I had great plans for the Okanagan. I would visit a friend, and then find a spot beside the lake to hang out for a few days. I could feast on Okanagan fruit and check out some more wineries. I was headed towards home but I wanted to hike and swim and soak up nature. I wanted to rent a tube and float down the Shuswap River. However, Wanda had other plans.
My first indication of a possible problem happened Sunday morning as I was driving between Barrière and Salmon Arm. My check engine light turned on. Bad words were said. I phoned my mechanic in Vancouver while waiting to fuel up to leave a message hoping for some reassurance and advice. (They never called back)
Back in November, the same issue had happened. It took several days and a chunk of money but a front sensor was replaced and I was warned that the back one would likely fail within 6 months. I hadn't thought of it since. When I turned her on after fuelling up, the light went out. "Halleluia, it was probably a loose gas cap". As I describe in last week's post, I happily moved around Shuswap Lake staying at 4 different Harvest Hosts. By the end of the week, I had arrived in Enderby, a town in the North Okanagan region located south of Salmon Arm following Highway 97A. I knew very little about Enderby except it was home to a friend I wanted to visit.
Following advice, I decided to stay at Quilakwa RV & Campground, operated by the Splatsin First Nation. There are 30A and 50A sites, picnic tables, toilets, showers, laundry, and a campstore with firewood, ice, snacks, drinks, and tube rentals.
They even have a yurt! It was occupied while I was there and, unfortunately, I wasn't able to get a look inside.
The Splatsin are part of the Shuswap Nation, the largest Salish First Nation in Canada. The campsite included a sign explaining the history of the Splatsin in the area and offered a weekly smudging ceremony.
Unfortunately, I wasn't at the site at the right time for the weekly smudging ceremony, however, I was gifted with a sage bundle to put under my pillow.
As the summer weather finally kicked in, this little Arctic Air has become much appreciated. I keep the filter in the freezer while driving and use the cold water from the fridge to fill it.
voila! Cheap A/C! It only lowers the temperature a couple of degrees but even a couple of degrees can be a big improvement. Because it uses water to cool down, I do need to make sure that I have the doors and vents open but it still provides a bit of relief. It wouldn't be a great idea in hotter climates because doors and windows would have to be closed to feel any relief and that would introduce too much moisture.
Me, wine, computer, and insect repellant Thermacell! It really works! I have to admit that I was skeptical and thought it cost more than I really wanted to pay. I have been a mosquito buffet when hiking even with a strong DEET repellant but I have not got a single bite while in the Thermacell zone.
The stunning Enderby cliffs dominate the horizon as the last rays of the sun hit them.
The following day I wandered around the town. The town of Enderby is small with a population of fewer than 3,000. The Splatsin used the Shuswap River as their highway and the town is located right at the river's bend. It's a picturesque little town with many small artisan displays and shops.
I would love to own this chair or be talented enough to create such a lovely piece. This one was painted by local artist, Liz MacArthur .
The courtyard outside the library is pretty and shaded. It's a great place to sit, read, and people watch.
I hadn't been in Enderby more than 30 minutes and I had 3 recommendations for The Small Axe. I stopped for a delicious lunch of baked potato soup and garlic bread.
Along the river's edge I followed a path behind the Small Axe along the river. I enjoyed reading the historical markers along the way.
On the other side of the bridge, visitors can park in the Information Center Parking lot and walk along a planted path. There were many benches to sit and watch the river flow by.
and then it was time to head off and visit good friends, Mark and Christine who live on a stunning property with outstanding views just below those incredible cliffs
After a great visit, I was ready to head off to find my perfect Okanagan spot, I was thinking Summerland would suit me well.
... and that's when it happened. I had barely rounded the first bend on the road when that freaking light came on again. I pulled over and checked the gas cap, knowing in my soul that it wasn't the issue and I had to get Wanda to a mechanic or risk power cuts and serious damage to the engine. She warned me and gave me a week to deal with the issue. This time, she was determined to get my attention. I had come to this decision as I was moving through the city of Kelowna. I knew I needed to find a place to camp nearby and decided to stop in Peachland, a community about 30 minutes further along the highway.
I found Todd's RV & Camping in an ideal location right on the lake. This is the final season for this fabulous family-run operation, as the land has been sold and will be developed. For this season, they are offering very limited services... no toilets or shower, but are still charging as if those services were included. I didn't have a lot of choice if I wanted to be close to the city of Kelowna and find a diesel shop that could take me in the morning. It really is an incredible location.
After getting settled, I decided to cool off with a swim and enjoy the rest of the evening. It was a beautiful evening and I sat on a bench watching the sun fade and the moon rise.
I was awake early in the morning and started my research. Wanda is a Mercedes Benz diesel van. Many diesel shops focus on big rigs, some don't carry specialized MB software, and trying to get a same-day appointment is often next to impossible. As soon as the shops opened, I began to call around. I was delighted to find The Little Diesel Shop. Gabby, the receptionist, said she couldn't promise immediate attention but if I could get there ASAP, she would make sure it would be looked at.
I spent most of the day in their comfortable air-conditioned waiting room, editing photos and doing some writing. I was really impressed with the shop. They were terrifically busy with customers with appointments but Adam, the owner and chief mechanic, kept chipping away at it all day and kept me well-informed. It turned out to be the rear sensor, which was replaced and with a lighter bank account I was on my way again. I had lost a day and my travel rhythm was disrupted. I only had two nights remaining before my pet-sitter needed to move on. It was late and I needed to get further south and the rush hour traffic in Kelowna along the 97 Highway was bumper to bumper. The sun was beating through the windshield and I cursed my pathetic AC. I wasn't going to be able to have the time I wanted to explore the Okanagan, so I decided return on a future road trip. but I would enjoy the drive along beautiful Hwy. 3, the Crow's Nest Highway. I would drive a couple of hours and find a campsite for the night.
I may not have had my tube float down the river but I could enjoy the stunning scenery and the coolness of the mountains. I cranked up the music and spent some time reflecting upon lessons learned from this incident. 1. Pre-road trip mechanical checks can't anticipate all issues. I need to be prepared to dip into my vehicle maintenance budget. 2. Don't ignore warning signs. I'm going to have to deal with whatever the issue is at some point. It's better for the vehicle and my stress levels to take immediate action. 3. Keep road trips as flexible as possible, so that a day (or more) spent at the shop won't ruin a trip. I need to build a night (or two) at a hotel in my budget in case the vehicle needs to be left overnight. I was lucky that the Little Diesel Shop was able to fit me in and complete the work in one day. Next time, I may not be as lucky.
4. Find the positives, even when my plans get shot down. My positives from this were that I found a great diesel shop in Kelowna, enjoyed meeting Gabby and Adam, and I was charged less for this sensor replacement than I paid in Vancouver. So much less, in fact, that it would be cheaper to drive to Kelowna for all my mechanical needs. 5. Highway #3 is a stunning drive and that's the route I should be taking when heading to the interior. The #5 (Coquihalla Hwy) is faster but isn't nearly as stunning. There are also a lot more small campgrounds easily accessed from the highway. Motorcycle riders love this route for its winding roads.
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