Seems like yesterday that we touched down here in Kelowna, and yet, here we are already preparing to blast off back to Australia. In reality we’ve been back almost 7 weeks – longer than we had anticipated but there were a few, er, shall we say, unexpected “curve balls” put in our path. Expecting simply to come back and have a relaxing month with our children, friends, and of course our adorable new granddaughter, things didn’t go quite exactly as planned.

Grandma and Hadley. Seemed this was her favourite resting place !
Grandpa and baby.
Mum and baby.

Two days after arriving I came down with Covid ( a mild dose ) and two days after that Lois got it from me ( she unfortunately being sicker, for longer ). Needless to say that eliminated any further immediate one on one time with our new baby – with isolation, followed by masking (after the RAT tests showed negative ) we lost about 2 weeks all told. Fine, we thought – having successfully dodged it for 3 years while half the world had gotten it we knew it would come our way sooner or later and at least we had it in the comfort of our own home. Well, almost all of it while at home. Lois was still in the final days of testing negative when another calamity struck – we were caught up in the Kelowna fires and evacuated from our house for a week ! Did someone break a mirror ? Fortunately our home ( and most others in Kelowna ) survived the fire scare but it was a frightening disruption we certainly did not need. Our thoughts were very much with those that lost homes and of course, our eternal thanks to our amazing firefighters ! A special shoutout to the friends and family that took us in for the evacuation days ( Sue, Mark, and Jackie – thank you ! ) – thankfully we emerged unscathed. Nothing like an evacuation order at 10.30 pm to throw your erstwhile tranquil life into complete chaos !

The dreaded RAT test. No one wants to see two lines !
Between the houses in the foreground and the mountains in the background is Okanagan Lake, probably 2kms wide at that point. The fires, which started in West Kelowna ( across the lake ) were so strong that burning embers crossed the lake and started multiple fires on the Kelowna side ( near us ). Here, our neighbours observing the fire – a few hours later we would all be evacuated.
National newspaper headline showing the Kelowna fires. They came frighteningly close to our own home.

With our precious baby time cut short we made the obvious decision to extend our stay and have enjoyed every minute. Freed of the shackles of Covid infections, not only could we enjoy every minute of grandparent time but we were also free to join family and old friends/colleagues and enjoy our Okanagan summer – even if it was rather smokey from the residual effects of the fires. We’ll miss our little Hadley greatly but have sworn that future  trips home will be more frequent, even if a bit shorter in duration.

Managed to get out on the lake with my old boss, Mike. A little smoke still evident in the background.
While doing some shopping in Kelowna we noticed this very impressive German overland rig, making us a little homesick for ours. It’s just an accepted fact among overlanders that the Germans almost always have the coolest rigs !

There’s been no travel here in Canada to speak of but we are truly excited to be getting back in our rig and to exploring the remaining parts of Australia which we expect will take us well into 2024. Western Queensland, the NSW coast, some detours into western NSW and on to the many parts of Victoria we’ve not yet seen, before travelling to Tasmania in the New Year should fill out our itinerary nicely.

It was with very mixed emotions that we got ready to board the flight to Vancouver and then on to Brisbane. Leaving had never been this hard before. It would, ultimately, be a very long flight to Brisbane.
Could not swing a direct flight back to Brisbane, but instead had to go the long way around via Sydney.

Till next week…..