Tagged with " museums"
Dec 6, 2008 -

Playing With Dragons

Earlier this week, I decided to get away Friday night to, well, get away. I decided to go to Vernon, thinking it would be a quick drive as the city is just 155km north of Oliver.


There have been road closures on highway 97 north of Summerland for months now and the situation is getting ridiculous seeing as that road is the only way to reach the north Okanagan without taking three times as long by using one of the ‘detours.’ Yesterday, I left Oliver at 1:15, figuring I would hit Summerland at 2, at the end of the scheduled 1 to 2 road closure, just squeeze in before the 2:30 closure and arrive in Vernon for about 3:30. Just as I entered Summerland, there came an announcement on the radio that the road would be closed until about 3:30. I finally pulled into Vernon at about 5:15, in the dark, and in freezing rain. Very relaxing. The four hours it took me to drive 155 kilometres doesn’t beat the 9 hours it took me to drive from the Mexican border to north of Los Angeles (less than 200km), but it’s pretty close.

At any rate, I sure was glad to get to the B&B I’d found via trusty old Google, Richmond House 1894. I’d called my hosts, Dinham and Kathy, to let them know I would be very late, so they were waiting for me when I arrived. Kathy lead me up to my room, the Tennyson, and showed me around the guest area. Richmond House is a beautifully appointed Victorian jewel with all the comforts of home. I had a specific reason for picking this B&B:

A sight for sore eyes for an RVer who loves a good soak!

A sight for sore eyes for an RVer who loves a good soak!

Before the ultimate of all treats, I asked for some suggestions for dinner and Kathy was quick to suggest Sushi 1 on 30th Avenue. Not having had Japanese in way too long, I headed that way. Dinner, while not inexpensive, was fabulous! I went for the evening bento box special which had sashimi, shrimp rolls, tofu, tempura, teriyaki salmon, and more. Add a Sapporo beer and I just about rolled out of there, LOL! One thing I love about Japanese food is that you rarely know what you’re eating, but just about everything is delicious. I easily recognized the salmon sashimi, but there was also some white fish I’d never had before. Both were equally delicious. Raw fish is not at all like cooked fish, it has a very delicate flavour and a ‘melt-in-your-mouth’ texture that is slightly gummy, but not slimy. When I started to eat fish voluntarily several years ago, I actually started with sashimi before ‘graduating’ to cooked fish. So, the bento box is a fabulous deal and I highly recommend Sushi 1 in Vernon!

Then, I had a much needed and well-timed soak as yesterday we moved ‘mega’ blocks weighing 25lbs to 30lbs each and my muscles were sore!

Sleep came easily in a luxuriously soft bed…

Breakfast this morning was the proverbial icing on the cake: fresh juice, excellent coffee, fruit compote with yoghurt, waffles with mounds of berries and whipped cream, two muffins, and a slice and a half of pumpkin loaf. I brought the muffins and loaf home as I was stuffed by the time they came out of the kitchen! The price for all this luxury is worth mentioning as I’ve paid more to stay in crappy motels with no amenities: 75$, taxes included.

It’s really winter in Vernon, with snow, slush, and freezing rain, so I wasn’t too tempted to tool around much this morning. I’d made a list of interesting-sounding attractions open on Saturday mornings and decided to visit the Okanagan Science Centre.

The museum is tiny and kid-oriented. At present, it is between exhibits, so there isn’t really much to see. It was still worth a detour for me because of the reptiles!

First, though, I toured their astronomy section and really enjoyed the exhibit featuring a ‘what if’ scenario for someone stranded on the moon: your craft is damaged, there is stuff to fix it 100km away at a station, and these are the items available for your journey. Which five items will help you and which three will hinder you? I was surprised by some of the answers.

As I was heading out, a lady asked if I want to pet the one snake available for public touching, seeing as the others were digesting after being fed yesterday. Of course! The snake in question was a young (two year old) albino boa (making him cream and orange-coloured) and such a darling! The lady even let me hold him for a surprisingly long time. I love boas! After getting my fill of the boa, I was invited to take a look at the resident anaconda (a member of the boa family), not something I was about to turn down! To my delight, this wound up being a green anaconda, not a black one like I’d seen in San Francisco and Brandon. Her name is Bridget and she’s a beauty, olive-skinned with black spots. Just as I thought the visit couldn’t get any better, I was invited to hold one of the resident bearded dragons! I’d never in my life held such a critter before and it was quite the experience! He was a rolypoly fellow, with a huge tummy and a love of having the top of his head scratched. Anyone who thinks that a reptile can’t show affection has never met Ralph the bearded dragon!

And that was the end of my over night trip to Vernon. The drive home was better, although I still hit an unscheduled 15 minute closure at Summerland.

When I left yesterday, I turned off the space heater, left the radiator on high and the furnace set to 60, hoping that this would keep Miranda’s temperature at 16 even though we were set for another very cold night yesterday. I got in this afternoon and it was 16.5 in here. So, that’s very useful information to file away for the next time I leave her overnight in cold weather.

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Oct 18, 2008 -

Highway 33

I’ve been out of ‘tourist mode’ since settling for the winter since I haven’t had any money come in. So, I decided that today being the gorgeous day that it was, I would take a mini-road trip to Kelowna and turn it into an adventure by taking highway 33 back, effectively doing a full circle. It would be quite the detour, but a chance to see more of the splendid Okanagan Valley.

First stop in Kelowna was an oil change, then I was off to the Okanagan Heritage Museum. I’m glad that admission was by donation because I was quite disappointed. The museum is tiny! I started by taking a tour of a temporary exhibit about the KGH: Kelowna General Hospital. Then it took about five minutes to go through the rest of the museum. It was an interesting hodgepodge of artifacts from around the world, most of it not immediately relevant to Kelowna. Worth stopping in if you’re in Kelowna, but definitely not worth a detour. I walked around the Marina a bit, had lunch, went to Value Village, and then headed home.

Highway 33 wound up being positively breath taking, a world of valleys and peaks unto itself. The most memorable part of the drive was the section of switchbacks that led me down into Osoyoos.


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British Columbia, Canada, Travel    1 Comment
Sep 28, 2008 -

Heritage Park

Scary moment of the day: I had to scrape a thick layer of frost off my car this morning!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Driving into Calgary today, I had to take this picture:

That’s not a lake down there. It’s a fog-shrouded town!

Preamble to my day:

1) Yes, I was a history major and am still a history buff.
2) The days have been way too lovely and sunny to spend them cooped up in museums!

So, today, I went to Heritage Park, which is Calgary’s Fort Edmonton. It’s quite a similar set up, only I got to see Heritage Park while it was fully running. It was a much more hectic, but richer, experience.

Entrance to Heritage Park is 15$ and then you pay 3$ per ride you want to take or 10$ for unlimited rides. Rides include a steam train, a paddle boat, a wagon, a trolley, and a variety of midway attractions. I suspected that the 10$ option would be the best value, so I went with that.

Guests who arrive before 10AM are served a complimentary and surprisingly hearty and delicious pancake and sausage breakfast with juice. So, I started with that and then began my tour of the park.

My first stop was the blacksmith shop where I stayed for almost a half hour watching the blacksmith turn a piece of iron into a meat fork. He gave me a lot of information on the trade and how one learns it.

After that, I wandered through the village, taking pictures of random things that caught my eye.

The Two Storey Outhouse:

This outhouse was attached to a bar with a hotel over it. Bar patrons used the ground floor holes while the hotel guests used the upstairs ones.

The Reservoir’s Water Colour:

The ride on the SS Moyie was an incredible value, affording me a half hour cruise of the Calgary reservoir.

Rugs I Wouldn’t Have in My Home:

I was startled just walking into that parlour. Imagine wandering around the house in the wee hours of the morning while half asleep and stumbling onto that thing?!

Fan Etiquette:

That Oh-So-Gaudy Victorian Sense of Style:

I wish I hadn’t been shy and had taken a picture of the interpreter in this house. My first thought was that her blouse matched the wallpaper, but I didn’t say that out loud. When I commented on the decor, she said “A lot of people are impressed that my blouse matches the wallpaper.” LOL

My Favourite House Style:

Some people, including the interpreter, call this a Queen Anne Cottage. It’s actually a rare type of Victorian that followed the Queen Anne Cottage, which has more ornamentation, and is a Gothic Victorian. If money were no object and I could afford someone to ensure the upkeep of such a home, this is what I would have built for myself. I love the square tower and the general layout of the rooms inside without there being all the Queen Anne ‘frou frou.’

Before having lunch, I decided to try the midway. I rode the whip, which was fun, but very tame. I then decided for some unfathomable reason to ride the ferris wheel. The second to last time I rode a ferris wheel, I told myself ‘never again’ and six years later I found myself riding it again and being stuck at the top for an unfathomably long time due to a mechanical problem (how reassuring). But this wheel seemed tiny! Yeah. Let’s just say I didn’t have much fun and I was really, really, really glad when the ride was over. This video makes me queasy all over again:

I walked around for a bit after to settle my stomach and decide what I was going to do for food. I carry snacks, but was getting a bit tired of my usual lunch of a granola bar, cheese, nuts, and fruit. I avoid having lunch in these sorts of places, but when I saw the prices at the most ‘upscale’ restaurant on site, I decided to treat myself to a nice meal. Prices would have been considered reasonable anywhere and were a bargain in this sort of location. 14$ (including tip) netted me a huge gourmet sandwich of provolone, turkey, and vegetables, with a side of fresh french fries and a bottomless glass of apple juice.

Add a steam train ride, tons of walking, and an extremely bright sun, and I was wiped by about 4. What a full day!

I really liked Heritage Park and suspect that even if Fort Edmonton Park had been running full swing it wouldn’t have been quite as much fun. My only major complaint about Heritage Park is that too many of the exhibits are actually stores. For example, you walk into a period drug store and are accosted to buy all manner of goods before you can walk to the back and see the actual museum exhibits. Otherwise, HP offers really good value for the money.

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