Thursday, July 19, 2018

Day 2 Geocaching Merritt Area June 4

PS - Don't worry if the pictures appear as video. It's a result of exporting a screen snip from the video software tool.

Day2 of the Geocaching adventure would take us from Merritt north through Logan Lake and then west to Ashcroft. This path would take us along a string of caches that paralleled the large Highland Valley Copper Mine, one of the largest open pit mines in Canada.

This string of caches could be considered a "power trail" where the emphasis is on finding as many caches in a row as possible. On the one hand it was fun to grab so many caches so close together. On the other hand we were jumping out of the truck every 600 feet or so. The poor truck would barely get up to speed before you had to pull over again.
And the caches were boring, just small containers hanging in trees or stuck behind a rock.
Having said that, as a cache owner, I know how much work it is to put out 50 or so caches in a row, create the cache pages on, and have to maintain them when one got damaged or went missing.
That is a huge amount of work and kudos to the cache owner for spending that much time so his fellow geocachers could enjoy the day.

The one cache that we really enjoyed finding on this stretch of the way was an old miner's cabin up in the woods. The logging operations had pushed roads close to the cabin so the access to the cabin was made easier. To top it off this was a Gold Country geocache, one where you could gather a sticker from the geocache and count it towards your "collection" of Gold Country caches you need to find to to work towards gettin a "gold" bar geocoin to show you had visited 24 of these historic locations.

This was the highlight of the day, if not the weekend. We were really glad to have taken the time to get off the beaten path and find this tidbit of history. The mosquitoes and biting things were really happy we stopped by as well as they were getting pretty hungry.!

Another one of my favourite caches was another Gold Country cache at Black Canyon. An old farm was on the end butte of the arid hills overlooking the Thompson River. With the sun shining bright on the land below, the greens of the valley stood out in contrast to the arid landscape in the area.

Not a lot to talk about for the caches themselves, the real treat was in the scenery and a chance to explore a bit more of Super Natural BC

Enjoy the video below, you will see what we seen as we traveled through the beauty of the Thompson Plateau region of BC


Saturday, July 07, 2018

Day 1 Geocaching Merritt Area June 3

At least once or twice a year two of my brothers and I wander up to the Merritt area for a three day weekend of geocaching from dawn to dusk, or so it seems.
In reality, we typically find our first cache around 9.00 AM and continue straight through the day having a late lunch and an even later dinner well after the sun goes down.
It's not unusual for us to break out the BFRs (big frigging flashlights) and continue for a couple of hours after dark. A 10.00 PM dinner at the local Boston Pizza seems to be the routine for us boys.

It's a fun weekend for us to be just ourselves and be as carefree as we want with dirty pants, dirty hands, and dirty mouths - well, boys will be boys.
I always find it interesting when siblings get together, they immediately fall into the family dynamics of "first born, second born, last born", etc harking back to their younger years in the family home.
Even though two of us are retired, and the youngest of the bunch just a couple years away himself, it seems like we are all suddenly teenagers for the weekend. There is a certain comfort of the soul that  is felt with being back in the family environment of our youth.

So, Day 1 - here we are heading up from Vancouver to Merritt, a route we have taken many times and pretty well cached out the area on our various times through.
On this trip there were a few new caches along the Coquihalla Highway, mostly at the Coldwater Rd junction.
As we had previously found all the caches in Merritt that would interest us, it was time to start getting off the beaten path and take some of the forest service roads that would lead us in an indirect way to Merritt and our hotel room.

We took the Coldwater Road exit and headed back east along Brookmere Road. Our aim was to follow Brookmere Rd through the small village of Brookmere, an old Kettle Valley Railway stop, and then follow the Voight Valley Rd to meet up with Kane Valley Rd, then follow a trail of geocaches that would lead us out to Hwy 5A and then cruise into Merritt for the night.

These are all easy ranch type roads which wind through high country suitable for cattle and horse grazing. While there were no fantastic views to be had like rushing rivers and snow capped mountains, there was a certain serenity to the open grasslands where you had the feeling time had not changed the landscape much and the local people still worked and lived the same as the generation before them, and probably the one before that as well. 

Considering we left Vancouver around lunchtime, we had enjoyed a full day of caching, picking up the last of the caches just to the west of Merritt in Lower Nicola which was one of the major First Nations population centres in the Nicola Valley in the early days.

Keeping to our established habits, it was now 9.00 PM, sun was going done, caches were done for the day, and Boston Pizza was calling us with promises of a large pizza and a large pitcher of cool beer to share.

Enjoy the video below; it shows Day One as we roamed the ranch land roads south east of Merritt.


Saturday, June 16, 2018

Quick Geocaching Trip To Kamloops Area

British Columbia on the West Coast of Canada is a mountainous region and if you drive on almost any highway in the province you will see these warning signs for truck drivers. To the rest of us, this just means a steep road and spectacular scenic views the mountains afford.


Brothers Ken and Al had to make a business trip to Blind Bay on Shuswap Lake, approx. 45 minutes east of Kamloops. While pondering whether the trip was worthwhile, they decided to turn it into a geocaching trip and that made all the difference in the world.

A quick call to myself, and a couple of days later we were leaving Vancouver on the South West Coast and heading up country to Kamloops.
Bowser98, MrTJ, and TJGUY98 were on the road again ....

It was to be just an overnight trip so I researched around 80 caches, assuming we would be lucky if we hit 50 of them with all the traveling to do.
I picked mostly city caches for the first day as we got into Kamloops after dinner, so our caching time would be limited on Day 1.

There is a lot of history in BC but often it is tucked away rather than being on full display. On the south side of Kamloops, on the steep hillside above the city core, we found a cache at a weathered historical sign board. The back alley we just drove down was once part of the Nicola Wagon Road that connected Merritt in the south with Kamloops where the last remaining Hudson's Bay Trading Company outpost was located. The route itself probably followed an ancient trail used by the Shuswap People prior to the arrival of the first fur traders in 1812.

We make an annual geocaching trip to the Kamloops area so this offers us the chance to go back and find some of those caches we could not find last time. We looked for a micro cache in the rock wall for over an hour last year and came up empty. This year we came back and within 7 minutes had the cache in hand - go figure!

On Day 2 we had to get the business part of the trip done, which was to pick up some business materials east of Kamloops in Blind Bay. But that doesn't mean we had to drive straight there; taking the scenic route is always an option.Blind Bay Village is one of the many that line the shore of multi-branched Shuswap Lake. Blind Bay has a small population that swells in summertime when the tourists arrive dragging their boats over the mountains from Vancouver and Alberta to play in the sun.

But in this part of the country all roads eventually lead you back to the Trans Canada Highway. Adventurous tourists with time on their hands can dip their toes in either the Pacific Ocean on the West Coast, or the Atlantic Ocean on the East Coast, and then drive the entire 7,821 kilometres to the other ocean to repeat the feat at the conclusion of their adventure. In doing so they would have driven right down this stretch of highway - "hey, there they go !!

To prove that geocaching is not all hustle and bustle, Bowser98 took a moment in time to hold up a Stop sign for MrTJ while he found and signed a geocache. Teamwork - it makes everything easy. "What was I doing you ask"? Well, taking pictures and chronicling our road trip of course.! Psst - you can't trust either one of those guys with a camera! 👎

Near the highway in a shopping complex on the outskirts of Blind Bay is an old Case Steam tractor and a small wooden covered chuck wagon. Remnants of two different eras of work vehicles used 100 years apart but both an integral part of the work force.

Boating is what Shuswap Lake is all about. The multi pronged lake forms the letter "H" which offers endless boating opportunities for all kinds of boats. The lake is usually calm so houseboats are a big hit on the lake, as are speed boats pulling water skiers and assorted inflatable ride along rafts.

With the warm spring, vegetation had a good head start on the growing season and many of the caches we would look for would be covered over with this year's growth. That's MrTJ in the bush in case you are wondering. Hidden under the bush was the high water level of the lake and MrTJ had to balance on a semi-submerged log to retrieve the cache.

The semi arid landscape of the BC Interior provides good land for growing fruit, with apples being the traditional crop.
I can still see this old pair of work partners working in tandem in an orchard. The McCormick Farmall tractor and it's flat bed trailer would haul the boxes of apples out of the orchards to an access road, then the old Fargo truck would take the load into town. Synchronicity in team work gets the job done. Just like us three geocachers - Bowser98 guides us to the cache site, MrTJ gets all dirty and covered in leaves while he retrieves the cache, and I take the pictures and write up a story to regale our friends of the fun we had while out and about. Like I said "Synchronicity"  !!

We only had time for a few more caches near Sorrento and Chase before we had to head back down to the Coast and our homes in the Vancouver area.
The Coquihalla Highway is one of those mountain pass highways mentioned at the beginning of the story. Average winter snow pack at roadside is 8 feet. The snow that falls during the winter is not measured in inches but in dozens of feet. The highest summit the road crosses is 4,738 feet, which is only 500 feet short of a mile high.

Even in late spring and early summer there is still plenty of snow to be seen. There were patches of snow at the edge of the road 3-4 feet deep in places.The 22 degree weather we enjoyed all day dropped down to 8 degrees as we crossed through the mountains.

Before we knew it Day 2 was over and we were back home late in the evening. Although it was a quick trip we still manged to find 51 caches and seen a lot more of Super Natural BC.
On top of all that, the three brothers got to act like teenagers again instead of respectful husbands and fathers - good times!  :)



Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Last Day On Maui

Last day on Maui and a less hectic day to wrap up the holiday. Flight time was 7.30 PM so we spent the day by doing a bit of site seeing and hitting a couple of spots that we had not yet visited during the week.

First stop was the old Lahaina Jailhouse where there was a geocache hidden in a 1923 Model "T" Ford touring car. Not much left of the car but there was enough metal to hide a cache so I was happy.

Click on any picture to see a full size version of them

The afternoon was spent at the Maui Ocean Centre, an average ocean aquarium but with an awesome walk through tank that had sharks and Manta Rays gliding over your head.
Various free standing tanks or small buildings housed indoor tanks where you could see everything from reef and coral inhabitants, to the more delicate creatures like seahorses.

Sadly this was the only good picture I was able to get inside the walk through tunnel. This exhibit alone was worth the price of admission

Annette looks menacingly at Ed who is wandering around muttering "pretty sure there is a lever some where around here that operates the shark head"......

While we still had the rental car we ran up the North Coast of the island to Ho'okipa Beach where we could see Green Sea Turtles. Funny thing is, we where here 3 days ago and did not know the turtles where here. If we had walked 30 feet to the edge of the small hill and looked over we would have seen them.
But here we are back again and glad we came to see them and spend some time watching them. Well, they are turtles after all so they don't move too fast, but we watched 5-6 arrive and take up residence on the beach. This is an active beach with surfers constantly going in and coming out of the water but the turtles and the surfers seem to avoid each other and we did not see any conflicts while we were there. The beach goers are allowed to walk around the turtles as long as they keep their distance, but the public like ourselves had to keep their distance to allow the turtles their quiet time.

There were approximately 50 Green Sea turtles on the beach, the turtles get their name from the colour of their skin. The turtles have a long life span of 80 years and grow to five feet when adults and can weigh up to 700 lbs.

The Gathering - Green Sea Turtles resting on the beach, many of them covering themselves with sand to keep them from dehydrating in the sun.
All in all a pretty cool sight to see and we were glad we made the drive out to catch this bit of Maui nature.

All pictures from our last day can be see here on my Flickr site

Last look at the beach for my Baby before we jump in the car and head to the airport to await our flight.

Saddest picture of the whole trip - bags are packed and just waiting for our plane to arrive so we can board that old jet plane that takes us away from paradise and back to our day-to-day world.
BUT - we will be back to enjoy the Sun and Surf again.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Maui Day 5 Helicopter Tour

Maui Day 5 had an early morning helicopter tour on the itinerary. It took a 12 hour tour yesterday to see the island of Maui from the ground. Today we would see the same territory and much more in only an hour.Two tours providing very different points of view of the same scenery, both of them worth the money. 


It was the first time in a helicopter for me, although I have been in small two seat planes many times, even flown them on the sly, but that is another story.  :)
Annette had been on a very memorable doors-off helicopter tour around the mountains north of Maple Ridge flying over the twin peaks of Mt. Blanshard, known locally as "Golden Ears". Fantastic views of the tops of the mountains, small tarns (alpine lakes), glaciers, and vistas in the back country mountains not usually seen by man due to the impossible terrain. She was a lucky girl to get to go on that private tour, today would be another highly memorable sight seeing trip from up high.

We splurged on the more expensive tour as we wanted to ensure ourselves of the better views the more expensive tour brought as they employed newer helicopters with the wide glass windows which afforded better views for the occupants.

Besides, the tour brought huge smiles to Annette's face, and I'm a sucker to do anything that makes her smile.That's why we have cats even though I am allergic to them. When people ask me "why did I agree to bring home a cat, let alone two"? My answer is simple. "Cause they make her smile"

Within a few short minutes our view of the island changed from a land based flat earth view to one of a soaring eagle  Green smooth hills revealed themselves to be full of ripples and mini canyons. Our average speed was around 120 MPH but as the view was so expansive it seemed like we were only doing 30 MPH.

We rose to 10,000 feet to get above the clouds to be able to view the Haleakala Observatory operated by the U.S. Air Force as part of the Air Force Maui Optical and Supercomputing site (AMOS0 whatever that is.

When you drive by car around the island you lose track of the fact that the Hawaiian Islands are products of volcanic activity and are in reality all large volcanoes themselves. From the air it is easier to see the truth. In this picture alone there are 4 mini-craters through which the lava flowed when the main chimney was plugged.

We circled Maui in a counter clockwise fashion, opposite of yesterday, so we seen the sights in reverse order. Even so it was pretty easy to know when we were over the wetter north coast of the island. This is the "tropical jungle" side of the island; much more lush vegetation and greenery to show for the extra rain fall. On the north-east coast dryer land has the mini craters all brown in their appearance. On this coast the mini-craters blended into the greenery of the jungle.

In North America, especially our home province of B.C., Ice Age glaciers and melt water runoff are responsible for most of the topography. In Hawaii, volcanoes and lava and rain have created all the land formations we surveyed from the comfort of our flying ship.

Flying lower at 5,000 feet the rugged coast lines of the west shore were brought into close view for a treat for the eyes and the senses. Pity that pictures never can show the full beauty that the human eye can capture. It was a treat to know that were were seeing parts of the island that we would never have known about had we stuck with the car exploring on our own.

Before too long we knew we were getting close to the end of the tour as civilization started to appear on the landscape in the form of small farms which edged all the way to the cliffs. I hope the farm animals are smart enough not to take that last step. !!

A last pose in front of our whirlybird before we went inside to take off our bright yellow personal flotation devices and grabbed our souvenir recording of the flight. I thought it was pretty cool that the entire time we were on the flight a camera was recording your sight seeing and they made that available to you at the end of the tour. It was $25.00 which I thought was a pretty cheap memento to take home to be able to relive our really fun tour of paradise as seen from 10,000 feet.

The complete set of pictures highlighting Maui from 10,000 feet can be seen here on my Flickr web site     

Monday, November 27, 2017

Maui Days 2 - 3 - 4


Day 2 was a quick skip to the north central coast to check out Ho'okipa Beach Park. We had heard it was pretty cool place to see, so we did the drive and had a look around the area. Unknown to us, we were only a hundred yards away from where the Green Sea Turtles pull themselves onto the beach to rest. We wold find out a few days later and return here on our last day on which we spent the day touring the island before we turned in the rental car and caught our flight home.

Click on any picture to see larger versions of them. The scenery deserves nothing less 


Ensuring I looked like the tacky tourist I picked up an Hawaiian shirt and wore my Canucks hat for the day to hang around the beach. Sandals and long khaki shorts completed the picture of the snow white tourist from the world of cold.

Annette and I organised a few tours/outings starting on Day 3, Annette had a stand up paddle board lesson scheduled in the morning and I was free to take the pictures.

With instructions from their instructor the small group headed off down the shore for practice near the shoreline. Annette later said it was difficult to get the hang of the standing on the board as the waves kept pushing her off balance.

When they got back to the launch area Annette had managed to stand up a few times but it was as clearly not as easy as you think it should be.

The morning work out was rewarded with a great plate of fish tacos at the Paia Fish Market in Lahaina.. Annette's reward seems to have been a great deal of sun on her body. Something she wold pay for in the coming days.


Day 4 was a very long day indeed - we took a bus tour around the island. Pick up time was 6.30 AM, (it was still dark), drop off time turned out to be 6.30 PM (in the dark). That was a long day to be on a 15 passenger bus but it was worth taking the guided tour.

The Road To Hanna as it is commonly referred to, is a 64 mile long stretch of narrow two lane road cutting through the tropical forest side of the island. The road boasts of over 600 turns and 51 one lane bridges. Many of the turns are blind corners and they suggest you honk your horn in case a larger vehicle is trying to squeeze around the corner.

The road is a very busy land connection for both the locals and the tourists. Doesn't take long for a backup to form once you have a stoppage in the traffic. The views are spectacular and I couldn't possibly try to do the drive justice on this write up. Instead I'll post a few pictures here and you can see all the other pictures by clicking here for the link for Days 2 - 3 - 4 on my Flickr site.

As the chain of islands are volcanic in nature, in many places historically recent lava flows dominate the landscape. This leads to dramatic seascapes where the harsh jut of land causes the waves to crash over the rough shore.

Where the road rises on the side of the mountains it affords beautiful views of the lush vegetation and of the always present seashore.

The islands have always attracted people to the warm climates, both famous and non-famous. One of the surprises on the day was visiting the small graveyard where Charles Lindbergh is buried.

"Lava, lava everywhere" sums up the north east coast of Maui. This has had the most recent volcanic eruptions and it shows. For many miles the road cuts across a barren lava flow that has just recently allowed vegetation to gain a foot hold.
The first picture shows the road descending through a cut in a lava wall. The second picture shows a small crater, one of the many where the lava pushed up through the land when the main chimney was blocked.

This was the end of the most scenic part of the drive, more pictures of the trip can be seen here.
Day 4 would find us on a helicopter tour over the same land path we took on Day 3, only it would take just one hour to cover the same land and we would do it from 10,000 feet. 
Watch for that story shortly ...

Check out more pictures from our many travels here at my main Flickr page