BC Vacation: Ruskin to Three Valley Gap

We awoke about an hour earlier than we have in mornings past, but for no real reason. We didn’t even hear the rooster!

The porridge was followed, almost as soon as we could get ready, by a cat hunt. Allen has plans for his farm, which includes a new barn (of some kind). The problem, of course, is that you can’t have a barn without having mice and rats — that’s just a side effect. They can be controlled, however, with cats.

Understand, Allen does not want cats for companionship. He doesn’t even want them in the house. Ever. He wants outdoor cats that will keep the rodents under control. They’ll have to contend with the wolves, coyotes, and bears … oh my.

The trick will be creating a barn cat. A stray isn’t an automatic barn cat — it could just as easily be a wanderer and just leave the barn. To be honest, I have no idea how you’d do it. In my opinion, the only way to solve the problem is to create an “outdoor cat”, that roosts inside at night. That’s what both Sylvester (my first cat) and Spaz did. Both outdoor cats, but they knew where home was.

The Maple Ridge SPCA had quite a few cats, most strays, almost all adults. Ideally, Allen would want to start with kittens, or at least non-adult cats, as they’d stand the best chance of getting familiar with the barn and consider it home. There were only two kittens there, so we headed out in search of more at a veterinary hospital at the opposite side of Maple Ridge.

Striking out there, Allen headed off in search of something different — a haircut. Alex and I ended up on a quest of our own — the search for her grandfather’s grave. It had been 18 years and two days since he died, which was probably the last time Alex actually saw the grave. As you can expect, that meant it was exceedingly difficult to find. Despite a 40-minute search, the site remains unknown.

We were back at the bagel shop again for lunch, where we met Allen with his fresh new ‘do. A bite to eat, and we were off back to the SPCA again (adoptions weren’t until noon, and the kittens seemed like a good idea). As we found out upon return, there were actually two sets of kittens. Two that were 12 weeks old, and two that were five months old. The interest was primarily in the older kittens (brothers named Tom and Jerry), since they were old enough to find for themselves, and young enough to not have any previous need to go anywhere.

The kittens would not find a home today, however. Both sets required neutering first, and I think Allen was a little hesitant to move forward right away. This didn’t stop Alex from taking a moment to play with the two kittens, and an older cat named Hillary.

(Alex would later tell me that Human Societies often give cats names to make them more appealing, even if they already have a name of some kind. So the names we saw were likely not their “real” names, if they had any to begin with.)

As soon as we got back to the house, Alex and I packed our things up. The tent and fly had been moved to the front porch that morning to dry in the sun, the sleeping bags put through the washing machine and dryer. It was barely 30 minutes before we were all ready to go.

We weren’t leaving the Lower Mainland just yet — we had one more stop to make: the family of Nicole’s adopted child. She had given birth three months ago, and given the baby up for adoption. Due to new adoption laws in British Columbia, you can now keep in contact with the adopting family, and even the child. Nicole actually has visitation rights.

Why we were going was beyond me, and I didn’t want to question it. I think it was mostly to support Nicole. I have no connection to this child, emotionally or even through family. Even when Alex and I get married (no, we’re not engaged — calm down!), I still will have no connection. Alex’s connection is tenuous at best, as Nicole isn’t a blood relative. Then there is the question of how much contact there will be as the years go by — will the family, or Nicole, want to continue the visitations? It’s all very curious.

We never met the father, but the mother (whose name I’ve forgotten) was extremely nice. They were certainly be outstanding parents for the young one, who will no doubt grow up in a loving, caring environment.

Alex and I took our leave after a little while, deciding that we really didn’t need to be there. We had to be at Three Valley Gap before midnight, and had a long drive ahead of us. After a brief stop at the 7-11 on the Haney By-pass (for a Slurpee, of course), we headed to Hope.

We stayed on Highway 7 for the trip out of the Lower Mainland, enjoying the quieter ride away from the Trans Canada. Passing through Hope, we switched to the Trans Canada (as it then turns north up the Fraser valley, with the bulk of northbound traffic going to the Coquihalla).

The drive from Hope to Cache Creek is beautiful, but not fast. (The trip from Hope to Kamloops along the Trans Canada is over an hour longer than taking the Coquihalla.) The valley is narrow and deep, offering a wide variety of views as the road snakes its way along the canyon walls. Right along side the road are the two major railways: CN and CP, who use the Fraser canyon as their entry into the Lower Mainland.

(CN and CP have an agreement that sends trains from both companies down one side, and up the other, effectively double-tracking the canyon. It’s a bit of an odd arrangement, considering how they compete with each other, but the predicent isn’t unheard of.)

We stopped in and around Alexandra, which was once a station along CN’s line. Today, it is a name used only on a bridge, tunnel, and on a lodge that is now for sale. Alex wanted a photo with her name on it … literally.

Kamloops appeared just before 19:00 (we’d left at 14:30). Instead of the other restaurants we’d eaten at over the last week, I wanted something a little nicer. So we stopped at Milestone’s. It was a chance to relax a bit before resuming our trip out to Three Valley Gap.

Alex took over driving at this point, having to do the remainder in the dark. I felt bad about this — driving in the dark is difficult at the best of times. But we were driving through the mountains, which is not always fun. Fortunately (oddly enough), there were a lot of trucks on the same route, which makes driving a little easier.

Unable to read any books, I read Alex my journals, which she cringed and corrected as I read. (Hopefully, all of the mistakes I made have been corrected.) Finishing that, we chatted for the remaining time.

The lights of the Three Valley Gap Chateau blinked across the surface of Three Valley Lake. Suddenly, the anxious tension we were feeling (we really wanted to stop driving) melted away as we arrived at our destination for the day. We checked in, found the room, and took a necessary step towards restful bliss.

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