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Once again I had the dubious pleasure of going on a geocaching road trip with two of my brothers where we spend an extended weekend touring cities and geocaching and acting like teenagers rather than grown men. It was a blast !
Brother Al and Brother Ken and myself headed to the Interior of BC looking to visit Al's son in Kelowna and another of our brothers and his wife in Vernon.
The trip took us from Vancouver through the cities of Mission, Kelowna and Vernon. Hence the name of this episode called V's and Ks and one M
We cruised out through Mission BC where we spent some time looking for a few caches in the city. The big "M" you see in the picture above is an art piece celebrating the town of Mission and it's industrial heritage. We did a few easy city caches, just enough to start the weekend on a positive note with successful hunts.
After Mission we crossed over the mighty Fraser River and headed to the Upper Fraser Valley city of Chilliwack. Once in Chilliwack we crossed over to the north side of the river and took some scenic farm roads as we followed a geocache series that wound it's way east with the landscape alternating between fields of summer time corn almost ready for harvesting, and quiet enclaves where livestock grazed the fields.
The nice thing about taking the back roads is you see more scenery than if travelling the highways and you come across unexpected treasures.
In this case the small village of Rosedale provided a stellar surprise in the form of an antiques shop housed in an old garage. Outside scattered around the garage property were old trucks. I have to admit my brothers are more into old cars than I am, but even I was impressed with a couple of vintage trucks that are rare to find. And to have two of them on the same lot was even rarer.
A red Diamond T flatbed was prettied up and parked waiting for admirers to come along. Diamond T trucks were built as luxury trucks of the times, if you had one of these you had serious money.
The other pretty boy on display was a Federal truck. I have seen a lot of old Fords and Chevies and Dodges but not often you see a Federal parked nonchalantly among the other old trucks.
After finishing our caching around Chilliwack we stopped for a quick bite to eat in Hope, then hotfooted it to Merritt and beyond to make up for time spent.
The three brothers arrange a geocaching road trip 2 - 3 times a year. The downside to frequent caching and road tripping is you tend to have to go through the same towns to get outside of your normal range. As a result of this, we have done many of the caches on the main roads that run to and through those towns.
Just east of Merritt we pulled into a natural grasslands reserve and found two Gold Country caches. The Gold Country series were created by multiple towns in the Thompson area of BC getting together drum up tourist business for their dying towns. And they scored big.
Over 200 hundred geocaches stretching from Merritt to Lytton and Lilloeet and all the way north to Clinton ensure there is a steady stream of folks running around the towns and areas looking for hidden treasure. Those same people overnight in the small towns, buying meals, gas, groceries and filling motel rooms and campsites which is a tremendous boost to the local economy.
As we had crossed over the Coast Mountains we were now on the leeward dry side of the mountains and the coastal rain forests of the coast had been replaced with dry grasslands and rolling hills.This is prime cattle and horse land, and many ranchers enjoy a good life living the cowboy way.
After finding the Gold Country caches we were back in the truck and on our way to Kelowna. Al's son Chris was expecting us and as Chris was out caching himself we sent him a hail to let him know we were in town and where to meet us.
Chris met up with us a city cache at a local farmer's market where we collectively found a geocache hidden on an old tractor.
It was good to see Chris as Ken and I had not seen him for months, and dad Al was happy to see his son as well. Family grows and move apart from each other, so you treasure those moments when you can get back together, even for a little while.
We managed to sneak in a few caches before the sun went down, and at that point we decided dinner and a beer were high on our list of things to find next..
Saturday we were out caching in the sunshine again with Chris along as a local tour guide. We did some downtown caches, some neighbourhood caches, and few caches on the outskirts of the city that brought us up into the hills for a good view of Kelowna.
The houses in the picture have lovely views but are sitting atop a rock, so chances of having a backyard to play is is limited. But you have what you want and what you can pay for. I guess if you don't have kids you don't have to worry about them falling off the cliff in your back yard.
We spent the day puttering around Kelowna and as the afternoon wore on we started working our way north towards Vernon. We had a dinner engagement lined up with another brother and his wife, so we had to keep on the move and be conscious of the time, all the while trying to get "one more cache" squeezed into the drive.
The Okanagan area of BC is lined up in a north-south orientation which follows the path of a glacier more than 10,000 years ago.
From Osoyoos in the south, which is located right on the Canada - U.S. border, to Vernon in the north, the Okanagan Valley is one long valley blessed with perfect weather for harvesting wines and fruit.
The wide valley also presented generous views along our route as we traveled to Vernon.
We made it into Vernon just a few minutes late, but then we found out there were two hotels of the same name just blocks from each other. One has the proper name, the other one doesn't advertise that name and the signs on the hotel use some other name. After wasting some time going back and forth we finally guessed at the right hotel and found our brother Wayne and his wife Inga waiting for us. Wayne has been having a medically tough time the past few years, so the visit meant all that much more. We would have loved to continue the visit after dinner but the whole exercise of getting out of the house and going out for dinner was too much of a strain for Wayne's health so we said our goodbyes for the night.
Sunday morning brought the threat of rain for the day. We didn't mind that too much as Wayne and Inga had told us in conversation the temperature for the past three weeks had been hovering in the 40C degree mark. Way too hot to geocache as the heat just saps the strength out of you, and a fun day of geocaching quickly turns into sunburn, heat stroke, and a visit to the Dairy Queen instead of geocaching.
We cached in the morning in and around Vernon, one of the fun and pleasant things we seen was the community book exchange in some of the neighbourhoods. The city, or neighbours even, build these small elevated boxes and the residents donate books they have read. Other residents will visit, bring their own books, and exchange them for books which are in the box. This sort of idea brings the community together and as a visitor it is gratifying to see a positive vibe in the community.
We stopped for lunch and made that the break away point from our geocaching in Vernon, as we now had to start heading back towards Vancouver and we had a lot more caches to find on the way home. Chris, Al's son whom had driven back from Kelowna that morning, joined us for lunch. As we were chowing down on our fine cuisine as presented by the local fast food chain, the rain started coming down in buckets.
Just as well, as we had an hour and half drive ahead of us to the next series of caches a couple of hundred miles away, so let it rain all it want.
We said our goodbyes to Chris, jumped in the truck, turned on the windshield wipers, and began the trip southward towards the Coast
The rain was just letting up as we reached our first stop on the new route of caches. We were now back in the range grasslands not too far from Merritt, with an old barn on a farm the location of our first cache.
A narrow glacier carved valley studded with low lands and intermittent small lakes and ponds headed south from the small community of Aspen Grove to Princeton. Along this valley were a series of caches amounting to 18 or more that would provide a few more notches on the belt for cache finds, as well as provide an alternative route home rather than the standard fast speed highways.
Many of the caches we were to find were located at roadside pullouts either along side on of the multitude of lakes, or they were on rises in the land which provided unspoiled views of the narrow valley.
Make no mistake, we were back in Cowboy land and if you forgot that for a minute, signs for dude ranches and country crafts helped you remember. So did the cow patties when you stepped away from the main roads and ventured on the side roads past the cattle guards.
It's surprising on how much time is taken up looking for geocaches, even if you have picked the ones close to parking so you can turn them into "park and grabs".
Between the miles to travel to Princeton and finding the caches along the route, it was dinner time when we rolled into Princeton.
A quick tailgate dinner was on the menu as we had another 135 miles to go and a 90 minute drive to our last few caches.
Our last cache to find was in Sunshine Valley just east of Hope.While the area is becoming increasingly popular as a weekend cabin area or year round out of the way home, it's original purpose was much darker.
This was the site of one of the internment camps for Japanese citizens during World War II.
It was wrongly assumed that if you were of Japanese heritage, you would turn against your own country and betray them during the war. Many families were rounded up, stripped of their monies, homes, business, and sent inland away from the coast to live in cold cabins more befitting a war criminal or POW.
Kudos to the local heritage society for keeping the memory of this painful part of history alive and in plain view of travelers lest we forget our mistakes of the past.
By now it was 7.30 PM and we still had a two hour drive to get to my house were Al had left his truck. Al still had another hour drive home after that while Ken's trip was considerably shorter.
We arrived home in the dark, emptied our gear out of the truck, had a chat about the weekend and when we should go again, then it was time to head into the house and get ready to head back to work in the morning.
Three brothers got to spend a weekend together, got to visit an ailing brother, and visit a son/nephew all on the same trip. And no band aids and gauze were required like one of our previous trips. (That's on another travelog report) 😉
The complete set of pictures can be found here on my Flickr photo web site.
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