Getting lucky

Today, July 10th, we headed out with a plan.  It wasn’t a set in stone kind of plan, but it was a sketch.  Before we left Hope, B.C. we stopped for Noel to take a few pictures of the Rambo Bridge.  For those of you who are Rambo fans, this is the bridge that was in True Blood.  This bridge is being taken down soon, and this was a festival to celebrate the movie and the bridge.  Several minor actors from that movie where in town and there were several origional movie props.  Revelers were also encouraged to dress up as Rambo.  This town is surrounded by natural wonders and has a fascinating history entertwined with the railroads and the Hudson Bay Company, but Rambo is what they hang their hat on.

We headed out on Trans Canada 1 going west, when Noel spotted the sign for a town called Harrison Hot Springs.  Noel remembered the name of the town from a travel book he’s read a billion times in the bathroom at home.  He asked, “Do you want to get off and see it, the picture of it is beautful”.  I had maybe a second to say yes or no so he could make the exit.  We rarely go back once we’ve passed something so I had to decide.  I shouted yes, not really knowing how far off the highway we were going to have to venture.  The mountain range to the north seemed to put a limit on how far we could venture off our path and I said yes.  We found oursleves in farm land of the Fraiser Valley.  This was a valley nestled between mountains flanked on both it’s sides and seemed instantly different from anywhere we’ve been on this trip.  That diversity always amazes me- Waterton is different from Banff and Lake Superior is different than Lake Huron.  We noticed a sign in front of a house that read Canadian Hazel Nut Farm and decided to pull in for a look see.  Inside was a little nondescript store selling, of course, hazel nut products made on this farm.  The very nice woman behind the counter gave us many samples and descriptions of the surrounding area.  Our favorite was their version of Nuttella, which was a million times tastier than the over processed version.  My problem will be how will I ever go back to that without living near this farm?  We then explored the farm.  They have 8,000 hazell nut trees which drop their nuts in the fall.  They were like soliders standing at attention, so straight and uniform.  Henna stopped to play with their three black labs while we talked with a nice woman sweeping out back.  When told we were headed toward Vancouver, she replied we couldn’t pay her to go there.  Country people living outside a big city always seem to have disdain for their big city neighbors.  We headed off with some new ideas of places to explore nearby.  We also found out that Harrison Lake, our origional side trip, was having an art fair.  The city was crowded, but we foud a parking spot and then found the beach.  Henna caught three little fish in her hands while we watched her from the beach.  We just sat their watching Henna lost in her own game, looking at the beautiful mountain views and aqua colored lake.  We thought how nice it would be to drop some kayaks in the lake like our Waterton friends could do, and dreamed of future days when we can do that.  Our next rendevous was with a neighboring cheese farm.  The gouda was gooda enough (Noel’s joke).  An added bonus was our free access to the farm which allowed us to approach sheep (who cowered in terror) and pet the goats and dairy cows.  All the extras (gelato too) helped to pad our picnic taken out of Subie’s fridge (the cooler).  Freedom at it’s best.  We then headed toward Vancouver on route 7, which paralled the bigger highway 1.  We didn’t make it into Vancouver as planned, but  stopped about twenty miles east in Surrey.  We enjoyed the pool at the Holiday Inn Express, played a new water game of “treasure hunt” and enjoyed  a delicious greek meal from a local restaurant.  The decision to exit when we did was a good lucky choice.

Banff, Lake Louise, and The Frasier Valley in a Day

As Corey wrote a couple of days ago, we left Canmore and drove Highway 1 through Banff.  Highway 1 had changed a lot since the last time we rode that trail.  Last I saw 1, she was an understated two lane road winding through the prairie.  When I left the road to go south of Medicine Hat, there were just hints of the coming mountains.  Now, meeting 1 after K County, I found a force of a road speeding through the heart of the Canadian Rockies.  Still, I sensed the country boy in the beast and it was not long before there were checkpoints (one needs a pass to enter into Banff NP) and, a little bit down the road, it was a two lane route again with stoplights, intersections, etc.  Corey talked a little yesterday about Henna’s eye and it really put a damper on our mood.  Rain came too and we did not get to play much in the great Canadian wilderness.  We did see Lake Louise and it was a shock to our system.  Waterton and Cameron Lake are by no means untouched, but Lake Louise was an amusement park in comparison.  Four mega parking lots were needed to accommodate the daily tourists.  A massive hotel was at the lake shore and people by the hundreds lined the shore to snap a picture, eat some ice cream, and buy a t-shirt or a postcard.  What made us really laugh was the sign directly in front of the lake stating how delicate an ecosystem the surrounding lake was, and how people should tread lightly here.  Hmm.

After leaving Lake Louise we drove some more and for the first time this trip, road construction seriously impeded our progress.  The scenery was beautiful and as Corey mentioned we found a great boardwalk trail and  picnic area were we cooked up some fish.  The fish was good, but there was no way to do dishes afterwards and our car reeked (still reeks) of fish.  Shortly after lunch we pulled into Revelstoke and I was immediately won over.  Although obviously influenced by tourists, it had a very genuineness that we found refreshing.  We had some dessert (I had a tasty Nanaimo bar) and coffee and our mood lifted.  Shortly afterwards the clouds began to lift and we camped at a KOA in Sicamus.  If it was not for the loud highway noise and mosquitoes it would have been heaven.  Henna and I swam in the outside pool (60 degrees outside but the pool was heated).  This morning I woke up and the trip continued.  Drove to Kamloops where I had an oil change and then took 5 (a true interstate where one can drive 110 KPH or about 70) and the scenery again amazed me.  This time the view was of deep valleys that we seemed to both be in and above at the same time.  At Hope I talked Rambo with the kids at the visitor center (First Blood was filmed here) and then hiked the Othello Tunnels which consist of former railroad tunnels and bridges overlooking white water and a valley.  I write these words now at a semi-private campground with too much loud music coming from my neighbors.  Tomorrow we hope to see Vancouver and then Monday we will take a ferry to the island.