Smokey days

It’s a firy summer in BC. Hwys 97 and 20 are no drive zones, 10s of 1000s have been evacuated from the Cariboo-Chilcotin. At times the smoke fills also the valleys of SE BC, e.g. the Kootenays. It’s not that the Purcells across the lake were levelled over night, the smoke blots them out. At ground level the viewing distance can be below 3 km. However, two summer ago with the fires in WA State things were worse (fly ash). So, we stay mostly in doors as is recommended for elder citizens :-/


Last leg, Fernie back to Kaslo

Though it was a vacation trip, it was not like a week in a spa relaxing at the pool side Martini in hand. So, after one week and more than 1500 km of travel , we thought Fernie was just the right place to call it a day.

There was that Snow Valley Motel with a wing of rooms away from the busy Crowsnest Highway and there was the Curry Bowl restaurant (good recommendation by the SVM as they locally go by). Sleeping in a bed, nice prospect. Having a shower or even a bath, great! No propane stove to set up but a curry bowl to dig into, fan-tas-tic! One does look a bit road-weary and the driver needed a beer. The map reader joined happily in (and left me half of her bottle to boot).


Next morning we woke to rain. Oh, well, except for the Sunday afternoon after the visit at Fort Steele, the weather was splendid. No complaints!

So we made it back through Cranbrook to Creston, had lunch at the Buffalo Trail Coffee House (another recommendation) and then headed up the Lake. Not to bore ourselves waiting in Kootenay Bay we stopped at that Glass House in Sanca built of about half a million embalming fluid bottles.

The ferry was full save two or three spots.


And then homeward north from Balfour and,  yes, the deer were there too but grazing inside the neighbours fenced lawn and that was just fine because her harvest was in and for us there was some to get from behind the deer fence!


Great trip! Almost 2000km (we didn’t want to strain Google with all the side trips).


From Waterton through Crowsnest Pass

While the mountain goats stay, we have to move on. Another gorgeous morning, a drive to Read Earth Canyon and then along the foothills onto the Crowsnest route. We did stop at the Frank Slide Interpretive Centre to learn about the desasters which befell the area in the early 1900s, first the mountain slide, then a first Hillcrest mine accident and then the appalling coaldust explosion of 1914 which killed 189 miners, about 20% of the towns population, making instantly over 90 women to windows and 250 children bereft of their bread winner.
We stopped for the night in Fernie. Another 4 to 5 hrs driving and we will be back in Kaslo.

And back into the Rockies: Waterton

’twas a long drive down from the Drumheller area thru Vulcan and Lethbridge to Cardston and then into Waterton Lakes Park.

There are some good ol’ grain elevators left. Take Mossleigh for instance. And a train buff out there has all sorts of old CPRail rolling stock.

Nive Rockies vista justr east of Cardston and then splendor entering the park. More of that tomorrow. Drove a lot today.

Wifi steeply priced, cellular connection hesitant, so, not much today. And btw, at this time of year the sun rises twice over the tenting area (blue dot) of Wateron campsite. So, googood momorning.

So, we go laze at the beach and there’s ma bear coaxing cub into the waves.

We climbed the Bear Hump, must be a ‘must’ hereabouts.

Roaming the townsite and the beach offers of course nice enough some views and photo occasions, be it the geology or the wildlife or the colours of fall or a captivating rise of the moon.


Across the Rockies into the Prairies

After Sunday’s drenching rain in the afternoon and again some in the night we packed a tent with a wet fly, the rest was dry and so were we but fog for breakfast …not what we had booked. Gulp and go.

Around Canal Flats the air cleared and we stopped on Columbia Lake. In Radium we turned into Kootenay National Park and stopped between Kootenay Crossing and Vermillion Flats some of the valley flanks blighted by a huge forest fire. Grand vistas and clear waters.


Another hour’s drive brought us to Banff – busy, busy, vinyl ands wood clad chalet shopping streets but still Mount Rundle, Vermillion Lakes, Mt Bourgeau – grandezza.

And then we headed out into the Prairies. Made it by sunset to Beiseker, NE of Calgary and about 60km SW of Drumheller. The Tyrell Museum of Paleontology is on todays’ schedule after a frosry night but our bedding suffices to keep us warm.

Fast travelling across the bald assed prairie. So far wemade it thru about a third of the RTMP and frequent currently the cafeteria with wifi and plug-ins 🙂

It’s top notch, the Tyrell [tirell], easily the best Alberta offers in the way of museums. Spectacular displays of spectacular finds and the preparation goes apace, new finds are put on thisplay asap.

Better shown twice than never (there are doubles, have yet to learn editing ropes with this WP blog tool). Sunny outside and all dynos are in the ground save for the odd Hummer and giant B-Train trucks.

Royal Tyrell Museum of Paleontology, Drumheller, AB



Fort Steele

As it happened we came to visit when the Kootenay Days were underway in Fort Steel. A lot of activity aside of the ususal ones, more horse drawen carriages, the train and then merchants flogging their wares. I guess it’s Shire horses who do the pulling of the various two axelled cars. Might hooves and shaggy forehand.

Regula watched some of the horse show and learned how differently it’s done these days to break in a horse. Far less ‘braking’, much more gentle convincing.

The rain developed along the western Rockies’ slopes but it only began raining heavily after 1pm. Here is a crop of pictures of  the day at the old Fort which wasn’t in use very long and the town which eventually developed grew on the other side of the Kootenay River, Cranbrook.

Of course, the almost empty 99-sites-campground is a bit unhospitable on a cool evening after a drenching. So we went to the Pub which has a nice selection of local brews and a plug for the ‘touris’ who need to charge their ‘devices’.

So, welcome to Ft. Steele

Special attraction to some of us the horse show …

And the train. Used to work for McMillan Bloedell on Vancouver Island hauling logs out of the old growth forests.

To the Rocky Mountain Trench


We managed to get the 8:10 ferry inspite of having been held up at the bluffs where repaving preparations made for alternating trafic. The 8:10 crossing departs a bit late and travels slowly as there is a goodly layover in Kootenay Bay, one of the skippers said.

Brief stop at Gray Creek Store, then gassing up at Lake View’s and then on to Cranbrook. Checked out the Transport Museum, will take the morning tour tomorrow (1 1/2  hrs). Then to th old Mall, a shambles and onward to the new Tamrock Mall. The paddie has now a SIM and can connect out from amidst the pines of Wasa Lake Provincial Park & Campground.


Meanwhile the North Trail tent is set up, the cooking gear unloaded and someone’s gonna cook. And eat. Me too.


This campground was full througout the summer months, now but few campers and only thre of perhaps a score with tents.

After an early supper we strolled over to Wasa Lake.


SATURDAY outing to the Cranbrook History Center (CHC)

They did a lot and have lots more to do, “we have a 500 year prject” said the tour guide. The CHC received some rail cars about 30 years ago and that was the start of an effort to preserve the grand history of transcontinental train culture. Restorations are carried out by people out of work, then trained on the job and in years of endurance testing work they bring the cars back to former splendour.

CPRail did horrible things to their rolling stock once upon a time crafgted to excusite interiror finishing. Painting over mahogani or black walnut with a hideoius but apparently fashinable pastel mint, drab greys and cheap looking blue upholstery.

It’s a case oif pictures saying more than 1000 words. Here’s a small selection showing the layers of paint, the hiddeous green which covered the mahogany and the tour guy with before and after images.

We toured two compositions, the SOO line from Seattle via Cranbrook-Lethbridge-Medicine Hat to Minneapolis and the Canadian Transcontinental, at one time the fastest connection (shy of 90 hrs) from Montreal to Vancouver.

Some more before and after and the dreadful 50-s look.

In the afternoon we left Cranbrook, headed a bit N of Ft Steel and visited Bummer’s flats but that was, of course not the right time to find birds.


SUNDAY still at Wasa Lake. Might visit some more sites in the area. But first a few more pictures from the Train Museum visit.

This inlay splendour, slop that pastel mint pint on it, a stately dining car, lets modernize …

All of the vehicles in Cranbrooks will be returned to former beauty, except the occasional comparison as seen above.

One of the sleepers with closed upper birth for the day and the lower bed as a sitting compartment. Maybe Emirate Airlines should think about trains.