A Canadian escape

I need another one!

It was a long six months of living in the United States, not being allowed to set foot on the Great White North, my Canadian homeland.

Those were the rules, though. As long as I was waiting for my Green Card, I wasn’t allowed to leave the States. If I did, I was considered to be abandoning my petition and the border guards didn’t have to let me back in.

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No trespassing: A followup on the Kelowna hippie commune

I never wonder why I do this.

I’m intrigued by the history of the areas I live in, how people lived in another time, and why they up and leave their homes, abandoning what may have been precious items.

I make up stories in my head, some of them inspired by Criminal Minds episodes, and I don’t share most of them with you. I’d rather you not know just how dark my imagination can be. Ha!

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Time travelling to junior high

I’d already been yelled at once.

When I heard footsteps behind me, I thought, ‘oh great, here we go again.’

I wasn’t in trouble. The fellow seemed rather pleasant, so I asked, ‘oh dear, am I trespassing?’

Yep, I sure was. I apologized profusely and thought I should leave, but the fellow was in the mood for a chat.

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C2H: Our first hike

“Are you going to start hiking again,” someone asked when she learned of Bella’s addition to the family.

When Shep’s old age started to creep up on us, our hikes in the Rocky Mountains became short strolls in the lowlands. We couldn’t do extended days to the Ink Lakes anymore.

We had to stick to lazy days at Two Jack Lake and Lake Minnewanka, always sticking close to water for quick cooldowns.

Puppies are different.

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C2H: The old man climbeth

C2H — Close to Home is my attempt at a new summer series. Thanks to impending (f)unemployment and the price of gas ($1.44 a litre!) in the Okanagan, our adventuring will be a bit limited. Shep and I will try to explore the regional parks around Kelowna and find adventure less than 50 kilometres from home.

It seems like almost too much of a coincidence.

I chose Glen Canyon Park to start our Close to Home summer series, highlighting adventure opportunities in Kelowna and the Okanagan.

At 74 hectares, it’s large enough to split into a few different days, considering Shep is getting on in years and isn’t as nimble as he used to be.

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The best for last: Hedley, B.C.

Sometimes, you don’t find what you’re looking for until you’re near the end of the road.

Shep and I saddled up for an escape on Sunday and busted the open highway, bound for Hedley. I’d heard about the mine on the side of the mountain, about miners falling out of their cabins … to their deaths.

I had to see if for myself.

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Hippie garbage and the kindness of strangers

Editor’s Note, September 2015: This property is not abandoned. It is owned by Paul Melnyk of Kelowna, who is trying to restore the property. Please see the Stock Meadows website for more information.

It was the perfect day for a spring adventure.

And that’s exactly what Shep and I found.


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It’s adventure season!

It has felt like one long, cold winter.

That’s with apologies to my friends and family on the other side of the Rockies, of course … from Alberta all the way to Atlantic Canada.

Helloooooooooo, Newfoundland! Have you dug out of those snowbanks yet?

In Alberta, I was known to break out the camera for January and February adventures, heading out to ghost towns or on hiking day trips.

Not this year in British Columbia. For some reason, no weekend seemed to be the right time.

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Sneaking around in Cawston, B.C.

It had been too long since we’d gone on an abandoned adventure.

Life has been getting in the way. Shep and I moved twice since August, one to Summerland and two months later into West Kelowna.

And then real drama struck. Shep became very ill and I almost lost my precious boy.

While he was recovering from surgery, I cuddled with him and promised an adventure as soon as we ready.

Hurray! He got his staples out on Friday and we started plotting (read: Googling) areas in our new habitat.

Sunday morning, we set out … bound for Oliver, B.C., to find the historic Haynes ranch and the former townsite of Fairview. And don’t you wish I was about to tell you that story and show you those pictures.

I will. But not today.

Once we got to Kaleden, we hung a right and busted for Keremeos, taking the long way — er, scenic route — to Oliver.

And that scenic route did not disappoint.

fishing dock on lake near Kaleden, British Columbia

Yellow Lake, I was told by a (somewhat inebriated) fellow casting his line into the lake, is a popular spot for flyfishers and ice fishers. It’s stocked with Kokanee salmon and rainbow trout.

Since we aren’t fishers, we used the dock for a photo op.
maremma sheepdog sitting on a fishing dock

Hmmm … it looks like Shep might even be posing. Don’t worry. He returned to his old self later in the day, having no patience, refusing to look at the camera and harumphing off in front of me.

On we went to Keremeos. A little town from the Wild West deserves its own day of adventure, maybe when it’s warmer.

We took the bypass and cruised through the Cawston, a small community south of Keremeos. According to Wikipedia, it’s named for R.L. Cawston, a pioneer rancher and magistrate who settled in the area in the 19th century.

We starting to get hungry. I started to tell Shep about a stop at A&W in Osoyoos when I had to stop.

Not one, but two abandoned, derelict homes … one right after the other. My heart jumped, and I pulled our great Escape off the highway.

Abandoned farmhouse near Cawston, B.C.

I couldn’t get any closer, since it sat behind a locked gate.

I was a bit apprehensive about the other property. I saw a No Trespassing sign but the gate was swung open.

Wide open. Invitingly open.

Like a Welcome sign.

I bit.
Abandoned farmhouse near Cawston, B.C.

A broken window offers a peak into the house. A bedroom, strewn with boxes and refuse.

Bedroom of abandoned farmhouse

Trust me, I wanted to climb through the window and see what else this lonely house held. But my best bud was waiting patiently in the truck.

There was also a bit of fear around someone storming up behind me and yelling “WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING HERE?”

Not in the mood to get arrested, I snapped off a pic of (what I think was) the chicken coop and hauled ass.
chicken coop at abandoned farmhouse

Now at home, I learn the two properties are significant to the history of the area. Michael Kluckner, a Vancouver-based artist and writer, is fascinated by the abandoned and ghostly areas of British Columbia.

He researched the first farmhouse and learned it was the Elton home, built in 1910,

Ralph Elton was born in India where his father was a colonel in the British army, moved to England as a child, and subsequently migrated to southern Alberta where he lived before settling here. Although one can imagine his house as the centre of a large “spread,” Elton in fact owned just eight acres around it, with another eight of pasture in the hills behind. On his little farm he had apple trees, chickens and horses, but his main source of income was work on the roads.

The gate that kept me from getting closer keeps lookie-loos from entering McCurdy ranchland.

According to the Keremeos Museum’s website, Daniel McCurdy moved to B.C. from Ontario in 1884. The next year, he went back to Ontario to bring back his family: wife, Louisa, and children Sarah (7), Sam (5) and Robert (3).

The other house, of course, was the second McCurdy homestead, built in 1895.

I just hope I don’t run into any of the McCurdys on my next trip through that way … cowboy justice doesn’t look kindly on trespassers.


We have a new home … again

Life can change in the blink of an eye.

About a month ago, I was furiously packing up the apartment in Kamloops and getting ready to move Shep and me to a new home. I knew from the moment I set foot back in Kamloops last November that it was a temporary stay, no matter how many times my newspaper colleagues threatened that my position would become permanent and full time.

Trouble is, I’ve grown out of newspapers. The internet is too much fun. So, I took some time while on Employment Insurance to look for the right job this time. (I hope to find time to write more about that on That Angela this week but between a job, client work and being only five hours away from Spokane, I don’t get much free time to write for myself. This is a treat.)

I work in Kelowna now. I live in Summerland.

sandy beach in Summerland

I wake up in the morning, go for a 10-km run and enjoy coffee on my patio, while the sun rises over Naramata.

I get home from work to my favourite smiling face, pour a glass of wine and watch the stars twinkle in the clear, dark sky while bats whizz back and forth over my head.

It’s magical. It’s calming. And it is paradise.

I breathe deeply now and I sleep.

Those are new. They’re still strange to me. But I welcome them to my life.

And Shep smiles a lot.

He has a big backyard and a five-minute drive to water.

Shep at the Summerland dog beach

Then there are the other bonuses. I run past the old Gartrell barn every other day:

old barn in Summerland

It’s technically in Trout Creek, where James Gartrell and his family settled in 1887, after travelling from Ontario with their apple tree seedlings.

Let’s not forget the orchards and the wineries. There are at least 10 wineries within drivingstumbling distance of my house.

Like Sonoran Estates. This is the view from the bistro patio:

View of winery and Okanagan Lake

I’d tell you I have a spare bedroom … but I did mention I’m only five hours away from Spokane now, right?

Welcome to yet another adventure for Shep and me. We have a spare bedroom.