Fraser Canyon

The Fraser Canyon offers low-elevation access to the British Columbia interior, and was the favored route successively for the Cariboo Wagon Road (1860s), the Canadian Pacific (1880s), the Canadian National (1900s), and eventually the Trans Canada Highway (1960s).

Automobile traffic typically prefers the more direct route offered by Highway 5, except as on this trip, when winter driving conditions on Coquihalla Pass (1244m) were hazardous.

South and North Thompson River Confluence

Kamloops BC was founded as a trading post in the valley where two branches of the Thompson river join.  The confluence is just beyond these willows, seen above Lorne St and on the "wrong side" of the Canadian Pacific Railway tracks that lie between here and the city centre.

The Canadian National Railway runs on the north side of the valley, and continues that way to Edmonton; the CPR takes a completely different route from here westward across the Rockies and on to Calgary.

Christmas Tree

The purpose of the trip up the Mountain Loop Highway was to harvest a Christmas tree from the National Forest.  This one came from not far from the Mount Pilchuck trailhead, around 3200ft.  I was instructed not to bring home a tree "bigger than myself."  Being respectful of that conveniently let me fit it inside the Jeep rather than having to lash it to the roof.

Gas Valve Solenoid Replacement

Our clothes dryer is heated by gas.  There are very few parts to the mechanism, and when the dryer stopped heating, I did a bit of research to learn how to diagnose the failure.

With all other easily-tested parts proven as working, the solenoids controlling these two gas valves became the suspected cause.  The Sears parts depot had replacements at reasonable cost, and what a joy it was to hear it fire up once all the bits were put back together!

For those who might wonder how it works: when the dryer is commanded to heat, and the ambient temperature in the drum isn't too high, and the ignitor is sufficiently hot, then a pair of coils (solenoids) is energized, magnetically forcing this pair of valves to open, letting gas flow.

Overcast Snow

The clouds arrived soon after Granite Falls.  It was still a pleasure to get into the snow this early in the season, but the magic of the sunshine had to stay behind, closer to the coast.

Sunny and Snowy

On the way to Granite Falls, I stopped in Lake Stevens to enjoy the fresh snowfall on this brisk and cold morning.  The Mountain Loop Highway would be overcast, so I wanted to capture a few shots of this glorious sunshine before heading east.

Plenty 'o Squash

Part of the cornucopia seen last month is now in the freezer!  The big squash was cubed and frozen, and now makes its way into soups from time to time.

Jack o' Lantern

This year's Jack o' Lantern is a bit more even-keeled than last year's. Trick or treating is serious business around here, and you need a proper advertisement to attract costumed youngsters up our steps.

Audi R8

"Starting at $115,900", the Audi R8 is not for everyone. There are both V8 and V10 versions, and each yields over 400 horsepower in a very light body.

This one looks lovely in red.

Huckleberry Foliage

Unlike Mount Sawyer, there were only a few huckleberries on this slope. They sure lit up beautifully with light transmitting through their vibrant red leaves.

Larix lyallii

Being deciduous pines, these larches are in full fall colors and will soon be losing their needles entirely. It's been a warm fall, so there's little snow accumulation up here so far.

This is around 6700ft on the flank of Carne Mountain.

Central Cascades

A fall hike in the Central Cascades shows the narrow band of alpine larch across the valley that becomes the dominant species from about 6000 to 7000ft of elevation. Below that, evergreens outcompete them. And above that, there's nothing much but snow!

Mini Cornucopia

It was a good year for pumpkins and squash. We threaded vines along the back alley fence, which allowed for a substantial west-facing aspect for them to spread out on.

Planted Pond

City and state landscape planners seem to have developed a fetish for planting dead tree trunks in newly created wetlands. They seem like lovely places for raptors or other birds to perch.

But in this climate, they'll rot and fall over in a few years -- is there budget for their replacement then?

What Goes Up Must Come Down

This is the end of Snider's Lane, off another lane, tucked into Melbourne's CBD. Sister Bella is a lively bar to the right, run the same folks of the now deceased St. Jerome's. This sort of a place doesn't gain business from the impulses of passers-by; you'd have to know about it to find your way here.

Centre Place

Every urban planner faced with a decaying city center seems to look to Melbourne for ideas on cultivating a laneway culture. This is Centre Place, not even a notable alley in a city crowded with them. Look at how many options there are for a pedestrian! Incredibly, vehicle traffic is permitted outside of daylight hours, though it is likely only intended to permit deliveries.

Flinders Street Station

Melbourne's historic central train station is the typical backdrop to a national news item involving the city, or as the only iconic thing ad writers can conjure in brochures aimed at domestic Australian tourists. Nothing much happens right here; the most recent headline I can recall was a taxi strike in 2008.

Sydney is blessed with a few key sights a bit better suited to these purposes.

Bradmill Textiles, Yarraville

Bradford Cotton Mills opened here in Yarraville in 1927. The brand and offerings evolved and expanded, and this part was built in 1958. It was closed in 2002.

The smokestack of the factory power plant is prominent when approaching Melbourne's CBD on the West Gate Freeway. It's been decorated with the graffiti "MONSANTO = " and the skull and crossbones icon. It's a bit unfair, as I'm not sure how an abandoned textile factory represents the supposed evils of genetic engineering.

Australian Coffee

Coffee in Australia is extraordinarily good, especially in Victoria. Some speculate that the country's history of Italian immigration is the reason for this gift, with large numbers of arrivals both pre- and post-war.

Di Bella roasts in North Melbourne, and they make as fine a cup as any.

Twelve-ish Apostles

The Twelve Apostles are currently eight pillars of eroding sandstone. The last one fell in 2005. They look best in early morning light, but most folks visit midday in convoys of tour buses.


Warrnambool is known as a place to see transient Southern Right whales, and perhaps for its cheese factory.  It's really pleasant to visit, and most making their way along the Great Ocean Road don't get quite this far.

Don't pronounce the m.

Grampian Mountains

The Grampians are a low mountain range (and National Park) between Nhill and Ballarat in Victoria. There are plenty of gorgeous views like this one, and hardly any people around enjoying them.

The area has suffered two extensive rounds of bush fires in the past decade.

Land Rover on a Pole

It's amazing how easy it is to obtain a brown tourist road sign in Australia.

Most ridiculous monuments of this sort are set up along coastal Queensland, but this one is in Keith, SA on the Western Highway. It purports to "commemorate the land clearance scheme between 1950 and 1964" though the linkage to an elevated Land Rover is rather tenuous.

State Library of South Australia

I had visited the State Library of Victoria, and found it to be exceptional. The State Library of South Australia shows that there are similar treasures elsewhere.

Perhaps I'll have to travel the country to complete the set.

Barossa Rapeseed

It was no accident that we made plans to return to the Barossa wine region. Wine in Australia is unpretentious, accessible, and aside from a few names you'd recognize, not too expensive.

Canola was in full bloom, and an Australian twist placed a stand of eucalyptus on our way to the area. Unlike more temperate areas, these blossoms were out in very early spring. I imagine that they can get a second crop out of this field if desired.

McLaren Vale

There are quite a few fine wine regions in Australia. There are so many, that one might plan a vacation to capture a certain set of sights and activities, and happen upon a noted terroir purely by chance.

We were driving from Cape Jervis to Adelaide and saw signs for McLaren Vale. Fortunately, our plans accommodated a few hours detour for some tastings.

Kangaroo Island

They don't call it Kangaroo Island for nothing.

The fauna here lost their caution around humans a few thousand years ago when aboriginal settlement ended. Kangaroos on the mainland always saw hunting pressure and so are a bit more skittish when approached. I'm told that petting zoos source roos from Kangaroo Island for this reason.

Remarkable Rocks

The Remarkables are an impressive set of granite boulders perched prominently on the edge of Kangaroo Island. Although one might consider a few boulders to be a few notches down from a top tourist attraction, they were amazing and worth the visit.

It's not difficult to imagine Captain Matthew Flinders himself swinging by in 1802, noting "my goodness, those sure are remarkable" and diligently annotating the map.

Wild Koala

Yes, koalas really do just hang about in Australia! This one is lounging in Flinders Chase National Park, and took time away from its snooze to give us a look. They take some effort to spot, as it is easy for them to go unnoticed when hiking along.

Cape Willoughby Lighthouse

Cape Willoughby is a long way down an unsurfaced road, and offers a charming lighthouse, in this case hiding under a rainbow! It was built in 1852 and deactivated in 2003.

The Peninsula

The Peninsula in Kowloon has a fleet of 14 Rolls Royce Phantom saloons, painted in a custom green to match the style of the hotel. They're outrageously expensive 450 horsepower parade floats (weighing 2.6 tonnes apiece). When we visited, most of the cars were out and about.

Hong Kong Harbour

Hong Kong's Harbour, as seen from the top of the Conrad Hilton building. Kowloon is across the water.


Mooncakes are strange pastries gifted in southern China, Hong Kong, and Macau, during the Mid Autumn Festival. The dough and crust are lovely, and typical flavors include red bean and lotus seed paste. So far, so good. This one, acquired at a recommended bakery in Kowloon, has two salted duck eggs inside, which don't quite complement the rest of it. Perhaps it is an acquired taste?

Cathay Pacific First Class

Krug champagne, proper caviar with a mother of pearl spoon, and a wonderfully comfortable seat combine to make Cathay Pacific's First Class truly special. Sadly, only a few days following this flight, Cathay retired their Boeing 747-400s from transpacific service. Being tucked into the nose on the lower deck of a jumbo jet with the pilots above you is a memorable experience worth pursuing.

Half Moon Bay

Half Moon Bay sits west of Silicon Valley, facing the Pacific. It sees regular coastal fog and dramatic sunsets. The unusual green is from an irrigated golf coast -- native flora would be a lot more dry and scrubby.


Sandpipers race up and down the shore, daring incoming waves to catch them. Their wee feet work very fast indeed, and they flock so that their motions are almost completely synchronized.

Their food must be at its most delicious when it's as far out to sea as possible.

Backyard Champagne

As the tomato crop comes in, we thought we'd enjoy a few bubbles. The visit to Champagne was inspiring, and we had a lovely tipple over some pre-dinner snacks.

Hops and Beer

Last year's hops are being enjoyed now as a glass of beer, as this year's hops begin to fruit.


Beet crop

This year's beet crop was quite varied, with golden, cylindrical, and striped varieties all growing nicely.

Their tastes and textures are all completely different.

Bridge Counterweight, Leiden

The counterweight for the lift bridge Haagsche Schouwbrug outside of Leiden is striking here at dusk.

Every piece of infrastructure in the country seems optimized for travel by water or by bicycle.

Dutch Agriculture

Much of the horticulture in Holland revolves around flowers: tulips, gladiolus, roses. This is the grounds of an agricultural college where there are rows and rows of test beds of baby's breath (Gypsophila).  I never knew you could have them in pink, or with such a variety of flower types.


The Maeslantkering is a movable barrier built to protect Dutch ports and waterways from occasional storm surges. Due to the extreme lack of elevation in Holland, the only better view of it would be from the air.


This is where the bubbles are born! Outside Ă‰pernay, the hillock of Mutigny is striped with vines owned by the champagne houses of Moet, Bollinger, Laurent-Perrier, and other less recognizable names.

Reims Cathedral

The front of the cathedral in Reims is ridiculously ornate, but the inside is lovely too. It was fully reconstructed following substantial damage in WWI.

Brasserie des Fagnes

The Brasserie des Fagnes is a wonderful roadside brewery and restaurant in southern Belgium. The beer was tasty, the food was delicious, and our hosts were welcoming. I inquired about the interesting porcelain beer mug, and was presented with one to take home!

Geants of Charleroi

The Geants of Charleroi in Belgium have been making annual parades through town for many years. Each has a profession and life story. They are made of wicker, are perhaps 4 meters high, and weigh about 50 pounds each.

Vimy Craters

Most of the hundred hectares of land around Vimy that France granted "freely and for all time" for recognition of the Canadian war effort remains pocked with mine craters.  Many groves of pine trees have been planted, but the intent was to leave the contour of the land as it was in 1917.

It must be an exhausting chore keeping the grass trim with that sort of topograpy.

Vimy Ridge Monument

Vimy Ridge hosts a spectacular WWI monument dedicated to the Canadian dead of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. It is sited prominently on a ridge of strategic importance; before the Canadians arrived, perhaps 150,000 French soldiers died in the area.

Arras Townhouses

The two central squares in Arras are lined with gorgeous townhouses having consistent Flemish baroque facades. They were wrecked along with much of the rest of France in WWI, and rebuilt nicely in the same style.

Richard Serra's Tilted Spheres

Richard Serra's Tilted Spheres is a spectacular and well-built piece of art in YYZ's Terminal 1. The acoustic properties of the interior are quite odd, as sound is focused from unexpected sources. Serra's other works of this sort include Wake in Seattle, and Band in Los Angeles.