Gerding: Kelowna still has a lot going for it as a place to call home

A two week holiday at the end of August offered me the opportunity to spend a week "vacationing" in my own community, and then to get out of town for a few days.

A two-week holiday at the end of August offered me the opportunity to spend a week “vacationing” in my own community—and then to get out of town for a few days.

Both also offered some perspective on what we sometimes overlook as things to do in our own community, and illustrate why Kelowna, despite all the problems we complain about on a regular basis, is still a great place to live.

My vacation started off by playing host to a visiting cousin from Edmonton and his girlfriend for a week. It gave me a chance to answer a nagging question I always ask myself: What exactly do tourists do when they come to Kelowna? There are the obvious answers—go to the beach, visit a winery—but if the weather is in the dumper, how to you occupy yourself, especially if you have kids tagging along.

While there were no kids involved and the weather was scorching hot, here is how one Alberta couple spent their week.

One of the highlights of their trip was starting their day by grabbing a Starbucks coffee and hanging out by Mission Creek. A peaceful, awesome setting for the first cup of java of the day, they said.

No wine tours for them, but they did get a round of golf in, a dinner cruise on Okanagan Lake, a hike up Knox Mountain Park, spent an afternoon at Pioneer Park in Lake Country, did some sun tanning at Hot Sands Beach, worked out at a local gym, and dined out on several occasions, at Earl’s restaurant and Carl’s Junior burger joint, and a chance to reflect their varying culinary styles. Both scored a thumbs up.

As I suspect a lot of visiting Albertans do each year, their seven days spent here helped them to do their part to feed our local tourism industry engine.

As the local tourism folks related earlier this week, our summer tourist season got off to a rocky start in July, largely due to the un-Okanagan like weather. But the momentum seemed to shift in the wake of the Centre of Gravity festival and a return of the hot weather.

As for getting out of town, in this case it was back to the Lower Mainland. The hustle and bustle of the big city and growing suburbs seems to have intensified each year since I left  and moved to the Okanagan back in 2000.

It is impossible to drive around the Lower Mainland without hitting a traffic jam. Impossible.

The province has initiated a huge project to build a new Port Mann Bridge. It looks impressive, but I have now spent two hours of my life I will never get back looking at it while stuck in a freeway traffic jam. Will it be any different when the bridge is complete? I have my doubts .

In general, everyone in the Lower Mainland is just in too much of a hurry. It makes me wonder if that’s where the Central Okanagan is headed in the not too distant future.

Barry Gerding is the managing editor of the Kelowna Capital News.



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