The end of 2022 was COLD. Really cold. My California-born blood had never been exposed to such temperatures (-20F, what!?!), even after being up in Washington for the better part of 13 years. At Christmas, I had brought my snowboard in hopes of possibly getting up to the mountain for some snow fun, but it never left my car as it was too frigid to go outdoors for any length of time. Since we had no set plans of escaping to anywhere after the new year, we thought it may be fun to embrace winter and enjoy a weekend up in Sun Peaks. We were able to secure an amazing home that was close to the main village, was big enough to evite friends and had a hot tub to top it off! The weekend of the Super Bowl was available, and the weather forecast was looking great. We were able to talk some family and a couple of friends into joining us and it was all set up!
I made my usual drive up to Kamloops on a Thursday morning. It was an abnormally eventful drive unfortunately- speeding ticket only 20 minutes into the trip (remember to not speed during morning traffic near Everett), struggling to open my locked gas door to fill up (it automatically locks if the door is locked), almost getting run off the highway by a semi-truck, and finally having to take an excessively long rest break in Merritt due to annoying weird heart palpitations and dizziness. Anyhow, I made it in one piece. Despite this, we had a super easy drive the next morning making it from the dry land up into the winter wonderland. It takes less than an hour being only 56km from Kamloops. You get to drive along the North Thompson River, until you break off up into the mountains. From there you pass by a few little lakes and pastoral land that all look very pretty and serene covered in the white of winter. Considering the size of the mountain and resort, it is crazy convenient.
Where we stayed….
There are ample accommodations around the SunPeaks- hotels, condos, and custom homes. We were hooked up with one of the homes, so it was a treat! There were 3 floors, so each group had separate sleeping areas. The main floor was open with high ceilings, huge windows, and a large kitchen. The deck off the kitchen was home to the BBQ and hot tub. This was my first visit to this house, but the others had enjoyed birthday parties and ski weekends here in the past. It was a perfect spot.
What we ate….
Our family and friends were so generous, and we had enough food to have lasted a week! We feasted every night- Mediterranean chicken and lemon potatoes, beef tenderloin, fully loaded baked potatoes and veggies and Superbowl Sunday was a Meat Fest of Texas ribs, “Nicci Lovin’” Chicken wings, Nachos, dips, etc., etc.…. There was no shortage of food, nor drink. Drink highlights included ample Red Truck, Empress gin cocktails, Basil-Mint Rangpur gin cocktails, Micheladas, and Beermosas.
We did go out for lunch on Ski Day at the infamous Bottoms Pub and enjoyed a typical pub lunch with a beer. We were smart to go for an early lunch as it gets really busy there after noon. There are a few other options in the main village, but I haven’t ever had a need to sample them.
What we did….
We had such a nice balance of winter fun this weekend. A full day of skiing, walking in the snow, taking a long hike along the snowshoe trails, eating, drinking and hot tubbing. We played games at night (Cards Against Humanity made another solid appearance), watched hockey and the Superbowl. It was a chill mix of alone time and time with friends. I particularly loved the end of the night hot tub to watch the snowcats grooming the hills and seeing the stars. We laughed a lot, and it was a perfect balance of rest and play.
Sun Peaks is such a gem to enjoy. It feels a bit like a little secret that the people who know of it don’t take for granted. It’s not the same scene as Whistler with throngs of people and tons of restaurants and bars. There is a time a place for that. Having access to quiet miles of high-quality trails for downhill and cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in less than an hour is hard to beat. I especially appreciate this coming from the Seattle area where everything is crowded and feels stressful. This weekend reminded me of how the snow puts you back into the playful mindset you have as a kid, to have fun for the sake of fun. Hopefully, we will be able to make this an annual event as I can see us making many more memories here in years to come.
This summer after having my birthday, I decided to make a few little goals to work towards as I approach a year that makes me somewhat uncomfortable (dancing around the mid-life years can be such an unexpected mind-F!). I have always prided myself on living an active lifestyle and have come to enjoy the pains and pleasure that come with distance running. I decided that I would throw some actual focus on properly training for a 13 mile trail run. I have achieved this distance in the past but always was certain to choose flat courses during fair weather months. I’m getting more used to powering through the rain and inclement weather as I have lived in WA for 12+ years now, however running in the rain or snow and cold is NOT my jam. My guy is an avid trail runner and offered to help me find a trail to run with views to help make this goal even more satisfying. In my mind, I thought I would be going for a run in the late spring/early summer or something. You know, when it’s warming up. He suggested a run that he had done in the past that was in October outside of Vernon. I technically had enough time to train, quieted the rational voices in my head and went for it.
He did the planning and we ended up torturing, I mean enjoying ourselves, through the trails around Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park. The course was an original that he came up with based on races he had done with the Dirty Feet Running Club. It was one of the hardest things I have ever physically done, but wow, it was spectacular. We ended up with perfect fall weather, encountered few other people and I achieved my first birthday goal. I would absolutely recommend checking out Lake Kalamalka. There were all levels of trails making it accessible to everyone.
As a reward for my achievement, I knew I had a surprise waiting for me on the other end. He does this for me sometimes (which drives me a bit crazy but I completely love it), where he tells me he has a surprise and I get one guess per day leading up to it. I will be the first to admit, he would corroborate this for sure, I am not a professional class guesser. It usually goes something like this- 1) Are going someplace? 2) Are we driving? 3) Have I been there? 4) Is it North/South/East/West?…. You get the idea. He is sweet, humors me and eventually time is on my side, and I get my surprise. After getting a “yes” to the first question of “Are we going somewhere? “, guessing was futile as my geographical knowledge of BC is limited to say the least. So after the run, I hobbled myself to the car, melted into the seat and stared out the window watching the gorgeous fall day unfold on the way to my well-earned surprise.
As we made our way from Lake Kalamalka down highway 97 towards Kelowna, it was easy to get lost in the beautiful scenery passing by….even if your muscles are aching and your head isn’t quite right from just running 13 miles. As a Californian transplant to the Pacific Northwest, the shoulder seasons continually surprise and delight me in so many ways. The fall colors that decorate the tall mountains and lakes are truly spectacular. If you have never experienced a road trip through southern British Columbia in the Fall, you are missing out. I threw out a guess that we were going to Kelowna for my surprise and was quickly shot down. We continued down the highway which borders the Okanagan lake, and after passing through some cute little lake towns I spied a plateau across the lake that had a series of orchards and vineyards all the way to the edge. Being that it was Fall, the colors were in full effect. Yellows, oranges, different shades of rust, it was gorgeous. I commented on how beautiful it was and asked what it was, and that was when I got my smile that told me I had discovered where we were going. He said we were going to Naramata, which still meant nothing to me, but I was excited to find out.
Where we stayed….
The best part of being surprised is that I didn’t have to do any of the arrangements! We rolled through town and made our way to an adorable house that had the AirBNB we would be spending the next few days. It was named The Naramata Creek Guest House and it was ADORABLE. The hosts were thoughtful about every detail and embodied the spirit of the area. It was a bed and breakfast, so we were able to put in our requests for home made treats such as muffins, crepes, sausage, coffee/lattes that arrived through an adorable pass through closet at our requested time. Apparently, the house is blessed with magical treat fairies, and we were surprised on a few occasions by chocolates and wine. The bed was comfortable and the hot tub was exactly what my sore body needed. Outside of having to walk up a steep flight of stairs to get to the suite, it was perfect. I hope to go again sometime, it was really special.
What we ate….
We arrived right after the end of the season and many wineries and restaurants were closed for the winter. By the time we arrived on the day of the epic run, it was fairly late so our choices for food were dictated by what was open. The universe was smiling on us because we lucked out and ended up at The Bistro at Hillside Winery. We were able to sit outside with the heaters and the ambiance of the tall, wooden winery was hard to beat. The server was friendly and attentive and put no rush on us despite it being the end of the evening. We shared a special for 2 with lamb that was amazing. She paired it with a red wine and I have zero complaints on anything that evening.
Breakfasts were taken care of at the suite, and every morning was better than the previous. It is such a treat to not have to cook or go anywhere for that first meal of the day. It is even more of a treat, when you get to enjoy it in a cozy robe after a morning hot tub too! The Naramata Creek Guest House is next level…. GO THERE! You’re welcome.
We enjoyed a lovely charcuterie platter and pasta with a glass of white wine at Serendipity Winery. The grounds were beautiful and there was a great covered patio that we were able to sit at. The service couldn’t compare to the previous evening and you did get the sense that the staff was winding down for the off season. Being in wine country does put me in such a good mood that the view made up for anything that was lacking on the service side.
2 other places we visited on this weekend getaway were Therapy Vineyards and Legends Distillery. The property at Therapy was more memorable than the wine for me. The vineyards stretch out over the plateau with the lake beyond it. It was easy to just stare out there and half ignore the quirky but nice enough person pouring our tastings. The gin at Legends distillery was excellent. The person serving was friendly and knowledgeable about the history of the distillery and the spirits they make there. The building was full of personality and we purchased a nice bottle of gin to take home as a souvenir.
Our final dinner wasn’t the highlight of the trip but it was fun nevertheless. Reservations were a must for the popular restaurants so we ended up with 2nd choice. We made the short drive down to Penticton, hoping to try out Elma’s ( a cool looking Turkish restaurant) but ended a few doors down at Salty’s Beach House. The food was just ok for bar type fare, as were the drinks, but people watching was fun as our neighboring patron was super stoned and wasn’t trying to hide it. It is likely a blast in the summer being right on the beach, but for a romantic weekend trip I would pass next time.
One last winery we hit up on our way out of town worth mentioning was 50th Parallel Estate Winery and BLOCK ONE restaurant located between Kelowna and Vernon. It was a bit off the highway but the modern building nestled in the vineyards overlooking the north part of the Okanagan Lake was something to be seen. The food and service was as good as the surroundings. We didn’t partake in any tastings but the bustling tasting room led me to believe that it was topnotch.
What we did….
I have to say the activities mostly involved eating, drinking and enjoying the Guesthouse, but there were plenty of trails and scenery to enjoy nearby as well. We took some lovely drives to check out the new mansions and estates that occupy the area. We followed some roads up on the north end of town that provided spectacular views of the lake and the plateau.
We visited Creek Park, which was a lovely little trail right off the main road that led us to a waterfall. We also took a nice, flat recovery run on the Kettle Valley Rail Trail. Everything was green and the paths were all well kept with few people around, just how we like it.
I have such warm feelings when thinking back on our visit to Naramata. I love discovering new places and feeling that appreciation for how much is out there in the world to be seen. I have been to wine country in California, which is lovely, but the combination of the sparkling water and the manicured agriculture in this region of British Columbia was something else. I hope to take another trip here, maybe in the summertime to experience it during the on season, but Fall was great for avoiding the crowds and seeing how nature unfolds before winter. This trip was perfect in so many ways and I couldn’t be more grateful for my guy’s knack for knowing how to surprise me with new and wonderful places.
Your new houseboat is better than a cabin at the lake for a lot less! With capacity to sleep 17 people, you can host your entire family! You have all the amenities of home with a fully furnished and ready to enjoy houseboat. The kitchen is fully stocked with 2 dual power fridges, a microwave, coffee maker, toaster, full size propane stove, pots, pans, dishes, utensils, glasses, cups, and even stemware.
I already replaced all these items with new replacements, so you don’t have to worry about them:
Major leg service. Required dry dock and disconnecting from engine. Over $3000.
Bank of 6, 6V Batteries. Over $1200.
Engine Water Pump
Hot Tub Heater. This is a rare unit worth over $1500 including install.
Top deck outside speakers.
Model: Waterway Houseboats Mirage, built in 1996
3 staterooms with double beds.
3 cuddies with double beds.
1 room with 2 double bunk beds.
1 96” sofa in the living room.
Kitchen: fully equipped
Dishes, cups, glasses, wine glasses, utensils, etc.
Propane stove – 4 burners and full size oven.
2 Dometic dual power fridges. Run on propane and/or electricity.
BBQ on the deck.
Living and Dining Area
Dining table with leaf to seat 6.
Large 96 inch sofa.
TV & DVD player.
Stereo with auxiliary input.
Steering helm with VHF radio and fish finder.
18 life vests.
3 piece bath includes shower, sink, and toilet.
2 piece bath includes sink and toilet.
Hot Tub: 8 person. Fills from lake and heats within 2 – 4 hours with efficient and new propane heater.
Top Deck – large and open with the 8 person hot tub and a bimini cover for the front area of the deck which is not shown in any of the pictures as I prefer the sunshine. The cover is included. There’s also a steering helm and stereo for the top deck. As noted, the top deck speakers were replaced with top rated Pioneer marine grade speakers.
Winterize and summerize: $200 – $300 each.
Insurance: $1450 per year.
Park Fees: $15 per night is the cost to park at any of the provincial parks on the Shuswap Lake system. A season pass can be purchased for about $600.
Taxes: $0. This is another benefit over a cabin on the lake.
Height: 18’ to top of bimini, 12’ to top of structure. (Approximate.)
Weight: 26,000 pounds (Approximate.)
Fuel Capacity: 750 litres (Approximate.)
Holding Tank: 800 litres (Approximate.)
Engine: Volvo Penta 3L
Power: 6 x 6 volt deep cycle cabin batteries charged by alternator or shore power. System includes battery isolator and Heart Interface power inverter for 110V.
Propane: 4 x 60 pound tanks.
Make this amazing floating cabin yours for way less than any waterfront property on the Shuswap. Call, text or email to setup a viewing. It’s currently moored in Canoe, near Salmon Arm.
Yours for $89,900! Call Dave today at 250-574-2932.
The Crew: Jonas, Kent, and I.
The Mission: Voyage our 63′ houseboat 157 kms from the Dot Calm Marina in Kamloops to Waterways Houseboats in Sicamous.
First I spent days preparing for the journey by making sure all the components on the boat were operational after the winter. Fuel also needed to be hauled to the boat, so I made several trips to transfer fuel to fill the tank for the long, upstream voyage.
The other major challenge was getting the CN Rail bridge in downtown Kamloops opened. My first contacts with CN were useless. Finally through some personal connections I reached Sheridan Walker (250-371-1612), who coordinated the necessary crew. Robin Marcello (250-318-1399) was also instrumental in getting the bridge opened.
We embarked early Thursday morning to make sure we’d have plenty of daylight time on the water. Our first stop was Riverside Park where we tied to a piling while we waited for the bridge to be opened. It hadn’t been opened for some time, so replacement parts needed to be installed by the railway crew. Finally around 12:30 we passed through the bridge. (Jonas or Kent, you have pics of that?) It was a beautiful warm day of 28 degrees celsius as we plodded up the South Thompson. Kent made his exit at the LaFarge bridge around 16:30. Shortly after dropping Kent, we were cutting corners to try and make up time. That’s when we ran the front up on a sandbar a couple feet under the surface. It took about 30 minutes of manoeuvring to dislodge the boat and we were back on our way. Jonas and I continued on to Pritchard where we landed in the dark a little after 22:00. Luckily Amanda met us with some cold beer and we shared a late dinner of steak.
It was another early morning on the second day. (Amanda departed for the day, to return later in the evening.) Jonas and I had an uneventful morning until the S-curves leading into Chase. That’s where the current picked up a lot and we had to up the RPM’s to 3000 to make painstakingly slow progress. After an hour battling the current of the S-curves, we sailed into Little Shuswap Lake. As it was Friday, we spent most of the afternoon coordinating with our party crew; where to pick them up, what to bring, how they’d get back. St. Ives was the chosen pick-up and drop-off. Later in the afternoon a storm chased us across the lake and gave us a good tailwind. We met Amanda, Carly, Christina, Marcel, & Virginia at St. Ives around 21:00. After quickly installing and testing new marine speakers for the top deck, we continued on to Nielsen Beach. Again we made landfall shortly after 22:00 in the twilight. After a family dinner, a quick drinking game, (What was that called? No teeth!), and filling our cups for a wander up the beach to meet our neighbours. All in all, a pretty uneventful night.
Morning brought rain and we had to get moving to stay on the sailing schedule. After dropping everyone back at St. Ives, I continued on solo to Waterways, just past Sicamous. Two and a half days, 34 boating hours, and 157kms later, I arrived at Waterways! Epic Voyage of a lifetime!
(See below photos for customized route map.)