Airshow at Night




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This year marked the 55th annual Abbotsford International Airshow. I first attended one shortly after I moved to B.C. in 1974 and have attended several times since then. When I was single we’d cram a bunch of us into a car and go together for a day. Later my wife and I took the kids to see the show every few years. But it had been over a decade since we last attended.

Now living in Abbotsford, we were sometimes entertained by mini-airshows as the jets, including the fabulous Snowbirds, sometimes roared right over our townhouse complex. But this year I really wanted to see the show right at the runway again.

The annual event runs for three days – always a Friday, Saturday and Sunday in mid-August. This year the Friday show was an evening affair, with gates opening at 3:30 PM and the show ending around 10:30 PM. We had never been to an evening airshow before, which promised some pyrotechnics as well a aerobatics, so we packed a bag with a couple of sweaters and headed out.

We bought our tickets at Save-on-Foods to save the hassle at the entrance and it’s a good idea to save money as well. Gate price per ticket was $30. At Save-on-Foods, only $25. We avoided the major crunch point by taking Townline Road to a back entrance. We were through the gates in minutes. Lots of volunteers directed traffic to the parking area.

Once inside we looked around and found one of the two runway seating areas. For an extra $10 each you could get close to front row seats. We opted to pay the extra since we hadn’t brought folding chairs or a blanket. Since it was numbered seating, we found our places, and then headed out to see the static displays.

The Abbotsford International Airshow was designated as Canada’s National Airshow by the late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. It always features both civilian and military aerobatics as well as static displays. Whether you like barnstormers in their biplanes, hang gliders, sailplanes, powerful air force jets or aerobatic teams, the Abby Airshow has it all.

The Canadian Forces Snowbirds are always a major attraction and visiting aerobatic teams are often featured as well.

On the ground we got a good look at some of the active and historical planes on display. The Americans had a couple of F-15s on display and you could go up a ramp to check out the cockpit on one of them.

Eager spectators had a chance to check out the cockpit of an F-15 Eagle at this year's airshow.
Eager spectators had a chance to check out the cockpit of an F-15 Eagle at this year’s airshow.

Also on display – a CF-18 Hornet. One decked out in special Canada 150 celebration colours would fly later in the show, but here you could sit in a simulated cockpit if you wanted. There was also a giant troop carrier, a mid-air refueling plane from the American 912th Refueling Squadron, a number of private planes – trainers and stunt planes, and a row of historic planes that included the fearsome looking Douglas A-1 Skyraider aka The Proud American.

The A-1 Douglas Skyraider
The A-1 Douglas Skyraider

The wings were folded up on the display which gave you a good look at the gatling guns and missile launchers. The plane was used by the US Marines, Navy and Air Force as well as the French Air Force and the South Vietnam Air Force from the late 1940s through the 1980s. As a prop plane it was a bit of an anachronism in the age of jets.

The only exhibit we actually entered was the Canadian Forces Sea King helicopter. This aging helicopter has been a political football for years with efforts to replace it with newer equipment being stymied again and again.

The Sea King helicopter
The Sea King helicopter

This particular Sea King first saw service in 1968 – that’s an old chopper! The crew members told us it is primarily used as a submarine spotter and also does a lot of search and rescue work. As an anti-sub craft, it is equipped with torpedoes.  And we were surprised to learn that the Sea King is capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

Janis in the jump seat beside
Janis in the jump seat beside crewman Travis Chapman.

A separate photo gallery will have more pics from the static displays.

After seeing the ground exhibits we went back to our seats for the start of the show. The Skyhawks, the Canadian Armed Forces Parachute Team, led off the show with displays of the Canadian and American flags while the anthems were sung. They followed that up with some entertaining stunt parachuting.

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Then the headline performers – the Snowbirds. These nine planes are the show closer during the daytime shows. For the evening show they were first up after the Skyhawks. I took a lot of photos and will feature a number of them in a separate photo gallery.

The Canadian Forces Snowbirds - precision flying at its best
The Canadian Forces Snowbirds – precision flying at its best

I tried filming the Snowbirds but in movie mode, my camera uses the view screen instead of the viewfinder and it was impossible to get the planes properly centered with the glare reflecting off the screen. But I did film them in 2004 which I’ve linked below.

After the Snowbirds, we were entertained by the Heritage Flight, four fighter planes from four eras strutting their stuff, individually and together. They included the P-51 Mustang which saw duty in WWII and Korea. The F-86 Sabre was the first swept-wing jet fighter and was used in high-speed dogfights in the Korean War. It was use by the Bolivian Air Force until 1994. The F-16 Viper, also known as the Fighting Falcon, has been in production since 1976 and was used in Desert Storm. 25 different countries use the F-16. The F-35A Lightning II is the newest fighter jet, seeing service with the U.S. Marines since July 2015 and combat-ready with the U.S. Air Force since August 2016. It was the fastest jet on display and the roar of its engines as it hits the after-burners is awesome.

Heritage Flight - top to bottom - P-51 Mustang, F-86 Sabre, F-16 Viper, and F-35A Lightning II.
Heritage Flight – top to bottom – P-51 Mustang, F-86 Sabre, F-16 Viper, and F-35A Lightning II.

The Abbotsford International Airport is a working airport and business must go on, so there were a half dozen or so take-offs and landings during the show by commercial flights.

After a stunt flight by a plane called the Jelly Belly, the U.S. Air Force demonstrated the FA-18 Super Hornet, the newest model of the premier fighter in Canada’s fleet. This was followed by a flight of the CF-18 decked out in a special Canada 150 paint job. It was starting to get dark by then so you couldn’t really see the colours, but I did get the bird on video.

Because it was a night time show, the CF-18 dropped its tailhook on landing. Usually used to snag a catch cable on an aircraft carrier, the hook threw up a stream of sparks as it dragged behind on the pavement behind the plane. Quite a sight.

CF-18 decked out in Canada 150 colours drags its tailhook behind on landing creating a colourful spray of sparks.
CF-18 decked out in Canada 150 colours drags its tailhook behind on landing creating a colourful spray of sparks.

A couple of more stunt planes entertained before it got completely dark, one of them the renowned Red Bull Air Racer. I managed to get a nice video of this very maneuverable plane.

Now it was starting to get quite dark and the AeroShell Aerobatic Team took to the sky lit up by lights all around each lane. This was the debut performance of the team at the Abbotsford Airshow and they were terrific. Flying in formation has to be tough in full daylight so seeing them perform in the night sky was amazing.

AeroShell Aerobatic Team
AeroShell Aerobatic Team

Finally complete darkness gave way to Bob Carlton and his Super Salto Jet Sailplane. A sailplane powered by a jet engine – what a concept. Bob trailed fireworks behind him as well as launching more from the tips of his wings. My camera battery was almost dead but my wife got a video with her iPhone.

This was followed by Dan Buchanan with his hang glider, also streaming fireworks. Quite a sight.

Dan Buchanon's night time hang glider flight was a fireworks extravaganza.
Dan Buchanan’s night time hang glider flight was a fireworks extravaganza.

The evening was capped with a full fireworks show. All in all, a rather different take on the airshow than the daytime event. We enjoyed it a lot.

A couple of tips – it cools down considerably in the evening so bring a sweater. We were thankful we did and it was still a bit chilly. And exit where you came in. There was some disorganization when we left as there were no volunteers guiding vehicles and it was a bit of a free-for-all. Quite a traffic jam. We thought the way we came was crawling at a snail’s pace so we followed a bunch of cars going in a different direction – a bottleneck ending in a barrier. Volunteers there finally let us through, but we ended up on some back road. As Abbotsford residents, we figured out where we were, but non-residents could have become hopelessly lost. Leaving the airport was poorly organized. It’s something the airshow should fix for next year.

Speaking of next year, the airshow returns on August 10-12 in 2018. And the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels will be back for the show next year. Definitely worth seeing.

Here are some additional photo galleries and other links. if you’re on the front page of the blog you can just scroll down, otherwise click on the links.

 




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Static Display Photo Gallery




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Here are some additional photos from the static displays ate the Abbotsford International Airshow.

CF-18 Hornet
CF-18 Hornet. To the left of it is a mock-up cockpit you could try out.
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C-130 Hercules Canadian Forces Military Transport Plane
Those are very large propellers!
Those are very large propellers!
We were surprised to learn that Abbotsford's University of the Fraser valley has a
We were surprised to learn that Abbotsford’s University of the Fraser valley has an Aircraft Structures Technician program. This is their training plane.
One of the jets open for viewing on the UFV plane
One of the jets open for viewing on the UFV plane
A rather nifty looking pilot training plane.
A rather nifty looking pilot training plane – the Diamond DA42 Twin Star.
A Pitt Special stunt plane used by the Rayban
A Pitt Special stunt plane used by the Ray-Ban Gold Aerobatic Team. They were an airshow staple from 1973 to 1990. This is the team’s last remaining airworthy Pitts Special S-2B.
Refueling plane
An aerial refueling plane from the US Air Force 912th Air Refueling Squadron
The Sea King helicopter
The Sea King anti-submarine helicopter
You got to love their slogan!
You got to love their slogan!
Janis and xxx
Janis and one of the crew of the Sea King.
That's a lot of knobs!
That’s a lot of knobs and gauges!

 




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Snowbirds Photo Gallery




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Here are additional photos of the Snowbird in action.

The Snowbirds make their entrance.
The Snowbirds make their entrance.
Up up and away
Up up and away
Inverted flyover
Inverted flyover
Heading right towards us
Heading right towards us

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Start of the starburst
Start of the starburst
Triple crossover
Triple crossover

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Up for the rollover
Up for the rollover

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The Snowbirds were undoubtedly the highlight of the Abbotsford Airshow. Simply amazing.




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Historic Powell River




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A couple of weeks ago Janis and I visited our friends Paul and Cheryl for the weekend. They recently retired to Powell River, though Cheryl still telecommutes. A lot of people think the Sunshine Coast is just the Sechelt Peninsula, but that’s only about half of it. It actually extends all the way to Lund, about a half hour north of Powell River. When you take the ferry from Earl’s Cove, there’s a big sign greeting you at Saltery Bay that says, “Welcome dude, you’ve like totally made it up to the Top of the Sunshine Coast!” Yeah, the Sunshine Coast is pretty laid back, dude!

Hey dude!
Hey dude!

To get there from Vancouver, you need to take the Langdale Ferry from Horseshoe Bay. The Sechelt is isolated and you can only get there and back by ferry, so when you go, you’re buying a return ticket. You don’t have to buy a ticket to go back to the mainland. At Langdale, you drive up the peninsula to Earl’s Cove and then the ferry hop to Saltery Bay.  Here’s a money-saving tip. Buy an Experience Card online from B.C. Ferries. It gets you discounted rates on many of the ferries plying the coast, including the ones to and from the Sechelt.

Powell River is about 28 kilometres from Saltery Bay, a half hour drive. It’s an old mill town which has done much to preserve some of its history. The mill was built in 1908 and the company town in 1910. The mill was, at one time, the largest pulp and paper mill in the world. But the mill has seen better days and is a shadow of its former self, though still operating.  Our hosts told us that the average age in Powell River is eight years higher than the provincial average as so many people have moved away to find work. And many seniors are finding it an attractive place to retire.

The Powell River Mill and the Hulks
The Powell River Mill and the Hulks

There is a lookout along the highway that offers a panoramic view of the mill and the Incredible Hulks. The hulks are a collection of old concrete ships that have been chained together to form a breakwater. An information board tells us that the hulks have been a feature of the waterfront since 1930. “Over the years, 19 ships built of wood, steel and reinforced concrete have been brought to Powell River for use in the breakwater. (They) were built for use in the 1st and 2nd World Wars when there was a shortage of plate steel for ships construction.” They were unable to compete with steel ships when peace arrived.

One of the hulks. Picture courtesy Paul Miniato
One of the hulks. Picture courtesy Paul Miniato

The old historic townsite has been designated a National Historic District “with over 400 original buildings contained within the original borders of the 1910 town plan.” Our hosts took us for a casual drive through the old town and pointed out many of its historic buildings. I’ll include most of them in a separate photo gallery and there is a link at the end of the article to the townsite’s website. Here I’ll focus on one particular building, the Patricia Theatre.

The historic Patricia Theatre
The historic Patricia Theatre

The Patricia was originally at the location where the Cenotaph is today. Built in 1913, it featured silent films with live piano accompaniment. The actors John Barrymore and Delores Costello visited the theatre in person in the 1920s.  In 1928, it was relocated to a new building, the current one shown in the picture above. Still operating today, it is the oldest continuously operating movie theatre in Canada.

Paul, Cheryl, Janis and I attended a movie showing (Florence Foster Jenkins starring Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant) and I wish I had brought my camera. The interior is amazing with large mural panels and an old style feel to the place. The projection equipment was modernized to run digital movies at a cost of $90,000 in 2012, funds raised by volunteers of the historical society.  You can see more pictures at the theatre’s official website, linked at the end of this article.

Some of the carefully maintained residences of the historic townsite.
Some of the carefully maintained homes of the historic townsite. These larger ones on the main drag belonged to mill executives and management originally.

Powell River abounds in hiking and nature trails as well. One easily accessible trail is the Willingdon Beach Trail just off Marine Avenue. The trail used to be a logging road and it is now a walking trail and an outdoor museum. All along the trail are logging artifacts of a bygone era, each with signs explaining what we see.

Steam donkey
Steam donkey dating from the 1920s.

The pièce de résistance is a steam donkey that the Powell River Forestry Museum Society managed to retrieve from a ridge north of Haywire Bay on Powell Lake. The society preserved it and moved it by helicopter to the Willingdon Beach Trail in 2001-2002. The steam donkey is a steam-powered winch or logging engine. This particular one is #357 built by the Empire Manufacturing Company in 1920 and used into the 1960s.

Tree growing out of an old stump.
Tree growing out of an old stump.

Not only are there a lot of logging artifacts, the flora along the trail are a great example of how the forest renews itself. Heavily logged at one time, you’ll find many trees growing out of the stumps of long gone  brethren.

At the head of the trail is a sign telling you that you can get an audio guide on your cellphone by visiting Project Art Zoundzones. Just click on the link for the Willingdon Beach Trail.

This is just one of four city trails, each two kilometres or less. The others are the Willingdon Creek Trail, the Sea Walk Trail and the Valentine Mountain Trail. But for the serious hiker, there are many more.

Inland Lake Trail is a beautiful 13 kilometre walking path around the lake. The trail is well groomed and maintained and hugs the shoreline. At some points it goes out over the water along boardwalks.  And it is remote enough to be away from the noise and traffic of the city.

Janis and Cheryl walking along the Inland Lake Trail.
Janis and Cheryl walking along the Inland Lake Trail. This is one of several boardwalks along the trail which circumnavigates the lake.

There are always a number of activities going on in Powell River, especially on the weekends, including a regular farmers market. The city itself is much larger than in the company town days as a number of towns and villages were incorporated into the city. One has the colorful name of Cranberry.

One day our hosts took us to Lund 24 kilometres up the road. Along the way we visited the Okeover Inlet Marina, a very picturesque spot. On a ridge above the marina is the Laughing Oyster Restaurant, a fine dining experience with a magnificent view. Alongside the dock you’ll find many of the tiny jellyfish common in coastal B.C. waters.

Cheryl, Janis and Paul at the Okeover Inlet Marina
Cheryl, Janis and Paul at the Okeover Inlet Marina

Lund is a small coastal village with a fair size marina, several restaurants, a hotel and several shops including an art gallery gift shop. It is also the beginning of Highway 101, also known as the Pacific Coastal Route. This highway network runs 15,202 kilometres to Quellon, Poro Monte, Chile, one of the longest roadways in the world.

Mile 0 Marker of the Pacific Coastal Highway.
Mile 0 Marker of the Pacific Coastal Highway.

Lund was founded by a Swede named Charlie Thulin in 1889. He called it Lund after a place in Sweden. Today the town also serves as the home of the Savary Island Water Taxi. It is a passenger only ferry. All cars on Savary were barged in. Savary Island is itself worth a visit. We were there back in the 1990s. But that is a topic for another post.

Panoramic shot of Lund harbour.
Panoramic shot of Lund harbour.

On Sunday evening, our last night before heading back Monday morning, we went for dinner to a nice little place on the south end of town called the Savoury Bight Seaside Restaurant. In front of the restaurant is a magnificent wooden sculpture of a giant lobster eating the tentacle of an octopus. It was carved by chainsaw at a logging show a while back.

The Savoury Bight lobster.
The Savoury Bight lobster.

Dinner was served on an outdoor patio which proffered a view of a magnificent sunset while we ate. The food was pretty good too.

Sunset from the patio of the Savoury Bight Restaurant.
Sunset from the patio of the Savoury Bight Restaurant.

The Sunshine Coast from Saltery Bay to Lund offers plenty for the visitor, whether it is the historic aspects of the area or the many natural wonders to take in. It is a hiker’s and camper’s dream with facilities along Powell and other lakes and along the coast. There is a lot to do there.

Be sure to check out the additional photo galleries linked below as well as some significant websites you’ll find useful. Click on the links for the photo galleries or scroll on down if you are on the main page.


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Photo Gallery: Additional Photos of Powell River and the Northern Sunshine Coast




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Here are some additional pictures in and around Powell River and the northern Sunshine Coast.

This sign shows the hulks currently forming the breakwater.
This sign shows the hulks currently forming the breakwater.
Nice closeup of one of the hulks. Photo courtesy Kathy Lowther.
Nice closeup of one of the hulks. Photo courtesy Kathy Lowther.
Inland Lake
Inland Lake
Boardwalk along Inland Lake
Boardwalk along Inland Lake
Inland Lake is a western toad habitat.
Inland Lake is a western toad habitat.
Some of the frogs in the area are not native here and prey on the young toadlets.
Some of the frogs in the area are not native here and prey on the young toadlets.
Another scenic shot of Inland Lake.
Another scenic shot of Inland Lake.
Across from Willingdon Beach is Putters Mini-Golf and Ice Cream Stand. I rather liked the Edvard Munchian blackboard. I ordered a double scooper. I'd like to see one of those Honkers though! Four scoops! Yikes!
Across from Willingdon Beach is Putters Mini-Golf and Ice Cream Stand. I rather liked the Edvard Munchian blackboard. I ordered a double scooper. I’d like to see one of those Honkers though! Four scoops! Yikes!
Okeover Inlet Marina
Okeover Inlet Marina
Looking up at the Laughing Oyster Restaurant on the ridge above.
Looking up at the Laughing Oyster Restaurant on the ridge above.
Okeover Inlet Marina
Okeover Inlet Marina
The hotel at Lund
The hotel at Lund
Nancy's Bakery in Lund. We had a light lunch here.
Nancy’s Bakery in Lund. We had a light lunch here.
Lund Marina
Lund Marina


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Mmmm! An Alluring Bouquet!




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Wine talk is lost on most people. Mention of nose and palate can be Greek to the average wine drinker. Knowledge of wines takes some time and study. I confess to knowing very little about wines except a very subjective, “Mmmm that tastes good,” or “Nah!  Don’t care for that one.”

But after a visit to the Averill Creek Vineyard on Vancouver Island in June, I know a little more than I did before.

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Sitting along the side of Mt. Prevost, the winery commands an excellent view of the Cowichan Valley.

The winery is located just north of Duncan. Take Highway 1 to Cowichan Valley Highway which is also Highway 18, and head north. Turn right at N Road followed by a left at North Road which is a gravel road. There is a large sign so you should find it easily enough. It’s a windy gravel road which takes you up the mountainside to the winery. There is a gate at the entrance which is opened by entering a code on a keypad. The code is shown on a sign so it is meant to keep deer out, not people.

Averill Creek encompasses 32 acres of vines as well as three buildings adjacent to each other and staggered up the hillside. This allows the wines to flow from one stage to the next entirely by gravity without pumps.

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The Barrel Room – the wine arrives here by gravity – no pumping.

When we arrived, our charming hostess Stephanie laid out four glasses for us and we sampled our first, a nice blend of Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir called Charme de L’ile. As she poured samples, Stephanie talked about the winery and the wines.

Averill Creek, she told us, was a true estate winery. All grapes used are grown on the property. None are imported. They are hand-picked and they often employ local aboriginals as pickers.

As we sampled some more wines, she interrupted her talk when she noticed a hummingbird had flown in through the doorway. It was disoriented and sitting behind a wine barrel by the window. If I had known what she was going to do, I would have had my camera ready. She approached the fallen bird and rather than just shooing it out the door, she knelt down and gently picked it up in her hands, walked outside and let it go. Bird whisperer!

Now Stephanie brought out four more glasses, larger, wider glasses. Snifters specially designed to drink Pinot Noir.

Stephanie pours some wine for us to savour.
Stephanie pours some pinot noir into the special pinot noir glasses.

She first had us sniff the wine in the large glass. On the website, the aroma is describe thus: “Our Pinot Noir opens with an alluring bouquet of dark berries & violets, leather & butterscotch.” It smelled good. Good nose, as they say.

Next she poured some into the regular wine glass and had us take a whiff. Nothing. The scent was barely perceptible.

Now she had us taste the pinot in the pinot glass. It had a pleasant flavour, rich and fruity. Then she had us taste it in the regular glass. It tasted bitter. Not pleasant. And so we were schooled in the art of drinking pinot noir. It needs to be served in a snifter so the aroma can reach the nose. And it needs to be drunk from this glass.

She explained that the nature of the glass was such that the wine flowed to the back and center of the tongue, enhancing the flavour. If you drink it from a regular glass, the wine flow to the sides of the tongue, a different taste center. And the bouquet is not allowed to enhance the flavour. Both a nose and palate are needed to appreciate the full flavour. I have never been a fan of red wine. Maybe I should drink it in a different glass!

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We were so impressed by Stephanie’s knowledge of wines and the wines we sampled that we bought some to take home.

We bought some wine, including some to drink right away on their beautiful patio garden. A nice cheese platter added to the experience.

The patio garden
The patio garden

Our table offered an excellent view of the valley below.

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Looking out on the Cowichan Valley from the winery’s patio garden.

The patio had many planters in full bloom a well as bowers of flowers. They attracted a good number of butterflies, adding to the charm of the place.

A beautiful rose in the patio garden.
A beautiful rose in the patio garden.
And a colorful butterfly.
And a colourful butterfly.

We enjoyed our little repast in the sunshine and then the friends we were visiting took us to the ferry for our trip home, glad we had made the stop at Averill Creek. I’ll end this post with some additional photographs of our visit.

Janis and Sheila share a toast.
Janis and Sheila share a toast.
The winery from the parking lot.
The winery from the parking lot.
Racks of wine ready for sale.
Racks of wine ready for sale.
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This kit includes the wines needed and a recipe for sangria.
We saunter up to the bar for some serious wine tasting.
We saunter up to the bar for some serious wine tasting.
The three buildings of the winery seen from the patio.
The three buildings of the winery seen from the patio.
We thought this arch led to some more vineyards. Actually it's a path to some washrooms.
We thought this arch led to some more vineyards. Actually it’s a path to some washrooms.
Another view of the patio
Another view of the patio
Looking out over the parking lot and the valley from the patio garden
Looking out over the parking lot and the valley from the patio garden

 




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The Historic Kinsol Trestle




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If you’re a railroad buff and visiting Vancouver Island, you might want to check out the historic Kinsol Trestle. It is a restored railroad trestle on the old abandoned CN Rail line and now part of the Trans Canada Trail.

The trestle is truly a marvel to see. The largest railroad trestle in the British Commonwealth and one of the largest in the world, it stands 145 feet above the Koksilah River with a span of 614 feet (0.187 km). It is also notable for its seven degree curve.

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The Kinsol Trestle is the largest railroad trestle in the British Empire and one of the largest in the world.

It is fairly easy to get to – just 48 kilometres from Victoria, British Columbia, about an hour drive. Head north up the Malahat Highway and turn off onto Shawnigan Lake Road. We were staying with friends in Cobble Hill when we went and it’s a short thirteeen kilometres from there, also along Shawnigan Lake Road which forms a big arc beginning and ending on the Malahat. That route will take you right past Shawnigan Lake School, the world renowned private school. The trestle is just seven kilometres from the school.

Work on the original Kinsol Trestle began in 1914 but was halted due to World War I. Work resumed late in 1919 and the twelve story structure was completed in 1920. It served mainly as an industrial road carrying timber and other materials. Although it crosses the Koksilah River, its name is actually a portmanteau of the King Solomon copper mine which operated near by. It is also called Koksilah River Bridge.

Modern timber train crossing the trestle. The last crossing was in June 1979.
Modern timber train crossing the trestle. The last crossing was in June 1979.

The rare passenger train crossing the trestle included 1954 excursion from Victoria to the Cowichan Valley carrying a load of railroad enthusiasts attending the national Model Railway Convention. The train stopped there on that occasion so the rail buffs could get out and take pictures.

A rare crossing of the trestle by a passenger train. This one was filled with model railroad enthusiasts.
A rare crossing of the trestle by a passenger train. This one was filled with model railroad enthusiasts.

The last train crossed in the summer of 1979 and the bridge then fell into disrepair. In 2008, after lobbying from various historical societies, three levels of government and a private trust combined resources to rehabilitate the landmark bridge. It reopened in 2011 as part of the Trans-Canada Trail.

Now the trestle is part of the Trans canada Trail. Tracks have been replaced by a boardwalk.
Now the trestle is part of the Trans Canada Trail. Tracks have been replaced by a boardwalk.

From the parking lot, the trestle is a short hike along the abandoned rail line, now part of the trail. The walk is fairly flat.

At the trestle, you can go down to a lookout on the south side, or hike right down to the bottom on the far side. As high as a twelve story building, it is most impressive.

Looking up at the trestle from below
Looking up at the trestle from below

We spent a good hour at the trestle and then continued with a visit to Cowichan Bay, a quaint little seaside town of houseboats, fishboats and artisan shops. I’ll write about that in a future post!

Click on the link below for additional photos, or if you are on the home page, just scroll down.

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Photo Gallery: The Kinsol Trestle




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Here are some additional photos of the Kinsol Trestle.

The Kinsol Trestle spans a salmon spawning river in rural Vancouver Island.
The Kinsol Trestle spans a salmon spawning river in rural Vancouver Island.
Looking down at the river below from the top of the bridge
Looking down at the river below from the top of the bridge
The Koksilah River
The Koksilah River
The Kinsol Trestle
The Kinsol Trestle
The trestle is a truly massive structure, one of the largest trestles in the world.
The trestle is a truly massive structure, one of the largest trestles in the world.
Janis and Sheila under the trestle.
Janis and Sheila under the trestle.
The bottom of the trestle
The bottom of the trestle
Looking straight up from below.
Looking straight up from below.
The lower part of the span that crosses the river.
The lower part of the span that crosses the river.
The Kinsol Trestle
The Kinsol Trestle
Photo of old train crossing the trestle.
Photo of old train crossing the trestle.
One last look at the Kinsol Trestle
One last look at the Kinsol Trestle




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Abbotsford Tulip Festival




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The annual Skagit Valley Tulip Festival south of the line in Mount Vernon, Washington has been a huge annual event for years. Now a local Abbotsford farm has created the Abbotsford Tulip Festival, also running throughout the month of April. Last Friday my wife and I decided to check it out.

Compared to the Skagit event which comprises many farms and covers 300 acres, the Abbotsford event is a small affair – around ten acres. And there is an admission charge of $5 a person. Nevertheless, we had an enjoyable visit and it is worth checking out if you want to see fields of tulips but don’t want to travel to the USA to see them.

A blaze of colour in the Fraser Valley!
A blaze of colour in the Fraser Valley!

The farm is on the North Parallel Road in eastern Abbotsford, just past Castle Fun Park. Just take the Whatcom Road exit of Highway # 1, head north cross the highway and immediately turn right onto the North Parallel Road. It is just up the road a bit.

There is plenty of parking on a gravel covered lot. Admission includes parking. Near the parking lot is a large tent with picnic tables, a bank of porta-potties, and a collection of amusements for children including rubber duck races, bean bag toss and tetherball.

Picnic tables vovered by a large tent as well as amusements for children make up some of the facilities.
Picnic tables covered by a large tent as well as amusements for children make up some of the facilities.

From this staging area, you walk along a woodchip covered path to the tulip fields. Along the way you pass crates of tulips of different varieties. There are also a lot of park benches along the way.

Along the woodchip covered walk to the fields are containers with different varieties of tulips.
Along the woodchip covered walk to the fields are containers with different varieties of tulips.

A short jaunt and you’re at the fields. They cover ten acres that are visible from the highway. Mount Baker serves as an attractive back drop to the south while Sumas Mountain forms a backdrop to the north.

Mount Baker forms a great backdrop to the tulip fields.
Mount Baker forms a great backdrop to the tulip fields.

We walked along the figure eight walking path through the fields admiring the many different varieties of bulbs. Most were blooming though there were a number of rows not yet in bloom.

Most of the blooms were out when we were there on April 8th, but some. like those in the foreground, had yet to blossom.
Most of the blooms were out when we were there on April 8th, but some. like those in the foreground, had yet to blossom.

In any event, pictures tell a better story than words so I’ll just end with a collection of photos. If you’re in the greater Vancouver area, just head east on Highway # 1 to the Whatcom Road exit. If you’re a flower lover, it’s worth the trip. Check out their website, Abbotsford Tulip Festival, for more.

Close-up of one of the myriads of tulips in bloom.
Close-up of one of the myriads of tulips in bloom.
Many vibrant colours are a feast for the eyes.
Many vibrant colours are a feast for the eyes.
These are Margarita Tulips, a bit of a different shape for a tulip blossom.
These are Margarita Tulips, a bit of a different shape for a tulip blossom.
Janis sitting on one of the many benches, surveys the flowers as well as Mount Baker.
Janis, sitting on one of the many benches, surveys the flowers as well as Mount Baker.
Beautiful Mount Baker just south of the border.
Beautiful Mount Baker just south of the border.
Gorgeous reds and yellows.
Gorgeous reds and yellows.
And purples and pinks!
And purples and pinks!
Gorgeous red tulips.
Gorgeous red tulips.
We will undoubtedly check out the Abbotsford Tulip Festival again next year!
We will undoubtedly check out the Abbotsford Tulip Festival again next year!




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