"Let's take a vacation to Penticton this summer." I said "We have not been away together since our honeymoon and I think we could do with a break."
My wife thought it was a good idea but suggested taking her sister Daphne too. She was thirteen, would enjoy the vacation and would be a big help looking after the two boys. Our youngest boy, Mike, was now walking and not too much trouble for traveling but a little more help is never a bad thing.
I managed to get a travel guide book with all the hotels, motels and camp grounds and we browsed through looking for the best deal. Camping was out of the question because my wife is one of those people who think "roughing it" is running barefoot through the Holiday Inn.
We finally decided on a place offering two room cabins with all amenities. It even listed a pool. Even though we were naturally figuring on being on the beach most of the time we thought a pool would be a nice addition. We phoned and booked the cabin. The clerk said they could not provide a crib for the baby but if we wanted to bring our own there was lots of room.
The week before we were to leave our 54 Pontiac had transmission problems but I found a place where they would replace the transmission with a reconditioned one at a very reasonable price. I thought it was lucky that it happened the week before.
The morning we left I dismantled the crib and packed it and the extra cases on the roof rack and off we headed.
Except for stopping at every gas station for bathroom breaks the trip went well until we got to the Hope Princeton highway so we pulled over into a picnic area to have lunch. I thought it would be good to give the car a rest before the grueling climb through the mountains and the kids were restless too.
We sat at a picnic bench to eat the sandwiches we had brought. My wife had made egg salad sandwiches the night before and put them in the freezer so that they would be really fresh when we needed them. Unfortunately we found out that egg salad doesn't freeze well so we crunched through ice chips but we were hungry so we ate the lot. What a gorgeous place this was flanked by tree clad mountains on each side.
Shortly after leaving the picnic area the car just popped out of gear but I put it back and continued on. David decided he didn’t feel well and threw up in Daphne’s shoe after which Daphne had a hissy fit because her shoe was ruined and Mike joined in with that ear piercing crying that only one year olds know how to do.
There was no place to pull off the road but the noise of the wind whistling through the car cut down on what I could hear so at least I was insulated from all the fracas. Before I found a place to stop the car had popped out of gear twice more and I was beginning to wonder if I got a good deal on the transmission after all.
All cleaned up with everyone back in a good holiday mood we set out once more.
By the time we reached the halfway point on the Hope Princeton the transmission was popping out every two or three minutes and I wondered about stopping at the a gas station. There was a sign saying this was the last chance to get gas before Princeton.
I decided to carry on pushing our overloaded car through the mountains because I knew, even if they had a mechanic, any work on a transmission here would take at least a day and there was no place we could stay while the work was done.
The Hope Princeton highway winds up into the mountains with one sharp bend after another and very little visibility to know what is coming so we finished up with my wife holding the gearshift in place while I negotiated the road. By the time we reached Princeton the car was only staying in gear about 2 seconds at a time but it improved a little when we leveled off in the Okanagan valley and headed for Penticton.
You could probably have called us stressed by the time we drove up to our two room cabin with all the amenities and a pool.
The address turned out to be merely a gate at the side of the road and a long driveway into the forest.
We first found a camp area and drove past a 10 foot square concrete algae covered hole in the ground and I laughingly said "I hope that isn’t the pool." It turned out it was.
When we got to the booking office the clerk checked us in and then showed us our cabin. It was two rooms alright but when I asked where the bathroom was he said it was on the other side of the camp ground along with the showers. When we stepped into the second room the large hole in the roof was the first thing that caught my eye but the clerk just shrugged and said it shouldn’t rain for a few days. That was when my wife burst into tears. We had been on the road 9 hours for a trip we expected to take just over 6. The kids were tired and cranky, Daphne was still lamenting her damaged shoe, my wife was in tears, the car was a wreck and so was I.
It also turned out that their add saying "on the lake" had been a misprint and should have read "15 minutes from the lake".
We piled back in the car and drove another 15 minutes to the lake and began looking for a motel. In this we were lucky and the owner even helped us get our things into the room. It wasn’t the Hilton but there was a bathroom and a shower and the lake was just across the street.
After setting up the crib I bundled everyone into the car and drove to a restaurant for dinner.
Dave was always a perfect child in public but was never noticed. Mike, on the other hand, already had a personality that attracted admiring smiles from little old ladies. While we waited for our food he had gathered quite an audience and was playing to them just making their day I am sure but once the food was served he turned into a monster. He is a very picky eater even to this day and we had ordered something he would have eaten at home but he was tired and cranky and decided to cause a scene. He had an extremely loud voice and after two warnings I picked him up, took him out to the car which was right outside the window, put him in his car seat and told him he could come back when he behaved.
We finished our dinner while watching him scream his head off but at least we couldn’t hear the noise. Just before we finished he ran out of steam and was allowed back but he still wouldn’t touch his meal so we finished up taking him back to the motel where he had a cheese sandwich and went to bed. He never acted up in a restaurant again.
Next morning I took the car to a service station, actually it was ‘the’ service station. The mechanic told me the transmission was beyond repair and marveled at the distance we had traveled with it in this condition. He said it would take at least three days to get another but he had a loaner car we could use while it was being fixed.
The loaner car was an automatic, something they called fluid drive. It certainly was fluid because standing on the gas pedal the car drifted gradually up to speed but at least we could get around.
We spent that day just lazing around on the beach and playing in the lake. It was fabulous. Just what everyone had told us it would be. We rented a small boat and even got my wife into it as long as we kept it in only one foot of water.
I was brought up around boats but I already knew my wife would never be a sailor.
The sun was hot, the sand was warm and the lake was just cool enough to make the combination perfect.
In the following days we spent more time on the beach and toured around the valley viewing the apple and peach orchards buying fruit from the roadside stands at a fraction of the cost we would pay on the coast.
Dave and Mike played in the water and met friends of their own ages. They played with buckets and spades making sand castles and every now and then Mike flaked out for a nap.
When it came time to leave, the car was fixed and we were assured we would have no problems on the way home. The only problem we had before leaving was putting up with a sulking, pouting teenager who thought we should stay another week.
The trip home was uneventful with five tanned people singing songs and planning our next vacation.