For much of my adult life, I have lived in Revelstoke, BC. I’ve always thought of Kamloops, BC as a 2.5 hour away coffee / pee stop on the way to or from Vancouver. I hadn’t spent any real time in Kamloops, except for one time when I accidentally took the wrong exit off the highway because I was trying to get to Starbucks but Google Maps took me to the one down by the railroad tracks. At that time I thought to myself, “oh cute, look at this pedestrian bridge over these train tracks I bet teens probably ask each other out to prom with signs they hold on the bridge,” and then got a latte and back on the highway.
Point being – I didn’t realize all that Kamloops has to offer. So when Tourism Kamloops reached out to my team to collaborate on a campaign to market all the cool things this little city has going on I was quite excited. Mostly to find out what those things were. The first thing Tourism Kamloops asked us to do was spend a day or two with them in Kamloops so that they could show us what the place had going on. Eight hours later, a mountain bike ride, a few too many drinks, a boat ride on the river, a pair of lost sunglasses due to a tragic water-biking wipe out and dinner at the Noble Pig in the sunken pool outdoor patio, we were on board.
Kamloops has, quite frankly, gotten a bad rap for some reason. People think of it as a drive-through location or a place to grab n’ go lunch on a road trip. They have no idea what you can find if you dig a little deeper. And so that is what we decided to base our series around – the idea that getting to know Kamloops will make you want to spend “one more night” which is a central goal of the Tourism Kamloops initiative.
We hired another comedian, Tom Hill, and got to work.
Over the course of four seasonal trips to Kamloops, I was blown away time and time again by what this place has right at its fingertips. Awesome mountain biking, disc golf (still not convinced that it’s a real sport), boating, water biking, beaches, golf, hiking, wineries, shopping, skiing – and great restaurants that we grew more fond of every trip we took. I have to say Dorian Greek House is in my top three. In our downtime, we checked out a Blazers Game, went to the movies and had great hospitality at the Delta Hotel, which was our basecamp for the shoots.
I have to say, another surprising aspect about Kamloops was how much arts and culture there is. A bustling community of talented burlesque dancers, musicians, comedians, spoken-word poets; you name it – Kamloops has it. And there are so many amazing venues to go see these performances! The Effie Arts Collective on the North Shore (Tranquille Road) reminded me of a comedy club in New York City – small and quaint, but packed full of energy and a hot crowd. It’s run by some amazingly dedicated folks who are keeping Kamloops vibrant by providing a space for artists to perform and honestly, that was so cool to see. Also it’s like two blocks from Bright Eye Brewing, where we filmed one of our Spring Episode scenes, and their menu absolutely slaps. I pretended we had a montage scene that required us to try everything on the menu…so that I could try everything on the menu. The post-shoot food coma was absolutely worth it.
To be honest, I was a bit sad that we weren’t able to showcase the BC Wildlife Park in the Kamloops, Who Knew? series. I have driven past the turnoff for it many times, but this summer after one of our shoots, I decided to check it out and it’s incredible. It’s not like one of those roadside petting zoos, and it’s not tacky and gross where you’re like “um, has anyone thought about reporting this operation to the SPCA?” It’s a legitimate wildlife rehabilitation and rescue centre. There are some animals who spend their lives there, because they’ve been orphaned or injured too badly to be able to safely be released into the wild (sad) but it’s actually not all that sad because the people at the Wildlife Park care so much about these animals and other conservation efforts. Everyone is so knowledgeable.
(SIDENOTE: if you think it’s okay to throw banana peels or apple cores out of your car window when you’re driving because they are compostable, PLEASE STOP DOING THAT. Yes, they are biodegradable or whatever, but they also attract things like huge birds or deer or other cute things to the side of the road to eat them and then BAM those cute animals get hit by a car, get hurt and then have to go live at the Wildlife Park! I learned this at the Wildlife Park. Please stop doing it, sorry to come down on you so hard, I know this is supposed to be light and fun. But like, seriously stop.)
To sum up, I was genuinely surprised at what is happening in Kamloops. It’s not just a place to pull over and pee or dig through the trunk to find your phone charger because your boyfriend packed it in the overnight bag when clearly it’s an item that needs to be accessible from the front seat of the car because we’re driving through the mountains for 6 hours. (Like would you put your charger in your checked bag or your carry on? Your carry on, correct.)
Major takeaway from spending a week every season in Kamloops - this place is so much more than a latte stop to me now. It is young and alive and full of heart. If you haven’t spent time in Kamloops, you need to. There is nothing better than a good surprise, and that is what Kamloops kept giving me, over and over. Let’s flood Kamloops with visits (not water, they hate that). Tell them I sent you.
In case you missed it - Watch the full 4 episode web series Kamloops... Who Knew?! featuring Katie Burrell here.