Friday, April 17, 2009

Easter 2009 - End of inaugural trip.

By 10:00 am we were on the road again, heading north towards Penticton in beautiful sunshine.
Since it was such a nice day we decided to chance the Connector, the road report we had heard earlier had said it was bare with a few slushy sections, and this proved to be the case. The Connector goes through such high areas that the weather at the top can be very different from that in either Kelowna or Merritt, the two places it 'connects'. It was obvious that there had been quite the snowfall the previous day or night and it would not have been a good time to be traveling, but by Monday morning the roads were pretty much clear except for a stretch a kilometer or so long where there was still slush on the road.

As we approached Merritt, where the 'Connector' joins the Coquilla Highway, the signs warned of compact snow south of Merritt and it looked very 'black' in that direction so we decided to not take the chance and figured we would head home via the Nicola Valley out to Spences Bridge and down the Fraser Canyon, as this is a lower route. While Ernie was picking up a burger I took this picture of a male House Sparrow. Birders aren't supposed to be impressed with House Sparrows, they are an introduced species and known to hang around places like fast food restaurants, but hey, they are birds, it's not their fault they are here and in fact are apparently in trouble in their native England....besides, they are notoriously difficult to get a decent picture of.

After a quick lunch we headed out the Nicola Valley until we reached this Recreation Site, at Lower Nicola. Recreation Sites are often located in really beautiful areas but because they are unregulated, they tend to be occupied by people who enjoy the outdoors by tearing it up with quads and dirt bikes and have little regard for the surroundings or others also trying to enjoy the area, hence we look forward to the time that we can enjoy such sites during the week and in the off season and avoid them the rest of the time.

Most of the weekend visitors had already pulled out when we arrived and I was delighted to find the area carpeted with early Sagebrush Buttercups.

The above view is of the Nicola River, looking in a southerly direction, towards Merritt.

This view, taken from the same spot, is looking northwards towards Spences Bridge. Shantz was enjoying this last vestige of last winters snow - she was sure there was something down there!

Back to my Sagebrush Buttercups - one of my favorite flowers, just because they are the first thing to flower in the dry open grassland areas of the province that I also love. Note these ones growing amongst the cactus.

A closer view of Sagebrush Buttercups.......

and closer yet!

Buttercups weren't the only flowers - there were a number of these 'Yellow Bells', another early flower found in the interior grasslands. The 'bells' start out yellow and then turn to orange as the flower ages.

In another area there were a lot of these 'Woodland Stars' or 'Fringe Cups' another early wildflower.

and finally these little pink flowers that I can't find in my reference book - possibly a type of Rockcress????
After getting my fill of wildflower pictures, it was back on the road until we reached another spot, this one not even a Recreation site, but a spot where people do camp, also beside the Nicola River. Note that we are into really dry 'sagebrush' country here as this isn't very far from Spences Bridge.

The river, looking towards Spences Bridge.

More Sagebrush Buttercups here - growing amongst - what else - but Sagebrush!

And one final view of these Sagebrush Buttercups, before hitting the main highway and heading home.

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