Preview mini adventure!
Dates: June 3-6, 2016
We hit the road at about 4pm, taking the Fraser Canyon route out. The scenery isn’t too thrilling for the first while after you get past the Fraser Valley; lots of trees, if that’s your kind of thing. It is mostly riverside, winding through the canyons, which makes for a bit more visual interest. About an hour in, the mountains are a little less furred and look considerably more dramatic. At least for a little while, before it devolves into a dryer, deserty stretch where the hills take on the look of pilled cotton. Keep an eye out for wildlife (mostly deer) and scattered wood-frame and log structures. Many of the old cabins and barns along the way have collapsed from neglect; a couple tiny wood frame chapels and the odd log or sod-roofed home remain along the way. Not a fan of road trips/driving, but there are a few decently scenic points along the way.
We pushed through to Cache Creek area before stopping. Towns along the highway are mostly of the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it variety, but in the past we’ve stopped to explore Clinton, which has a decent coffee shop, a tiny but well-stocked museum (with scary-chatty volunteer staff) and more antique/junk shops than one little town has any right to have. Other attractions include a gas-station/corner store with soft ice cream and a half-hearted stab at souvenirs, public washrooms, and some cute historic homes on the back streets. Definitely one of the more picturesque towns along the way.
Another past stop was the Sugar Shack, around 70 Mile House, an amazingly busy and popular stop offering poutine, a small selection of meals, lots of dessert options, maple-sugar-related paraphernalia and no-frills bench seating.
However, we tried a new stop this time ‘round: Horstings Farm Market. Open 8-6 daily, I can’t recommend it enough. Right off the highway and down a lane, the market has a few components: huge greenhouse full of potting and basket plants, orchard, roaming packs of peacocks, pastoral views, souvenirs, light grocery, full sandwich/soup deli/lunch counter, produce, and best of all, the most amazing bread you’ve ever had. Seriously; it’s almost worth the drive. Good prices for soup/sandwich, with outdoor picnic benches under a shelter and along the orchard.
Having stopped at Horstings, we weren’t able to check it out for dinner, but apparently there’s a spectacular Thai place, Sunyam, in an unassuming little spot coming into town, so keep an eye out for it.
About 3.5 hours in, we arrived at the night’s destination; family of a friend of my mother’s right around 108 Mile.
Fun fact for those not familiar with BC pioneer history; all these ~Mile or ~Mile House places are leftover from the old roadhouses along the Cariboo Road route north from Lillooet to Barkerville, part of the gold rush legacy. They were places to stop and refuel, often sparking little towns along the way. A historic attraction nearby, the 108 Mile House Heritage Site, includes a roadhouse and several outbuildings. Oh, and some pretty good ghost stories, if sex, horse-theft and murder are up your alley. Hat Creek Ranch is another along the route; I haven’t had a chance to stop, but if you’re interested in a taste of historic BC, pioneer and ranching history, these are the best opportunities before Barkerville.
June 4 we got on the road around 9, with a quick zip up to Williams Lake, only about an hour away. This section of the drive is more scenic; ranching country, it features more expansive valleys, dotted with ponds, marshes and lakes, and of course, lots and lots of cows. Walked and drove around the downtown area a bit, exploring and killing time. There’s quite a good coffee shop, The Bean Counter, attached to the public library, with the Cowboy Museum (Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin) just out back, but not much else of note. Try the Birch Water at the coffee shop for a caffeine alternative; pricy, but an interesting cultural experience. Like maple syrup before it was syrup.
The museum is also worth a visit, if it’s open; some gorgeous saddles and costumes, to start with. It’s a pretty good sized attraction, with local history (beyond ranching and the stampede) exhibits in the basement.
Spent most of the day out at my mom’s sister’s place up on the mountain; the highlight of the visit being when one of her sheep got itself caught in a fence. Disappointingly, it got itself out again without her needing to haul it out.
Stayed with her brother’s family on the opposite side of the lake; great views. Shame about the tracks just across the road. My mom’s parents live just a few streets away, so we walked up in the evening and got eaten alive by mosquitoes. I’d forgotten how that worked; clearly been in the Vancouver area for too long! I’ll need to plan ahead for the future. Bonus, though, my cowboy grandpa seemed to think I needed to represent for the Cariboo on my upcoming move to the UK; two new hats, belts, and bags later, I think I’m well stocked.
Tried for an early start home on the 6th, reaching 108 Mile around 10 to pick up my mom’s friend for the ride home. We collected her at Soul Concepts Aesthetics, a suprisingly spacious and lovely little spa a couple minutes off the highway.
Had to make a stop again at Horstings and pick up some bread for the way back, of course. Only regret is that I didn’t stock up more! After that, it was a straight shot home; slightly more traffic on the Monday morning, but no jams.
So! Not the most exotic or exciting trip, but there it is! In terms of planning and budgeting, there really wasn’t much to speak of. Did some looking into attractions and where to find decent coffee, but didn’t end up having a chance to stop.