We packed up and were out of Brenda and Ron’s by 9.45 a good record for us, I hope you are impressed!
Taking the road out of Jasper, en route to Savona, I plugged in the iPod, and let it play through some classical music. It was an almost spiritual experience, the beautiful surroundings, blue sky and sunshine, and Bach, Mozart, Vivaldi and Beethoven playing gently in the background. Later on it changed to Tom Paxton, very appropriate really, eg “Isaiah said it best – How beautiful upon the mountains are the steps of those who walk in peace”, also Joan Baez, Chris de Burgh, Aled Jones and Kathryn Jenkins, just to give you an idea of some of our tastes in music. And yes Haze, we did have Dire Straits on as well! 🙂
First stop was at the Yellowhead Pass, wonderful name, and great scenery.
We continued the search to identify Mount Robson, which we were told we would pass on the Yellowhead Highway (named after an explorer with yellow hair, apparently!) Each mountain we passed I took a photo just to make sure we had got the right one, and each time I did so, a sign would pop up saying Mount Robson was several kilometres further on! The road seemed just as scenic as the Icefield Parkway, with roadside lakes and rivers, and towering mountains on each side. Was it this one?
Or this one?
or this one?
Just when we thought we must have driven past it, a sign came up pointing to the Mount Robson Rest Site – at last! The weather was clear, there were some clouds, but plenty of sun and as we turned into the car park – ?’car lot’ over here? – there was the magnificent site of the snow and glacier capped mountain in all its glory. It was wearing a little cloud hat, which apparently it usually has, but whilst we were grabbing a coffee in the restaurant facing the mountain, even that drifted away for a few seconds and we rushed out with the cameras.
Setting off again, in no time we were leaving the Jasper National Park. The beautiful views continued however for well over half the journey. We stopped for lunch at the Blue River Services, for soup, crackers and a shared brownie. We wondered why there was only one person sitting outside in the lovely warm sunshine, with pretty floral decorations and mountain views, and the tables in side were almost full. We soon found out! A waitress came out with citronella candles, explaining that the mozzies were a real problem, and if we couldn’t stand it, we were welcome to sit inside. Rog assured her that he would be perfectly safe as they always made straight for me – and then he promptly got bitten on the wrist! For some reason these ones seemed to prefer him, and he finished his lunch swatting away. I only got one bite on the leg, which was pretty good for me.
We stopped off again for petrol at Clearwater, which had an Indian Tipi set up beside the tourist centre.
There was a stall selling freshly picked cherries, the size of small tomatoes, in the car park. Would these be tomato cherries, if you can have cherry tomatoes…..? 🙂 We asked what to do with the stones, having tried them, and the stall holder indicated we should throw them on the verge, as the crows apparently pick them up. Asking for a half sized punnet, as we would never have got through an ordinary sized one, we set on our way again.
Eventually we arrived at Kamloops. I don’t know what I was expecting, something like Banff or Jasper I suppose, but what a change! The land had gradually flattened out, and then we went through miles of blackened tree stumps, there must have been some horrific fires. The view got more and more industrial, and I have to say that Kamloops did not look an attractive place, and we were very glad we hadn’t booked anywhere in the town to stay.
Descending the hill into the centre, which didn’t look at all attractive, the highway then pulled us up the other side and into more hilly areas. Not wooded, still a lot of burnt trees, but we found ourselves looking down on a large lake, with sloping greeny brown banks. We came to a petrol station, and the satnav directed us to turn off. To the right was another industrial plant, but to the left it became a prettier residential area, with the bungalows and houses making the most of the views across Kamloops lake.
And then we saw the Lakeside Inn. Imagine an attractive wooden boarded cream and blue house with a traditional latticed veranda at the front, and flowers hanging everywhere. This looked better!
We parked up and went into reception, where we were met by a helpful Margaret. She showed us the room we had booked, exceptionally pretty with a blue toile bedspread and furnishings, but suggested there was another room, which they didn’t advertise, which we might like instead. We went down the drive to have a look. This one was not nearly as pretty inside. However, it had its own patio, it faced the lake, it had two bedrooms and a kitchen with fridge. No real contest, especially as the temperature was 31 degrees C outside, and this was the cooler room, with air con.
We unpacked (getting the hang of quickly hanging up what needs to, keeping it all together) and set off back to the store next to the petrol station for milk, and wine and nibbles to enjoy on our patio and enjoy the views.
Apparently there are two (and only two) options for dinner, the drive by diner next to the garage, and the golf club restaurant. Since the golf club is having a ‘men’s evening’ we have been told, which could get a bit rowdy, we will try the diner tonight, and the golf club tomorrow!
Just back from the Roadhouse Diner. Decor was every inch the ‘roadside caff’ well known in the UK. We both had a basic burger, and shared a salad and chips portion. Friendly welcoming staff, after sliding into a booth, I became aware that I was being stared at by a real character of a customer sitting over by the back wall. The problem was he was such an incredible sight that I found it very hard not to stare back! Imagine a photo of a Gold Rush pioneer, black baggy trousers and T shirt, suede boots, long shoulder length grey straggly greasy hair and long grey bushy beard, with a very large black fedora hat, with huge brim, seemingly welded to his head. Probably it was just as well that I had left my camera at the Inn, or the urge to take his photograph would have been irresistible, and I don’t know how well that would have done down.
Back at the Inn, it is far warmer outside than in, very pleasant to sit on our patio and finish the blog. Not sure how well we will sleep tonight, with the combination of the fridge and air con going on and off, the road outside and the main railway line, which is very close.
The heat has arrived, awake to clear blue skies, and already very warm. We have the second breakfast sitting, which might seem odd for a small inn, but the exceptionally pretty dining room only has three tables!
The tables face the lake, and are filled with birds and butterflies. We have a bird expert at the next table, and he tells me the bird above is a Canadian Robin, much bigger than our own!
We get busy with the sun lotion spray, find hats, sunglasses, midge repellent, and set off for the British Columbia Wildlife Centre.
Driving along in the heat, it is very easy to imagine this land as it was 150 years ago, with a posse of Red Indians appearing suddenly over the ridge of a hill.
This is not a zoo, but a place where injured local wild life is cared for when it cannot be returned to the wild. There is an education centre attached for children. Feeding is strictly forbidden, the fines for feeding wild animals ($25,000 for a grizzly, $3,000 for a chipmunk) and firmly enforced, and they want to get the message home.
However there is a grizzly feeding demonstration, and we turn up for that. The bears are shut away whilst their keeper hides fruit, berries and meat around their enclosure for them to hunt down and find. She explained that the two here are only four years old, still youngsters, and very playful, though the swipes they give each other are already strong enough to rattle teeth in their sockets. If she were to enter their enclosure, they would try to play with her, they are not aggressive, but she wouldn’t last long! Feeding includes putting food into trash cans, as the Centre has a contract to test out so called bear proof bins, and they need to keep their paws in!
From the grizzlies, we move on to the other big animals, but it is getting even hotter, and they are hiding in the shade. We visit the birds of prey, where there is a magnificent bald eagle, symbol of USA, who has been hit by a car and has only half a wing left on the right hand side. His frustration at being unable to fly is palpable.
We take shelter in the cafe, and order wraps for lunch. BLT for Rog and chicken Caesar salad for me, they are huge, Rog cannot finish his, but to my horror I find I have finished mine easily, those cruise clothes are never going to fit at this rate!
Out we go, back into the park to see the animals we haven’t found yet. We are the only ones walking round, as Noel Coward put it, ‘Mad Dogs and Englishmen…..’
Trying to spot the lynx is almost impossible until we see a back leg poking out of the undergrowth. Sensibly snoozing in the shade, which is what we should be doing!
And some other local inhabitants!
We tried to find the Kermode bear, a white variant of the black bear, but he had obviously found somewhere really shady to hide, and we couldn’t spot him. But this is what he should have looked like, you can see why we were disappointed!
By this time it really was too hot to carry on, and we made our way back to the car. You will recognise the sinking feeling when you realise you are going to have to put your shorts clad legs onto that car seat which is not how enough to fry them, and that you are going to have to close the car door on the heat in order to drive off and get the air con going. It does get bearable after a while, but we are looking somewhat hot and bothered when we get back to the Lakeside Inn. However there are the choc ices in the freezer awaiting us, and a chance to relax in the beautiful gardens of the Inn. Our room is beautifully cool, and we can chill out until the evening.
Dinner has been booked for us in the Tobiano, a restaurant attached to the local golf club, overlooking the lake. We have been given the best table in the corner, as requested by Margaret, when she booked the table for us. We settle down to glasses of red wine whilst taking in the view, and waiting for our herb crusted chicken on a bed of mushroom risotto. It’s worth waiting for, and we just about manage puddings, apple turnover for Rog and an enormous dish of ice cream, with three different sauces, for me.
And a final view of the lake, we are off to Vancouver in the morning!