“Have you ever heard of a place called Three-Mile Beach?” Santana asked. We were sitting on a bench in Penticton, looking out at the Okanagan Lake.
“Yes. I’m familiar with Three-Mile Beach.” Familiar? I was more than familiar. Years ago, my parents had friends who bought an orchard out there. At that time, Naramata was a burgeoning development. There were no wineries, no school, no parks. There were no stores or restaurants. There were lots, laid out with small wooden pegs and string. The orchard we were camping in was high on the bluff overlooking the lake. Three-Mile beach was where the adults dropped us off when they didn’t want to drive into town. I remembered the beach as little more than a rocky outcrop that you had to scramble down to. We were usually the only ones there. I hadn’t been there for at least 35 years.
“We should go. I’d like to see it. There’s another place I’d like to stop along the way – Munson Mountain.” Both Santana and I have a soft spot for Penticton. He got his because we stayed in an Airbnb the first two weeks we lived in the Okanagan while we looked for jobs and a permanent residence. Every day he would walk to the beach, and every day was a new experience to be stored in his memory bank.
My memory bank was full, too. My memories were a fair bit older–as a teenager in a resort town in the summer. I was always a little bit “boy-crazy,” as my mom would call it, and there was no better place for a hobbyist such as myself than the Okanagan beach in Penticton. But I digress…
“Sure,” I said. “Let’s go have a look.”
Munson Mountain is the home of the big Hollywood-style letters that announce Penticton to the world, but there’s also a park there, with walking trails and stunning views. I knew I wouldn’t be able to do any hiking, but Santana could.
We arrived at the park just a few minutes after leaving the beach. Even the views from the parking lot were wonderful.
Santana went for his walk while I busied myself taking photos of what I could see from where I stood.
Then the phone rang.
“Hey, mom. You need to see this.”
“You know that’s not going to happen.” My walking is tenuous at the best of times, but today it was worse than usual. I hadn’t had much sleep and my foot was hurting for some unfathomable reason.
“I knew you’d say that. But the path to where I am now is straight and flat. You could sit on your walker and I’ll push you.”
I didn’t want to risk breaking the walker, so we compromised. I walked as far as I could and then let Santana push me until my legs had recovered enough to walk some more.
The end of the paved path was not that far away, after all, and I’m glad Santana was insistent. I sat down while Santana continued his hike to the top of the trail.
Oh, but it was windy up there! I had my own coat on, which hardly ever happens, and Santana’s coat on top of that. The benches were stone, and a little colder on the bum than I like. I remembered a wooden bench part way back and decided to wait there, instead. Once I was out of the wind and parked on a wooden bench, all was good. Santana, meanwhile, was at the top.
Once he returned, he showed me the video he took—a three-hundred-and-sixty-degree view from the top of Munson Mountain, which he has agreed to let me share here. If you have sound, you can hear the wind.
There is something almost spiritual about Munson Mountain. Something that inspires quiet reflection. Both Santana and I felt it, though neither one of us could accurately put it in words.
We continued to Three-Mile beach. It wasn’t so different than I remembered it. The difference was in me. Instead of feeling isolated and out of touch, the beach felt natural and secluded.
Funny thing, perspective.