Hello! I’ve been a little quiet here because we spent a week away, driving across British Columbia, and then I’ve spent the last half week recovering from our week away. (Catching up on laundry and sleep and attempting to re-set our kids’ schedules!)
Our goal was Kimberley, BC which is a small town in BC’s interior. About six years ago, some good friends moved there from Sechelt; we visited them shortly after their move, in March 2016, but hadn’t been back since. One of them turned 40 this year and so they were throwing a party, which became the impetus for us to plan the trip. This is someone Peter grew up with here on the Sunshine Coast and they are also friends with Peter’s brother-in-law and his wife so we planned some of our trip with them.
Peter, Pearl, Rose, and I caught the first ferry (6:20am) leaving the Sunshine Coast on a Wednesday morning. We packed up the car the night before and scooped the girls up, still in their jammies. Our first goal that morning (aside from a quick stop in Chilliwack to fuel up) was Hope. Some may recognize Hope as the setting of the movie Rambo.
While it was a slightly rainy morning and too early for much to be open in Hope, there was a great playground in the middle of town where the girls could run around, we could stretch our legs, and use a washroom before getting back on the road.
This was a trip with a lot of driving, something new for our kids. Our route took us along the Crows Nest Highway, right along the bottom of our province. (A lot of people, when driving from BC to Alberta, actually dip below the border into the USA and this can apparently be faster. We decided, for obvious reasons, to avoid border crossings at this time but one day it would be fun to try.)
Our next stop was lunch at a rest area by the river. We ate packed sandwiches, skipped rocks in the high waters, and again took advantage of outhouses.
We made it to Osoyoos in the Okanagan Valley by mid-afternoon. The girls had been excited about this spot because we told them it was a desert. I don’t think it was exactly what they expected but Peter and I were thankful that the mild weather meant it was only around the mid-20s rather than the scorching heat Osoyoos often experiences. We decided it was a good spot to stop for ice cream before heading on to our final destination for the day.
We met up with Peter’s brother and his wife and their two boys for two nights of camping at Gladstone Provincial Park. They had arrived shortly before us and had already started setting up camp. Our kids are all very close in age so they have a lot of fun when they get together and this made camping really easy for us as they were happy to play together and keep busy. The campground was also really nice with clean, flush toilets, hot showers, and even a dish-washing station. We shared meals and enjoyed our time thoroughly.
Christina Lake was just a short walk from our site and we spent time there, attempting to fish, watching chipmunks and ground squirrels, and swimming at the sandy beach.
Friday morning after breakfast we packed up and headed out to Kimberley. (When we started planning this trip early in the year, we were using the word convoy to describe how we would travel together. Due to political events, we felt we had to retire the word and settled on caravan instead.)
This was a shorter day of driving so we took it a bit slower and it took us most of the day to reach our destination. This also happened to be the day of the Great Rogers Outage, which made it trickier to stay in touch in our caravan. For most of the day, we just thought we all had terrible service in the mountains. My brother-in-law came up with a good strategy for stopping at the same places. Once we knew what town we were going to stop in next we would meet at the first gas station after the artistic “Welcome to [insert town’s name]” sign.
We stopped for lunch in Creston and then ice cream at Two Scoop Steve’s in Yahk. (Very generous ice cream servings!) There is also a lovely garden/river walk behind the ice cream place that we enjoyed.
We arrived in Kimberley late afternoon (made later by the fact that we’d crossed into a new time zone and jumped forward an hour). Our two families booked an AirBnB together, which worked out really nicely. We unloaded and quickly headed out again for pizza night at our friends’ house. (This is getting awkward so let’s call him Adam.) Two of Adam’s brothers were also there with their kids, added to Adam’s own four kids, plus the four kids we had just shown up with. That made for twelve kids all together, most of them girls between the ages of 3 and 10.
We spent three nights in Kimberley, much of it at Adam’s house with him and his family and the gaggle of kids that were there. Our girls and their cousins integrated into the gang and had a blast, particularly playing in their secret attic room full of dress-ups.
To balance out the social time we had slow mornings at our B&B and walks through the neighbourhood and to a waterfall nearby. Saturday night was the birthday party which was a fun evening of drinks, food, and live music. Our kids were entertained at Adam’s house with mac&cheese, ice cream sandwiches, and a movie courtesy of a trio of babysitters.
On Sunday Pearl and Rose got to experience a slip-n-slide for the first time ever and we had a quieter day of visiting and dinner with our friends.
The next day we were back on the road. We got an early start and stopped in Castlegar for coffee. With the girls still in their jammies, people were particularly friendly to us! We made a lunch stop in Greenwood where we found a really cool playground. It was too hot to sit on the teeter-totter but the zipline was a big hit.
Our destination that day was the Okanagan Valley where we would visit another long-time friend of Peter’s and his family. We hadn’t been through that way in several years (since these same friends’ wedding in 2016, in fact) but remembered enjoying the small community of OK Falls so we decided to stop there by the lakefront. When we’d been there with toddler Pearl in 2016, she really enjoyed the spray park. We were glad to find it fully operational and the kids had lots of fun playing there and in the lake.
Our friends kindly opened up their guest room to us and invited us to stay 2 nights rather than the 1 we had initially planned. We took them up on their offer and it was a great couple of days of catching up and watching our kids play together. On our second day there, we went out to explore the area a little while giving them a chance to rest, and found ourselves at another spray park. We don’t have a spray park near us so these were kind of a novelty for our girls!
In the end, the most frustrating part of our trip was probably the end of it – our ferry trip home. We live in a ferry-reliant community, in a place bolstered by tourism throughout the summer months. So we’re used to it but every now and then it does really hit you. We normally reserve our sailings in advance but didn’t know which one we’d make it for. After a leisurely lunch in Hope, we figured we could make a 7:05 sailing. Got to Horseshoe Bay about 5:15. We made it home around 11:30pm, two kids (thankfully) fast asleep in the backseat. The ferry trip itself is 40 minutes. Needless, to say we didn’t make the 7:05 ferry but were instead on a 9:25 boat which left 40 minutes late.
We spent nearly 2 hours sitting in the sun before we were able to leave our car and as we were finally tumbling out of our seats, three hours past dinner time, I sensed that we were all on the verge of losing it. “Let’s take a vote,” I said. “Who wants to extend our vacation and keep having fun and who wants to be grumpy?” So we all voted and the decision to keep having fun was unanimous. Which came in handy when it turned out every restaurant around had closed about 10 minutes previously. Thank goodness for the pizza-by-the-slice place so we weren’t stuck eating granola bars and the goldfish at the bottom of the bag.
In the end, we made it home and we added to our family memory bank. It was a different sort of trip for us but a really fun one and I’m so thankful we got to do this together and spend time with some great friends along the way.