Volvos in Osoyoos 2002

September 13-15, 2002

"Hey, that 2001 West Coast Meet was a lot of fun. What the heck are we going to do this year?" That brilliant thought was what started the planning for the Osoyoos meet. Through the winter or 2001/2, I kept in touch with Bryan and Sue Coles of Oliver and the three of us came up with the details of the event. "Timing" - Early September when the traffic is light but the weather is still warm; "Location" - Osoyoos, for its good weather and good wineries, "Accommodation" - Best Western Sunrise Inn for a nice facility and good rates; . "Activities" -winery tour & evening reception on Friday, rural drive, car show and banquet on Saturday and farewell breakfast on Sunday.

In the spring of 2002 we put the word out to the Volvo community and sat back and waited for September.

Wednesday September 11, 2002, Rose and I packed our faithful Bronze 544 and headed for Osoyoos to prepare for the weekends meet. It was a picture perfect day for a drive up the Hope - Princeton Highway. Traffic was very light and the scenery was spectacular. The 544 is great fun on this type of road; particularly now that I've replaced its petrified tires with a brand new set that has tread and everything.

We stopped for a picnic lunch at the travel info centre in Princeton. As usual; I took a look at my favourite "Destination Highways" map book to see what the bikers had to say about the roads in the area. They recommended an alternate route between Princeton and Hedley called the Old Hedley Road. It starts in Princeton and parallels Highway 3 for 20 miles, but on the North side of the Similkameen River, and rejoins "3" a few miles short of Hedley. What a nice, curvy and virtually deserted old road. It hugged the north bank of the Similkameen River and the water was so clear you could see a penny on the bottom of the deepest pools. Once in a while you caught a glimpse across the river to the cars travelling on the main Highway 3. They were making good time but they had no idea what they were missing on "our" side of the River. When we reached the historic mining town of Hedley we stopped for a walking tour of the town. We were busy foraging for ice cream when we stumbled on the community museum. There was an old guy volunteering at the museum and he dutifully described Hedley's history and pointed up the mountain at the old smelter. I think he was a bit bored of the story, but he became much more animated as he described the topless German tourist that had visited the day before.

From Hedley we continued on Hwy 3 to Keremeos, the land of the fruit stands and arrived in Osoyoos in the mid afternoon.

Osoyoos is a striking combination of lush irrigated orchards and wine vineyards, surrounded by near- dessert. The whole works is set around Osoyoos lake at the south end of the Okanagan Valley about 250 miles- -east of Vancouver. In the summer it is common to see 100°F temperatures but for our early fall arrival it was a much more pleasant 75°F. Rose and I had not been to Osoyoos for many years so we drove around a while before we found the Best Western Sunrise Inn. Not too shabby! Our room, or rather suite, was huge and the staff treated us like we had arrived in a Rolls Royce rather than an old Volvo.

On Thursday morning we went in search of the Osoyoos Golf and Country Club which would host our Saturday Banquet. We were really impressed with the facility and the proposed menu. After that we travelled around Osoyoos looking for a place to hold Saturday's car show. We found an older condo development with a curving driveway right on Osoyoos Lake, but the grounds keeper said the residents were generally too rich and too unsociable to allow a car show in their kingdom. He was a good head and offered to let us use his Ostrich farm, but suggested we also look at the public parking lot at the Haynes Point Provincial Park. The park is a unique narrow peninsula that extends 2/3 of the way across Osoyoos lake.

By Thursday afternoon people started arriving at the hotel and it was great to see our old friends and a bunch of new faces. The hotel parking lot looked like a '70s Goteborg used car lot. By early evening the 3rd floor echoed with corks popping, followed by various gurgling noises and important discussions of turbocharged SUs and V8 240s. Great fun.

On the trip from Vancouver the battery in Dave McAree's shiny green 73-142S decided to pack it in. This provided a good excuse to check out the local auto wrecker on Friday morning before the winery tour. Dave, Charlie Teetzel, John Cripps and I disappeared just after breakfast and arrived at the "dry as a bone" auto wrecker. The owner was friendly and let us have the run of the place, with the two warnings. Don't go into the gated compound because the dogs don't like city folk and watch out for the rattle snakes living in the cars. OK. Apparently the rattle snake population moved in since the farmer next door cut down his hay crop. The snakes were generally pissed at being evicted and in protest they decided to give up their customary rattle of warning. Instead, they just wait for you.

It was an interesting wrecker. There were a few old Volvos to look at, but mostly we carefully wandered around marvelling at the rust-free condition of the other old cars in the lot. Dave got a used battery and John Cripps, who can't leave a wrecker empty handed, found a 122 hubcap and we were on our way.

Back at the Hotel there was a crowd of people in the parking lot, holding hands and waiting for the yellow school bus to take them on the winery tour. All we needed were Donald Duck lunch boxes to make the scene perfect. There are some 30 wineries in the South Okanagan and we planned to see at least 4 of them. The hotel had arranged for our tour to start at the Hester Creek Winery just north of Osoyoos. In fact all 4 wineries were just north of Osoyoos. At Hester Creek we were given the full tour of the wine making process by the chief vintner and he patiently answered our many questions. We were all equipped with wine glasses and he gave us samples of the Merlot from 3 consecutive years to show us how it smoothes out with time in the barrel. The tour over, we made our way to Hester Creek's vine draped tasting room where we enjoyed a variety of red and white wines and buffet lunch organized by the winery. Lots of bottles of wine were purchased to be enjoyed later. Our next stop was the Gehringer Brothers Winery just walking distance away. Now that we were all wine making experts we skipped the tour and headed straight for the tasting room. Lots of tasting, lots of buying and back on the bus. Next was Tinhorn winery which had a very fancy tasting room with a beautiful views over the valley. Just in front of the tasting room was a demonstration vineyard where you could pick and taste the varieties of grapes that make their wines. All the grapes were very sweet but had quite distinct flavours. Our final stop was at Golden Mile Winery, with its castle-like decor and more wine tasting after which we headed back to the hotel. We were all in a pretty good mood by this time and were ready to enjoy the Friday night reception. Lots more people had arrived at the hotel including a 6 car convoy from the Seattle Area. John Cripps got our digital slide show up and running in the banquet room. It was a very easy- going evening with good food and conversation and lots of door prizes to give away.

The hotel reserved us a portion of their parking lot for car washing and first thing Saturday morning there was line of old Volvos being washed and shined in preparation for the drive and car show to follow. Bryan Coles of Oliver chose a beautiful 160 mile paved rural route for the Saturday drive. The route essentially followed the east side of the Okanagan Valley from Osoyoos to Kelowna and then returned along the west side of the valley. There were about 25 cars on the drive and none of us got lost, at least not for long. We were back in Osoyoos by noon and re-assembled at the Haynes Point Provincial Park for the afternoon car show. There were about 35 old and not so old Volvos along the public parking lot and we enjoyed the sunshine, the lake and the conversation for the afternoon. I had planned to get official permission to use the park but I could not find anyone to ask. I figured it was a September day and well past tourist season; no- one would care. I was almost right too. Only the park ranger cared and he explained very thoroughly why we had to have permission before holding our car show in the park. Seeing as we were already comfortably parked and enjoying ourselves we thanked him for the explanation and happily stayed where we were for the afternoon. Dave McAree and Bob Cuthill were as popular as ever giving out our many raffle prizes. A number card was placed on the windshield of each car and ballots were handed out so people could vote for their favourite cars. You would think that after 12 years of giving out Peoples Choice awards we would be pretty good at it. Apparently not. At the end of the afternoon we counted the ballots and we knew that #15 was peoples choice and #25 was runner up. The ouly flaw was that by the time we had totalled the ballots other volunteers had efficiently removed all the numbers from the cars so we did not which cars were 15 or 25. Nuts.

My clever solution was to ask the people at the banquet what cars they voted for and if they remembered what numbers they were. This almost worked as we confirmed that Bob Cuthill's Silver 61-P1800 had won peoples choice and I thought that Bryan and Sue Coles White 71-1800E had taken runner up. That misconception was corrected with lots of laughter by the assembled crowd who pointed out that Susan Freeman's white 65-1800S of Seattle was the rightful runner up. The longest distance award wasn't easy either, as two cars had come from Edmonton and they lived a block apart. Charlie Teetzel won by about 100 feet in a 1000 miles. I may have screwed up the awards, but I sure chose a great place for the banquet. The Osoyoos Golf and Country club has a beautiful banquet room with a panoramic view of Osoyoos and the food was tremendous.

The next morning we enjoyed a breakfast together at the hotel and said our good byes. By noon Rose and I had the only Volvo in the parking lot and it was all over. We had a great time and our club will definitely do this again, but not next summer. The summer of 2003 belongs to Wes Urbanec and our friends from Washington who will be hosting the National West Coast Volvo Meet in Olympia, Washington August 15 to 17, 2003. Don't miss it.