Actually it is Saturday morning – 6:20AM Pacific Time. We are on VIA Rail and at a scheduled stop in Kamloops. This is a city of about 85,000 literally in the middle of the mountains. This is the halfway point between Vancouver and Jasper.
We have been busy. Wednesday we left Vancouver for Victoria via the BC Ferries – a BIG European-style ferry. It is a lovely ride through the Straits of Georgia passing the Gulf Islands. Once in Victoria, we headed out along the Inner Harbor and ate local at a place called Ferris. This is a pub-like place with great food – they apparently are famous for their oysters and I had an oyster burger – seriously – which was really a pro-boy like sandwich on a round bun (excellent). We were ready for this for sure.
Thursday morning we loaded up and headed to Butchart Gardens. These are privately owned and a prime example of how mining reclamation should work. This was a former limestone quarry that the owner’s wife wanted made beautiful. And it is spectacular. This is our third different season to visit here. The spring flowers were at or just past peak and the colors amazing.
Back in Victoria, Steve and I headed out the opposite direction from the night before along the Inner Harbor down to Fisherman’s Wharf to Barb’s Fish and Chips. This was pretty good too and seafood in the rough – floating fish stand with picnic tables along side on a floating dock. It was a busy place but appeared to be more local than tourists. Cruise season has begun but we managed to be opposite whatever ship was in port both in Victoria and Vancouver in whatever we did. Our dinner that evening was at the Pacific Dining Room at the hotel. The food was great and was art on a plate.
Friday morning we toured the BC Museum – this is a world class museum showcasing the history of BC beginning with the First Nation’s story (a.k.a. “Native American’s”). The collection of First Nation artifacts was broad and broken by the different tribes/nations and included a segment on language and dialect. From this start, you see the impact of the white man (Blythe, Cook, Vancouver were those naval types leading expeditions here) and their guns, alcohol, and disease. Very interesting and very well done.
Leaving there, Steve and I walked around the BC Parliament grounds, saw the sequoia that is the BC provincial Christmas tree, enjoyed people and dog watching, and harbor watching. We then had High Tea at the Empress Hotel before boarding a Harbour Tours seaplane for the 40 minute flight back to Vancouver. The trip was at about 1000 feet and it was neat to see the ferries, islands, freighters and even landmarks like the Lions’ Gate Bridge from the air. Upon landing, we toured the area of the University of British Columbia (about 60k students) and returned to Gastown for an Italian dinner. We then boarded the train for our trip to Jasper.
It is now about 7:50am – we just had breakfast in the dining car and have settled in to watch the view which is becoming more spectacular by the mile. Our train is 25ish cars long. We were in a sleeping compartment (Steve got the top bunk) and actually slept fairly well. We are due to arrive in Jasper around 4PM Mountain time if all stays on schedule.
Our group includes folks from PA, FL, AL, LA, MS (obviously), CA and I am sure others I have missed. We also have several Aussies in the group. On average, I would say we are the youngest in the bunch!
On a funny note (one of several) – Ginger was given the option to be the “co-pilot” on the seaplane. She got to wear the the headphones and hear air traffic control. And she was told NOT to touch anything! Kathy survived the seaplane ride (she loves to travel but is not fond at all of flying and particularly of flying in small aircraft) and was put in charge of the exit door on the plane! If the pilot who assigned her that duty had only known…. Her color has returned from green to normal this morning. Steve who is an exceptionally good sport and has been traveling with this group of ladies off and on for years, was identified as “boss” by our waiter this AM. We all cracked up at that. He, unfortunately, seldom is boss on these adventures. Kathy also last night pulled out a tour cry from years’ back – the deal is when you see wildlife, you call out. Well she called out “MOOSE” and the other three of us immediately turned to look out the window (note: we were still within the city limits of Vancouver at the time)!
The river running along side of us (North Thompson River) is up due to the snow melt but it is apparent that it is no where near the flood stages of the past. We have passed one area where a forest fire recently happened and of course the fire in NE Alberta (Fort MacMurray (sp)) is still in the news. It has been a dry winter here and that will of course impact the summer season going forward. Victoria has water controls in place now and Vancouver is considering it. Climate is changing for sure.
As we ride along we have passed pastures of cows, horses, and sheep as well as fields that have their crops just in or are going in now. This apparently is an extremely fertile valley.
Philippians 4:19 NIV – And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus. I wonder if the people living in this valley consider that given the wealth of this land? I wonder if we consider it as we should given the options and opportunities we have. Pretty sure I am not always on top of that. And, since CHANGE in every aspect of our lives is a constant, we must depend on Him to lead us through these and know that He will provide for each and every one of us.
Still Choosing Joy!