Monday, January 28, 2008, 02:17 PMBy day two of our Rocky Mountaineer Train Tour we had if not spoken to, got to know who was in our carriage. So it was on day 2 not long after the train pulled out of Kamloops on the journey to Jasper I first noticed there appeared a stranger on the train. I could see him sitting at the rear of our carriage. He was not dressed like a tourist he was dressed more in a "normal" sort of way, he was an elderly gentleman who appeared of a friendly disposition as his face showing over the seat headrests held a welcoming smile.
We had the day earlier boarded our train in Vancouver British Columbia Canada to begin this adventure into the Rocky Mountains. We traveled out from the city along the edge of the rich flood plain of the Fraser River where for thousands of years flood deposits enriched this soil now many 100's of Metres deep into a picturesque scene of Dairies & Berry Farms. This scenery had changed quickly into one of lush growth derived of increased rainfall from a coastal region striking a mountainous area.
Polished Staff set about their business of making the journey as comfortable as possible with all sorts of lovely treats. Nada was no exception in catering to everyones needs.
The train had in a short while hugged the river side as it became apparent we were entering a narrowing valley. This valley became ever narrower with towering snow capped peaks that would come into view over the passing treeline. Our speed had slowed as the climb began to take its toll on the power of the diesel engines, we had then passed by the narrowest point of the valley where a tremendous volume of water tumbles through.
The early explorer Fraser in passing down this river to the sea at this point made the comment "No man should ever have to pass by this way" such was the difficulty negotiating the terrain. Not long after we passed into a new area of the Rocky Mountains as it became apparent the vegetation was fast disappearing.
The mountains then took on a look of a rugged arid area & one of the train staff in a running commentary announced we were in one of the most arid areas in all of Canada.
We had passed by the remains of old Ghost Towns where one could only ponder at why folk would ever want to live there. This place though held its own beauty in colours quite different. It was an area where we had encountered long long trains going down on the other side of the river & where the road was so close to the train in places that one could see at a few metres distant wide eyed children at the window of the cars.
Our on board Commentator had pointed out to keep an eye out to the surrounding hillsides as the train neared Kamloops for the wild Mountain Sheep, so I had gone to a viewing area which are located at the end of each carriage. Here one can stand in the open air to take photos not hindered by reflections from inside the carriage windows.
If the engine driver blew the whistle it was sure that something was on the line, so one gets ready keeping eyes peeled up the hillsides. If your lucky not only will you see the sheep but get a photo as the window of opportunity to do so can be brief. Then as quickly as the area had appeared for the sheep it was past & all to soon the train had rolled on crossing over the river into Kamloops our first night stopover.
With the train now rolling towards Jasper I decided to say hello to the stranger on the train, as his smiles had indicated he was a friendly man & we began to exchange pleasantries. I had explained we were travelling around the World but had began this journey a few weekes earlier in Juneau Alaska having gone there to our niece's wedding. At once his eyes lit up as he explained a long time ago he had worked as a miner at what was known as the Tulsequah Chief mine up the Taku River inside the Canadian border with Alaska being not all that far from Juneau. He added with a broad smile that this was in 1950 & in those days The Red Dog Saloon in Juneau was a real saloon & not just a tourist attraction like it is today. My eyes then lit up I'm sure as I related how after the wedding rehearsal Gene my Brother In Law at Juneau had organised for 10 of us to be flown out to the family home by Ward Air... The pilot in doing so had taken us for a joy flight up the Taku River to the Twin Glaciers but could not get over the top as the weather had closed in.
John Stewart now 82 years of age knew well the plane we had gone in being a 10 seat Otter float plane. I explained however this one sported a Turbo Prop engine instead of the older bigger heavy radial engine that he would have known....The turbo prop engine being only a fraction of the weight gained a bigger payload with a lot more power. We had flown over the Taku River Lodge where so long ago John & his fellow miners went for R&R to put glacier ice in their drinks as he explained "It did not melt".
John said in those times gold mining was tough & living conditions were rough for the 250 miners at the campsite on the confluence of the Taku & Tulsequah Rivers which was to become the Cominco Gold Mine. John looked away in saying for the time he was there 3 men had completely disapeared without trace. On Sundays it was a common practise to go for a walk & on different occasions these men simply went for a walk & were never seen again. It was not known if they were taken by bears, or fell into the rivers to be swept away. John turned to look at me again saying there was a thing known as "cabin fever" it could effect the minds of some people confined in a small area for a long time.
My thoughts turned to a time when Joe Whiting father of long time residents of Juneau Gene & Tim Whiting came there with two other friends from the Lower 48 with just a few dollars in their pockets & a desire in their hearts for Adventure.
Work at the time being scarce Joe had decided to turn his hand to being a Fur Trapper & took over a cabin on the Taku River by the Twin Glacier lake. These were times even before when John came to mine. Times when Joe found wolf tracks in the snow & followed them hoping for a shot. The wolves came apon a small herd of Mountain Sheep & there an old Billy had turned to make a last stand to give the herd time to get away. The wolves made short time of him & pulled him down, Joe found his half eaten body buried in the snow.
Joe at one time had a bear break into the cabin through one window to smash & tear everything to shreds inside looking for food before departing out another window.
I remembered reading a story of how a trapper who would go out twice a week for several days at a time around the trap line returned home on one occasion to find his wife standing at the window staring out into the darkness long after the Sun had gone down. He realized it was time for her to return home. I knew then what John was talking about. I asked John did he ever come across Joe Whiting but he could not remember him as the years it seemed had dimmed his memory of the many in that passing parade.
In recent years the long closed mine that John Stewart worked in has seen Interests wanting it to be re-opened. The websites listed here will give an insight to how things have changed in todays world.
Within this website an abbreviated video of Our Land is Our Future featured on YouTube will show the reader the Taku River & Tulsequah Chief Mine
It was raining by the time we arrived at Blue River to a scheduled stop for a few minutes. The Store I believe is the oldest still operating in Canada & I took a picture of it for no other reason than a woman was there wearing blue clothing & driving a blue car.
For the reader who does not know there is a difference I thought it appropriate now to put in a photo of where Glacier water the (milky colour) is seen meeting the clear water of a mountain stream.
With the semi-desert area before Kamloops now left far behind on this leg to Jasper the scenery after Blue River was one of a heavily wooded mountainous area. The train would clitter clatter by open patches of ponded grass areas within the trees that revealed in the shallow waters to the descerning eye Moose or Deer tracks in the water. It is as some of the travel brochures dictate : You might not see them but they do see you, being of course all to often from the safety of the woods, I did however see on one occasion a deer standing in a shaft of sunlight in the middle of a small mountain stream & at once recognised a beautiful photo....At the time I was in the Diner carriage.
I did get this waterfall however right beside the train line & was later to hear the squeal of approval from a woman who wanted to see a bear with one passing by at eye level in a cutting.
After several forays away with the camera I had returned to talk with John who wrote down his email address on a piece of cardboard which I have still but am unable to make head nor tail. He was only going as far as Jasper to meet up with one of his 3 Daughters. When we pulled into the Station there it was with a touch of sadness that I knew I would see him no more & as our bus pulled away I thought looking out a back window I saw him for a moment walking up a footway with Alison & he was gone.
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Saturday, January 12, 2008, 05:58 PMAfter the last Air Show at Temora I had decided I wanted to experience what it must be like to fly in a warbird such as those seen from another Era.
I had wondered what it was like for the pilots of fighter aircraft such as the Spitfire to endure the rigors of aerobatic flying in war.
Luckily Alex von Mengersen is offering such an experience from Hangar 213 at Wagga Wagga Airport. The unitiated to this kind of flying in an ex Military aircraft can take just a joyflight or go on with full aerobatic manouvers in the Nanchang CJ-6A warbird with Alex obliging to any recipe one might wish to have.
Not only did I want to have this experience but I felt our 2 Sons would like to do this as well so when David flew in on a commercial flight from Sydney recently I had organised a little surprise for him at Hangar 213.
Enter here now : www.waggawarbirds.com.au
My flight with Alex left me in a state of eurphoria from the Adrenalin Rush for several hours afterwards. I for one cannot get back quickly enough for more. The look on Davids face said it all but then again unlike me he did put a hand to the joy stick.
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Tuesday, January 8, 2008, 09:27 PMThis week is the Holiday time for Fuyue Jiang & What is a young woman to do who wants to go to the Gold Coast to be by the Ocean when heavy Seas pound the Coast ?. Much the same thing was happening on the South Coast of New South Wales with heavy Sea swells closing most beaches to the public.
The Answer was for Fuyue who works in a Sydney Hospital & who comes from Guilin City in China to take the 1 hour Flight to Wagga Wagga Beach unafected by this wild coastal weather.
Sight seeing in town was interesting but I'm sure this was not the kind of Beach Fuyue expected to find, however it was a scene familiar as Guilin has a river much the same passing through that City.
It was the first time Fuyue had been out into the countryside of rural Aus where strange animals awaited with some wanting to be hand fed.
On Sunday morning I arose & looked out the window & could hardly believe my eyes. The double imaging had narrowed to almost become one again. This was a moment when I realized many a prayer was being answered...Jenny said "What are you looking at?" & I said to her I think the Diplopia is leaving me. Later in the morning as the Three of us sat in Church I felt the most humbling of feelings & just thanked God over & over for the return of single vision. Today it is still with me & although my right eye hurts I find myself checking constantly the Diplopia is gone & it has.
Photo of Eastern Grey Kangaroo Mother & young Joey by Fuyue
Young Merino Sheep as seen by Fuyue
Fuyue even found herself having two first happenings this weekend ...One being to cut grass the other being the first driver of the new mower that arrived.
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Tuesday, January 1, 2008, 04:38 PMAs much as I tried this morning to calm my sheep they would not let me any closer...I still have my head wrapped in bandage so this unfamiliar Ian sounding person worried them.
Happy New Year Everyone ! This was dawn as the New Year Day arrived & I wanted to get a photo of twin lambs born yesterday. This then is the best I could do with the Mums being very "flighty"of my look.
Thank You & Blessings to each & everyone of you. The Operation lasted 6.5 hrs & was deemed by Neurosurgeon Charlie Teo as being very difficult. I have come through the ordeal very well with the Facial Nerve intact but at this point in time the Diplopia remains. The main objective of the Operation was achieved in removing the tumor, however some remains in another area which may necessitate going to America for Proton Beam treatment at the Johns Hopkins Medicine Centre Baltimore in Marylands.
Jenny & I returned home on Sunday the 30th where at present some side-effects of the Operation linger. It has been of great comfort for us to know so many caring wonderful people upheld the power of Gods praise & prayer for me at this time.
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Wednesday, December 12, 2007, 11:59 AMBoth Graham Elphick & myself have been to these Open Days at the Temora Aviation Museum before which I would say being not to big, is very sort of friendly. As it is always such an enjoyable day out I was quick to accept an invitation from Graham to accompany him to this one being the last for 2007.
I should say these scheduled flying events are held over 2 days of a weekend in most Months of the year. Besides being able to see the Aircraft at other week days up close in the theatrical lit Display Hangar, along with DVD Footage of the history of aircraft & Static Displays, we wanted to head off to nearby Temora to see these Aircraft flying.
Our departure was delayed on the Saturday morning when Graham phoned to say he had a new born calf that was not drinking from Mum & he wanted to give it some bottled milk as the day was forecast to be pretty warm. I then drove to his farm to save time
Jess greated me with all of the signs of intelligence a farm dog can muster & the desire to go about some farm animals while her Master was hastily making his way to the cattle yards. Graham who is a Bachelor always seems to have something happening around his place & spends a lot of time devoted to the care of his beloved stock.
When kneeling to take this photo Jess surprised me by sliding her head under my right arm to give me a smoochy look. After a short tussle with the calf the job was done & away we went being by this time about 1 hr late....Not to worry though as such is life on the farm.
Having arrived & making our way to the Public viewing area without walking into something from continually looking up, we stood at the fence & were treated to some fine fly overs as seen here with the Hudson Bomber & Aus Boomerang.
After a while I noticed Graham helping an elderly chap who was battling to take a photo with his mobile phone. The bright day making the screen very hard to see as well as some serious head scratching on how to make the thing work. Being deaf in one ear & with a half paralysed voice I decided it better to let Graham continue as the Good Samaratin. Some minutes later Graham announces to me that this chap was a Spitfire pilot from WWII & I said "Well you better get him over the fence"...Meaning to make it known to the Aviation Museum people of his presense. It was only then I noticed this chap was wearing a name badge that looked to have some sort of officialdom to it.
I decided to take some photos of this chance meeting with Lyne Skinner & was able to reach around a gentleman beside me with the camera in one hand to do it. Lyne had come to Temora on a Charter flight from Murray Bridge in South Australia with Howard James-Martin another WWII pilot, his Son Peter & good friend Dr Graham Norton. Graham Norton was brought up in Temora where his Mother & Sister still live.
It was Graham who organised the weekend for the ex RAAF pilots.
What it was that Lyne was wanting to photograph was a Supermarine Mark XVI Spitfire now readying for take off.
Lyne had flown one of these in Photo Recognaissance (PR) in the Mediterranean Theatre or WWII which saw him carry out 33 Operations from Egypt to Italy, Malta, & up to the Front Lines at Ferrara & Trevisa in Russia. These (PR) Spitfires were defenceless as all armaments were removed to allow for extra fuel to be carried in the wings to undertake these missions.
This very aircraft still painted in its war time colours saw action towards the later part of the war over Germany where it was piloted by Russell Leith who lives today in Perth West Aus. Leith with this Spitfire flew missions with the RAAF 453 Squadron to attack V2 Rocket Installations. Now it is piloted at Temora as seen here by Guy Bourke from Melbourne.
Graham then set about finding some officials from the Aviation Museum to see if Lyne could be re-aquainted with a Mark XVI. Not only was this achieved but both Lyne & Howard were taken in for a recorded interview of their war time flying experiences ....I hope in the near future visitors to the Aviation Museum Website that I will give later may be able to view these interviews in the Unsung Heroes segment.
These two photos were taken with 35mm Prints so have an older look.
Guy Bourke with Lyne back in the cockpit after 62 years...Check out the grin !
Howard James-Martin seen here chatting to Graham did not on the day have the luxury of being re-united with a Vultee Vengeance. Howard piloted a Vengeance during WWII as a Dive Bomber with the RAAF against advancing Japanese Forces in New Guinea at Nadzab, from where the Squadron raided places such as Hansa Bay. Howard also saw action in Kittyhawks in Borneo.
Howard together with his CO did the longest raiding mission of the war in a Kittyhawk from Labuan to Kuching.
Towards the end of the day in Meet the Pilots where the public can go out onto the Tarmac to the various aircraft I intended to get a photo of Howard with the Wirraway an aircraft well known by him from his training days but lost sight of his white hat in the crowd.
Of course being a kid at an Air Show sometimes other things take more of a precedent.
"Gee I'm glad I'm with Grandad...He knows just where to point so I can see the planes !"
"Grandad Do you have enough money to buy a drink or an ice-cream ?"
"Bet that Paddle Pop tastes better than this hat"
"Thank's Grandad_Burp! Your the Best!"
The Show Goes On
Tribute to the Loss of Australian Aviation Icon Col Pay
In ending this Entry concerning the Aviation Museum at Temora I wish to close with a few photos of Col Pay taken on that day as a Tribute to a man known by so many here & overseas not only for the enjoyment he brought people at Air Shows but for the preservation of many Aus "warbirds".
The Australian Aviation Industry suffered a great loss when Col Pay tragically lost his life in a flying accident on 07 December.
Col Pay 26/10/1932 - 07/12/07
For more Information on the Temora Aviation Museum please see :
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