Road Trip

Duffey Lake, Sea to Sky Highway, between Lillooet and Pemberton, BC

Duffey Lake, Sea to Sky Highway, between Lillooet and Pemberton, BC

Listening to the news or hearing the weather reports on CBC radio always brings me face-to-face with my ignorance of the geography of British Columbia (and of the rest of Canada, for that matter).

“A 33-year-old man has been identified as the victim of Wednesday’s fatal shooting in Chilliwack…”

“Rain forecast for the Peace…

“The Peace”  –  what or where is that?  Chilliwack?  (Love that name!) “Where the heck is Salmon Arm?” I ask.  Mark shrugs and says, with a guilty look on his face:  “we really need to explore BC.”

So, when a friend from Burnaby (the neighboring town to the east of Vancouver, and part of the Greater Vancouver Regional District, or Metro Vancouver) brought us two maps from AAA, one of “Greater Vancouver” and one of “Alberta/British Columbia”, we decided to drive to a conference that Mark was contemplating attending in Edmonton, Alberta (the neighboring province), stopping for reconnaissance visits to Jasper and Banff National Parks.

Our route:

Day One, 1:30pm.  We got onto the Trans Canada Highway (Hwy. 1) at Burnaby and traveled west, through the other Vancouver suburbs of Coquitlam, Surrey, Langley, and Abbotsford, and past the city of Chilliwack(!), to Hope (population 6,667).

From Hope, we veered northwest on the Coquihalla Highway (Hwy. 5), which follows the Coquihalla River, passing the “town” of Merritt to Kamloops, an ugly, industrial “city” (population 79,000 – 10 times the size of Merritt (population 7,595) and just slightly larger than Chilliwack) located in a beautiful setting surrounded by rivers (the confluence of the North and South Thompson Rivers, lakes (Kamloops Lake) and mountains.  (Most of our route followed river valleys dotted with lakes.)

From Kamloops, we headed west again on the Trans Canada Highway, passing Chase, Sorrento, Salmon Arm(!), and Sicamous (houseboat capital of Canada), stopping for the night at the beautiful  town of Revelstoke, in Mount Revelstoke National Park.

Revelstoke, Mount Revelstoke National Park, BC

Revelstoke, Mount Revelstoke National Park, BC

Day Two.  After breakfast at the Modern Cafe in Revelstoke, we continued on the Trans Canada Highway, through Glacier National Park, passing Golden and Field (in Yoho National Park), and crossed the border into the prairie province of Alberta (“Wild Rose Country”), stopping for a look-see and late lunch at Chaya, a mom & pop Japanese noodle joint in the town of Banff, in Banff National Park.  Moving on, we passed the town of Canmore on our way to Calgary (the largest city in the province of Alberta and home of the Calgary Stampede).

Buses in Banff, Banff National Park, AL

Buses in Banff, Banff National Park, AL

From Calgary (without stopping), we took the Queen Elizabeth II Highway (Alberta Hwy. 2), passing the town of Red Deer (where Tib, in his younger days, shot his first moose), to Edmonton, where we spent the second night.  From our hotel room in downtown Edmonton (the only night we did not sleep in our rented KIA Rio), we could see the night lights of the oil refineries across the North Saskatchewan River.

Day Three, 5:30pm.  After the conference, we left Edmonton via the Yellowhead Trail (Alberta Hwy. 16), past vast stretches of forests and farmland (mostly hay) and the town of Edson to Hinton, where we stopped for our third night.  Had dinner at the cute-looking Olympia Greek Restaurant, where, alas, our meals tasted like airplane food.

Day Four. Foregoing another meal in Hinton, we entered Jasper National Park around 10am and went in search breakfast in the town of Jasper. Sadly, the sweet and savory goods at the Bear Paw Bakery did not measure up to what you can get at the bakeries we frequent in Vancouver. Got some maps of hiking trails around Jasper from the historic Jasper Information Center and decided to do a short hike to Patricia Lake, via Cottonwood Slough.  Took a quick swim in the buff in Patricia Lake before heading back to town and hitting the road.

Jasper Information Center Historic Site, Jasper, AL

Jasper Information Center Historic Site, Jasper, AL

Patricia Lake, Jasper National Park, Alberta

Patricia Lake, Jasper National Park, Alberta

From Jasper, we took Icefields Parkway (Hwy. 93) south along the Athabasca River, stopping to see Athabasca Falls and past the Columbia Icefields, into Banff National Park.  In Banff National Park, we stopped at Bow Pass (the highest road pass in the four mountain parks) for a brief hike up to view glacier-fed Peyto Lake before stopping at the fabled Lake Louise.

Peyto Lake, Banff National Park, Alberta

Peyto Lake, Banff National Park, Alberta

From Lake Louise, we picked up the Trans Canada Highway again and headed back to Revelstoke for dinner.  Another disappointing meal, this time at Nomad Cafe, recommended for its “fresh” food.  Instead of spending another night in Revelstoke, we decided to continue driving, past towns we had already seen in the daytime, to Kamloops.  From Kamloops, we headed north on the Cariboo Highway (Hwy. 97), skirting Kamloops Lake, stopping at the intersection of the roads to the Savona Dump and the Savona Cemetary for the night.

Savona, BC

Savona, BC

Day Five.  From Savona, we continued on the Cariboo Highway, passed dry brush and sage bushes, to just north of Cache Creek, where we picked up the Sea to Sky Highway (Hwy. 99), heading south.  Instead of stopping at Lillooet for breakfast, we pushed on to Pemberton, where we had yet another disappointing meal at the Pony Espresso. Another stop in Whistler Village, where we watched the charming and amazingly talented trial rider, Ryan Leech, give a demonstration of his skills as part of the Crankworx mountain bike festival.  Then down through Squamish and the breathtaking views of Howe Sound, through North Vancouver, across the Lions Gate Bridge, and back home by early afternoon.

All in all, a spectacular drive.  You can skip Calgary and Edmonton and go as far as the Canadian Rocky Mountain parks on the Continental Divide just past the border of British Columbia into Alberta – a network of national and provincial parks that are listed as one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites.  Most of the highways follow river valleys, from which you are rewarded with views of pristine rivers and lakes.  There are lots of well-documented sites where you can stop along the way to learn about the regional geography, flora and fauna.

Big Horn Sheep, Icefields Parkway, Alberta

Big Horn Sheep, Icefields Parkway, Alberta

We were lucky enough to see some big horn sheep and mountain goats (all without their winter coats) along the Icefields Parkway, and just missed a siting of a black bear cub near Jasper (eager and foolish tourists chased the cub away from the road).  Along the Trans Canada Highway, I saw one white-tail and one mule deer.

Mountain pine beetle damage, British Columbia

Mountain pine beetle damage, British Columbia

One sight that stayed with us throughout British Columbia was forest upon forest of brown trees, devasted by the infestation of mountain pine beetle.

Other points of interest?  Radio stations and their frequencies are listed as you approach towns on the Trans Canada Highway.  All garbage and recycling containers are bear-proof, and bear warnings abound. And Revelstoke, Jasper and Lake Louise have excellent public toilets located in the center of town.

So now, I know where Chilliwack and Salmon Arm are.

“The Peace?”  The Peace River Regional District is an area in northeastern British Columbia, closer to Alaska than it is to Vancouver.


2 Responses to “Road Trip”

  1. 1 smita September 22, 2008 at 3:39 am

    Hi Yoo-Mi,

    This sounds like a pretty amazing trip! Next time you’re in the area, you must try the Truffle Pig restaurant in the tiny town (village?) of Field. It’s attached to a little grocery store and has the most wonderful food (at least, it did when we were there about 3 years ago).

    Happy trails!

  1. 1 Bookmarks about Sage Trackback on December 24, 2008 at 3:45 am

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