STATIONBREAK.CA

TRAVEL TRIPS #1


TRAVEL TRIPS
#1

NEW:  CHRIS PATON's  6 Day Mountain Getaway (BC)
Posted Aug 24 2019

Like so many of us who live here in BC, I felt as if I knew what the mountains were all about. After all, I've lived most of my life in Vancouver where every morning, just beyond my apartment balcony, the North Shore mountains rise up with the sun. On business trips I've been back, forth, through and over the mountains countless times – always in a rush to get past what I thought of as just great big rock obstacles on either side of the road. My attitude changed this past spring after a close friend and onetime CBC colleague, Bruce McKay, suggested we go on a photo taking adventure through the Rocky Mountains – but this time at a far more leisurely pace. His idea was an opportunity for me to see what I'd missed all those years. It turned out I'd missed a lot. What I saw this spring was spectacular and awe inspiring.

The plan was for a 6 day trip – the perfect length for an easy getaway. We chose to travel in the spring, mostly in order to lessen the looming possibility of fires and smoke along the way, but also to avoid the crowds during tourist season. Our research and planning paid off beautifully. The days were never rushed, but still filled with fascinating sights to see and fun times to enjoy. My friend flew out to Vancouver from his home in Toronto, so ours would be a one way journey that would finish in Calgary. But others can easily drive round trip, maybe coming back on a southern route.

The adventure focused on the canyons and territory of the Fraser and Thompson Rivers east of Vancouver, and then on the mountains of eastern BC and western Alberta. Fair to say that two different passenger rail services run along much of our route, but we chose to drive and have the flexibility to stop, explore and photograph whatever caught the eye. And so much did, wonders big and small inside some of the most beautiful National Parks in Canada. At some stops on our itinerary, we even discovered wonderful manmade works of art.

One such stop came about at the covered Kicking Horse Pedestrian Bridge, also known as the pride and joy of the town of Golden. This beautiful bridge is artfully constructed to fit seamlessly into its natural setting. It becomes even more significant upon learning of its history. In 200l, 100 members of the Timber Framers Guild traveled to Golden from Europe, the U.S. and from all over Canada to help raise the bridge, making this masterpiece of construction an elegant, graceful and unforgettable testimony to cooperation and goodwill.

In a similar manmade piece of history, Nicolas Morant became a legend in the history of the Bow Valley by creating one completely captivating photograph. His is another fascinating story, this time built around a place now known as Morant's Curve. Morant was an early photographer employed by the CPR in 1929. At some time after that date, at exactly the right moment, he took a photograph of a train coming around an S-shaped curve in the Bow River south of Lake Louise. The composition of the picture is near photographic perfection – so beautifully set against a backdrop of mountains and tall green trees, you can almost hear the rumbling as the train curves round an ample bend in the river and chugs toward his camera.

Over the years that photograph has become famous enough that fans of the picture gather at the site just above the spot where Morant first snapped the original picture. There is no reliable schedule that dictates exactly when a train will appear, but with picnic lunch in hand and cameras nearby and ready, we happily sat in the spring sun waiting for the moment to arrive. When we heard wheels scrape and squeal in the distance we grabbed the cameras and headed for the railing. But this train was coming from our left and heading into the curve, not coming right at us in the dramatic way Morant's train had done. But no matter, it still made for wonderful picture taking, and interesting speculation about what Nicolas, a working photographer, dead now for 90 years, might think about people traveling from countries all over the world with the hope of duplicating just that one single perfect photograph from his lifetime collection of work.

It seemed likely that our Morant's Curve sighting would be the last train we'd see, but we shouldn't have been surprised that it wasn't. Right from day one of our trip we had freight car sightings almost every time we looked out the car windows – trains running parallel to the highways, or across the rivers, or in colorful box car glimpses caught between stands of enormous trees – all a testament to the importance of rail transport to the economic life of the area. But beyond that, a validation of the deep rooted Canadian romance with trains and tracks since 1885 – the year when the last spike was set and driven at Craigellachie in Eagle Pass British Columbia – another stop we made earlier on our tour. There is an undeniable wistful, wonderful yearning set off at the sight of tracks and trains. In the mountains, some of the trains are as long as a mile and a half and roll by like brightly wrapped processions of gift boxes. The mountains of eastern BC and western Alberta are truly a train lover's paradise, and we have pictures to prove it.

This article offers up some favorite memories in photos taken by both Bruce and me. CLICK HERE TO SEE THE FULL SIZE IMAGES OF THE TRIP. You can move your mouse towards the right side of the enlarged picture and use the arrows which appear there to scroll forward from one large picture to the next. If you see a photo that interests you, there is both a map and a trip summary included here to help identify where pictures were taken.  Here's hoping you enjoy the trip.

===========================================================

NEIL GILLON Trip to Cornwall,. England.
Posted July 25 2019

  Neil Gillon spent 26 years as an Announce-Operator with CBC in Prince Rupert and
  Kelowna, B.C. After retiring, Neil took the reverse direction of many and retired to
  Vancouver, leaving the Okanagan behind.

  Having long wanted to visit Cornwall, but fearing to drive on narrow winding roads, Lynn
  and I decided the best way to see the county was by local bus (more on that later). But
  how to get there? As we were travelling to London from Paris on the Eurostar we first thought of a train. Despite costing several hundred pounds we decided to do that except there’s no train the night we needed to go. So we looked into an overnight coach from London to Penzance. Amazingly that coast us ten pounds each. Decision made.  We sat in the seats immediately behind the driver, which meant we had to sit in darkness and so couldn’t read. On the other hand we were entertained by the drivers comments about other motorists driving habits and courtesy.

There were few stops along the way. One at Heathrow and another at a Somerset motorway service area for the driver’s rest stop. I’m sure there were others that I’ve forgotten or slept through. The trip lasted from about 11:30 until eight the next morning. We managed to sleep part of the way —maybe even a majority — but arrived fairly weary (more on the benefits of that later.)

In Penzance we dragged our carry-on luggage up the bumpy, steep streets to the previously booked Union Hotel. The Hotel claims to be the place where word of Nelson’s death first reached England. Some investigation found that’s unlikely to be true as British naval ships would have landed further east at Portsmouth, but does indicate the age of the place.

UNION HOTEL, PENZANCE
At the front desk the host welcomed us and told us our room would be right over the main bar and as it was Friday there would be bands playing from nine til midnight for the next two nights. A hard rock band the first night and a Beatles cover band called Not the Beatles the next night. Great! It doesn’t take much to keep my wife awake at night so that was worrying. Turned out not to be an issue. That night at 8:15 I heard the band play the same tune three times as a sound check and then when they started the tune for the fourth time at nine I fell asleep. Lynn only heard two of the soundchecks and we both slept through the whole head-bashing night.The benefits of the sleep deprived previous night on a coach.

The next night Lynn slept right through Not the Beatles. I heard most of it and was hugely disappointed when they shutdown at 11:15 and didn’t come back for a final set til midnight. Not the Beatles sounded great. The drunks who wandered out of the bar and sang off-key and off-beat, not so much. Still, I enjoyed free Beatles music, so dead silence on the third night disappointed. There was another benefit to being over the bar. The Union Hotel only promised wi-fi in public rooms (being an old English hotel there were several) but as we were over the bar we enjoyed great internet connection lying in bed.

There were two other “old hotel” issues we discovered as we entered the room: a very soft bed (again not an issue because we instantly fell asleep) and a dramatically sloping floor. So much so that anything you put on one of several dressers, instantly shot off onto the floor. That kept us amused for the whole three days.

That all being said we quite liked the Union Hotel. Great location for walks around Penzance, to places like Mousehole (pronounced more like Muzzle than a rodent’s home) and to the bus (I knew I’d get back to that at some point.)

Before we left home research indicated it would be fairly easy to get from place to place on the Kernow buses ---- but when moving from one historic attraction to the next we would have to ride a bus back to Penzance and then a second to the next spot. But when we arrived, the tourist season schedule was on and that meant double decker buses that motored along the coast, easily joining the places we wanted to visit.  The view from the upper deck of the buses confirmed the wisdom of our decision not to drive in Cornwall. Bus and car would meet at narrow spots, and car had to back-up to a slightly wider pull-out. A day pass cost more than the coach trip from London, but still good value


Some of our favourite memories include a visit to the Levant tin
mine National Trust site. We learned all about the development
of steam engines. For instance in this mine the elevator operator
had to know if the next cargo was human or tin. Humans
wouldn’t survive a ride up at the speed the steam engine could
pull the elevator. 



St Michael’s Mount is a tidal island very much like it’s twin on the French side of La Manche. We walked over at low tide to learn all the history of the island, owned by the St. Aubyn family since 1659. In the 19th century over 200 people lived in an island village supported by one chapel and three pubs. Legend says the last pub closed when Edward VII was annoyed by noisy drinkers and had it shutdown. But was he ever there? The first footing of his mother Queen Victoria and later footprints of Queen Elizabeth and the current Prince of Wales were bronzed and are very visible, but nothing by Edward. If he did close the last pub people might not want to remember.

When we left St Michael’s Mont the tide was high enough that we had to take a small boat ashore (but some people struggled to walk through chest deep water.) Other stops included the famed Land’s End (a tacky tourist trap I’d say) and Porthcurno where there’s a museum in an early telegraph station and the famed outdoor Minack theatre right on the rocky seashore.

After three days centred at Penzance we picked up a rental car and drove north on mostly wider roads. After a brief stop at St Ives (just so I could be the man met on the way to St Ives but surprisingly no one wanted to know how many wives or cats I had) we proceeded on to Tintagel for a look at the purported Camelot. I was always doubtful that this rock outcropping could really be the home of King Arthur et al, but once we climbed to the top, there’s plenty of room for a community, even a good well that still works. And after we returned home, I read an article about an archaeological dig at Tintagel (unnoticed by me) that has found  Dark Age buildings near the top. So maybe Tintagel was Camelot —if there ever was such a thing.

Next we drove a bit north to Boscastle ---- a small Cornwall
community best known now for a flash flood in 2004 that rushed through much of the village. It’s a lovely town, a bit touristy, but we enjoyed our Lower Meadows House B&B, our meals in hotels and looking at local history on several walks. One walk had the Forrabury Stitches as the planned final destination. Our B&B host gave us detailed instructions that worked fine at first. We made it easily to Minster Church ---- oddly placed as it’s nowhere near a community, and despite nbeing well above the river was inundated by two metres of water in the great flood of 2004. As we left the church a man working in the graveyard greeted us “Good morning me lovelies”. What a great day!

But it was about then that things went wrong as our instructions were to walk straight across a field. We did, but I think we should have been told to bear left and we ended up no where near the Forrabury Stitches. However we made it to the Stitches in time on a second walk. The stitches were a medieval crop rotation method and nothing much to look at, although a nearby church was worth the walk.

One good bit of advice from our landlord was to dress for ticks. We did, and after the walk our pants were covered in ticks. A good brushing got rid of them but just remembering them brings on the shivers. After Boscastle we continued driving north to Scotland with lots of brief stops at National Trust sites, like the spool and spindle making factory. But that will have to wait for another day.

CHRIS PATON'S PHOTOS

 

North of Spuzzum, the Fraser River rapids rage through Hell’s Gate gap at 3.9 billion gallons of water a second.

North of Spuzzum, the Fraser River rapids rage through Hell’s Gate gap at 3.9 billion gallons of water a second.

The first rail line through the Fraser Canyon hugs the curve of the river bank at Hell’s Gate.

The first rail line through the Fraser Canyon hugs the curve of the river bank at Hell’s Gate.

Craigellachie, where the Last Spike was driven to complete the Canadian Pacific Railway in1885.

Craigellachie, where the Last Spike was driven to complete the Canadian Pacific Railway in1885.


Revelstoke National Park – walking among giant cedars over 500 years old.

Revelstoke National Park – walking among giant cedars over 500 years old.

Skunk Cabbage Boardwalk, compliments of Parks Canada, a fun place to watch the world go by.

Skunk Cabbage Boardwalk, compliments of Parks Canada, a fun place to watch the world go by.

Wildlife spotting in Glacier National Park. Two Voles obviously thrilled to see each other.

Wildlife spotting in Glacier National Park. Two Voles obviously thrilled to see each other.


Golden’s Kicking Horse Pedestrian Bridge spanning the river of the same name.

Golden’s Kicking Horse Pedestrian Bridge spanning the river of the same name.

The bridge’s interior. Superb craftsmanship by master Timber Framers.

The bridge’s interior. Superb craftsmanship by master Timber Framers.

Yoho National Park’s Emerald Lake, a favored spot of boaters hikers and winter sports enthusiasts.

Yoho National Park’s Emerald Lake, a favored spot of boaters hikers and winter sports enthusiasts.


The Spiral tunnels viewpoint inside Yoho National Park’s Mount Ogden makes for stunning train photo ops.

The Spiral tunnels viewpoint inside Yoho National Park’s Mount Ogden makes for stunning train photo ops.

The long tunnels inside the mountains are the miracle solution that lessens dangerously steep train ascents and descents.

The long tunnels inside the mountains are the miracle solution that lessens dangerously steep train ascents and descents.

Icefields Parkway – proof of the irresistible call of the open road and destinations beautiful beyond words.

Icefields Parkway – proof of the irresistible call of the open road and destinations beautiful beyond words.


Herbert Lake, Icefields Parkway

Herbert Lake, Icefields Parkway

Bow Lake, Icefields Parkway

Bow Lake, Icefields Parkway

Peyto Lake, Banff National Park

Peyto Lake, Banff National Park


Lower Waterfowl Lake, Icefields Parkway

Lower Waterfowl Lake, Icefields Parkway

Lake Louise, Banff National Park

Lake Louise, Banff National Park

Moraine Lake, Banff National Park

Moraine Lake, Banff National Park


Morant's Curve, Bow Valley Parkway, and one of our attempts to duplicate Morant’s original photograph.

Morant's Curve, Bow Valley Parkway, and one of our attempts to duplicate Morant’s original photograph.

Bow Valley Parkway

Bow Valley Parkway

Bow Valley Parkway

Bow Valley Parkway


Banff Avenue, Banff. The last stop before heading to our final Calgary destination and a return to home.

Banff Avenue, Banff. The last stop before heading to our final Calgary destination and a return to home.

Map of the route taken from Vancouver to Calgary

Map of the route taken from Vancouver to Calgary

Complete 6 Day Summary to help in pinpointing locations where photos were taken

Complete 6 Day Summary to help in pinpointing locations where photos were taken