May 19th – Hope to Kelowna

When you are traveling, so much can happen in just a few days. Continuing on our main journey east from Hope, we have been welcomed by so many generous and interesting people.

We cycled from Hope on Highway 3 through Manning Park enroute to Princeton. We also on that stretch climbed our first summit! It was an hour and forty five minutes of continual uphill; 9km of many slow pedals. The optical illusions of climbing a mountain too were strange. There were parts that felt so tough but it didnt look like you were going up! Entering Manning Park though was spectacular. We were truly in the wilderness. It was not until the road narrowed and the shoulders turned to gravel that I began to get anxious. Trucks would zoom by and here Mischa and I were- tiny specs on the mountain side. After taking a small break, a red jeep pulled up to us and asked if we needed a lift. With no hesitation, we accepted her offer. She had cycled across Canada a few years ago and was eager to hear about our experience and share hers. She reassured us that this was one of the toughest stretches of road, making us feel a little more at ease. She drove us to the nearest town of Princeton. It is still funny how an hour of driving equates to a day of cycling. Gladly, we had the afternoon to relax and explore.

That afternoon we also ate the best wraps ever. The great thing about biking is that firstly, your appetite increases, and the next thing, is that you have to get creative with the few things you carry. So, that afternoon we found a park and combined everything we had into one epic creation. Writing this post a week later, I still remember every ingredient it was that tasty! Tomatoes, cottage cheese, Cheddar cheese, avocado, cold slaw mix, refried beans and potato chips. Yum! That evening we set up camp and ventured back into town for ice cream, a trending night habit, and ended up in one of those places where all you can think of is ‘I would have never thought that in my life I would be in this situation. We walked unknowingly into this ice cream parlour that ended up being a giant open room with a big worker bench in the middle. Sitting beside it is a man in a train conductor’s uniform, sleeping, and beside him a table of people all staring at us. This shop not only sold ice cream, but was an internet cafe, stationary supply shop, and multi-purpose venue for the locals; karaoke stop, movie theatre, and hobby spot. There was one employee/ owner of the shop that was also the kindest man who simply wanted his store to be a place where people felt welcome. We were invited to the movie night where we sat watching a movie with 5 other random people of all ages and abilities. I was truly moved by this owners contributions and efforts to give all of these misfits like us a place to be and feel included.

Our night in Princeton was also special because we were greeted by Kelsey, Mischas sister who has joined us for the last week. Such lovely company to share this journey with. She and I cycled the next leg of trip to Hedley, BC which was one of the most gorgeous parts so far. Flat, following the river in the mountains. Hedley itself is a buzzard place. An old gold mining town that makes you feel like you are in a move set. Encapsulating red rocks, abandoned homes, no shops nor people. From Hedley we cycled to Osoyoos. An unplanned destination, further South than most cyclists go, but we decided to check it out since it is the only desert in Canada. To get there we cycled from the mountains down into the Okanagan Valley. Another spectacular rides where we passed towns that had more fruit stands than people and wine vineyards as far as the eye can see from the road. We found a campsite on one of the provincial parks on the lake, blew up floaty pads (thanks to Kelsey who has a trunk full of goodies for us to use) and spent the night bbq’ing and floating on the lake watching the sunset.

The next few days were epic cycling days to Kelowna where we arrived with open arms by the Ertels. Thanks to my roommate in Ottawa, Emily who has not only supported me throughout the last year with school/ life/ running/ baking cookies, now she has connected us with her family. We have spent the past few days in Kelwona, checking out the area and have again met wonderful people who have taught us so much about food security in the area. It is such an interesting place because since it is in the Okanagan Valley, it is in one of the agricultural hubs of BC for fruit production and Mischa and I have been welcomed in and experienced lots of different events in the area in only a few short days.

Firstly, we checked out one of the many farmer’s markets in Kelowna on Saturday morning and had the opportunity to speak to a few of the vendors doing composting programs, drying fruit to minimize produce waste for ‘ugly’ fruit, and of course ate some delicious bits and bites from different vendors. See below for a map to the markets in the Kelowna area. On Saturday afternoon we were invited by our newest and fondest mentor, Jenica, of the Central Okanagan Food Policy Council to a weekend of events starting with the Design Jam Kelowna: Addressing Sustainability of Food Systems in the Okanagan Region. This was one of many Design Jams that occur internationally and are a day-long event that welcome designers, thinkers and creators together in order to address an issue in society. Saturday’s event conveniently was based around food security and we were lucky enough to be a part of this event and hear about four teams approaches to addressing the issue of promoting local food systems to engage citizens. I will attach a separate note of the team’s work! We were also lucky enough to be invited to one of Kelowna’s top places to eat in the local food movement, The Salted Brick, which serves only local and organic produce all year round. We chatted the night away with people involved in Kelowna’s food movement, and also had the privilege to eat with the farmer, Curtis Stone, that grew most of the produce we were eating. Yes. Sitting with a group of people who are interested in food and excited about our journey was also incredible in itself. Mischa and I could ask many questions about farming techniques, initiatives happening in Kelowna, the future of farming, food politics and more. I was blown away by the content of the conversation and emphasized of the fact that food relates to some of the most pressing social justice, environmental and political issues of our time.

The next day, Jenica took us on a personalized 15km cycling tour of urban and local food initiatives happening in the area. We were joined by a few friends and fellow foodies that are all knowledgeable about the entire process of food’s journey from seed to plate. We stopped by multiple community gardens, composting sites, and local citizens who have devoted years of work unto their gardens and were proud to tell us about the structure, design and joy of their work. One of the highlights of the day was meeting Peter, a retired architect who invited us into his home. His wit and humour were striking and he shared with us his view of the future and what needs to happen in urban centres for there to be sustainability and a lesser dependence on fossil fuels in society. He lives by his values, and his garden is the main food source for his family. Again we were reminded that farmers are incredibly smart.

Along this cycling tour we also met Ian, who invited us into his home- a tiny home-to-be that he has been building for the last few years. The tiny house movement is catching on in Canada and promotes living small and a lack of dependence on stuff, consumerism and materialistic items. Ian is building a complete, self-sufficient home that is 8.5ftx20ft- tiny. He told us about what it means to him to love small and both Mischa and I were amazed by all of the different ways there are to live.

Right now though, Mike (one of the people we are staying with) just won a hockey game and his team is over to celebrate! Listed below are some resources and initiatives we have found in the area, and of course photos from the last little while. Until next time!

Resources:
1. Green City Acres (the urban farm of Curits the farmer) http://www.greencityacres.com/

2. The Central Okanagan Food Security Council who Jenica volunteers for http://www.okanaganfood.com/

3. The Design Jam international website:http://www.designjams.org/about/

4. Information about the tiny home movementhttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/tiny-homes/

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