their sight darted upon.
Woosh, as I write this I sit on a what looks like a custom made bed draped with the finest in Ikea pillows and duvets that money can buy. Woosh back to where we were in this timeline accurate, non-Kafka-esque (or trying not to be, pardon the floral descriptions) blog. Odd thing is, it was only as I wrote part of this was I sitting on such a nice cushioned surface. Most of it was written at 5am, avoiding rain, hiding under an undercover area, unshowered at the Nelson City Campground. What a contrast!
Day 2 in Kelowna is an early one. Our wine tour is booked for 9:30, but we still want to indulge in the all expected Hojo’s (Howard Johnson for cool people) complimentary (cool word for free and a way to make free breakfasts sound as distasteful as they look) breakfast. Rachel didn’t believe me that the owner of this particular motel in the chain makes waffles to order. To our pleasant surprise I was right, and we scarfed down plate size waffles drizzled in manufactured sugary syrup.
9:30 on the nose, a blue minivan with the Wine To Go (I think that was the name…I am terrible with names so throughout this blog I could be completely bullshitting to your amusement) logo on the side windows. Shalyn was our sommelier extrodinaire, who would guide us through our tastings, pushing our palettes to seek out the fermented flavors of golden Gewurtzerminers and full bodied Chardonnays. Nah, she was quite laid back and focused on taking out the snobbery sometimes associated with the art of wine, which as the tour winded on (a pun and a truth all in one a the wineries seemingly were always located on the most treacherously steep inclines) Rachel and I both realized that wine was just that, a supremely crafted art of great skill and a lot of hours put in to palette pilates.
We hit up some of the big guy wineries like Quail’s Gate, with their large oak walled tasting room and multiple staffed exorbentley priced gift shops and restaurants. The cool thing about Quail’s Gate was that the original owners’ of the property and the winery’s cabin was still located on the premises, and though closed at the time, with the magic touch, the doors were opened for us and a treat of a peak inside was had into their one roomed home that housed 8 children and themselves. The small wineries were great as well, with one of them seeemingly located in an old airplane hangar. All and all, everyone was down to earth and the wine was always swallowed, with not a thought of spitooning a single droplet of aromatic alcohol laced elixirs. By the way…was totally bullshitting, it’s called Wine Your Way Tours. Check em out on the nets and do it up when your in that part of the world. Or I’ll hunt you down and eat your soul. Kidding a bit.
After a few more stops, we said adieu to Shalyn and roamed around a farmer’s market. Picking up some wine on the tour, we made a great pairing of local artisan bread and some Chardonnay jalapeno wine jelly and cheese lunch along the water. Shalyn tipped us off on a good hike up Knox Hill, so heeding her words of local wisdom, we stormed the mountain at a horse’s gallop.
A good portion of the hill was conquered in no time flat. But then the weight of our ridiculously sized backpacks and handbags anchored our ascent to a screeching halt, as the sun beat us up like we had lunch money it wanted. Bodies sinking on the arid terrain, we called it a truce, even though, in all actuality nature had prevailed. The view alone of the entire city was victory enough, as we made our way back down from whence we came.
We wandered for a bit, looking for an outdoors store. With our budget for this trip being confined to mere pennies (lies, tres lies), we looked for a tent to conquer the outdoors with. After a quick run in with a homeless guy who tried to pick a fight with me after he thought I was trying to take a picture of him, WHICH I WAS, which is beside the point by the way! Could of totally taken him too. Would of felt a bit bad since it took him the good part of our five minute run it to stand, drool a bit, and wield him mouth with much concentration to make something sensible slur out of his slopping sinuse. Well, after that occurance and a look at some heritage homes, we followed our fine honed noses to where all good woodsmen go to get quality gear. Why the aisles of Walmart of course. And there it was, beaming orange and on sale for 14 buckeroos, our home in Osoyoos and beyond, the junior scout tent. Sleeping bags scoff scoff. Ground sheets….tutt tutt. We were above such cozy comforts. We are true pioneers, but of course!
And the tent. I would not be detoured by the picture of the child playing in front of tent that was plastered to the front of the box, nor would allow the 5 feet in size height measurement either. No, we would make this work! Kerchinged, purchased and back to Hojos!
The next day, at the UPS Store, we shipped some more items of crap we wondered why we had brought along with us in the first place. Correction, I simply was astounded by the amount of dreck (a yiddish word, a good question to ask your yiddish speaking friend) I owned. A Homer Simpson figureature? Really Cooper? But I couldn’t part with it. So in a box and off to Edmonton with several other items that only delight toddlers and trained animals.
On the bus again and heading to Osoyoos. Four hours of half naps, a few stops and some more half naps. Oh wait, there was also that wee hour and a bit break in the middle in Penticton, which allowed us to stretch our legs, walk down the main drag, take some snaps of some interesting people and pretty cool graffiti and force Rachel to sit in a lazy-e-boy situated in an alleyway. Her expression alone describes how comforting this lay back and relax photo op really was. Even the locals chimed in about our going ons, stating that the chair belonged to some old man possibly, living in that house that the chair was situated behind. The words “lice”, “insemenated” and “incontinent” made me regret making Rachel do as she did.
Ice cream heals all wounds and with a monstrous two scooper balancing on a pin sized cone in hand, we were heading back to the bus depot, passed the aromas of a burger shack I almost stopped in, if it weren’t for the fact that I was not at all hungry. It was a burger shack that looked like it was part of a boat! With all those cool thick ropes and a life saver and everything!
Before you know it, but not before we knew it, we were in Osoyoos, BC’s only desert, confounded by the distance that we would need to travel to get to our campground. I assured Rachel that my people were very well trained and adjusted to life in the desert and though it may take a while, that I would lead her and her sheep to the promise land, give or take forty or so years. The joke didn’t fly, especially as I wrapped my jacket around my head a mock kafia and blurted out the ten commandments in my best Charleton Heston in the Visitors’ Centre.
Luckily luck was on our side and a guy named George, a random local who was hanging out at the visitor’s centre (sort of like Happy Days Fonzi, but just completely at the wrong spot to be considered cool…nix this reference as he was not at all like Fonzi….more like…the dad from Beverly Hillbillies). George offered to take us up to the Nk’mip Campgrounds, which, unbenounced to us at the time, were possibly the farthest situated campgrounds from town (a fact that I would later take much flack for on several, much deserving situations). George showed us all the sights in town, including the beach where he said all the “young people” hang out, the local bar, The Sage, where bikers and baby boomers alike lap up ales beside fancy Manhattans and the Nk’mip Desert Cultural Centre, Resort and Winery that we would explore the next day.
Good place to stop. Don’t worry I have written 40 more blogs to follow up and will release them each day. Too much of a good thing is bad for you. Except for video games and don’t you dare say otherwise, you lying, lying, unhappy person.