Our Trip to Vernon’s Sparkling Hill

Over the summer I got it into my head that I wanted to do a drive to the interior of BC and visit the Okanagan Valley. We finally coordinated our schedules to clear a weekend in early September and took off for a Friday-Monday trip.

As an organized person in general these neat rows just speak to me

I left work early (around 3) on Friday afternoon and picked up our rental car on my way home. By the time I was back and we loaded everything up and got on the road it was about 5. Our plan was to drive the 2-2.5h to Manning Park, where we’d camp before driving the rest in the morning. We did have to make a pit stop to the car rental agency when I realized I’d used the wrong credit card to pay for the car and so we didn’t actually have insurance. Oops. Fixed and back on the way.

We actually got to Manning around 8 and it was… super dark. Luckily we had the headlights of the car and our own little headlamps, and we’ve set up our tent a zillion times. We heated up some chili I’d packed for a late dinner (we use a whisperlite stove, which I love but is also kinda finicky), and called it a night. Of course Jan took some star photos too :). Pro tip- no cell service along the stretch of highway covered by Manning, so make sure you know where you’re going.

The next morning was really beautiful but also a little bit chilly. I woke up early as usual and got out of the tent to look around. I was really happy we’d packed our favourite jackets (like in Joshua Tree!) because I always forget that camping on the west coast is never 100% warm. We packed oatmeal for breakfast and used our trusty Aeropress (literally the best coffee maker ever for something like 40$) to make coffee.

We had a slow morning and then drove to Vernon. We stopped for food and a glass of wine at Mission Hill along the way, and I had the best lunch. A little pricy but highly recommend their restaurant overlooking the lake and valley.

We stayed at Sparkling Hill, which was a bit of a splurge but was also having a “West Coast Residents” special, so you could take 30% off if you live in BC, Alberta or Washington. Perfect! They have amazing hot and cold pools, beautiful quiet reading rooms with tea and fruit, plus a bunch of extra spa treatments you can purchase. We did a lot of swimming and relaxing. The hotel was really nice in general, but Jan and I had to hold back laughs at people walking around in their bathrobes at breakfast and lunch. I guess they really want you to get into the spa vibe.

It was super quiet in the evenings, which I loved. We watched a great storm on Saturday night and went to bed early.. music to my ears.

On Sunday we did a short (2-3km maybe?) hike in the morning and then tried out lunch at 50th Parallel (we considered ex nihilo or Arrowleaf as well but timing was not optimal)

We took a great tour at Grey Monk, which is the winery we bought from for our wedding- highly recommend! We also bought a bottle of their port wine to bring home and shared it with my Mom last week- sooo good after dinner with a square of dark chocolate!

Monday morning we lazed around for a bit and got on the road around 10.30. We stopped at a little farm on the way and picked some fresh fruits and sunflowers, then focused on driving. Around 1.30 we stopped in Merritt for lunch (yes, McDonalds, no shame- it’s a road trip!). We had one last emergency pee stop at Walmart in Burnaby and we were home, rental car dropped off, by 6.

It was a tiny bit too much driving in 3.5 days for me but overall a really relaxing vacation.

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