Wednesday, 24 October 2007

20/10/07 - 28/10/07 - Kaleden, Keremeos

19/10/07 - I can't believe I forgot to write about out trip to the Casino. I finally got the Big Fella to take me to the Penticton Casino (a place I feel that I might frequent on the odd occasion). It is really a cute little Casino - it has about 7 tables and around 100 Pokies. So of course I had to try out the pokies and then the tables. Well I was off to a flying start I put $20 in the Pokies and took out $50 (yes I took it out). I then headed over to a table called Texas Shoot Em - a bit different to Texas Hold Em. It's a version of Poker, you, the other players and the dealer all get dealt 4 cards, you keep 2 of your best cards (everyone turns them over, so all can see) and throw the other 2 out (unless they also are 2 good cards then you can play 2 hands (twice the bet though)). The dealer than deals 5 cards face up on the table, with these cards and your 2 cards you make the best poker hand you can - you can get 5 of a kind . If you beat the dealer you get paid, if not the dealer takes your money. Anyway I turned my $50 into $150 - all in all a great night.

20/10/07 - 22/10/07 - Dave and I have been laying low and relaxing for the last couple of days, we went and visited May on Sunday afternoon for cocktail hour, she is such an inspiration. Other than that we've hardly left the house, we've been enjoying the fireplaces, jacuzzi and practising our shooting - the woodpeckers are still looking very safe. We have ordered 4 winter tyres for our car and are waiting for these to be delivered before we do anymore road trips. I've also found a good Liquor Store - they sell both Australian and New Zealand wines and they are only about an extra $1 (looney) or $2 (tooney) - so I'm very happy, and so is Dave he can buy a carton of Corona for less than $40. I've also been trying a few of the local wines and I've found a few that I do enjoy - so it's looking up. I'm not saying my beer drinking days are over, because when we go out and they only have the House Wine or Beer - I'm taking the Beer.

23/10/07 - Well we finally got the winter tyres fitted. We have had a heat wave since. (Got up to 8 C) The tyre compound is very soft so it needs the cold. Not much to tell just laying low and getting everything organised for the winter. It really is quiet amazing - people think that we are a bit weird coming to stay for 6 months for the winter, probably about 1/3 of the residents pack up their house and toys (boats, jet ski etc) and head off to find some warmer weather. We are surprised that there are quiet a number of locals that don't ski or board, apparently you either play Ice Hockey or do the skiing thing. We were out shopping today and we now understand it could be the cost factor - the goal keeper pads alone were around $1,200 and that was a second hand pair. Also the Ice Hockey takes up a lot of time, the Penticton Vees play at least 2 or 3 times a week.

24/10/07 - Went to another Ice Hockey game - yep in the corporate box and drank the beer.

25/10/07 - The Big Fella wasn't happy this morning - I finally got him out of bed at around 8:30 to go for our morning walk (sometimes it's closer to midday) anyway he thought we wouldn't have to go once it got down to -3 degrees - I got news for him wear more clothes. We are starting to look like 2 Michelin Men roaming the streets.

26/10/07 -Well this morning we woke up to the temperature at -3 degrees. I decided to not even bother to get the Big Fella to go for a walk as it was we were going shopping at Kelowna. Kelowna is approx. 1 hours drive from Kaleden. The drive is very enjoyable, as the scenery is very picturesque. Shopping went well we crossed nearly everything off our list - Dave got some new boots and I purchased a new jacket plus many other things.

27/10/07 - I thought yesterday was bad -3 today was -4. I tried to get Dave up for a walk - well you can imagine the response I got - needless to say I put on nearly all the clothes I have and went by myself. May, Bobbie, Brant, Lisa and Peter (Bobbie and Brant's daughter and son in-law) went to the Lost Moose for dinner it is up the top of one of the mountains and looks down onto Penticton and both lakes Okanagan and Skaha - magnificent views. They really know how to cook good ribs mmm.

28/10/07 - Today Bobbie and Brant picked us up and we went for a drive to Keremeos to pick up all our pumpkins for decorations for Halloween on the 31st - well the Big Fella (is so excited about the festivities - as you can imagine -). Of course we had to spend hours shopping for a pumpkin that Dave could carve for Halloween night. (Pumpkin shopping for Halloween is a big family affair over here.) We drove through a few towns Osoyoos and Oliver - they are really into the wineries over here now - they seem to be everywhere - this place just keeps getting better.

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

14/10/2007 - 19/10/2007 - Kaleden

14/10/07 - We woke up this morning to another beautiful sunny day and headed off on our walk - the wildlife and scenery still amazes us, we saw the deer (this is just the norm over here but to us it's still a novelty), a beaver in the lake and many birds and ducks. We then went to our first Ice Hockey game with Brant (thanks to Brant for providing us the tickets to his corporate box). The game is just so fast you really have to see it live to believe it. We had a great night as the Penticton Vees won 5 - 2, so we were all very happy - and yes I was drinking beer again. You wouldn't believe it they have a lucky seat were the occupant wins a free pizza - and yep it was the Big Fella. After the game we picked up Grandma May, (she is just fantastic, she is 90 years old still driving, playing cards, having a drink - cocktail hour starts at 5:0pm as usual), and went back to Bobbie and Brant's for a home cooked meal (the first one since we left home) and it was delightful. Bobbie and Brant are just the most wonderful people they are so welcoming and have really made us feel welcome.

15/10/07 - Yet again I got the big fella out for our walk and as well as seeing all the wildlife we also got to see ummm a Hawk, maybe an Eagle or was it an Osprey - I don't know it was just a bloody big majestic looking Bird (at least I knew it wasn't a woodpecker - I could have got that sucker he was the size of a barn door...!!). Today we made our first trip up to Apex Ski Resort - the drive is still the same, although it was a bit longer than we remembered it, it took us about 45 minutes from home. There wasn't a lot of snow around just on the top of the mountains - but it was still very cold. Apparently over the last two days we had a heat wave that got rid of all the snow. (We don't remember it...) We are keeping our fingers crossed that it's going to be a good year - the season opens on 23 November. The good thing is even a bad year here for the snow season is a better year than back home.

16/10/07 - We went and had our first game of golf today with Bobbie and Brant. We played at Inkameep (translation - flat bottom land at the mouth of the creek or river) Canyon Desert Golf Course. It was a great course. After our last few months of playing golf at home it was really good to play on some really green lush grass. The course was tight and challenging and at times very long. Index One was a Par 4 / 485yards (437 metres).

17/10/07 - Well, I woke up to find the deer in our front yard - yep I still get excited seeing them. The novelty is obviously wearing off for Dave he wouldn't get out of bed to have a look. We went for our morning walk and met a few of the friendly Kaledens, Sue asked us back to here house to provide us with the names of a few restaurants and local wineries which she highly recommended (I don't know how she knew this would interest us - we had only been talking to her for 5 minutes). It is really unbelievable how friendly the people really are here. We ended up having coffee with Sue her large poodle and 3 cats, we left Sue's place armed with a lot of new places to visit. Sue had also just returned from an Alaskan Cruise and was upgraded to the Penthouse. Anyway when we got back home (2 1/2 hours later) I was looking at the calendar trying to work out which Ice Hockey game we would go and see in Kelowna and Dave had a very blonde moment - he asked me if it was a Canadian Calendar I was looking at. I think Dave is really starting to relax and enjoy retirement.

18/10/07 - We ventured into Penticton today to do another grocery shop (the fridge broke down over night so we need to replace a few items). Anyway on our way we decided to go to the bank to get some cash - well we found a drive through ATM - this is my type of bank. I am surprised that it didn't offer fries with that....

19/10/07 -This afternoon there were about 10 deer in the front yard. We went to our second Ice Hockey game - the Vees lost 4 -3, but what a tough game - there was fights galore with claret. Nothing like throwing the gloves on the ice and going the biff. The officials just stop the game and just let the fighters fight it out until they've either run out of puff or they fall over, then (from what we've seen) both players are sent of for 5 minutes (they can be replaced). The remainder of the players just go to their respective benches and cheer the fighters on.

Sunday, 14 October 2007

10/10/2007 - 13/10/2007 Whistler to Kaleden

10/10/07 - Today we headed for Kamloops to chase some sun - The drive from Whistler to Kamloops was absolutely breathtaking. We had a great dinner - and I tried the wine again (you can't say that I'm not persistent) Well I think I discovered the secret of drinking the wine - you just need to drink alot more - 4 glasses later it really did start to taste a lot better. We indulged ourselves at a great restaurant that had a dish called "Prawn and Crab Kisses". By far this has been the best dish we have eaten since being in Canada.

11/10/07 - After getting a new key for the car and a wheel balance for the back wheels we left Kamloops and drove to Kelowna. Dave is really getting the hang of this driving - he even let me have a drive, whilst he had a little nap. (I was so scared I just closed my eyes....) We went to dinner at a small pub / restaurant that looked like "Cheers". I wasn't up to trying the local wine again - so I asked for a Kokanee (local beer)- well the stubbie came out without a glass - so when in Rome. So now not am only drinking beer, I'm drinking out of the stubbie and to Dave's amazement I downed another 4 stubbies, 20 chicken wings and 15 buffalo prawns.

12/10/07 - Today we headed for Penticton (the major city outside Kaleden). We phoned the owners of our house to see what time we could meet them on Saturday and they advised us that the house was ready so we could stay there on the Friday night, if we wanted to - what a bonus. (They left the key in the side door with the rest of the house open.) So after going to the ski swap meet in Penticton we headed off to find our home for the next 6 months. I must admit I was getting a bit nervous (not having seen the house before - you just don't know what to expect) only seeing the house on the Net and conversing with the owner via email or phone. We turned a corner and it was obvious from the photos on the net that we had found our new home - so far so good. Well as you could imagine my heart was pounding but as soon as I opened the door I knew that we had made the right choice. The house is better and bigger than what was on the Net. It sleeps 16 people and has 3 levels - Dave and I keep getting lost (they even have walkie talkies in for us to use in the house.) I suppose it will take us a while in getting used to the quiet - we seem to follow each other around. The surrounds are just beautiful and there is an abundance of wildlife. There are a number of Deer resting in the paddocks waiting to be picked to lead Santa's sleigh at Christmas.

13/10/07 - After breakfast Dave and I thought that there was someone at our front door, there was a knocking sound - but when we went and opened the door there was no one there - we thought there must of been some work happening on the block above us up the mountain. The owners arrived at 9:00am to show us how to operate a few things like the fire place, hot tub (Ohh did I mention it also has an eight seater hot tub just outside looking over the mountains). Anyway after a bit of a briefing we got talking to Tony and Lisa (the owners) about a few things and we mentioned the noise we heard in the morning, Tony advised us that it was the woodpeckers. He also asked Dave if he felt comfortable with a gun (now I'm getting worried) because if he did he would like him to shoot the woodpeckers - well I told him I was certainly up for it if Dave wasn't. Tony then took us to his shed and showed us how to use the gun and the fact that there was two types of pellets one for practicing and one for the actual shooting. Well tomorrow morning I'm going to have the cans (that we drink tonight in the hot tub) out on the fence and start practicing. I don't know what a woodpecker looks like but if its got wings and it is on the house LOOK OUT. Tony and Lisa are really lovely people and have invited us over their place for dinner - I have also offered for Dave to help out on the vineyard etc. so I think it's really going to work out well.

After lunch, we went for a walk around the lake well it is just like we remember, stunning scenery and totally relaxing. We then went for a drive in to town to get some groceries (well that is a totally new experience) whilst cars etc are really cheap their meat is very, very expensive. The drive into town was about 12 minutes and the airport about 6 minutes so whilst we are out in the country we are not to far away from everything (oh and the Casino about 15 minutes away). On our drive back home we meet our new neighbours again - about 20 meters in front of us 6 deer came bouncing across the road (they didn't care that we were bigger than them) well you should of seen Dave's face it was priceless. They certainly need to learn some road sense if they want to drive Santa's sleigh.

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

07/10/2007 - 09/10/2007 Vancouver Island

07/10/2007 - Today we said goodbye to our hotel and Vancouver and headed off to catch the vehicle ferry over to Vancouver Island. The ferries carry over at least 200 vehicles, plus passengers and leave approx. ever hour. The ferry ride over was a nice little treat, just to relax and let someone else worry about the driving and the directions. We caught our first sightings of a number of seals. Once we docked on the Island we headed straight to the Butchart Gardens, well I must admit Dave and I weren't too excited about going there, but after a few comments that we heard from Tony and Sim and locals around Vancouver Island we decided that we better not miss them. Well we were definitely glad that we didn't miss them they really are beautiful.

After visiting the gardens we headed of to Victoria and checked into our accommodation. We then headed off to have a dinner at a well recommended (by locals) Italian Restaurant. When we first arrived we needed to wait in line outside the front door (at this stage I'm cold and hungry and thinking that this meal better be worth it), once inside the door we were offered some red wine (in a coffee cup) but hey I didn't care. Well we finally got seated and as advised the meals were large in size but we managed to finish them off and wipe the plates clean - the pasta was definitely worth the wait - and I only had to pay $6.50 for a glass of cheap Australian wine - I am trying the local wine at different establishments, but this is definitely going to be an acquired taste.

08/07/2007 - Today the weather wasn't too bad - cold but only the odd light shower. We headed down to the wharves and boarded the "Zodiac" for our trip out to visit the Killer Whales. Well this was an experience that neither Dave or I will ever forget, they truly are magnificent animals. They currently have about 3 pods totalling 87 whales around the area and we were lucky enough to see all 3 pods together. The highlight was when one of the large males surfaced about 5 metres away from out boat and then swam just underneath the water right beside our boat. What a memorable day!!!

09/07/07 - Well the weather was back to cold, colder, rain and more rain. We drove up the coast of Vancouver Island to Mt Washington (the only ski resort on the island). The scenery on the way (for the 2 hours, anyway) was absolutely breathtaking. The ski resort was a lot bigger than either Dave or I expected, but it was about 3 degrees outside, raining very heavily and very very windy so our sight seeing was only from our car. We then headed to Nanimo (Departure Bay) and caught the ferry back to the mainland (Horseshoe Bay), from there we headed off to Whistler to stay in the log cabins that we stayed in when we were here in 2001 - they haven't changed a bit and bought back a lot of wonderful memories.

Friday, 5 October 2007

04/07/07 - 06/07/07 Vancouver

04/10/07 - Well today we woke up to another cold and wet day and the forecast for tomorrow is cold, very cold and wet with a cold front coming in the next few days - we are really starting to wonder if we have enough clothes to keep us both warm. We set off this morning to purchase a vehicle and that is exactly what we did - we purchased a 2005 Montana Pontiac, the prices of all cars over here is so much cheaper than back home - but they don't miss you with insurance for 6 months the basic insurance is $875.00 and that's even using our existing Rating 1 insurance from AAMI, thankfully though the rego is only $25.00. The car we bought has been knocked around a bit however it should do the job for the next 6 months.

After the car, we went for a drive (we are definitely improving today we only ended up on the wrong side of the road 4 times). We visited Stanley Park just outside of Vancouver City - it was absolutely beautiful and we got to see our 1st squirrel (yes I was excited), the park itself is over 1000 acres. In the park is the Vancouver Aquarium, which Dave had already promised to take me to - I just had to see the Beluga Whales (and yes once again I was excited) they really are an absolutely beautiful animal (I especially loved them when I heard they are 40% fat).

We then ventured up to Mount Seymour (one of the local ski areas). On our way up we encountered our first viewing of snow and discovered just how beautiful the scenery in Canada really is. We didn't venture too far as the weather beacon up there was letting us know that it was around 4 degrees (that's without the windchill factor).

On our way down from the Mountain we stopped to have a look at the Northlands golf course. Well the fairways looked better than our greens, the grass was so lush and green. The fairways were lined with tall and beautiful pine trees, I'm sure if I was to play golf at there I would really get to see the trees up close.

05/07/07 - Today we woke up to a beautiful day, the sun was shining and the temperature got to a nice warm 14 degrees. We headed up to Grouse Mountain (about 10 minutes from Vancouver City) via sky rail. Were we saw a couple of Grizzlies - wow what a magnificent animal - we could of stayed there for many hours unfortunately we had to head on back down to pick up our car. Whilst up at Grouse Mountain though we did see a wild black bear and a few deer meandering around, we weren't too keen to get close to the black bear no matter what the locals said. This truly is a magnificent mountain and one we will get back to - we are planning to walk up it known as the Grouse Grind - apparently it takes about 1 1/2 hours to walk up, so weather permitting the Big Fella and I will venture up tomorrow morning. This picture is of a baby Grizzly (weighing in at 400kgs). Dave was about 3 meters away from the bear.

We then went and picked up our vehicle and returned our hire car - well that was eventful - Dave took the navigation system with him and I said I would follow - well after a couple of U Turns we finally got there. Dave was a bit stressed out by the time we got there. I must admit I felt a lot better just knowing that Dave doesn't take directions from the woman on the navigation system either.

Some of their systems over here are just fantastic - Peter Gwynne would be interested in this. We needed to get an oil change on the car so we drove into Mr Lube - its a drive in service. You drive the car over the pit, the 'greeter' comes out and offers you the paper and a cup of tea or coffee (whilst you're sitting in the car) and they do a few checks, tyres brakes etc and complete the oil change. It all takes about 10 minutes in total and you don't even have to get out of the car. This is my type of service.

06/10/2007 - Yep today back to the usual cold, cold, wet and wet. We woke up this morning and decided that it was just to wet and cold to do the trek up Grouse Mountain, so we decided to go and have a look at Vancouver Dam. This dam supplies about 80% of Vancouver with their water (it's only about 10 minutes from the city centre) We then went for our exercise and trekked about 1 hour down to the Capilano River - their rain forests are absolutely beautiful. However we did get a little wet and decided that would probably do us for being outside in the elements for the day, so we decided to go for a drive to West Vancouver and coastline for a couple of hours - so much warmer and drier than being outside.

Thursday, 4 October 2007

01/10/07 - 04/10/07 - Our adventure begins

Well we finally got to the airport on Monday and said our teary goodbyes to some of our beloved family members.

The flight to LA didn't start off the best - we needed to be reassigned our seats as there was a problem with the in flight entertainment centre. After many delays with passengers trying to check in, the plane finally took off over 1 1/2 hours late - Dave and I decided there and then that we would miss our connecting flight and would just catch the next flight.

We arrived in LA airport over 1 hour late - the flight attendants were being optimistic and thought that we might still make our connecting flight (Dave and I didn't hold out much hope, but decided to give it a go). The flight attendants made sure that we were one of the first passengers off the plane and that's were the problem first started. Dave and I headed off the plane and followed the baggage claim signs - unfortunately the first set of doors we needed to go through were locked so we asked an employee which way to go. So to cut a long story short and after following directions (also asked about another 3 or 4 airport staff) we actually ended up on the other side of customs, immigration and baggage claim (yes - I am talking about LA airport). Needless to say we tried to let many more airport staff know what had happened to us and they just wouldn't believe us that we had ended up outside without going through customs etc. Well eventually there was about 150 people (who we had led outside) that turned up in the same spot - so they had to listen to our story and soon found out that we were telling the truth. It was a lot easier getting out of the airport than getting back in to follow the correct process of going through customs and immigration. The Mexicans in the group were most excited as they had discovered a new way to cross the border without having to stow away in the back of a semi trailer. They were last seen high tailing down Hollywood Blvd. Those of us who had the right papers were trying not to look like we had entered the States illegally.

After about 1 hour we finally found ourselves back on the other side of customs etc. so now we needed to line up and follow the correct process. We eventually caught a connecting flight 4 1/2 hours later than our planned flight to Vancouver. After our arrival we tried to get through Customs and Immigration - well they weren't concerned if we could support ourselves etc. just on the amount of time we would be spending in Canada - so they issued us with a 6 month Visa - So we have some more work to do here as well.

So after hiring our car we headed off to our hotel that's when we discovered how tired we really were and slept until noon the next day (so much for our free breakfast). So we got ourselves out of bed and went and purchased a navigation system, two mobile phones (I really did miss not having a mobile), and opened up a bank account (we realised it was easier to get through customs etc in Canada and USA than trying to open a bank account. It was very difficult to explain that we were both retired. David should have stuck to the Astronaut story.)

We have discovered a restaurant close to our hotel called Earls - which we have been to every night since we have arrived. The first night I lashed out and paid over $8.00 for a glass of Banrock Chardonnay. The second night I decided that I just wasn't going to be able to drink wine whilst travelling around Canada - so I tried the local brew (Kokanee). Well I ordered my first pint and I haven't looked back since (much to Dave's amazement - he's never even seen me drink beer before - maybe a Shandy on a very hot day). I realised after our second visit why Dave love's this restaurant so much (I thought it was the really cold beer and the great tasting and great variety of food) well how wrong I was. I think every waiter and more importantly (to Dave) waitress is under 25 has absolutely no body fat, large lungs and is very attractive - I just keep telling him to keep drinking and soon even I might look like that.

The mobile phone service here in Canada is interesting to say the very least (I will never complain about our systems back home) - for any call made outside your local area i.e. something equivalent to South Brisbane - you are charged a Canadian International Rate and then there is the real International Rate.

Driving has been a real treat. There have been a few changes to the rules since our last visit. We stil can't get use to going though red lights after you do a "Taxi Stop". You tend to get confused as to which ones you really have to stop at. The guy behind usually lets you know if it is ok to run the red.