A Travellerspoint blog

Day 33 - Day 40: May 20 - May 27, 2012

SummerGate Winery, Summerland BC

sunny 25 °C

During the transitions between WWOOF locations, we try and stop in the towns along the road to do some exploring. As we travelled south further into the Okanagan Valley, we came upon Kelowna- the fastest growing city in Canada. This random fact didn't come as a surprise to us, Kelowna is a gorgeous city situated along the waterfront on Okanagan Lake with a harbour, a boardwalk, neat stores / cafes, awesome eateries, and the spectacular Delta Resort (totally worth Googling).

After our lovely stop in Kelowna, we continued south on highway 97 toward Summerland. This drive was straight from a National Geographic magazine, the winding roads beside the mountains followed the waterfront of the Okanagan Lake, giving us a picturesque 360 degree view. As we got closer to Summerland, we started to notice the wineries and orchards consuming the valleys and hillsides. This was one of those moments when we felt like we were not in Canada anymore, how could we have been so oblivious to the vast beauty of this country?!

A view of Summerland

When we pulled into SummerGate Winery, we hadn't even gotten out of Gerry before we saw two little girls run in our direction to greet us. They both held out their hands to shake ours, and said enthusiastically....."welcome to SummerGate Winery! You must be the two Emmas!" Not long after, another little rascal appeared, offering to lend a hand in carrying our stuff. We only had to make one trip up to our room because of all the extra help from Katarina, Natasha, and Toby! After meeting the rest of the family [Mike, Gillian, Nicola, and grandma 'TT'], and Markus [29 year old German WWOOFer] we had a big dinner and were served our first glass of SummerGate wine- a 2010 Riesling....delicious!

'Nata', 'Kata', and Toby

SummerGate Winery is an organic winery situated just outside of the town of Summerland. They produce three different kinds of white wine- Kerner, Riesling, and Muscat. Their 10 acre, family run vineyard is a popular place to be with the traffic of wine tourists and visiting friends / family.

SummerGate Winery

Our chores at SummerGate were directly related to the vineyard, which was totally awesome because we learned so much about the wine-making process from start to finish! Because it is still early in the season, we focused on recovering the vines from the winter and tending to the new 'seedlings'. SummerGate Winery is an organic production, meaning there was always lots of weeding to do around the base of the trunks. We learned how to trim shoots and clip buds to focus the growth energy on the top of the plant, so the vines will 'learn' to form in a T shape along the wire. Check this out:

When we weren't in the vineyard, we helped with the beekeeping, meal making, and overall help around the house [four kids all under the age of 11 is a lot of work...especially when the two year old has a broken tibia!]

Clipping buds

Our little helper

The time spent in the vineyard with Markus flew because of the hilarious conversations focusing on German translations. We learned the most important words like 'kaffee' [coffee], 'schokolade' [chocolate], and also ordinary phrases like 'guten morgen' [good morning], 'wie geht es dir' [how are you], 'eins zwei drei' [one two three]. He taught us other things as well....but we will keep them to ourselves, hahah. To return the favour, we taught Markus some English [with the Emma slang, obviously]....the poor guy is now totally Canadianized after having spent a week with us!

Our free time in Summerland was always jam packed, we had such a blast exploring, eating, and drinking wine! Some highlights include:

- our first ever wine-tasting experience
- visiting the top of 'Giant's Head' mountain to get a spectacular view of the valley and endless wineries
- making bracelets and beading constantly with the kids
- early morning walks to 'The Beanery'- the local coffee shop....amazing!
- evening hike along the Trans Canada Trail
- ride on the Kettle Valley Railway, a 'must-do' in Summerland!
- exploring Penticton with Markus, including walks along the beach / pier, and ice cream after...obviously
- visiting the 'Gasthaus' in Peachland (a German-style restaurant highly recommended by Klaus] for a Hefeweizen and cheese pretzel [which Markus gawked at because of it's lame Canadian imitation]
- Peacock's Perch for karaoke and beers
- learned how to make mouth-watering crepes from the master breakfast chef TT [totally got the recipes for these....booya!]
- baked a chocolate peanut butter cake using one of the many cook books purchased thus far
- learning how to properly examine the taste and appearance of wine [swirl, smell, 1st taste, 2nd taste, hold glass sideways to look at 'legs...] PROS!
- visiting the local farmers market for awesome breads and free samples [key in our lives this summer]
- ripping around in golf carts through the vineyard [Emma A took a nice tumble once....she has mastered the 'tuck and roll' technique by now.....]
- transporting bee swarms...a very interesting and dangerous experience!
- a second tour around Kelowna, this time with Markus [we have never met a straight guy who loves shopping as much as him....every girls dream!]

Wine tasting

The top of Giant's Head Mountain

Making bracelets

Kettle Valley Railway

Kettle Valley Railway

Kettle Valley Railway

Penticton Beach

Beers at the Gasthaus

Cheese pretzel!

Peanut Butter Cake

TT teaches us how to make crepes the proper way!

The time we spent in Summerland was truly amazing. The bustle of the family reminded us of home, giving us our first dose of home-sickness. We had so much fun learning about wine making, and have gained a great appreciation for the art of wine and the lifestyle that comes along with it. The Stohler family [and extended family] were such a perfect addition to our trip- always kind, informative, inclusive, and fun! Despite the hectic days, everyone always came together for dinner at the end of the day and recognized the importance of family and togetherness. Thank you to Mike, Gill, Katarina, Natasha, Toby, and Nicola for making our stay in Summerland one for the books!

If you ever have the chance to pass through Summerland, be sure to check out SummerGate Winery for a refreshing glass of wine, and lots of laughs!

Us with the Stohlers!

Posted by mcmillanallen 20:05 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Day 25 - Day 33: May 12 - May 20, 2012

Vernon, British Columbia

sunny 30 °C

After some much needed retail therapy, mass amounts of Costco samples, and a good jam session in Gerry....we made it to Vernon.

Before we left on our vacation, we printed directions to each WWOOF location, but when we arrived in Vernon, our host wanted to meet us in town so we could follow him to their property, overlooking Swan Lake. We pulled over, called Klaus and Sonja [our hosts] to let them know we were in town, and two minutes later a green Mercedes Benz convertible pulled up beside us with a wave to follow up the hill....we looked at each other, laughed in awe, gave each other 'props' and followed behind.

Swan Lake from the Shangri-La Ranch

Klaus and Sonja have a 95[ish] acre property known as the 'Shangri-La Ranch' - a hill/mountainside overlooking Swan Lake in Vernon, BC, where they host B&B and WWOOF guests. They live in a log home...errr...paradise, surrounded by gardens, multi-layer pools, wildlife, and walnut trees. They treated us with our own 'suite' with a massive bathroom and direct access to the hot tub outside...KEY!

Home for the week

Gorgeous view!

Our chores at the Shangri-La Ranch didn't stray much from yard-work and gardening, which we seemed to find quite peaceful and enjoyable in the hot sun [other than the time that Emma Mac had a casual 'run-in' with a grizzly bear during a wheel barrow dump in the forest....although we have received plenty of suggestions to play dead, freeze, look big, and make noise, she proceeded to turn around and sprint the other direction.....typical.]

During the planning of our trip, we agreed to working out frequently with each other, and attempt to get in prime shape.....that plan went to hell after the first two days of the vacation. So here at the Shangri-La Ranch, we occasionally woke up in the mornings before work to contemplate going for a run. On the days we felt motivated, we walked to the end of the driveway together, said "enjoy your run!" and headed in different directions....I guess you could consider this teamwork...? Aside from our occasional workouts, we filled our free time with the following:

- hitting the Kalamalka beach AKA Kal Beach
- movie night at the Galaxy Theatre accompanied with waaaaay too much Bulk Barn candy....we gassed each other out pretty good the next day, lesson learned
- breaking and entering Silver Star Ski Resort for a good hike [down a green circle, and up a black diamond...KILLER!]
- biking into Vernon to explore town [where we ended up buying coffee and cook books....the only thing we can justify spending money on these days]
- hot tubbin' like its our day job
- and our favourite part........eating

Trying to get a lift up at Silver Star

Toooo much schokolade!

Loungin'.....hard life!

A little bit of joy from Vernon

We knew we were in for some good eats when there was a delicious vegetable stir fry waiting for us upon arrival at the Shangri-La Ranch. Every meal with Sonja and Klaus was to die for....so many hearty dishes with melt-in-your-mouth meats, savoury sauces, crisp vegetables, fine cheeses, and unfamiliar [but totally scrumptious] German sides. We were always welcome to participate in the kitchen with meal preparation, and we even got to learn how to make the tradiational German 'spaetzle': a spaghetti-like pasta made from eggs, flour, and salt, and then pressed through a device that resembled a Play-Dough contraption....or supersized garlic press...? To show our appreciation, we decided to try a recipe from our new cookbook 'Caramel Chocolate Shortbread Squares'....let's just say they were delicious but totally deformed. To make up for our disastrous, failed attempt at dessert, we decided to bake a Black Forest Cake- Klaus' favourite. He loved it so much that he invited friends over the following two days to enjoy it with us....guten appetit!

Cheesy fungi risotto with asparagus

Shredding red cabbage

Klaus in the kitchen

Making spaetzle


Our black forest cake

Thank you so much to Klaus and Sonja for always being so welcoming, gracious, and genuinely kind. Our stay in Vernon brightened our vacation immensely, and we feel so lucky to have met you! We wish you all the best, vielen dank und das leben genie├čen.....prost!

The Traveling Emmas with Sonja and Klaus

Posted by mcmillanallen 21:19 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Day 20 - Day 25: May 07 - May 12, 2012


overcast 0 °C

Our second WWOOF location was just outside the quaint town of Valemount, an hour west of Jasper. Supposedly Valemount is a popular tourist location, we beg to differ.

How can we start...?

Every vacation has bumps in the road....well we hit a pretty big pot hole here.

Our duties at WWOOF spot #2 were challenging and borderline impossible, but because we are both determined girls we stuck it out for as long as we could and tried our hardest to remain polite and respectful- even if it wasn't reciprocated. Our responsibilities included:

1. Raking sticks, twigs, and other small debris into piles, in a 10 acre field [the pine beetle attacked the trees, forcing the family to log the area....leaving behind tons of roots, branches, and debris]
2. Pulling young pine/spruce trees out of the ground in a close by field, to prevent it from growing into a forest, and potentially use for a horse pasture in the future.
3. Scraping paint off a cement floor in the basement.

We're not sure how much you know about the WWOOF program, but the goal is to educate people about farming [big and small productions], gardening, natural foods, etc by assigning jobs related to these things. The jobs that were given to us at this WWOOF location were totally irrelevant to anything mentioned above, and in our opinion were physically impossible to do for six hours per day. Not only that, but even attempting the jobs felt pointless to us because of the fact that we were not welcomed, or appreciated whatsoever in the environment. In exchange for working, we should feel comfortable sleeping and eating in the hosts' house, but it couldn't have been more opposite in this case. Because of this, we ended up leaving two days early after a nasty confrontation...hey, we're on vacation and should be having fun, right??! We packed our bags, and hit the road within five minutes of saying peace out!

Anyhow....setting aside the bad, let's talk about the good!

A hike in Valemount

During our stay in Valemount, we got some good hikes in, the best one being around the base of Mt. Robson- the highest mountain in the Rockies [stretching an incredible 12,972 ft!] This hike was along a trail called the Berg Lake Trail- which typically takes two or three days of hiking! We decided to only go as far as Kinney Lake [7km in], and boy was this ever breathtaking! We were worried that the lake would be frozen like much of the other lakes in the area, but the water was totally thawed and a vibrant turquoise colour! We were the only ones on the trail, not a soul around!

Robson River

Robson River

Kinney Lake

Snacks on Kinney Lake

Alan, Danielle, Finn, and us!

Due to our early departure from WWOOF stop #2, we ended up spending a night with our good friends [and recently engaged.....melt!] Alan and Danielle who happen to live in Valemount....thank goodness! They were so kind to take us out for a nice dinner at the Caribou Grill and give us a warm, comfortable place to sleep. After a hearty bacon and pancake [with bananas, chocolate, and strawberries obviously] breakfast, we said our goodbyes and hit the road to Vernon. Thank you so much Danielle and Alan for having us, you are both wonderful, selfless people! You were the highlight of our stay in Valemount, by far!

We are now living in Vernon for the week, total paradise! Amazing updates soon to come!

Posted by mcmillanallen 22:45 Archived in Canada Comments (1)

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