“ Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
I’ve never heard the ocean singing until today (down by Second Beach), as the waves slowly made their way to shore, each wavelet moving over the rocks and pebbles added to the melody already created by the moon’s eternal pull – what a beautiful send off before our long awaited road trip to explore the Thompson Okanagan region of our province, aiming for Route 97, a connector route inviting travellers to explore the Columbia Cascades area and North Central Washington, our final destination, the ever-growing city of Kelowna.
On our way out of Vancouver, after about one hour on the road, we found a sunny picnic table in the lush woods of Bridal Veil Falls Provincial Park (reputedly named by a romantic, located between Chilliwack and Hope) beside a fast-moving creek, the run-off from still snow-capped mountains melting at historic levels not seen in a decade. The rushing water keeps this moss-laden world cool despite the present summer-like temperatures, the park already an extremely high humidity area allowing 250 species of mosses to flourish and delight our eyes. There is even one species of moss found only here in this verdant forest and in Scotland! Thick homemade sandwiches eaten outside added another blissful layer to the perfect rest stop before heading up country.
We took the Coquihalla highway up through mythological mountain passes and yawning canyons, memories of previous trips shimmering below the vistas passing outside our rental car windows. Massive waterfalls tumbling down sheer shale slopes dotted the landscape some still covered in layers of pristine snow. It was this ghostly moonscape now threatening the valleys below with potential flooding…a sobering thought as we continued to climb the summit.
On many trips back east to Ontario, I always kept my eyes open on travels up north hoping to see one of Canada’s iconic symbols, the majestic moose – no matter how hard I looked, this beast remained elusive until a casual look outside my window on this road trip here in British Columbia beheld a beautiful dark brown moose calf drinking from a culvert filled with cold, fresh run-off from the snowpack above. During dinner out one evening with my uncle and his wife who live in Kelowna, he said that in almost 25 years, he has only spotted two moose, proving they are elusive no matter which province I travel in!
As we crested Highway 97 after fours on the road, we stopped in at a very welcoming and brand new visitor centre (Route 97 Connector Visitor Centre) to buy an ice cream cone and get our bearings. After collecting some information, we stood outside high above a lake glistening in the sun and marvelled at the 30 degree Celsius temperatures with patches of snow still visible here and there. This stop was the apex of #Route97 and just over the ridge on a long, meandering highway, Kelowna sat among the ponderosa pine waiting to welcome us.
A shout-out to Terry’s sister Karen who came out from Ontario to spend one of the warmest and driest May months on record with us and made this special trip possible!