A West Wing Morning in Penticton, British Columbia

Between the stroll from the balcony to the water faucet and back again, I peek at the wall clock it says two oh five in the morning and I think she’s been asleep for a few hours now whilst I’ve been enjoying this lounge chair, the balcony and the rotating stars above the Cascade Mountains to the southwest of Penticton. The only thing I would change in this moment is that damn balcony light. It’s a security light rather than a light controlled by the tenants of the unit. Otherwise this was the perfect morning retreat.

Just before departing the balcony for preparation of a good nights sleep, I hear honking from the roadway below. I stand and see a mule deer running across the intersection. Laughter erupts from the street goers below. I too chuckle and head for the bathroom to brush teeth and hit the hay.

I LOVE SUNDAY MORNINGS… there is never an alarm clock set when on holiday and you can just stay tucked into the sheets, pillows and sleep off whatever debauchery you caused the night before. Stumbling out of bed around 9:33am, I wander through the bathroom connector into the comfort room where I find her sipping on coffee, listening to a podcast, and conducting her other morning rituals of meditation and tarot card reading. After all she is The Coffee Astrologer and needs to keep her skills sharp.

“You’ve risen,” she begins with when I enter the room. “I have, and I need water,” I respond walking towards the beverage sink where I left my glass from the following night. “What’s the plans for this fine day?” she asks before I can remember when I went to bed or what was going on last night.

I recant the story about the deer in the intersection and show her a couple of photos. We laugh at this bedtime story then I mull over her request. Picking up the phone I ring down to the front desk to inquire about the included breakfast. “Oh I see, it was 5am to 9am. Yeah, no worries. When’s checkout? Oh I see noon, that’s Perfect!” Phone down I look up at her and apologize that we’ve missed breakfast. “We’ll have to search for a spot, preferably within walking distance. Then we can jam our bags into the Taco, go for a walk, eat, sober up a bit, and come back for the journey home!” She smiles and nods her agreement. Then I head for the shower to freshen up.

Hi yeah, its me again up in 511. Is it okay if we just leave the keys in the room and depart? It is. Fantastic. Oh one other thing, please inform the Night Manager that the upgrade was greatly appreciated and we thoroughly enjoyed all the amenities that the West Wing had to offer!” Hanging up the phone, I did a double check around the unit to ensure nothing was left behind then we headed for the Tacoma.

Whilst we were stowing the bags in the Taco, she says, “I found this spot for breakkie its called The Bench Market, here’s the address 368 Vancouver Ave. They have plenty of gluten-free options and coffee. REAL COFFEE!,” she laughs and looks at me for directions on which direction we need to walk. I pause take a look at the map and say this way.

We walk down the boardwalk for what seems to be too long and I say can I see the map again. I’ve totally steered us in the wrong direction. Slight hangovers will do that to your geography skills. We laugh. She continues to laugh knowing this is an abnormal morning.

Then we discuss the one guy in the lake doing laps in a wet suit. “Wonder if MC would be up for a morning swim?” I take a photo and fire a text off to my buddy back in Alberta. “Are you up for some laps?” We get into a discussion about how cold Okanagan Lake was during his Ironman swim a few years back. We continue chatting for a few minutes then say “adios pal.” As we’ve reached our destination.

We step inside The Bench Market, and it is not at all what she expected. Its more Italian deli sandwich shop then breakfast restaurant. “Well… are you up for this?” I ask followed by, “If its not to your liking we can always go elsewhere, like The Prague Cafe,” I chuckle at my remark as I reminisce about that cafe.

We decide to order separately, its a betsu-betsu morning. She goes with a Bench Market Breakfast Burrito with BC free-run eggs, Spanish-style brown rice, spinach, asparagus, Jerseyland organic gouda, chipotle mayo for $13.95 and she explains she’s a Celiac and needs it to be 100% gluten-free. The attendant explains the problem with cross-contamination and she goes for it anyways along with a strong black coffee, no cream, no sugar, because “I’m sweet enough.” They both laugh.

My turn… I order the veggie benny with spinach and asparagus, served with yam-potatoes $19.95 and a pitcher of ice cold water as I dislike the taste of coffee and its too early to decide on anything else to drink. Also I’m hoping the food, water and walk will sober me up for this afternoon’s lengthy drive from Penticton BC to Edmonton Alberta only 970 kilometres in 10 hours 22 minutes.

We sit patiently on the patio idly chatting about nothing, which turns our conversation into shit and we stop talking altogether. The food is taking a long time to get to our table. And this moment reminds me of a couple we once saw a looooong time ago who sat in silence whilst awaiting their meals. I comment about that moment she smiles, nods her recognition of that memory and goes back to being silent.

FINALLY the food runner arrives with out meals and when she he asks if we need anything else? I respond with, “Is the rest of my portion coming after I eat this?” she grimaces at the response and doesn’t respond as she has no idea what to say.

The plate of food is more fine dining than an actual breakfast. The wife waves a hand in my direction and says, “Don’t listen to him. He may have had one too many last night.” We both laugh at her wise crack since we both know I only consumed five 2.5 ounce samplers last night.

It goes down, bite after bite, neither of us speaks very much and when we finish, we arbitrarily decide to leave and discuss the disaster of a breakfast on the walk back. “Okay, that was totally not what I was expecting breakfast would be. Mine at least was edible. I wouldn’t go there again though,” she remarks as we wander through the roundabout at the bottom of the hill. “What did you think,” she asks followed by, “other than the portion size.” I smile saying it was constructed with quality local fresh ingredients but it was definitely not a meal unless you were eating six meals per day.

~ Aaron JacksonCrabb