September of 1989 and we were camping in Okanagan Falls. Now there was only the two of us, we didn’t take the tent trailer we just had our van and a dining tent. We did really relaxed camping, no bells and whistles, just a Coleman stove and a cooler and best of all, no phone.
Things had been very stressful for several months. Dave was probably going to lose his job, due to his firm merging with another. My job had become increasingly stressful and coping with the uncertainty of Dave’s job had us both on edge.
The four girls were adults and basically independent so we were trying to decide on a new future for ourselves. At forty five, Dave was unsure if he would get another good job and we were both worried about what our future would bring.
During our years of camping holidays we had talked of owning a campground, we spent hours discussing how we would change various things about the campgrounds we visited. Our favourite camping spot was in Sooke, on Vancouver Island, we loved the casual setting and realized that with the dozen or so mobile homes located on the site, the campground brought in a year round income. We fell in love with the idea of this life. However, the idea of giving up his steady paycheque was very hard for Dave and this had been the cause of much indecision and stress.
So, here we were on the beach in OK Falls and we realized the constant stream of RV’s that we could see coming down the hill all needed to find somewhere to camp. Maybe the South Okanagan could be our future if we could find the right property for the right price. We wanted to be near, but not in Penticton so, with this in mind we visited a realtor in Penticton and asked him to investigate the possibility of us finding something we could afford.
Over the winter he sent us various listings, some we had no interest in but several seemed possible. The one property that really caught our eye was the Bel Air Cedar motel. It was just a small, old motel with three cottages and 3 and a half acres of orchard. The idea of the cottages gave the possibility of Dave’s dad moving with us and also there would be a private home for our youngest daughter, who wanted to come along. The cherry orchard seemed like a perfect place for us to open a campground and design it just the way we wanted it.
We listed our home in February and soon got a sale, we then had to find temporary housing until we found our new home in the Okanagan. We rented a two bedroom apartment, and downsized our belongings as we knew we were probably heading for a smaller home when we bought our campground. The furniture and most of our excess belongings were snapped up by the four girls who were either just starting life on their own or had only been out in the world for a few years.
In April 1990 we came for a week’s visit to see what was available. We viewed several places but the instant we stepped out of the car at the Bel Air, we felt at home. The motel was old but clean but the potential of the orchard to be turned into an RV park was obvious. Cherry trees were decked out in spring glory but we tried to resist the allure of the setting and look at the actual piece of property. The three cottages were old but solid, there was a good sized pool and some outbuildings that could be made into washrooms and laundry facilities for future campers. This was it, this was our new home, lots of hard work ahead of us but we were ready to take on the challenge. The property was already zoned for camping but had only been used for tenting, not much in the way of facilities but lots of ways we could make this place our own.
Our offer was accepted and we went home to prepare for the move. In six weeks we would be back and ready to start the next phase of our life. The stress was replaced by the excitement of the opportunity and we drove home with new hope for our future.