March 26, 2021
It was time for a road trip to Kamloops this week.
It was a relaxing drive over the connector to Merritt and then on to Kamloops. The blue sky gleamed overhead as I crested the top of the mountains that shadow the Okanagan Valley. I breathed in the vast span of snowy peaks and white-covered trees. The road flew by and I cranked the stereo and filled the cab of my truck with sound.
I cruised the highway, resisting the urge to speed. I made good time and pulled into the city of Kamloops around 9:00 am it was a great day and there was a working-class hum to the city. It’s a different vibe than the touristy and wealthy aura enveloping Kelowna these days. There is no high-rise being built downtown and traffic is lighter.
I stood on the roof of the hospital looking over the river valleys that connect in the middle of the city. Kamloops lies at the conflux of the North and South Thompson Rivers. It started out as a fur trading settlement in the early 1800s and eventually grew into a city of over 100,000 souls. I visualized what the valley would have looked like two hundred years ago. I’m sure a native camp would have taken advantage of such a strategic location. In a blip of time, this valley has been transformed into a bustling hub.
It felt safe being at the hospital. I no longer walked the halls with trepidation. It was quiet in the main area of the hospital and a nurse sat greeting people with the usual questions. When I walked up he looked at me and tried to set a record for how rapidly he could ask me if I had been out of the country, been sick, or been in contact with covid. He knew the answers before he asked them.
Soon my job was done and I drove away. My next stop was Scotch Creek. The drive down the valley toward the Shuswap town followed the Trans Canada Hwy. to the town of Chase. Chase is a scenic town at the mouth of the South Thompson River and the Little Shuswap Lake. The last time I was in Scotch Creek I camped at the provincial park over thirty years prior. It was fun driving a new road, I was excited to go for a ride on a Monterra Surf Boss – A new pontoon-style boat that people can wake surf behind.
The road wound slowly alongside the north side of the lake and over a river. After what felt like hours but was really only fifteen minutes I pulled into Captains Village Marina. I parked and to my disappointment, I saw the Monterra sitting on a trailer out front of the boat dealer. I was hoping it would be in the water ready for a test run. I had called ahead and told them I was coming and booked the appointment days in advance… Oh well, I was there and had time, I hoped we could put it in the lake.
I walked into the showroom, welcomed by… no one. I turned and there was a rather large gentleman sitting at his desk in an office off to the side. He looked up from his desk and looked my way. “Can I help you?”
I felt as if he really didn’t care if he could help me. “I was talking to Andy, I am here to see the Monterra Surf Boss.” I looked back out the door at the boat sitting in the lot.
“Ya, he went home, sick. He said you might be coming.”
Might be coming? I called you three hours ago… “I was hoping it would be in the water and we could check it out.”
“It’s not going in the water today.” The large grumpy seeming gentleman looked at me. “I can show you the boat in the lot but it isn’t going in the water today.”
Isn’t going in the water? Why the fff… did I drive all this way? “Ok but I was told we could test it out today, I am interested and may want it.” Is this how they sell boats?
“It hasn’t been summerized yet.” The salesman opened the door and headed to the boat in the lot.
It was a pretty cool-looking boat, all-aluminum with a V-drive inboard like a surf boat but the deck was from a pontoon. It looked pretty cool on YouTube, I wondered how it would work in the water.
We walked over to the boat and proceeded to remove the cover. I was surprised to see what I saw as the cover was removed.
The boat was covered in bird shit.
What the… Wow they knew I was coming, not only was the boat not ready to be taken for a test ride but it was filthy.
I wanted to open the boat right up. I started to undo the buttons on the bow of the boat and see what it looked like.
“Umm, don’t open the front; you can see it from here. It will take forever to close the front up again.” The salesman stopped me from taking any more of the cover off.
How can I see the whole boat? This guy really doesn’t want to sell this boat…
“You sure you can’t get this boat in the lake? If I am going to spend over $160,000 on a boat I want to see if it floats.” I looked back at the salesman as I walked around the vessel. It was somewhat impressive, but not $160,000 impressive. I grabbed the tag on the trailer of the boat and read out what it said. “Spring ready, batteries checked, fluid full.” I stared the man in the eye, “ Sure looks like it’s ready.”
“No that must be from last year.” He shrugged and turned around and started to cover the boat again.
“So you have had this thing for a year and it’s a 2021?” I was incredulous. It was like he didn’t care if I knew he was lying to me.
“No, we got it last fall. Boats don’t last long anymore. Since covid there is a shortage of boats. We only have three boats and then I don’t think we will get any for another month.” My fat salesman shrugged and looked at me with disdain and disinterest.
Maybe it was my mask? It was Eddie from Iron Maiden’s mouth, but it shouldn’t matter. Maybe the fact I have long hair? He really didn’t have any time for me.
I drove away from the dealership baffled at the salesman’s attitude.
I have been told a few times this spring how little inventory there is and how few boats are available. But this was another level of not caring. I guess this place is so far off the beaten track they don’t care if they sell anything because internet sales are selling so much for them, they don’t have to try.
My trip was not totally in vain as I stopped at another dealer on the way home and got some promising news. They told me they have a Biltmore coming in on trade (the same boat as we have already). I spent the rest of my drive home hoping that Serendipity will happen once again.
It’s all first-world problems. I know one year ago I would have never predicted we would be looking at expanding our fleet. With everyone stuck in Canada for at least another six months, this summer promises to be a busy one in The Okanagan.
Strange how there is so much wealth flowing into our part of the world. The hope was the pandemic would balance out the inequities of our society. I think the opposite is happening.
I will ride the wave and try to stay ahead of the economic storm that may come crashing around us. I look forward to summer in our amazing piece of paradise.