Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Kamloops to Sun Peaks, BC: Old Road, New Name

Kamloops, BC ~ Heffley~Louis Creek Road ~ Whitecroft Village

Many years have passed since my first visit to the valley near the settlement of McGillivray Creek on the road that leads to Tod Mountain.  The ranches scattered throughout the valley were homes to family names that went back many years.  It was fun for a city girl to spend the time at a friends’ ranch and experience the difference, some of which I have never forgotten.

Lush green valley ~ Whitecroft Village, BC

The names have changed and Tod Mountain Rd is now called Heffley-Louis Creek Rd which runs to Whitecroft Village then turns up the valley and takes you all the way to Louis Creek, BC.  At Whitecroft Village, at the crossroads of Heffley-Louis Creek and Upper Louis Creek Rd is where it becomes Sun Peaks Road that will take you right up to Sun Peaks Resort.  Have I confused you yet?  It is the same location on the map, (shown at bottom of page) although the road name may vary and it just doesn’t look the same.  We pass by this way whenever we visit Sun Peaks but we’ve not taken the drive to see the complete Upper Louis Creek Rd so that is definitely on the list ‘to do’ next summer.

Scenic views of the valleyThe Whitecroft Ranch once covered a larger part of this valley but over the years the ranching and farming industry have gone through a lot of changes and there are now several smaller ranches.  Whitecroft Village has since developed in the valley, increasing the opportunity for many to enjoy country living.

Early rising chipmunk
We didn’t see lot of wildlife but the chipmunks were scampering everywhere and looking for the leftovers from the birdfeeders hanging overhead. Some were up early and out there to pose for the camera but quickly left when they realized I had no treats, I am sure they were expecting some rewards.

Sunrising in the valley
The sun was coming up over the hill and slowly brought the day to life.  The steam rose from the lake while the fish silently swam just below the surface and the birds began their songs of the day.  I wandered about seeking every treasure of nature I could find, enjoying every moment on this beautiful morning.

Hill and valley reflections
The early morning was heavy with dew but made for a perfect picture to later revisit that day when we feel the cold of winter and want to remember how beautiful and peaceful that special place was.

Birds line up for buffet dinner
There are several B and B’s in the area due to the close proximity of Sun Peaks and fishing, also guest ranches for trail rides and hiking for other adventures.  This valley leads to many treasures and is a perfect place to spend some time exploring this beautiful area.

Calm waters in the valley
We couldn’t have had a better day to visit with the grass so green and the sky so blue. It was absolutely beautiful and the quiet could be heard for hours. I knew that we’d seen a little piece of paradise and felt so fortunate to be invited to share that with our friends. Who would have believed that fifty years later I would be back in the same valley to be able to enjoy a very different yet another unforgettable experience. How lucky am I ! 

Just sharing another reason why we love Kamloops, there is no place like home.

Follow Hwy 5 from Kamloops, BC north to Heffley Creek and turn east and follow the Heffley-Louis Creek Rd.  Clik on map to move and enlarge to read road names closer to Sun Peaks.

View Larger Map

Friday, December 3, 2010

North Thompson River ~ Kamloops, BC

We love Kamloops and we’re surrounded by the natural beauty of the Thompson Valley.  The North Thompson River is one of the natural beauties of the Kamloops area, but it seems to be the river that gets little attention. There are no public boat launches and the river has not been charted so it doesn’t encourage the summer power boats that crowd the South Thompson River nearby. That means the only boat traffic is the occasional kayak or canoe and that makes a quiet river to enjoy.
North Thompson River, Kamloops, BC
The North Thompson, named by Simon Fraser to honor his explorer friend David Thompson, originates west of Valemount, BC at the base of the Thompson Glacier then continues south and meets up with the Clearwater River, the North Thompson’s biggest tributary, which drains much of Wells Gray Provincial Park.
Reflections in the North Thompson River, Kamloops, BC
On this day I stopped to visit the Little Farmers Petting Zoo in the Westsyde Centennial Park, which I will share with you later, and hoped to see some fall colors along the North Thompson River from this vantage point.  Much had changed in the years since I was last down to the river there and the river was so much prettier than I remembered it to be.

Damaged tree in Westsyde Centennial Park, Kamloops, BC

There are many more trees in that grove than I remember, and they’re so much larger, too.  This tree, sadly a recent victim of this damage, stood alone but I remember a cluster of birch trees where we once had family photos taken nearby that no longer look the same, how things do change.
Looking north on North Thompson River, Kamloops, BC
Spring and summer runoffs from the winter snow bring the river levels much higher than you’ll see in these pictures and have been known to flood on more than one occasion but today I am walking the rocky beaches and enjoying the very still water of the North Thompson River in the Fall season.   It is a calm and quiet river today.

A path to the North Thompson River, Kamloops, BC

There is a walking path that follows along the dike that protects the park and Oak Hills/Oakdale subdivisions, rebuilt after the flood of 1972. If you want to get right down to the river, you will follow the path past the dog park but there are other access paths along the dike, too. Some will take you through a grove of trees that run along the rivers edge.

South view of the North Thompson River, Kamloops, BC
I gained a new appreciation for our beautiful rivers while on our Cross Country trip and that was that we do have some of the most beautiful rivers on this continent! We crossed many rivers during our eight month trip and few came close to comparing to the size and beauty of the rivers we have right outside our own backyard.
This just gives us another reason why we love Kamloops.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Winter ~ Kamloops, BC ~ Skiing ~ Snowmobiling ~ Hockey

Winter is not officially here until Dec. 21 but there are no rules or regulations that Mother Nature must follow if she takes a notion to be different.  Whatever we might think about the weather, it is often the topic of discussion.  This  year we got an early start to winter in Kamloops with a very cold snap and snow much earlier than we like to think is the norm, but this can be a wonderful thing !

Kamloops, BC, Canada
Winter for many means there will be fun things to do!  Kamloops offers so many winter sports and activities that it thrills those that have been patiently waiting for this early arrival.  Many of these activities are great for families and there are also some that would be too challenging for the young ones.  Whatever your interests might be, I am sure Kamloops will have something to offer.

New snow and Kamloops Lake reflections

Cross country skiing is a great draw for all ages, too.  There are cross country trails at Harper Mountain and Sun Peaks, as well as at Stake Lake off Lac Le Jeune Road.  It has 60 km (36 mi) of groomed classic trails for beginners to veterans of the sport.  Check the Stake Lake Nordic Centre webpage to learn more.
Hockey for all ages in Kamloops, BC, Canada
Skating can be a family outing as we have five indoor arenas as well as a couple of outdoor ones that you will find all age groups at to enjoy the fun it can be.   Get those skates sharpened and check out the schedules for public skating when you click here for all the arena’s schedules and much more.  Figure skating lessons, hockey schools and organized hockey for all ages are also available at these rinks. Check information for minor hockey here.

Winter scene of Kamloops Lake, BC
Snowmobiling is a great way to spend these winter days.  Those that enjoy this recreation say there is some of the best snowmobiling in the province right outside our door.  There are several locations to choose from.  A short fifteen minutes from town at Lac Le Jeune or Greenstone Mountain or less than an hour to Tod Mountain and Adams Plateau.  A drive up Lac du Bois to Tranquille Lake/Porcupine Meadows trail systems will give you a spectacular view from one of the shelters maintained by the Kamloops Snowmobiling Association.  Click on their name and the webpage will give you lots of information and the opportunity to learn more about their activities. 

Tubing down the hill at Harper Mountain, Kamloops, BC
Tubing and tobogganing can be done in a nearby park or hill.  It only takes a bit of snow and a small hillside for the kids to grab their toboggans and go have fun.  There are several locations around town that we see that happen all winter.  You will find the biggest tubing hill up at Harper Mountain.

Sunpeaks first snowfall of the year
And we cannot forget that downhill skiing and snowboarding is a big part of winter fun for many.  We are fortunate to have Harper Mountain, which has the family run ski hill and a great tubing hill that includes a fire to warm up by only a short drive from the city.  Only 45 min from Kamloops is the Sunpeaks Resort with world class ski runs and wonderful amenities for everyone.  Wouldn’t that be a great place to enjoy a family weekend.  Check their webpage for more information.

Winter sunset on Thompson River, Kamloops, BC
Whatever winter activity you may be interested in, Kamloops has it right out our own back yard and we welcome visitors with open arms.  We are so fortunate to be able to enjoy any or all of these fun things without having to leave our hometown, and that might include enjoying a sunset with hot chocolate to warm you. 
These are all just more reasons why we love Kamloops.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Allan Matthews School ~ Class of '57 ~ Reunion

Most of us have attended a school reunion at some point in our lives but some reunions are more special than others. It has been 53 years since we sat in our classroom at Allan Matthews School and that is pretty hard to believe when most classmates don’t even feel that old, but even more special was that our teacher, Mr. Len Fowles joined us.

Kay, Kerri, Don, Margaret, Maureen, Betty, Thea, Mr. Fowles, Alanna, Jo-Anne, Adrian, David, Lynne, Linda; (center) David, Kathy; (front) Sheila, Sue, Trudy

The class of ‘57/58 gathered to have lunch and celebrate the fact that we are able to ! It has been 53 years since we were in class in Allan Matthews School and there were 20 of us here to trade stories and catch up after all that time. Many had moved away but then moved back, which says a lot about our hometown of Kamloops.

Trudy Boultbee, Maureen Morrison, Mr. Fowles, Thea Boultbee
Many of us remain friends to this day and although some had lived away at times, we’ve maintained those friendships and have all returned to our hometown of Kamloops.

Linda Ashbee
Some brought pictures to share.  That brought back some memories of childhood friends.  Many of them had moved away many years ago, some have passed on but many of us are still living in Kamloops. 

David and Kathy Andrew
David no longer lives in Kamloops but travelled here with his wife to join us for this reunion.

Alanna Westerman
We’ve had several reunions over the years, some are grander than others and have always been based on our years at Kamloops High School.  Our 1965 class reunion is held yearly at a BBQ, thanks to Alanna, who organizes and hosts this event.

Len & Judy Fowles
Mr. Len Fowles was the Vice-Principal of Allan Matthews School in 1957and taught us in a Grade 5/6 split class.  He remembers us all and even our siblings, amazing how teachers just don’t forget !  He went on to become Principal in that school not long after.

David Marshall
David, who now lives in Kelowna, brought along his report cards and other memorabilia to share. He seemed to think that by giving Mrs. Fowles a chocolate bar, he could have her persuade his teacher to give him better marks on that report card! That didn’t work but gave us a laugh and he gets marks for trying.
Betty Johnson and Margaret Strom
1957 – Do we remember when?  Elvis recorded White Christmas Sept. 6, Paul Anka hit #1 with his song Diana on Sept. 9th and Perry Mason premiered on television Sept. 21.  These classics can still be found.

Lynne Beblow and Kay Delgarno
1957 – Buddy Holly’s hit “That’ll be the Day” was #1 Sept. 23, American Bandstand premiered on television Oct. 7.  We weren't even getting American TV here in those days.  Your rabbit ears had to be sitting right in order to see that black and white screen.

Susan Patterson, Betty Johnson, Kerri Colquhoun
You might recognize some of these classmates if you click here to see the picture of our Grade 6 class that was posted on another blog page.  Have fun!  Remember that picture was taken 53 years ago.

Jo-Anne Barrett and Adrian Taylor
1957 – Simon and Garfunkel performed as Tom and Jerry Nov. 22, Sam Cook had #1 hit with ‘You Send Me’ on Dec. 2 and Elvis was drafted Dec. 20.  We all have different memories of those days and many of them related to the music we heard.

Maureen Morrison and Don Youwe
This reunion stands alone due to the fact it is our classmates and our teacher, Mr. Fowles from elementary school.  We have a lot to be thankful for, that after all these years we are able to gather, celebrate and remember the days when we were young and things were simple.  Another reason why we love Kamloops, there is just no place like home.

Mr. Len Fowles passed away July 13, 2013.  RIP Mr. Fowles

Friday, October 15, 2010

Xeriscape ~ Desert ~ Cactus ~ Gardening

Blog Action Day 2010 Water

British Columbia has one of the driest and hottest spots in Canada. The dry interior zone is not large, but it is very interesting - snaking up all the way from the Mojave Desert in California, it makes its way through Oregon and Washington and into the Okanagan and Thompson River Valleys in the southern part of British Columbia.
Only a small part of this area, near Osoyoos, is true desert. But the rest of it is still very dry, with rainfall as low as just a few inches per year, and summer temperatures that can be more than 40 degrees Celsius! We even have tumbleweeds, cacti, and rattlesnakes - right here in Kamloops, BC.

Xeriscape Gardens, McArthur Park, Kamloops, BC, Canada
Xeriscaping (pronounce the ‘x’ as a ‘z’) refers to landscaping and gardening in ways to have water efficient gardening.  This does not mean we have only cactus and drought tolerant plants but choosing plants appropriate to the site.  A great example is at McArthur Park on the Northshore of Kamloops, BC.

McArthur Island, Kamloops, BC, Canada
Kamloops as part of the Thompson River Valley, is semi-arid and therefore has some challenges to gardening.  We’ve always enjoyed the luxury of having water for our grass and gardens but there are other ways to have beautiful gardens and landscaping.

Late summer garden at McArthur Park, Kamloops, BC
This style of gardening will create healthier gardens when proper watering and mulching is used.  Xeriscaping uses less water and requires less weeding, fertilizing, pruning, mowing and pesticides.

Indigenous plants for the area
Perennial xeriscape gardens can include sedum, coneflowers, dryland grass and most plants with grey or fuzzy leaves are usually drought tolerant.   If you wish more information, clik here to learn the principles of xeriscape gardening.

A cactus feature in a city garden
Combining several varieties that require so little water, including ‘hens and chicks’ and ‘Mother-in-law’s Tongue’ is demonstrated with this concrete birdbath.  A great suggestion for a garden feature.

A lonely cactus grows on a hillside in Kamloops, BC
Hens and chicks are a popular succulent evergreen perennial and can grow and multiply well in this area, with very little water.  I saw this one sitting pretty on a hillside all alone but thriving where nothing else was.

A large prickly pear cactus
Pickly pear cactus, history tells us, had many uses with the First Nations, including telling them when it was time to pick other plants, e.g. when the cactus blooms, it is time to pick Saskatoon berries.  They would use the spines to pierce ears, roast stems and eat them as greens plus it makes great pickly pear jelly.  Recipes can easily be found on the internet.

As anyone walking the trails in the hills surrounding Kamloops can attest to, we have lots of cactii in those hills.  Some are small enough to be easily missed but it doesn’t take long to know if you’ve walked into them, and caution must be taken when taking our dogs for walks on these trails. 

I hope this will give some ideas on how to make a beautiful garden area and yet conserve water.  This is a big problem that must not be ignored and we can all do something about it.  Every drop counts so let us not waste any of them. 

We still have a long way to go to avoid waste and conserve our water but there are efforts being made and this city xeriscape garden is a good example of that.  This is one other reason why we love Kamloops, there is just no place like home.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Sockeye Salmon Running ~ Adams River

Adams River, BC Sockeye Salmon Run
We spent some time at one of Mother Nature’s grandest spectacles when we visited the Adams River Sockeye Salmon Run.  This was the largest sockeye salmon run in almost 100 years and has been a great attraction for young and old.  The kids have been arriving in school buses, the tour buses come with world wide travellers and many locals have driven out to witness something incredible on this beautiful sunny October day.

Adams River Sockeye Salmon Run
Each October the sockeye begin to fight their way up the Adams River to spawn then die.   As sad as this seems, it is nature’s way and we can only appreciate the life cycle of the Sockeye salmon.  In the fourth year of every cycle, there will be over 2 million sockeye arrive, then the numbers will decrease the following 3 years.  And then the cycle begins again.

Sockeye salmon in Adams River
Sockeye salmon are blue and silver while in the ocean but they change color when they return to fresh water.  They become bright red and have a green head.  There are some physical changes as well, including the slight difference between the male and female.

Sockeye salmon nesting in Adams River
The male and female pair up just before she lays her eggs. It is easy to spot the pairing in the stream and she digs the nest by swimming on her side and flapping her tail. The nest is called a “redd” and will be about 25-30 cm (10-12”) deep. The male then fertilizes the eggs with his “milt” or sperm.

Male Sockeye chasing rival away from female
The pair would then move upstream as he fights off rivals and she churns the gravel, which drifts downstream to cover the nest.  The pair will continue this process until both male and female are totally exhausted.  By this time their bodies have started to deteriorate but they have now done what they were meant to do and will soon die.

Sockeye salmon eggs
With the water level of the river dropping, these eggs did not stay below the water so will be feed for visiting birds, I am sure.  But normally the eggs will lie in the gravel over the winter while the embryo develop.  The tiny fish will hatch in the spring and carry a sac of egg yolk attached to their belly for their food source.

Sockeye salmon in resting area of Adams River
As the spring comes and the embryo hatch, these tiny fish will stay in the gravel for 12 weeks or more until the food supply is used up then the young fry will swim to the surface to take in air to fill the swim bladders and can then start feeding.

Department of Fisheries tagging Sockeye salmon on Adams River
The Department of Fisheries use a method called “mark-recapture” to estimate the number of sockeye when their count is more than 25,000, which is too many to count visually.  There are 3 steps to this procedure, which gathers much more information than numbers, and once all the fish have died and been counted, the total number of fish that return to spawn can then be counted.

Sockeye salmon swim the Adams River, BC

The incredible story of these sockeye salmon can be seen when you spend some time at the Roderick Haig-Brown Provincial Park on Adams River. It really is a sight to behold and one of the many wonders of our beautiful country to enjoy. Just another reason why we love Kamloops, there’s just no place like home.

The peak of the salmon run does not happen till about mid-October so there is still time to go and see this wonderful sight. Follow the Trans Canada Highway east of Kamloops, BC past Chase to the Squilax bridge then follow the signs.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Summer Events ~ PowWow ~ Downtown Merchant Market ~ Farmers Market ~ Wakeboarding ~ Highland Games ~ Hot Nites Car Show

We love Kamloops for many reasons and now that summer is officially over, I will show you some of those reasons.  We are a very diversified city with multi interests and there are events for all those interests.
Kamloopa PowWow 2010, Kamloops, BC
The Kamloopa Pow Wow is a celebration of the First Nations Culture and Heritage. It is an annual event held on the August long weekend at the Pow Wow Grounds on KIB just off the Yellowhead Highway at Shuswap Road.
It is one of the largest in Western Canada and has competitions in drumming, costumes and dancing. There are also many artisans there who offer native crafts and jewelry for sale. It is a great celebration where you can spend the day enjoying the entertainment. Concessions are there to grab a lunch or dinner at so you can spend the day. Enjoy more of the PowWow by clicking here.

Downtown Merchant Market, Kamloops, BC
The Kamloops Downtown Merchant Market in July is a great showing of the spirit of the downtown core, the heart of our city.  There is lots of participation by the merchants and sales galore.  You will see and hear live music daily, as well as magicians and Chris the Clown is a favorite with the kids.  The Daily News has some great pictures taken at the Market this year.

Wakeboarding Competition 2010, Kamloops, BC

The annual Wakeboarding competition Wake2Wakefest, draws many competitors to the beach and spectators, too.  There were over 60 competitors this year and I am sure with the success and enjoyment for the family entertainment, it will grow to be even bigger next year.  Watch their webpage for news on next years competition.

Riverside Park, Kamloops, BC

We have the wonderful Riverside Park and Thompson River and it is great to see it enjoyed by many with events such as this. There have been many years that we didn’t have a water show such as this and yet with a perfect venue, I wondered why.

Riverside Park, Waterskiing competition, Kamloops, 1967
In July 1967, we were enjoying a different kind of show down at Riverside Park on the Thompson River.  The park has changed a bit and the styles were different back then, but some things don’t change, we enjoyed the entertainment, they just didn’t have the wakeboard competitions happening yet !

Highland Games, Kamloops, BC

If you enjoy Highland dancing and the music of the bagpipes, you cannot miss the Kamloops Highland Games held here in July. The Games also include world championsin dancing and piping. The clan tents offer help to those interested in family geneology and history information. For more information, clik here.
Farmers Market, Kamloops, BC
The Kamloops Farmers Market has been around for many years and has become a tradition to many.  The garden fresh fruits and veggies as well as plants, bakery goods and all kinds of crafts are available twice a week during the season.  See more and learn more here.

Hot Nites in the City, Kamloops, BC

This great car and truck show is another tradition that has been around for awhile and doesn’t appear to be leaving soon. It has grown to be a big show, even though it isn’t held at night! Now that is another story, learn more about Hot Nites on my blog page.

This is just a sampling of some of the Summer Events that Kamloops has to offer. We’d have to be able to be in more than one place at a time if we were to see everything that there is. This will take a few summers, but that means there are more great things to look forward to. Just more reasons why we love Kamloops, there’s no place like home.