Thursday, June 30, 2011

Back in Time to Barkerville

I had barely got home from Alaska and two days later I found myself on a road trip with my 'sisters.' I knew this was coming but still felt like I needed a little time to catch my breath. No such luck! Every year I take a trip with my friends. We call ourselves the Seven Sisters though, sadly, there is rarely a time when all seven of us manage to get together anymore. Last year we went to Disneyland (incredible) and this year we thought we'd try for something completely different. Barkerville, British Columbia.

Billy Barker
In 1862, Billy Barker came down the Williams Creek valley from the town of Richfield in search of a rich strike. After digging through 42 feet of hard clay he found the richest strike to date in August of 1862. After spending the winter of that year in Victoria, Barker returned to his claim in the spring only to find that an entire town had been built around it and was named in his honour. Barkerville had been born!

The wonderful thing about Barkerville is that that same excitement (read 'gold fever') and historical accuracy have been painstakingly preserved to this day. Over 100 of the buildings are original and many are standing in the same spot they were built. Townspeople wander about, seemingly oblivious that you are from a completely different timeline. A hurdy-gurdy girl told us that contrary to what we had heard "she didn't do that sort of thing" and a wobbly lawyer weaved down the street in front of us after one too many visits to the "apothecary." At least he never forgot to tip his hat. To really enjoy Barkerville here's my advice. Just let yourself be transported back in time.

For those of us who live in the Fraser Valley, a trip to Barkerville means travelling up the Fraser Canyon. It is one of my favourite road trips. After you pass through the historic town of Yale you can almost feel a palpable change. Time slows down just a teensy bit and the history envelopes you as you travel along the same road that so many went on before, risking their lives for that one thing. Gold.

Now, almost 150 years later, we whiz along in the comfort of our automobile. It doesn't take long and you go through the first of seven tunnels. Do you know the names of the tunnels off by heart? Thanks to my father, the school teacher, I do. I've tried to make my friends memorize them but they don't seem very interested. Not sure why but since this is my blog I'm going to recite them for you. They are (from south to north)...Yale, Saddle Rock, Sailor Bar, Alexandra, Hell's Gate, Ferrabee and China Bar (the longest).

the 8th tunnel

It is at the Hell's Gate tunnel that we make one of our first stops. Did you know that there is an 8th tunnel? I didn't either until we went to look for GC29TEX - what a wonderful surprise that was! If you're travelling and caching up the Fraser Canyon this is one cache that I highly recommend.

The Sisters at the Kelly House

There are far too many wonderful spots to explore and caches to find along the Fraser Canyon to list in one blog entry so instead I will recommend two excellent books you should have for a trip like this... especially if you're a geocacher. The first one is Gold Country's "GeoTourism Adventures" and the 2nd is New Pathways to Gold's "Chasing the Golden Butterfly." We love them both, especially when someone reads them aloud to us while we're driving! 

When we arrive in Barkerville we are pretty excited because, months ago, we booked the "Kelly House" as our accomodation. A Bed & Breakfast right in the heart of Barkerville means that we can explore to our heart's content and go back whenever we want - to rest, to eat or for a glass of wine! Not only is it convenient but the back-in-time illusion continues with feather beds (honestly, the best sleep I've had in a long time), clawfoot tubs, no TVs & a Cariboo breakfast every morning. Because there was no TV we read aloud in the parlour every night from "Cariboo Runaway." Great story. 

We spent three days exploring Barkerville and yes, you can and you should spend at least that many days there. We took the Barkerville Cemetery tour, panned for gold, took the Barkerville town tour, took the Chinatown tour, visited with an archaeologist, hiked to the Richfield courthouse, rode on a stagecoach and of course, got our portrait taken at Louis A Blanc Photographic Gallery. We found all seven caches around Barkerville and they're all great and well done. My favourite though was GC12A7A because, in order to log this cache, you need to watch the Cornish Waterwheel show.. one of the best shows in Barkerville!

After a wonderful three days it was time to road-trip home. We drive south, through Spences Bridge, Lytton and Boston Bar and then, before we know it, the familiar Fraser Valley farmland stretches before us. We're home. It is good to be home again but we know that life is going to speed up any minute now. The illusion was wonderful while it lasted.

1 comment:

Eddie said...

I agree...driving the Canyon is one of my favourite summer road trips too! Will be doing a geocaching road trip in the next few weeks with two of my brothers; plan on taking them up into Gold Country as they haven't been that way yet. Won't go as far as Barkerville but we will be following in your footsteps.