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Wilderness Adventures - Jan., Week One/2013

This is about a remote area in west central British Columbia, Canada called the West Chilcotin. Surrounded by numerous glacial mountain ranges, alpine lakes teeming with wild Rainbow Trout, and full of wildlife. Living here goes from no running water or electricity to spacious log homes with all the conveniences and without the smog!
If you would like to see pictures of wildlife, mountains, lakes, exciting snowmobiling, events and more, and read some great contributed stories and ongoing blogs, just go into Archives on the lower left side of this page.

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Check out the Picture of the Day.

18/01/2013 11:25 AM

The Weird, Wild, and Wonderful Weather

We have been enjoying some of the wackiest weather ever this past week!
I mentioned in yesterday’s posting that it snowed quite a bit just a day or two after we got home. Other than that, the weather was the same as it had been for the past two and half or three months. Cold. It hit –26C to –29C or –20F at night and ranged between –14C (7F) and –5C (23) at its warmest during the day. There was at least four nights there where the dogs had to be put in the garage and kept there until late morning when it finally warmed up a bit.
At least one benefit of the cold was that we were finally seeing sunshine for a few days in a row, something we had seen little of in the Chilcotin for a couple of months. Although it’s not just us that have been missing it. People all over the province have complained to us that it’s been an unusually cloudy winter.
This past week we finally hit the weather bonus jackpot! On about Sunday we noticed that the temperatures weren’t dropping as fast in the evening as usual, and then they started to come back up again. The mercury bounced around like that for two nights and then Tuesday morning Andy got up to –10C temps. He went outside to look after dogs and noticed that there seemed to be a warm wind suddenly. He came back in and watched the thermometer go up and down like a jack in the box from just below freezing to well above until it settled for a few moments. It had come up eight degrees in 15 minutes! Not long after it dropped to –10 again and stayed there until later in the morning.
The forecasters suggested that there was going to be a strong inversion this week with warm air travelling up and over cold air, pushing cold and cloud down into the valleys and leaving higher elevations in sun and warm temperatures. That’s us!!! We’ve had warm, sunny days, perfect for long walks and just being outside for a change.
We got firewood on Wednesday and I was in my short sleeved T shirt all afternoon. Me…. the perpetually frozen popsicle…. outside in a T shirt in January. It was great! Yesterday was just as beautiful and warm. Last night it finally made it to just below freezing after supper but a wind came up and at midnight it was 5.9C or 43 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s a little slower to warm up today but it’s already +2.5C or 37F and the sun is shining, the snow is brilliant, and life is good. I’ll take it! Anything above freezing is a phenomenon we have seen none of prior to when we left at Christmas time and a wonderful break from winter, especially the sunshine!
My Mother is in Arizona now and has been for a few months. I guess our Canadian Arctic front that got us a week ago stretched down into most of the States and Americans were complaining bitterly about the temperatures. Welcome to our world, eh? When the warm up came, it started in the north and stretched down to us first, so my Mom was complaining that it was warmer in Whitehorse than Arizona and that there was something very wrong with that picture. Yep, there is. For the past week we’ve been warmer than Kamloops, Vancouver and the Okanagan. In fact, other than for parts of four States in the southeast including Florida, the CTV weatherman pointed out that Vancouver was the warmest place on the Continent, so that made us and Whitehorse even warmer.
Woo Hoo!!!
It’s amazing what little things in life one can take joy in. :-)
I know one thing, my other half and all the animals are taking great pleasure in this weather. When the sun is shining I’m happy and when Momma’s happy, everybody in this household is happy! Well… except for Trouble maybe. When it’s warm like this I dump his squirrely butt outside to run off a little energy. He doesn’t need to be attacking us in the house looking to play when there are mice outside under the snow. I can assure you, he is NOT happy about it! But he's a cat. He's not supposed to be. :-)
I haven’t had an opportunity yet to talk to anyone from up at the store, but from the few people I have spoken to, it sounds like the New Year’s Party went off well. There wasn’t nearly as much food of course and I guess things were a little disorganized. Some people had to cook the hotdogs and hamburgers for themselves and their kids, but it sounds like it was a good time. We noticed when we got home that the plowed out area for the party was less than half the size than usual as was the skating rink, and there was only one fire, but maybe being scrunched together kept everyone warmer. Lots of effort was put into the ice sculptures by the cowboys, so that was cool looking. I don’t have any photos to post but our neighbour Iris took one of the skating rink before the party, and it looks really pretty. You can see it up on the right.
Alrighty, I've done my good deed for the day and I have other work I need to get done on the computer and actually get paid for. But before that, I'm going for a walk with my dog. I hope you all have as good a day as I'm going to!

17/01/2013 5:20 PM

Happy New Years, Everyone!

I actually started this blog three days ago but got an email for some web work to be done, then another email and then a flood of work for the tourism association. I worked for a few hours this morning and I still have lots to do but I'm determined to get a blog written today, so the other stuff will have to wait!
As I mentioned in the December blog just before Christmas, we had decided that we were going to go away over the holidays. We just got back last week and have spent the last many days playing catch up, including getting firewood.
We left the day after Christmas for Vancouver Island and parked ourselves in a motel room down in Delta just this side of the ferry the first day. That way we got over to Victoria early in the afternoon of the next day and so could explore the city on foot in bright sunshine and warm temperatures.
The first surprise was seeing flowers outside of our hotel. Flowers! I had to touch them to make sure they were real and not plastic. Row on row of primroses in every color of the rainbow blooming their little hearts out. I could not believe it!
Seeing all the luscious green shrubs, trees and lawns in Victoria was amazing! If we hadn’t done anything else just enjoying that made the whole trip worthwhile. As it was, we played tourist for five days in Victoria and enjoyed every moment of every day. If you haven’t been, I can highly recommend the Royal Museum, Craigdorroch Castle, Butchart Gardens, the Butterfly Gardens and the Victoria/Sydney area in general. We were right by the marina and the Parliament buildings so we were in the best part of town for walking everywhere.
I read a pamphlet that said Victoria had the largest population of active adults in Canada. Small wonder! It’s a great place to walk or bike and the local car traffic seems to be very respectful of that as well as watchful for the horse carriages. We mostly walked everywhere and didn't drive much but when you did, you really had to keep an eye out for people.
The downtown part of Victoria is beautiful and full of old and refurbished buildings from the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, most built in grand Victorian style and made of stone or brick. Walking around and reading informational signs about buildings is kind of our thing when we’re doing the tourist so it was cool that Victoria caters to that.
Most surprising to us was the number of foreign languages we heard all around us. There are tourists from all over the world there all the time from the looks of it no matter what the season.
We ran out of time and never got the chance to go into the famous Empress Hotel, tour the Parliament buildings or do any number of other things on our list, but since we plan to go back, we’ll have left lots to see when we return. Wow, what a breath of fresh air from two months of solidly cold, sunless winter!
We left Victoria and drove north to Nanaimo then over, or through, the mountains to Ucluelet on the west coast of the Island. Next stop… Japan. What a remarkable place! Again, we went just to be tourists. I had never been ’storm watching’ before and we figured regardless of what the weather did, it would be a win, win situation. If it was nasty, we could watch storms coming in over the ocean. If it was nice, we would benefit from that as well. As it turned out, we had gorgeous weather the day we got there, 8C or 46 degrees Fahrenheit the next full day that we were there, and clear, beautiful and sunny the day we left. Although we have been told by many people that those are unusual conditions for this time of year, evidently we got lucky.
We didn’t see any massive waves while we were there but we did see beautiful ocean vistas every step of the way along the Wild Pacific Trail that we picked up from our resort hotel and walked for some distance. It was a great trail with benches dotted along the cliff here and there where you could sit and look out over the ocean and take in a little sunshine.
I had booked us a resort hotel called Black Rock that literally sits up on the rocks on the ocean’s edge. While not a cheap place by any means, it was worth every single penny. The rooms rocked like nothing I’ve ever seen before! If you ever want to take your spouse on a romantic getaway, that is the place to go. We had floor to ceiling windows in our room that looked out past the deck to moss covered windswept trees, thick forest floor and ocean beyond pounding the huge black rocks the resort was named for. There was a fireplace in the room, huge bed, huge television, huge soaker tub in the bathroom so deep you could have drowned in it, and a huge wall to wall glass shower with a rain shower head bigger than my biggest salad bowl. Everything about that room was BIG. It was really cool.
The reason I had booked this place was because it had all these viewing lounges that you could watch the storms from in comfort, with big easy chairs and a two sided fireplace in one of them, a bar and a dining room, all facing floor to ceiling windows with the ocean view beyond. Other than the restaurant, we didn’t have to use any of them. The weather was too nice to be inside.
This is a place to stay that I would recommend to anyone. The place itself is gorgeous, the staff is awesome and the restaurant has the second best food of any I have eaten in many years and that’s only because the place we went to the night before we left, called Norwood’s, has the best food I’ve ever eaten, never mind in how many years!
We drove down to Tofino from Ucluelet just to see what it looked like and personally, I preferred Ucluelet by far. It’s way more open for one thing. Tofino seems closed in with thick forest, monstrously tall trees, and narrow streets and houses packed together on hillsides. It just seemed like a really dark place.
I think the other thing we both disliked was that there is a park between Ucluelet and Tofino with a couple of parking lots on beaches, one of which is Long Beach. The park is the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve of Canada and at each of these parking lots were kiosks where you were supposed to pay to park there. Now first of all, these parking lots were paved, but certainly didn’t need to be. Gravel would have done fine. The bathroom I used at one of them was absolutely deplorable. It was old and disgusting and the building I saw at another parking lot didn’t look to be in any better shape. But get this! To park there so that you can go walk on the beach, each adult in the vehicle has to pay $7.80 and each child $3.90 or each family group $19.60. If you’re not parking there and just want to walk on the beach, each adult must pay $4.90, child $2.50 or family group $12.50, four hour limit.
First of all, the freaking federal government did not make the beach. Nature did that. Second of all, I expect that those ‘parking lots’ are jam packed with vehicles in summer so those parking lots were paid for a long, long time ago. Especially judging from the condition of the pavement. So there is no excuse for charging such exorbitant prices just to park and there is no way that it costs that much to maintain washrooms (there is no charge provincially for maintaining washrooms at lakes or rest areas). Even if they are paying someone to go out there and clean the beach which looked highly unlikely, they aren’t paying them that much. What a freaking rip off! Just a money generating rip off! It seems to make a lot more sense to me to waive the fees or make them much less expensive in order to draw more tourists to the area. Because if we’re any example, I would never go back there and I would tell every single person I knew going over there to not go there. Why would you? While they may not be sandy beaches, there are numerous places in Ucluelet where you can access the ocean at no charge. For that matter, there was no fee for us to walk that Wild Pacific Trail at our leisure and a WHOLE lot more work went into building that trail than ever went into building those parking lots and nasty old washrooms.
It’s sad when you take Mother Nature’s fine work, close it off and charge to see it.
Whoever came up with that idea should be shot with a ball of their own crap!
Okay, I’m done with my rant now and some Canadian Government bureaucrat’s smart idea. Idiots.
In any case, other than that, our visit to Vancouver Island was amazing! Even the ferry rides both ways were great. Someone was definitely looking out for me because I don’t normally do very well on water but Andy said the water going and coming was the smoothest he had ever seen. It was like boating out on Nimpo Lake on a calm, summer day.
As usual, however, the calm weather wasn’t intended to last. We had actually planned on getting over on the ferry to Vancouver, hie up the road a little ways, and get a motel room. That way it wouldn’t be such a long day driving on up to Kelowna. But a weather system was coming in right behind us while we had clear, blue sky ahead of us, so we continued through the Fraser Valley, went on up over the Coq and then the Connector over to Kelowna while the getting was good. We didn’t get in until evening but at least we beat the snow that hit both passes that night and were parked for the next couple of days while it snowed in the Okanagan.
The roads weren’t bad the day we left so we headed for Williams Lake and hit snowy roads and weather from about 100 Mile House on, but it still wasn’t bad when we landed in the Puddle. However, it really started to come down that night and snow was pouring down in buckets when we got up the next morning. We hurried around to get our shopping and errands done so we could get out of town and leave ourselves lots of daylight to get home in case the roads were bad. But do you know? We weren’t but an hour out of Williams Lake when we started hitting pretty good roads and it started becoming obvious east of Tatla Lake that it hadn’t even snowed the entire two weeks that we were gone. Which was kind of good, actually, because it meant none of our neighbours were stuck needing their driveways plowed while we were gone. That changed, of course. Within a couple of days of being home it snowed between five and six inches so we finally caught up to the rest of the province, most of which had been nailed with snow pretty hard prior to us getting any of the white stuff. Our luck kind of ran out but at least it waited until we got home! Actually, it's just as well. I've probably lost a lot of perennials and some of our lawn this winter to lack of snow cover, so this last batch of snow might help what's left.
I’m going to quit on this tonight now and hopefully continue with another blog tomorrow to catch everyone up on what’s been happening here in the Chilcotin.
You’ll find the last blog at December Week Three but for any of the older postings, this is the start of a new year so you’ll have to go to the menu to the left to find the 2012 blogs.

Anahim Lake Highway cam looking West.

The purpose of this web site is to draw attention to a remote area of west central British Columbia. It is a beautiful area that relies heavily on tourism. The search engines don't know much about the West Chilcotin, Anahim Lake, Nimpo Lake or any of the other small communities in the region and I hope to change that! Even as large as this site will eventually be, there just isn't enough room or time in the day to fully describe this incredible country but I am going to try scraping away at the tip of the iceberg, so join me!

Follow the links, and see what the West Chilcotin is really like!
Glass blocks welcome skaters.
Christmas lights outline the Victoria Parliament buildings at night.
Windswept old white trunked tree.
Craigdorroch Castle with stone turret.
Orange trunk of Arbutus tree glows in the rain.
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