The “Faraway Nearby” might seem an oxymoron but it’s not. How far do you need to go to be a ‘traveler,’ anyway? What’s the distance needed to find a foreign-to-you vista worth a selfie?
Not far, is the answer for Kamloops Photo Arts Club (KPAC) members. Each year the club selects a location within a few hours’ driving distance of home for their ‘Weekend Away.’ Usually it’s a place they’d drive right through, but for the three-day weekend it is on-the-ground exploration with their cameras.
The Faraway Nearby could be the perfect travel solution given today’s uncertainty choosing where to go for a vacation. You won’t need a passport, special health insurance or malaria pills. You’ll be able to forego airline schedules, weight restrictions and foreign language lessons. You’ll also be able to decide just a few days ahead of time.
Over the years the Photo Club has stayed at places such as Wells Gray Park, Riske Creek, Lillooet, Hope and Hedley. To the east they’ve spent time in Revelstoke, Three-Valley Gap and Enderby. Have you ever stopped in one of these towns long enough to play tourist?
Actually putting your feet on the sidewalk and taking a wander around town could lead to fun surprises. At the c. 1907 Baillie House in Merritt you might get coffee served right at your picnic table or have an invitation for an impromptu tour of the house to see if you can sense the ghost reputed to haunt it. In Revelstoke it might be the delight of discovering an antique ‘Show & Shine’ car show happening along with the Saturday Market. In Yale you just might find great photo ops when the museum is celebrating ‘Gold Rush Days’ with staff and volunteers dressed in period costumes. You just never know!
Packing a sense of adventure and a ‘why not?’ attitude helps. When you are on a relaxed time schedule you can take advantage of these unexpected opportunities. The journey itself is half the fun.
On one such trip, namely Farwell Canyon–a spectacular geological formation a half hour drive south of Riske Creek–the KPAC group carpooled and set off north on #5 to Little Fort. A meet-up at the High Five Diner was planned. The High Five is a retro 50’s-style café just north of the turn-off onto Hwy #24. Some of the group was so intent on turning west on #24 they missed this coffee stop so were very glad to find the viewpoint at Roche Lake had some biffies. The next rendezvous spot was the Tourist Info Centre at 100 Mile for a DIY picnic at the tables behind the Info Centre by a small lake/ wetlands. It was a perfect setting for bird photography while others were checking out the gift shop.
A bit north at 105 Mile the group had arranged to visit photographer Chris Harris’ studio. Besides his gorgeous photos of the Cariboo and Chilcotin, the studio itself is of interest being built of hay bales. Chris gave us a personal tour and then screened a video he’d created with images shot during the Wildfires of 2017 that had swept the area. It is a very moving presentation.
The studio is open to the public but Chris is often off somewhere with his camera. You can check out some of his photos at www.chrisharris.com.
We weren’t getting very far very fast, but that was ok. We weren’t in a hurry. Next stop was the architecturally stunning Tourism Discovery Centre in Williams Lake. It’s made of whole tree trunks. It is really a must see. Inside, is a museum showcasing the local ‘Cowboy/Rancher’ culture, artwork, carvings, gift shop, coffee shop and washrooms. Oh! And tourist information.
Supper was in Williams Lake before some of the group drove 47 K west on Hwy #20 to Riske Creek and our accommodation for the weekend the Historic Chilcotin Lodge. The 10-room lodge built in 1940 is perhaps the last remaining authentic ‘Frontier’ style hunting lodge in B.C. Stepping through the door you are immediately in a different time. It is like finding yourself on a movie set. There is also space on the Lodge grounds for RVs and camping and your pet pooch if it is on a leash at all times.
That was Day One. We had the next day experiencing the vast Chilcotin plateau,
Farwell Canyon, Sheep Range Junction Park and the chance to take abstract photos of charred fenders and melted glass in an auto wrecker’s yard where the intense Wildfires of 2017 had torched the vehicles but spared the house.
On the return journey, Day Three, we spent time at the Scout Lake Nature Sanctuary in Williams Lake before heading
south on Hwy #97 and checking out another geological formation at Chasm just east of Clinton. Then it was back to Kamloops via Cache Creek. It was a very full itinerary that could be done with a myriad of variations that included hiking, fishing, horseback riding, river rafting, golf, spa, barbeques or fine dining; whatever is your pleasure. Each place is an exotic location to those who don’t live there. The *faraway is very nearby.
*“The artist Georgia O’Keeffe moved to rural New Mexico, from which she would sign her letters to the people she loved “from the faraway nearby.” It was a way to measure physical and psychic geography together . . .” Rebecca Solnit, author