Saturday, 6 June 2015

Day 23 - Exploring Coquitlam

Today is our last full day in Canada - last sleep.

The first stop was Walmart for a spot of shopping.

I soon figured out that the only way to see moving trains in this city was to head west again, so I headed for the station at Pitt Meadows which would put us on the eastern end of the CP yard. All was going well until we got to the city centre and all the streets were blocked off for a parade celebrating Pitt Meadows Day - good grief. Getting out of the place was a nightmare. There was no way I could get anywhere near the station - everything was blocked off.

Next stop was Maple Meadows - a CP freight eventually turned up but it was right beside the platform going a zillion miles an hour. I wasn't prepared for the sudden high speed track change and when I realised what was going on, I had to abandon the camera for my own safety's sake. The camera almost got blown over but was rescued just in time.

Lunch time - Tim Horton's dangerous little place again.

Going way too fast for this camera.

I decided to go to the Port Haney Station at Maple Ridge where there were fewer people and traffic and the angles were better. We spent quite a few hours there and scored about 6 trains I think...all doing a gazillion miles an hour.

Tail end charlie at Port Haney. The number boards are used by the passenger operator to show the engineer where to stop, depending on how many coaches he's hauling.

The view across the always dirty Fraser River - in the distance is the 3286m peak of Mount Baker in Washington state. It looked a lot better at the time.
When I first saw it I thought it was just another one of those bi-lingual signs...but no.

The return trip home had us come across a prang on the freeway which was snarling up traffic - lots of flashing lights and people waving their arms and car parts all over the place,

Dinner again at Joey Coquitlam - excellent food. It's a good 10 minute walk from the hotel so no guilt in having a good feed.

We shall assume that this will be my last blog for this trip. We're all pretty tired, aching, a bit sunburned and have digestive systems that have taken a hammering. A pretty good trip - not as many trains as we would have liked but the. scenery more than made up for it.

It's currently Saturday, we depart on Sunday night and arrive in New Zealand on Tuesday. We won't see Monday at all.

All the best and I hope you've enjoyed my little stories.

Erin. Johnson

Friday, 5 June 2015

Day 22 - Day trip to Squamish.

Today I took the guys up to Squamish to visit the West Coast Railway Heritage Park. When they were at Revelstoke, they took 1.5 hrs to look around - this time they took 2.5 hrs to look around - this place is pretty big and they have lots of stuff. The highlight for me was being able to climb inside an operational (but not operating at the time) FP7 locomotive, walk right through the car body past the prime mover and into the cab and sit in the seat to see what the view was like. We weren't allowed to touch any of the controls for obvious reasons. Operating one of these old clunkers is not a glamorous job. Amazing to see that the nice round curve of the front end has nothing in it and that the toilet is down the back.

FP7 loco. The FP7 is 4 feet longer than the F7 to house the water tank needed for the steam heater required for passenger trains.

Drivers eye view of the FP7

Drivers controls

Anyway, the one hour drive took over 2 hrs owing to a wee mishap on a bridge that closed a lane that affected traffic for miles. If Canucks just slowed down a bit and employed the 2 second rule they'd be better drivers. The view across the inlet was consistently blocked by trees and the windy road made me feel a bit ill - unsure how the others fared but on the return trip I slowed it down a bit to make it more comfortable.

Upon our return we had time to check out a few places that we were going to visit tomorrow - all fizzers (including a hobby shop which had lots on things I didn't want).
A new Skytrain line is being installed and some of the Metro stations are closed with construction work - it didn't help that we'd struck peak hour traffic again. A bit gutted that we could not sit quietly on a platform and watch trains go by. A disappointing afternoon really.

Dinner at an Asian Restaurant that offered shark fin on the menu - a bit of an ethical dilemma, but I was starving so had chicken & cashew nuts. It was good.

All the guys have asked to go shopping as they want to spend a fortune on their wives.....and if you believe that...

2 sleeps and a ride in an aeroplane to go.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Day 21 - Ashcroft to Coquitlam

Coquitlam sounds fancy, but it's just part of the greater Vancouver area.

A minor glitch today - we got as far as Spences Bridge and a big sign lit up and said HWY 1 CLOSED NORTH OF BOSTON BAR - USE HWY 5

Ohhh - what to do. No other information like what was the cause and when will it be open, so I made the call to carry on to Lytton to see if the situation had changed.

It appeared that the truckers knew something was up as they were finding spots to turn around. I called into the RCMP at Lytton and of all things, they were totally unaware of the road closure - so the guy there went on the internet and confirmed that the road was indeed closed, due to open at 3 pm. Stuff that.

Turned out to be a fatal between a car and a truck.

So we double backed and took the windy road to Merritt which followed along the old right of way of an abandoned railway line - so the guys had something to look at - "There's a bear !!" and sure enough, Grant had spotted a large black bear meandering along the river bank - cool - but there was nowhere to stop and I had a line of traffic behind me.

The bridge at Hope that I could never film a train on. There was a sign nearby warning to be aware of bears - niiiice.

The drive from Merritt to Hope was a challenging experience - speed limit is 120 km/hr - and once again, it seemed to be a recommendation. Trucks can manage it on the downhill but once they go up, they decrease speed rapidly and one almost caught me out.

Lunch at Hope and we staked out that darned bridge that I mentioned in an earlier post - sat there for about 2 hrs waiting for a train - finally got one, but it was that darned Rocky Mountaineer again.

I'd had enough of fast freeway driving so decided to re-trace our steps to Vancouver following the Lougheed Highway - which our hotel is located on anyway - filmed two trains.

Waiting to get overtaken by a fast moving coal train.

Checked in and went to a recommended restaurant - it was awesome.

Tomorrow it's a day trip to Squamish and back.

3 more sleeps then an aeroplane ride.


Day 20 - Salmon Arm to Ashcroft

Today we drove from Salmon Arm to Ashcroft, stopping off at Kamloops for lunch.

Wet wet wet. We woke up to rain, we had lunch in the rain and drove all day in the rain - until we got to Cache Creek where they had some pretty bad floods last week. The roads there are a bit messy but it looks like they survived.

One of the bridges at Ashcroft.

I attempted to filim (private joke, later) some trains in the rain at the Notch Hill Horseshoe Curve and at Notch Hill and Kamloops, and the footage turned out OK - using the back door of the SUV as an umbrella. However the bright cloudy skies tend to muck the scene up a bit.

Upon arrival at Ashcroft I was concerned to learn that the person I spoke to about the booking no longer worked there and he'd stuffed up my reservation - even though I'd talked to him personally and confirmed everything just a week before. Instead of two rooms with two queen beds, he'd reserved one room with 2 single beds and a cot.

The new owner managed to give us that and two additional rooms with a queen in each. Lawrie and Grant got the singles, and if they think they'll fall out of bed, then they can push them together...

David will be pleased that for one night of this trip he won't have to sleep with a pillow over his head to block out the noise of the aircon and my snoring.

Accommodation sorted, we went on the hunt for some rail action. I took the guys down to the end of Evans Road - unchartered territory as Google street view only goes about half way down this road. We went past one bridge, which I already knew about, and at the end of the road we came across another bridge (both Canadian National). Both railroads are mere metres apart here so it was pretty easy to film either.

From this location alone I filmed (filimed) 6 trains and a Herzog work unit (in the space of about 2 hours) that had equipment that we assumed was used for replacing culvets. It was going really slow. At one stage three CN trains passed through only 5 minutes apart - it was all on.

I decided to change locations back to the other bridge that was on CN tracks, and was rewarded with two CP trains behind me - filmable) followed by a CP coal train using CN track. Don't know why.

Finally I called it quits at about 7 pm and we went on the hunt for an eatery. The only place we could find was their RSA until at the last minute I remembered that the only other motel in town also had a restuarant - saved by the bell - otherwise it would have been a 15k trip back to Cache Creek.

No internet at this place - never mind. Four more sleeps then a plane ride home. Tomorrow it's the 3.75 hour drive (plus stops) to Coquitlam, part of greater Vancouver.

Oh, the filim thing. The server at the restuarant was new and had only just moved to Ashcroft - we were asking her about local stuff and she did her best to answer the questions, but she also explained that the new X-Files movie was being filimed here - there was a crashed space ship and everything.  Filimed ? She repeated the word again - Yes, they're making a filim. Never mind. She's from Vancouver Island...

PS - We drove past a farm that was flying a New Zealand flag - I gave them a toot.


Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Day 19 - Golden to Salmon Arm

This post will kill the stats....

We left Golden just as rain was starting to fall - which it did for the entire journey and still is here at Salmon Arm. Some Canadians do not know how to adjust their driving speed to suit the conditions, with many people happy to tootle along at 100ks even when it's hosing down for the first time in months and there's truck spray blocking the view. In fact, we reckon the posted speed limits here are a recommendation, not a hard and fast rule. There seems to be no cops on the roads anywhere enforcing anything.

We stopped into a couple of places  along the way to do a few touristy things like look at giant Cedar trees, a good look at the Rogers Pass visitor centre and.....oh, that's it.

All is not lost - the reason I decided to do an out an back driving tour instead of a continuous loop was just in case this happened on the outward leg, but as it turned out, we had great weather on the outward leg and it just happens to be sopping wet on the return journey. So nothing lost other than additional opportunities to see trains in the same places again.

Summit of Rogers Pass

The early arrival at Salmon Arm meant we could take a look around town a bit, do a bit of shopping, interact with the locals and get the vibe of the place before checking in.

One of the many avalanche tunnels across Rogers Pass

On the east side of Rogers Pass it was wet and cold at about 6 degrees - however on this side it's at least 15 degrees and a tad humid.

Speaking of trains, the balcony on our hotel looks out across the lake and in between are the tracks - so all is good.

Dave on the giant cedar boardwalk. It's about 500m in length and pretty cool. The low lying plants have thorns - nasty.

The lady at the front desk said 40 degrees is the normal temp here during summer - stuff that for a joke. I did take some piccies of some trees but the camera is in the car and I don't want to get my new sneakers wet - the old one's have fallen apart with the shear amount of physical stress I've been demanding of them... and if you believe that...

Tomorrow we drive to Ashcroft - getting closer to Vancouver and home. There may not be any internet at Ashcroft, so if you don't hear from me, no need to panic.


Monday, 1 June 2015

Day 18 - Lake Louise to Golden

Today marks the official day that we start to return home, even though the half way mark was last week. As of today we re-trace our steps to get back to Vancouver, and today we drove back to Golden, stopping off at Morants curve (as you do) to get the obligatory morning shots.

Morants Curve - located on the Bow Valley Parkway on the outskirts of Lake Louise. Named after the CP special photographer Nicholas Morant who took many famous winter shots here. The mid train helper is a specially painted unit produced to celebrate the 2010 Vancouver winter Olympics - the special markings have been removed, only the white band and 'Canadian Pacific' remains. A rare treat to see this. Take a moment to admire this scenery - it's the only one taken from today.

I got two trains, both coming from the east, so no head-ons, then we played the waiting game. Little did we know, until we got there, work crews were replacing sleepers near the spiral tunnels, therefore holding up trains. We've got really good at waiting for nothing to happen.

A place we didn't stay at Lake Louise - the proximity of this fast flowing river to the hotel is of slight concern. Nice view though - until your feet start getting wet.

We did a tiki tour onto Yoho Valley Rd for a few ks to where the upper spiral tunnel lookout is located, then continued onto Field for lunch - and a train starts up and departs, so we returned to the lookout to watch it enter and exit the tunnels. They're a long way away and up high so no point in attempting to video it.

Second attempt to return to Field for lunch - this time success !! Just as we finished, a Canpotex train departed eastward.

We continued onto Golden, stopping at a couple of locations to see what we could see and film a train here and there. I got an awesome shot from the Kicking Horse rest area. I didn't get a photo so try this link:

The tracks are on the opposite side of the river.

After checking in  - seamless and a most pleasant experience - the other generation had a combat nap to ease their weary heads and I reviewed the footage from the last few days. There's some really good stuff.

A quick cheap dinner (no names) and we went out again with new found vigour - back to KC Junction on Andersons Road. We didn't have to wait long - a Canpotex train turned up and headed for Field, and as soon as that passed through, another Canpotex unit went the opposite way - the same one we saw at Morants Curve earlier that day. As soon as I stopped recording and started walking back to the guys, a light appeared - "Train On !" This time a stack train went hurtling through. I called it quits at 8:30 pm so we could have an early night. Sleep deprivation is taking its toll.

Tomorrow we're off to Salmon Arm.


Sunday, 31 May 2015

Day 17 - Jasper to Lake Louise

It's horrendously late and I need sleep so I'll keep this short and brief.

Drove from Jasper to Lake Louise along the Icefields Parkway - saw 2 black bears (one of them was 10m from the car), a Grizzly Bear which walked towards a shop and 2 of the guys had to get ushered inside, lots of big horned sheep, visited multiple stops along the way and took lots of scenic photos. Visited the actual lake at Lake Louise, Lake Moraine and had time to film a couple of trains at Morants Curve.

I'll let the photos tell the story - I don't have the literary skills to describe some of the places we visited.