James in His Jeep Getting Java – Hell’s Gate Edition

For years I talked about travelling to Hell’s Gate — and not just so I can say I’ve literally been to Hell and back. Hell’s Gate is nestled in the narrowest part of the Fraser River just down from Boston Bar. In 1808, Simon Fraser uttered the phrase, “(it’s) a place where no human should venture, for surely these are the gates of Hell.”

20170906_133908

I had tried to visit a time just a few weeks before, but was turned back because the fires nearby were causing too much smoke. Yes, I was turned away from the Gates of Hell because the smoke was just too bad!

But with my nephew visiting, this seemed the perfect opportunity for a road trip. Grinfinn, Justin, and I all piled in the Jeep, and after a brief stop for lunch and coffee at the Blue Moose in Hope, we headed for Hell’s Gate.

20170906_141546

The drive there is gorgeous and the day could not have been more perfect. We followed the Fraser Canyon through the famous tunnels passing through Yale for a brief stop.

20170906_141242

Once at Hell’s Gate, we took the tram to the bottom of the canyon to what was once a mining town. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves. The scenery was amazing and in September on a weekday there were no crowds. Hell’s Gate is very dog friendly, so Grinfinn had a great time!

20170906_145818

I’ve been on a few trams and found this one especially calm. It was slow and steady with a guide who has a spiel that takes the time from top to bottom to get through. By the time you get to the bottom, you have a pretty good idea of the area’s history and that makes exploring a bit more fun.

20170906_145153

20170906_145237

A restaurant, an ice cream/fudge shop, and a museum.

20170906_145144

The view from the tram.

 

You can walk across that red bridge and really get a good view of the river. It’s spectacular.

20170906_145223

20170906_145227
On the other side of the bridge are train tracks and a bit of a trail. Depending on how much of a hiker you are, you can spend a good day exploring the area. It seemed really uphill, so my nephew and I opted for not going on the hike.

20170906_151447

20170906_151454

20170906_151722
That’s my nephew below looking all pensive over the cliff. Hard to tell in this photo, but he’s got a camera that he took some great photos of during our trip. He was trying to find the perfect shot here.

20170906_151726
The day was hot and Grinfinn needed a break. There is a museum of the area’s history that’s air conditioned, so the three of us found our way there and cooled down.

20170906_151540

20170906_155540

Grinfinn enjoys the cool floor.

All in all, it’s a remarkable trip there and worth the drive. Go on a nice day, but not when it’s full on heat. If you’re a hiker, take hiking boots. If you’re not a hiker, get the ice cream.

I leave you with this song by AC/DC:

James in His Jeep Getting Java–Camping, Leavenworth, and Grinfinn! Part One

20170619_055035

I was awake by four a.m. and up by five. Call it excitement, maybe a little nerves, but this was my first camping trip in seven years and my first with Grinfinn. When I attempted to wake up the boy, he just looked at me, grunted, and resumed his slumber. But if I was up, so was he.

I’d planned this trip for months, originally intending to take ten days on the road to travel down to Oregon, up through Leavenworth, and home through the Okanagan. With Grinfinn, me being unsure how he would manage in a tent, I decided on a much shorter trip of five days on the road just to Leavenworth. If anything went wrong, it was a quick ride back up to Canada.

You can see my preparations for camping with Grinfinn here.

Rather than just chance it, I chose instead to book ahead to make sure I had a spot at the campground. Good thing I did, because the weekend was full and I didn’t get a booking until Monday. That brought my five day trip down to three.

20170619_083118

Grinfinn was absolutely chill sitting in his bed (with his seat belt on and the air bag turned off). Driving over the border (NEXUS lane), I had all his papers ready but wasn’t asked for them (there by US or back by Canada). I did get yelled at by the US Customs Guard for not seeing that he’d put up the red light for me to wait (that NEVER happens in the NEXUS lane).

While I considered stopping in Edison on my way there, I chose instead to just I-5 it down to Everett and jump on the Number 2 highway. I did stop for a rest at the Smokey Point Rest Area just north of Everett where I took a nap and walked Grinfinn (and, of course, I had stopped for my traditional Woods Coffee in Birch Bay).

20170619_110351

Yes, that looks like a shallow grave in the shape of a human body that Grinfinn is sniffing. There was a manicured, beautiful area with picnic tables that dog owners were not allowed to use. Then there was this wild terrain, with weeds and mounds of dirt such as the one in the photo above. That’s where you are relegated to if you have a pooch.

20170619_105354

And yes, those are working phone booths!

My next stop was Gold Bar, WA, a town of just over two thousand people. It’s quite pretty if you take a drive through the streets, and the main strip on the highway (there’s even bus service to Everett) is right by the railway with the mountains as backdrop. I liked it as it made me feel as though I were back in the Wild West.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The weather up to this point was warm but overcast. When I drove into the Cascade Mountains, the clouds disappeared and the temperatures rose to plus 26C.

20170621_112718

20170621_112730

This would be the first time I’d attempt to get a burger and fries from the roadside stop, Zeke’s Drive In. Unfortunately, I didn’t have cash and the attendant didn’t understand how my chip card worked. (I was told it was declined, but I couldn’t get her to understand that I had to enter in a PIN for it to work. And once declined, she insisted they’d be charge $35 for trying it a second time. Sigh.)

I did stop in on my way home, so expect a proper review in the third instalment.

20170621_121842

20170621_121951

20170621_122025

There were lots of places to stop and take photos, but after a few I had to just push on and accept that sometimes you just have to enjoy the moment as a fleeting one.

20170619_142039

20170619_141449

It didn’t take long to arrive in Leavenworth, a town modelled after a Bavarian village. (More on the town in the third instalment of this blog series.)

20170620_100837

And since it felt a little like time travel, with small towns not understanding chip cards to phone booths, I felt this song was appropriate to the trip.