Christmas Shopping

Actually, it was more like a winter shopping trip as I am not involved a great deal with Christmas.  Something might come up, but otherwise I do not plan to go to town until late February when I receive a much-needed royalty cheque.  I timed the trip to co-oincide with a small craft fair at 108 Mile House – and picked the worst driving of the year.

The weather had turned mild with thaws during the day.  At this time of year that means excessive gloom.

Ginty Creek gloomThe forecast was for rain overnight with a sharp drop in temperature by morning.  Classic black ice conditions.  By Monday, the day I was due to return, it was supposed to snow and get much colder.

I left in the dark on the Saturday morning shortly after 4.30 am and kept my speed to 50 klicks (instead of 100).  It was about minus 4C.  For two and a half hours I saw no moving creature except a fox.  The Chilcotin is a long and lonely road in the foggy winter dark.

Chilcotin winter drivingWhen daylight eased reluctantly into the world it was hardly any better – still icy, and still foggy.

Chilcotin fogThen I had an amazing bonus.  During the Yukon gold rush, a man called Lee decided he would drive a bunch of cows to the miners and make a fortune that way.  He started from Salmon Arm about 300 km south, and the last cow died at what is now known as “Lee’s Corner.”  One climbs a long hill to get there, and I arrived right at sunrise.  I had also driven out of the fog.

Lee's corner sunrise



Lee's corner on the Chilcotin



lee's corner



Lee's CornerWhat an unexpected treat!  The slot between the clouds was narrow, and I was soon plunged into fog again.  Instead of about three and a half hours, the journey took nearly five.

8. back into fogI believe Sunday was sunny and very warm, but I was inside at the fair all day (where I sold reasonably well.)  Monday, I had to leave at 6.30am, in the dark again.  Now the temperature was minus 15C – and it was snowing and blowing a gale.  Both windblown and falling snow united to form a complete swirling, shifting carpet of snow over the road hiding any tracks, lines, or edge of the road.  Big trucks were thundering by.  It was very disorienting and scary.  However, daylight came soon and visibility improved.  I was only about 10 minutes late for my appointment at the garage but that did not matter as most of the employees were late, too.

The rest of the shopping went well enough.  The wind was bitter, though, and when I drove back onto Highway 20, the snow was still blowing, although the road was now dry, thanks to Sunday’s thaw, and visible.

9. blowing snowAbout an hour and a half out of Williams Lake, I drove out of the wind so conditions were not too bad although the temperature dropped a little.  Near Tatla Lake, a bull lumbered beside the road.  The cows should have been rounded up long ago but at this time of year, bulls get off on their own and are hard to drive.

10. bullThis sign means I have 40 km to go!  Looks like I will make it home before nightfall.

11. 40 km to goIt was deep dusk when I drove into the yard.  I love my stone heater during the winter, but it takes a long time to warm up when it has been left for a couple of days.  It was now about minus 15C  Fortunately it was still plus 5C inside and I could turn the plumbing back on right away.  (I had left a couple of big bowls of water on the counter, figuring if they did freeze, the flaring sides of the containers would prevent the ice breaking or buckling the shell.)

The next morning looked like this.

12. This morning.And the one after (which was yesterday), looked like this!

IMG_5178And it is supposed to get even colder before we are done.


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7 thoughts on “Christmas Shopping”

  1. I remember well those roads!!! We are now settled (more or less) in Kamloops and have about 3″ of snow – compared to what they got where we lived in Alberta!! Do you have a date of release for your next book? I so enjoy following your everyday living adventures -some of which would be way off the wall for us, ha ha. Especially the icy trip down the precipice!
    Have a great Christmas Season. Shirley

  2. Hi Chris
    Just love your photos! Besides being a writer you could be a professional photographer. it indeed has gotten cold but the roads are better. We leave Anahim Lake to return home to Nelson next Friday so hope the road conditions do not deteriorate . Your trip was a bit scary. We will be back here it Jan 27th. If you need anything from town at that time email me and I can pick it up for you.
    Marcie Marinas

  3. Glad you got home safely, it’s nice to go shopping once in a while but it’s even better coming home again, especially when you don’t need to do it again until February. I was away too, visiting my daughter in Scotland and came back to find the garden full of reeds and debris from the floods that happened whilst we were away (North Norfolk coast). The sea that was a mile away is currently about 50 yards away, but it’s all calmed down now. A lot of dead worms and fish and of course all the little rabbits and hares from the now flooded fields are dead, such a shame. Someone even photographed a baby seal swimming in the main road outside our house!

  4. What a trip! I can’t imagine that sort of cold. I live in the sub tropics and as I write this the sun is beating down. It’s good your sales made the trip worthwhile but I bet it was good to walk into your home again.

  5. Great adventures to town. Remember too many horrible trips. Once, the kettle on the heater was frozen solid! You must’ve been relieved to be home. Glad to hear your sales made it worth it. Our temps are about the same!

  6. Br-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r- hope you are staying close to the fire. Looks like the cold will be with you for awhile. Glad to know you made it safely home.

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