Not many people would make a conscious effort to search out dehydrated meat. Okay, so maybe not many people would do a lot of things that Thom and I do. I mean, we are driving across Canada and car-camping in our Ford Explorer, after all.
Our very first Canadian adventure was to the local supermarket within walking distance from Shirley’s house. I reminisced of all the things I remembered from home, that New Zealand didn’t know or have. Thom was gob-smacked by the size of the “Family Pack” and the price of mass-purchasing many things.
Strolling down the aisles, I’m sure the staff wondered what we were up to, as we weren’t exactly buying much but rather laughing and pointing our way down around the store. Thom’s reaction was priceless as I was explained all the pre-packaged and processed things I used to eat as a student and growing up… Kraft Dinner, Hamburger Helper, Pilsbury cookies that all you had to do was remove the packaging, cut them out and bake… In New Zealand I’d made some pretty big changes to my diet and lifestyle, and going back to this processed stuff didn’t seem overly appealing.
Then we hit the Jerky aisle.
It was love at first sight for Thom and the thin slices of flavoured dehydrated beef. He purchased a package, for something like $8 (+tax) for a JUMBO bag. He was content on snacking on his salty treat daily.
We were staying with Shirley, my momma’s childhood best friend. She informed us that if Thom loved Jerky so much, he would love the butchery in Kelowna they frequented when her boys played ball tournaments there.
We hit the roads, first to head over to Vancouver Island, and then north to Whistler. From there we made the executive decision to backtrack south and loop around to Kelowna.
There was no “plan” as such, no real idea of where we’d stop to spend the night. Stopping in Penticton we stocked up on some food and used the free wi-fi at Tim Hortons. It was there that I discovered I had the wrong phone number for my uncle Bruce, who was working in Kelowna. I gave him a call, but to no avail got his answering machine.
We carried on towards Kelowna, still with no idea of where we’d stay. It was late, dark and pouring rain. I got a text message from my uncle, saying that he was in fact still in town and that we could park outside his place for the night. He rang to give me directions, and with the help of Google maps, I got us there around 11pm.
The next morning we met Bruce at his worksite and then headed out for brunch at the Jammery. Bruce had to return to work, and we took ourselves to buy a TomTom GPS before embarking on the Jerky Search.
A $99 investment later, we had our own personal navigation device, which would lead us to the Jerky. I didn’t know exactly where this butchery that Shirley spoke of was, besides West Kelowna. I went to Google and asked where to go, and found Ogopogo in Summerland.
We popped the address in and followed TomTom’s directions to Summerland (that’s not the same as West Kelowna).
Driving around small town suburbia, I questioned what this TomTom was up to. But low and behold, tucked away on a tiny back road, we found Ogopogo Butchery.
We entered a small shop, filled with chillers and window showcasing the workspace where all the meat was processed and packaged. There’s something to be said about a place that’s willing to work before your eyes. We were greeted by the friendly man behind the counter.
“We’re after the famous jerky!” I told him.
He broke the bad news kindly, and told us about how they no longer made jerky, as in order to be done well, it is quite a labour intensive process. They used to do it in their ‘spare time’, but it became quite popular and in high demand. Since he pays his staff well above minimum wage , soon it just was no longer economical.
Instead, he offered us some dried out salami. We obliged, butI won’t lie, Thom was disappointed.
I sent Shirley a text message, to tell her that Ogopogo no longer made the jerky. She quickly responded, telling us that she was just there a few weeks ago, and after a bit of banter, we found out the name of the spot and well, it was completely different.
Back to West Kelowna we headed. Google helped me out again (see this was why I needed to have mobile internet) and we were off again, following TomTom’s lead. Through some dusty side streets, we began to question where this little machine was leading us again.
“You have reached your final destination”, the robotic voice chimed as we parked in front of a beat up little shack that we probably wouldn’t had even looked twice at, if we weren’t specifically looking at it.
We went inside, in search of this infamous jerky. By now we’ve hyped up this jerky in our minds, after trekking all over the Okangan Valley for it.
The building had no exterior windows, but did have plenty of comical signs adorning the walls both inside and out. A gruff man in typical butcher clothes seem less than entertained by our epic search to find him. He showed us his 8 varieties stored in plastic Rubbermaid bins, and Thom wanted them all.
He gave us plastic baggies, and I labeled each with a Sharpie as he distributed them. Regular, Teriyaki, Sweet Chili, Buffalo, Hot & Spicy, Honey Garlic, Pepper and one other flavor that has slipped both of our minds (obviously it must have been that good) Thom bought one slice of each flavor. $21 later, and Thom was a happy boy, like a kid in a candy shop.
While we drove back to my uncle Bruce’s place, Thom excitedly sampled each flavor, as I handed him a bit without telling him which flavor he had. The flavor ninja was a good guesser too!
I’d never been such a fan of dehydrated meat, and never thought that I’d be actively seeking out a variety of flavours, but I must say, with such a supply, it did in fact begin to grow on me.
The Buffalo was definitely my favourite, and I managed to get a Hot & Spicy piece that didn’t have any chili flakes on it.
It’s random trips and missions like this that make travel epic and memorable. I’m so glad we had the freedom of having our own car to randomly explore and find these out of the way recommendations from locals.