Monday, July 21, 2008
Team Trouble: a long story
Last, last weekend, my man and I went off to the Okanogan in search of sun, sand and adventure. Well, we got all three. And then some.
The Okanagon Region (of which I can never seem to spell properly) consists of Lake Okanogan (with the mystical Ogopogo - North America's owm "loch ness monster"), Skaha Lake and Lake Osoyoos. I'm sure there are other lakes but I can't be bothered doing any research. So I will tell you what I know: the hills are dotted with vineyards (this is Canada's Napa Valley, a wine region that some say is even better than the California version), the lakes are clear, blue and refreshing (except for Osoyoos, which is the warmest lake in the country - bathwater warm!), the landscape is hilly and dry, dotted with sagebush and ponderosa pine and the weather is hot, dry and dusty. This is heaven to me - after growing up on the wet and tree-heavy west coast, I am drawn to dry, desolate and hot environs. The Okanogan is one of my favourite places on Earth and both the Rockstar and I knew it would be the perfect place for our one-year anniversary trip.
We left on "free slurpee day," and after a sugar-high from 7/11's chintsy giveaway (7.1 ounces, what did I expect) we drove East, towards deserts and lakes. We couldn't wait to leave the city behind and feast our eyes on something new to look at. Were we staying at a wonderful resort for our romantic getaway? No. We had to do with a tiny single room in a hostel, share-bathroom and all. We are broke, remember. But luckily, I am so accustomed to the backpacker lifestyle that our bed didn't phase us. We would be happy anywhere.
I took the slow route instead of the main, toll-booth highway, taking advantage of all the little towns you could stop off along the way. Fruit stands, old mines, teepees, deserted roads in which you could pull off on and have all the privacy in the world (if you know what I mean, tee hee). Sure the other way was a bit faster but we weren't in any hurry. Even if it's quicker, I can't stand a boring drive.
We rolled into Penticton around 4PM, unsure of what to do. His main plan for the weekend was to relax on the beach, read his book and swim in the lake. My main plan included the possibilities of: conecting with dear old college friends, going wine-tasting, going horseback riding, floating down the river on an inertube, hiking in the hills...oh and drinking absinthe on the beach.
We ended up doing three of the above. We could have maybe done more, if only we hadn't done the latter choice first.
I bought the Rockstar a bottle of real absinthe for his birthday a few months back and we never got around to drinking it. I wanted to be somewhere safe when we did. Well, I guess we threw that out the window, because our first activity on our anniversary trip was to drink the bottle on the beach.
After a few sips in our hostel room....
We decided to finish the rest on the beach. At 60% proof, we were shooting it straight out of the bottle and finishing it with a chaser of Fanta. Needless to say by the time we got to the beach, the world was alive and shimmering and we felt great (need I remind you that absinthe contains wormwood, a hallucinogen, aka the green fairy in Moulin Rouge). So great, that we barely felt the chill of the lake when we went for a sunset dip.
Then, this is where things get fuzzy. For both of us, but especially for me. I remember we met some completely random couple with a dog on the beach.
Somehow we ended up at their place, high in the hills around town where we danced and drank wine.
I woke up with a start at 4AM. We were both back in the hostel, lying on the bed, on top of the covers with our clothes on. The light in the room was on. It was pitch black outside. I wasn't sure where I was and I was beyond confused. I also didn't feel too sick - but I later found out that's because I was still drunk. I went to the bathroom, brushed my teeth and we fell back asleep.
We then awoke at 9AM and tried to piece together the night. I had many weird dreams, one of them involved being in a restaurant and eating too much pita bread. Of the actual night, all I could remember was going to the random couple's place (was he a French Jamaican guy?) and had no idea how we got back home. Thankfully the bf wasn't as far gone as me (I have a horrible tendency to do that) and I learned that the couple gave us a ride back into the main part of town, we walked back to the hostel and since the front door of the hostel wasn't locked, we estimated that we probably got back to pass out before 11PM.
Then he asked if I remember eating last night. I thought it was a dream but it soon came clear that we did in fact go to a restaurant late that night, where I did consume too much pita.
Then it became clear that he lost his wallet. Normally it would be in his pocket, but the shorts he was wearing didn't have any. So really, it should have been in my bag. But we looked in the bag and found everything else important (my wallet, my camera...empty bottle of absinthe) except that. A thorough search of the room turned up nothing.
We were both starting to feel too sick to panic, so while I showered, he walked around town trying to find what place we ate at. It turned out that they did have a wallet, but the manager put it in a safe and it would be available that afternoon.
That was a huge relief and it was soon followed by the mother of all hangovers. I can't even express how messed up I felt, but a hearty greasy breakfast didn't do the trick. Neither did a nap. Neither than going to the beach again, to take sun and cool off in the waves. OK, the bracing water did make me feel clear-headed but it subsided once I was back on land. And even the Ceaser (Canada's yummy answer to the bloody mary) and Tortilla soup didn't help.
I actually didn't feel better until I brought it all up, later that night.
Anyway, back to the beach. When we were done, we headed to the restuarant to pick up his wallet. It was odd being there, you would have thought it would have come back to me, but I honestly felt like I had never been there before.
The manager comes out to greet us, with his wallet in hand. But before she hands it over, she holds it up in the air.
"Now I'll give this to you, but you'll have to pay me first."
We exchanged a look. She continued.
"You didn't pay for your food last night. You left the wallet on the table and then disappeared."
It was both hilarious, shameful and mortifying. Of course, we paid her and gave her a lot extra, but both of us could not get over the fact that we were bloody criminals! She was thankfully really nice and she said she could tell we were obviously too drunk and she was just happy we were eating and not drinking.
But still! Run out on the bill! I have never done that before, even during my "troubled youth" years. Plus, leave the wallet behind too. I mean, what happened there? So far, since neither of us can remember what happened at the restaurant, neither of us know why we left without paying and without his wallet. Either it was a misunderstanding, or we are the stupidest dine-and-dashers in the world!
And the funniest thing is, I had wads of cash in my own wallet that I don't even remember taking out. Really hoping we didn't decide to mug someone as well.
Well, that was the worst part of the trip. The rest was quite nice. We met up with Sarah and Scott and their adorable pug Stella for some beers and pizza.
The next morning we went wine-touring which was amazing. We only made it to three wineries, even though there were so many high-quality ones to chose from, all within a ten-minute drive (we were in the scenic Narramatta Bench region, with graps growing upon dusty cliffs, metres above the lake). If we had more time, we would have explored the vineyards south (Oliver) and north (Kelowna)....
...and then before we headed back, we capped it off with a trip to another lake and another beach, where we read our books, ate brie and tomatoes on a baguette and enjoyed the undying heat.
All in all, it was an amazing trip - as embarassing as it is to admit what happened, there's no one else I would want on my team...Team Trouble.