After The Canadian Cross Country Road Trip.
ARTICLE #17: BRITISH COLUMBIA PART 7- WELCOME HOME TO ANOTHER BEGINNING.
The feeling of being around an ocean is refreshing. On a bright sunny day, you get the light shining off the surface of the water with the occasional salty breeze. I was enjoying my view of the ocean, more specifically the Pacific Ocean. I'm crossing in the Salish Sea from Swartz Bay, Vancouver Island to Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal which is southwest of Surrey in British Columbia. I felt relaxed watching the islands along the crossing. Some sailboats were taking advantage of the beautiful weather. The thought I had about a week left in me till I get back to Alberta was a little tough to process. I grew accustomed to this routine, and the mere idea of settling down was a bit frightful. I better make the most of it as some might say. My plan upon arrival was to head towards Golden Ear Provincial Park again since I loved it so much from my last visit. From there I wanted to make way towards the East for the remaining of the week. With the boat getting to shore it was time to walk down to where the cars were and get my wheels back onto the mainland.
With a refreshed headspace and somewhat of a plan in line, I aimed East towards the Rockies. I got onto Highway 17, branched off on Highway 1, and started heading north on Highway 7. I got in on the weekend, so I knew I was taking my chances from not reserving a campsite in advance. My lack of preparation made an example out of my situation when I found out the campground was full. All right then, let's try another location. I ended up calling as far as Mission and finally landing a spot that offered vacancy. I got on Highway 7 alongside the Fraser River. I went through the town of Mission and kept going East till I found my end destination. The campground was slightly questionable in regards from general upkeep, but I was grateful to have an area to sleep for the night. That evening was spent watching the stars over the mountain landscape and listening to what I could only guess what a Bachelorette party. They were entertaining to watch. The middle age women were trying to get on a tire swing that was in their camping site while helping themselves to more of the celebratory happy/courage juice as I like to call it at times. I closed my eyes and attempted to get some sleep. The next morning shined through the branches and with being spoiled after sleeping in an actual bed for a week, the tent/air mattress living quarters were not missed. I made the plan to head towards Harrison Hot Springs since it was nearby. I called in advance to get a tent site, and I was fortunate to have found a vacant spot located within the town. With tunes cranking on the radio and seeing some greats views of the Fraser River while driving on Highway 7, the day was looking bright. I got to my campsite and checked in. The owners were very pleasant and pointed out to me that I came in on the right weekend. There was a car show that was happening at the lakefront area which was nearby. Horray. With my tent being set up in record time, I grabbed my camera and bolted towards the car show. Every two years Harrison Hot Springs host a car show that has all sorts of different cars from different eras. I'm a huge car fan from the last twenty years. I respect the classics because if it wasn' for their existence, we wouldn't have what we're drooling over today. There was all sort of eye candy to admire. Some late 40 to 50's era cars and trucks, the muscle cars of the 60's and early 70's, a blend of 80's and 90's cars, and the newer sports cars of the last 16 years. I couldn't think of which ones were my favorite, but if I had to pick in this collection, I would go with a copper colored 1967 AC Cobra, a 1968 Ford Mustang Shelby GT-350, and a 2017 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Z06 with the Z07 package. Again there was so much good stuff that you couldn't go wrong if you had the choice to leave with only one car that day.
My next stop was Sasquatch Provincial Park. Located north nearby Harrison Hot Springs, I wanted to take the time to soak in a little sun. I didn't manage to find Bigfoot in my time in the park, but I was content to lay down and get away in my head. I listened to podcasts throughout my travels. It was a blend of a traveler's podcast channel, philosophical podcast channel, an entrepreneur podcast channel, and a lifestyle coach channel. I was also reading when I had free time and the books of choice floated within the same genres listed above. The act of learning had been something I didn't invest into earlier this year throughout the winter time. I felt like I needed to catch up. I got food from a local grocery store and cooked up a storm by my tent. That evening I decided that I wanted to skateboard the boardwalk by the lakefront. It was a great night with no wind or rain in sight. With my headphones in my ears, I did a few laps around town so I could sleep that night. The following day had risen from the East and once again the French traveler got all of his gear packed and made his way towards another small town called Hope. Onto Highway 7 heading East I got into Hope late in the morning, found a fantastic campsite that was alongside the Fraser River, and set up home base. I still had my list of recommended areas to visit, and one place, in particular, caught my attention that was close, Hell's Gate. Located on the Fraser River in the Fraser Valley, this area has a lot of history behind it. It was a fishing area for centuries for the indigenous people, which then became a fishing area for European settlers throughout the summer season. From there it became a route for gold rush miners wanting to access the upper Fraser gold bearing bars. In the 1880's the Canadian Trans-Pacific Railway built a transcontinental railroad that passed within the area. In 1911 another Railway started construction within Hell's Gate. In 1914 a rockslide struck the build on which then fell into the river. Hell's Gate has a high traffic of Sockeye Salmon who swim upstream to spawn. The rockslide with the railway debris caused the route to be challenging for the salmon. There was evidence that the Salmon were not moving through their regular route and instead were found downstream of Hell's Gate and in tributary rivers within the area. In the same year, the removal of the debris started and got cleared by 1915. Groups were organized to study the situation and in 1944 construction began for the fishways which would help the Salmon get upstream. And breath. I'm just touching the tip of the vast history that's associated with this place. The controversial events that have happened throughout its history like battles that were fought between Aboriginal and European groups, natural disasters that caused significant damage to the production outfits happening at the time and the international disputes towards the state of the preservation of the Sockeye Salmon within the river are all related to one area. Since the 1970's this has been a tourist attraction with a gondola that brings you closer to the river with a museum showcasing the history of the area, restaurants, and gift shops. I couldn't believe the amount of power the river was pushing. If you were to fall into the water, I'm certain you'd have little chance to survive. The area offers excellent photographic opportunities, but the lighting was terrible. It was a sunny day but high noon sunlight doesn't do many favors for landscape photography most of the time. I got some video clips of the powerful entity and walked back onto the gondola with a moon mist flavored ice cream cone, yum.
I had lunch in Hope and then headed made my way towards Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park. Located East of the town of Hope, this trail formerly served as the Kettle Valley Railway. With a series of tunnels dug throughout the mountain side, this railway eventually became decommissioned and now provides a set of public trails that lead to the Coquihalla Pass. The river that runs alongside the trail is stunning. When you walk through some of the tunnels the river drops into a gorge which provides a fantastic overview from the bridges installed on the trails. When I came, the sun was setting over the west which provided great lighting for photography. I loved the sound of the river flowing past me while I tried my best to keep my balance on a rock over the running water. The peacefulness in these moments was the tradeoff from the driving and what became my daily struggles throughout this trip. With the last shot taken that evening, it was time to head back to camp and call it a night. The next day's destination was Princeton. Located east of the Cascade Mountains, this town is a warm place to be in the summer. To get there, I made my way onto the Crowsnest Highway. The Crowsnest is a mountain highway that offers an immersive experience into this beautiful type of landscape. I found a road that offered a lookout view of the area, so naturally, I made time to check it out. It was well worth it. Upon arriving one of the first lookouts, I fell in love with the view. The sight seemed endless; the mountains kept rolling on for as far as the eyes could see. A very liberating feeling indeed. I went to the second lookout and spent some time journaling and trying to capture what was going through my head. With my reset moment finished, I had to make it back down to the highway and continue my route east. Princeton has vast farmland landscape which also provides slight desert-type shots with the bonus of rolling mountains around it. I got my camping site sorted out and took a little trip around the surrounding area. I wanted to get some good video clips of some of the farmland and managed to do so on a random dirt road I found outside of town. It was a beautiful evening that offered great sunset lighting, perfect to get the camera drone out. With some great shots lined up for the next day's vlog post, I went back to camp and soaked my feet and face in the river nearby. The next day brought another beautiful sunny morning with a high probability of hot weather. I looked at the map, and I instantly got excited. Kelowna was a place I've always wanted to visit. With my route planned out on my GPS, it was time to hit the road once again. The Okanagan Valley is very well known for a few reasons. It houses the Okanagan Lake and a portion of the Okanagan River. Agriculture is mostly focused on fruit orchards to supply the vineyards which make the various wines the area has to offer. It also serves as an excellent location for camping and recreational activities which I found out when I arrived. I managed to find a spot in West Kelowna. At this point of the trip, while I thought I felt rested and calm, that wasn't the case. Throughout the journey, I did attempt to keep a steady schedule for food consumption for obvious reasons, and in particular, on a trip like this, you try to alleviate complications that cannot afford to happen. I did poorly at this task. I kept a fairly busy schedule every day to try to make the most of my time in each location. That type of workload was taxing physically and mentally. I tried to do several different things at once. I was trading job positions all day long. I was the driver, the photographer, the filmmaker, the content creator, the online social marketer, the trip planner. Then there were the finances that came from my pocket which I had to keep an eye on regularly. That also had an effect on decisions throughout the journey. That all piled up against an individual that was new to the idea of traveling was challenging, to say the least. I hoped that Kelowna was going to be an opportunity to rest from this potentially self-imploding scenario I was constructing over time.
After I set up camp and rested for the evening, I woke up the next day with wanting to explore a little outside of the town of Kelowna. I google searched parks within the area, and Fintry Provincial Park seemed interesting. With a cup of coffee in hand, I made my way towards Westside Road which follows alongside, you guessed it, the west side of the Okanagan Lake. Kelowna is a genuinely lovely place with all the different terrain that you can see within a small area. From the widely recognized lake to the farmlands and the rolling hills that surround it, I was enjoying my time out here. Fintry Park offered a geat view of Fintry Falls with the staircase that climbs beside it. From there I made my way back towards the William R. Benett Bridge which crosses to the city of Kelowna and the east side of the Okanagan Lake. I wanted to get a little bit of a taste of the vineyards that were within the area so with my exploring pants on I went outside of the city area and took a drive. The idea of owning a vineyard seemed romantic to me. I don't know the first thing that comes to creating wine, but with the environment that these complexes are established in, I would like to take the time to learn and live within what seems like an excellent business. My next stop was called Scenic Canyon Regional Park. I took my bike and went for a ride towards the river that's nearby. After getting a chance to dip my toes into the refreshing stream, I was hungry. I found a Vietnamese restaurant and took full advantage of having food that wasn't prepared off a camping stove. With a happy belly, I wanted to get a few video clips of the lakefront where all the excitement was. I found a parking lot and took my bike since it was a lot easier to maneuver in the congested area. It was a gorgeous evening with everyone outside. All sorts of activities were happening everywhere. I passed by these upright pianos that were accessible to the public. I had the idea of getting a shot where I wanted to play one of them to help end the vlog I was recording for that day. I found one upright piano that was at the entrance of a tunnel that passed underneath where the William R. Benett bridge connected to the shore of the east side of Kelowna. I decided to leave my bike next to the upright piano and walk away about ten feet, so I had enough time to talk about my day while walking back to the piano and surprise the viewer with me sitting at the piano and start playing. While I had my back turned, there was a young kid that was walking behind me. He saw my bike and by the time I turned around he had one side of the handlebar in his hand, picking it up off the wall. I immediately noticed what he was doing and called him out. He didn't like the idea I had a camera in my hand and let go of the bike. At this point, you could probably imagine I was frustrated towards the kid. He tried to make up a story about how his bike was stolen and was wondering how much my bike was worth. I took my bike and left the area. I'm not a man for confrontation. I told him it was my bike and I didn't care if his got stolen. You could question I should have exercised my empathy towards this young man, but that didn't materialize in my mind at the time. I don't know if it was a matter of my frustration towards the situation or my internal build up of mental and physical stress that gathered throughout this trip, or if I just didn't care about this kid and his stories derived from potential disparity. I got a chance to cool off from the situation and realized that the outcome could have been a whole lot worse. My bike wasn't stolen. I wasn't threatened in any way. I should be grateful. I stopped at a liquor store and bought a 24-ounce bottle of locally crafted beer, and sat at my tent site for the rest of the night, celebrating my birthday by myself.
The next morning I felt a little bit better. I got all my gear packed up, and with another sunny day coming off the horizon, it was time to head south through the Okanagan Valley. The last time I felt physically good was when I had a swim in Alice Lake Provincial Park in Squamish. South of Kelowna was the Okanagan Lake Provincial Park that had access to the Okanagan Lake. I got my swimsuit on and dove into the refreshingly cooler water. With a quick tanning session, I got on Highway 97 and went south through all the towns in this beautiful area. Summerland, Penticton, Oliver, Osoyoos, all sorts of small and large towns which are associated with the wine industry. From Highway 3A to Highway 3, or the Crowsnest Highway, my next stop of the evening was going to be Christina Lake. Located close to the West Kootenay region, I had heard a lot of people talk about this place, so I wanted to get a view of it for myself. I was arriving later in the evening at this point, so I got some great shots of the sun setting behind the mountains with the lake in the foreground and continued Eastbound to find a camping site for the night. I found Nancy Green Provincial Park and with a camping pad to stay for the evening. The next morning I woke up and took a walk towards the lake in the area. I brought my journal with me to write what was on my mind. In the midst of writing, I noticed a swimmer that was out in the distance coming towards my direction. I couldn't believe how far out he/she was, but in little time, she was walking on the same shore as I was sitting on. It's inspiring to see people who have a love or interest into something that might seem difficult to other individuals. The first stop of the day was going to be Nelson. Located in the Selkirk Mountains and on the left arm of Kootenay Lake in the south-central parts of British Columbia, this is a beautiful mountain town. Having well-restored buildings that were involved in the silver rush starting in 1867, this place is full of culture and artistic work in all different genres. I spent the later part of my morning walking around the streets and after getting more books from a local bookstore, I made my way southbound on Highway 6 and then east on Highway 3.
A dear friend of mine and his wife and family live in Cranbrook. Located east of Nelson and being close to the Rocky Mountains there's plenty of things to do in the area. The biggest plan lined up within the few days I'd be spending here was hiking up Mount Fisher. These trails offer fantastic views of the unspoiled landscape, and pristine quality of life and color that nature can provide that tourist's attractions sometimes take away. I had a very good time getting together with my friends and catching up on what was going in each other's lives. The day of the hike we ended up taking the wrong trail, but the result was nothing short of breathtaking. We took the trails that led to Tanglefoot Lake, a small body of water that's nestled into the mountain landscape. The colors that these natural features offer are off the charts. The flower beds that were off the shore accompanied by the luscious trees was a dream for me to see. This location had placed the benchmark for the quality of nature that I want to pursue. The untouched pieces of life, the authentic images of what this entity can provide. I spent time with my friends and their family for a few days and bid farewell to continue my route to the border of Alberta. With about a week left in August, I decided that I didn't want to go home just yet. I headed north on Highway 95. I reached The Radium Hot Springs which if you go on Highway 93 will bring you towards the Kootenay National Park. This section of highway is great because it offers an excellent introduction to the landscapes that are in the Rocky Mountains. While driving on Highway 93, you'll hit the Alberta border and Castle Junction which connects you to Highway 1. From there you'll have the choice to go up north to Lake Louise, or down south to the town of Banff. I spent four days in Banff because I want to live there. Every time I drive towards Banff or Jasper, and I see the mountains, I always smile. In my mind, I believe that being born and raised in the Maritimes has been a tremendous blessing. The eastern parts of Canada are amazing. But if it weren't for my family, I would be happy to live and die on this side of the country. I spent time in Banff exploring locations that I had been before. I went into the town of Banff to enjoy the small mountain town atmosphere. I went to the local lakes like Minnewanka, Two Jack, and Vermillion Lakes. I took an afternoon to go to Peyto Lake and hike down to the shore. I went for a walk in Johnston Canyon. All of this was coming to an end. I couldn't think of a better way to finish this than coming to a place that I never grow old of being in. With my gear packed up in my car one last time, I got onto Highway 1 from Banff, headed towards Calgary, and back to Edmonton, back home.
Would I do this type of trip again? Absolutely. Would I change anything from my journey after being settled for two months in our western civilization? Not at all. What did I gain from traveling across a country? Life experiences. What am I going to do next? Well, that's an excellent question. For the last six months before my departure for my trip, I was asking myself the same issue. I had a good income and a great house with great roommates that became amazing friends. As much as I was fortunate to have a life that offered those great quality traits, I wasn't happy. I was miserable. I felt uninspired. I felt like I merely existed. That wasn't the life I wanted. I'd been given the gift of being on this incredible planet and what was I doing with it? Exchanging my priceless asset that is time so I could live comfortably but unfulfilled. That became very toxic and self-destructive. I don't want a life of massive wealth and fame. I want to live within my means and feel I'm accomplishing objectives that matter to me. I want to get to a point with my creative entity where I can reach a goal, and then try to surpass that point. Life is meant to be lived. It's meant to be experienced. This notion can be attained in all sort of different ways; it doesn't have to be in the context of traveling across a country. You can invest time into an interest that challenges you. You can spend your time with someone that you love, be together and create a life for each other. You can decide to pursue a career choice you've always felt strongly about. Read a series of books. Learn a different language. Start doing something you once hated, running was my thing, and see if you can learn anything from it. There are various choices out there for us to take ahold of. If ever you feel unfulfilled and stuck in a spot that submits you in a negative space do me a favor and walk away from it. Even if it takes all your strength and help from other people please, walk away from that space. The very least you can do is take the small steps that are required to pursue the journey of fulfilling yourself. I'm a regular blue collar 30-year-old Frenchman that has no educational degree or trade and no clue of what I need to do to achieve the goals I want in life. I'm taking it one step at a time. I'm learning through multiple forms of education, if its textbook, personal trial and error, and real life examples that are involved in the fields I'm interested in. Is there a chance I can fail? Absolutely. There are more chances of failure than success. Is that factored in my line of thinking? Yes. Why would I want to pursue my creative endeavors? Because as much as I tried to ignore and suppress that part of me, it's never ended well. The idea of living a life of creativity seems rational even with the odds against me. When I lay on my deathbed, I want to know that I tried my best at what I felt strongly about. Life with as little regret as possible. As I'm driving northbound towards Edmonton, this pursuit I've embarked on for as long as I can remember is as strong as ever. A chapter of my life closed at the end of this trip, and another one was about to be written.