After The Canadian Cross Country Road Trip.
ARTICLE #11: British Columbia part one- Stepping into "Beautiful british columbia"
Throughout the years I’ve spent living in Alberta, I never fully realized I had examples of influential people that were also very close friends. I loved hanging out with them and listen to the stories of how they were progressing with their personal endeavours that consists a large portion of their time. It made for great conversations but never became much more than that for me. Years later while I was on my travels across the country, a realization hit me after countless hours of reading about people who have created various businesses and succeeded. Having absorbed those stories in the back of my mind, a connection happened when I correlated the personal characteristics these accomplished individuals had with the group of friends I hung out with. I'm far from being any of those examples I've read but knowing that people close to me throughout the years have made great lives for themselves has shown me that taking action and putting in the effort gains potential growth for yourself. I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to know them and experience the success they’ve achieved through their hard work, which has driven me to do the same.
I’m sitting alongside my tent staring north towards the Rocky Mountains from my campsite just off Highway 16 in Jasper National Park. I just finished ingesting my breakfast. Two eggs and a piece of ham paired with a mostly toasted piece of whole wheat bread. I’m admiring the lighting that's casting over the northern mountain ridge from the early morning sunrise. I have said several times that it doesn’t matter what time of the day it is, the mountains are tremendous to look in all various shades of light. I’ve been in Jasper National Park now for four days, and it was time to continue my journey westbound. Since I moved to Alberta to what seems like many moons ago, I always wanted to go to British Columbia. Anyone that I talked to that spent time in the province had a similar response when I’d asked how their experience was. It’s breathtaking, amazing, beautiful, definitely worth the time to check it out. I tried to spend as much time as I could throughout each province on this trip, but I did spend less time in some areas to place it in my final destination. I packed my car, looked at the map to get a general idea of where I was going, and I started my drive in the early morning hours. I stopped in the town of Jasper to get a coffee and to upload my content to my social media feeds. I sat at a table and failed to notice that it had already been claimed. A young woman sat next to me; I excused myself from taking her table, but she insisted that it was fine and we started talking. She asked me if I was local or a tourist and what was my business as she was spreading peanut butter on a piece of bread she brought with her. After explaining the road trip, I asked her the same question. I took a guess from her accent that she wasn’t from the area and found out that I was indeed correct. Originally from Sweden, this traveling individual made her way across the Atlantic Ocean to work with friends in Central Alberta. She had heard many great things about the Rocky Mountains so she made an effort to save enough money and found someone she could live within the town of Jasper. I asked her how she enjoyed Canada. She said that the people have been tremendously friendly to her and the fact that she lived in a mountain town where she can enjoy arguably one of the most pristine landscapes Canada has to offer, she felt very fortunate. After feeding a few little birds that had been very interested in the young woman’s bread, we exchanged farewells and wished each other good luck on our travels. Experiences like this are moments to treasure.
Onto Highway 16 it was time to head west towards the border. British Columbia is a masterpiece of a province with all the various landscapes to explore. I have subscribed to people on Instagram that post photographs taken and they are truly breathtaking. My end destination was going to be Kamloops. I had no idea what to expect to see on my travels. The highway goes through the Rocky Mountains and then you can head south on Highway 5. The Mountain Highways are by far some of the most fun roads to drive on. There're some risks of course with rock slide areas, animals alongside or crossing the road, and in the winter time with the rapidly changing climate, it can be challenging to drive through. The weather at the start of my travels had a little bit of overcast; the temperature was around 25 degrees Celsius (77 degrees Fahrenheit). My first stop was Overlander Falls. Located in Mount Robson Provincial Park running in the Fraser River, this was an excellent way to start the morning. A little stroll down a trail will bring you to a beautiful rapid river with gorgeous colors roaring in the canyon landscape. I made my way towards the shoreline where it was safe to take photographs and took in the fresh air that was emanating from the rapid water. Getting an opportunity to stretch my legs and get my shutter finger warmed up, I headed back to the car and straight to Highway 5 southbound towards Clearwater. I tried to take breaks every two hours so I could stretch my body. I had been traveling in a car that has seats that are designed similarly from a sports car seat. There surprisingly comfortable seats but when you spend a lot of time in them for two months straight, you get tired of sitting in the same spot for extended periods of time. With Clearwater in sight, I was due for another break. Located north of Kamloops in the North Thompson River Valley, this is where the Clearwater River empties into the Thompson River. With a population of 2,331, and housing the fourth highest waterfall in Canada, the Helmcken Falls, dropping water at a distance of 463 feet, they're great tourist activities to take advantage of in this area. Coming in that wasn’t the intention for me. When I arrived in Clearwater, I was contemplating on getting a campsite and head to Kamloops the next day. One thing I’ve learned when it comes to traveling is to eat decently good food to the best of your ability, and don’t skip meals to save time. It might seem like a simple notion to follow, but when you don’t have many places that offer choices other than fast food, and you dread the idea of having to set up your cooking apparatus, it seemed logical to eat the terrible but time saving fast food. Lesson learned. I took some time and rested alongside a road off the highway and gathered myself. I decided that I still had time to make it to Kamloops and I had a little bit of energy left in me to make the journey. I spent most of my time listening to podcasts and music while driving. I had my particular channels that I was following, but whenever there was an area that offered public wifi, I’d take a little bit of time to download other genres of podcasts. The same went with music. Then there were times where I would shut the radio off and let my mind be my company. I thought a lot about what would be the next steps with Resonance Reflection Photography being that this project began this year. I knew that I had a long way to go. Then I’d realize where I was and what I was doing and told myself that there’s no rush, that this experience must be enjoyed and cherish.
Onto Highway 5 I made my way to my end destination to Kamloops. With a population of 85, 678, being founded as a fur trade post back in 1811, this is a change of landscape than what I was surrounded by throughout the day. Having some of the landscape characteristics of the badlands of Drumheller in Alberta, and the farmland that’s embedded in it, the sunset gave a beautiful glow to the scene which was an excellent way to end the day. I made my way to my campsite for the night and set up camp at Paul Lake Provincial Park. The next morning provided a beautiful sunrise so I quickly headed to the lake nearby to see if I could find any photo opportunities. I got in a bit too late and the lighting was too bright for my taste, but the exchange was the beautiful atmosphere. I sat on the side of the lake with the warm glow the sun was providing. It was quiet. I occasionally heard a bird in the distance, the water washing against a wharf, and that was it. Times like this are needed throughout a journey of this length. I took the initiative to set time aside for myself to find moments like this. It didn’t happen as much as I would have liked, but it planted the practice in my daily routine to this day. Once again it was time to pack the car and get moving. After getting my go-go juice and made my way through the city of Kamloops, I got onto Highway 5 southbound towards my destination of the day, Mission. This stretch of highway was incredible. In Canada the highway speeds will vary. The most common speed limit I’ve encountered was 100 kph (62 mph), but in Ontario the majority of my drive was limited to 90 kph (55 mph). It’s not a big deal, but when you're accustomed to a routine, something as little as a slight decrease in speed can be testing. Well here in the Coquihalla Valley on Highway 5 it's 120 kph (74 mph) which instantly put a smile on my face. I burned a little more fuel than usual because my transmission isn’t geared to be cruising at that speed but while it was legal to set my cruise control on 120, I took full advantage of it. What a gorgeous stretch of highway. The mountain landscape surrounded the luscious green valleys with farming fields and massive acreages. I was on cloud nine. The music was blaring, the windows were open, the fresh air was surging through the car, and caffeine was being ingested. Passing by the Coquihalla Recreational Area with the beautiful mountain landscape, I started to fully understand what people have been on about with this province. The more I made my way south through this piece of natural paradise, the more I seriously contemplated on the options of moving out here. I made my first pit stop in a small town called Hope. Being a location that I’ll be using on my way back to Alberta, I got some fuel for my car which proved to be interesting since I happen to be travelling on a Civic holiday. With a good deal of patience and the fortune of having a small car, I managed to sneak into the hustle and get some fuel and back on the road as quickly as possible. This placed the tone for the rest of the day. About an hour into driving on Highway 5, the traffic gradually came to a complete stop. At this point, I couldn’t tell what was holding up the traffic other than assuming that there was an accident which unfortunately can happen more often on holidays like on long weekend. With the windows down, my car full of fuel and my bladder empty of fluids, I was ready to sit back and settle into the situation. I wanted to see if I could strike up a conversation with anyone but no one seemed to be open to the idea. I eventually managed to get a passenger sitting inside a big truck that filled me in on what was going on ahead of me since I was short and a semi was in front of me. After about fifteen to twenty minutes stop and go traffic, we finally got to the end of the traffic jam which was caused by a car collision between two vehicles. It seemed like no one was hurt so that’s the main thing to be grateful. The average speed limit was back to normal and the day continued. Following alongside the Fraser River, I got to see beautiful towns like Bridal Falls, Chilliwack, and then the city of Abbotsford. With a population of around 133, 497, I was going to take advantage of the many choices of restaurants within the area. I picked a Vietnamese restaurant suggested by my recent gas attendant and it was well worth it. This was the first time in a while that I ate a great tasting meal. I sat at the table for a bit to register what I had just eaten and smiled. My last stretch of the day was just a little northbound to where I was. I took a little detour to an area that had walking trails. Getting the chance to stretch my legs, I bought my camera drone with me. Throughout the trip it seems like drones were well received by the public, some genuinely interested into the device and wanted to see what they're all about. Such was the case with an older gentleman that came up to me as I was about to take off to get a shot of the mountain landscape within the area. I showed him what the camera was seeing through my smartphone, and he was excited by what he was seeing. He never got to see his neighbourhood from this angle and was delighted to have approached me. I was more than happy to send him photos, but he jokingly said he wasn't up and par with technology and said his memory was good enough for the ocassion. He thanked me and walked away with a slow but comfortable pace.
Crossing the Fraser River on Highway 11, I made my way to my final destination of the day. The town of Mission is a beautiful town with a population of 36,426. The speed of this city was perfect to end the day. The campground I picked was buried just a little outside of the town. This campsite had a communal feel to it. Everyone knew everyone; the campers seemed like they had been settled for quite some time, and there was kids all over running around and playing alongside the pond that was in the area. I unpacked my car and set up my tent and eventually got my camera gear out and gave it a good clean since the last time I did that was over a month ago. Later that evening one of the neighbors of my campsite advised me that there was a small black bear that was within the area. With bear spray nearby, I kept an eye out for it. I initially worked in a field that housed protected wildlife which includes black bears. I had a quiet evening with no encounters, but it was a reminder that I was in their landscape, so I had to respect that just like I had to comply with the wildlife in the area that I used to work in. Another sunset was settling over to the west and with my energy level slowly fading, I decided to call it a day. I tried to envision what I was going to encounter throughout my trip in British Columbia. My plan was to explore the west coast around the city of Vancouver, head north to areas like Squamish and Whistler, then head towards Vancouver Island. I knew that I was in for a treat coming at this with the eye of a landscape photographer but to what degree I didn’t know. Ah, the joys of exploring unknown landscape. With that, I closed my eyes and shut off the lights in my mind.