Whitefish, Koocanusa, Kelowna: Explored

…enjoying a cold day in Whitefish.

In the down time between longer trips it is easy to spend several weekends away and not think about them as actual holidays. They are mainly “breaks from work”. However, in the months since Halifax I have been able to explore Whitefish, Montana, and travel to British Columbia to visit Kelowna and the Lake Koocanusa region.

Whitefish, MT

Whitefish was just cold. This year May was not an ideal time to visit, but the opportunity arose and off Sylvia and I went, a five-hour road trip from Calgary and, essentially, a mini-version of Banff. Downtown Whitefish is generally a collection of small antique and rustic household decorating stores mixed with a few restaurants / cafe’s.

Of all the places to eat for a unique experience, however, Moose’s Saloon in Kalispell has to be the place to visit. Be sure to take a sharp knife. The Saloon (www.moosessaloon.com/) has a floor covered in peanut shells. Every square milimetre of wood in the restaurant (whether it be on walls or the tables) is carved with names, declarations of love and other such inscriptions. It is dark and dingy, but is renowned for it’s pizza. The service is not the most friendly, and for wine lovers, you have two choices: red or white. I’m not sure I would ever go back, but loved my one and only experience of the Saloon.

I will, however, return to Whitefish. The weather ruined the trip, but it is worth a visit per year for anyone in reasonable driving distance.

Lake Koocanusa

Let’s start with the drawback. This massive lake, spanning the US/Canada border, is drained on the Canadian side and not full until July. However, it is a big, deep lake and perfect for boats, water surfing/skiing and jet skiing. A friend of ours has a travel trailer at Koocanusa Resort. The atmosphere is laid back, the lake is surrounded by big blue skies and treed and rocky mountains. The water is clean. There is little else around and the closest “large” town would be Fernie.

This is a place to relax, and a place for the men inside of us to be able to chop cedar fire wood with axes, to barbeque, to melt marshmellows together with chocolate on Graham crackers, to navigate a lake, and to drink a beer.

I recommend finding somewhere to pitch a tent. Even with the ability to sleep in a trailer, my preference is to tent, to wake to sunlight blaring through the white panels of the tent, to wake to chipmunks and loons getting their early morning freak-on. This is nature in Canada at its finest – lakes, mountains, trees, blue skies and the crackle of a fire the only noise to break the silence.

Kelowna

The purpose of the trip was actually a wedding, although this proved to be just half of one of our three and a half days in town. Otherwise we were touring some of the best vineyards in Canada, soaking up the sun on downtown patios or shopping for unique house decor at local markets and craft stores.

Some of the best Italian food that I have eaten in Canada was served at La Bussola (http://www.labussolarestaurant.com/) which, in English, means ‘the Compass’. Be sure to try any wine served their from “Osoyoos Larose” (http://www.osoyooslarose.com/), my personal favourite in Canadian wine.

We toured the stunning Mission Hill winery:

…along with Quails’ Gate (quailsgate.com/) and a number of others in West Kelowna.

We stayed at a very nice bed and breakfast in Kelowna called the Bilodeau B&B (http://www.bilodeaubednbreakfast.com/), which had its own pool, hot tub, jacuzzi tubs, sauna and breakfast prepared and served by Sid, a red seal chef. It is 15 minutes away from downtown Kelowna, so may not be for everyone, but the service and cleanliness were second to none. It’s the type of place you’d take your parents to stay.

Future Plans

There are so many. Las Vegas didn’t happen this year. Vancouver is upcoming, along with potential trips to Italy, Hawaii, Ecuador/Peru/Galapagos. For now, au revoir.

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