The Bear Myth

Well the weather certainly took a turn for the worst when we left Banff for Revelstoke. As we exited Alberta and entered British Columbia you’d not be wrong if you thought they had named it ‘British’ because of the similarity in climate. In actual fact, on the road to Revelstoke we could have been anywhere in Scotland – except that someone would have eventually had to swerve to avoid me being on the wrong side of the road.

Before getting to Revelstoke we stopped to view some very large Cedar trees just off the Trans-Canadian Highway. They were impressive but it was very wet and difficult to really appreciate the majesty of these amazing trees. The toilet facilities were pretty impressive though!

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Why bother with the pan?

We then stopped at a little village called Golden for lunch and a bit of sightseeing. We saw the sight at about midday and then moved directly into the town centre to find a suitable place to eat and to refuel the car. As it turns out the local eateries could not outshine the offerings at the 7-eleven where you can pretty much get anything to eat for about a quarter of the price elsewhere. I know it is clarty but a big tub of nachos, 2 corn dogs, and a jug of diet coke for under ten dollars can’t be beaten. We had two nice cakes from the local bakery for dessert and returned to the sight to gaze at it while eating in the car.

I’m being unfair to Golden which, according to the internet, looks a lot better on a good day. Our day just wasn’t one of them.

The people of Golden decided to build this wooden bridge when they realised that there is nothing else to see in the town when the weather is poor. It takes a good ten minutes to first marvel at the feat of engineering, read the history on the signs along the balustrades and cross to the other side and back. It’s rivetting!

Fed and fuelled we headed to Revelstoke keen to arrive early to find out about all the exciting things to do there and to start exploring. What is clear about Revelstoke is that it too is the perfect place to be in good weather, or in very poor weather (i.e. three foot of snow). It’s a little dull in dull weather.

As it was – we had the dull sort of weather and had to head for indoor pursuits. The number of indoor pursuits in Revelstoke that you can do in an afternoon turns out to be one. The Railway Museum.

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The highlight of the Railway Museum.

Now, while not quite a trainspotter, I do love railways and trains. Especially steam trains. There is something almost symbiotic about the relationship between the fireman, the engineer, the conductor and the train itself that floats my boat. Sad – yes? Don’t care.

Now the best railway museum in the world is probably the one in York but the one in Revelstoke has something nothing in our country has. The story of pioneering engineers as the railroad was built through the Rockies. I can’t possibly bore you with all the details of this visit but if you would like an insight into the museum’s story you can view the full 21 minute film they are charging $25 in the gift shop for at https://www.nfb.ca/film/railroaders/

I said I loved it – I didn’t say it wasn’t a tourist con. But they didn’t bargain on my unique ability to find cheap (or free) stuff on the internet.

We wasted all afternoon in the museum which was fine because the rain outside was teeming down. When we eventually got out we headed Downtown to find food.

And find it we did.

At Emo’s Restaurant we ordered our first steak (well I did). My nearest and dearest had chicken and a French/Canadian Speciality called Poutine incorporating pomme frites, fromage râpé avec le sauce au jus de viande. We would know this as cheesy chips with gravy.

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Peppercorn Steak

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Chicken with ‘Poutine’ – off menu

Destroyed by the food we returned to our hotel about five miles from the town where the weather was even worse. In fact it was almost very poor!

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Well it wasn’t really snowing and, to be honest, Revelstoke really needs the snow. The view from our window waking up this morning was breath-taking though.

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Just imagine what those snow-capped mountains must be like!

One of the things we have been struck with since arriving in Canada, is the amount of warnings about bears. They’re everywhere. You aren’t allowed to walk in some areas unless there are four of you, you carry a bell and ‘bear spray’ and you ‘talk loudly’. The bins are bear-proofed too – using a special catch you need to reach inside a cavity to release. Back home it would be filled with chewing gum so it’s a little unsettling trying to get rid of rubbish. I’m not sure what would be worse. Fending off a bear after I dispose of my corn-dog stick, or having to scrub my hand for hours to get rid of the smell of chewing gum from some teenager’s slobbering mouth.

I have a theory brewing that there are, in fact, no bears in Canada’s wilds and the whole thing is a tourist gimmick. Much the same as the Loch Ness Monster is in Scotland. We can’t prove there are no bears of course, and the odd sighting (when one is taken out of its cage to create a stir prior to the season starting) only adds to the mystique of it all.  In fact Scotland should learn something of the Canadian style. A few warning signs dotted around Loch Ness warning boaters, swimmers, picnickers etc. would go a long way to build the tension around the Loch. We can’t prove the Loch Ness monster doesn’t exist so the least we can do is warn people they might die if one suddenly leaps from the deep and bites their heads off.

Anyway – we did in fact get to see a few bears today. We saw two Grizzly Bears and a white Kermode Bear. All three were beautifully behaved and didn’t once leap at our throats or even attempt to open a single bin.

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A Kermode Bear is a Brown Bear with a recessive fair hair gene!

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They were, of course, residents of the British Columbia Wildlife Park in Kamloops.

We spent the afternoon in the park after arriving in the city of Kamloops. The weather was much improved but the scenery is not so dramatic here.It is wine-growing country so we considered a winery tour – but since neither of us touch the stuff we saw no point. Kamloops is kind of wasted on us for that reason.

Plus I got to ride on a ‘real’ train…..

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Lunch was at the wildlife park and more Poutine was had with a Club Wrap. Both perfectly acceptable. Having truly slummed it at the 7-eleven yesterday we hit a new low this evening by going to Walmart and buying a microwave meal and some crisps. There’s only so much eating out you can do before you need an evening by the telly in a motel near a busy main road. And there’s nothing quite like a night with nothing but an inch of panelled door between you and the bear-infested city streets to keep you safe.

It’s a good job I don’t believe they exist.

 

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