Sunday, February 24, 2013

Surrey to Hope to Osoyoos to Trail by Margaret Ullrich

Tomorrow is the second full moon of 2013.
In 2011 and 2012 we were having mild winters.
Well, mild for Winnipeg winters.
There wasn't much snow.
We had thought that was due to global warming.
Nope, just a fluke.

This year we're having a more normal Winnipeg winter.
An exposed skin freezes in a matter of seconds winter.
We had replaced our windows last year.
Now, thanks to the improvement, there's more moisture in our house.
Good in that our skin doesn't feel like dried out raisins.
Bad in that, due to a thin film of ice, our doors keep freezing shut.
We keep having to break out of our house.


We had explained to our parents that we were leaving British Columbia.
He had grown to like British Columbia.
Warmer weather, cheap land and houses… what wasn't there to like?
He had been thinking of moving there, too.

Maybe the economy would've gotten better and we would've gotten jobs.
Maybe it wouldn't and we would've stayed unemployed.
We knew there were jobs in Winnipeg.
So it goes.


We had sold our mattress and arranged for the sale of our house.
We were packed and ready to go.
Everything we owned was packed in our Datsun Sport Truck and a 4 x 6 U Haul.
The U Haul was 5 feet high.
I could barely stand up in it.

We had driven across the TransCanada when we moved to British Columbia in 1972.
During the western part the TransCanada hugged the Frasier, giving some rather dramatic views of the river far below.
When we had been near Hell's Gate Bridge our car had overheated.
Not much risk of overheating when driving in February.

But, we also had travelled the TransCanada during our summer vacation in 1975.
The TransCanada has some extremely steep hills which were fresh in our memory.
So, we thought that the the Hope-Princeton Route would be easier.
Shows what we didn't know.

Vancouver to Winnipeg, roughly 2232 kilometers.
We planned to cover the distance in four days.
We made reservations for motels along the way.
We weren't as carefree as we had been in 1972.


On Monday, February 24, 1975 we were on our way back east.
After a couple of hours going up and down the Coast Mountains we reached Hope.
Hope is between the the Coast Mountain Range and the Cascades
where the Coquihalla Canyon meets the Fraser River.
The canyon walls open into the valley. 
There are awe-inspiring desert canyons, vast stands of coastal rainforest, rugged 
snow capped mountains, expansive alpine meadows and fast-rushing rivers.
Tourists love vacationing in Hope.
Tourists who aren't hauling everything they owned through the mountains.
Tourists who weren't crawling along two hours behind schedule. 

Next we had to go through the Cascades and the Selkirks.
They make the Rockies look flat.
It was worse than when we'd gone through there in 1972.
In the summer of 1972 our radiator was bubbling.
Now we were wondering if we'd be swept away by an avalanche.


We stopped in Osoyoos, in the Okanagan Valley, north of Washington state.
Osoyoos is surrounded by grasslands, highlands and, of course, mountains. 
People come to Osoyoos for water activities, golf, hiking and cycling in summer and 
downhill skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in winter.
We were there for gas.
Paul had to get a key to use the station's washroom.
The guy told Paul he couldn't take our dog Peaches into the washroom. 
So, Paul walked back to the car so I could hold Peaches and he could...


We had originally planned to arrive at the motel in Trail at 6 pm.
We were driving through the Kootenay Rockies.
Four of British Columbia's seven national parks are located in the Kootenay area.
There are rivers, lakes, waterfalls, beaches, mineral hot springs, alpine meadows 
and snow capped mountains. 
During the winter, the Kootenay Rockies offers fine powder skiing and snowboarding.
Head-rushing descents to expanses of groomed cross-country trails.
You get the picture.
More driving through damn snow capped mountains with possible avalanches.


Finally,  at 10 pm, we were in Trail.
Trail is in the West Kootenay region along the banks of the Columbia River.
Trail, a heavy industry town, has guided tours of the smelter plants facilities.
It is also where many world-class athletes have trained.
If we had arrived at 6 pm, we might have gone to the Visitor Centre.
At 10 pm, in late February, the Trail Visitor Centre was closed.
It didn't matter… we were too tired to see a smelter plant.


Since it was the slow season - no sane person drives through Trail in February - 
the owners were doing some maintenance work.
The room stank of fresh paint.
We took the room anyway.
We could stop driving up and down snow capped mountains and get some sleep.

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