Tuesday, November 11, 2008

September 2008 Road Trip (46)

September Road Trip
Day 2 - September 14

Well - here we are in Peachland. This is our "lazy day" to visit with my parents, who retired here over 20 years ago and love it!

Peachland is conflicted. It wants to be a sleepy little retirement town, but wants to be a resort in the summer. Since the folks have been out there, the population has grown considerably (mostly retirees) and the downtown has morphed into a nice little beach town with some interesting shops and restaurants. Still small and nice, but overrun with tourists in summer. By September (when we were there), most have gone home and it's back to being the quiet little place that it really wants to be.

Main street.
Gausthaus restaurant - nice, but expensive.

Okanagan Lake.

It occured to me that the weeping willows by the lake would be palm trees in more tropical places.

The moon often comes up over the hills across the lake. This pix is taken from Mom's balcony. This is the view they have every day!

The boys and I spent many Stampede weeks (first week of July) in Peachland during the years that they were growing up and Joe was working long days at the Stampede. Peachland has been a terrific place to have someone to visit!

September 2008 Road Trip (45)

September 2008 Road Trip
Day 1 September 13

Yes - we do like our road trips. And there seems to be a trend where we put Craig on a plane one day, and a few days later take off for a holiday! This time, we put him on a plane on September 11 and we left on our trip September 13.

As usual, we didn't have detailed plans, only the idea that we would head west with the ambition of eventually getting to Seattle and Vancouver Island. Our first stop would be Kelowna and Peachland. We loaded up our little Mazda 3 hatchback with as many of Eric's belongings as we could stuff into the little car and off we went.

Most of you would know that Calgary is on the east side of the Rockies, and Kelowna and points beyond are on the west side. This meant that we had to drive through the mountains on our first day. If the weather is bad, this can be challenging and downright dangerous. But as you'll see, the weather was terrific and we had a very nice drive.

Many of the pix were taken while driving - I snapped them through the windshield. Considering that - they didn't turn out too badly!

Just outside of Calgary - mountains in the distance.

Mount Yamnuska.

This mountain is the result of a thrust from the Mcconnell Fault. This resulted in there being 80 million year old rock in the face of its cliff and 8 million year old rock at the scree slopes near its base. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Yamnuska

(I don't know the names of most of the mountains, but I do this one.)

Exshaw limestone quarry and the Lafarge cement plant. This has been here since I can remember. They continue to cut into the mountain to mine the limestone. Exshaw is a small town just east of Banff/Canmore.


By now we are just in the park gates at Banff National Park.

These are the wildlife overpasses constructed over the highway to allow wildlife to cross the highway without being killed by traffic. The highway has been fenced on either side all through the park (Banff National Park) so the animals cannot go onto the highway, so these overpasses have been constructed for them. Apparently they work, as more are being built, as you will see in the following pix.

Wildlife overpass under construction.

Train by the highway.

Near Field. Now we are into British Columbia.
Craig likes this place as it is known in paleontological circles for the Burgess Shale which is located up on one of these mountains.

Over the past few years A LOT of construction has taken place on this particular stretch of the Trans Canada Highway. It was formerly extremely windy and dangerous with serious accidents happening there every year. It has been straightened, and the Kicking Horse Canyon now has a very impressive bridge over it. It's still pretty new, so hard to say if the number of accidents will be reduced (mostly people should just drive more carefully).
Here is the bridge, looking back. When you go over it, you'd never know - at least in our small car, we couldn't see over the side of the bridge - maybe in a taller vehicle you'd be able to get a view. I expect the high sides are an intentional design feature to minimize driver distraction.
Kicking Horse Pass, elevation 1627 m, straddles the CONTINENTAL DIVIDE on the BC-Alberta border, 10 km west of LAKE LOUISE. Sir James HECTOR and a party of the PALLISER EXPEDITION explored the pass in 1858. The peculiar name derives from an incident in which Hector was kicked in the chest by a packhorse. The pass was selected as the route for the transcontinental CANADIAN PACIFIC RAILWAY, despite its severe inclines; construction was completed in 1884. The steep rail grades of 4.5% on the BC side of the pass were lessened to 2.2% by construction of Spiral Tunnels (1909), now a popular tourist attraction. The pass, which connects Yoho and Banff national parks, is also crossed by the TRANS-CANADA HIGHWAY.

There is a You Tube video of the construction of the pass at:
More at:
These little mountain goats were near Golden, BC.

It was so calm that I made Joe stop so I could take a pix of this little lake by the highway. The water was like a mirror.

There is a train tunnel beside the lake. There are many such tunnels.
Joe waits patently while I take pix.
We stopped for dinner at Eagle Pass Landing in Sicamous.
It was evening by the time we were back on the road and the sun was going behind the hills so no pix after this. But we did arrive safely in Peachland after a great drive through the mountains.

Later That Same Day (44)

Later That Same Day
(September 6)

It takes us about four (4) hours (yes four) to get from our place to visit Joe's Mom in Killam. Ergo, it takes about four hours to get from Killam back to our place, which makes an eight hour day for us in the car plus visiting time. It's a long day.

To make things a bit more interesting on the way home this trip, we took a secondary highway for part of the way. As you will see - it was a beautiful evening with still enough light to take some pix.

This is the plumbing shop in Killam - it's on the main highway running through town, so hard to miss. Some creative plumbing/gardening happening here!

The lighting was great for the fields and the colours were excellent - I don't think the pix do it justice, but you get the idea.

Craig and Joe waiting for me while I was taking church pix.

We stopped at the old Diplomat Mine site near Forestburg, Alberta. There is a retired "stripping shovel" called "Mr. Diplomat" and a few other artifacts. These stripping shovels have been replace by draglines (see post 40), which are even bigger. Note Craig is walking up to the shovel (below) for scale. He's six feet tall.

This is a little coal car - OH - I see Traumador is curious about it! :)

Traumador checking out the shovel.

We went across the highway to this spot. You can see the stripping shovel in the distance. This is a very pretty little spot off the highway, so you might be surprised to learn that it is reclaimed from a coal strip mine. Looks pretty nice, eh?

Further down the highway - Canada geese in a field.

Approaching Battle River.

A lonely pelican.

Here is the Battle River power generation plant. As it happens, it is one of the "legacy plants" owned by the company that I work for. No surprise - it's a coal plant and works like the others. It's built on a coal field and this one happens to have a handy source of water available for cooling purposes (again I refer you to post 40).

Joe and Craig were amused by this "tunnel" over the highway. It was built by the mining company that runs the strip mine. The power plant is to the right and the coal that is being mined is to the left of the "tunnel." It allows the workers to drive equipment and other vehicles across the highway without interfering with traffic.
This is a "not zoomed" shot. The dark mound on the right is the active strip mine.
Coal plant is in the distance on the far left here.
This area (near the plant) is "so Alberta." There are hay bales in the foreground (agriculture), the oil pump in the center (oil and gas), power lines and the coal strip mine. All in one shot! When I turned to the left the power plant was there - but I couldn't get everything in one pix - darn!

The dragline in the distance.

Some more bales on a slant (there I go again - it's me, not the ground, folks).

We saw this fellow on our way home, too. Pronghorn.

By this time the lighting was getting pretty dicey, so I put the camera away.
Publicity for Alberta tends to show the "good stuff" - the wheat fields (in this context agriculture is considered "good" - sort of pastoral), the antelope, mountains, etc. Alberta does have all that stuff and more - it really is a great place.
But we also have to live, and to do that we need something to support an economy. In addition to agriculture, the province is fortunate enough to have a natural resource endowment of oil, natural gas and coal. In a world that is addicted to hydrocarbon fuels, Alberta goes with what it has and has become a world supplier of oil and natural gas.
Electricity is a requirement for urban living and is also heavily consumed by industry in the province. There is several hundred years supply of coal in the ground here so that is what is used to generate electricity.
I want to show the "real" Alberta - the "good stuff" and the things we do to make a living, and remind folks that we need to be responsible in the methods used to develop the resource endowments that we have. This is always a challenge and I think it's done well in some cases, not so well in others. But the good news is that, in my view, methods have improved and will continue to improve. With care and attention, the resource endowments that we have will continue to support the province and the country well into the future.