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By Jane Cassie
For Travel Writers' Tales

At this stage of our lives, my husband, Brent, and I seem to be re-learning the 3 R's. No, thank heavens it's not reading, writing and arithmetic. With our roving home in tow, it's all about RVing, Recreating and Relaxing.

BC is home to over 1,500 campgrounds and during this trip we discover that the arid Okanagan is the perfect place to buff up on these basics. Dozens of sites dot the sagebrush hills and tranquil lakeshores, and at Camping and RVing BC Coalition we have a list of choices, photos and campground information at our fingertips-ranging from National and Provincial parks to properties that are privately operated.

"Let's take a camping trip down memory lane," Brent suggests, when panning the options. "Lake Okanagan Provincial Park was a family favourite when I was growing up."

Picturesque Lake Okanagan Campground

After checking this link, it's easy to see why. The ninety-eight hectare oasis, rimmed by a swim-safe beach is nestled into a grove of pine. It's divided into two campgrounds-the South, where sites snuggles together on a lake-shore jetty, and the North, with lake-viewing spots that terrace the hillside. Although there are no electrical or water hook-ups for our RV, there are hot showers and flush toilets. And the sites are spacious enough for our twenty-eighth foot fifth wheel.

With a quick click to our reservation is made and less than a month later we're living our Lake Okanagan dream!

Brent chills out with a book. Kalli watches over

"This is the life," Brent says, from a lazy lounger. Although seeking solace is certainly part of our learning goal, there's an abundance of activity just steps from our RV door. Water-skiers, and windsurfers join swimmers and fishing folk. And there's also plenty of activity for all of us land-lovers.

Plenty of vineyards and sips around every bend

The two campgrounds are linked together by an interpretive trail and along the way, we check out regional flora and fauna. Columbia and Chocolate lily, flourishing next to wildflowers, are canopied by stately Ponderosa pine. Ground squirrels scurry beneath the prolific groundcover and meadowlarks, flickers and quail take flight above. And then there are the squigglers. As I read about the harmless gopher snakes my feet go into river-dance mode. "Don't fret," Brent reassures. "They're more afraid of you." Even though I find this hard to believe, it doesn't stop me from trekking on.

Stopping to take in the scenery on the lakeshore trail

The nearby city of Summerland offers a network of recreational pathways, some that also lure those on bicycle and horseback. You can step back in time while checking out Centennial Trail, a 4.5km (2.8mile) loop that intersects with the original township and snakes through desert grasses. There's that 'S' word again. Yes, watch out for the rattlers too!

Bird lovers will be drawn to the 6km (3.7 mile) Rotary Route, when detouring to the Adams Bird Sanctuary. And a stroll through Summerland Ornamental Gardens is a must-see for horticulturists.

We browse around Summerland's Ornamental Gardens

On our second day, we stroll through Summerland's Ornamental Gardens, a horticulturist's delight that's located high above Highway 97. Spanning its bordering gorge is Trout Creek Railway Bridge, a trestle of metal that hangs 73 meters (240 ft) above the canyon floor. And on this remaining section of preserved track, the Kettle Valley Steam Railway, a 1912 fully-restored locomotive, shares the scenic sites of today with rail travel from a bygone era. It's a ninety minute journey that appeases kids of all ages.

Kalli and I view Trout Creek Railway Bridge

There are plenty of other pastimes in this Okanagan playground that'll bring out your inner child. Check out Peachland's eight-sided museum, drift the river channel to Skaha Lake on a Coyote Cruise inner tube ride, or boost your adrenaline with one of the exhilarating options at Penticton's LocoLanding. Bumper boats, ropes course, climbing wall. And that fun-loving mini-golf.

Hole Photo 5 at Summerland Golf and Country Club

Although our clubs are ready for action, we bypass this family favourite and head to Summerland Golf and Country Club, an eighteen hole beauty on Paradise Flats where manicured fairways are backed by Okanagan Valley and Trout Creek Canyon views. and craggy outcroppings. I lose my first ball in a grove of pine that fringes tee three, the second drowns in the pond on hole five and the third finds habitation beyond the dog leg on hole eighteen. I know I'll never be a pro, but it doesn't matter. And with this in mind I think of the past three glorious days of RVing, recreating and relaxing and add one more R to the list. Rejuvenation-it's all good!

Cuddles around the campfire

IF YOU GO: - The Camping and RVing British Columbia Coalition was formed with the support of Destination British Columbia to better position the provincial camping and RVing experience and to capitalize on the growth of nature-based tourism.


If you don't have an RV go glamping by renting a yurt

PHOTOS by Brent Cassie

1. Picturesque Lake Okanagan Campground
2. Brent chills out with a book. Kalli watches over
3. Stopping to take in the scenery on the lakeshore trail
4. Plenty of vineyards and sips around every bend
5. We browse around Summerland's Ornamental Gardens
6. Kalli and I view Trout Creek Railway Bridge
7. Hole Photo 5 at Summerland Golf and Country Club
8. Cuddles around the campfire

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freelance travel writers Jane Cassie and Margaret Deefholts

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