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Wanda's Adventures: Sampling the Shuswap

Shuswap Country, or "The Shuswap" is the area surrounding Shuswap Lake in the Interior of British Columbia, Canada. Located approximately 450 km northeast of Vancouver, it is a popular destination for both domestic and international travellers. In the traditional lands of the Secwepemc (Shuswap) First Nation, the area is full of stunning lakes, mountains, orchards, vinyards and breweries.

Shuswap Lake is a rather strangely-shaped lake, roughly resembling the letter "H" with 4 arms: the Shuswap, Seymour, Anstey, and Salmon arms. Travelling in the area requires navigating around these arms, often driving on 2 lane very winding roads alongside the water's edge. The lake is surrounded with small communities of year-round homes and summer cottages. Boating, fishing, swimming, and all sorts of water sports are extremely popular summer activities. The micro-climate in this area has made it an ideal location for growing wine grapes and there are many wineries, cider and malt breweries in the region.

I was coming from the Cariboo region and had decided to head south in search of better weather and a bit of civilization after several days of no cell service. I had planned to take Cunningham Road from Wells (near Barkerville) to Likely, BC to continue my Gold Rush explorations but, due to the unusually wet spring, the road was not yet opened. The only other route heading generally south was the same Cariboo Highway that I had driven on the way. I wanted to get at least as far as Hwy 24, where I would turn east. It was going to be a long day of driving.

Even on long drive days I always find something that gives me joy. Seeing wildlife along the road, and how all drivers come to a complete stop until they clear is one of those joys. I felt truly blessed to see 3 little fawns on my route.

I had a couple of recreational sites noted along the way that I was considering but the condition of the access road required higher clearance and possibly 4-wheel drive. About 5km east of Barrière BC, I knew I needed to stop just as I passed a sign for the Chinook Cove Golf and RV Club.

Fearing it would be an expensive stop, I was delighted that they offer 15 amp serviced sites for a reasonable $25 per night. Bigger rigs wanting 50 amp sites pay $40 while 30 amp sites are available for $30/$35.

The RV park is located partway up the hill, offering a gorgeous view of the North Thompson River. The washrooms and showers are impeccably clean. A sani-dump is available on site. The clubhouse includes a restaurant and there are some snacks available at the pro-shop. WIFI was available but very inconsistent and slow at my site.

The cheap sites are very basic. It's a simple gravel parking lot with water/power mounted on short poles at regular intervals. The 30 and 50 amp sites had some separation between the more clearly defined sites but are not particularly private. I appreciated being able to get a burger at the club after my long drive and the sunset was spectacular. The following day I continued my drive which took me through Kamloops and along the TransCanada Highway to the small town of Chase, BC where I decided to pull into the municipal campsite run by the local Lion's Club. The Chase Lion's RV Park is found next to the boat launch on the mouth of the South Thompson River and Little Shuswap Lake. This is a lovely little park with tent and serviced sites, showers, flush toilets and very friendly camp hosts. It takes less than 5 minutes to drive into the center of town.

I chose a non-serviced site but after a day of rain, moved to a serviced site since my solar was not able to get enough charge to keep the refrigerator cool. I enjoyed combining a camping experience with the chance to explore the little town. I spent a day running errands at the laundromat, grocery and hardware stores.

I refuse to eat hotdogs and canned chili just because I'm camping. I enjoy cooking and I enjoy good food. I had a hankering for pizza but haven't eaten pizza parlour pies since taking a pizza making class in Italy. I decided to see if I could make pizza with a cast iron pan and my campstove.

It was a success and the sad young cyclist preparing his pot noodles in the next site was thrilled when I offered to share. Soon we were chatting like old chums and enjoyed a lovely evening next to a campfire. I was pretty pleased with myself and continued to develop a basic bannock recipe with a variety of added flavours and seasoning for the rest of my trip.

Last year, I signed up to become a member of Harvest Hosts. Harvest Hosts is a network of wineries, breweries, farms, and dairies that offer free overnight camping to members. There aren't as many hosts in BC as in other jurisdictions, but I was near wine country and decided to make a very slow tour of Shuswap hosts.

My first host was Celista Winery (#19), located in Celista, a tiny community along the north shore of Shuswap Lake. This gorgeous winery is on the Baile & Ootes' family farm and is the most northern grape winery in Canada. As I drove up the sweeping drive in between the vineyards, I was immediately enchanted by the carriages displayed at the top of the driveway.

After checking in, I was directed to park wherever I wanted on the field behind the main parking lot. I tucked myself at the back, near the barn where I had a terrific view of the lake but also could enjoy the wildflowers and birds on the field next to me.

After settling in, I made my way back to the wine tasting room, walking through a lovely forested walkway.

I enjoyed a tasting of white, rosé, and red wines. The wines of this area are made with the same grapes and share many of the notes as German wines. They tend to be more sweet than dry. My personal preference is for drier wines and especially enjoyed the Cracklin' Rosé and the Foch Reserve. I bought a bottle of each.