The marketing whizzes with the B.C. Ministry of Tourism have often harped on the theme in past years of British Columbians checking out their own provincial backyard.
While the idea of a vacation tends to make us think about leaving B.C., and with the U.S. border so close, leaving Canada, I was given a reminder last week of why that sometimes is an oversight on our part.
Having packed the family in the SUV and headed up to a small outdoor resort just outside 100 Mile House last week, it was a reminder of how, in a four-hour trip, the natural geographic wonders of this province can change so dramatically from hour to hour.
There was wildlife, deer and a bear, hanging out on the side of the highway, there was the change from the urbanized Central Okanagan to the isolated ranch country of the Thompson-Nicola, the expansive Highland Copper Mine in the middle of nowhere, the dry steep valley cuts of Ashcroft sliced through by the fast-moving Bonaparte River, and then stepping back in time in the journey past Clinton to 100 Mile House still reflecting that ranching frontier era.
Unlike the dreary but convenient four-lane Coquihalla speedway that takes you to the coast, heading in the opposite direction offers the chance to stop in small towns, take a break and soak up a little of the atmosphere.
Having done that in Ashcroft, unfortunately, gave me the sense I didn’t want to spend any more time there than was absolutely necessary.
It’s what I would call a tough living town, looking at the people coming in and out of the local convenience store in about a 10-minute time span. But still, all the better for having that experience.
Having spent four years living in northwest B.C. towns like Houston, Smithers and for a brief few days, Williams Lake, as an immigrant from the Lower Mainland I was shocked at what I didn’t know about the province I lived in. That experience was a real eye-opener for a city boy. And today as it was back then, many West Coasters still don’t have a clue.
Even Kelowna still has that feel of being a long way away for those living in Lotusland.
So if you are planning a vacation this summer and you want to go camping, get away from the fast paced urban lifestyle Kelowna has become, consider your own province and think about heading north.
There are some undiscovered jewels to be found out there. We found one and already are booked to return next year.
We British Columbians are a diverse lot. Every region seems to have its own identity, and it is far from an extension of the larger populated centres like the Lower Mainland. So take the time to check it out.
Barry Gerding is the managing editor of the Kelowna Capital News.