Sparwood, Fernie, Frank Slide

As most of you know COVID-19 has making its rounds around the globe, infecting over 2.64 million people so far and taking the lives of 184,000 people as of the writing of this article on April 22nd 2020. I was supposed to take an Eastern Europe roadtrip starting on March 18th 2020, ending on April 7th 2020. This trip has been postponed until further notice, but I will complete it when it is safe and socially acceptable to do so. In the meantime I am following government guidelines and maintaining physical distancing from others.

Last weekend I needed to get out to get some fresh air. I didn’t want to be around others so I decided to drive around Southern Alberta with Julie to take some drone shots of some of my favorite places. We visited Sparwood, Fernie, and Frank Slide.

This 800km journey was completed in my new to me 2018 Toyota Prius PRIME, which I picked up about a month ago. I’ve already put 3800 kilometers on it, and it costs just pennies per kilometer to drive. The average fuel consumption is under 4l/100km.

The journey had a bit of excitement along the way because I had a catastrophic tire blowout along highway 3. It resulted in a 3 hour delay, with a $300 service call from OK Tire in Pincher Creek, about a 30 minute drive away. I ended up having to purchase new all-season tires for a total of $960 including the $300 service call. We made the best of it though.

The first stop was Sparwood, British Columbia. I hadn’t been here since 2005, when I rode through on my Yamaha R6 on my way to my friend Hadrian’s cabin. Sparwood is home to the world’s largest truck, the Titan 33-19, which was produced by General Motors. The Titan was conceived in 1968 in the General Motor’s offices in London. Six years later it was a reality and was showcased in the American Mining Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada in 1974. It was used in the Eagle Mountain Mine by Kaiser Steel in southern California until 1978. In 1978, Kaiser Steel moved the Titan to its coal mining operation near Sparwood. The mine was subsequently acquired by Westar Mining in 1983, and the Titan was eventually retired in 1991. The mine was acquired by Teck Corporation in 1992 and offered the Titan in preserved format as a public monument in 1993. The Titan was fully restored by the end of 1993 and put on display, despite having its engine removed.

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The next stop was Fernie, where we walked around for a bit and took pictures of the old buildings, and I flew my drone over the beautiful old court house. Fernie was founded in 1904, and currently has a population of 9200 people. Fernie was originally founded because of Crowsnest Pass coal mines, which still continue to operate to this day. Like most single-industry towns, Fernie endured several boom and bust cycles throughout the 20th century. Today the town survives with a seasonal focus on skiing in the winter, and coal mining year round, but not as strong as it once was.

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The final stop was Frank Slide, where a rockslide buried the mining town of Frank on 4:10am on April 29th 1903. It was estimated that 110 million tonnes of limestone rock slide down Turtle Mountain and buried the town, which had a population of around 600 people. Approximately 90 of the 600 citizens died during the slide. The town was named after Henry Frank, who owned the Canadian-American Coal and Coke Company, which operated the mine that the town was created to support. The town was founded in 1901.

The cause of the slide was a multitude of factors. Mining left the formation in a constant state of instability, as well as a wet winter and cold snap on the night of the disaster. After the slide the railways was repaired within three weeks, and the mine was quickly reopened. The town was relocated in 1911 because of fears of another slide occurring. The town’s population doubled to 1200 by 1906, but quickly dwindled after the mine was closed in 1917. The community now is part of the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass and has a population of 200.

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A video of this adventure can be found on my YouTube channel here.

Check back soon for my next adventure. In the meantime wash your hands religiously, maintain physical distancing to flatten the curve, and stay safe. See you soon!

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Valley Of 5 Lakes & Bald Hills Hikes

Yesterday I completed two hikes in Jasper National Park; Valley of 5 Lakes & Bald Hills. I started my day off early at 6:30am by waking up and making a nutritious breakfast omelet and coffee before setting off on a 5 hour drive towards Jasper.

First stop was Valley of 5 Lakes, a short 4.5km hike with a mere 154 metres of elevation gain. The hike was amazing; it started through a moderate density forest and opened up into a meadow before going back into a forest with a view of five beautiful turquoise and emerald coloured lakes. The hike took roughly an hour to complete and was completely worth the visit.

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It was nearly lunch so it was time to head into Jasper. I stopped at my favorite place; Jasper Brewing Company and had a cheddar burger with poutine, and a pint of their Rockhopper IPA, which is super tasty.

After lunch I drove to Maligne Lake, where I started on the trailhead to Bald Hills. It was a light misty rain when I started the hike, but over the course of the hike it started to rain more and more. About 1/3 of the way through the hike I met a wonderful woman named Susan, and her husband Steve. They had one of their daughters, and daughters friend with them. We spent the rest of the hike together, which made for a nice time. One of the kids made a hilarious comment when we were talking about religion. She said “Is a Protestant also a prostitute; we all burst out laughing! By the end of the hike we were all soaked. The hike was 13.2km with 701 metres of elevation gain; I definitely felt it in my quads towards the end.

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After the hike I drove back into Jasper to fill up my Lexus with fuel, and get some coffee from Tim Horton’s before heading back to Calgary. I finally made it home around 10:30pm.

My Next Trip – US Route 66

It’s been a busy few weeks since my return from France & Spain last month! I celebrated my 31st Birthday and had a job promotion at work to Business Development, which has kept me quite busy.

During the Christmas break my father and I began discussing where we should go for our annual Father & Son trip. We weighed a few different options but both agreed on wanting to drive the US Route 66, originally known as Will Rogers Highway, and also known as Main Street of America or the Mother Road. Let’s take a bit of a look at the history of the highway and why it plays such an important part of the history of the United States of America.

Conceived as a government-funded wagon road back in 1857 and coming into full fruition as a national highway in 1925, Route 66 stretches from Chicago to Los Angeles and was built to connect the main streets of rural and urban communities along its course as most small towns had no prior access to a major national thoroughfare. The numerical designation ’66’ was assigned to the route on April 30th 1926, and was signed into law in 1927 as one of the original US Highways, although it wasn’t actually fully paved until 1938.

There are several very dangerous curves on the highway so it quickly earned the nickname “Bloody 66”, and over the years there has been some re-alignments around the dangerous sections. Over the years much of the highway has been superseded by interstate highways I-40 and I-25 as they were wider, larger, straighter, and faster than the original Route 66 highway.

Route 66 still has some very well preserved buildings and attractions along its entirety, as well as some of America’s best restaurants scattered along its entirety. This is what drives my Father and I to want to drive it.

Our trip is going to commence on May 17th, starting in Chicago at around Noon and then driving over the course of 10 days to Las Vegas. We will be departing Las Vegas on May 27th in the evening.

Make sure to follow us along our journey as I will be keeping a detailed log of the attractions and restaurants that we visit, and the history behind every stretch we drive.

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April 6th 2016 – Exploring Southern Kauai

Today was my second consecutive day of no roosters or birds disturbing my slumber. I woke up at around 7:30am. I had to walk to get my car from the previous night, which I had left about 1/2 mile away where we caught the shuttles for the wedding. I picked up the car and drove down to the St. Regis hotel, where we had a buffet breakfast with everyone before Marc and Jen took off on their honeymoon.

Breakfast wrapped up at around 11am. I wasn’t sure at first if I actually wanted to drive all the way down to the South today, since the day was starting so late, but I decided to go ahead anyways. My first stop was the eucalyptus tree tunnel on the way to Koloa.

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Koloa is a very beautiful small town. There was an older, beautiful church, and a nice little stretch of beach.

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After visiting Koloa I drove to Port Allen for some lunch. It looks like Port Allen is a fairly industrious town, in fact it seems the South is way more industrious than the North.

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I then headed to Waimea, where I saw a bunch of racing canoes.

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The real fun then began! I headed to Waimea Canyon and Kokee State Park. The roads are out of this world! I only had a Nissan Versa for a car, but it was still fun twisting through the roads at a decent pace. Today is the day I wish I had upgraded to the V8 Mustang! I’ve never driven on such twisty roads in my life! The views were out of this world spectacular. Along the road there were about half a dozen official lookouts, but I stopped everywhere I could do so safely. The round trip into the national park took about 2 hours, which included stopping to take photos.

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It was starting to get dark so I head back to the condo, where I just relaxed for the rest of the evening. Tomorrow is a beach day, unless it rains!

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