Get out while staying home

If I’m doing laundry, weeding the garden and cooking dinner, then it’s not a vacation.

When my husband suggested we have a staycation this year, I balked. To me, a vacation involves at the very least a hotel, if not actual air travel.

If I’m doing laundry, weeding the garden and cooking dinner, then it’s not a vacation.

But earlier this month I discovered that a staycation can actually be a vacation, if done correctly.

My sister was visiting from Vancouver and my daughter was doing a horseback riding day camp in Oyama. Several months ago, when I booked the four-day camp, it seemed like a great idea. She could enjoy her camp for the morning and then we would do fun things together in the afternoon.

Of course, when it came time to rush out the door every morning to have her at camp by 8:30 a.m., I was cursing what had seemed like a great idea back in April. But then we discovered that being forced out the door at 7:50 a.m. on a holiday actually helped us to make the most of each day. By getting up early, getting going, and not getting bogged down in household chores, we were able to explore the North and Central Okanagan as we never had before.

After dropping my little equestrian off at camp every morning, we realized we had hours to ourselves. By 9 a.m. on the first day, we were shopping at our favourite thrift shop in Rutland, by 9 a.m. the next, we were enjoying an al fresco breakfast on Bernard Avenue. By 10:30 a.m. we were enjoying a little pre-lunch wine tasting at Mission Hill Family Estate winery.

A leisurely drive from the Mission district and along Benvoulin Road in Kelowna had us taking time to stop at the farm markets we didn’t know existed or had not had the time to visit on previous trips.

We bought books at one of the few independent booksellers still in business and enjoyed soft ice cream in Winfield.

Back in the North Okanagan by 1:30 p.m., we could enjoy a late lunch at Davison Orchards and time to relax in the Adirondack chairs at the Cow Corral while the kids played and fed the goats.

And we did something we hadn’t done together since we were kids: went to the drive-in. If you’re an adult of a certain age, there is nothing like a visit to the Starlight Drive-in for taking you back to your childhood. And once those dancing hot dogs and ice cream bars start singing and extolling the virtues of the snack shack, the trip down memory lane is complete.

Throw in baskets of wings and ice-cold beer at our favourite watering hole and a visit to a friend’s Medieval encampment, and it turns out that staying home really can be a vacation.

Visitors come from all over the world to experience the Okanagan, and if you live here it’s easy to take the beauty of the place for granted.

The trick with a staycation is to actually get out of the house and start exploring. The dishes and laundry will still be there — life is about amazing experiences, not about who has the cleanest house.