First, we stayed at a wonderful B&B. It had a claw-foot tub in the bathroom. I LOVE claw-foot tubs. They are so comfortable. Heritage House in Canada was beautifully appointed with lovingly collected antiques and family heirlooms. Gabby, the owner, is Irish, friendly, and helpful. And did I mention the claw-foot tub? Ahhh! For anyone in the vicinity of Summerland, B.C., click here to see more information on Gabby’s Heritage House B&B.
Second, the primary reason we went was for a steam train ride aboard engine 3716, which celebrated 100 years of service this year. My husband’s a bit of a steam-freak. To make it even more fun, we signed up for the Great Train Robbery and BBQ. Summerland is a small community where Gabby says “you can see two 85-year-olds walking down the street hand in hand.” It also has a lot of orchards. Apple, cherry, peach, and grapes. So the vistas we saw as we traveled along the rails were amazing.
Then, at the end, they were set to switch the engine (move it from one end of the train to the other) when robbers came screaming up on horseback, shooting (blanks) and hollerin’ about this bein’ a robbery. I’m telling you, it almost felt real. The outfits were period appropriate, the blanks sounded real to my ear, and the hollerin’ sure sounded authentic. They boarded the train and “robbed” us all. We did know in advance about this and that the monies collected go to several local charities. At the end, they all rode off shootin’ into the sunset as the “sheriff” bemoaned his fate…alas, he couldn’t get his gun out of the holster. lol. It was fun times.
The last piece of this trip turned out to be somewhat worrisome. We’d heard there had been thunder and lightening storms two nights earlier and we saw the evidence as we drove through eastern Washington State. Plumes of smoke rose in several places as fires claimed more of the land. It was a bit nerve-wracking, especially when one of the fires was directly in our path. As we drove down the highway, we started to see more of a haze in the air. And blackened earth around us. Then, we saw firefighters working on a blaze near a home. And more firefighters and fire-spotters along the road. We began to wonder if the road would be open all the way through. Mind you, this is a two-lane state highway, not a little back road.
I didn’t get nervous until we saw what I can only describe as a wall of brown smoke in front of us. We drove into a sepia-colored world, but still had enough visibility to keep our speed fairly close to normal. When we got close to the one tunnel we needed to go through, I almost hit the brakes and turned around. There was fire on the hillside immediately above the tunnel and ash in the air. You can’t see it too well in this picture, but it’s there. If you click on the picture, it’ll bring up a larger copy and you’ll see the fire.
As quick as we entered this surreal world, though, we were out of it. On the other side of the tunnel, the air cleared and there was no fire around us. We continued to watch the smoke trails around us for another fifty or so miles before we left them behind and crossed the pass to the western side of the state.
So, we’ve had adventures aplenty, but are home safe and sound and done with trips for a while. Time to focus on the home front for a while. I hope, as this Summer transitions to Fall, you’ve all had a chance to spend time with friends and family in the sunshine.