... you don't get any for ages, then two come along at once!
So we headed from Big White to Kelowna to get us some wheels, and thereby remove our reliance on greyhounds and transfers (which can become pretty expensive for two people and a board bag). It would also allow us to see more of Canada. We weren’t planning to stay long – we’d booked into the Kelowna International Hostel and after reading a couple of not-too-favourable reviews we feared the worst… but what we found was a very small & friendly hostel with a double bed, and a room to ourselves for most of our stay, hurrah warm feet at last.
We were told about a car auction held weekly in Kelowna, so on the Friday we headed over to view the cars that would be going into the sale the following day, we got a bus, got there and then the heavens opened, so we viewed what must have been about 90 cars and vans and had a list of 20 ‘maybes’. Then you get the keys and start the bad-boys up and listen to hear if they sound ok; you can’t move them but we did a lot of me standing in the rain while Tim tested the lights and wipers from inside!
Anyway after that it was time to head across the road to jump on the bus back, by this time we we’re both soaked through and very cold so we headed to a Tim Hortons, now TH is one of the largest coffee chains in Canada and they do these “things” called “TimBits”… we didn’t know what these were so Tim ordered them with a choice of 10,20,40 he went for 10, and what the TimBits are is, you’ll love this, they are the inside of a doughnut, like the inside of a polo if you will, only so full of sugar you are on a sucrose high for some time, Tim was flying, I had one and got the shakes, stuck to my fruit and bran muffin, so got on our bus got back and spent the evening going through the list we had made researching what we we’re getting and how much, we we’re very strict on our budget $1500 no more……and with the research we realized we’d be lucky to get anything we’d been looking at freelanders, jeeps, vans and reality was we might have to get us a battered old Chrysler.
So, up bright and early back on the bus, we had 2hours before the auction started and back to the drawing board then the loud Canadian redneck rounded us all up, sat in a freezing warehouse and the cars started rolling in, luckily we weren’t interested until the 6th lot as neither of us could understand him, at one stage he was definitely saying 1 banana, 2 banana, 3 banana 4! I sat there while Tim kept popping out to see what was coming next leaving me with the bidding number, I think I may of bidded on some huge truck at one stage when I scratched my nose with the number but thankfully I was outbid!! So as we sat there waiting as the ones we had penciled were going for so much more than our strict budget we thought we were going to end up with the battered white-ish Hyundai Sonata that had been sand blasted so much the lights would have to be changed and the wipers were hanging off, and it looked like something had died on the back seat. But then in he came, a Plymouth Voyager 1995, in Ferrari red with tinted windows, a sports kit and winter tyres, we played it cool as it started at $3000 then quickly went down to $700. In fact we played it too cool – no one had bid and it started to head out of the warehouse until I squeaked and waved my mittened hand (smooth!) and then the loud Canadian bounced $50 off some invisible bidder and he was ours , (the van not the Canadian)
Thirty minutes later we had insurance, a van and number plates. It’s strange over here you know nothing about the car as it’s the number plate you’re buying and you can put that on any car, so after seven hours at the auction we got the van we wanted from the start, we’re both very excited obviously the most nerve wracking thing was to see if it stopped and started, minor points but some of the mountains are quite steep, and thankfully he did It’s great we now have freedom to go and see what we want when we want, and in celebration we took a short trip and headed to one of the many vineyards in Kelowna overlooking the massive Okanagan lake, it was a beautiful sunny day and we had our own private tour guide, very interesting indeed and then we sat out in the vineyard looking out at the lake thinking this is very nice. By the way, we’ve named our red rocket van “Jeremy” that’s Jerem with a “Y”
There are some great walks around Kelowna it’s a beautiful city (apart from the ugly bit), everyone comes down from Big White in the summer to work in the vineyards or mountain bike and hike. I had a great run where I got lost and had to ask directions in a conservation lodge, a lovely lady gave me a map and 13 miles later I was home, not bad considering I hadn’t eaten or drunk anything, (note to self: take map or fuel next time). My legs felt it the following day so no running or boarding until the next day where we went up to Silverstar, another big mountain not far from Big White, again self contained but smaller, we took Jeremy or rather he took us, and it was great the boarding was excellent with fluffy snow and sunshine in the afternoon, unfortunately it went a tad slushy and my body wanted to go faster than my board which felt very strange indeed, but then the end of the day boards in the back of the van and back down to the hostel, happy days
The hostel is such a lovely, friendly place to stay, only 1 block from the beach and the lake, a 10 min walk to down town and 20 min run to the beginning of a great trail. We only planned to stay for a couple of nights just to get a car and ended up staying a week; we arrived with our normal british reserve but the people there were really great: friendly and interesting. Big thanks go to the obligatory Aussie boys Scottie and Paul for their warnings about the drop bears and to Irish George who gave the red rocket an inspection and said he thought it should be fine (phew); actually he had an ‘unpimped’ version of the same van and I think he was secretly a bit jealous!! As we left, he had just purchased what sounded like the liquor store’s entire supply of alcohol to celebrate St Paddy’s day (which everyone seems to celebrate over here!). Have a good one guys! We hope to find other places this welcoming and friendly, fingers crossed for our next stop, Red Mountain… here we come in Jeremy the Red Rocket woohoo!!