How was your 2016? Until I really thought about it, I had considered it a bit of a ‘quiet’ year for us. In truth, it was really anything but!
While we didn’t move this year or even leave British Columbia much, we still had an awful lot going on. For one thing, November marked our five year anniversary of living in Canada together. Here are our highlights of 2016.
Life in Penticton
2016 was our first full year living in the small town of Penticton, BC. At around 40k inhabitants, it is the perfect size for us. Penticton has all the shops and facilities we could ever want in a very small radius; we can walk almost everywhere, including to the excellent local brewery taproom.
In and around the city we have world class climbing, paddling, snowboarding and hiking. Our duplex is in a particularly amazing location (plus great neighbours!). With the lake just a block away, at any time of year, we can portage the canoe across the road for a quick paddle.
Penticton is not somewhere we will live forever, but we are loving our time here.
One of the biggest changes this year was in our work. It’s not something I talk about much on here, but for the first 9 months of living in Penticton I was the manager of a local outdoor retail store.
Jean Robert has now taken over this role and he is excelling at it. As it turns out, he is a fantastic salesman and loves helping other people get outdoors.
The paperwork side of things he doesn’t like as much, but no job can be perfect!
As for me, I have moved to part-time retail work (in the same store) alongside my own online business. I started the latter in 2015 and I’m so excited that it is now something I can continue working on.
A year of visitors
Moving around so much and travelling as we do, Jean Robert and I have stayed in a lot of spare rooms and on fold-out-beds over the years. We are so grateful that this year has been the one where we have really been able to pay it back a little and have people stay with us.
Not only is it nice to offer free accommodation in this lovely little town, but it’s also been really fun to explore the local sights (some new, some old) with visitors. I’m not sure whether to be proud or not, but I went on no less than eight wine tours in 2016. Well, as they say, when in Rome!
Staying closer to home than we intentionally intended this year due to some strange summer weather, we haven’t missed out on adventure outdoors.
We’ve discovered new local hikes, overnighted on Okanagan Lake again, camped at Haynes Point and explored tiny-but-fascinating Rattlesnake Island. Something different for 2016, we have also been climbing a lot. Spring was the perfect time to try out our new climbing gear at Skaha Bluffs.
In between work, visitors and exploring locally, we still fitted in two big multi-day wilderness trips together.
First, we paddle and hiked across Vancouver Island’s Strathcona Provincial Park to visit Canada’s highest waterfall, Della Falls. Just before the summer was over, we made the looooong road trip up north to paddle the Bowron Lakes Canoe Circuit.
A solo trip to the UK
I spent almost a whole month of this year in the UK. I was primarily there to be a bridesmaid (another highlight) but I combined the trip with my very first thru-hike experience; the 160km South Downs Way.
The week-long experience was both harder and easier than I expected, as I will explain in an upcoming post. I was lucky enough to walk several days of the Way with my mother, which was one of my highlights of the whole last few years.
It’s too early to say, but 2017 may just be our best year of travel and adventure yet….
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One half of the Canadian/British couple behind Off Track Travel, Gemma is happiest when hiking on the trail or planning the next big travel adventure. JR and Gemma are currently based in the beautiful Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada