the move west: day seven: calgary alberta to sicamous british columbia

It's very exciting to be past the mountains and in BC! We're having a really good time. It feels like we're on some kind of weird vacation where we don't do anything but drive and eat, and when we're done, we'll go back to where we live -- in Mississauga.

Yesterday we had breakfast at an IHOP, then hit the road. It was cold, bright, and sunny. I had been checking weather conditions regularly, and there was no snow in the forecast at any location on the route.

From other people's photos, I knew at some point, leaving Calgary, we'd be on a straight, flat highway with the mountains in front of us. It was exciting to get our first glimpse of the Canadian Rockies!

The drive through the mountains was spectacularly scenic. All the evergreens were laced with snow, or sometimes covered in ice. And the snowy trees seemed to go on forever in all directions, undulating hills upon hills of snow-covered trees. Behind the trees, huge walls of brown rock jutting into the sky, and behind those, snow-covered peaks. We were both bowled over by the beauty, not really talking much -- no music and certainly no Dortmunder! -- just drinking it all in. Allan drove and I took a lot of photos.

Once when we stopped for Diego, there was an interpretative exhibit about the animal crossings built around the TCH in Banff National Park (the section of road we were on). I didn't know that Parks Canada pioneered the use of animal crossings. I also didn't realize that the funny-looking overpasses we saw were overground animal crossings.

The exhibit had a display version of the crossings, both underground and overhead. There are 44 animal crossings in Banff. The exhibit said that even the most secretive animals -- the lynx and the wolverine -- use the crossings. There are evidently tiny cameras set up in at least some of the crossings, and some photos were on display.

There are also high fences on either side of the highway. When these were first built, animals could jump over or burrow under them, so Parks Canada made the fences both taller and deeper.

I found this exhibit really touching. It had some lovely text on how the Trans Canada Highway connects the country and allows us to visit our families and experience all regions, and how the highway crossings has allowed animal families to live their lives, and resulted in more coexistence with nature. If you're interested, there are some faqs here, more links here, and very good images of the crossings and animals using them.

The road itself was completely oversold, in terms of challenging or scary driving. There's one section with a series of S curves -- and that's about it. It's actually a less challenging road than the drive around Lake Superior. Sure, you want to do this in good weather, and you want to have a full tank of gas and good brakes -- in other words, basic preparation -- but other than that, there is nothing to be concerned about. Even if you had to drive it in snowy conditions, it would be doable, although unpleasant.

During this drive, we passed the provincial border into BC -- whoo-hooo! -- and at some point entered the Pacific time zone. Ohmygod, this is where I live now. In the west! Whoa.

When the mountains and parks end, there's a town called Golden, and we stopped there to pick up some food. It has a sweet little historic downtown, and we got amazingly delicious grilled sandwiches at the Big Bend Cafe. When we got back on the highway, we saw our truck at a gas stop. I texted SIL to ask if it was them, and it was. For once, we would arrive first -- although only by a minute or two.

The rest of the drive was lovely, through forested areas and lots of mountain resorts. It would be much nicer, however, without all the billboards. There are a lot of them. There is no escaping advertising; I find it so depressing. Once we passed Revelstoke, we knew we were almost there. I purposely booked in the less famous and less expensive town of Sicamous, just a little further down the road.

We're staying at another Super 8. The parking lot adjoins a pub and liquor store. We all (including Diego, of course) hung out in SIL/M's room for some wine, then popped Diego in his little house, and walked over for dinner. Unbeknownst to us, it was Grey Cup, and most people at the pub were watching the game.

I've been waking up at crazy hours, even for me, and unable to go back to sleep. Then at night I'm tired and fall asleep early... so I wake up even earlier. It's getting really ridiculous. I'll have to have one night without alcohol, so I can stay up later and maybe reset my body clock. But a night without wine?! Life is so unfair.

Today we drive to the Vancouver area, and are staying very near the Tsawwassen ferry terminal. Tomorrow morning, we'll take the ferry to Nanaimo, and drive home... to a place we've never been!

Photos of our drive through the Rockies are here.


Amy said...

I hope at some point you will post photos---I'd love to see pictures of the ride through the mountains. And I do love the whole idea of animal crossings---are there such things in the US??

I can't believe you are almost there. I am sure your body's clock will reset after you stop moving and driving. How many miles/km to Vancouver? From my Google map, it sure looks like your last leg will be the shortest!

laura k said...

The first place I heard about using animal crossings was in the Florida Everglades, many years ago.

Of course I will post pics -- on Flickr with links on wmtc as I always do. Our pics of the mountains will be unspectacular, taken through the windshield. But I'll post whatever good ones we find.

Mileage... let me google that for you. :)

Stephanie said...

So glad you mad it so smoothly. Almost Home!!

laura k said...

Vancouver is not the last leg of the trip. It will be a full day from Vancouver to Port Hardy. We'll stop in Campbell River for groceries on our way north.

allan said...

Sunday, November 25: 502.2 km.
Total to date: 4,102.9 km.

BC Towns: Canoe, Cinema, Likely, 70 Mile House, Roy, Ceepeecee, Ta Ta Creek, Kleena Kleene, Horsefly, 150 Mile House, Beaver Mouth, Trout Lake, Bull River, Salmon Arm, Doe River, Buffalo Creek, Goose Bay ... Boston Bar (which I think we will drive through today) ... Port Hardy.

drf said...

All smiles as I read this! As you pass Tsawwassen/Ladner, on the way to the ferry terminal, you will see a sign for Point Roberts, WA. We have a small summer cottage
in this very unique, odd place where there are more Canadians than USAians. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Point_Roberts,_Washington
If B wasn't in rehab (long story, for another time) we would try to hook up with you
guys. (But, allow me to say how grateful we are we were in BC when his "event" occurred and my "event" 2 years ago next month. It's the holidays...let's go spend time in hospital!!!)

Have to admit I will breathe an incredible sigh of relief once I know you are pass Hope, BC.

Your incredible road trip is almost over...and maybe not a minute too soon? Eh?

laura k said...

DRF, a funny coincidence. I had never heard the strange tale of Pt. Roberts until very recently when a friend of mine who travels to unusual places (and who may be reading this) went there. One of those "I never heard of this and now keep hearing about it" things.

Your sigh of relief, you're referring to the potential dangers of The Coq? Just clarifying.

I hope West End Bob is ok!

impudent strumpet said...

I may have missed this part, but why is the drive around Lake Superior challenging?

(I've never been to Lake Superior, and was heavily drugged on Gravol the only time I was ever in a car through the Rockies, so I have no frame of reference.)

laura k said...

It's a fun road -- very hilly, winding, interesting curves and turns -- you have to pay attention. It's subject to flooding. Very, very dark at night. I don't think there were even reflector strips (although I could be wrong about that). More danger from (and to) wildlife.