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Do you see enough?

I try to take a 360-degree approach when I’m out exploring and taking pictures.

I take some shots of what I see, then turn and turn and turn, making sure I don’t miss anything.

Some places draw me back for more. Dorothy, the Atlas Mine and Rawley are my Alberta favourites. I’m keeping a mental list of Washington spots.

Sometimes I get home, look at my pictures and think, “I didn’t quite get that right.”

Or maybe, no matter how many times I turned around, I know there’s more to see.

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The summer of ’99: a Jeep, Ricky Martin, movies and drive-in theatres

Let’s hit rewind on my life.

We’re going all the way back to 1999.

My best friend’s name was Jacqui. She had a navy blue Jeep and we bounced around Kamloops with Ricky Martin’s Livin’ La Vida Loca blasting from the stereo.

We were young, heading for our 30s and making sure we sucked the marrow dry on every last day of our 20s.

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The stories behind the buildings of Tranquille

I love a good story.

Tim McLeod, development manager of Tranquille Farm Fresh, tells one. Or two.

As a pickup truck pulled our wagon around the old streets of the Tranquille settlement, McLeod took the scattered threads of the area’s history and wove them into a colourful quilt.

There’s the one about how Tranquille got its name. (Fur traders gave Shuswap Chief Pacamoos the nickname for his tranquil nature.)

And the one about Lady Jane, wife of homesteader William Fortune, beating up the fellows who dared piss her off as she tended to the Tranquille Farm.

Or the Fortunes and the Cooneys taking in tuberculosis patients, well before the provincial Board of Health funded the construction of a sanatorium in 1909.

The buildings of the old tuberculosis sanatorium are boarded up — protected from curious eyes and spray-paint carrying graffiti artists — and some falling in their disrepair.

Like the doctor’s house, a beautiful century-old home that sticks out among the surrounding bungalows.

abandoned house

The whispers of the souls who passed their lives here ring loud in McLeod’s stories.

Like the single men who lived in this dormitory:

abandoned tuberculosis residence

The sanatorium administration separated the dorm from the single women’s residence by a field to prevent any shenanigans. But that didn’t stop anyone as many a young adult was seen traipsing through the field for some late-night lovin’.

Once Tranquille Farm Fresh community market opened last summer, the stories have been coming out of the woodwork. People approach Tim all the time with their stories of the Tranquille Farm and Medical Training Institution.

Like former residents, nurses and the women who drove the laundry and food carts in the tunnels below the city.

He’s enlisted the help of the Kamloops Heritage Society to record these stories.

And he wonders how to preserve and respect the rich history of the land as Tranquille Farm Fresh redevelops the property that once was the primary supplier of food to 1,000 people and many others off site.

He wonders how to rebuild and revive the activity at the farm’s piggery, cannery, abattoir, dairy, gardens, orchards and beef testing station, all silent since the government closed the farm in 1985.

There’s a vision to recreate the farm, the working waterfront and a sustainable community, centring the downtown around the old fire hall.

Old fire hall

And Tim and his staff are forging strong relationships with community groups to bring the area back to life. Like the local vintage car club, which rents storage space and has found a home for the original and restored Tranquille Farm pump truck.

old fire truck

He’s working with McElhanney engineers to determine which buildings can be saved. For instance, the Main’s middle section can be preserved but the wings will likely have to be reconstructed.

But the piece de resistance, the Greaves, built in 1927, is too far gone. When the A-Team movie filmed there a few years ago, the crew had to build an alternate roof for the helicopter-landing scenes.

“We’re thinking through what we can and can’t do to protect the history,” Tim says.

The underlying question he always asks is ‘how do you take history and built on it and respect it.

And that’s why the stories of the past are so important to Tim and the rest of the crew at Tranquille Farm Fresh.

“Kamloops owns this property emotionally,” he says. “We need to tap into what the people want and build on it.”

If you’re interested in learning more, Tranquille Farm Fresh offers guided tours throughout the summer on Saturdays, Sundays and long weekend Mondays.

A Heritage Tour
Unpack 6,000 years of fascinating history

Wildlife Watching Tours
Two hours of observing and photographing the birds and wildlife of Tranquille

Walking Photography Tour
A two-hour journey around mountain vistas, Kamloops Lake, heritage buildings and architectural elements

Eco Tour
Two hours of hiking through the Tranquille landscape

Gold Panning Tour
Seach for gold in the waters of the Tranquille River

You can reserve your spot on the tours by emailing or calling 250-434-9690.

And don’t forget to visit the weekend market on Saturdays and Sundays to pick up fresh seasonal fruit and vegetables. The six-acre corn maze celebrates its grand opening on Aug. 3.

See more pictures on our Facebook page. (And like us there, too!)


A walk along the river

It was time to get out of the house.

Entrepreneurship can bring with it a serious case of cabin fever. Sure, I got out of the house on Wednesday for coffee with a friend.

But nothing compares to a walk in the fresh air with my best pal, Shep.

We jumped in the truck and made a beeline for the river. There’s a little parking spot along Schubert Drive, with a gazebo and a dedication plaque to Catherine O’Hare Schubert, the only woman among the Overlanders of 1862. The Overlanders were 150 Ontario settlers who trekked across Western Canada for new homes and the lure of gold.

An Irish lass by birth, Catherine took her three children with her and gave birth to her fourth, a baby girl, only hours after arriving in Kamloops.

Cedar totems at park in Kamloops

The little park is also home to the above cedar poles. A work from Great Britain’s Giles Kent, they’re “Carved Cedar Poles” and they come from the Okanagan Thompson Sculpture Symposium of 2008.

We walked along the Rivers Trail, soaking in the view of Mount Paul and Moutn Peter on the other side of the South Thompson River.

And the Dome Hills:

Bench overlooking South Thompson River

I wanted to get the train tracks next to the Halston Bridge near Batchelor Heights. I’ve ridden through there on my bike several times and thought, “Man, I bet that would look good on my DSLR.” But it seemed a little far for old man Shep to walk, so we hopped back in the truck and went a little farther down the road.

The river was calm on the surface, a perfect opportunity to capture the bridge with a reflection in the water. I would have only been happier if a train had gone through.

Train bridge over South Thompson River

And just when I thought it was time to go home, I saw just up ahead the surest sign of spring you can get in Kamloops. In Calgary, it’s the Prairie crocus. In these parts, it’s the cherry blossom:

Cherry blossoms

At least, I’m pretty sure it’s a cherry tree. I’m no botanist. If I’m wrong, let me know!

Until our next escape …


No destination

Dog on the beach of a lake

We haven’t been very good explorers.

The snow laid heavy on our plans throughout the winter, knowing many back roads in our new area are unnavigable during the colder months.

With warmer temperatures in our recent past and the sun gleaming out of the great blue sky yesterday, we set out in search of adventure. Our friend, Beth, had told me about abandoned houses in the deep woods past Tranquille Valley.

Head down Red Lake Road, she said.

Easy peasy, I thought.

First, however, I must keep Shep happy. That meant a stop at Cooney Bay and a dip in Kamloops Lake.

The beach was alive with activity … two older women sat on their beach chairs working on watercolour sketches of the beauty they saw before them.

Children laughed, dogs splashed and adults wandered.

I sat on the beach while Shep laid in the cool water and drank. I reminded him to leave some for the fish.

And then it was time to set forth.

The road into the mountains is steep and winding. Occasionally, I glanced to my right and cringed, knowing there was a massive drop just on the other side of that bank.

mountain valley

I took a deep breath and forged on.

With no network reception, we were GPS-less. All we had was a Backroad Mapbook of the Thompson-Okanagan. I was left guessing whether the turn I just took was that one on the black line or the next one.

I crept along at a moderate speed, unfamiliar with the road and remembering how My American prefers me to drive with some care and precaution. After all, it may help me avoid the occasional misadventure.

We passed through the small community of Tranquille Valley, waving at the friendly residents out walking their dogs while off-roaders sped past as if they were on the Coquihalla.

Onward and upward, the next section of the route was a steep uphill.

I figured we were only a few kilometres off the turn onto Red Lake Road but then the wheels of the truck started to spin. The road, saturated by the spring breakup, was thick with mud.

The backend fishtailed and I started to think our adventure had to end for the day. I nodded my head to the power of Mother Nature, pulled a careful three-point turn on a straight stretch, dropped the truck into first gear and made our way back down the hill.

And then I spied it: a glint of sunshine off the snow sitting on the hood.

old truck sitting in the woods

The old truck sat lonely and abandoned amid the trees.

an old truck sitting in the woods

The old Chevy was left behind by someone who didn’t need it anymore.

For me, it was a gift, after a long day with no destination.

Red Lake will be saved for another day.


Up to my knees in snow

It’s covered in inches and inches and inches of fluffy white stuff.

And that makes exploring tough.

But it didn’t deter Shep, my trusty co-pilot, and I from jumping in the truck and seeing what Paul Lake Road had to offer my lens.

I recall an ill-prepared camping trip to Paul Lake some time in the late ’90s. I wasn’t a good camper and none of the three girls knew how to build a fire. I’m not even sure if we had an actual tent, it was that long ago. I know I didn’t own a sleeping bag until 2007, so there’s that.

The campground is a provincial park and it’s closed for the winter season, but it appears you can hike in.

While Shep would have gladly leaped through the snow up to his armpits, I was poorly dressed for the occasion. (Note to self: get better hiking boots and gaiters.)

As it was, my feet got soaked anyway.

We drove for a while, looking for any chance to stop and take pictures. But the road is so windy and twisty that there really isn’t a safe place to pull over.

We got to Hyas Lake Road and I spied this little gem sitting in a field:

I was already standing knee-deep in snow, wishing the barbed-wire fence in front of me wasn’t there.

I let it stop me.

But not when I saw this baby on the way back into Kamloops:

I swung my leg over some barbed wire, hoping and praying I didn’t tear a hole in my favourite ‘weekend’ jeans.

When I got closer to the Plymouth, I didn’t care … even as the snow soaked into the denim, my boots and my socks.

And while I love the effect of two feet of snow on the hood, I can’t wait for that stuff to disappear.

I want to go back.

I have to go back.

To get closer.

To this car. And that car. And the little abandoned homes and farms deep into snow-covered lanes that I won’t attempt to drive when I have no reception.

They’ll still be there in the spring.

Then again, you never know.

In the meantime, where’s a good place to go shopping for hiking gear, Kamloops?