Northern British Columbia

While we were all a wee bit weary of road travel, we soldiered on. It was still very enjoyable to meet and reconnect with various friends along the way. From Vancouver Island we headed straight North to Kamloops. Originally we had planned on meeting up with my brother Jeff’s family camping at Barkerville in Northern B.C., but a more thorough look at the map quickly derailed those plans. Similar to getting to Cairns (or even our loftier goal of Bill & Linda’s in Darwin) in Australia, this thought proved to be just too many kilometers in too short a time period. I looked up a friend I had worked with at Diavik who lived in Kamloops. When I was first talking about the trip a few years ago, he extended the invite to stay a night or two. And so Rob and his family welcomed us all with huge open arms for supper and a swim at their neighbor’s pool. That was particularly refreshing and wonderful considering the extreme heat. We hadn’t encountered such conditions at all except for Egypt on pretty much the rest of the trip. Luckily we had planned to hit most other hot countries during their colder (+25ish) seasons.

The other terrible thing about the Kamloops area was the massive devastation of the pine beatle. Well over three quarters of the area forests were the stark burgundy of dead needles. Worse though, is that with global warming, these pests are moving steadily North and wiping out everything in their path. If that alone isn’t terrible enough, the extreme danger of forest fires sweeping through these heavily populated valleys is an even larger concern by all. I’d have nightmare’s if I lived there for sure! It was also about this time that we finally watched Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth”. Even more ammunition for those afore-mentioned nightmares. It really does seem overwhelming! Until the politicians get out of the back pocket of utility companies and car manufacturers, there seems little hope of genuine development of reasonable alternatives. Sadly we just all need to choke it back, and take a hit to the economy before any sort of reasonable progress can be made. Time will tell…

After a great night in Kamloops we headed back South to Kelowna. We were staying at Jeff & Jo’s house while they were away, but managed to spend the afternoon and supper with my youngest Aunt, Reola. She had a great condo with a pool that the kids thoroughly enjoyed, and even better was the fact that her son was visiting. I hadn’t seen him since before we had moved North, so we all had a great visit catching up. I also finished showing her and Josh how to manage their domain registration and hosting accounts. She had designed most of her own web page for a commercial project and was getting supremely hosed by a local company who were maintaining it to the tune of about $1,200! That was the equivalent of about $90/year that I set her up with, and two hours (absolute tops) of work they had done setting up and transferring files. Crazy what people will stoop to get away with if the poor customer doesn’t know any better.

That night we went the Artiss’ home and marveled at the incredible garage they have. All the toys a guy could ever want, and then some. Wow! They showed up in the gas guzzling behemoth that is their cozy but older motorhome the next afternoon and we had a wonderful night visiting together. We even shared another bottle of the Strawberry chocolate wine in our cross Canada efforts of exposing everyone possible to Rush Creek Wines in Southern Ontario. This proved very “fruitful” (pun intended of course) for rush Creek as Jeff & Jo and another couple of friends later ordered a few dozen bottles. That’s pretty amazing, I figured, coming from residents of the Okanagan Valley.

The next day we headed back to Kamloops for another few nights, but this time with Uncle Steve and Aunt Helena, (my dad’s youngest brother). We had stayed with them our last time through the area several years previously and it was also great to catch up. They were empty nesters now, with a big house high in the hills and a very “sportly” equipped garage. We did even more relaxing and visiting while Auntie Helena cooked a great lasagna. It was naturally fabulous but Luke was particularly thrilled as he hadn’t had any in quite a while. Friends of ours from Smith, the Gauthiers, had planned on staying the same two nights in Kelowna on their way South to Vanc. Island for their family vacation. With a huge landslide on one highway, they were extensively delayed, but still showed up for some re-heated lasagna before heading to their hotel. I had booked a mine tour for the eight of us the next day at Highland Valley Copper pretty early so we crashed shortly after.

The hour drive out showed valley after valley of more dead coniferous forests. Still an incredibly sad sight. Speaking of raping and pillaging the earth, the mine was one of the largest open pit operations in Canada. Very incredible to see. There were a few good photo-ops and the eight of us were the only ones on the tour. After a great day wandering around Kelowna we headed East to Cowtown (and, sadly, even closer to home) the next morning.

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