Hodge: It can be fun playing tourist in your own valley

Tez and I wound up playing tourists in our own Valley last week. And we had a fabulous time doing so.

Sometimes, trying to simply make the best of what is can prove to be the best decision of all.

That theory is not something new or earth-shattering, but it seems like thunderbolt-thinking when it’s a scenario that involves you.

For a variety of reasons including no passports, a lack of surplus funds, a yard that was screaming for some long overdue maintenance, and a number of other things on the schedule, Tez and I wound up playing tourists in our own Valley last week. And we had a fabulous time doing so.

For years now, I have supported the theory that since millions of people travel long distances to visit the Okanagan Valley during their summer holidays—why would I want to leave here?

Certainly, I can understand the allure of warmer climates such as Hawaii or Mexico during the winter months, but leaving Kelowna for such locations during the summer just seems odd.

Part of that philosophy may have been supported over the years by economics and other issues; however there has always been a significant level of logic to it

Born and raised in the Okanagan, I am familiar with all the many wonderful nooks and crannies and special places worthy of visiting in our own paradise.

Even as a youngster I realized that Kelowna, and the rest of the Okanagan, truly is a wondrous place to live and play.

I did not have to look far to be made aware of it. All I had to do was live here during the summer and wait for the throngs of tourists to prove it.

I remember well the summers when the population of small town Kelowna doubled or tripled with tourists.

The blue and white B.C. license plates were suddenly outnumbered by a multitude of plates from Alberta, Saskatchewan and the United States,

So, last week Tez and I spent time enjoying our yard and visiting with friends.

However, recognizing it was way too easy to simply wind up working in the yard all week—we decided to plan a brief getaway.

We decided to simply play tourist in our own town, or in our case, valley. We dug out the various travel info brochures we had compiled and kept toying with where to go.

However, every time we started to plan our sojourn my brain kept going to one of my favourite areas—Osoyoos.

Tez decided to check out overnight options including camp grounds and hotels.

She spent hours on various discount travel sites such as expedia.ca, Travelocity, and hotwire.com looking at options. Eventually we simply picked a few hotels and made some phone calls.

It is staggering just how much hotel rooms can cost now, and with limited dollars, we were having to check around for a great deal.

We were surprised with how many hotels up and down the valley had vacancies. Eventually we were successful, made a call and reserved a room in Osoyoos for the following night.

With binoculars and camera in hand, and the attitude of playing tourists, we slowly meandered down Highway 97 stopping at beaches in Peachland, Summerland, and other spots, and even pulled over regularly to let travellers in a hurry zoom past.

We toured campgrounds in search of an idea where to stay for her next holiday (in August).

The hotel we picked would not have rooms available until 3 p.m. but that did not matter as we enjoyed a visit to the beach while the rooms were prepared.

It took us less than 10 minutes on the waterfront to feel like we were truly on a holiday.

Simply getting away from the familiar house and yard makes the mental shift easier. And the warm lake, beach chairs and cold beer made it even easier to adapt.

The benchmark moment for both of us was when we wandered about 100 feet offshore into the warm water and turned around to look back at our hotel.

Spread out on the sandy shore with a gorgeous blue sky behind it and swaying lush trees—I turned to Tez and said, “If I took a photo right now, do you think anyone would guess we were not in Mexico or somewhere like that?”

Tez just grinned and said, “I guess we have done it—successfully got away —and it took less than two hours to do so.”

The following day we took just as long to meander home, checking out various touristy spots on route. We were constantly reminded why it is that so many travel so far to come here.

Sometimes the supposed “sunshine tax” we pay here really is worth every cent.

Kelowna Capital News