Tumbler Ridge Road Trip, and Catching Up With My WP World.

Hi Bloggers, I went away for a week or so, and have been so busy that I haven’t had much time to catch up on my blogging obsession. But, I’m back.

Last week, I went out to visit my old home-town-in-Canada, Tumbler Ridge, British Columbia. I say home town in Canada because it’s the place where my family and I lived for 5, 1/2 years after arriving in Canada. The place is awesome and beautiful. It’s very small – a town of a few thousand people. Having lived there for so long, I got to know everybody in town, and they got  to know us.

 

SAM_4213
Somewhere in Alberta….. 

 

Its a long and fairly uneventful ride from Saskatoon, across the prairies of Saskatchewan and Alberta. A stop in Edmonton. On the road again. It starts to get interesting once you cross into BC and the terrain gets more hilly and scenic. Alberta has lots of awesome scenery, but in the north the mountains are more into the BC side of the border.

 

SAM_4250
Tribute to a young girl who has a cross of remembrance near these teddies on the road side. 
SAM_4255
The wind farm project – there are a lot of these turbines around TR now. 

 

It’s in the north of BC. Largely away from any major centres, relatively remote. It’s tucked into the mountains and foothills of the Rocky Mountains. It’s a refuge from urban living, and even farm land as much of the country is bush. It’s a centre for mining (coal) that is exported to markets in Asia. Being that it’s tucked away, and not on any major thoroughfares, its kind of like a world unto itself. There’s no traffic lights, no Starbucks or Tim Hortons, no Walmart, or anything else for that matter.

 

 

 

 

SAM_4253
On the road from Dawson Creek to Tumbler. 

 

What it lacks in services, it makes up for in natural beauty, and the people are truly wonderful. After being away for 4 years, I was surprised to run into a LOT of people that I know from my days living here. It was really nice to see people at the hardware store, and the grocery store, and the community centre that I knew and worked with.

 

SAM_4332
View from the town. 

 

I got back into the gym there. I put in lots of workouts at the community centre gym. Its small-ish, and quiet, but has all the equipment you could need, and being small its quite social so people are inclined to say hi and chat a bit too.

 

SAM_4276
I hiked up to the Bald Spot overlooking town. 

 

 

SAM_4400
View from the cabin I camped at. 

 

 

SAM_4355
Endless trails for hiking with views like this. 

 

 

SAM_4358
I camped overnight at this cabin. 

 

 

Advertisements

Book Review – A Walk in the Woods, by Bill Bryson

Hi bloggers, I haven’t done a book review in a little while. So I bought this book a little while ago – more on that in a minute. It turned up on the kitchen counter tonight. I asked the ex if she had read it, and she said yes, she has. She then said that she gave it to her mum to take back to Australia when she last visited. Seems the my ex-mum in law thought we needed it so she posted it back!

So, how did I come across this book? Well, I was in the States, travelling for work, on a training trip. I travelled to Atlanta, Georgia for the training. It was actually in a small town about an hour out of Atlanta. It was my first time in GA, so that was kind of exciting. I picked the book up at the Atlanta airport. I needed something to read on the way home to Canada.

What I do remember from that trip is that I picked up a nasty, nasty stomach bug. Here’s how it went down: We went out one night, to this swishy wine makers estate. There was some appetizers, and a nice meal in a really fancy setting. The place was about an hours bus ride from the place we were staying. Image result for a walk in the woods book

On the way back, I had a terribly uncomfortable full feeling. It was somewhere between ‘I ate too much’ and ‘I need to potty’ and ‘I don’t feel quite right’. But never the less, all I could do was ride the bus and get back to the hotel. Some people in the group actually went out that night to continue to enjoy drinks or whatever. I was not feeling up to it. I will spare you the details, but lets just say I practically exploded. Both ends. I was very ill. Seemed like a lot of the others on that trip ended up with the same bug.

Anyway, I survived, and I’m here to write about it.

Ok, the book. Its a good read. The guy has a genuinely good sense of humour. Well written, he seems like a really average guy who took on a pretty major undertaking. As most would know now the book is a movie. In any case, I recommend it and I give the book 4 out of 5 stars.

 

 

Floral Arrangement – a Prairie Photo Essay

 

SAM_3659
Prairie wildflowers in a take away coffee cup from a gas station. Notice the elevator in the back ground. 

 

 

SAM_3661
Where the f is Manitoba anyway?

 

 

SAM_3572
I caught this little birdy at an elevator. It flew, I ran. It flew again, I ran it down. I let it go unharmed. 

 

 

SAM_3553
Keeping it Canadian, eh?

 

 

SAM_3667
Yet another old barn… 

 

Beaches near Saskatoon…

There’s a lot of things that make this city a great place to live. One of the truly awesome things is the beaches that are in the city area, and a short drive away.

You could be forgiven for thinking that Saskatchewan was a land locked farming scene with no place to sunbathe or swim, or maybe you thought it was just always under ice and snow? Well, you’d be surprised. The summers here are very sunny, and warm. This province has more lakes than you can poke a stick at, and some absolutely awesome lake and river beaches.

The great thing about the beaches, in my opinion, is that there’s something for everyone.  Here’s my breakdown of the beaches near Saskatoon.

  1. Bare ass beach. This beach is about 20 minutes drive south of the city and is located on the river. It features a large sandbank, and there’s plenty of room to spread out.  Just as the colloquial name implies, this beach is where you can go to go nude, if you want to. In reality though, one end is for the clothed people, and the other end is for those who like to go au natural. I really like this mix. The nude section is well known, and even though some sunbathers may be in sight of the clothed people, no one is hassling anyone. There’s a good mix of guys and gals who like to let it all hang out, and everyone is respectful. Awesome. The only detracting factor is that it can start looking like spring break with coolers and cans and bottles being left behind. Not cool.
  2. Cranberry flats.  Also to the south of the city, but on the opposite bank from bare-ass beach. This beach is a walk down a nature trail. Its a nice little oasis. You could be a million miles away here. The crowd that go there are mostly men, and I would suggest that its mostly gay. People are friendly and respectful here too. No spring break crowd or stepping over cups and cans left on the sand. Its awesome.

    Image result for cranberry flats
    Cranberry Flats. https://www.tripadvisor.ca/LocationPhotoDirectLink-g155043-d7603128-i191938490-Cranberry_Flats_Conservation_Area-Saskatoon_Saskatchewan.html
  3. Poplar bluffs. This little gem is one that I only discovered recently. Its closer than bare ass beach. You can drive your car to a nearby parking lot then its a quick walk to the beach along side the river. The beach is long, and uncrowded. Its a really gem spot. I don’t know how I could have missed it before!
  4. Fred Heal canoe launch. This is another recent discovery of mine. Just a really awesome beach. Not as big as bare ass, or poplar bluffs, but a great spot. I went there recently and it was very busy, but then it was a hot sunny weekend day.

    Image result for fred heal beach saskatoon
    Fred Heal Canoe launch beach.  http://chiefwhitecapwaterway.ca/plan-your-trip/canoe-routes/
  5. The beach by the north bridge in the city. This is a big sandbar. Its a nice spot, but it gets busy with a mix of college types, and families. Its ok but I prefer a more laid back scene.
    Image result for beaches in saskatoon
    The beach by the north bridge. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=13H29qqumt

    So there you go, not bad for a big old province in the middle of the great white north, eh?

Most Epic Campsite – Ever.

Hey Bloggers, here are some photos from my camping trip last week. We were looking for somewhere to pitch a tent. Wasn’t too fussy – could have been in an open field, a rail siding, or whatever. The main criteria was that it was to be away from anywhere people would come by, and cost nothing.

SAM_3715

So we found a spot. Its part of a village museum. Technically not supposed to camp there but, whatever. There was no one else around, except for a farmhouse on the other side of the grid road. We drove for about 20 km up a grid road off a lonely stretch of provincial highway to get to this spot. It was really out of the way.

SAM_3727

We debated for a while where the tent should be set up, I wanted tucked in behind the church, we settled on a spot in a kind of depression in the lawn bbq area. It was really nice. We even got a fire going and cooked some dinner.

SAM_3739

I got some great photos of the old church and graveyard as the sun was going down and again in the early morning as the sun rose. It was the most epic camping spot, because we took a gamble and broke a few rules! 

SAM_3732
“Here comes the sun, little darling…. “
SAM_3723
This is the basic travel/camp kit. You really don’t need any more than this, really!

 

An old barn in Saskatchewan, a photo essay….

Driving on the highway today, we noticed an old barn in a farmer’s field. The crop is new, and we were able to step between the seedlings of soy to work our way across the field to access the old barn. I was kind of tentative, because this was a farmers field, and I didn’t want to be disrespectful or trespass, but it was an awesome looking structure in the middle of a crop field with no other buildings around it.

 

 

I’m not sure what type of architecture or construction you would call this. I’m tempted to think that this might have been built by Hutterites, but that would be flagrant speculation on my part. I estimate that the structure was probably 100 years old or so. It might have been for livestock because the internals had some segregation that was hinting at stalls or something.

SAM_3493.JPG

 

 

Inside was amazing. Looking up into to the internals of the roof structure it was absolutely beautiful. The roof lining had rotted off in many places and the sunlight was filtering through in a very nice display of filtered light. You could really appreciate the craft work that had been put into the construction.

SAM_3499

sam_3501.jpg

SAM_3503

 

Grain Elevators, Saskatchewan, a photo essay….

Hi Bloggers,

I have been out of town camping for a few days. We have been to some nice locations. The bugs are out in force, and there is a lot of standing water. I have no doubt that Saskatchewan is most likely the mosquito capital of the world. At some spots we have been literally swarmed by the little bastards.

SAM_3406
Canwood, Saskatchewan. Never heard of it….

As we are driving around, I am always looking out for these majestic structures that stand proud on the flat prairie that surrounds them. They serve as beacons in the fields. There is some real history here. These old wooden structures have been around a very long time. These days the modern era has ushered in bulk grain storage in concrete silos that are very impressive, but really lack the aesthetic beauty of their predecessors.

SAM_3411
Old. Iconic. Prairie sentinels..

They are almost always labelled with the name of the town in big capital letters on the side. These structures are located by a rail line. Depending on the location there may be one, two or more of these elevators in a row, and sometimes you see the different eras being represented in one site, perhaps timber, iron and concrete.

SAM_3416

 

Its hard not to feel a sense of romantic nostalgia with these buildings. It makes me imagine the times the district has seen. Normally, they are located in each town, so there is a lot of them. Before bulk storage and bulk transport and bulk everything else, the local farmer would perhaps transport their grain to these elevators to be railed to the market, where ever that might be. A group of farmers would likely form a co-op and perhaps even fund one of these facilities to service the district.

SAM_3442

Some of them are in good condition – especially those lined with sheet galvanized steel, but some of the old timber ones are really starting to deteriorate.

SAM_3423

We came by one that just begged to be explored. The town was small and quiet. There was no one around to tell us not to explore. I sided around the building and walked along the rail line to access the back of the elevator. There was a service platform with a rickety old ladder attached to it. I hoisted my weight onto the rotten boards and gingerly crept along the edge. I tried the sliding timber doors, and viola, they opened!

Inside I could make out a room with a number of handles – to control the chutes I suppose. There were side openings and timber chutes etc. Birds had taken over the interior and droppings were everywhere. There was a mildy dusty and musky smell. I continued into the building and was able to walk around inside and even access an upper level via a set of internal stairs. Out of the weather, this old elevator was in really great shape.

sam_3508.jpg
Hoey, Saskatchewan. Never heard of it…

We found another one, perhaps a bit more modern, but all the same beautiful. We could see it from the nearby highway and it drew us in, following a turn off and some back roads to get right up close. When we were there we took a bunch of photos and messed around on the rail wagons. Simple, country fun!

sam_3510.jpg
Every grain elevator has the province and town name on it. Its as if they do this so maybe if a farmer comes by and snaps out of a daydream saying ‘where the fek am I? Oh, right, good old Saskatchewan’…
SAM_3543
No apparent reason for this kind of behaviour!

Changing the channel….

Hi Bloggers,

So I’m changing things up. Its been a fairly interesting time with the changing situation in my domestic life. It’s just not working. I don’t need to get into details or disrespect anyone, I just need to say that my life is changing, and I’m ok with it.

There’s a ton of stuff to work through, but it will all happen in good time. Meanwhile, I am very grateful for the people who have emerged in my life in a challenging time to be there to support me, to listen, and to provide some good feedback.

This week, I’m going camping. A chance to get away from all the stuff that is going on, and to just chill. When I get back, I will be moving to another place to live. Probably a house share deal or something like that. My immediate family will be heading back to Australia in December. I will miss my kids, and I hope things work out well for my wife.

I’ll probably be out of the loop for a week or so, unless I can find a terminal or laptop or something.

And, don’t worry, I feel great!

Image result for waskesiu camping
Source Flickr

 

Hart Lake, BC. A simply beautiful place….

Hart Lake, BC, is on Hwy 97 between Prince George and McLeod Lake – or south of Chetwynd.

Its simply one of the most beautiful places that I’ve visited. Its in the pine pass – a section of highway that runs right through the Rocky Mountains. Its relatively remote, wild, and gorgeous. The mountains that surround it are absolutely epic.

There is a camp ground there if you want to pitch a tent or bring in a trailer.

It’s kind of tucked away, and in a very windy part of the highway, so its easy to miss. Once I found it, I could hardly go past without stopping in. Its very clear, and its very cold. I have run off the end of the floating dock (naked of course) for a quick dip.

Here’s a link to a map for the geography nuts:

https://www.google.ca/maps/place/Hart+Lake/@54.1013772,-124.080653,8z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x538f2cc22640cbc7:0xed35d1b99a295e36!8m2!3d54.4679635!4d-122.6512378

DSCN7696

DSCN7697

DSCN7702

 

DSCN7699
This is my daughter, when she was about 3 years old.