Do You Know The Difference

One was actually designed to save lives and one for saving time, yet both of these are sometimes referred to as tunnels.

The one on the top is called a “Snow or Avalanche Shed”. The concrete construction deflects falling snow and water runoff allowing it to pass over top while traffic continues to flow underneath.

Between Golden, and Revelstoke, British Columbia, the Trans Canada Highway #1 winds through “Glacier National Park”. You’ll be much safer today, than in years past, traveling through its mountain range with a deadly history. Five snow sheds have been built on a stretch of this highway called the “Rogers Pass”.

Discovered in 1881, the “Rogers Pass” was first used by the railroad in 1885.

Weather conditions can change drastically and quickly on the pass with a summit elevation of 1,330 meters/ 4,360 feet. Add, roughly 10 meters/32.81 feet of heavy snowfall per year to the sheer height and steepness of the Selkirk Mountains and you get perfect avalanche conditions.

Even with 31 wooden snow sheds over the rail tracks, for 30 years deadly avalanches plagued the railroad. In 1913 they began digging the 8.083 kilometre/5.022 mile tunnel called the “Connaught Tunnel” under Mount Macdonald. Once completed in 1916 trains quit going up and over the “Rogers Pass”. 

In 1988 the railroad also opened the 14.7 kilometre/9.1 mile “Mount Macdonald Tunnel” to supplement growing freight traffic. Trains now travel east through the “Connaught Tunnel” and west through the “Mount Macdonald Tunnel”.

Sections of abandoned rail line ground over the pass were later used for the current Trans Canada Highway #1 finished in 1962 and called the “Rogers Pass.” It replaced the older (1940-62) “Big Bend Highway” which followed the Columbia River for 305 kilometres/190 miles through the Selkirk Mountain valley. It was a seasonal, perilous, and gravel highway always closed in the winter because of heavy snowfall. The pass also shorted drive time between Golden and Revelstoke by 5 hours.

Tunnels like in the bottom picture are designed as shortcuts, or in the least a simpler path. The pictured one is 1 of 7 on the Fraser Canyon highway (the Gold Rush Trail) between Hope and Boston Bar. They were constructed in 1957-64, and range in length between 57 meters/187 feet to 610 meters/2000 feet.

Did you know the design differences of these tunnels before this post?

Have you ever encountered tunnels or snow sheds on a highway?

Since reading Stephen Kings novel “The Stand” years ago, I can’t help thinking of situations from that book when traveling through tunnels.

Has anyone else read “The Stand” and knows what I’m talking about?

What Are These?

You’ll came across six of these special overpasses when driving between Canmore, Alberta, and the British Columbia border.

For some 90 Kilometres/55 Miles, high, page-wire fences completely line both sides of the Trans-Canada Highway #1. They were erected to help prevent wildlife and vehicle collisions on this very popular and busy road which winds through, Banff National Park.

I read the fences have reduced animal fatalities by more than 80%, and for deer and elk the percentage is closer to 96%.

The unique overpasses like pictured above are natural terrain crossings. Built strictly for and used by wildlife.

The first two of the six to open were constructed in 1996-97 when the highway widening project began. At that time they were the only ones of the kind in the world. The rest were built as the road work continued.

What you may not notice while driving this road, (even we didn’t realize the number and we travel the path often), is there are 38 wildlife crossings which go under the four lane, divided highway.

As of 2012, eleven large species, grizzly and black bears, cougars, wolves, coyotes, moose, deer, elk, big horn sheep, wolverines, and lynx, have been recorded using the wildlife crossings. Plus, I think I read somewhere 108 small species.

Elk were the first to use the crossings. Some of the timid species like grizzly bears and wolves took up to five years to get comfortable enough to use them.

They discovered interesting data by monitoring crossing activity. For instance, grizzly bears, elk, moose and deer prefer high, wide and short in length crossings. Black bears, cougars, and mountain lions, prefer low, long and narrow crossings.

At the time of the projects completion, Banff National Park had the most numerous and varied wildlife crossing structures in the world. I’m not sure if they still hold that title.

Across the border in British Columbia the adjoining, Yoho National Park, also has fenced sections and wildlife crossings. Their newest overpass being a massive 60 meter/197 ft. wide one completed and opened in 2018. This is the widest of its kind to date. They have a couple smaller ones too, plus, I believe three under road crossings.

Sorry the picture isn’t brighter and clearer, but mother-natures skies, bugs, rain and snapping while moving made it difficult.

Have you seen special animal crossings on any road you’ve driven?

Have you heard of, or driven through, “Banff National Park” in Alberta, Canada?

Is This Lighthouse View Worth It?

72 lighthouse NB

Roadside viewpoints, even with fantastic scenery, sometimes aren’t worth the anxiety getting to them causes.

You can’t really tell from the picture how high above sea level it is.

This is a promised post about a lighthouse visit forever etched in my mind.

In our average sized unit for Alberta, a 4×4 crew-cab truck and 30ft. fifth wheel RV, we set out on a cross Canada dream trip, celebrating Mister’s retirement.

The further east we traveled signs that a smaller unit would have been more practical started to occur. Like outside, Quebec City, when we pulled into a roadside rest area for lunch and the road back onto the highway made a tight half circle that was narrow and curbed on both sides with jagged rocks. Mister knew we were too long to make the bend, but it was the only exit. He drove slowly, and we hoped for the best, which was only one trailer tire’s sidewall being ripped open and the wheel hub damaged.

Thankfully, that was the only costly incident we encountered,

BUT

his driving skills were tested multiple times, and white knuckling on my part occasionally took place.

We started asking size related questions when heading to attractions. Then, if needed we would leave the RV at a nearby campground, or a couple times Mister got permission to park the 5th wheel for a few hours at tourist information centres.

I wish we had gotten a second opinion for one nerve-rattling adventure I call, “The road to hell.” Slightly inappropriately named, because in fact the road zigzagged up a mountain, and the destination was not hellish.

Before leaving our campground near Hopewell Rocks, NB. we asked a local fellow about getting to Cape Enrage Lighthouse. If we should pull our 5th there or not? If there would be parking? He replied, “It should be fine, tour buses go up there.”

That was good enough for Mister. The next morning we headed down highway 114 which became rough enough to make us wish for air ride seats.

We took the lighthouse exit, and soon it opened into a flat stretch. The ocean glittered on one side of the road, a marsh was on the other, but a massive, tree covered mountain loomed ahead.

There was a roadside gravel area there big enough to park, probably used by fisherman to get to the ocean, but a sign indicated several Kilometers yet to the lighthouse.

A squiggly switchback warning sign and a high incline percentage one also came into view, and that’s when my anxiety began.

I told mister, “It’s fine, we don’t have to continue.”

I suggested, “Since there’s room here, let’s just turn around.”

I reasoned, “There will be other lighthouses to see along our route.”

I even tried straight out stating, “Honest, I don’t want to go up there.”

I rambled and muttered more, but those were my main arguments.

Mister simply replied, “We’ve come this far, we’re not turning back. Quit worrying! If a bus can make it, we can.”

But, worry is what I do best.

I pleaded some more, but our speed remained steady, the discussion was over.

A cliché comes to mind, “Come hell or high water,” he was taking me to see that lighthouse. (Now, isn’t he sweet, or maybe he needed revenge for some previous nagging I’d done? Smiley face)

Don’t get me wrong, Mister’s driving skills impress me. He can also maneuver a trailer pretty much anywhere, but I really never wanted to find out if controlling a rig sliding backwards on a narrow mountain road was in his repertoire.

When we slowed for the first corner, I braced my feet on the floor and one arm on the console between us. My other hand clutched the dashboard, “Oh sh…!” handle. Why, I’m not sure, we weren’t going fast or off-roading. Another smile.

With only slight exaggeration, I swear on the tight switchbacks I could have stuck my arm out the window and been able to touch the side of the 5th wheel.

Oh, have I mentioned the road was hard topped but was littered with small pebbles.

When we crept up a particular steep and sharp hairpin turn, the truck began to spit those loose pebbles. My worst fear came to life, the tires lost traction, and we were sliding backwards.

Mister, all calm and collected steered and engaged the truck’s 4 wheel drive. We started to inch forward again.

I on the other hand, broke into a sweat, muttered curses and silently prayed.

Finally we got to the top where we had to stop on the road and help guide another unit around the corner so they could head back down the hill.

The actual parking lot had a designated spot for tour buses but the public part was not big enough for larger RV’s.

Mister found a grassy plateau before the lot and wedged our rig in so we could get out to explore and take pictures of the lighthouse. The views were spectacular, but I’m not sure they were worth my stress.

70 start of road to hell Cape Enrage NB

Road Before Cape Enrage Lighthouse

 

79 road down

Coming Down Again

If I’d known this story would become a blog post, I would’ve tried taking better or at least more pictures, and maybe washed the bugs off the windshield. Who am I kidding, between hanging on and my shaking hands I’m impressed I got these few. Pictures don’t do justice to heights, inclines, etc. anyway.

The trip down wasn’t much better for me because I couldn’t stop picturing those darn loose pebbles causing us to careen off the edge.

How busses negotiate the trip, I’ll never know, maybe traffic is stopped for them. For sure, I would never want to meet and have to pass one or any other big vehicle for that matter.

If planning to visit this sight, the scenery is gorgeous once up there but be aware of the road getting there, especially, if you are pulling an RV.

Do certain road conditions cause you anxiety?

Do you like road-trips?

A Romantic Drive, Resort Style

gr-cart

Our carriage awaits. Because of their narrowness, Mister and I jokingly refer to cruising in a golf cart as a romantic drive.

This picture was taken on Valentines Day. It was a warm plus 9 Celsius, for this cruise with my man. We didn’t even roll down the plastic doors when we went to the storage lot to shovel snow off the boat tarp. How’s that for a romantic outing? Funny thing was, we were content because together we enjoyed beautiful spring-like weather, and it put a taste of coming summer days into our hearts.

After completing the chore we cruised around and snooped at the new lakeside homes being constructed. Then we stopped by T & E’s house for a quick visit and to arrange our next card night.

Here, golf carts aren’t just on the course, they are a preferred choice of summer transportation. Hundreds travel the resorts roads, and their variety is extensive.

One would think with Mister’s vehicle interests our carts would be among those with custom rims, paint, or fancy modifications. But nope, ours are older and pretty plain except for a second seat conversation added to one.

Golf carts out and about in the winter is rare, but not unseen. One family, when they’re here on weekends even pulls an occupied toboggan around. Our kids sure would have been game for that activity when they were young. Wait, as adults they still would if our carts went faster.

Mister gets the above cart out when weather permits which helps break-up the long winter months. It handles well on snow covered roads, and it goes through a surprising amount of slush. With that said, I hope we don’t get stuck the next time we are out for a cruise.

Throughout our years together, going for drives has been a common and enjoyed pastime, although most of them are done in an actual vehicle.

I have had some of the most heartfelt and genuine conversations with family members and friends during road trips.

Do you enjoy going for drives?

Have you shared great conversations with someone while on the road?