Sisters Folk Festival and an Okanagan Tour

Sisters Folk Festival and an Okanagan Tour

Last year’s folk festival was cancelled because of smoke, so we were looking forward to it this year, on the weekend following Labour Day. Many of the artists that were scheduled for 2017 would be coming so we were anticipating some good performances.

We started our trip on the Sunday of the Labour Day weekend so that we had time to visit friends in the Okanagan. We arrived in Oliver around lunch time, got set up and headed out to the bike and walking path along the irrigation canal. Most of the trail is paved, but we rode south past the pavement, then crossed over the canal and rode north on the access road, past vineyards. (Where this photo was taken)

The next day we met Kath and Jeff and their daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter for a birding excursion along the same watercourse. Here are the birders all trying to get a better view of a black-headed grosbeak. We enjoyed a delicious lunch at the restaurant at Hester Creek winery.

The next day we headed south and chose to break the drive into one longer day and one shorter day. We had made reservations in Maryhill State Park, which is on the Columbia River in Washington, just across the bridge from Biggs Junction. The sites are well spaced apart with plenty of trees. It was a bit loud, however, with the sound of trucks coming down the hill and the trains barreling past all night; but that’s what ear plugs are for.

Next we were in Sisters, Oregon. As usual, we stayed at the Bend/Sisters Garden RV Resort. Since we had an extra day before the festival started, we had time to ride Doug’s favourite mountain bike trail in Bend. We started at the main trailhead at Phil’s Trail Complex and worked our way gradually uphill for about 12 kilometres, so we could experience Doug’s favourite section of the trail. The “Lower Whoops” is a flowing downhill interspersed with short rises and drops. Here’s a photo of Wendy on the upper part of the “Lower Whoops” before the more exciting bits.

We spent Friday morning walking beside the Metolius River at Camp Sherman. There was just the beginnings of fall colour in the bushes.

The Sisters Folk Festival is different from many other folk festivals, because it takes place in eleven venues around town. For Friday night and Saturday afternoon, we chose to see the performances in the tent at Village Green.

Village Green had a beer garden and a brass band to entertain us while we waited for the show.

We lined up early so we had front row seats on the side for Dar Williams (photo below) and Robbie Fulks. We left before the final performer, in order to pace ourselves and get to bed at a reasonable time.

Saturday’s daytime shows started at noon, so we found our place in line around 11. It was worth sitting on the grass for a bit in order to have front centre seats. We were impressed with the first performer, a young woman from the Portland area, Haley Heynderickx. Her songs told authentic stories with beautiful melodies. The next show was Amy Helm. She has a powerful voice and put on a very up-beat performance. The band sang close together for a rendition of a song by Amy’s father, Levon Helm. (See photo below)

We headed back to the trailer for a rest so we could be early for the Saturday night concert at the Arts Centre Tent. We ate our dinner while we waited in line and got close to the front again. First on the program was Susan Werner, whose catchy songs were full of humour. She had the audience singing along to many of her tunes. We also saw Justin Townes Earle who gave a more subdued performance and while he did have some fans, he seemed indifferent to the audience and many people chose to leave.

On Sunday afternoon, we went to the performance space in the yard behind Angeline’s bakery. The strategy for this venue was to try and stay in the shade, since there were “sail-like” sunshades and you needed to predict where the shade would be as the afternoon progressed. We stayed for all three performances and each new performer was our “latest favourite.” First up was Anna Tivel from the Portland area who sang ballads of heartbreak, even though she had a positive energy on stage. Next was Danny Schmidt and Carrie Elkin, a husband and wife, who took turns sharing songs from their individual portfolios and some of their collaborations. Finally we listened to Amber Rubarth perform her unique folk songs.

The next stage of our trip was at Lake Chelan, Washington. We stayed at Lakeshore RV, that is operated by the city. We got what we think was one of the best sites, with shade and an unobstructed view of the lake. The only downside was that shortly after the following photo was taken, we realized that the squirrels were busy harvesting acorns from our shade tree. One acorn hit Doug on the leg before we retreated to our patio beside the trailer.

We went mountain biking twice on the trails at Echo Ridge. The area had burned in August of 2015. The colourful fireweed and stark trees made an interesting backdrop to our biking photos.

We rode in the mornings which left the afternoons for wine tasting. Here’s a photo of Wendy in front of one of the posher wineries. Our favourite winery was the smaller Chelan Estate, which we had visited twice before. Most wineries or tasting rooms were not very busy, so we had good visits with the servers.

The weather was so warm and the lake was so clear that we were enticed to go swimming. Wendy paddled out to the float then followed Doug’s lead and swam back to shore. She remembered how much she liked swimming in lakes. Maybe next year we’ll do it more often.

We travelled north to the Canadian Okanagan. We stayed at the Nk’mip RV Park on a lakeside site. Sometimes it was a bit breezy, but there were beautiful views. Wendy’s sister and brother in law joined us for two nights.

We did some more wine tasting, both in Osoyoos and Oliver. We were impressed with Bordertown Winery in Osoyoos and the quality of their wines. Here’s a photo of us taken from their back patio.

After two days of wine tasting, we needed some exercise. We had perfect weather for the hike to McIntyre Bluff. The trail starts at the Covert Farms tasting room and winds it’s way uphill, past Rattlesnake Lake, and continues up to the edge of the bluff. The views from the top were amazing. The second photo below shows the view to the north, overlooking the highway and Vaseux Lake. Looking southward, we could see the entire town of Oliver.

Back at camp, Doug enjoyed the last of summer.

We had a calm evening to enjoy the view beside our fire: the perfect end to a great trip.

It’s been about three weeks since we’ve come home, and now the blog post is finally done. Our trailer is now cleaned and winterized to be ready to go next year. So we’ll be posting again in 2019!