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Harrison Hot Springs, a two-hour drive from Vancouver, is an outdoor-lover’s haven (and home to the elusive Sasquatch).

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You can hike, mountain and road bike, stand-up paddle board, and in our case, kayak a section of the 60 km long, glacier-fed Harrison River.

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We booked a guided kayak tour with Harrison Eco Tours. Their office is conveniently located inside the Harrison Hot Springs Resort lobby.

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Our guide Karla got us started with kayaking basics, checked our group’s kayaks for fit, then helped launch us into the lake, leading us towards the mouth of the Harrison River as we took in the scenic surroundings.

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Towards the turn-around point of our two-hour trip, we spotted a Bald eagle that had decided on a cleaning break at the river bank.

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[Late summer weekends are perfect for a paddle!]

It’s here where Karla also pointed out a 2,500-year-old salamander petroglyph in the rock crevice above, launching into a brief history of the Sts’ailes peoples in the region.

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[Look closely above the rock crevice to spot the 2,500 salamander petroglyph]

Aside from kayaking, Harrison Eco Tours offers easy- to advanced-level guided hiking tours of nearby Sandy Cove, Spirit Trail/Bridle Loop and Slollicom Peak as well as jet boat tours.

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Before the kayaking excursion, we fuelled up at lakefront Muddy Waters Cafe, a local fave with yummy sandwiches and coffee roasted in nearby Agassiz by The Back Porch Coffee Roaster. Take your pick of gourmet sandwiches, burgers, homemade soups and delicious cookies and pastries. They also serve up breakfast.

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Muddy Waters is located at 328 Esplanade, towards the opposite end of Harrison Hot Springs.

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Abbotsford

Abbotsford is gaining momentum in the wine world! We visited a few while in the area, including Maan Farms, where their inaugural sunflower festival is starting to wind down for the season.

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They’ve done a fine job of adding fun elements to the sunflower field, such as couches, mirrors, lamps, picture frames and an old truck (with a walk-up platform offering a great view of the fields).

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Baby goats are on site to enjoy while there; you can sample fruit wines, enjoy a charcuterie board or indulge in strawberries and cream while the berries are still in season. And they’ve got Pumpkin Goat Yoga going on! Register online for a one-hour Hatha goat yoga class, followed by a walk through the pumpkin patch to select your perfect pumpkin for the season.

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Three generations back, the Maan family started with a simple fruit stand. They’ve expanded with an award-winning estate winery, including Strawberry/Raspberry, Blueberry and Black Berry fruit wines (two pounds of blueberries go into one bottle of their blueberry wine!).

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Maan Farms also recently won an award for Best Fruit Wine in Canada!

There’s an onsite petting farm, corn maze and play area for the kids, plus a shop that sells homemade goodies, fresh seasonal fruit and flowers, and gifts. Mama Maan’s Kitchen offers tasty Indian (and Western) dishes plus desserts, homemade lemonade and coffee.

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They’re located at 790 McKenzie at Vye Road. Visit them online for u-pick offerings, goat yoga classes and opening hours.

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Over at 5782 Mount Lehman Road, Singletree Winery is a 67-acre heritage farm operated by the Etsell family. They’ve produced a selection of award-winning wines and we had the chance to sample a few in their tasting room.

This former fruit orchard was started in the late 1800’s by James Merryfield (a dairy and fruit farmer), who at the time was prospecting for gold when he landed at Mt. Lehman. He staked out 100 acres and this parcel of land has been an operating farm ever since.

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The Etsells have 67 acres (14 1/2 are grape vines). Several of their wines are Canadian winners. They also grow at a second location in Naramata Bench. They planted their first vines in 2010 and began harvesting and producing three years later. In 2015, they opened their Abbotsford tasting room with a beautiful view of the vineyard.

This small-scale family winery produces 5,000 cases per year. White grapes are grown on location while most of the reds are grown and crushed in Naramata. They’ll soon be expanding their portfolio to include Syrah, Malbec, Cab Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot and we can’t wait! All their wines are both vegan-friendly and sulfite-free.

Bee on Lavender
[Photo by Andrew Wilkinson on Flickr]

Think that bees are only good for pollinating flowers for honey? At Campbell’s Gold and Honey (2595 Lefeuvre Road), over 30 kinds of honey wine are produced onsite this family-owned winery/licensed meadery and honey store.

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Mead (aka honey wine) is thought to be the oldest-known alcoholic beverage, first enjoyed by the ancient Greeks, later by the Norsemen and Celts. Honey wine is often referred to as the “drink of love”. The term “honeymoon” is derived from the ancient tradition of giving bridal couples a month’s worth – or ‘moon’s worth’ – of honey wine.

As we discovered from our visit to the shop, mead can be rich and full-bodied, served with most any food type and is enjoyed best when chilled.

Aside from mead, Campbell’s produces Pyment (using Riesling grapes), Melomel (a blend of fruit and honey), Metheglin (a lovingly-spiced mead ideal for the winter holidays) and Cysor (a combination of mead and apple juice or cider).

The mead will vary according to the type of yeast used (Judy and Mike Campbell have taken several mead-related courses, both here and in the US).

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After sampling a few of these unique pours, we each came away with a favourite: Black Beauty Melomel (a nice red with honey wine and black currants, one of their most popular offerings) and Twilight (honey wine and yellow plums).

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Honey lovers will get to sample their dozens of artisanal honey infusions for sale, from chocolate to lemon-lime to maple (there’s also a selection of au naturel honey, as well as beeswax candles, soaps and bee-themed gifts available).

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In case you didn’t know, each pound of honey involves the pollination of two million flowers, 55,000 km of flight and the lives of about 450 bees!

The friendly staff will guide you through a personal honey wine tasting ($3 per person) and if you’re interested in seeing how the bees work in the field, tours are offered ($8; price includes a jar of honey). You’ll learn fascinating facts about honey bees and see hives in action (weather-dependent). We were even told that many of their guests have gotten over their fear of bees following the tour!

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If you live locally, consider a beginner beekeeping or mead-making class.

Another aspect of our visit was learning the hard truth about how climate change plays a key role in the bee population. Change is hard for beekeepers; if a particular flower type isn’t doing well due to climate conditions, it will also affect how many bees will visit.

Our kayak tour and farm visits, meals and tastings were kindly provided by Tourism Abbotsford and the businesses themselves. Opinions, as always, remain our own.

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