During late summer at some point I often make a trip to the Cariboo region of British Columbia where my parents have a cabin on one of the myriad of lakes you can find in that area. Actually, the cabin–usually referred to as a cottage back East–is more like a house, with a kitchen, bathroom, and a large bay window overlooking the water. If you like nature, the Cariboo is a great place to spend a few days, and the drive from Vancouver is incredibly scenic. True–you’re not going to find resort towns on your way, or places to shop for he latest Coach bag. Dairy Queen will probably be the classiest of the restaurant offerings. But you will find mile after mile of lush scenery driving through the mountains and along the Fraser and Thompson rivers.
Does this look like Canada to you? If you’re thinking it looks like some desert landscape, you’re right. Canada actually has two deserts–one in Southern Manitoba, the other in British Columbia’s Okanagan area, which extends into the United States and into the Sonoran Desert in Mexico. There are several other patches of land in this central area of the province that have desert-like conditions. On our drive we encountered miles upon miles of rolling hills blanketed with sagebrush and vistas that were definitely different from anything you would see heading out of Vancouver, which is geographically situated in a temperate rainforest.
The wineries, lakes, fruit picking orchards, and picturesque towns in the nearby Okanagan Valley make it a popular destination for tourists and Vancouverites wanting to leave the city behind for a long weekend, but the Cariboo offers an unbeaten path, full of rugged nature, and gold rush and pioneering history. It may be a path less traveled by Canadians, but it is hugely popular with Europeans–so much so that overheard conversations can make you feel like you’ve just landed in Germany.
I’ll be the first to admit I’m rather a city slicker. A few days in the country and I’m itching for a bookstore and an extra-hot caramel latte from Starbucks. I grew up visiting the Cariboo; the nature was background scenery, always taken for granted. But as I sat on the porch of the cabin with my family, looking at the calm blue lake with a cup of coffee in hand, I felt a deep sense of contentment, connected to something outside myself. Sometimes I get so busy that I forget that feeling exists.
The weather on the lake can go from brilliantly sunny to stormy in a heartbeat, and I could feel the whiff of early autumn in the air. I definitely saw it in the vegetation around the cabin, with the leaves already turning color and the myriad of ripe rosehip shrubs.
It’s interesting how having a camera in hand causes you to look at the details, to notice things you might not have noticed before, to appreciate color in a different way.
Sadly, I was only able to spend a few days in the Cariboo before heading back to Vancouver–which has it’s own share of natural beauty to offer. My trip was a reminder to not take that for granted.
If you are interested in finding out more of this spectacular region in British Columbia, check out some of these links: