Thursday, September 17, 2020

Thompson Canyon ~ Thompson River Rapids

This year has brought changes that affect us all.  For us, we spend most of our time at home and very little social time other than a ‘socially distant’ visit with family.  In spite of that, we try to be as ‘normal’ as possible. We’ve decided to travel to Vancouver Island with our RV and enjoy the company of family and friends…. ‘socially distant’, of course. 

Waterfall at Spences Bridge

We chose the canyon to make our way down and back. We’ve often travelled this route but at different times of the year and always enjoy the variety of beautiful scenery we see, between semi-arid in Kamloops to mountainous terrain in the Fraser Canyon.

Thompson River

We leave Kamloops travelling west on the TCH to Cache Creek then follow south and the Thompson Canyon begins.  Rarely is the ‘canyon’ referred to by this name but it is that until the Thompson meets the Fraser River where it then becomes the Fraser Canyon.

Railways border the river

The highway follows the winding river which is lined by the Canadian Pacific Railway on one side and the Canadian National Railway on the other.  We also spot people enjoying a quiet location for a sunny afternoon on the river.

Slides line the railroad

There is a 50 million year history in this area and landslides have not been uncommon.  There have been eight major slides between 1880 and 1982 causing much damage.  Signs of them can still be seen on our drive. 

Years of erosion on the hillside

The Thompson River was once considered a premier river for steelhead fishing but due to the severe decrease in numbers of fish now coming through, fishing is now a ‘catch and release’ only during very strict periods in order to protect the wild stock that are remaining.


We did see a raft on this trip but not while it was in the rapids, much to my disappointment.  I would never want to ride those rapids but for those who do, the “Jaws of Death” and the “Frog” look like fun from my point of view.

Frog Rapids

As many times as we've driven by this part of the Thompson River, I've never tired of it and have taken photos every time!  Never had I noticed the 'Frog' but now that I know it by name, I surely will recognize him.

Great views of the rapids

White water rafting has become very popular on the rapids of the Thompson River since they began in 1970 at Spences Bridge.  They are rated Class 5 on the International Scale of River Difficulty.  Now that the river level is low, the rapids do not look as intimidating as they do in the springtime. 

Once we reach Lytton, the Fraser River welcomes its’ main tributary, the Thompson River and the valley now becomes the Fraser Valley. 

Friday, June 12, 2020

Alexandra Bridge ~ Alexandra Lodge ~ Fraser Canyon, BC

There is so much history about the Fraser Canyon Highway region.  Slowly, as time goes on, the old sights and buildings are disappearing.  We are losing those reminders of the history here.  But if we look, we may find.

I’ve wanted to be sure we got to see the old Alexandra Bridge before it was taken down or destroyed somehow.  So the plan was finally made that we would go see the bridge.

Keith and Maggie lead the way
There is a small parking lot on the highway that is part of the Alexandra Bridge Provincial Park so we parked here.  The sign points us to a path in the right direction that also says it is a ten minute walk.  That is how long it takes if you don’t look around and just keep on walking down and down!  It felt longer than ten minutes.

Old Fraser Highway
The original highway is part of the trail taking us down and for those who have been before and know where they are going, they were able to drive and park down the hill a ways.  Then there are the railway tracks.  Look both ways before crossing.

Alexandra Bridge
The original Alexandra Bridge, named after Princess Alexandra of Wales, was built to be part of the Cariboo Wagon Trail that went from Yale to Barkerville, BC to link the coastal and interior regions and serve the traffic during the Gold Rush days. It was built in 1861 but was destroyed by flooding of the Fraser River in 1894 and that bridge was never rebuilt.  

See through grid
I was so excited to see the bridge that I didn’t look down to realize that it was a grid platform and I could see the river down below. I was part way across when I looked down and saw moving water!  DIZZY !! It took a minute to move again, but I was determined so would keep my head up and get to the other side.  I needed a few reminders to face the fear and get the photos! lol

Grand bridge towers
This Alexandra Bridge is a suspension bridge and was the second bridge built to cross over the Fraser River. It was built by Joseph Trutch in 1926 and considered a very important engineering feat with suspension bridge technology.  It was used until the newest one, which is the one we now use to cross the river, was completed in 1964.

Spans 563 metres (1848')
The old Cariboo Wagon Road leaves a lot of old trails that can be used as walking trails today, more so once you get to the Yale side of the bridge.  We are now just east of Spuzzum, which has a history but with nothing but a few homes in the area, Yale is the town further west that would have the maps to show the trails and the stories of the history to share in their museum.

Alexandra Bridge on TCHwy
This bridge still feels very safe and did not look that it would be willing to cave into the raging river, which the Fraser River can be at this time of year, especially.  This location was chosen because it is a narrow gorge and therefore the best choice for a bridge.

View from the Alexandra Bridge
Now it is time to return back to the truck and this hill is much steeper going up than it was coming down.  I would recommend allowing yourself several more minutes than ten for the return!! lol There is a spot to view the river part way up, it makes a good resting area, if need be.

Alexandra Lodge

This is one of the last remaining buildings that sits at the side of the highway as a reminder of some of the history and it is the Alexandra Lodge.  It was an important roadhouse and part of the Cariboo Wagon Road and would have  fascinating stories.  It was lodging for the workers of the Alexandra Bridge during its’ construction and a lodge for travellers passing through for many years after.

The Fraser Canyon is part of the TransCanada Highway but does not get the traffic it once had before the Coquihalla Highway opened in 1986.  As a result of that there are many small businesses that have closed down which has created a change of scenery for many locations along this canyon highway. 

It also makes for an easy drive that allows you to enjoy the views this beautiful Canyon has to offer.  I am so happy that we got to see the Alexandra Bridge and am able to share photos with those of you who do not have that opportunity, we’ve saved you the walk!

Friday, May 29, 2020

Thompson Canyon ~ Fraser Canyon ~ Hope, BC

We are making a round trip to Hope, BC today and had decided we would go down through the Thompson and Fraser Canyons to enjoy the different views then return on the Coquihalla Highway.  The Thompson River leaves Savona at the end of Kamloops Lake and meets the Fraser Canyon at Lilloett, so we get to enjoy two canyons.

Thompson River and CP train
Although there is some confusion when doing the research for this, it appears that the CN and CP share their rail lines.  Once they reach the Fraser River, one side is used for one direction, the other side is for going the opposite direction, with the crossover happening at Siska in the Fraser Canyon. 

CNR tunnels
As we can only imagine this day and age, these rail lines were carved into these rock bluffs with many problems.  Construction was done manually with much risk to human lives 1881-1885 and the history that goes with this is not something we’d want to see again, thankfully we won’t.

Thompson River Rapids
Muddy waters this time of year with runoffs happening and the rapids in this part of the Thompson River are great for summer rides but not this time of year.  CN on opposite side transporting potash.  Always a busy mode of transporting freight, it is very common to see potash, coal, oil plus much more.

View from Jackass Mountain
We are climbing Jackass Mountain, elevation 2006m (6581ft.) which is part of the Cascade Range.  In 1862 the Cariboo Road was built for access to the Cariboo gold fields but the very difficult part was a trail to cross Nicaragua Bluff.  Many muletrains perished on this trail as they tried to traverse it, therefore the name.

Hell's Gate Airtram
The airtram at Hell’s Gate will be open again once the pandemic allows that to happen.  Traffic is light and over the years since the Coquihalla opened, small businesses have had to close down due to the lack of business, but thankfully the airtram survives. 

Alexandra Lodge
The Fraser Canyon part of the Trans Canada Highway was built in the 1950’s and it was definitely not easy travelling through here back in those days.  I remember sitting in the family car roadside waiting for another vehicle to pass by on those dirt and narrow roads during construction days.  It’s likely the Alexandra Lodge housed many construction workers at that time.

Bridge over Fraser River
We are now on the ‘new’ Alexandra Bridge that was built 1960-1964 and can see the ‘old’ Alexandra upstream.  We did make a stop to see the old bridge on this trip so I’ll be sharing that soon.

Yale Tunnel
As we follow the Fraser River we drive Highway 1 and pass through seven tunnels.  The Yale tunnel is where Lady Franklin Rock, named after a visiting British aristocrat, pokes out of the river allowing a very narrow passageway. This was as far as the steamboats could make it up the Fraser River from the coast. 

Yale, BC

The history of this tiny town is amazing.  It is hard to believe that this town of less than 200 people once had about 10,000 residents.  The Goldrush days in 1861 brought everyone north and at that time, Barkerville became the largest town and Yale was the second largest north of San Francisco!

I do find history very interesting now, it is too bad I didn’t feel that way when studying it in school! Lol 
Hope to make the Yale Museum a stop on the next trip down through the Fraser Canyon.

Saturday, April 4, 2020


We’ve been taking extra steps to maintain our health during this CoVid-19 pandemic and have been using gloves while fueling up and wiping down the rooms before settling in as we travel home.   We have limited choices as to which motel we stay in because we have Maggie, our beloved dog with us but have found them to be very clean and taking extra steps to maintain a healthy atmosphere.

Sunshine on the Cascades
We wake up to a beautiful sunny day in Redmond, Oregon.  This will make for a great day for photos with the first one of the day including those beautiful mountains of the Cascade Range across the way.  We did bring food along so eat most of our own food except for morning coffee and our favorite drive thru ‘on the road’ brekkies so off we go to begin our day.

Quiet times on Hwy 97
We have been following US Hwy 97 since we left I-5 at Weed, Ca.  It is the most important north-south  highway in Oregon other than the I-5 and the only one east of the Cascade Range.  Most of this highway is a two-lane highway and is fairly quiet for traffic. It stretches from Weed, Ca through Oregon and Washington to the Canadian border and beyond. 

The General Store
Sights such as this one are often seen along Hwy 97, although this may be the most colorful.  A small community or town may appear around the next corner and before we know it is behind us.  This interesting looking general store is about an hour south of Biggs Junction.

WW 2 Veterans Historic Highway
In 2009 the Senate of Oregon passed a bill to rename Hwy 97 “The World War Two Veterans Historic Highway”.  It was so named because during the war this highway connected several training facilities used by the military.

Crossing the Columbia
The Columbia River creates the border between Oregon and Washington before it empties into the Pacific.  Biggs Junction is where Hwy 97 meets Hwy 84 that can take you east or west and offers the essentials one might need when on the road. 

Small fishing lake
Although this is a very small lake, one must assume there are fish in there.  The sun is shining and that may be the first day of spring fishing for the locals here.  Wishing them good luck.

Wenatchee River
The Wenatchee River is 85 km (53 miles) long and drains into the Columbia River at Wenatchee, Washington.  The river has been the source for irrigating the many orchards in this, the Chelan County since 1891.

Beebe Bridge
The Beebe Bridge crosses the Columbia River in Chelan County.  The original bridge was a suspension bridge built by the Beebe Orchard Company in 1919 in order to carry water to their orchards on the other side.  At that time it was the largest privately built and owned in the world and the first in Washington at a cost of $75,000.  This new structure was built in 1963, much to the chagrin of the Beebe Orchard Company but with a payment of $4,000 agreed upon, the old one was dismantled.

Tiny towns of northern Washington
We pass several small towns on our travels following Hwy 97 in Washington State.  It was two hours from the Beebe Bridge, passing through these towns and five miles north of Oroville that we crossed into Canada at the border. 

Border Crossing

We did have a lineup at the border to wait for but when our turn arrived at the Customs window, our very polite and nice young man asked us his questions, gave us the information about quarantine and sent us on our way as I told him to “stay well” and with a smile, “I’m trying”, he replied.

It always feels good to be back on homeland but I know with all that is going on during this challenging time with CoVid-19 happening, it feels even better than usual to be home.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Oregon Trails and Tales

Day two of our travels home and we leave Lodi, CA under dark skies with promise of better weather to come.  We say good-bye to friends as they’re following a different route home and I’m soon to receive a text with “on the road again, just can’t wait to get on the road again” a Willie Nelson song.  A morning chuckle and a familiar song to us all.  Lodi was also made famous by a CCR song years ago!  I digress........ we are on the road again!

Blooming bushes
I don’t recall every seeing these blooms on our home travels before but they’re several bunches of them lining the freeway.  Safe to say they are bush weeds and nice to see the color. I've learned that these are called Jacarandas trees. To this point we’ve not seen too many things in bloom so this brightens things up a bit.

Good reminder
This was seen on every overhead sign we passed on this trip.  Such a great idea and an easy way to be reminded and with a slight rhyme, too!

Lake Shasta
Still very overcast here but the calm lake looks so pretty with the morning mist, colored banks and reflections.  This lake level varies a lot over the year and we’ve seen it at a very low level.  This level looks good, indicating the drought in California is no longer a worry, although always a concern.

Cloud covered Mt. Shasta
Now we see snow!  We are at 1100 m (3600’) elevation at this point with Mt. Shasta just ahead of us and although there is not a lot of snow showing, this road in the Siskiyou Pass was closed to all traffic only two days earlier.  There are many travellers who are not prepared for winter driving so precautions are taken on roads that we might not consider a problem if we are used to winter driving conditions.  

Weed, CA
We left I-5 at Weed, CA to follow Hwy 97 out of California into Oregon.  Weed has gotten much smaller over the years and now this small town is under 3,000 people.  It sits about 1044 m (3425’); we’re driving through the Cascade Range so snow is still visible in places.  Have often wondered how this little town got this name.  Turns out it was named after the founder of a local lumber mill, which during the 1940’s was named the largest sawmill in the world!  This little town of Weed! 

Gulls of Weed
Dining with the local gulls.  “Are you looking at me?” He had a pretty clever way of getting his lunch.  Signs say ‘do not feed the birds’ but they’ve figured out how to overcome that.  Just pull the leftover bags from the garbage bin and this fella did it quite easily, threw it onto the sidewalk and shared it!  The car had to stop and honk, then wait for them to scatter.  They have their own rules!  Fun to watch.

Clean up time
This area was hard hit by the fires a couple of years ago.  We do see this work as being a bit early in the season but likely taking precautions of clearing the debris to prevent more fires in the future.  Not a bad thing and no chance of fire spreading with all that snow on the ground.

Dorris, CA
Dorris, CA is one of several small towns we pass through on Hwy 97.  I’m surprised it is called a ‘city’ with a population of only 1000, and I believe the sign is outdated and numbers are fewer but the reservoir proves that it is just that, a city.  It covers 1.8 square km (.7 sq. mi) and has very few amenities but ... looking on the bright side....the real estate is very reasonable.

Cascade Range

The black clouds have disappeared and as always the blue sky and sunshine lift the spirits!  We’ve passed by Klamath Falls and are heading northeast towards Bend, Ore.  We see nice scenery and follow pine tree lined highway through the Cascade Range.  We will stay over in Redmond, Oregon located on the eastern side of the Cascades to end our travels of day two.

We are so fortunate to be able to travel and enjoy the beauty of this world we live in.  Not everything is perfect but if we can find joy and happiness in that which we have and what we can do, then we need to enjoy it as best we can and count our blessings!

Friday, March 27, 2020

Springtime California Travels

This is a time of many changes!  The Canadian Snowbirds are all heading home earlier than the normal time this year.  A pandemic has disrupted the whole world so it is time to get home.  The drive to get home doesn’t vary much from last year, other than knowing what is going on out there; the weather, usually sunnier, is the biggest difference in Southern California.

Windmills in Coachella Valley
The sun is shining, as is usual as we leave the Coachella Valley.  I-10 passes through the windmills, which easily outnumber the palm trees in the valley.  Traffic is fairly light at midday and our travels home have begun.  My camera is ready to jump into action at any time as the plan is to chronicle the whole trip home.  Have I done this before?  Guilty! but I still enjoy doing it!

Snow in the clouds
The mountains in Southern California often get snow and this is no exception.  It may be here later than normal with the current weather conditions and it does add interest for the photos.  I think that snowy mountains are my favorite photos, or at least one of my favorite.  The terrain through the mountains is interesting, too.  We headed north at San Bernadino on I-215 onto I-15 where we passed this mountain range.

Mojave Desert
The drive through the Mojave Desert after leaving Barstow looks pretty dark.  Weather forecasts rain and we do see it in the distance, but hopefully we will avoid it.  There were several new miles built over the past couple of years on this freeway, which is a definite improvement.  Our truck allows us to feel most bumps in the road so new construction is always appreciated.

Black clouds ahead
More black clouds ahead and we did drive through that downpour ahead.  So deceiving with curves and corners of the road, which there are very few of on this stretch, but enough to take us over to that big black raincloud.  Just a quick pass through, enough to wash some bugs and dirt off the windows.

Mojave Air and Space Port
Curiosity wins.  I had to google this!  This is an “airplane boneyard” or graveyard for those planes that are retired from their services.  It is also storage for the surplus and has been used as that for many years.  No more guesswork, although we were darn close, now we know what we’re looking at.

Tehachapi Pass
This is my favorite part of this drive today.  We have passed through Tehachapi and are now descending the Tehachapi Pass, although that is a misnomer as the actual ‘pass’ is only a small part of this.  We are now on our way towards Bakersfield.  The railway tunnel is part of the tracks that connect to the Tehachapi Loop, a feat built many years ago by the Southern Pacific Railroad.  It allows the train to climb the elevation and any train over 1200 metres (4000 ft) will pass over itself going over the loop.  The Loop is not visible from the highway but several of the many tunnels are.
Hwy 223
Before we reach Bakersfield we leave this road to travel towards I-5, where we will join that freeway to continue on our day.  This is a short drive through to a small town of Arvin situated in a valley of many vineyards and orchards.

Storm looming
Now that is a very big black cloud ahead of us!  The rain and showers get more now that we’re on the freeway.   Traffic is still light so the big exodus of Canadians is still not too conspicuous, but we have seen some RV's and license plates from BC heading north.  The freight trucks are still doing their job with plenty of them on the road.

California orchards

We pass several citrus orchards on this part of the travels.  This orchard is still covered with its’ winter coat to protect the fruit.  Blooming time shouldn’t be too far away.  We are usually either too early or moving too fast to see much on these trees situated south of San Francisco on I-5. 

We are heading towards Redding, CA to meet friends on the same travels as we are, we’ve booked accommodations and will spend our first night here on the road home.


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