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Published: June 16th 2017
The bear just west of the campground
This photo belongs in the previous post but failed to upload. The bear is the tiny brown spot.
When I planned the stage after Princeton I thought it would be okay to make it a bit longer (117 km) as the elevation changes reported in Google maps were more down than up (908 m down, 559 m up). Of course, 559 metres up is still a substantial climb if it is done all at once. In an ideal world, little bits of that elevation change would be added in convenient places just to break up the coasting downhill. I asked the waitress at the restaurant in Princeton what the hills were like on the highway to Osoyoos. She said it was pretty much flat the whole way. But then she hesitated and said, “Oh yeah, I forgot, there’s that really long hill after Keremeos.”
Next morning, the ride down the Similkameen valley was simply glorious. It was either flat or down hill and I flew along. The country is very ranchy looking – I felt like I was riding through a Bonanza set. Hedley is an interesting town that once had rich gold mines. The rugged, arid mountains that surround it and its old west themed buildings also made me think of Pa and Hoss and
Little Joe. It was not long before the ranchlands turned into the orchards and vineyards of Keremeos and the lower Similkameen valley. Sign after sign advertised wine tasting at this or that winery along the highway. I would have stopped if they all hadn’t been so far off the road.
Michele caught up with me at about the half-way point and we ate hardboiled eggs and pepperettes and cheese in a rest area. With all the vineyards around, it felt like we were picnicking in Tuscany. After we got underway again, I found I was pedalling against a slight headwind that (of course) grew stronger as the day progressed. I was reminding myself of my new conviction that long hills were worse than headwinds when I found the big hill the waitress was talking about. You know what’s worse than long steep hills? Long steep hills with a wind blowing down them. It was not as long as the ride up to Allison pass, but I was definitely feeling sorry for myself by the time I reached the top about 12 kilometres from Osoyoos. Then the lovely freewheel down to the town. Michele had texted me to
look across the lake as I came down the hill to where she had found us a site at the Nk’mip (pronounced inkmeep I think) campground. This huge complex of campground, recreational area, vineyards, orchards and winery is owned and operated by a local first nations band. Riding through the cherry orchards I saw all kinds of tents pitched under the trees and many young people who resembled the tree planters we see this time of year in Ontario. These people were there to pick the cherry crop from the trees they slept under at night. Hard work I am sure. Michele took a picture of a sign at the nearby fruit stand – it said cheeries which she thought was a much better name than cherries.
Michele had picked a site right on the lake under gorgeous weeping willows. Behind us is basically desert – cacti and everything (its amazing how many different climate zones we have passed through in a few short days). Hilarious little quail – they have a fancy little feather hanging out in front of their eyes - are chasing each other about behind me. Their
call is both plaintive and ridiculous – it makes me laugh every time I hear it. A band of free loading ducks keeps cruising past, obviously habituated to hand outs from the campers.
Raja showed up a couple of hours after I arrived (I start earlier) and we ate spaghetti that Michele prepared. After supper Michele and I drove back into town to get some medicine for a cold she is working on and I noticed the car had a funny sound in the front end. It seemed to handle okay, but overnight I worried about it and in the morning I decided it would be stupid to go on without getting it checked out. As we had done 5 days straight, it was not unreasonable to take a day off anyway, so we decided to extend our stay. I asked around and was directed to OK tire. The service receptionist was very sympathetic but not optimistic that it could be looked at today as they were so busy. She told Neil, the owner, my tale and he kindly agreed to test drive it. He brought it back in and put it on the lift and rummaged
about with the suspension components for a couple of minutes. He called me out to have a look and showed me a double handful of rocks that he had removed from above the sway bar. “You didn’t tell me you ditched it!” he said. Anyway, other than some gouging up of the underside, there was no damage and he assured me it was good to go. He refused payment and told me not to get mad at my wife (and I didn’t, even though she later confessed to bottoming out at the campground in Mission – it could just as easily have been me, the car is so low). Thank you Neil from OK tire in Osoyoos -you saved my day. I don’t think he needs the business, but he has my recommendation. He is another one to add to the long list of nice people we have met on this trip.
So here I sit beside beautiful Osoyoos lake. Raja is catching up with his business emails and texts and Michele is trying to sleep her cold off in the tent. Tomorrow we have to grind our way up the switchbacks on Highway #3 east. We are planning to camp at boundary creek provincial park just this side of Greenwood. This stage will be 78.6 kilometres and involve climbing 1330 metres and descending 898. Oh boy.
Tot: 2.029s; Tpl: 0.056s; cc: 9; qc: 51; dbt: 0.0359s; 1; m:saturn w:www (22.214.171.124); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.3mb