Ogopogo Where Are You?
Three friends, eight days and one camera...
I write this as we pull out of the picturesque lake side town of New Denver in beautiful British Columbia, feet propped up looking out the window of our 1977 Toyota Chinook campervan. Kents driving, Erins writing and I’m surrounded by the travelers necessities of backpacks, guitar, sailors hat and a few empty cans that are the reflection of our social start-ups and daily recaps of tales one could not possible fabricate.
This being the week we set to shoot the pilot for our adventure travel series diVen, the story of two friends whom travel the world in there camper van, lapping up culture, food and adventure. On a mission to prove just how small the world really is.
We met Kent in Nelson B.C. with some loose plans to hike, sail, party and dine! Like any good road trip these were fairly loose plans even the spur of the moment types. From the very start things could not have worked out better. Kents eclectic hippy friends put us up for the night in there basement complete with homemade curry rice, couch accommodation& showers in the morning. We hit the local falls in the a.m. and met banjo Chris, who told us about how his accidental breaking of a local Japanese monument set off a town out cry to find the anti-Asian vandals whom smashed local art work, ohh how stories can be misconstrued. All in all he was a solid dude who gave us some town history and played us his banjo cover of an Old Crow Medicine Show track.
Next up we sampled our way through an up close and personal tour of the Cannery brewery in Pentiction with the information keg, Pat Dyck. Pat walked us through the entire brewery process from grinding the malted barely, through fermentation straight up to canning and sampling. WOW we got our lips on nine fantastically different brews each with such flavour they could easily be identified as there own work of art. From the mildly flavoured Apricot Wheat Ale that Pat described very clearly as a “Beer, not a cooler” to the rich Blackberry Porter and the sweet and smoky Squire Scotch Ale. This was to be the inspiration of our steak with butternut squash mash and roasted asparagus topped with blueberry blue cheese and Scotch Ale reduction. All done in the park on our little Coleman grill. Who says camping
can’t taste good. I’m pretty sure we killed it over those ordering out of the 3
star hotel kitchen up the road!
Next random adventure, sailing in Vernon. Through the power of the internet and the magic of asking nicely we landed three spots as crew with the North
Okanogan Sailing Association. We were warned that in August the wind is quite light and it might not be enough to race. Well by the power of grace and good omens it turned that is was windy like the open seas and they figured “the best sailing they’d seen in two years!” These loving bunch of thrill seekers took our land lubing asses and tossed them in a variety of stealth sea vessels including “The Laser” that Kent took out with Stuart, a little blue boat about 10 feet long that barley stuck out of the water and lasered along like a wet rocket while Kent dodged from one side to the next with Stuart racing through the water.
Stuart took Kent to be a natural sailor and let him have control of the laser. Lucky for my crusy ship Kentmanaged to dump the laser five times and never looked so happy to lose a race!
Erin got set up in a large catamaran with the Dutch expat Mark. Marks about as adrenalin junky as it gets, a middle aged man in fantastic shape who loved his catamaran so much he had it shipped over with him from Holland when he came in 2004. The sail on this thing must have been 20ft high and just as colourful as it’s owner. With chest mount camera on Erin, Mark was determined to make sure she got some good shots of everything. Whizzing by I notice that Erin apprehension of first time sailing melted away as I see her hanging out the side off the trapeze while this rainbow cut across the water like a hot knife through honey. Mark was so set on Erinshots that he totally forgot he was in the race and skimmed all over through the race track.
Another beautiful blonde jet setter named Tammy had a smaller catamaran that managed to out stealth the lot of us & I typically saw her hanging with toes on boat and the rest of her body well over the side of the vessel to keep it up right. She was totally amped about showing us how it was done.
And finialy I was teamed up with the extremely patient and organised John, who took me out with him in what I believe is referred to as a “tri-cat”. With two seats in the middle, me in the front and John with the controls at the rear and a ski out each side to super stabilize our set up. It was virtually impossible to flip this thing & was basically the luxury cruiser of the race. While Kent was ripping side to side and being dumped off the laser & Erin was hanging like a Circ-Du-Sole gymnast out the side of hers. John and I we basically drifting along at martini sipping speed ensuring an even tan on the way to and from each water mark.
What a kick ass bunch of people for taking three camera toting water virgins they had never met, for a race around the lake on what was to be the best sailing day in two years!
After another night at a five star truck stop, complete with bathroom sink travelers bath and behind the truck barrier tooth brush station. I walk out feeling fresh while I see Kent appearing out the backdoor of a large chain hotel, fresh from complimentary continental breakfast holding two cups of coffee! Free sleeping and free breakfast, so far so good.
Our next nights accommodation started off sounding promising and quickly went super sideways. Having lunch on the beautiful lakefront beach in Nakusp, (a town where Kevin Costner had once been part of a music festival and his “signature” appears on the local bathroom, this I took a photo of and checked it against images on Google, finding no similarities) landed us at the quaint Nakusp hot springs. A kind of oversized pool of a hot springs with some dumbfounded staff that look confused as to why we were there. All in all we met Larry, a sort of sixty-one year old reflection of ourselves who was as interested in telling us his crazy travel tales as he was in listening to our adventures and global plans. I think we talked for about an hour and a half straight and he was telling us that we should go back to Nakusp as there was a Horizons Unlimited (organisation of global road trippers, typically on motorbikes) convention in town that might help answer some of our global expedition questions. Hell yes we were interested. Larry suggested if he were us, he’d film the whole thing and sell it as a DVD. So we finally broke and told him that’s exactly what we were doing and he was currently on camera! What a stand up guy. Even in the pool he managed to cross conversations with a guy who had similar friends as him in Jasper. The older I get the more I try to take advice from people that are yet older then me. Larry said two things that stuck with me. The first being a quote he coined from Al Capone “You can get a lot further with a gun and a smile, then you can with just a gun”. This smile technique has been my language translator across many a boarder. The next was after Erin and Kent hit the showers and I dipped back in the hottest side of the springs for one last blast of heat. Larry looks at me and says “Before you go I tell you something personal. My father passed away when he was sixty-three, his whole life he had planned to be rich and retire at sixty-five with a beautiful wife, loads of money and travel the world. He was a millionaire who never got to see the world. About three months before he passed away he sat me down and said, ‘Larry I’d been giving you heck your whole life for having limited responsibility and living day to day and now at sixty-three I’m on my death bead with cancer having worked my whole life to be rich and I finally see that you we right the whole time’. All the money in the world never bought my Dad a second chance at seeing the world, go and do it and do it right. Seems like you guys are way ahead of the game.”
This solid gold plan of meeting up with the Horizons Unlimited crew and befriending our way to some global tips was sidetracked with beers by the lake and meeting what seemed to be a friendly mother daughter combo of two locals Heather and Melanie with there Jersey cow looking dog, after a few friendly Ogopogo approved black cherry ciders we had invited Mel out for some fun and her mother offered us a place to park on there acreage outside of town and the use of there washroom in the morning to freshen up. People just keep getting nicer and nicer, or so we thought.
Holy hell this turned to be a bad idea.
Just before parting Mels mum told us how she’s typically shy, thou she’d smashed a six pack of beer before taking the dog for a walk and we had since fed her three or four more. Then Mel told us she had been barred from every bar in town. We took this to mean she was super crazy bad ass who’d be cool to party with, oh man was that the wrong interpretation. This chick had us hiding in the corner where some odd fisherman dressed fellow who looked like a grown up version of the kid on the bike from the movie “Kids” followed us from table to table explaining that this was a girl he was fond of and really liked. Then he’d just stand or sit uncomfortably close and stare at us. I’ve felt less creped out in outhouses in the bush in the middle of the night. Well Mel & Erin go outside where Mel proceeds to kiss Erin, then push her, then run away. Then Erin comes back in and Kent goes to see what’s up with Mel.
In the meantime it seems everyone in this small town bar knows the crazy Mel chick and has now associated us with her and we are making exactly zero friends.
Kent has now not been seen by us for roughly 30 minutes.
At this point Erin& I are standing near the front of this pub watching the band, while the creepy dude from kids is standing outside in front of a window talking to someone and pointing at us & I’m getting the feeling that this is how people wind up being pig food on British Columbia farms never to be seen again. By now the whole bar has there eye on us as the wact-job friends of these other crazy nutters, then the creepy kids guy comes back in and asks Erinto come outside with him.
Kent has now been missing for close to an hour.
There’s no chance in hell I’m letting Erin go anyplace with this Captain Creepy. After a short discussion Erin decides it’s ok and I tell them they can talk in front of the window and if at any point I cant see both of them, I’ll be on there ass.
Conversation complete and I decide we need to find Kent who has now been gone for about an hour and a half and get outta this bar. Walking down the lakefront yelling his name I see a shadow about 500 yards away running towards the boat dock and think it looks like him. Yelling his name he eventually notices and comes back over. Earlier we had promised Mels
Mum that we’d drive her the 5kms outta town back to there place at nights end and had planned to keep that promise. Though it turned out she had been losing her shit and each time Kent would get close to her she would run just far enough away that he would try to catch up to her again.
Hummm anyone else now hearing some serious alarm bells ringing?
–Has to drink a six pack of beer to walk dog.
–Mum invites us back to there acreage out of town to spend the night.
–Everyone in town won’t let this girl in there bar.
–Friends resemble characters from movie about Kids where cats are
murdered and tones of weird shit happens.
–Kisses then pushes our female friend.
–Lures male friend out into the bushes foot by foot.
Jesus this could have had a much more Alfred Hitchcock.
So we deicide to go back to the van to have a drink and chill out. Well were talking in the parking lot a car alarm proceeds to go off about nine times. Then a chick comes out and tells us to shut up as her window is right there. I tell her I’m surprised she could hear us over her freaking alarm going off. She tells us that they don’t like tourists in Nakusp and we decide that we are getting out of this crazy mountain town before we don’t get out of there alive! Kent drives like a mad man until were about forty-five minutes from town and set up camp at roadside turnout where we then all relax and proceed to get drunk and eat the pound of Gouda cheese we’d bought
earlier at a roadside farm, then laugh our asses off about the bazaar of bazaar nights we’d just had.
Between the ferry girls we’d met fresh from the nude beach to the personal brewery tour and cooking in the park to the sickest sailing in years, hot springs, banjo Chris and a night of hanging out with the biggest fans of Ben Everyman, straight through to the attempted disappearance of us in small town BC I’d say the only thing on our list that never got resolved was the ever taunting question “Is there an Ogopogo?” Well we had arranged a meeting with one of the lakeOkanagan local “Legend Hunters” Bill Steciuk. According to Bills website he’s seen the “Lake Monster”before and feels fairly confident that he exists. So I thought I’d call Bill out on this and get the facts
straight from him. Well Bill seemed to beat around the bush a bit the closer it
came to meeting him and started changing appointments. Eventually deciding he was to busy though if I rang him back and could instead make the two hours drive where we were meant to meet him the next day in one hour and meet him today with two hours of notice he would talk to us. Well I played this game again and called him back thinking that we could sort out a suitable plan. Well surprise surprise it seemed we were now the legend hunters in this cat and mouse game of getting some answers and well, Bill then became un-contactable.
In my opinion, BC is beautiful and Ogopogos a bust!
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