As some of you may know, I returned to Canada for two months at the beginning of June. My contract with the PAD was up, and though I was sad to leave my school I made plans to return in August with a Work & Travel Visa and have at least one more year of adventures in Germany before resigning myself to proper adulthood and shackling myself to a career, God forbid. Before I could do that however I had a few things to take care of back in Canada: get a new passport, apply for the visa, and somewhere fit in a wedding and visiting family and friends.
The wedding was that of my good friends Andrew and Ashly, whose adventures as newlyweds you can see on Ashly’s blog here. Though they were already married on paper in a small ceremony in Vancouver two years ago (a ceremony I was honoured to be a part of and officially witness), they still wanted to have a big party for all their friends and family. As Ash puts it, this was to be their real wedding. I was honoured as well when they asked me to be a Groomsman and eventually their Master of Ceremonies (which you can expect a post on that in the coming weeks as well!).
The festivities for us groomsmen began a week before the wedding. We had Andrew’s bachelor party weekend to celebrate, which took us up into the interior of British Columbia. Our adventure began at 5am on the Thursday morning, and after a 3 hour drive up along the mighty Fraser River we found ourselves at REO River Rafting just outside of Boston Bar. Despite the torrential rains we made it over the 15km of soggy logging roads out to the resort location, nestled down in a bend of the Nathatlatch River. Normally the Nathatlatch is classified as a Class 4 river, but the rainfall and snowmelt – this still being the very beginning of the season – had swollen the river to such a height and pace that we could actually only do a smaller section of the run. Tja, all we could do was put our lives in the hands of our chipper Kiwi guide.
Rafting was an absolute hoot. Something stirred deep in my Viking blood whenever our little raft plunged into a deep trough, leaving a wall of freezing water to crash over us. I kept thinking to myself, “Hey, this is what I’m made for – none of this 35C hot weather business.” I was in my element. Matt, recently moved to Kuwait, was not, though with two wet suits on he seemed alright.
After the rafting the REO Resort provided us with a hot tub and a hot meal in their camp house. During the high season it sounds like they get a lot of groups coming through, many of which stay on site. It’s something I’d definitely consider recommending, as it seems like a pretty cool set up. Besides, all the guides and staff we met were the friendliest group of Kiwis and Aussies, and the two new chefs prepared food that was amazing and simple.
The rain hadn’t let up the entire 4 hours that we were out on the river, but luckily our borrowed GMC Envoy had 4-wheel drive and the requisite beans needed to haul us up out the resort and back out onto the mucky logging road.
We continued up Highway 1, gaining altitude like no-one’s business as we snaked through the Fraser River Valley. Phil and I were the only two who managed to stay awake and appreciate the breathtaking views as the canyon gave way to the broad valley at Lytton where the Fraser and Thompson Rivers meet, their courses travelling side by side for a time, distinct from one another. Eventually the Fraser overpowers the Thompson, not unlike the Rhine and Mosel at Koblenz in Germany.
Next came the broad steely grey scree-covered plateaus of the Nicola Valley and Merritt, before we plunged down into the Okanagan Valley through fog so thick you could hardly see 20 metres ahead of you.
It was in Kelowna, the hub of the Okanagan Valley, that we spent the next few days. Kelowna provided us with enough sights and activities to keep ourselves occupied during that time. Kelowna’s an interesting city, a growing rival to such world cities as Nanaimo, Kamloops, and even god forbid Victoria, at least in terms of size. Just as all rivers in the valley eventually flow into Lake Okanagan, , so too do the people of the surrounding area congregate in the urban centre, especially of a Friday and Saturday night, along with an astonishingly high ratio of RCMP officers charged even today with keeping Her Majesty’s Peace amongst the ruffians of the Wild West.
Lake Okanagan is a gorgeous place, if totally unlike what I know as British Columbia as a Sunshine Coaster. Indeed, I found myself reminded of Northern Italy. I’ve not been to Northern Italy, but I suspect that’s what it’d look like. the obnoxiously beautiful Mission Hill Winery, built intentionally I hear to resemble an Italian monastery, helps enforce that impression greatly.