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Salmon Arm, the Last Leg (/arm)

When we woke up in our mountain paradise on Monday it was raining, which was fine, as we suspected this might happen and I had the good sense to put the fly on our tent before I went to bed the night before (which I am surprised about, because I was drunk). And it was also fine because it would have been a lot harder to leave this…

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had it been sunny and hot like the past two days. So we packed up our stuff, hugged everyone goodbye, and got on the road.

It’s only about an hour from Revelstoke, where we were, to Salmon Arm, where my mom is. So this is why the trip worked out so perfectly for me. We were already going to Revelstoke so to get Lisa to drive me an extra hour to my mom’s was no big D. And, as driving anywhere in BC is, it was beautiful.

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We got to my mom’s around noon, Lisa hung around for a bit to see her, and then my mom and I had a quiet day in while it rained outside. And I napped, that was key. We went out for Chinese in the evening with my Uncle Donny and Aunt Barb, so it was really great I could see them, too. I was only out west for five days but I was just fitting everyone in! I also ran some errands with my mom on Tuesday morning and went out for coffee with some of her friends, so that was cute.

My mom found a story book that I had written and drawn pictures for when I was in Grade 2, and I was pretty excited to find this picture in there:

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Appropriate. I like how everything in the picture is in pencil crayon, except for the butt crack. That is serious and needs to be defined with black marker. I can remember my teacher at the time and my mom really laughing about this on parent-teacher night. Sometimes I think I liked to push the envelope a bit in school to see what I could get away with…

Anyway. On Tuesday afternoon I walked down to the Salmon Arm wharf by myself. It was like 35 degrees but I had some water and a sweet hat so I was good.

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Salmon Arm is also really pretty. I talked about this on our trip there last year. The mountains are not as big as the mountains in Revelstoke, but mountains are mountains.

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I took this beautiful photo…

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And I put it on Instagram and went to tag the location…and check out the first location result.

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Eric is my brother. His rat lounge is his bedroom at my mom’s, and a big inside joke with his friends. Interestingly, I had just come from there. So, I was not expecting to see that and it made me laugh quite hard. Eric’s Rat Lounge is currently empty though, as Eric is going to school in Kelowna (um, he wants to do his masters in Neuroscience so I am not exactly sure how he’s my sibling) and he’s living in Kelowna with Kenya and his best friend Dixon. Eric and Dixon both had to work Tuesday morning but arrived that afternoon to hang out with us. I was so excited to see them, and even more excited that Eric brought these:

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He is working at Safeway while in school and making all the donuts. I could not do that, or I would be 300lbs. But when donuts are brought to me, I will eat them. All of them (or at least a piece of them all).

There was a pretty crazy storm happening in the afternoon, but after dinner (tacos), there was a bit of a break so I convinced Eric and Dixon to take me to the beach.

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You might remember this beach from last year, when I came with Evan. I was missing Evan and his sass face pretty hard on this trip, but he was working and it was really nice to spend time with just my mom. And my little (but pretty giant) brother.

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And Dixon, who I sort of consider my second brother.

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And who I almost didn’t recognize because of his long luscious locks.

Eric and I jumped in the water and started swimming (I’ll never pass up a chance), but then it was suddenly storming again so we abandoned that mission. Back to the Rat Lounge.

My flight was out of Kelowna in the early afternoon on Wednesday, Canada Day, but the boys drove me a bit early so I could check out their sweet student pad. And for a student pad, it really was sweet. I was impressed. And then it was back to Ontario for me.

I am already missing everyone, but Eric is coming here in a month and my bestie will be here in three weeks, so thankfully not for too long!

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Margaret Falls and Herald Provincial Park

Last Wednesday was our last full day in Salmon Arm with my mom and brother before we were off on a road trip to Banff, Alberta (and then Calgary). The one thing my mom really wanted to do with us was take us to Margaret Falls, a conservation area just off the Trans Canada Highway. We slept over at Kenya’s mom’s on Tuesday after the Canada Day festivities, so in the late morning on Wednesday we picked up my mom and a cooler full of food, and we hit up the trails.

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Hello trails.

And what beautiful trails they were.

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I’ll say it’s adventure time!

We were almost in sort of a canyon, with all the big trees surrounding us.

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It was a very pretty walk.

Speaking of big trees…

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What is really funny about that photo is that I came here in the winter with just Eric six years ago, in 2008, and I have the exact same photo.

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Just different attire and just a liiittle bit more grown up.

Of course Eric had to climb the tree, because he likes to live dangerously.

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He has grown up quite a lot since the last time we were there…

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He would have been 14 then. Just a little muffin.

It was a nice family hike.

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Don’t be judging our flippity-floppitys. It’s an easy hike and only takes about 15-20 minutes to get to the falls.

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Margaret Falls!

They are pretty impressive. That darker spot in the bottom half of the falls, in the middle, is actually a secret cave. I really wanted to go back there and check it out, but the water was rushing crazy fast and I am neither graceful nor coordinated, so I thought it might be a bit of a disaster if I tried to climb up in there (in my flip flops). Apparently the image of Christ is hidden somewhere in there as well, but I dunno. I couldn’t see it. But you can read all about it here.

We took a ton of pictures by the falls, as we do. We are tourists!

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And one from the last time I was there with Eric, because he is so cute with his bowl cut.

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Another reason I didn’t climb into the falls – the water was FREEZING. Like glacial water. Evan tested it and concurred.

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Icy.

If you are ever in the Shuswap area in British Columbia, I highly recommend checking out Margaret Falls. It is a very cool thing to do there.

It was a good hike with my mother and my lover and my brother and his lover.

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Evan maybe knew I was sneakily taking photos in the back…

I am gonna miss this lady!

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But she is coming out here to visit us in less than a month, so we will be reunited soon enough.

After our falls excursion we headed over to the beach at Herald Point Provincial Park for some swimming action.

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I liked swimming here even better than at Canoe Beach. It is still the Shuswap Lake but the water is clearer and deeper.

And after the swimming times we had a picnic, with sandwiches my mom made and the juiciest strawberries I’ve ever had.

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I was starting to think I didn’t like strawberries anymore because ones I get here at the grocery store are all ho-hum, but my mom scored these freshly picked ones and they were amazing.

And once we arrived home for dinner, my mom made my FAVOURITE…chicken soup!!!

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It tasted like my childhood. I love it so much. I am hoping to make it with her when she is here so I can see exactly how she does it. Mine never tastes as good.

The enchanted forest, Banff road trip and adventures, and the Calgary stampede are still to come 🙂 We really packed it all in.

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Canoe Beach, Larch Hills Wine, and Uncle Donny’s House

We started out the day on Monday at this beautiful beach in Canoe, a suburb of Salmon Arm.

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It is still on Shuswap Lake and maybe about 20 minutes from my mom’s place. It was such a gorgeous day (this entire week has actually been perfect on the weather front), and the beach is surrounded by mountains and the water was cool and deep. My favourite.

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I love hanging out with Eric and friends. It makes me sad that we are so far away from them. I’m trying to enjoy every minute.

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That picture was taken just as Evan was grabbing my foot from behind and pulling me towards him. That porpoise is a troublemaker.

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The beach was awesome and we had a really good morning there (we also spent the day on Canada Day there, but more to come on that).

We packed up shop in the early afternoon, went back to my mom’s to pick her up and shower and stuff, and then we all headed out to Larch Hills Winery, just south of Salmon Arm.

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We only stayed for about an hour or so, as we had a barbecue to attend afterwards at my uncle’s house, but we did sample some quality wine while we were educated on grapes in cooler climates.

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Please note that Dixon is wearing a bowtie. He has a fancy.

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We tasted most of the wines they had and Evan and I ended up buying a couple bottles of our favourites – the Lemberger, a red that had a bit of a spiciness to it, and the Siegerrebe Dry, a light and fruity white. I’m excited to bust those out in the future.

I have only been to a vineyard one time before, for a wedding, so I am not the most vineyard savvy, but the scenery was beautiful and I could have spent hours exploring it.

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My Uncle Donny and Auntie Barbara live just down the road from the winery (you may remember I posted all about Uncle Donny’s house and how awesome it is a couple years ago), so that is where we ended up after all the wine drinking. He also has spectacular views from his back porch.

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We told him that he just needs an infinity pool and he’ll be set.

My aunt is a ridiculous cook (and an even better baker, Eric and I still rave on about the banana cream pie she made for us almost 10 years ago – it was the best pie I have EVER had), and this time she made vegetarian chili and the patties for beef/pork burgers.

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I love homemade burgers so much. It was a delicious dinner.

And we finished that off with Barb’s strawberry rhubarb crisp with ice cream. AMAZING.

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We ate on the porch and got all caught up while enjoying those beauty views. I may have retold the story about the time Uncle Donny took me camping and I had the incident with the apple juice. Peeing your sleeping bag is always appropriate dinner conversation.

And of course we took all the family photos. Eric and I just love our Uncle Donny (aka Uncle Donkey).
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He is genuinely the sweetest and nicest man that I know, he is always smizing (aka smiling with his eyes), and he makes me laugh hard. It was so nice to have everyone together, and for Evan to finally meet this side of my family.

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Such a good day.

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Salmon Arms

I need to tell you that I recently upgraded my iPhone 4 (that I’ve had for about 4 years and it was actually still going strong, just a bit on the slow side) to an iPhone 5s, so that will account for the huge jump in quality in my photos. All of the photos I have been taking I’ve just used my phone and my camera has been amazing.

Moving on, we are in Salmon Arm, BC! I have been reunited with my baby brotha.

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And my sweet motha!

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And of course, I am here with my lovah.

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We arrived on Friday afternoon and spent the rest of the day catching up with my family, getting settled, grocery shopping, all that good stuff.

Here was the view on our way home from the airport:

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Disgusting. Ontario is beautiful, for sure. But it just can’t hold a candle to this.

So Friday was low-key, and on Saturday we started exploring. I have been to Salmon Arm quite a few times now, but it was Evan’s first time and I will never get tired of how beautiful it is.

Salmon Arm is in the interior of BC, on Shuswap Lake. Eric told me that it was recently designated a city, but I don’t know if I agree with that. You can walk from one end of the “city” to the other within 20 minutes, and when we went to the grocery store Eric and my mom ran into four people they knew. I even saw someone I knew (we randomly ran into my uncle). They also knew the pizza delivery guy. I have lived in Toronto for two years now and have accidentally run into someone I knew approximately one time.

(To my childhood chums, Salmon Arm is about the size of Port Perry).

Anyway, Saturday exploring. First we went down to the Salmon Arm wharf area. Tour Guide Eric tells me it is the largest wooden wharf in North America and I am too lazy to google that right now, so we’ll just say it’s correct. It is pretty big.

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And the view from the end of the wharf looking back.

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The peaks to the right are Mount Ida. I know, it’s so beautiful. And Eric is all “yeah I see this every day, but I guess it’s nice.”

Evan and I had quite the group of tour guides showing us around. We not only had Eric, but also his girlfriend Kenya and his best friend Dixon (who is really more like a brother to Eric) in attendance.

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Evan, Dixon, Eric

I like that Dixon found out we were coming and booked the week off work so he could do stuff with us. Now that is a good friend. I feel like my bestie Lisa would do that for Eric also.

We walked around the nature trail for a bit…

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And took like 80 million photos of the area.

And then out to the wharf where we took more photos…

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I see things like stand up paddle boarding in the mountains and I feel like I am not doing life right.

Down by the wharf area there is also a trail called the Bird Path that is quite the bird sanctuary. We went for a hike down the Bird Path and saw like a million birds and I took pictures of absolutely none of them because I couldn’t stop looking at the mountains. I can see birds anytime but I’m not sure when I’ll see this again.

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There might be some birds in there somewhere, but I can’t remember. Not my focus. Just look how beautiful! Also I need to point out that photo is unfiltered, raw from my phone. I don’t feel like any of the photos do the scenery justice, but that one is actually close.

Annnd more pictures from bird/mountain watching.

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Panoramic ’cause I’m fancy with my new phone.

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And that is about where the birdpath ends because more than half of it is flooded at the moment, so Kenya was saying we should kayak the flooded parts. It would be pretty amazing so I hope we have time to do that…but we’re already running short on time! We shall see. If not, it was a beautiful walk.

If you need me I’ll be here.

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On this piece of land, living in a tent. Because that is all I would need if I lived there. Evan says he wants to open up a food truck downtown and sell fried “salmon arms” on a cedar stick. Don’t go stealing that idea ’cause we might do it.

After our Wharf/Bird Path adventure we walked over to the downtown area and strolled through there. 

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It’s a cute small town downtown, very similar to Port Perry, Ontario.

I had a lunch with a blog reader from Kelowna, Christie, back in April and she was raving on to me about the Shuswap Pie Company in Salmon Arm and said that I needed to go there when I was visiting. So we did (thank you for the recommendation Christie, it was amazing!!!)

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I figured that I probably won’t be back here for a long time, if ever, so I should really pie it up. Just go all out in the pie department.

I started with a meat pie. A chicken pot pie!

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Okay I have to say that my one complaint was that they had a bunch of crazy pies but a lot of them were sold out. But my chicken pot pie may have been the best chicken pot pie I’ve ever had. Evan and Eric both ordered the sausage, apple and sage pie and raved about it.

And then we got an entire blueberry pie for all of us to share.

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And OMG it was amazing.

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Like a spiced blueberry or something. I’m still full from all of this but it was worth it. So delicious. If you are in Salmon Arm you have to go to the Shuswap Pie Company. And visit the wharf. And the bird path. Whatever you do you look at the mountains and you like it.

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Uncle Donkey’s House

I have a favourite uncle. His name is uncle Donny.

Fine, he is my only blood-related uncle, but still. Even if I had a thousand uncles, uncle Donny would still probably be my favourite.

I was very close with him when I was just a little kitty, and I even went camping once with just him when I was about six (I also wet my sleeping bag…on purpose...). I remember he made friends with the people who were camping across from us and we sat at their campfire one evening, and I told everyone a ghost story I made up on the spot about this family of chipmunks who lived in a haunted tree. I raved on and on about the chipmunks for probably an hour, and I’m sure my story made absolutely no sense and had no ending. And although I suspect uncle Donny was probably embarrassed to know me while I was ranting on about the stupid chipmunks, he never interrupted me.

He has always had a really cheesy hilarious sense of humour that makes me laugh really hard. He will talk and joke with just about everyone. And I do mean everyone. Even recently when I saw him in BC, we were buying ice cream and he started joking around with the vendor. My aunt Barb complains that when they go somewhere and he runs in “quickly” while she waits in the car, he takes a million years, because he just talks to everyone!

When I was younger, he was really the only grown-up who would actually hang out and play with us kids.

Don’t mind my attractive glasses. I am pretty sure uncle Donny is about to get attacked by about five little girls in this picture.

I used to call him uncle Donkey (I actually still sometimes call him this), and I convinced all my friends to call him this as well. My childhood friend Amanda still refers to him as uncle Donkey whenever she asks about him.

He also had mad beard-growing skills.

Right?! That beard alone makes him the coolest person on the planet, I’m pretty sure.

He truly is just the nicest guy.

Look how happy he is, even with my grandpa (or D-Dad as I used to call him) about to ash his cigarette on his birthday cake. And this is a really old pic, by the way. No one smokes inside anymore.

So I think I’ve probably convinced you all by now that my uncle Donny is seriously cool, and I haven’t even gotten to the coolest part yet.

His house. One thing that I will always remember loving about uncle Donny is his house. He always had the most interesting things kicking around. He was really into art, and also music, so when I was growing up his apartment was littered with random bongo drums, harmonicas, guitars (he even built his own guitars!), and even an organ. He played them all, and is exceptionally skilled at the piano.

He backpacked New Zealand (also supremely cool) when I was younger, and he brought back a ton of amazing things from his journey that I remember being obsessed with. Like one of those…I don’t even know what to call it…sand picture frame things. Like a picture frame with sand in it. I’m probably not making any sense (not unlike the chipmunk ghost story). Here’s a pic of the closest thing I could google.

I don’t know, I remember being captivated by it.

He also was the first person in my family to own a computer, and he had that old school Wheel of Fortune game on it, which I would play for hours and hours.

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Remember that?

AND he kept my favourite cereal over there.

Don’t even tell me you don’t remember the Cabbage Patch Kids cereal. That stuff was dynamite. I can specifically remember eating it at his kitchen table.

Anyway, this post does have a point. My uncle Donny now lives in Salmon Arm near my mom and Eric, so I was lucky enough to get to see him on my recent trip…

And I stayed over at his gorgeous house in the mountains.

Where I was reminded of all the little things I love about Uncle Donny’s house.

The random things I love to look at and explore…

Like that giant sailboat that he has had since I was a kid.

And his music!

My dad plays the keyboards also, and would be seriously impressed with my uncle’s sweet setup here.

When I was falling asleep I could hear him playing the piano from my room, and I just got this familiar feeling of comfy and warm.

And of course he has bongo drums.

His collection of records, tapes, and CD’s is crazy.

He has always been super into music, especially local Canadian bands, and gave me the Spirit of the West tape when I was in Grade 4. The single Home For A Rest wasn’t released until at least five years later, and I remember absolutely dying when I heard that song for the first time on the radio, because I already knew it! I had grown up listening to it! Nevermind that I was 10 singing about being drunk for a month… It’s a fun song.

And do you know what the best thing about my uncle Donny’s house is? You can stay there! My uncle and his wife Barb run a bed and breakfast out of their house in Salmon Arm, called the Tamarack Villa Bed & Breakfast, and if you are ever in the Shuswap area in BC, I highly suggest hitting it up. Their guest rooms are gorgeous, and they have an amazing view from their back wraparound porch.

They are also on about 25 acres of land, and a lot of it is forest, so my uncle has made trails for hiking and cross country skiing all through it. I went on a little hike with my uncle and his awesome poodle Einstein when I first got there.

He is cute.

Here is the website if you want to check it out.

I’m so excited that people from all over the world (they really have had people stay there from all over the world) can enjoy my uncle Donny’s house, just like I always have!

So go hit up my fun uncle Donkey, and tell him his favourite niece sent you!

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