going west

by Anne

[17th September]

And then the rain came down. Our aim on this day was to reach a point halfway to the west coast. We would travel due west on Highway 1 through Kamloops, turning north onto Route 97 at Cache Creek and then on to William’s Lake where we would spend the night.

We came upon the strangest tunnels en route; tunnels in our experience afterall, are there to pass through mountains, but these tunnels were not passing through anything. We eventually realised that they were most probably avalanche tunnels, difficult as it was to imagine these slopes covered in snow, given the fact that snow is not something commonly seen where we come from.

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Nothing quite like a hot cuppa on a rainy day! And in a strange country, anything familiar becomes a welcome sight; Tim Hortons became that for us, and only because while traveling with our children we had stopped at one (or two) for refreshments.

There were two things on this trip for which we were very grateful; 100km speed limit (it is 120km in our country) and no sign of an early winter as we did not have winter tyres (we had only 2 weeks in hand before winter tyres became compulsory).

And then, our tummies started to grumble. We had secured a whole roasted chicken and salads for lunch (not the first time either) and it was now time to find a suitable spot to pull off and dig in.

 

Route 97 north of Cache Creek came with town names that compelled me to hit google:

“The South Cariboo historic roots go back to the fur trading days before the gold strike. By 1860, thousands of gold seekers thronged to the Cariboo to seek the precious metal. Between 1862 and 1870, over 100,000 people traveled the Cariboo Wagon Road from Lillooet, making their way north into Cariboo country.

Throughout this gold fever, certain roadhouses, because of their favourable locations along the Cariboo Wagon Road from Lillooet to Soda Creek, grew to be supply points for the gold seekers and the surrounding district. 100 Mile House, South Cariboo’s dominant community, was originally one of these stopping points along the gold rush trail. 100 Mile House was so named because it was located 100 Miles from Lillooet (Mile 0) of the Cariboo Wagon Road. As the gold rush subsided, ranchers began to settle the surrounding area.

Today, the South Cariboo consists of a number of small unincorporated communities in the outlying area surrounding the District of 100 Mile House and has a population greater than 20,000.”
~ taken from http://www.100milehouse.com/

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“Other roadhouses of note in the area include 59 Mile House; built overlooking Painted Chasm it included a fifty stall barn to accommodate the horses of Barnard’s Express Company. A roadhouse was constructed at 70 Mile. Incredibly, this house operated continually from 1862 to 1956 when it was consumed by fire.

The 105 Mile House was unlike most of the Cariboo roadhouses in that it was a handsome building built in a Victorian style. This house was moved from its original location and now resides at the 108 Heritage site where it can be toured by the public.

108 Mile House started as a somewhat cruder affair in 1867. It was only eight miles from 100 Mile House so stage coaches probably passed it by, although it would have been a welcome site to those walking pack animals. By 1875, although there was no evidence of ownership, it was known as the 108 Mile Hotel and was run by one Agnus McVee and her husband Jim.

The next owner tore down the building and reassembled it at what is now the 108 Heritage site. Several more buildings such as a blacksmith shop and an ice house were added, the most notable being the Clydesdale barn built in 1908. This is the largest log barn of its kind in Canada and is still standing at its picturesque location on the shores of 108 Mile Lake.

The builders of the 111 Mile House felt they had a good location and built a large and impressive, two-story inn. They were right because four horse stagecoaches from Barnard’s Express made it a regular stop as a horse change station. It operated till 1909, sat empty for awhile and finally became part of the 3000 acre Highland Ranch. Today only one small building remains beside the creek.

The 118 Mile House is not as old as some but the building still stands on private property visible from highway 97.

The roadhouse at 127 Mile started as a blue army tent. It operated as a bar while a building was erected. It was a large, attractive two story building but the location was popularly known as the Blue Tent Ranch for many years. In 1904, it went the way of many buildings in an era of woodstoves and no fire departments, it burned to the ground.”
~ taken from http://www.100milehouse.ca/history/index.html

The clouds grew more and more menacing! It was not long before huge drops obliterated the road – we prayed that hail was not about to destroy our children’s trusty steed!

And of course, we wondered just how we were going to manage to set up camp in the deluge! It was decided that a motel of sorts in William’s Lake might be a jolly good idea, but price rates soon put paid to that idea, at which point, exactly, the sun came out!

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William’s Lake had a campground and William’s Lake was an excellent halfway stopover; what we had not realised was that the campground was part of the Home of the Famous William’s Lake Stampede.
We arrived, along with many other folk – there was clearly a function on that night – and confused again as to where to go, wandered into the function area to look for a place to book in for the night. No such place there, so we headed off around the arena to where we had spotted camper vans. There still was no office or anyone at the gate, but we soon discovered the very efficient (yet again) self-registration procedure.
There was a very soft stretch of very green lawn at the opposite end of the campground which was allocated to tenting (with a very clear sign asking us not to park on the grass, which we had not noticed! Apologies to those concerned!) We set up camp, enjoyed our supper under the most spectacular sunset and retired for the night, just nicely settled in when announcements could be heard over the loudspeakers at the function; announcements that never seemed to end… but wait, those are not announcements, they are holding an auction, a fund-raising auction to be sure.
And then the entertainment began; we were lulled to sleep by the most delightful foot tapping Canadian country music, a treat indeed!

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Next stop: BEARS!

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