Sunday September 24, 2017 (Canada)
Witness the haze of the BC wildfires! It wasn't exactly the welcome we were hoping for, but our arrival in BC was greeted with a seriously bizarre-looking sky. It felt like that classic two-sunned image of Tatooine in Star Wars. Deep red sun and grey sky. Visibility? About a kilometre? If you're lucky? Again, not the best timing for our grand introduction to BC living, but hopefully (for everybody involved!) the fires calm down.
On the way to the border, it became evident that my extensive punning was rubbing off on Sandra. "We'll BC-ing you soon!", she said. I'm so proud. So proud.
I particularly liked British Columbia's aggressive marketing upon entering the province. The Alberta welcome sign? "Wild rose country". Nice. BC? The best place on Earth. Let's not pull any punches here! We might even be able to extend that from Earth to… best place in the galaxy! No qualifiers! It's the best! You've gotta respect them shooting for the moon on this one.
As we transitioned from Jasper National Park to Mt Robson Provincial Park (crossing the border from Alberta to BC), we managed to get a reasonably clear view of the peak of Mt Robson. Plus the appropriate degree of haze, naturally. We were warned that it's always a good idea to take a picture of Robson if you're able to see the peak, because it's perennially shrouded in the clouds. Who are we to ignore advice?
We'd been told to check out Wells Gray Provincial Park in BC. It's famous for a beautiful waterfall by the name of Helmcken Falls. Of course, we got the hazy version of it… but maybe it adds an aura of mystery to the picture? Serenity? A bit of a drive past the waterfall is an area called Bailey's Chute. You have to drive along a lengthy gravel road to get there, but we were told we'd be able to see the salmon run! And indeed we did!
My expectations were that I'd see hundreds of salmon jumping en-masse. The quantity wasn't exactly as I'd hoped, but the quality sure was! I'd say on average you'd see a big salmon leap out of the water every thirty seconds or so, and these fellas were putting on quite a show! From the look of the area, I have no idea how any fish could make it up this section of the river. It is powerful! And not only is there a massive amount of water moving through the rapids, there are huge rocks in the way as well! Any salmon that manages to make it over the first rock has another one twice as tall immediately thereafter. Madness.
This was an opportunity for me to try my hand at a more "sports photography" type setting. It's one situation where I was very happy to have more control over my camera than the average mobile phone photographer. I could hear the cries of dismay as folks tapped their iPhone screens whilst trying to capture a leaping fish. But the delay between user input and photo capture was such that they couldn't get any worthwhile photos! I was able to capture some fun pictures of the salmon jumping, but it was tough to get a sense of scale about the thing. Hopefully you get the idea.
After all of this dirt road driving, we headed back out of Wells Gray to make our way to Kamloops. We passed through Barrière, which was part of the McLure fire of 2003. That fire burned for 75 days and destroyed over 65,000 acres of forest. It was started by a discarded cigarette. Ugh. It's crazy to see how evident the fire is even fourteen years after it was extinguished.
We continued on toward Kamloops, where a high-school friend of mine now lives. She graciously offered to host us for the evening, and we had a lovely evening chatting with her family and playing euchre! She's originally from Ontario, and apparently it's only really eastern Canadians who have any concept of the incredible game of euchre. She's working on popularizing it out west! Sandra and I are always up for a good game of euchre, so we had a fantastic time! It was our first night on the trip where we stayed overnight with friends. What a treat!
It's funny: we'd allocated a bunch of time in each province as we drove across the country, but we really didn't have much time allocated to BC itself. Perhaps the built-in assumption was that we'd be able to explore the province once we'd fully relocated, but our schedule only really allotted two stops in BC before arriving in Victoria. From Kamloops we'll be heading to Vancouver, and then from Vancouver to our final destination of Victoria! The end of the Trans-Canada Highway!