Camp Trip #7 of 2015
Kettle River… the 3rd Annual trip. The last 2 years we have had rain for most of our trip. Our time in the river was limited and when it was time to pack up and go, we were so sad – it was never long enough. This year we weren’t going to make that mistake again. So we booked 8 nights. We ended up staying for 7…. And that was too long.
We arrived on Thursday, June 25th around 3:30 in the afternoon. EVERY year, as soon as school is out for the summer, we hop into the truck with the trailer hooked up and head out of town. The last 3 years have been Kettle River. So we headed off to Rock Creek. This is an hour and 45 minutes from Penticton. The anticipation was more than we could all bear…. But somehow, we made it! We always drive bone dry. Kettle River has a water fill up station AND sani dump located right within the park. So we stop and fill up our water to the brim when we get there and dump all when we leave. We pulled into our campsite – # 39. We carefully picked this campsite because of its close proximity to the river trail, bathrooms and the openness to the sites around us. Our group booked 9 sites together. There was 1 double site in the middle that we couldn’t scoop up in time. They ended up being fine neighbors. We had sites 31-41 (with the exception of a double). In my opinion the best area to secure a spot in is 29-44. You are close to the river – which is where you should spend most of your time.
Check in went okay. There was a few camp facilitators working that day that really didn’t understand the rules in regards to motorcycles, extra vehicles and pre-paying for sites. Either that or they were just trying to get extra money out of us. I quickly corrected them. They were polite about it and wished us a good time on our camping adventure. That didn’t last long though as the older couple then had a few days off and a few new camp facilitators came on shift. There is one camp facilitator that is AMAZING – his name is Greg. He was happy, friendly and he waved at us every time he drove by. He went out of his way to help us get a FCFS site for our friend. He really outdid himself. This guy deserves recognition. His wife on the other hand, she needs a lesson on how to speak to people effectively. This happens to be the same lady that we had problems with last year. When will people learn?
I need to get this out now as I have been fuming since we left. Camp facilitators can honestly make or break a camping trip. I am a firm believer in recognition when due. Like Greg. What a great guy. Same with Dave and Tracy at Gold Mountain. Fantastic people who know how to be excellent hosts, after all, they are HOSTS. But Greg’s wife at Kettle River? NOT.SO.MUCH. When we have 9 sites together, I would like to assume that walking across the path from one site to another (your family’s site) with a beer in a covered coozie, would be okay. Nope. She yelled at someone in our group – not politely reminded either, she yelled at him. Then there was the situation with the generator…. At 8:04pm on Sunday night, a woman from the campsite behind us stormed over to our campsite and demanded that we shut off our neighbor’s generator. I stared blankly at her and said “I am sorry – who are you?” She pointed to her campsite and then demanded that generator hours are over at 8pm. I turned my back to her. This woman had a lot of nerve coming into my campsite and telling me to shut my neighbor’s generator off! Allow me to set the situation for you. It’s Sunday afternoon – 38 degrees and hot as hell. The site in which the generator was running is temporarily home to 3 children including twins under 1 years old. That family had turned the generator on to cool their trailer in order to put their kids to bed. We then found out the lady behind us had stopped off at my sister in law’s site just prior to that, knocked on the door of their trailer while they ate dinner and demanded they shut theirs off because she had to put her kid to sleep. This had to have been at 8pm sharp. Since the generator owners of the site across from us were in the washrooms bathing their kids, we ignored her demand and went back to cooking dinner. Along came Mrs. Camp Host with the Attitude Problem. She jumped off her golf cart on a mission. She marched over gripping her walkie talkie and spewing threats at us – again, the people not staying in the site with the generator running. My brother guided her away from our site and attempted to diffuse the situation. She threatened him that this was “warning # 1” and that next time it would be an eviction – for all of us. What? All of this at 8:17pm in 38 degree weather. I understand. Generator hours are 6-8pm but there is a way to speak to people effectively. If this had been Greg he would have smiled at us, walked into our site and said “Hey guys, not sure if you noticed the time but generator hours are finished. Would you mind shutting your friend’s generator off for them?” Well Mrs. Camp Host continued to bark all week. As we were leaving on Thursday at exactly 11:04am (check out is 11am) she hopped out of her truck and yelled at my sister in law that “check out is 11am and people want their site!!” This as they were clearly backing their truck onto their trailer to pull away. Might I add that check in is at 3pm. Come on Kaloya Contracting!! Don’t you put your camp hosts through customer service training? The guy working shoulder season at Bear Creek? FANTASTIC. Greg working at Kettle River? FANTASTIC. Greg’s wife? Come on…. she is giving your park a bad rep!
So as if it wasn’t enough that this controlling camp facilitator left a bad taste in our mouth, the final straw was when my friends and family left and new neighbors moved in behind us, beside us and across from us. Neighbors without generators might I add. I had now been in my campsite for almost a week. Every morning at 9am, I turned on our generator to cool our trailer down from 35-39 degree weather and to charge our battery. I shut it off before 11am every morning. Then when I got home from the river, I would again turn it on from 6-8pm. All of this is during generator hours. These are posted park rules. On Wednesday night after a ridiculously hot day, I turned the generator on at 6pm. When I thought the battery was charged and the trailer was cool enough for my son to go to sleep, I went around to the back of the trailer to shut it off – this was at 7:30pm (half an hour before posted generator shut off time) When I did this, the neighbors behind me, beside me and across from me cheered and hooted and hollered. The campground was silent and I realized I was the only one with a generator in our area. Surrounded by a-holes I was done. Here I had obeyed the hours and considered my neighbors with noise and music levels for a week. I had put up with out of control barking dogs, screaming kids, speeding vehicles and bikes with water bottles shoved into the spokes to make them loud and annoying. I had put up with all of this. Now, I was done. When Nick came back after his bike ride, I told him about my experience. He agreed, it was time to go home. A day early. We packed up the next morning.
I want to add a few tips for those of you still planning a trip to Kettle River. You can read up on my previous blogs about Kettle River Provincial Park if you are interested in learning more tips. In the meantime, here are my tips/reminders for this time!
1) Bring bikes. The park is HUGE. You will regret it if you don’t bring bikes to explore the area or even to head over to the showers.
2) Bring OFF… about 1 can per day for a family of 5. We went through 5 cans. Every time you shower or go into the river, you need to re-apply. The mosquitos are ridiculous. Bring a gazebo too if you have one with net sides.
3) Be careful of wasps. After 3 days we seemed to have a wasp infestation. We took garbage away every day, cans and washed down tables. They still appeared – tons of them. If you are allergic, I suggest you bring a can of RAID and a fly swatter. Again the gazebo would be helpful.
4) Bring floaties and chairs you can stick in the river. You won’t regret it!
5) Bring cash – $5 loonies for the sani dump, ice and wood (assuming no fire ban) and of course if you are bringing an extra vehicle, $12 a day for that.
You cannot possibly beat this for river days….
Don’t get me wrong….. Kettle River Provincial Park is a fantastic park… It might suit your family just fine. It has a ridiculous amount of things to do. Floating the river, bike riding, neat shops to visit in Rock Creek and eve cliff jumping!! Not to mention just sitting in this crystal clear river for hours and hours a day. The park is beautiful. Shaded and huge. They have flush toilets, pit toilets and showers. They have a playground, over 100 sites and trails to walk, bike and dog-walk. We floated the river into Rock Creek one day. We got in right behind sites 37/38 and we floated to the Hotel in Rock Creek. We parked a vehicle there in advance. It took us 3 ½ hours and there were some areas that of the river that barely moved and some areas where we had to walk. The float is beautiful though. I highly recommend it. I know that if we had been able to secure the group site without neighbors and rules, our own river front and private washrooms, it would have been a MUCH better trip. The park facilitators just have no tolerance – or allowance for “groups” camping in a large area together. Note: You can book the group camping 1 year in advance. I guarantee you it’s one of the best group sites in all of the BC Provincial Parks. Covered kitchen area, flush toilets, 13 picnic tables, private riverfront, even electrical in the kitchen area.
From my letter to the park contractor last year, they took my suggestion and opened up the handicap washroom this year 100% of the time – to accommodate families with young children and to avoid limiting showers during cleaning hours. The one suggestion that they didn’t change yet and they REALLY need to address is more speedbumps! There are WAY too many speeders going through the campsites. We had numerous little kids in our group riding their bikes. Vehicles were going over 30 kms an hour around the blind corners and almost taking out kids, bikers, dogs etc. They need to put more speedbumps in the 30-44 sites.I guess sadly it may take a child getting hit for them to take this suggestion seriously.
After trying to secure the group site for 3 years and failing, making our “own” group loop and still getting our hands slapped for ridiculous things, we have hung up our hat on Kettle River. For $30 a night plus reservation fees, plus extra vehicle charges, plus sani dump plus, plus, plus…. and no hook ups…. I would rather go somewhere closer with less rules or more for my dollar. Bush camping is looking better and better every day – no rules and no generator hours. Gold Mountain in Hedley is also a better option for $31a night and the ability to enjoy air conditioning in my trailer with full hookups.
Thank you to the wonderful shop owners in Rock Creek. You are all so accommodating and tourist friendly. You are truly blessed with such beautiful surroundings.
This year my rating dropped from 5/6 to 3.5/6 stars. They lose a point for location. They lose a point for the cost. It went up to $30 per night from $28 with no electrical and you still pay for sewer. They lose another point for certain staff’s customer service but then earn 1/2 a point back for Greg and his exceptional people skills.
The lack of customer service by a few hosts are ruining it for the ones that excel. The dictatorship of rules is getting out of hand. When people have paid GOOD MONEY to camp for 8 nights they expect to have a nice holiday with happy smiling people. Step up your game Kettle River! You have the potential to be the next Bear Creek!
Now it’s time to plan next year’s trip – in a new location.