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Kettle Valley Steam Railway

July 5, 2012

So I know, I know. All of you readers are like “You can’t name this post like this, it must be Kelowna Vacation – Kettle Valley Steam Railway. You can’t break tradition>” Sorry. Life’s rough. Today was wrapped around the KVR, so the blog is going to be aptly named too.

Yes, the day started like many other days this week, a swim in the pool, early in the morning, when no sane people are awake. But we were in the pool, playing with a beachball!

But, after a swim, some breakfast, we were on our way to Summerland, and Engine 3716 at the Kettle Valley Steam Railway. On the way, the drive is just beautiful! Summerland is filled with orchards and vineyards and is absolutely gorgeous! We would’ve loved to visit a number of the vineyards, but you know, the train was calling.

You arrive at the KVR station, where you get your tickets, and you wait for the train. The station is done up very well, and certainly looks like a train station, and all the staff are dressed in period appropriate clothing. Awesome. While you’re waiting, you can browse in the shop, or view the outdoor display. (My favourite was the spike puller. With this machine, one man can pull 8400 spikes over 2 days. Absolutely insane. Of course it’s also the most dangerous piece of railway machinery ever invented, and if you weren’t paying close attention, you could be easily dismembered, maimed, or otherwise killed. Fun, eh? Apparently no one wanted duty on this machine!)

While you’re waiting, you suddenly hear the majestic sound of the steam engine. You look up, and there is an incredibly well maintained and beautiful steam engine pulling up to the train, and getting ready to be attached.

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Mmm. It’s going to be an awesome day! When you purchase your tickets you have your choice of riding in a coach, or riding in an open air car. (I asked, and they said the best was in the open air car). What they don’t tell you is these were once cattle cars, that have been outfitted with seats and half-tables, and it can be quite brisk. I loved it, Rhonda was cold.

We got on the train, and began our hour and a half round trip around the valley. It is amazing! The view is incredible, you can see for miles and miles, vineyard after vineyard, orchard after orchard.

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Note: We took a tonne of pictures with the camera, not the iPhone. When we get home and pull the pictures off the camera, we’ll post an update.

While riding, one of the conductors gives the kids bingo cards of things to look for. Like horses, bridges, people waving, etc. It kept them occupied well! It’s a great long ride, and everywhere you go, people are waving from their vehicles, their homes, where they’re working, whatever. People even stop at the crossings to take pictures of the train. We all waved back!

You end up at the Trout Creek bridge, which was at one time the third longest steel girder bridge in the world, 619 feet long and 238 feet above the water! Stunning! We stop at the bridge, fill the engine up with water again, and make our way back.

Words can’t describe how wonderful the trip was, how beautiful the scenery, and how cool the place was. But we have lots of pictures to share with you later.

We finished the trip with a picnic lunch at the station. Most of the other tourists had left, and it was just us and the staff. Wouldn’t you know, while we were eating they switched the engine, and parked it right in front of us. Perfect!

Even if you’re not into trains, this is definitely a must-do event when you’re in town as you won’t get a better view of the scenery, and more enjoyable 90 minutes.

We spent the rest of the day wandering on the beach, playing in the sand (back in Kelowna), and then listened to a concert in the park. Kelowna has this amazing Summer setup where pretty much every evening something is happening in a different park. It’s called ParksAlive, and tonight we got to listen to a young singer/songwriter/guitar player put on a 45 minute concert. Well done Kelowna!

After a quick stop at Starbucks (I had a smoothie, I don’t do coffee) and a short walk back, we’re now wrapping up the day with yet another swim in the pool for the kids, and some short blog time for Todd.

Thanks for reading everyone!

Tomorrow we’re going on a 24 KM bike ride on the Myra Canyon Trestles, 18 trestle bridges and two tunnels, part of what was once part of the Kettle Valley Railroad. It’s going to be a scorcher tomorrow, so we’ll try to get an early start!

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