Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Photo Essay - The Lake Where We Live

For the 30+ years we lived in Calgary, and struggled through the long bitterly cold, snow-and-ice laden winters, we talked about moving "someday" to the Okanagan Valley. But there were always reasons we couldn't. Work, finances, an elderly M-I-L, health issues, the boys and their schools, friends, spouses.

Then in early 2006 we decided that it was now or never. Tony was retirement age, and I was not far behind, and could work from anywhere at any rate. But anxious to try a more simple life and hesitating to commit ourselves fully to mortgages and property ties we might regret later we made the decision to jettison a lot of stuff, buy a small travel trailer and give the Okanagan a trial run.

We bought a small 35-year-old trailer, ripped out the inside and rebuilt it. (We should have just bought a larger new one, but hindsight is 20-20.) For the entire story on that go back to the beginning of this blog. We bought the trailer in March, and left Calgary at the end of August.

If we have ever regretted it I can't remember it. We liked living in the trailer so much we swapped out the 35-year-old tin can for a larger and newer model two years ago this month, and we are living the life of Riley. There is nothing happening in the garden now so I thought I might share a pictorial synopsis of where and how we live in the next few posts.

We live on the shore of Okanagan Lake. According to the Wikipedia entry Okanagan Lake is 135 km (84 miles) long, and 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) wide at its widest point. It has a surface area of 351 square kilometres (136 sq mi), an average depth of 76 m (228 ft) and a maximum depth 232 m (696 ft). The Okanagan is one of a series of large lakes which give this part of British Columbia its character.

Our little bit is situated in a cove formed to the west by clay cliffs which were laid down as sediment when this area became part of a huge lake formed by melting glaciers. When the waters receded, the clay was exposed and began to erode, forming the fanciful "hoodoos" seen today. This erosion continues. Dead fruit trees from a cliff-side orchard above us fill the high gullies, where they ended up after the soil under them washed away.

Though we are inside the municipal boundaries, this is a rural area. The park's neighbours are the 100-year-old Landry Cabin, and an apple orchard.

We're a two-minute walk from the beach, though it usually takes half an hour to complete it, because you stop to chat with every neighbour you pass. This is the way to the beach. You'll often find a group of neighbours visiting in the shade along here. This arcade of mock cherry and willow trees is a popular meeting place. Bring a lawn chair and a bevy and pass the time visiting on a sunny day.

In the summer the Okanagan's beaches are full of kids and grownups too. Cool water is irresistible on a hot summer's day. This was taken in May, before the summer season.

The beach itself is 800-1000 feet long, but only the centre section is used for swimming. Part of it is used for launching boats, some is left natural. The piers are what's left of a dock which a storm destroyed a few years ago. The kids love to jump off these in the summer.

A lovely trail leads east from the beach down toward Trout Creek. The trail winds through several different environmental zones. It begins in a dry area, just sand and a few plants which tolerate dry soil.

It moves on through a wet zone, into an area of dense forest, and eventually crosses a creek where cattails and wild flag (iris) grow eight and nine feet tall. The trees are heavy with wild wisteria vines, which put on a spectacular display in the spring.

And here are Mr. T and Salvador the cat, enjoying a ramble on a sunny day.

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