For some, an early start entails a quick brushing of teeth, slipping on of active wear and rushing off to the gym, or a run through the slowly awakening streets of suburbia, necessitating a quick shower before work, or in our case breakfast and get ready for that day’s bus trip with the group of forty. My own early start is a more sedentary Golden Hour, searching for brain cells that seem to mysteriously disappear overnight and attempting to entertain through the written word. Our group of forty contained a few crazies who took great joy in early morning activity and that Tuesday morning pounded the quiet streets of Kamloops, running uphill to the edge of town, just to get a picture of the rising Sun!
1 The crazies ran, uphill, just to snap this pic!
After our breakfast at the Hilton, which the crazies had demolished at speed, the breakfast that is, we were introduced to our new driver Danny, who I’m sure had been pre-warned of what to expect from the Medifix Training Trip! As we had a new bus, our sound engineers had to patch into the new system in order to get our shoulders grooving to the sound of GoldFish and Deep of The Night, our signature tune that will be impossible to forget!
Once Roger had guided us through morning yoga, Ria took over as Danny bussed our clamorous group first past the never ending Kamloops Lake and then onwards past movie sets where Hollywood often comes to film their blockbuster, Maple Leaf Westerns rather than Spaghetti Westerns! According to Ria, snakes were a problem in the area and caution dictated that we rather not stop and rolled on, out of the mountains and down through the prairies, Trans Canada One and Canada’s Railways straddling the crystal clear Thompson River for orientation. The glacial fed Thompson River eventually meets and mixes with the, so called, Mighty Dirty Fraser River at Lytton. From that point the Fraser builds up momentum as it rushes via valleys and ravines eventually creating a maelstrom at Hell’s Gate. But we would get there later!
2 The Thompson meets the mighty, dirty Fraser River!
3 This may have been the movie set where we might have stopped, but the fear of snakes kept us on the road!
First a detour to Hat Creek Ranch which was once a relay station and travellers rest with a real saloon bar, blacksmith, stables and hotel rooms that today reek of history and rotting wallpaper! In all honesty, stories started forming just imagining scenes of what might have gone on in those rooms. The fully functioning blacksmith had all manner of tools and implements from those days of yore. But sadly for the Kassner boys, and a certain mechanic, who relish in such stuff, our timing meant we missed out on the Smithy’s demo.
4 Is that a blood stain on that sofa? Something bad went down in this room!
5 The fully functioning Smithy at Hat Creek. Where real things are made from steel and not plastic!
We were treated, though, to a tour of a Secwepemc or in non-native talk, Shuswap First Nation winter earth shelter and a firsthand look at what life would be like, cramped up, waiting out the long and icy cold Canadian winter. Some of the ladies brought first nation herbal remedies, later on declaring it was magic muti, working so much better than Zambuk!
7 My pictures of the winter shelter didn’t do it justice! This drawing is exactly how I pictured life in the shelter, although many must be out hunting, foraging for food, firewood or just stretching their legs!
8 The First Nation mutis seemed to have the power over Zambuk!
Back on Trans Canada One, with the Fraser River now our guiding light, past remnants of massive slips that would have blocked railroad and highway alike, and towering rock plinths that had the look of guardians or overseers, that were named hoodoos by the First Nation people, Danny deposited us at the Hell’s Gate cable tramway for our next adventure. From high up on one side of the ravine the cable tramway descends at a death defying angle over the turbulent waters of the Fraser River and locks into the station on the opposite side of the dirty, white water! There we could walk a bridge with a see through walkway above the terrifying turbulent waters and get those acrophobic, (no, not the spider fear!), feelings that one gets in those umpteen storey buildings, such as Auckland’s Sky Tower, with glass floors!
9 Hoodoos near Kamloops
10 That grid didn’t really inspire confidence, even though my engineer’s mind tried to tell me it was safe as houses! Nothing except Salmon have ever survived the Fraser River maelstrom at Hell’s Gate!
As mankind often does, a monumental tragedy occurred way back when, when blasting a route through the Fraser river ravine for the railway line and the River was completely blocked by a rockslide, causing an environmental disaster! The Salmon, on their four yearly migration to spawn up river, had no way through and died in their millions! With that Salmon run virtually lost, engineers had to make amends somehow and once the Fraser was cleared of debris, a system of cleverly designed tunnels called fishways were built at Hell’s Gate where the Salmon could negotiate their way through, in Salmon terms, calmer water! Many years on the Salmon Run is still on the road to recovery.
11 The plan of the fishways at Hell’s Gate! Man’s ingenuity after stuffing up nature’s system!
Keeping a close eye on her charges and counting pony tails and baldies onto the cable tramway, Ria managed to get the group of forty mobile again, with jokes and antics flowing freely, not to mention certain, laced, buddy Coke bottles. Danny’s shoulders were seen to move with our personalised hit parade as we headed south and west, onwards toward Vancouver. We still had many miles to travel and our tireless MC kept pulling tricks out of the bag, the latest joke session overriding any Botox and bringing us close to tears! We do have a video of Roger performing, which I shall share if I can get the format to play on the ‘net, but just to give you a taste:
Q: What do you call a girl with a turtle on her head? A: Shelley
Q: What do you call a lady lying across a tennis court? A: Annette
Q: What do you call a lady burning the telephone account? A: Bernadette
And one for the boys: Q: What do you call a letter in the letterbox? A: Bill
A lady, who had sadly lost a leg, was Ilene and I’ll leave you to work out the Chinese version of Ilene!
12 The telephone account after Bernadette!
13 Even the mighty need to take a break! Our MC taking forty winks would lead to a faux pas by yours truly!
On we motored and our nonstop MC snatched an opportunity to sneak in some shut eye, but fearful that the vibe on Danny’s bus would peter out, Leigh send word down the aisle that the other Dan on the bus was to report to the rear, hooligan’s section for a conference. This I did immediately, noticing a dozing Roger as I wobbled my way rearwards. Indicating his napping offspring, Leigh instructed me to take up a temporary MC position and: “Call the group of forty to attention, ask at random a victim’s star sign and how you would fix your personality?” Being a joker at heart, I took the instruction as I had heard, or processed it and proceeded forward to centre stage and the microphone, considering who would be my first victim and expecting some hilarious results! My first victim, on being asked her star sign, and further asked how she would fix her personality, had a perplexed look on her face and looked a little hurt that I had suggested that her personality might need fixing! There was a pregnant pause on the bus!
14 In noisy venues we often lip read to catch up on the words we haven’t recognised! Cover your mouth, speak and see if your listener has “heard” all you said!
Out of the silence Leigh shouted out that he had said: “Ask the star sign and how it affects your personality!” Amidst riotous laughter, my gig had fallen flat! I made my apologies and explained to the group of forty hearing professionals that, that sort of faux pas was typical of the speech discrimination problems a hard of hearing person encounters, but often with hilarious results, as above! Roger awoke from his slumber and got the disco going again!
15 Not quite our bus but it might give you an idea!
As Danny started heading more west than south, the traffic volume increased and we stopped for a break, or rather negotiated forward, back, around then back again to find a parking close enough to Tim Horton’s where Ria suggested we could find Canada’s best coffee at half the price of Starbucks and introduce ourselves to Timbits, mini donuts, another Canadian phenomenon. From there, with many taking a necessary nap, but those that can kept the vibe going as we negotiated our way through late afternoon traffic to the Metropolitan Hotel in downtown Vancouver. There wasn’t much time to catch our breath here, as the plan was to eat out at the waterfront next to the magnificent Canada Place, which is spectacularly lit up at night, giving a dazzling display to impress the many thousands of travellers who embark and disembark from Ocean Liners there. We arrived through peak hour traffic in a rockin’ bus, but we were impressed too!
16 Canada Place – spectacular at night!
It was good to the smell the sea again, taste the local food and beers, (we had, by now, decided to stick to beer as the wine prices were out of the ball park!). Walk through a city that works, that is clean and cares for its inhabitants at the same time being a large metropolis, a jewel of the Pacific! We still had two days of adventure, which we don’t have time for here. So it looks like I have an overrun, part four will have to be our finale! See you there!
Here is the Vancouver Song with some excellent visuals of what we were to expect tomorrow and the next day:
St Vincent School For The Deaf helping the hard of hearing to listen:
Down Durban way The Fulton School for The Deaf:
Abraham Kriel Childcare group, caring while we work:
The Avril Elizabeth Home for the Mentally Handicapped was opened in 1970, and for the amazing work they do for the less fortunate they deserve great accolades: