What do the Okanagan and Whistler have in common, besides great food, great wine, great lifestyles and weirdly anachronistic mascots? (Ullr, the Norse god of snow, and Ogopogo, the O.K.'s lake serpent, could only have sprung from the same mythic stewpot.)
How about a million people, or at least 50 by the reckoning of Paul and Jane Burrows? Many of them - including Paul and Jane, if you count Salmon Arm as part of the Okanagan - were once an integral part of this cockeyed ski town, especially when it was starting up, but have since said bye-bye and hitched their stars or wagons or whatever it is they're riding to the winey, diney, pretty-good-ski-country of the O.K. corral.
It's like someone picks up Whistler and gives it a good shake once in a while and half of what tumbles out ends up in the Okanagan.
It all started with the original Norwegian crazy skier from way back, Dag Aabye. He first broke the mould by moving to Vernon. Then we have Gerry and Judy Fosty, also in Vernon, along with Inge and Jens Nielsen - Inge of the legendary Inge's Gift Shop, the first artsy shop in the village.
Nearby are Molly and Sandy Boyd, parents of super-skier, Rob Boyd, and Ingrid and Joseph Rozsa, mom and dad to another great Canadian ski phenomenon, Edith Rozsa.
Down the road, Kelowna is now home to Dave and Stella Manuel, Dave of former Sea to Sky car sales/cell phone sales. Then we have to account for Doug and Marge Fox in beautiful downtown Summerland and, further south, Murray Coates with his pied-à-terre in Penticton, along with former high school principal, Bob Daly, who can now sleep in in sleepy Okanagan Falls.
Some, like Bernie "Chef Bernard" Casavant, and his wife, Bonnie, now operating the restaurant at Oliver's Burrowing Owl winery, have stuck by the sector by which they made their mark at Whistler. Others, like Ron "the Hoz" Hosner, Hoz's Pub Ron, Creekside Grill Ron of the larger-than-life persona, have kissed all that good-bye and simply settled into the O.K. good life.
Isn't that what you're supposed to do when you trade in a greener than green valley blanketed with forests for one lined with vineyards and orchards?
But just how green the Okanagan actually is, and will remain, remains a topic to digest.
On a quick touristy visit, perceptions are, at least at first glance, that the Okanagan is a sweet, paradisical slice plucked right from the middle of la dolce vita . All that gorgeous wine, all those wonderful restaurants...