We were probably the first people on the block to have our Christmas tree up. Before Black Friday even. But we were feeling enthused. So out of its box came our artificial Charlie Brown tree, purchased from Nu-To-You a few years ago. With a little discriminate limb bending, a wooden skew to keep the top straight and lots of decorations it looked mighty fine.
But the main event of our winter season holidaze was a trip to Alberta. Up bright and early to catch that first boat to the mainland and then a speedy, snowy trip over the Coquihalla Highway. Thank goodness for four wheel drive! The snow thinned when we got down to Kamloops where we stopped for a late lunch at Harold’s on the Trans Canada highway. Then onwards while there was still daylight…
As we wound our way towards Salmon Arm snow began to appear once again. We arrived in Salmon Arm at twilight by which time I was ready to stop for the night. We stayed at the local Travelodge, lured by the free wifi and hot tub. The hot tub was wonderful after the drive. Then we did a quick walking tour of downtown, which was decidedly cold. Next morning we arose to a fresh blanket of snow. While we warmed the car I photographed the view of the neighbouring, incongruous, hot tub, pool etc. outlet.
We left early as we wanted to arrive in Calgary by dark but also have enough time for stops and any bad road conditions. We made a brief stop at Craigellachie where the last spike was driven in the Canadian transcontinental railroad.
I took a self portrait surrounded by the railroad workers.
My wintery beard made me one with the crowd.
The highway in and out of Revelstoke was the snowiest part of our journey east.
By the time we got into the National Park the skies were clearing, allowing us to see the magnificent Rockies.
We had a quick stop in Banff where I observed it was still cold, cold, cold.
It was so cold people carried large caches of emergency food on their cars.
The sun was starting to set so we hurtled out of the Rockies. But no matter how fast we hurtled others were faster, passing us and tossing up rocks, some of which chipped our poor little Suzuki’s windshield. As we drove through the foothills the sun began setting behind us.
By the time we reached Sue’s sister’s house in Calgary the sky was flaming (not to be confused with the Sunset of the Calgary Flames).
After dinner we went to watch Sue’s nephew Sean (age 10) play hockey. It brought back memories of my own hockey days, although I think the kids we saw play were playing better and had better equipment than when I was their age.
The big green A on Sean’s sweater made it easy to keep track of him in the flurry of action. Meanwhile we were making lots of noise from the stands, beating our thundersticks and screaming encouragement.
The next day we drove to Rocky Mountain House taking Rian, Sean’s younger brother, with us. Rian couldn’t believe we wouldn’t eat at McDonalds so we compromised and ate at A&W. How long has it been? The sunny weather continued but it was cold, cold, cold. Fortunately for us a chinook (a warm wind over the mountains) was on its way.
We spent several lovely days in RMH, surrounded by family and stuffing our faces with an endless supply of excellent food. Both the inside and the outside of Sue’s parents’ home were beautifully decorated for Christmas.
The chinook warmed the air to a more reasonable zero degrees and I actually ventured out. On the sunny Christmas morning I drove out to Nordeg seeking photo ops. The first bit of the drive was on compacted snow but once I hit the main highway it was clear pavement. Noticing many deer along the road I kept a wary eye out for them leaping in front of me. But when I saw the elk I stopped.
After several days of eating, watching movies and generally lazing about with family it was time to hit the road and start back home to warm, warm, warm BC.
We stopped briefly at Sylvan Lake where I observed the contrast between the old and new.
We spent a night in Calgary and took in another hockey game; this one even more exciting because it was Sue’s 6 year old nephew, Rian, playing. More exciting because the game just goes: no whistles, no penalties, just lots of action (some of it quite funny).
Then it was up and out early in the morning to make the most of what winter daylight we had.
The drive through the foothills in the early morning light was beautiful.
As we drove into the Rockies the skies became darker and darker.
By the time we got to Lake Louise the snow was falling and the highway getting messy. The good thing was that people slowed down and generally didn’t pass, which meant less rocks flying at the windshield. Once again we put the car in 4WD and cruised along, iPod on and staying warm and happy. Nearing Golden we were accompanied by some Mountain Sheep; they of the amazing horns…
As we continued our journey through the mountains the skies lightened and the sun broke through, lighting the wintery scene.
We saw a few cars that’d spun off the highway and one semi lying on its side near Sicamous. But road conditions got steadily better as we progressed and we pulled into Kamloops around dusk. Once again we got a motel with not only wifi but a hot tub!
Next day we decided we had enough time to take the more leisurely Trans Canada highway through the Fraser Canyon, rather than the quicker but higher and messier Coquihalla. The through the hills out of Kamloops was wonderful with very little traffic. We stopped once in a while to admire the views.
Soon we were in the Fraser Canyon. The traffic continued to be light, making it a very enjoyable drive. I missed one photo op of an old church in the sunlight on the opposite side of the Fraser River but stopped at Spence’s Bridge to snap a photo of another classic.
We stopped occasionally to gaze down at the river below.
The day continued to be gorgeous marred only by possibly the worst eggs benny ever at a small restaurant in Hope (we had several good laughs at just how bad they were!). But the journey was coming to an end for us and our constant companion, Stewie.
(note the mud on the Suzuki’s hood – the result of a snowplow temporarily blinding me somewhere in the Rockies).
Coming home on the ferry we experienced a rare hailstorm. By the time we drove off the ferry onto Pender Island a blanket of white covered the ground. And it was cold, cold, cold! What the….???