Boron and Calico!

After leaving the Yosemite area we headed towards Boron, California. Boron represents the past and the future, nestled between the historical borax mine to the north and a mountain ridge used for test firing rockets to the south. Our goal was to learn about borax!

Borax has been called the ‘white gold’ for it’s many uses and for the money it brings to its finders and mines.

Borax has a multitude of uses in our everyday life, from household cleaning & deodorizing, to laundry detergent and cosmetics, to glass making, fire retardant, fiberglass, to name but a few!!

Most of us will remember the familiar box of the ’12 mule team’ borax!

dsc_5220

Source, Desert USA, Boron California:

In the late 1800s, sodium borate ore (borax) from Death Valley was hauled by 20-mule teams across the desert to Mojave for shipment. In 1925 a rich borax deposit was discovered practically under the same wagon trails but much closer to the rail head. Twenty-mule teams were teams of eighteen mules and two horses attached to large wagons, according to Wikipedia.com.

Shortly after the borax discovery, Pacific Coast Borax moved its mining operations from Death Valley to the current location of the Rio Tinto Borax mine, three miles north of Boron. The mine has a large visitor center with views overlooking the large open pit mine.

dsc_5244-edit-2

dsc_5260-edit-edit

From Boron we moved on down highway 58 to just east of Barstow, to Calico Ghost Town. This old western mining town has been around since 1881, during the largest silver strike in California. Calico produced over 20 million dollars in silver ore over a 12 year span. When silver lost its value in the mid 1890’s Calico lost it’s population and became a ghost town.

dsc_5296-edit

dsc_5347-edit-edit

Walter Knott (of Knotts Berry Farm) purchased Calico in the 1950’s and restored all but 5 of the original buildings to their original look in the 1880’s. In 2005 Calico was proclaimed California’s Silver Rush Ghost Town.

dsc_5276-edit

dsc_5352-edit

dsc_5357-edit

They even had the streets decorated for Christmas!

dsc_5462-edit-edit

There are some magnificent sunsets in that little area of the state!

dsc_5497-edit

The next day we took a trip into Barstow to see the historical Harvey House!

dsc_5555-edit

Harvey houses are legendary in the history of western rail travel. Operated by Fred Harvey in conjunction with the Santa Fe railway. They were a network of hotel/restaurants providing quality meals and lodging. I would assume they are similar to our CP rail hotels in Canada.

The Casa Del Desiert was opened in 1911 and closed in 1971. It is registered as one of the last remaining examples of the West’s Harvey Houses.

dsc_5568-edit-edit

dsc_5615-edit-edit

We enjoyed our brief time in that area of California, but it was time to move on down the road!!

Until next time……

 

Yosemite National Park

We had an unplanned trip into Yosemite National Park, situated in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California. We weren’t planning on going there but the weather was good, no snow, and sunshine in the forecast so we took advantage of the window of opportunity!

As first time visitors to the park, we really didn’t know what to expect. There was only one road open due to the time of the year.

Yosemite is famed for the ‘Tunnel View’, the iconic vista of towering Bridalveil Falls and the granite cliffs of El Capitan and Half Dome. We camped in Oakhurst. On our first afternoon we  drove the 16 miles to the south entrance of the park, then went about another 30+ miles to the tunnel, when we came out on the other side this magnificent view awaited us!

dsc_4731-edit

Our timing couldn’t have been more perfect as we got there in time to watch the sun go down and the golden light shine against the cliffs!

dsc_4780

At this time of year the real show was going on behind us, away from the iconic view!

dsc_4828-edit

The next day we packed a picnic lunch and headed up to spend the day exploring.

dsc_4929-edit

dsc_4946-edit

dsc_4939-edit

It is hard to think of Yosemite and not think of the great photographer Ansel Adams. He is well known for his stunning black and white images showcasing this beautiful area of the world. For most of his life Yosemite National Park was his chief source of inspiration. He was born in 1902 and his love of photography and nature began in 1916 with his first Kodak Brownie camera and his first visit to Yosemite.

It is very hard to go into this wilderness and not get in touch with your inner ‘Ansel Adams’. I had to try my hand at some black and white photography!

dsc_4883-edit-edit

dsc_4977-edit-edit

dsc_4984-edit-edit-edit

dsc_5022-edit-edit-edit

Inside the park is the Majestic Yosemite Hotel. Built in the 1920’s, it is listed on the National Register of Historical Places and is a National Historic Landmark.

dsc_4958-edit

Around every corner of this beautiful park is another stunning view!

dsc_5022-edit-edit

dsc_5035-edit

dsc_5046

Although we only got to see a small portion of this vast area it was a wonderful experience and only fueled our desire to try and get back at a different time of the year when more of the roads are open. Now it was time to head back down the road to the valley.

One last stop at the Tunnel View!

dsc_5094-edit

The clouds were moving into the valley on our way down, creating gorgeous silhouettes of the surrounding hillsides.

dsc_5124-edit-2-edit

Until next time……

 

And we’re off!

On the Road Again!

After two winters home bound we are again off on a winter trip to the southern United States. We do not normally leave this time of the year, usually we are gone in mid October to enjoy the fall colours and avoid the winter conditions!

The day before we left we had beautiful, almost spring-like weather, I was loading things into the motor home in my tee-shirt! The next day was completely different! Winter was arriving! Kamloops was getting rain but all around us was snow. We chose to drive towards Vancouver via the old Fraser Canyon route. It does not have the high elevations of the Coquihalla highway.

For most of the small communities along this route, Savona, Cache Creek, Spences Bridge, Boston Bar, Yale and Hope this was the first snowfall of the season.

dsc_4422-edit

dsc_4427-edit

Driving through the Fraser canyon is a beautiful drive anytime, but especially stunning with a dusting of snow!

dsc_4444-edit

dsc_4471-edit

“Pretty to look at, fun to hold…..but you can have it, I hate the cold”!!

dsc_4476-edit

We were following along the ‘muddy Fraser’!!

dsc_4481

Along with the snow we hit fog!

dsc_4487-edit

We crossed the border at Sumas, they asked the usual questions about fruit, vegetables, meat, cash, fire arms. We sailed through after a few minutes and made our way to our first stop, Ferndale, Washington. We needed to organize our phone and internet for the trip as well as stock up on groceries. We always stay at the Cedars RV, they have beautiful big sites and is a great location for shopping in Bellingham.

dsc_4498

BC was experiencing snow, Washington, in the lower elevations, has been getting rain!!! Lots of it from the looks of things!

dsc_4506-edit

dsc_4508-edit

dsc_4511-edit

So we’re off to a soggy start but know that things will improve as we travel south!

Hope you can follow a long, leave me a message if you like, I would love your comments.

Until next time…..

Fall in the ‘Loops!

Here it is November 19th! Time to post some fall pictures before Fall is behind us!

We have been very lucky again this year to have a long, mild fall. Not too much rain here, but lots of rain in the province! The water levels in Kamloops Lake are as high as they are normally in August! In 35 years we have never seen the levels where they are at this time of the year!

I still have snapdragons, cosmo, sunflowers  and petunias growing in the garden, along with tomatoes!

dsc_3461

dsc_9128

dsc_9135

I love it when the leaves begin to change! Fall is my most favorite season of the year to photograph, so many choices! The delicate rose hips are a favorite.

dsc_0582-edit-edit-2

dsc_0629-edit-edit

Or combining my love of old rustic vehicles with beautiful fall shades!

dsc_9219-edit

dsc_8844

dsc_8829

And the grasses!

dsc_2432

Then the vibrant colours appear in the Maple tree!

dsc_9713-edit

and the sumacs!

dsc_0214-edit

dsc_0147

Another favorite part of fall for me is the almost daily sightings of the Big Horn Sheep that call our area home!

dsc_1945-edit

dsc_0355-edit

dsc_0334

This guy posed so nicely for me the other day!

dsc_4010-edit

Another blessing was the brightest rainbow I have ever seen! We were over at a friends place when this amazing colour appeared in the sky! Of course I did not have my camera with me, (I know, I should never leave home without it!)  I had to rush home and get it and still managed to capture part of the spectacular beauty!

dsc_9082

I like to try new techniques with my photography. One that has always fascinated me in the controlled motion. It creates an abstract look that I find quite beautiful!

dsc_1127-edit

And lastly I have been experimenting with long exposures. Trying to capture the vibrant fall colours , at the same time creating that soft silky look of the moving water.

dsc_1260-edit

I hope you too have enjoyed a lovely fall and you have been able to get out and enjoy the cooler temperatures and natures wonderful autumn changes!

Next up for me will be travel to the US in our motor home! Finally we will enjoy winter south of the border again! Hope you follow along with our travels!

Until next time……

 

Atlin, BC

We fell in love with Atlin! Not only is it a stunning location, the local people are so friendly and so proud of their little town!

We stayed at the Norseman RV park and had the Penthouse! The site was on it’s own little peninsula, all to ourselves, with the lake right outside our door! You cannot beat the view of the gorgeous Atlin Mountain!

dsc_6989-edit

Atlin is a small community, population between 300-500 depending on the season! Mining and tourism are the main boost to the economy but there is also a large and influential group of artists, artisans and authors.

Atlin is unincorporated. This means they have no local government. It is not a village, nor a town, nor a city! Much of Atlin is run by volunteers. Volunteers make enormous contributions of time, energy and other donated resources. Much of what is built around town is made from salvage from other jobs! The closest building supply store would be Whitehorse, Yukon.

We wandered the waterfront when we first arrived. The MV Tarahne used to sail the waters of the lake bringing tourists and miners and supplies. By 1926/27, to accommodate the burgeoning tourist trade, the MV Tarahne was cut in half and lengthened.  When the tourist trade  dropped off due to the high cost of getting to Atlin, the Tarahne was retired.  The local historical society worked hard to restore her. She is available to rent out for weddings or other events.

dsc_7034-edit

They are also restoring the Atlinto, a smaller vessel built to run tours on Atlin Lake as well as move some freight. It was built in 1906 and beached in this same location in the 1950’s! It has been owned by the historical society since 1978, they have various fundraisers to allow them to slowly restore her.

dsc_7045-edit

Back to the campground for dinner and making plans for the next few days! Can’t beat this view outside your window!

dsc_7005-edit

dsc_7206-edit

We spent the next day walking around the town. It is easily walked around as it is not that big. Everywhere you look you have the backdrop of the gorgeous lake and mountain!

 

There are many historical buildings. Most are privately owned and the owners work hard to preserve the heritage on the outside. The streets must look much as they did years ago.

dsc_7514

dsc_7095

There are also many impressive murals around town.

dsc_7127-edit

dsc_7529

Atlin has some buildings from the near by ghost town of Discovery.  Gold was found on Pine Creek and it didn’t take long for word to get out that there was gold in Atlin and a lot of the men enroute to Dawson abandoned that idea and headed across to Atlin.

Soon a town sprung up out on Pine Creek. The town became known as Discovery and almost 10,000 people were there working the creeks. At it’s peak there dozen of saloons, brothels and of course essentials like groceries and other supplies. Soon the town moved to where it is today, along the shores of Atlin Lake.

dsc_7617

dsc_7644

Atlin Mountain is also home to the Llewelllyn Glacier. It is the sediment from this melting glacier that gives Atlin Lake is aqua colour!

dsc_7303

A few day trips out of Atlin are to Palmer Lake and the Ruby mine area. Both trips offer stunning views!

dsc_7270-edit

dsc_7283-edit

Palmer Lake has a provincial campground and is very popular with families.

dsc_7318

On the drive up to the Ruby Mine area you pass by Surprise Lake.

dsc_7730

We drove up and up into the hills and came upon the most beautiful display of fireweed!!

dsc_7706

The beauty on that mountain was unbelievable!

dsc_7715

Atlin Lake is 4 miles wide and 85 miles long, all glacial fed. Atlin has been called ‘The most beautiful place on Earth’, as well I have heard it referred to as the ‘Switzerland of Canada’. Whatever it is called, it really is one of the most stunning areas we have visited and we would go back in a heart beat!

dsc_7399

From Atlin it was time to begin the journey home. We stopped again in Teslin and Watson Lake on our way out before heading back down the Stewart-Cassiar highway.

We fell in love with Yukon and Atlin and will definitely plan another trip to both in the future! Thanks for travelling along. I appreciate your views and love it when you leave a comment or two!

Until next time…..

Next up: Carcross, YT

The day came to leave Dawson City, we hated to do it! The weather was getting really nice and I would have loved another drive up the Dempster Highway, but, it was time to head to Carcross!

First stop was  overnight at Carmacks. Carmacks is situated on the Yukon River, along the Klondike highway. The population is around 500. There is active mining in the area.

dsc_5623-edit-2

The sunset that nice was amazing, the best one we saw the whole trip! (not because we weren’t up that late!)

dsc_5660-2

South of Whitehorse we arrived at Robinson Roadhouse. In 1899 the White Pass and Yukon Route railway built a railroad siding at Robinson. In 1900 gold was discovered nearby and a few buildings were constructed, including a post office. The mining fizzled out, the town was abandoned,  but postmaster Charlie McConnell stayed and established one of the first ranches in Yukon. There were quite a few old buildings still standing. I love finding these kinds of places!

dsc_5844-2

Next we passed beautiful Emerald Lake, also known as Rainbow Lake . The beautiful colours are the result of blue-green light waves reflecting off the white layer of ‘marl’ (white calcium carbonate clay) from surrounding limestone hills.

dsc_5872-edit

Soon after we arrived in Carcross. The campground is on the highway, by a gas station/store. Carcross is situated between 2 large lakes, Nares Lake on the east side and Bennett Lake on the west. Nares Lake is right across the road from the campground.

dsc_5928-edit

Carcross itself is a hidden gem! Population is approximately 400. I was very surprised when I took our Lab, Mickie, for a walk later and decided to follow the road to town, a short distance away. What a treat! You may have heard the name Carcross mentioned in the news lately. It was one of the stops for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, (Prince William and Kate), on September 28 of this year.

The WP&YR (White Pass Yukon Route) railroad is a frequent sight in town, bringing many visitors into the tiny town from the cruise ships in Skagway, Alaska. The train crosses the bridge into town and then winds its way through town to the ‘commercial’ area where there are restaurants and gift shops. There is a resident carver and people doing traditional music!

dsc_5987-edit

Then it continues along to the train depot. The building was designated a national heritage railway station in 1991. It was originally built in 1910 for the White Pass & Yukon Railway, and was  in service from 1910 until 1982. Service was later re-instated in 2007. Passengers have some time to explore the town before returning to Skagway.

dsc_6767-2

But that is not all that Carcross has to offer! There is a lot of history there and areas of town that look just as they must have 100 years ago!

dsc_6629-edit

dsc_6606-edit

dsc_6027-edit

As I said Bennett Lake borders one side of town. The beautiful white sandy beaches would be the envy of any beach town!

dsc_6662-edit

While visiting the area we decided to do a day trip down into Skagway, Alaska. Although we did not get a lot of rainy days on our whole trip, it did rain down on us this day!! The closer we got to Skagway the harder it rained! That did not stop us from enjoying the beautiful trip down though. The first highlight was the Old Venus Mill along the side of the road! It was built in 1908 to serve Venus mines on the nearby Montana Mountain. It proved uneconomical and was closed by 1911.

yukon-landscape-28

The next area that fascinated us was called Fraser, it is where the Canadian Customs is. The views coming into this area are amazing, it is called Tormented Valley, and is a moonscape of stunted trees and small lakes.

dsc_6199-edit

Getting closer to Skagway we saw a beautiful waterfall, I believe it is Pitchfork Falls.

dsc_6284-edit

We had taken an Alaska Cruise years before and stopped in Skagway with the ship. There is not much in the town that does not center on the cruise ship industry. On this day there were 7 ships in port bringing the normal 1000 population to over 10,000!

dsc_6306-edit

The WP&YR depot is there as well.

dsc_6366-edit

The scenery on our return trip, along windy arm, was stunning!

dsc_6540-edit

Another interesting thing to see and experience while in Carcross is a visit to the Carcross Desert. It is often referred to as the smallest desert in the world but in fact it is not a desert at all, but a series of northern sand dunes. The area’s climate is too humid to be considered a true desert.

dsc_6894-edit

On our last evening we were blessed with this beautiful sunset!

dsc_6072-edit

Then it was time to move on to our next destination, but along the way we stopped at our 3rd cinnamon bun ‘tasting’ at Jakes Corner, milepost 866 on the Alaska Highway. 34 miles from Carcross.

dsc_6927-edit

dsc_6930-edit

It was time for the verdict……..drum roll………….Our clear winner was BRAEBURN LODGE, near Carmacks!!! Our friends, who had also sampled all 3, thought Jakes Corner won, hands down!! Needless to say, they were ALL excellent…….if we are ever through that way again we will probably need a rematch!

Now it was time to head south on highway 7,  62 miles, to the  BC town of Atlin. Another area we were really looking forward to seeing. We had heard it was known as the ‘Switzerland of Canada’!!

dsc_6932-edit

 

Until next time……….

 

 

 

 

Dawson City!

Dawson City is probably the most fun, entertaining and richly historic area we visited on our trip! It is situated at the confluence of the Yukon river and the Klondike River. In 1896 gold was discovered on a tributary of the Klondike river, Bonanza Creek, and the town grew up around it.

Dawson City was the first capital of Yukon but by 1953 Whitehorse had become the activity hub in the territory so the Federal government changed it to the capital. Dawson City was declared a national historic site in the early 1960’s. Parks Canada is involved with 35+ buildings , some are restored, some reconstructed and some stabilized.

One of the main attractions is the Dredge No 4 National Historic Site. It was built in 1912 for the Canadian Klondike Mining Co’s claim on Bonanza creek, and worked the claim until approx 1960. She was left sitting in the mud for 32 years, exactly how the last crew had left it! In 1992 she was rescued and restoration began!

It is the largest wooden hulled bucket line gold dredge in North America!

dsc_5044-edit

We took the tour and our guide, Sandra, was so well informed and really made the whole way of life very real to us! It was made extra fun as it turned out she was from Kamloops originally and we knew some of the same people!

One of the other National Historic Sites we toured there was the SS Keno.

dsc_5167-edit

She was the last steamer to run the Yukon River when she sailed from Whitehorse in 1960, to her current home in Dawson. The Keno, and the Klondike in Whitehorse, are the only 2 old riverboats to survive in the Yukon.

No trip to Dawson City would be complete without visiting Diamond Tooth Gerties Gambling Hall!

dsc_5208-edit

It is a working casino, but as well they have 3 nightly shows with the can-can girls!

dsc_5493-edit

dsc_5499-edit

Another interesting piece of history in Dawson is the “sourtoe cocktail”! You can experience this at the Downtown Hotel. It is a strange initiation (involving a mummified human toe) which, if you succeed, entitles you to membership in ‘the club’ and you get a certificate to prove it!

dsc_5529-edit

“you can drink it fast, you can drink it slow, but your lips must touch the toe!”

There is a 2500.00 fine if you swallow the toe! People line up every night, to buy a ‘shot’ at the bar, then they head over to the table to have the toe added to their drink!

dsc_5542-edit

I did not believe it could be a real toe and was all set to do it, but the line up was so long I decided not to. In the ensuing days I asked many different people who live in Dawson if the toe was real…..they all assured me it was…………..maybe I am glad I didn’t do it!!

One of the highlights (of so many) in town was the Dome viewpoint. We were lucky we had a fairly clear day to drive up the mountain and enjoy the magnificent view!

dsc_5597-edit

While in Dawson City we also planned to drive part way up the Dempster Highway. I had heard so much about the beauty of the landscape and it had been on my bucket list for a long time. Unfortunately the day we had allowed to go there it poured with rain! (another reason why I hate traveling with a definite time schedule!!) We still ventured up, and it was beautiful but many people told me how much more beautiful it is when the sun is shining!! (of course!)

dsc_5227-edit

The road way turned into quite a mud bog with the rain, it was  hard to remove it from the car afterwards!

dsc_5236-edit

dsc_5256-edit

The highlight of the trip for me was seeing this beautiful creature! I love to see majestic moose in their natural habitat!

dsc_5286-edit

dsc_5306-edit

dsc_5311-edit

I would love to go back again and be able to really appreciate the mountain views!

No matter where you travel in Yukon you will hear the poetry of Robert Service. Dawson City has the Robert Service Cabin, National Historic Site. We visited there as well and  got to listen to many of his most famous poems being read by a very talented volunteer!

Robert Service had a very eventful life, born in England in 1874,  as a young boy he traveled by himself to Canada to work as a cattle rancher in the prairies. He then moved to Vancouver, then San Francisco, Los Angeles and eventually to Victoria. He got a job with the CIBC and in 1904 was transferred to Whitehorse.

He wrote tirelessly, drawing inspiration from the people he met, the stories he heard and the northern landscape.

In 1906, he collected his poems into a bundle he titled “Songs of a Sourdough” and sent the manuscript to Toronto to be published. It wasn’t long until the book took off – the first Canadian poetry bundle to do so. It was soon published in the U.S. and the United Kingdom. He then moved to Dawson City and continued working on volume two of his poems!

He became known as ‘The Bard of the Yukon”

He spent 2 years in Dawson then began wandering again, to Europe, then England, back to California and Monte Carlo. He died at age 102! At the time of his death, his first book of verse had sold 3 million copies worldwide!

dsc_5216-edit

Until next time……