Canada 35, 30th August 2006.

Next to the lake, in the morning there were clouds of mosquitoes. I did not dare to go outside the van.

In Merritt at the visitor centre I was early, but they opened up especially, gave me a coffee, and directed me to the museum, the Art Gallery, and the "historic" Baillie house. Already I like Merritt!

The museum was fine, the Art Gallery was an exhibition of photographs. A local dignitary had visited India last year and taken lots of fascinating photos of street scenes. I liked them.

Most of the items in Baillie house were newer than I had lived with in my grandmother's house in Hutton Buscel, Yorkshire, but our young guide was entertaining and told a good story..............

I reached Princeton and checked in at the Visitor Information before calling at my cousin Doug's. Doug was sorting out a salmon for dinner and after that was finished we relaxed on the porch. Since this was my first visit after my birthday we cracked a bottle of Canadian Champagne to celebrate. Dinner was excellent, followed by more relaxing on the porch.

Next morning we relaxed on the porch, again, then thought we ought to do something. So we took a trip to cousin Jackie's weekend cabin nearby. There was someone in residence - the dogs were there - but we couldn't find anyone so we returned. It was a pretty trip.

There's not a lot of rain in this part of British Columbia, around 15" per year.

After lunch I went to visit the museum. It was shut. I called by the Visitor Information and checked the big sign outside. Visit our museum! Open today! Cool down it's air conditioned!

I said to the 2 young (to me) girls manning the information desk, the museum's shut. One rang the museum and got the answerphone. They were flabbergasted and didn't know what to do. I went out and brought in the big sign that said museum open today. Well, first, I said, I think you should bring this in.

Back at Doug's we relaxed on the porch. He's got a cat too, but he just calls by for dinner, not exactly a house cat. I saw him (the cat) yesterday, but today he didn't make an appearance. Doug's also got a blue jay that hangs around. It can't fly, it's lost it's tail and part of a wing, but it can't half hop fast! It's a wonder the cat hasn't got him (or her). Doug thinks it because of the screeching the jay makes when the cat is near, the cat is frightened.

After dinner - yesterday's warmed up salmon but hey it was great - we relaxed on the porch. Doug is a hunter, but a serious hunter, not one of your weekend warriors. Soon he is away for the best part of a month camping out in the wild in the north of BC looking for moose and such like.

Doug and I have about nothing in common apart from the fact we are almost exactly the same age. If we hadn't been related I doubt we would ever have met, even if we lived close together. Since I like Doug, very much, I am glad that we are related, and that we did indeed meet!

Next morning we relaxed on the porch for a few moments. I phoned Eleanor, she was back in Paris after her tour of Europe. She told me she had had a great time, and, almost as important, that my van was still in a good state.

I had a pretty drive, then arrived at Penticton, it was Monday, the museum was shut. I do wish the Visitor Information girls would know if it was open before they send you there. The sternwheeler the SS Sicamous was open though and OK.

I don't know how to put this because I love BC. But there does seem to be some strange lacks of communication. I've just mentioned museum opening hours where I got wrong information. I've been on some signposted trails which have been abandoned, except for the signposting, I've mentioned a couple, one with a bridge down, another with lots of trees fallen over the trail. The National Forests has some fantastic free campsites, in amazing places, but it's hard to find where they are. The website purporting to show their location just doesn't work, and the (relatively) expensive maps it is sometimes possible to find at Information centres cover too small an area even for someone moving as slowly as myself to be sensible to purchase. I mentioned some Vancouver attractions charging entirely unrealistic prices and, if you can find them, places giving you the same stuff for free.

BC information centres seem to be usually manned by two (to me) young girls. Whilst this brightens my old eyes it sometimes doesn't get me as much information as in the US were more often than not the information centres are manned by volunteers sometimes even older than me. Note I said sometimes. I usually get lots of good and accurate information.

Just up the road was Summerland. I diverted on a small road running back towards Princeton, found a wooded area criss crossed with ATV (quad cycle) trails, followed a trail and parked for the night.

The Summerland museum is sumptuous. I didn't think a small town interpretative museum would work until I saw this. Of course though, with a population of 8,000 it is not such a small town and I need to compare it with the likes of the museum at Baker City, Oregon. Unfortunately Baker City wins hands down. Plus Baker City museum is bigger by a factor of 5 or 6. I think in the US there are more volunteers helping with the museums this has got to help. But Summerland is way up there towards the top.

After Summerland I called in at the museum in Kelowna. Ha! Kelowna has more than 10 times the population of Summerland but it has a scraggy mixed up museum. It took me all of 30 minutes to wipe it out.

Sorry about he lack of photos. Very pretty hereabouts but I don't get the urge to take photos.

After Kelowna I headed off to Vernon to call on Randy Millan, I had corresponded with him years ago, he plays jazz guitar.

We talked jazz, listened to jazz, drank a beer, ate a delicious spaghetti Bolognaise, then restarted the whole thing. Except instead of another spaghetti we rounded off the evening trying, with partial success, to fix some problems on his computer. I parked in a neighbours drive. The neighbour was away, so apart from being real handy for me, it made it look like someone was in residence. Which of course, they were. Me.

It poured with rain during the night, so I got up late, fiddled with email, and went to the museum. The museum was OK. The murals painted on buildings all around the town were great but could be dangerous when the driver is fascinated by such things and is inclined to look at them rather than the road............

I continued north. Picked up another museum in Enderby. That was OK too.

It was getting brighter.

Not so much traffic either.

Evening arrived, I pulled off on to a forest road. I found a spot, parked, and got out of the van. All I could hear were trucks passing on the route 1. I got out of there quick, and drove further up the road. It's lots better here.

Best regards

David Barker
On the road in Canada

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