Tuesday, June 26, 2007

I beat a fairly hasty retreat from the Lower Mainland area, as there are just way too many people there!

As I was not in much of a rush however, and the weather was good, I decided to take the scenic Fraser canyon route north from Hope as opposed to the more ususal Coquihalla (toll road) route.

I haven't been on the road lately and remembered it as being congested with trucks and RV's, single lane hills etc. But I found it to be very enjoyable, with very little traffic, lots of passing lanes, and great views of the mighty Fraser river - still at flood stage. Looking at some of the huge rapids and gorges, I marvelled at how some of the early explorers and settlers must have felt as they ran head-long into some of these places with no way to stop and marginal ability to steer! Yikes!

The road has lots of interesting tunnels as it winds along the banks of the river, most of them
built in the late 50's or 60's - you can see the dates in some of the photos. As always, you can click on an image for a larger view. Even so, all the photos on the blog have been reduced to 25% of their original resolution.

Don't forget to check out some of the advertisements on the page. You click on the ads - I get paid!

The railways run along both banks of the river as well, in some equally precarious locations. I wish the companies would get together and share the tracks ( one line in each direction!), instead of trying to force their own trains down the tracks in both directions.

After I got clear of the canyon in the Kamloops area it was time to seek out a scenic campsite, so I headed off on a forestry road to a high viewpoint over Kamloops Lake. It is across the lake from Savona, and after I had set up there and set Harley out on his leash, I realized that I had camped here before - exactly three years ago to the day! It looks like the pine beetles have been here, though, and a lot of the trees have died since.

Here is a picture of the same spot from three years ago. (Note the green trees)

Just 10 days till I am off again! Off to the Merritt Mountain Music Festival
Click on the link for more info. The festival does not officially start till the 12th of July, but we typically arrive around the 9th or 10th, and camp for several days in a 'lineup' to get in form for the main event, and ensure good campsite selection when they do open the gates. So far, I have been unable to get any decent wi-fi signal from the site. I wish they would install a temporary system like they do for cell phone service during the event. Maybe my new wi-fi antenna will be able to sniff something out? There must be a big RV with satellite internet somewhere there?

Holy Cow! Look at these new readers!
A few days ago it was
Camberwell, Victoria, Australia
Trk, Burdur, Turkey

Today it is

Auckland, New Zealand
Caulfield, Victoria, Australia
Lima, Peru

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Just a quick update from - another (!) short roadtrip!

Had some days off and headed out to the coast.

Discovered some scenery along the way.

The first pics were taken in Revelstoke, and the next ones were at Three Valley Gap, just west of there.

Click here for the TVG highway web cam.

Surprsingly, gas prices went down further west and were lowestin the Abbotsford area at 100.9

Had time on the return trip to follow the Fraser Canyon instead of the more direct Coquihalla.
That's all for now - back on the road.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Work continues to be interesting with large stretches of relative boredom (if you consider watching grizzlies eat green grain shoots between the rails as boring?)broken with brief periods of adrenaline. That is, if you consider escorting three wild grizzlies through the middle of an unsuspecting campground as adrenaline inducing? It does for me!
At least they did not get run down by the train - this time, unlike some of their relatives nearer to Banff yesterday.
Calgary Herald story

Also got to shoot moose and bears, too. Another Grizzly mom got a rubber bullet in the butt from me because she was teaching her offspring that it was fine to feed right on the edge of a road filled with camera-toting tourists who are unafraid of anything. Not strictly speaking the bears fault, but it is easier to shoot bears than tourists, tho tempting to reverse the trend sometimes!
Unfortunately the moose got shot with 'real' bullets after it had gotten hit by some speeding vehicle (likely a semi) that did not bother to stop. Almost everyone speeds through here, but wardens are prevented from enforcing the Parks act - by Parks! And there is not enough RCMP to make much of a difference. Enough of that rant.

I had to haul some horses to the Ya Ha Tinda ranch last week and took some photos of some storm clouds not far from Bearberry, AB. Google Earth does not know where Bearberry is, but I will give you a hint (51.853333 -114.907976)

Since the weather has been typical of June around here - rain, snow, cold, the fiendish feline has had to find other pastimes - other than catching mice outside in his pen and releasing them - live - in the house. Not sure if you will be able to find him in these pictures, or not?

Speaking of rain. Took these photos of a rainbow (?) on the Icefields Parkway near Waterfowl lake - north of here. You may have to click on the photos to enlarge them so you can see the rainbow!

Three weeks till Merritt Music Fest!

Friday, June 8, 2007

In keeping with the theme of the last post, or 'how I spent my day at work', another day provided some good variety.

The power had gone out in the morning as I was having breakfast, and most of the power was out at the office, though we do have a generator that starts automatically and runs some emergency equipment, so I didn't need any more excuses to abandon the computer and hit the road.

The bears have been active and we had quite a bit of flooding in the area due to melting snow and plentiful rain, so I set out to check how the flooded areas of the townsite and campground were doing, check the bear traps for occupancy, and see if the bear family was providing public entertainment at one of their favourite roadside locations? (Click on any photo for a larger view)

I managed to get a coffee in town at one of the establishments who had made some prior to the power failure, then got a backup cup at Castle Junction where the power had already been restored. When I heard that a washed out power pole near town had been the cause, I set out through the bush and soon found it. Power crews had already spotted it from a helicopter and were moving in crews to do the repair. Heavy equipment had to cross a creek and do some minor 'terrain modification' to get on scene, so I stuck around most of the day to monitor the work and ensure that disturbance was kept to a minimum while restoring the power asap.

A new pole was brought in and installed in a nearby location, and the old pole was taken down and de-commisioned. It was not till 6:30 Pm that the work was finished and power restored.
There was no hockey games to watch and it was not cold, so I did not need to enlist the help of my generator at home to provide any backup.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

If variety is the spice of life, I guess this job has it!

Day and night.

You're never really sure when you start a shift, just what it is that you will be doing.
But one thing is certain. There are bears!

The bears have been out for a while now, and the main goal is to keep the bears and people from killing each other. This tends to involve a lot of bear-sitting. This might be trying to stop traffic on the Trans Canada highway if the bear family decides to attempt a crossing, or it might be 'encouraging' them to try a different place or time. We don't have any fencing or fancy bear crossings here, it is just paws on the pavement (and rails). These bears are not collared, so it takes a bit of intuition and detective work to locate them and 'facilitate' their survival. Here is a pic of #72 and her pair of year-old cubs after yet another safe road crossing.
(you can click on the photos for a bigger view)(This is safe, but don't try to get closer in real life)

I think it was Friday night, and I was finished herding bears and tourists for the day and was relaxing at home when our dispatch centre called.

Apparently there had been a serious motor vehicle collision near Golden, BC, west of here, and they wanted to fly a patient to the trauma centre in Calgary. My job was to be an 'air traffic controller' and coordinate the meeting of the STARS -1(Shock Trauma Air Rescue Society) helicopter from Calgary and the ambulance unit from Golden.

Because this was to take place in Yoho National park, at one of several pre-determined transfer points, I was required to open gates to a closed section of road (for the ambulance, not the helicopter!), make sure the landing zone was safe and secured, and to provide communication between all the parties.

The weather was ideal. Clear, calm, and a big full moon to make the night vision goggles effective.
A few minutes after the Star-1 landed, around 1 AM, the ambulance arrived and the patient was transferred and was soon on the way to advanced care in Calgary.

Here is what the machine looks like in daylight (file photo).

Ho-hum, just another day (and night) on the job.