Ric was born and raised in Pine Bluff, Arkansas and his family belong to a conservative Christian denomination. Therefore, they are not that much open to understanding - and accepting - sexual minorities. However, as Ric and I were/are in love with each other, we needed to meet and to understand our birth families. As you may remember, we met late in January, 2001 and, as Thanksgiving is the big family gathering time in the US, he suggested that we visit Kamloops - the home of my youngest sister and just over an hour of driving from where my oldest sister lives - and he suggested that we go there for the Canadian Thanksgiving. It had been nearly 20 years since I had seen them - and they me. Already he had met two of my nieces in the MSN Messenger chat room. However, he was unsure as to how he would be received.
My sister, Babs Gibson, lives in an apartment in the north end of Kamloops, Her oldest daughter, Darlene, lives nearby while the youngest, Teri, is married and she and her family lived on the east side of town by the banks of the North Thompson River. We could have stayed there but Ric felt more comfortable staying in a room in one of Kamloops' older hotels. Ric's flight up to Vancouver from San Francisco was delayed so, while he made the connection to the small regional aircraft, his luggage did not. They did not arrive at the hotel until the next day.
My nieces met us at the airport and took us to their mother's apartment where my other sister - Alda - her husband and youngest granddaughter were waiting. It was so good to see them! My brother-in-law, Leo, was in poor health so he went to lie down while the rest of us visited. Darlene and I were sitting in the living room chatting and, while I could hear the voices of others, I had no idea as to where they were. Ric explained later - my sisters and Teri had cornered him in the kitchen and were giving him 'The Third Degree"! He need not to have worried - they fell in love with him as much as I had!
We were there from Saturday afternoon until Monday morning and I wondered what we would be doing Sunday afternoon? This was mid-October and the salmon were 'running' in the local waterways - they were making their way home to where they had hatched in order to lay eggs and then die. One of the most famous of these 'runs' is in the Adams River east of Kamloops. As that was touted as quite a tourist attraction I thought that that was where Darlene would be taking us.
Her reaction? "Who the heck wants to see stinking dead fish?" She had other plans - a waterfall. While I am familiar with much of B.C. I am not at all familiar with what lies off of the main highways in the Central area so I had never heard of Helmcken nor Dawson Falls on the Murtle River.
We drove north from Kamloops on Highway 5 - the Yellowhead Route - and drove and drove and drove. Darlene had completely forgotten where the community of Clearwater was located so she sailed right on by for at least 100 miles - a distance which had to be retraced. Upon returning to Clearwater we went into the roadside cafe for something to eat. The eating phenomena - which had been developed in Drummondville, Quebec - had migrated west and was served at that cafe. This was 'poutine' which consists of french-fried potatoes covered with gravy and then by melted cheese curds. As Ric loves anything cheesy he enjoyed that - and had the opportunity of eating the same food - prepared more authentically - on a trip to Ottawa a year later.
After eating. we continued up the Clearwater Valley to the top and then to the Murtle River where Darlene pulled into a parking lot. A few feet below the lot was a viewing platform and what I saw was awesome. Not long behind us came a German tourist who volunteered to take the next photo.
The bottom of those Falls
Leaving there Darlene drove about half a mile back down the road and then pulled into a lay-by. From there a trail led towards the sound of running water.
After a 100 yards or so we came out of the woods to see Dawson Falls
A wonderful afternoon of mountain scenery and white water - then the rush back to Kamloops in time for dinner!
I will continue my Kamloops stories in another blog.