Thursday, August 25, 2016

Road Trip - It's a Long One!

It's a long way from Victoria to Red Deer. 1198.2 kilometres (744.5 miles). I thought you might be interested in the sights along the way - it's such a pretty drive. We'll be touring in one direction, east to west, but the photos are taken both from our trip out and our trip back, so if you know the road, the angles will be mixed up. Lighting differs as well. So pack your bags, include some drinks and snacks, and we'll be off! 

We like to get a bit of a head start, so we cross over to the mainland on the ferry the night before and stay at my parents' place in Chilliwack.

Early the next morning, we quietly sneak out of the house and begin the drive. Dawn just begins to break over the mountains. We have snacks and drinks in the car. It will take us 11 or 12 hours, with a few breaks.

We begin in the Fraser Valley, a fertile delta plain where my roots began. My siblings and parents, although they moved away for many years, are all back in the Valley. Steep mountains shelter the valley, and it is to those mountains that we steer. 

We pass Mount Cheam, seen here from the east (and in the evening). Each time we pass it, I marvel that I once stood on the very top - I'd like to do that hike again some day.

Very soon we are in the mountains, taking the #5 Highway up over the Coquihalla Pass. These peaks are part of the Coast Mountain Range. Beautiful glaciers can still be seen, shining in the summer light. 

There's plenty of traffic on the highway: big trucks, tourists with their 5th-wheel trailers, motor homes, camper vans, and regular family cars. Some of them really slow down on the long, steep climbs. We climb from sea level to 1244 metres (4081 feet) in a little over an hour. 

The Coquihalla Highway is relatively new - just 30 years old. For part of the route, it follows old cattle trails and later oil and gas pipelines, installed in the 1950s. My father worked on those pipelines. The scenery is stunning as the road weaves through the mountains, along and across the Coquihalla and then the Coldwater Rivers.

After a couple of hours we come to the Interior Plateau. This is arid country, where cattle ranches flourish and thousands of lakes lie cool and blue in the landscape. 

Down into the small town of Merritt, where country music flourishes, and up again before descending into the town of Kamloops, situated at the confluence of the North and South Thompson Rivers. I spent my childhood here and swam in that cold, fast river.

We like to stop in Kamloops at the Starbucks on the eastern edge of town. We walk around the shopping center parking lot (it's only 8 am so the stores are still closed), sipping a cup of tea and munching on a breakfast sandwich. It's good to stretch our legs.

Back into the car again and we wind our way into the Shushwap and Okanagan Highlands. Shushwap Lake is a mecca for holiday-ers. Ski boats and houseboats dot the lake. It's enormous and there's plenty of room for all. 

Now we face the Columbia Mountain Ranges, of which there are four - the Caribou, the Cascades, the Monashee, and Selkirk Mountains. When I drive these roads, I marvel at the tenacity of the explorers who found the passes through wave after wave of mountains to forge transportation routes that are still used today. We go over the Rogers Pass (1330 m) and the Kicking Horse Pass (1627 m). 

We stop in Golden for lunch - a picnic, so we can get out and walk around again. Here we've descended a little and are in the Rocky Mountain Trench separating the Columbia Mountains from the Rocky Mountains.

A few wild summer flowers are blooming, but most have gone to seed.

A curious squirrel crosses the path ahead of us several times before dashing down beside the river to hide in the rocks.

Cold, cold glacier-fed water, milky from the glacial sediment.

The railway was built long before the highway and is a unifying symbol across the country. 

On our way home, we stopped, not in Golden, but at the Kicking Horse River rest area. Three rafts passed by as we watched. I hope to go river rafting one day. Have you ever done it?

The road at the bottom right of the photo is the old highway. We walked along it for about a kilometre or two. The bridge above is the new highway, and if you look carefully, you'll see the scale indicated by the tiny bumps of vehicles going over it. Called the Park Bridge, it was completed in 2007 and rises 90 metres above the river. The bridge, and its long approaches, replace the most dangerous part of the old highway, which averaged 140 accidents per year. 

Up into the Rocky Mountains we climb. We're about halfway there now. We pass through snow sheds and see warning signs to not stop in certain sections for fear of avalanches (in the winter). We see gun emplacements where experts shoot down the threatened avalanches. It's a hot day and there's no snow nearby so we don't concern ourselves with that.

A yellow helicopter hovers over a construction sight high on the mountain. Tim took this photo while I drove. We later saw it loading up again on a landing near the highway, preparing to make another drop.

Now we come to the Rocky Mountains, home to Banff National Park - Canada's first national park. Next year is the centennial of the park's opening, and as a celebration, all national park fees will be waived. 

We see a bear and some deer along the road. As we drive out of the mountains, they become less treed and more rocky.

This is Castle Mountain, aptly named, don't you think?

A storm brewed above us, but except for a few splats, it passed us by. Or perhaps we passed it. 

Wildlife overpasses allow the animals living here to safely cross the highways, which are otherwise fenced for their protection.

Just a few more hours on the level prairies where the landscape stretches as far as the eye can see and the sky looks immense.

We arrive in time for a late supper with Tim's sister - we meet at a restaurant since she wasn't expecting us until later. It feels good to crawl into bed that night, although my mind still felt it was driving. 

And in less than a week, we'll do the reverse! 

Thank you for your thoughts and prayers for Tim's mother. She is doing very well and has moved from the hospital into a transition home. She will soon be returning to her own apartment complex. 


Betty from Comox said...

Again you have captured the scenery so well Lorrie. Yes I have done the rafting trip twice about 20 years ago.It is an experience you should not miss. Enjoy the last of Summer!

Mary said...

What a magical road trip - brings back happy memories of our trip through BC to Banff and Lake Louise etc. Such amazing scenery and clear, fresh air. Never been river rafting, but have loved kayaking on a flat lake. . . . . . .and all those wild Zodiac boat rides on far away continents!!

Enjoyed reading about your childhood spent in such picturesque Canadian places.

Glad your dear MIL is making good progress.
Hugs - Mary

hostess of the humble bungalow said...

Beautiful scenery...looks like a fabulous vacation!

Elizabethd said...

How beautiful Canadian mountains are. So majestic.
My husband had a day white water rafting in Smithers, many years ago...very wet, but exciting!

Salty Pumpkin Studio said...

Good news on Tim's Mom. Prayers continue
Beautiful stunning photos! They show Earth's magnificence so well. Thank you
The wildlife overpasses are great. The white water rafting...perhaps not. It scares me just looking at river rapids. :)

Marilyn Miller said...

That is quite a drive. The views are astounding, gorgeous! It is one of those trips that is on our wish list, ending in Banff. Good to hear Tim's Mom is doing better.

Vee said...

Thoroughly enjoyable! Very happy to know that Tim's mother is improving so rapidly and well. Hooray for soon getting home again.

Cheryl said...

Oh, such a beautiful trip...spectacular scenery! Where I live, it is mostly flat, so I am awed by the mountain vistas. (You made good time, arriving in time for supper!)

I am happy to hear that your mother-in-law is doing so well.

Enjoy your week!

Deanna Rabe - Creekside Cottage Blog said...

Beautiful! Thank you for taking us along! It makes me miss the west (I grew up in Southern California) and the beauty of the mountains.

Happy news to hear that Tim's mother is doing so very well!

Anonymous said...

Now that's a long trip for sure. I'm amazed that I even know some things about this route and I recognize Mt. Cheam. It's good news that Tim's mother is doing well.

Blondie's Journal said...

Your photos are beyond beautiful, Lorriei and I know the views must have been ten thousand times more beautiful in person. I get choice for a car trip. I really am in awe of the overpass bridge for the animals....

Please share more!


mamasmercantile said...

What a wonderful road trip, lots of beautiful views. Glad to hear your Mother in Law is doing so well. Yes I have been rafting about 30 years or so ago, it was definitely a white knuckle experience I am glad I did it but wouldn't want to do it again.

Rettabug said...

I have never been to nor even heard of many of these parts of the country/world, so your trip was very informative as well as enjoyable. I love to travel along with you, Lorrie! Your photos & descriptions are just wonderful.

Don't put off doing those things on your bucket list!!! You don't know what lies ahead for either of you & each day is so precious. Go & do them NOW while you've got your health & can climb those mountains & ride those waves. It won't always be so.

I'm happy to hear your MIL is doing so well.

ann said...

Canadian landscape is breathtaking. I have been to Calgary as a teen. My parents belonged to a jeep club, so we drove our jeep from Denver to Calgary and camped out someplace. Met other Canadian jeepers. Had a blast. My parents took another trip to Lake Banff later, and loved the Canadian beauty. I enjoyed traveling with you; the scenery is wild and rough and beautiful. Thanks for taking us along.

Pamela Gordon said...

We have done this trip both ways and it is really beautiful. I think we stayed over in Merritt though as we were driving from Jasper that time. The mountains are spectacular and some of the roads are a bit nerve-wracking to my fear of heights but it is an amazing drive. I'm glad that Tim's mother is doing better. Enjoy the weekend.

Anneliese said...

We just drove part of that hwy this past weekend and I remember looking at Mt Cheam with awe at the thought that I've been up on that peak. I enjoyed seeing photos of our valley and the familiar looking route out of the province. I am one who just loves these views, but I know there are those who prefer the rolling praires. My dad always said, that in BC you can't see far, but you see much. In the prairies you see far, but don't see much. =) I guesss he's had some influence in my life.

Dewena said...

These mountains make my beloved Smoky Mountains look like midgets. And you once hiked to the top of Mont Cheam? You must tell us more about that sometime. I can't even begin to imagine that, after looking at the picture of it. What a beautiful country you grew up in! I've really enjoyed the ride along with you.

Summer said...

Such beautiful landscape! Thanks for the photos ♥

Deb @ Frugal Little Bungalow said...

What beautiful scenery and I can see why that mountain is called does appear as if one is up there! Glad to hear she's doing well :)

Helen Philipps said...

What a fascinating post, Lorrie. Your pictures are wonderful...such beautiful scenery and interesting shots. I loved the mountain shaped like a magical!
Helen xox

podso said...

Such beauty and majesty in God's creation! You did great photographing it all, I assume as you were passing along in the car. Glad your husband's mom is doing better. Have a good visit!

Sara - Villa Emilia (My Woodland Garden) said...

You have spent your childhood in a gorgeous area, Lorrie, these views are breathtaking.
May I pin the last three or four photos (I tried to see if you have already done that but didn't find them)? Your photo of Castle Mountain is better than those I found on the Internet and those wildlife overpasses are spectacular.

Rosemary said...

It was lovely following in your footsteps across this part of Canada - the scenery is magnificent.

September Violets said...

What a stunningly beautiful drive! No wonder all your siblings came back to what they loved best. You got some gorgeous shots of the mountains.

Margie said...

Thanks for the beautiful tour of the Rockies, Lorrie! We're so lucky to live in such a gorgeous country.

Judy said...

I enjoyed seeing all those familiar and beautiful scenes! You are a good tour guide.

Alex said...

Just spectacular! I would love to do that drive (though possibly in sections..oh my, what a long time in the car!).
You have described it all so vividly ~
Breathtaking mountains! And bears ~ we haven't had those in the Uk since the Dark Ages.
Have a great week and I'm so glad to hear your MIL is soon returning home.

Ida said...

Wow what a gorgeous trip you took us on. Those mountain ranges are amazing.

kitty@ Kitty's Kozy Kitchen said...

Oh my goodness Lorrie, I loved tagging along with you through that beautiful drive!! I was oohing and ahhing along the way. I hope you get to climb that mountain again, and go river rafting! I have never seen a wildlife overpass and found that intriguing. Thank you for taking me along with you!
Also, from your previous post, your Mom Is just a beauty, as are all you lovely ladies. She must've had a wonderful 80th birthday. That birthday cake was a work of art!! What a special garden party it was!

Marilyn @ MountainTopSpice said...

That is such an amazing road trip! We took a similar route to yours this summer as we went up to the Canadian Rockies with my parents into Banff. We stayed overnight in Golden, and then came back down through Jasper to Kamloops, and it is an absolutely incredible trip! Your pictures are awesome! Truly magnificent views to see and behold! I know this comment is quite late, but I do hope that your MIL is doing much better, and I'm sure your visit really was a blessing to her! Hugs to you today :)

Inder said...
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