Saturday, July 04, 2015

Denmark 2015 - Day 1

Annette at YVR Vancouver Airport in Canada excited to get on the plane and go....that girl absolutely loves flying!  :)

Once again The Pedersens take a holiday to the "Land of Where The Pedersens Are Made" that being Denmark. Ed and Annette flew to Copenhagen in early May to enjoy a three week holiday in Denmark with a cruise through the Norway fjords tucked into the last week. Along the way we met some other Pedersens, that being my brother Ken and his wife Linda whom flew over a week later, and we met many new-to-us relatives in Denmark.

TIP - Click on any picture to see the pictures full size.....they look way better that way!  :)

The story takes a lot of telling so I have broken down the trip into several packages;today's package is "Day 1 - Copenhagen" 
Later packages will be more condensed for your reading pleasure....otherwise it would take you three weeks to read this!  :)

Annette and I flew into Copenhagen late in the morning on Day 1, and as we knew would be dead tired, decided to do take it easy and just do a bit of site seeing within walking distance of our hotel. As we had been here recently (was it four years ago already? Seems like just a few months ago) we knew our way around this part of town so we decided to amble over to one of the main tourist areas a 10 minute walk away and grab a bite to eat.  

Across the busy street from the main gate of the Tivoli Gardens Amusement Park, one of the oldest amusement parks in Europe, stands the statue of Hans Christian Andersen. You may recognize some of his children classics such as "The Little Mermaid", "The Princess And The Pea", "The Emperor's New Suit", and 165 other titles.
The statue of H.C. Andersen is on the corner of the City Hall Plaza....across the plaza is the start of the Stroget....five long blocks just perfect for strolling and window shopping, and of course, some for-real buying 

 The Stroget is the pedestrian walkway in Copenhagen and one of the longest walkways in Europe. Many streets in a row have been blocked to vehicle traffic creating close to a mile long shopping bonanza of boutiques, bars, cafes, and tourist shops. This is the main street of Copenhagen dating back as far as 1728, and today it is still the main street, only now for the people. On our last trip we discovered the Lagkagehuset, a combination bakery and cafe that became our fave place for breakfast.

Every couple of blocks or so the Stroget opens into a plaza which is like breathing in a big gulp of air after walking along the narrow streets between 3 and 4 story buildings. Most of the plazas host a number of cafes and grills with patio chairs and tables just waiting for you to stop, rest, and watch the world go past.

We were too early in the day to take full advantage of the chairs but I can easily see us sitting there sipping a coffee or a cool drink enjoying life.

Ummm...yeah....I have several really good stories made up as to why I took this picture but my stories sound kind of weak in the yeah.....oh look, another picture further down the page! 
(BTW - you do remember that you can click on the picture to see the full size version - right?)

We walked about half way down the Stroget, then hooked a right with the intention of circling back to our hotel to see if our room was ready; we were so looking forward to sleeping! Getting to Europe from Vancouver is usually an 18 hour the time you wake up on the morning to leave, you tend to have had only 4-5 hours of sleep, and by the time your head hits the bed in Copenhagen, you've been awake for close to 24 hours.The excitement of the trip keeps you going but sure leaves you dragging your arse the next day. So, being world class travelers and knowing everything now, we were smart enough to realize that we needed sleep.

Like  most cities in Europe the major roadways for goods were the rivers, and when the river did not go far enough, canals extended the boat mans reach. Copenhagen is no different, and on our last visit we took a canal ride around the city through the various canals and interlocking river stretches; I highly recommend this type of site seeing.....we make it a point to have a canal/river ride in every town where possible as you see so much more of the original heart of the city.

 One of the largest plazas in the city is just outside the doors of the Bertel Thorvaldens Museum which houses the great works of the Danish sculptor of the same name. This plaza was a surprise in its size, and by the view of the old buildings it provided across a canal.One of the buildings had a date stamp of 1748.

The old part of the city is jam packed with history, this sign only tells part of the story regarding what is in the area. The sign lists four museums, a Royal Library, and a palace all in the same area; that's pretty impressive!

Almost back at our hotel we pass the Glyptotek, a museum totally paid for and supported by the Carlsberg family, of the famed Carlsberg beer legacy. We did not have time to tour this museum, we would need another month to tour all the museums in Copenhagen alone.

So....passing a window in one of the museums I spot these I don't read Danish I'm hoping that this is some kind of booze.....another part of me is thinking that the museum is offering Danish-Viking blood as some kind of fund raiser and that there are dozens of ferocious Vikings down in the basement letting their blood run into pails for collection!

Anyways, end of Day 1 story episode will highlight a week long car tour of Denmark with stops in the far north of Denmark, and then running way down south to the small Island of Aero to meet distant cousins.

These pictures and many others from today can be found on my Flickr web site here PSSST...right click and choose "Open In A New Window"

If you enjoyed the story leave me a note in the comments section below - it's always nice to get feed back on what you liked and what more you would like to see. You can access the comments section by clicking on the field titled "No Comments" (You'll be the first) or "1 comments" or "2 comments" depending on how many comments are there already 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Merritt Day Tripping One More Time

Late in the season and time for one more solo run up to the Merritt BC area to poke around on a few side roads while doing some geocaching - cloudy skies and cool temperatures hold promise of little to no traffic on the country roads I wanted to visit....that means I don't have to share my day with anyone.  :)

The days are getting shorter this time of year which really cuts down on my day tripping hours for these long runs away from the Coast. There is so much to explore and discover in our great province that there does not seem to be enough days in the year, let alone weekends, so I tend to covet any daylight hours I can get.

So, with that in mind, I cast off from Maple Ridge almost early in the day and pointed the iconic 7 slot grille (every Jeep model ever made has the 7 slot grille) towards Hope and the Coquihalla Highway..destination...Merritt BC

The Jeep likes to cruise around 100K per hour: the 4 cylinder and low gearing that is great when it comes to off-roading, is not so great on the highway. I have to admit, it's an odd feeling being the slowest vehicle on the highway, even the semis were passing me. Not to worry, it's not a race and think of the great gas mileage I was getting.

In due time I arrived at Merritt and crossed the valley bottom over to the service part of town and filled up the Jeep so I would have a full tank to putter with on the back roads.

First leg of today's journey was Douglas Lake Road and a geocache at the historic Quilchena Cattle Company Home Ranch.The ranch is still owned by a Guichon descendant, a grandson of Joseph Guichon, one of the founders of the parent Guichon Ranch. This cache is part of a Gold Country Poker Run series done in 2013 for a fun event that had participants exploring every corner of the region. I would find a few of these today and put a few more on my to-do list.

Next fun stop was along Lauder Road at Charles Beak cabin; Charles Beak was one of the founders of the famous Douglas Lake Ranch in the late 1800s. Love these pieces of history that have been allowed to stand for later generations to view. It gives the area much more character and all the more reason to visit. Video taken and geocache signed, I jumped back in the Jeep to continue up the country dirt road driving at a contented pace as I enjoyed the scenery and the stillness of the ranch land.

 Cabins seem to be the theme of the day as the next geocache highlighted Lauder Ranch and the cabin built by Joseph Dixon Lauder in 1877. Lauder first bought cattle from his neighbour Charles Beak and started the ranch, known first as Spring Bank Ranch, later to be known as the Lauder Ranch.

I lingered at the view point overlooking the cabin and the ranch land, in no hurry to move on.This was the part of the day I was really looking forward to, the time when I could piss away the day doing what ever I wanted to......stopping for video or pictures with the camera where ever I wanted to, for as long as I wanted one saying "let's go".

Seems like I would only get a mile further down the road before I pulled over to enjoy the country through my eyes and the camcorder's eyes...what good is seeing this beautiful country if you can't show it to some one else? Maybe get them excited as well, bring them back on a return visit and spread the joy !  :)

At this point I turned around and re-traced my steps back down Lauder Road towards Douglas Lake Road all the way back to Highway 5A, and then turned south back towards the end of Nicola Lake. A right turn at lake's end had me on the west side of the lake on Monck Park Road. I didn't have time to get all the caches along here...some I had found previously but there were new ones to get and sadly not enough day light hours for this road today. I picked up a couple of caches, one of which treated me to a view across the lake of the Nicola Lake Ranch. This ranch, like others visited today, were the big ranches of the day that supplied most of the cattle for BC and even the railroad workers as they laid the iron rails across our country.

I re-traced my steps back into the town of Merritt and picked up a road heading south out of the city named Midday Road. I'm sure there is a story to the name of this road but I couldn't find what it was before I started my trip on this day. Midday Road travels on the west side of the Coldwater Valley, it actually parallels the Coquihalla Highway south towards Vancouver, as well as the Coldwater Road on the east side of the river. The difference being Midday Road is more of a logging road and skirts high above the valley as it heads up into the pine country.

Currently I am the keeper of the Keelong Panda Bear Travel Bug which is a keep-away from it's true owner Dustanne, a Lower Mainland cacher. The whole idea is to keep it away from her possession; she loves Panda Bears so her husband Teskelly thought it would be fun to tease her by letting her see it at caching events but at a safe distance, and read his reports on his travel adventures as he geocached with other cachers.
Keelong has been to quite a few places with me, today being his his third visit to Merritt.

Midday Road slowly gains in elevation as it takes you into the high ranch area but, as would be a common refrain today, I only had enough time to go a few miles down this road for a look-see before I had to turn around as the day was getting short on daylight hours.

   You can't tell from this picture, but the small knoll where one of the caches was placed has a pretty steep road to the top of it. Easy for the Jeep to handle, scarier for the human cargo if you're not used to 4x4'ng. Still, it was a chance for the Jeep to stretch it's legs on the short climb and a nice view for me on the way down.

I meandered back down Midday Road towards the town of Merritt and to the Coquihalla Highway, which would run me back down to the Coast. I covered a few miles today puttering on various local roads, all of which hold the promise of more miles to explore. Each road has it's own personality even though they are only separated by a few highway miles.

I even made it back into Maple Ridge at the end of the dinner hour, which was pretty early for me; as many of my day trips end in the late hours of the night. One day trip I did was 22 hours that's making the most of your day !  :)

The snow is now flying in the hills and my day trips are over for the year...time to pull out my reference books, maps and local historical books to plan new adventures for the Spring.

You can watch the video I made of the day by clicking on the video above; for all my videos visit my YouTube page here or see all my pictures on my Flickr photo web site here
50+ videos and 2700 or so photos document a lot of my travels in our great part of the world.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Merritt Day Tripping

Back roads and a Jeep - they were made for each other,.and the Merritt BC area has plenty of back roads to explore.

I had a few days of holidays to use up so I picked a week in September, kept my fingers crossed that the rains would hold off and planned on spending one of those days on a solo day trip to Merritt. Well, that trip happened and I had a blast !

I printed off a few caches in the south Merritt area and a bit more to the north around Nicola Lake; these two areas would provide a start and a finish to a side road that I had been wanting to do for a couple of years. Seems like when ever we come to Merritt we are always hitting the main areas and main accumulation of geocaches - today it was just me and a chance to wander where ever I wanted.

TIP: click on any picture to make them full size for better viewing

I pulled in to Merritt around lunch time after having a slow start to the day (hey! I'm on holidays) and turned into the Merritt tourist centre right at the end of the Coquihalla Highway. Right beside the tourist bureau was the start of my aforementioned back road.

The road heads east along the Connector and follows the new road uphill for a mile or so; it quickly became apparent that this small two lane road was the original highway before they built the newer four lane freeway. Gravel was replaced by blacktop as the road curved and wound it's way up the occurred to me that I had driven on this road many years before but that was so long ago I think I was a kid back then..

 After finding three geocaches along the old highway it was time for the main attraction of the day - the "Princeton Cutoff Road" so named as it bypasses the town of Merritt by running south - north ending at the south end of Nicola Lake.

These ranch roads always hold such promise of hidden scenery that they are irresistible to me - look at the picture above...doesn't it make you want to see what's down that road?

The road wound through a wash as it followed the topography of the creek in and out of small stands of trees and then into open areas. Each twist of the road brought a new sight line to enjoy.

 Each time you thought you had a wide open view of the ranch land you would take one more turn and.........

.....a new vista would open up that would tease you to stop and savor the view...which I did, that's why it took me so long to go just a mile or two. Plus, there were two geocaches along this ranch road that was a added bonus to the scenery.

As I got closer to the north end of the road Chutter Ranch appeared below looking as idyllic as it could be. Crops are all done for the year other than some small hay fields going late into the season

 The road took a narrow path down the side of a bluff, only enough space here for one vehicle so you better hope no one is coming towards you.

Eventually the road dumps you at the southern end of Nicola Lake...not wanting to miss a good photo op for a Jeep-like commercial I had to do some Jeep "vouge-ing"

I headed north along Nicola Lake to pick up a few new caches that were not here last time I came through; these were simple stop and grab me caches. One of them was a Gold Rush cache highlighting the Quilchena Ranch that had it's start in 1882. The ranch still operates today, although on a smaller scale than in it's glory days.

 The show case these days is the Quilchena Hotel; built in 1908, it was originally used as a stage coach house but now operates as a boutique hotel with 16 rooms available with fine dining for the palette and a golf course next door for those times your are in between fishing.

 Just down the road back towards Merrit is Upper Nicola, a small village that was booming in the late 1800s and early 1900s.The area is now a museum of sorts and several buildings have been renovated and highlighted for what the were back in the day.

I don't think you ever wanted to end up in the court house back then; in the early days Judge Matthew Begbie was known as "the Hanging Judge" for sending half a dozen men to the gallows for their crimes.

I love the way the geographic locations were named for exactly what they's all in the name.
Hope you enjoyed day tripping with me to Merritt...much more to see in the area so I'll be back in the near future!

These pictures and more of the same trip can be viewed on my Flickr web site here....
PSSSST...right click on the link and say "open in a new window

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

On A Mission To Merritt

Okay, technically that's not quite true...we were on a mission to Logan Lake....but "On A Mission to Merritt" sounds better as a title than "Lollygagging in Logan Lake"!

The complete set of pictures of this trip and other trips can be seen at my Flickr photo web site here

I had a few days off recently, and with MrTJ and Bowser98 being retired, they had a few days off as well. Bowser98 was toying with the idea of going to Logan Lake to see the automotive swap meet on Saturday and I suggested to MrTJ that we turn it into a two day geocaching road trip hitting Merritt, Logan Lake and places in between.Wow, was it hard to twist their arm!  :)

As Merritt is only a 3 hour drive from the Coast, we decided to spend most of the day caching in Abbotsford and Chilliwack, adjusting our schedule as required as we planned our arrival in Merritt to be around dinner time to ensure we secured our motel room.

The first couple of caches were roadside caches, no big deal there but we did start off with that warm fuzzy feeling of going 2 for 2 on the day. One of the caches we looked for had been in place for a while but the area was being over run by black berry bushes. Bowser98 got his whacking tool out of his truck and he and MrTJ took turns whacking back the bushes until we had access to the cache. Some brambles were hurt in the hunt, but they evened out the score by drawing blood in return.

We found a few caches around two side-by-side cemeteries in Abbotsford, which gave us 9 caches in close proximity to each other..always good to save driving time. And as this was June 6, D-Day, it highlighted the sacrifices our men and women made, and continue to make, to ensure our freedom and our way of life.

We then moved out of Abbotsford, slowly making our way towards Chilliwack. One of the fun caches we found was on a farmer's piece of lawn art - an old truck cut down to fit on a corner of the yard fronting the rural road. This was kind of neat to see, and neat to think that the property owner had the whimsical thought of putting this piece of truck out there on display. And kudos to the owner for allowing a geocache to be put there for us to enjoy it as well.

Click on any picture to enlarge it to experience the full magic! 

We did a few more caches in Chilliwack, mindful of the time of day and skipping some more from the agenda as time got tight. I really wanted to ensure we caught three caches that were old stone obelisks that were mile markers used way before the freeway came into existence. From the main Canada Post Office on Georgia Street in Vancouver to Hope approx 100 miles away, there was an obelisk every mile that let you know how far you had gone. The ones we would be finding were #58, #59, and #60; I had previously found these but wanted to show them to my brothers for their historical coolness..

We scooted up to Hope to pick up a couple of quick caches that were new since last time we came through town; one of them was at the old train station, (every town has one of these). This one, as many are, is being maintained by a local heritage committee which is determined to preserve the town's history. This station had the double pleasure of seeing George VI and Queen Elizabeth in 1939 as they made a stop here on their cross country tour, and, of seeing Princess Elizabeth and Prince Phillip when they made a stop in October of 1951.

With our reminiscing of royalty over, we headed up one of the new royalty of roads...that being the Coquihalla Highway. A wonder to behold in summer, it's a true nightmare to drive in winter; it's not uncommon for this highway to get 2-3 feet of snow overnight courtesy of winter storms. Lucky for us we were in the beginnings of summer, and while we did see some snow still clinging to the high peaks, we were safe down at road level

We were soon getting close to Merritt, time to start finding some historical caches, and by that, I mean caches that took us to historical locations. A few years back, the BC government through Tourism BC offered funds to the Thompson Valley area, which included towns like Merritt, Logan Lake, Ashcroft, Lytton, Lillooet, and as far north as Cache Creek and Clinton. One of the schemes that came out of this was to lure geocaching tourists to the area with a series of geocaches highlighting the Gold Rush days of BC.

In .Phase 1 there were 72 geocaches hidden at historical locations such as at this last remaining train water tower from the Kettle Valley Railway; this tower was rare as the KVR was the only railway that built 5 sided towers. This one is located in the small village of Brooksmere just off the Coquihalla Highway.

Other locations highlight long-gone mining towns, pioneer farms, and any historical place that was involved with the Gold Rush. The geocaches are well made containers, and stocked with stickers that you collect to put in your Gold Rush book to show you been there - you take a second sticker and send in 24 of them on a sticker page to obtain a collectible gold bar far I have one of them and should be close to qualifying for a second one.

We eventually cached our way into Merritt, popped into our hotel to secure our room for the night, then headed back out on the road to continue caching until we got tired, or hungry, or it got too dark...which ever came first.

One of the series of geocaches I like in Merritt is by a cacher named Mole60 which highlight the back roads around Merritt. These caches lead you to pristine views of rural life where the only sound you hear are the birds around you and the occasional call of livestock on the nearby farms.

Another cache series I like is called "A Taste Of The Valley" done by Dumbo09; this set of caches lead you around Merritt and surrounding areas as you get a taste of the Nicola Valley from early pioneer days through to the last generations childhood memories. Following this set of caches from place to place is like having your very own tour guide sitting in the back seat.

We finished off in Merritt at 9.30 PM, just as the last of the sun's rays were setting...time to hit a local eatery and have a late supper, then head back to the motel for trip planning the next day as we had Logan Lake in our sights.

By far the biggest reference point in Logan Lake is the giant mine shovel and it's neighbouring terrain moving mine truck. Both of these "small" units are now retired and serve as the local tourist centre. Many a city folk, (me included), have parked their geomobile next to the truck and snapped a picture to compare the "hugeness" of these mine machines to our tiny on-road vehicles. As it was, this was also the site of our first cache, which was doubly convenient as this was also the site of the community centre where the automotive swap meet (remember me mentioning that) was taking place and the whole genesis of the idea of the road trip!

As the idea of an automotive swap meet bores me to death, I took the opportunity to wander around the show and shine to snap a few pictures of the trucks. Yes I am a "Jeep guy" first, followed a close second by being a "truck guy",  I was more interested in the old trucks turned out in their Sunday best.

Here's a picture expressly for my "corn binder" loving friend Fred whom has had his old IH sitting in his driveway for longer than my kids have been around (and they are married now) swearing one day he'll get it back on the road!  :)

After wandering around the show and shine, I went back to the geomobile and had a nice snooze in the sunshine...ahh, life is good sometimes...

Eventually we started caching again, picking up some of the in-town caches in small parks and a couple of Gold Country caches like the one above called "Birth Place Of Logan Lake". This one provided a good viewpoint of the city and the valley below the hill

 Here's a good delegation of chores....MrTJ points out the cache to Bowser98, Bowser98 digs the cache out and signs the log, and tjguy98 (me) snaps a picture for posterity.

After Logan Lake, we cached all the way back to Merritt, where we popped into town for a late lunch that we knew would have to hold us over until late at night. We were going to head home to Vancouver today via Spences Bridge and we knew once we got on the road we probably wouldn't be back in Hope until 8.00 or 9.00 PM at the earliest.

The road to Spences Bridge is filled with history, from local First Nations to early European pioneers.who farmed the land, and were eventually buried in that same land.It was a hard life, only a generation or two back from us, but it was a whole different world.

And through it all, the life lines of the day ran non-stop taking produce to markets in the near cities and as far away as Vancouver, transported needed goods to your homestead, and took you places so far away they seemed like travelling around the world. The railway...or railways, as there were many independently owned ones at the time, cut straight lines through the towns and valleys as they worked their magic on our fore fathers. Above is an old railway bridge over the Nicola River, still standing 100 years later.

As we got closer to Spences Bridge it starting getting hotter, like the heat you feel in Lytton in the middle of summer. We had crossed into another geo bioclimatic zone, of which there are 14 in BC, and the heat had us driving with the windows down even at highway speeds. Hoodoos appeared along the Nicola River and with the sun on the decline the walls of the cliffs were bathed in golden light...absolutely the perfect light to show off the sandstone's natural colours.

If you haven't already, click on the above pictures to see them full size and see the natural erosion of the cliffs.

We crossed the Nicola River one last time knowing that just a few miles down the road was Spences Bridge and our last caching stop of the day. We picked up a few new caches that had appeared since our last visit to town, then high tailed it down the Thompson canyon to Lytton, where the Thompson River merged with the Fraser River, and then followed the Fraser River as it ran through picturesque Fraser Canyon all the way to Hope.
A quick stop at the local Timmy Ho's for a bowl of chili and a coffee provided energy for the 90 minute drive back into town. MrTJ and Bowser98 dropped me off at my door at 10.30 PM, and then headed home themselves.

It was a whirlwind two day tour were we combined sight seeing, a swap meet, and geocaching into one big fun trip. We found around 100 geocaches, which isn't a world record by any means, but it was plenty for us as the geocaches took us to beautiful places, all the while teaching us some history about Super Natural BC.