Last Saturday (Dec. 8th) my husband and I got up at 3:30am, packed our gear into the new car, and headed off for Langley to my cousin's place. My husband and my cousin's hubby were going for a day trip of hunting in Hope and I was going house hunting for the day in Merritt- possibly Kamloops as well depending on how much time it would take. Hope is about an hour or so from where we live and Merritt is about 2 hours. It would be a great test for the new car.
I made a little map using Google.
Ernie brought his daughter along who looks as if she will follow in her father's footsteps- become a hunter that is. After breakfast and refueling in Hope we parted ways in the bitter cold before sunrise and I headed out on the Coquihalla Hwy. for the first time in my life as a tourist. I used to drive this road when I worked on the carnival pulling a trailer and always hated it but now, in the new 4x4 and at my own pace it was a total breeze! The sun was shining and it was crystal clear for most of the trip until I started to get closer to my destination. It looked as if there was either a fire in the valley or possibly mill smoke pollution. It took me just over an hour to get to Merritt since I stopped several times to take pictures.
I entered town from the Nicola Avenue exit and turned left on Voght street which took me to the southern end of town where I wandered aimlessly for a bit. There were new homes going up in the area but this wasn't where I wanted to be. I turned back around and headed back up Voght which took me back though town and up to the Coquihalla and the new development area. Ernie had said that Merritt had grown quite a bit but I didn't see it except where the highways came together- thats where the Canadian Tire, Walmart and Extra Foods etc. were all located. The old part of town had several empty businesses that were for sale- no doubt shop owners couldn't compete with the big box stores but technically you could say that Merritt was growing - just in a different direction.
I passed on by the Century 21 realty office because I really wanted to find Tim Hortons and have some proper food and another coffee. I checked the local papers, read up on the local businesses from the yellow pages, and generally took note of everything on my map before heading back out. The realtor I spoke with gave me loads of information and of particular interest, a map of Lower Nicola where two houses in our immediate price range were for sale. After thanking her I headed out- I got on the wrong highway and debated if I should continue on to Kamloops since I was headed in that direction, to talk to a realtor there as was part of the original plan, but decided instead to make a thorough job of this area instead so turned back and headed toward Lower Nicola. Once I was on that highway a lot of memories came back from my first year on the carnival- I believe that was before the Coquihalla Highway was built. It's an incredibly beautiful and historic place- still full of abandoned old homesteads and gentle slopes on either side of the valley.
After taking several pictures of the homes in question and general scenics I decided that while I was there I should also check out Logan Lake which had cheaper homes for sale. Mostly out of curiosity of the possible reasons beyond it's isolation and the fact that I had never driven there before.
What a waste of time.
What a horrible drive this would be if there was snow. Like a mini-Coquihalla but steeper and curvier. And this was on a great driving day. The town itself is nondescript. There is nothing there beyond a bare-bones community surrounded by wilderness. Pretty, yes, but thats the only nice thing I can say. Ernie later told me that if you don't have a job in the mines there is no work in the area.
I tanked up, bought a hot chocolate, and headed off again but got slowed down by a cattle drive. About 750 head of cattle the cowboy told me. They just kept on coming....it was the best part of having visited Logan Lake. I took more pictures on the highway and eventually got to Ashcroft which I would like to have explored a bit but decided to make tracks as it was getting late. Just before Spences Bridge I photographed mountain sheep (Bighorns) on the highway.
I debated stopping at the Bighorn gas station to see Claude and Linda who I met while working on the carnival but as it was getting darker and I was on the Trans Canada Hwy. heading home through 'the canyon' and wasn't sure about the road conditions.. The road wasn't too bad actually- I fueled up in Boston Bar and Othmar finally called me about an hour outside of Hope. We agreed that I pick him up at Ernie's which I did- neither one of them had got a deer but interestingly they found a bone heap in Chilliwack- either a local butcher or the local natives had been using one particular place in the woods for a long long time to dump the remnants of slaughtered carcasses.
On a somewhat related note, last Friday I shot a buck in Maple Ridge- with the camera of course!