Saturday, October 27, 2018

Othello Tunnels ~ Hope, BC ~ Coquihalla Highway

The Coquihalla Highway traverses some very mountainous terrain, closely following the old Kettle Valley Railway through the Cascade Mountains. Construction began in 1984 between Kamloops to Hope, BC. and within 20 months was completed.  It was a huge change for traffic travelling between the Okanagan and the Coast.  The Okanagan or Coquihalla Connector was completed in 1990.

Zopkois Rest area on Coquihalla Highway
We have travelled this route so many times since it was constructed and completed in time for Expo ’86.  In spring, summer, fall and winter times with extreme weather differences, we have made the trek.  The Othello Tunnels was finally added to our ‘stop and look’ list while on the Coquihalla Hwy.   I had been there but it took retirement and a leisure drive in order for Keith to visit for the first time.

Othello Tunnels
Not far from Hope, the Othello Tunnels are in the Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park and open for visits April 1 to October 31 every year for safety reasons.  Our first stop happened to miss these dates so we had to make a second stop, but worth making it back.  Some of the scenes from Rambo movies as well as others were filmed here, which adds to the attraction.

Walk to the Othello Tunnels
The walk from the parking lot to the tunnels is lined by the big trees of the area and wanders along the river.  The Tunnels are not lit but are short enough, taking caution and a moment to adjust to the dark, one can see well enough to get to the other end of the tunnel.  Railway tracks have been removed but there is gravel as a cover on the ground, some carry flashlights.

Coquihalla River
The Othello Tunnels were originally tunnels for the Kettle Valley Railway which was built in order to link up to the Kootenay Region to the Southern Coast.  Silver was being mined in the Kootenay District and transportation was required for this.  CPR financed the Kettle Valley Railway Company in 1900 and the work began.

Rocky scenes on Coquihalla River
Much of this work was done by hacking the rock by hand.  They used ropes and ladders to reach to do the work to create these tunnels in order to complete the railway.  They followed the Coquihalla River through these rocks and the job took 3 years to complete in 1915 and was used until 1958.  

One of 5 tunnels
Andrew McCulloch was the Chief Engineer on this Kettle Valley Railway project which included 13 tunnels, 43 bridges; the average mile cost $136,000.00, 5 times the average cost for railways at the time.  The most expensive mile was at the summit at $300,000.00.  

Steep decline from tunnel bridge to Coquihalla River
Andrew McCulloch was a Shakespeare fan which explains the names given to the posts along this route.  He used Juliet, Romeo, Iago and Lear as well as several more.  A definitely unusual choice of names given the fact it was a railway project but to this day those names are still used.

Bridge connecting the tunnels
The 5 tunnels and 2 bridges spanning 1.4 km from the parking lot is now the Othello Tunnels used for hiking and sightseeing and part of the Trans Canada Trail System. I’ve been told that the path continues past the last tunnel and offers a nice hike that has some great views.  We didn’t go there, maybe next time….  

Water worn rocks
There is no cost or fee to visit the Tunnels.  It is part of the provincial park and is free to all visitors, parking included.  Just another one of the great sights that British Columbia offers to all.

Sights to enjoy
The Othello Tunnels are also accessible from Hope, so one needn’t travel the Coquihalla to enjoy these sights.  It is a nice green scenic drive through the tree lined road to get here leaving from Hope, BC.

Tunnels chipped by hand in 1915
This remarkable engineering feat was  mostly done by hand by Chinese workers, as were most of the railway lines in Canada.  The Tunnels are only a 2 hour drive from Kamloops, so I've included it in my hometown blog.  Put it on your list of places to visit if you haven't already!

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Autumn Days ~ Barnhartvale ~ Lac Du Bois Grasslands

We awoke to a beautiful sunny day in Kamloops one recent morning, something we hadn’t seen in awhile. This one has some clouds in an otherwise perfect sky to reflect the colors of the sun and give us another reason to be thankful we are alive and living in Kamloops.  

Kamloops East
We are surrounded by beautiful sights to enjoy daily, from sunrise to sunset.  We have rivers and valleys and mountains and hills.  We have birds and bears and wildlife that share Kamloops with us.  We have wonderful friends and neighbors that give our city the life and serenity that we need in order to call it home.

A farmers hard work
We took some drives on the two sunny days we enjoyed and visited some of our countryside views to get some fall pictures and enjoy the sights.  If I were a real serious photographer, I would be up before sunrise to get shots of some of these beautiful places but that just doesn’t fit into the life of this “photo-essay-ographer”.   I only hope that my photos do justice.

Bose Lake
We visited Barnhartvale to see Buse Lake, but a bit early for what I was hoping to see.  Buse Lake turns a vivid magenta in the fall and although we’ve been there to see it at that time before, the sun wasn’t shining and just does not tell the story.  We tried again.

Bose Lake 2
Today was sunny but it was too early for the change.  I’ve been planning this for several years now but it just hasn’t worked out!  It is a pretty spot and should you be interested in seeing the lake with the magenta colors, click on here to see a paper article from a few years ago.  It tells the story very well.

Lac Du Bois Road
Our next day was on the other side of town, or is it other direction?  Kamloops sits at the meetings of the South and North Thompson Rivers.  Barnhartvale is east of the city and south of the South Thompson River and today’s travels are north of the city and west of the North Thompson River.  Are you still with me? Lol

Lac Du Bois
We are on the Lac Du Bois Road and enjoying the sights of the Lac Du Bois Grasslands Protected Area.  There are several small ponds throughout the area, which vary in size depending on the time of year.  We spent many winter Sundays in this area snowmobiling when the kids were young.  Bonfires, roasted wieners and lots of fun!  There is some very interesting information here if you wish to learn more about this area. 

Roadside pond
This is where we begin to find more trees to see the color in the grasslands.  The trees lined the road that bordered the pond, a good sized one, at that.   Several of these ponds are scattered around.  We’ve had quite a bit more than normal rainfall lately so I would guess that we are seeing more water than normal for autumn time.

McQueen Lake
McQueen Lake is part of the Kamloops Thompson School District and is used as an Environmental Education Centre. The Centre is very impressive and offers lots of perfect day visits as well as overnight accommodations for students.  It was many years ago that I made a visit with one of my kids’ class and remember collecting bugs and other goodies, but I have no doubt that much has changed and improved over the years since then. 

McQueen Lake 2
The centre is off limits to the general public but the lake is roadside and offers some great views.  Even with the gate closed, the lake is still enjoyed by other ‘students’ who stop by for a visit today.  Cattle is seen roaming the area, standing on the side of the road to invite us in.  Others are a bit shy and keep their distance.

Animals enjoy the sunshine

And what drive in the country would be complete without seeing the beautiful horses and happy cattle hanging around enjoying the sunshine in these hills.  The horses were in Barnhartvale and the cattle were in the Lac Du Bois Grasslands enjoying their free range life.  I do wonder why they were at the corral though, are they waiting for a truck to arrive to give them a ride down to the barn for the winter?

Monday, August 13, 2018

Hot Nites Show-n-Shine ~ Dragon Boat Races ~ Ribfest ~ Kamloops, BC

What began as a dreary wet Saturday slowly became an almost perfect day for Year 24 of Hot Nite in the City Show-n-Shine 2018.  We’d had extremely hot record breaking weather all week but this day was cooler and although the rain wasn’t invited to this event, it did make an early morning appearance.  It did stay away for most of the day so didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the crowds.

Cadillac Roaster
There were thousands of people enjoying the old and the new cars on display.  Many Kamloops participants proudly showing their vintage cars as well as several from out of town filled the downtown streets for us to see.  This one came from Calgary.

Master Sedan
This event begins on Friday evening with a Poker Run.  Saturday morning is early set up, some arrive as early as 5am in order to get the spot they wish to be in, or when in groups as there are no reservations made.  First come…… or early bird…….!  OK, you know what I mean. lol

Ford Coupe
There seemed to be a rainbow of new colors this year.  I do appreciate the vintage and the work that goes into these vehicles, let alone the money but the color sure can catch the attention!  This lemon yellow paint job was amazing!

This one is for Brian who has been a lifelong Studebaker owner and fan and involved in many car shows.

 The one is for Jim who enjoyed his Woody and proudly showed it all over the country, too.

Ford A
This was classed as Special Event and not being familiar with how these decisions are made, I don’t know why.  I found this to be an interesting car with the wood panelling, inside and out.  If cars can be considered ‘cute’ then this is a cute one!

1958 Triumph
Although there were not many to see, this motorcycle definitely caught our attention.  It may be similar to the one my Dad rode during WW2 in England.

Kamloops Mounted Patrol
Rick Wanless, the founder and director of the Kamloops Mounted Patrol established this great idea as Ambassadors in 1992 and has been seen at so many public events over these years.  The Patrol is still going strong and enjoyed by all.  To learn more about them, click here.

Inflated Fun
The crowd and the fun was spread all the way down and filled up Riverside Park.  It was full of entertainment for the young and young at heart and all those in between.  The combination of all the events is a wonderful reflection on the incredible volunteers of Kamloops who make these things happen and be such a success.

Fun in Riverside Park
The waterpark is always a great draw on these summer days and then to see these real ‘Cat’ products there for the kids to climb all over must have been a great thrill for the kids to see up close.

Music was set up in several locations.  Victoria Street had a bandstand with good music and Riverside Park had a band onstage at the Rotary Bandshell.  This is also the stage for the nightly shows of Music in the Park from July 1 to August 31.  Entertainment was scattered about.

Dragon Boat Races
There were Dragon boat races held on the river at Riverside Park which drew dozens of participants and great crowds to watch.  The Kamloops Dragon Boat Club holds this Festival annually and has become a big draw to this festive weekend.  For info on the winning boats, click here.


Ribfest has been a very popular addition to these summer days and offers a variety of delicious food from several vendors.  Some vendors have come from as far away as Ontario so that says a lot about the popularity of the event.

Yes, I believe it is safe to say that this weekend was a very successful event and once again, a big shout out to all the volunteers who work so hard to make something like this happen.  These volunteers have no control over the weather but the appreciation was shown with the great numbers in attendance in spite of the showers.

For all those car show lovers out there, here is a posting from 2012.
Here is another from 2014.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Springtime Water Levels ~ Kamloops Lake ~ Thompson River

Water, water everywhere!  The annual high water in the area seems to have reached its seasonal high and we can only hope that there will be no more damage done.  We dealt with the flood of ’72 when our new home was flooded along with the rest of the Oak Hills subdivision so we know well the difficulties that can come from that.  

Beautiful Kamloops Lake
Today we are looking at high waters but enjoying the views.  Kamloops Lake, which is 1.6 km wide, 29 km long and 152 m deep, has reached the high water levels but will hopefully soon recede.  These measurements would vary, depending on the time of year but we get an idea of size from these.

Debris floats down lake
Over 60% of the fluctuation of the lake occurs during the spring months of May and June.  The lake levels rise as much as 9 m (30 ft) during this time.  This is when you can see debris being carried down the river in mass amounts.  Most of which are trees, twigs and branches from the shoreline but many other things have been seen over the years. 

Scenic Kamloops Lake
The South Thompson which flows from the Shuswap Lake and the North Thompson Rivers meet in Kamloops then widen out to be Kamloops Lake until it narrows down into the Thompson River again as it leaves Savona, about 50 km west of Kamloops.  It has limited accessibility along most of the shoreline but there are boat launches available for those who like to enjoy boating on this lovely lake.

Savona Park
The public park at Savona is covered in water but it hasn’t prevented some from enjoying the sunshine on this late day in May.  Some were seen at the park, on the wharf and boating.  It isn’t safe boating in water with this much debris as many pieces cannot be seen so boat with caution anytime but especially now.

Debris gathers along shoreline
Savona gets the debris as it gathers in the small alcoves and the shoreline when the water recedes.  I am sure some of what we saw were accumulated over several seasons but it is amazing the amount that flows down the lake.

No marmots to be seen
McArthur Park has no damage seen by the high waters other than there being no little marmots out looking for treats.  Their homes are hollows in the riverbanks so have been filled with water causing them to move on, but they seem to come back every year.  

MacPark Slough
The Slough fills up high, making it much prettier than with low summer waters but again, it disrupts the local lives of geese and ducks who make their homes in these waters.  A deer and her fawn were at home just below this spot last summer when we visited.  They couldn’t be doing that now.

Momma Duck and her ducklings
As we were driving out of the park, this Momma Duck and her babies were crossing the road so we stopped to watch the parade.  All went well until they got to the curb and the little ones just could not jump up that high. We watched for a few minutes yet Momma was just standing there waiting, no attempt to help.

Wonderful helper
A kind lady went over and gently helped those little ones up over the curb while Momma just stood and watched, without making any squawks or sounds of objection!  Within moments they were all together again and on their way.

Happy family continues

What a nice way to end our sightseeing day.