Friday, June 28, 2013

Ord Road ~ Cooney Bay ~ Kamloops, BC

Ord Road travels east-west for 4.8km (3 mi) following alongside the CN railway tracks that passes through Kamloops.  There has been a lot of development happening on Ord Road over the past few years, some commercial and some residential but there are other things happening that may not be as obvious.  Let’s drive Ord Road from where it leaves Westsyde Road at Batchelor Heights and see some sights on our way to Cooney Bay.

The hillside reservoir has a mural painted on the surface
Mural on Brocklehurst Water Reservoir
The mural painted on the Brocklehurst Water Reservoir was done as an Art Smart Program, which was done to cover graffiti.  Ms Nadine Matthews, part of the Mayor’s Task Force was given a grant by the City of Kamloops and she along with four students from the Brocklehurst Secondary School, painted the Rocky Mountaineer Train on the reservoir in 2001.

The train is a common sight as we follow Ord Road
Ord Road follows CN Railway track in Kamloops, BC
Nearby the water reservoir is what is called the Ord Road Gap (not shown here).  This is recently news to me but it appears to be a popular spot to take a bike ride downhill and do some aerial stunts while you’re at it.  It seems to be pretty popular with those who like to have that thrill.  You may even see some of them as they challenge that hillside. 

Chukars are a bird that seems to prefer to walk across the road.
Chukar on Ord Road in Kamloops, BC
Often found anywhere along Ord road you may see some chukars.  They were first introduced to this area in 1950 by the BC Fish & Wildlife with 17 birds.  During the next 5 years, several more were brought in and they successfully reproduced in our dry country.  

These bluffs are home to several creatures
Rattlesnake Bluff on Ord Road in Kamloops, BC
The climate in Kamloops has long been the ideal home for rattlesnakes and the Rattlesnake Bluffs were named for those in residence here.  In 2009, Phil and Arlene Theimer donated this parcel of land to Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC), which is a national non-profit organization that works to protect Canada’s natural habitat. Several other creatures make these rugged hills and cliffs their home, including birds, bats, marmots and Bighorn sheep. 

The unusual lines are a close-up look at the hillside
Hillside at Cinnamon Ridge, Kamloops, BC
Once you leave the Bluffs, you will cross over the train tracks and join onto Tranquille Road, which you can follow for another 6.6 km (4.1mi). You will bypass the Kamloops Airport, Kamloops Golf Course and several ranches as you follow along Cinnamon Ridge. This interesting rock formation is part of that ridge and can be seen from the road. You will often see cars parked at this point where hikers will be begin their walks on the trails of Cinnamon Ridge.
Two herons are seen landing in the water of the field
Great herons at Tranquille Wildlife Management Area
Springtime brings in some migrating birds to the fields in the Tranquille Wildlife Management Area.  The area will have Kamloops Lake fill in the fields when the Thompson River overflows its banks.  We’ve seen pelicans and herons on different visits and these two herons seemed to be feeling right at home here.
Our viewpoint shows Tranquille Farm Fresh and reflections on the water
Tranquille on the Lake
Just beyond this point, the Red Lake Road will turn off Tranquille Road and you will be approaching Dewdrop Range and Tranquille Canyon, all on part of the 15,000 hectares (37,000 Acres) of the Lac du Bois Grasslands. These along with the Cinnamon Ridge offer some great hiking trails, but be sure to see a map to learn more and stay safe. We stay on Tranquille Rd, be sure to stop by Tranquille Farm Fresh if you’re here on the weekend.
The 'No Trespassing' sign was ignored as hikers crossed the field
No Trespassing on private property
You will follow a dirt road when you pass the Tranquille Farm Fresh grounds and will come onto a parking area at Cooney Bay on Kamloops Lake. We saw some hikers with their dog crossing fields on private property where the signs say ‘No Trespassing’.  Please respect such signs, so that others may still be able to enjoy the other sights at this location.  

The lake is larger in springtime as the water sits over the fields.
Kamloops Lake from Tranquille Farm Fresh
You may see visitors with cameras and tripods in hand going down to the water’s edge to photograph some of the sights here.  This parking area at the end of the road is where kayaks and canoes may be seen loading or unloading from cars.  On our visit, some were getting into the river to enjoy a ride along the shores of Kamloops Lake.

Path is carved through the trees
Path leading to Cooney Bay
Follow the path making the way through a grove of trees that camouflage Cooney Bay from the parking area.  Depending on the time of year of your visit, the water levels vary so that the path may not make the lake accessible, there were indications that high water had been there at some point.
There are several old logs and stumps nearby
 Highwater beach on Kamloops Lake, BC
Here is Kamloops Lake, calm and clear on this gorgeous day. Remnants of stumps and logs are strewn about but that is all part of the lakeside, looking more like driftwood on an oceanfront beach. A couple of young men are going to try their luck at fishing, and I understand there are some pretty big fish in the lake so they should have some stories to share on their return.

Carvings in old stumps and trees on the beach at Cooney Bay
Carvings on the beach
As I got closer to the lake, I walked in front of the stumps that are sitting on the beach and what a surprise. The burnt out stump is not just an old stump. It has become a wonderful carving of an old character face! The nearby piece of wood is a checkerboard with rocks as checkers with smaller stumps to sit upon if you care to play a game. Someone had spent some time at Cooney Bay and created something for everyone to enjoy. I have since learned that a local artist, Brian Ferguson had created this work of art.
The journey of today has covered a total of just over 11 km. (7 miles) yet we have seen so many local treasures that many may not realize are here. There are miles of hiking trails up on the Ridges that would offer views of the great city of Kamloops and also these surrounding green hills, that color which is unusual here for this time of year.

Then there is the stump at the end of the road. You just never know what treasures you may find unless you take time to enjoy it all, wherever you call home.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Father's Day ~ Bald Headed Eagles ~ South Thompson River

Father’s Day is celebrated the third Sunday of June in Canada, as well as in many other countries around the world.   The day originated in the United States in 1910 when Sonora Smart Dodds of Spokane, Washington wanted to honor her dad.  Canada followed the next year and we’ve been celebrating Father’s Day yearly since then.

The high river water is calm for our boat ride
South Thompson River at Kamloops, BC, Canada
The day is to honor those fathers and father figures who contribute to the lives of their children, much like we celebrate Mothers Day in May.  It is a great opportunity to spend family time together and enjoy the day, no matter how you might choose to do that.
View from the boat as we face east on the South Thompson River
Father's Day on the South Thompson River, Kamloops, BC
We were invited to share our Father’s Day celebration boating on the South Thompson River.  The day began with a blue sky and promises of summer temperatures so we all gathered to get on board and enjoy the special afternoon. 
Russian olive is a sage colored tree that lines much of the S. Thompson river east of Kamloops
Russian Olive trees line the South Thompson River
The South Thompson River, like many other rivers at this time of year is still carrying much of the snow melt coming down from the mountains so although we are not being threatened with any flooding this year, the river is high and leaves no beaches to moor the boat at.  The water level will recede later in the summer and that will allow for beaches along the river.  
Duck Range can be seen from the river
Duck Range overlooks South Thompson River
We leisurely boated up the river for awhile, stopped along the river’s edge to eat lunch, where we did see a deer dash away too quickly for a photo.  After lunch we slowly drifted back downstream as we enjoyed the great company and peaceful river ride.
A bald headed eagle sits high in the tree
Bald Headed Eagle high above South Thompson River
The surprise of the day was hearing there was a bald headed eagle in a tree up ahead.  My camera, almost always ready, jumped into action.  Then, along with others reminding me, realized I had a new big camera lens to use that would surely give me some better photos, so I quickly put that onto the camera……and voila!  I do love my new lens! 
The eagle checks us out as we pass by.
Bald headed eagle watches as we pass by
I could hardly wait to see the results of the photos I was able to take as we floated by this beautiful bird.  He was sitting in this barren tree, as they’re wont to do, just watching the day go by.  He was not particularly interested in us and made no attempt to leave his viewpoint.  It is very difficult to judge his size but a guess would be close to a metre (about 3 ft.) high. 
The eagle holds tightly with his talons
Bald  headed eagle sits proudly in the tree
I was hoping that once I got all the photos I could, that he might decide to leave so I could get a photo (or many photos) of him in flight.  A full grown eagle’s wingspan can be anywhere from 2 or more metres (72-90”), so a great photo that would make, but he was happy to just stay where he was and enjoy the view.
The eagles sits alertly to watch for food.
The bald headed eagle watches the S. Thompson River
Our biggest bald headed eagles viewing was in the Fall of 2011 on a drive along the highway that runs parallel to the South Thompson River but that was not to happen today.  There are eagles that do call the area home but that particular day was an exception for us to see so many.  If you wish to see those eagles, click here.  I believe the population in the spring is low but I wasn’t able to find a current count.
The bald headed eagle is watchful of all around him
Bald headed eagle sits high above the river
I was left wondering if this was a ‘father’ eagle that we saw on Father’s Day but we shall never know. There is a size difference between male and female eagles but without comparison, we cannot tell. Eagles mate for life and are both involved in feeding and raising their young. The bald headed eagle is a great example of a family man in the bird world.
In honor of the day of this sighting, though, I say that he is a father and perhaps he is on a fishing trip. For now, he proudly sits high above the South Thompson River, enjoying the quiet and knowing he “contributed to the lives of his children”.