Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Exploring the Kootenays

Part 3
Grey Creek Pass and the Kootenay Lake Ferry

Grey Creek Pass is one of the tours that was on my bucket list for quite some time. The pass is part of the Trans Canada Trail, the world's largest network of trails and once finished will stretch 23000 km through Canada, from the Atlantic to the Pacific to the Arctic Ocean. One needs a 4 wheel drive, high clearance vehicle to travel this pass which is only open from May to October. Now with the truck at hand we thought we give it a try.....
If you click on the image below to enlarge it, you can see our start point, Kimberley's St. Mary Lake and the Trans Canada Trail going west towards the Kootenay Lake.

Fall was in the air and warnings about a few inches of snow on top of the pass had reached us, but it was a beautiful day and a few inches of snow would not deter us.

St. Mary Lake marks the Kimberley access road to the pass and the road was gravel but very well maintained at that point.

The higher we climbed the more spectacular got the views.

After a few kilometers it got a bit more serious,

and the road started to show some wear and tear.

And soon we saw the first signs of snow,

and more snow,

and even more snow. I guess it was about 6 inches, and we were sure glad to have our truck!

Back down from the wintry outing we headed towards the Kootenay Lake Ferry. During the summer tourists wait in loooong lines to get on the longest free ferry ride in the world, but at this time of the year it was no problem. We just had arrived when we saw the ferry already approaching.

The ferry runs between Kootenay Bay, were these photos are taken to Balfour, on the west side of Kootenay Lake, about 30 minutes north of Nelson. The ride takes give or take 35 minutes.

We traveled on the Osprey 2000, a seemingly normal ferry, but when one looks closer, it shows a lot of love for details. Just look at the railing in the above image and the seats in the inside of the ferry. Simply amazing!

What a great way to travel with views in all directions...

Balfour greeted us with eclectic, Nelson style street vendors and

severe warning signs...;-)

Once on the west side we headed to Nelson for a late lunch and then took the ferry back to Kootenay Bay. Instead of challenging the pass again we decided to enjoy the sunset while driving along the Kootenay Lake, taking the longer but safer route home.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

October Conservation Tip


Should be a no brainer one would think, but with the temperatures getting colder, at least here, I see more and more cars front of stores while the owner is schools or at bus stops when parents wait for their drive-through lanes....
After heated debates with friends and family about the topic, I thought a bit of research was in order...

I found four topics to be the most important in connection with idling:
Health, Environment, Money and Car Maintenance.

Let's see what I found in regards to idling and health:

The NRDC (Natural Resource Defense Commission) writes: "Exhaust from idling vehicles can accumulate and pose a health risk to employees, drivers, and the community at large. Exposure to exhaust can cause lung damage and respiratory problems. Exhaust also exacerbates asthma and existing allergies, and long-term exposure is thought to increase the risk of lung cancer"

The EDN (Earth Day Network )states in it's school kit: " Idling harms our health. Vehicle exhaust is harmful to everyone's health, but especially affects children who breathe more and at a faster rate than adults." and
"Asthma is the most common chronic illness in children and the cause of most school absences. Children's asthma symptoms increase from exposure to car exhaust. Children breathe, on average, 50% more air per pound of body weight than adults"

The California Energy Commission: "Idling is linked to increases in asthma, allergies, heart and lung disease and cancer."

Puh, that about the environment?

Natural Resources Canada has a very good write up about all the effects of idling towards climate change, which I would highly recommend reading, but summed up they come to the following conclusion: "In fact, if Canadian motorists avoided idling for just three minutes every day of the year, carbon dioxide emissions could be reduced by 1.4 million tonnes annually. This would be equal to saving 630 million litres of fuel and equivalent to taking 320,000 cars off of the road for the entire year. Eliminating unnecessary idling is one easy action that Canadians can take to reduce their green house gas emissions that are contributing to climate change."
This is just for Canada, if one considers that California alone has more licensed drivers then Canada, just imagine the impact of idling cars in the US...

OK, what about money??

NRDC:" Less idling means less wasted fuel, which can save your company money. A six-cylinder diesel vehicle that idles for one hour a day wastes more than $1600 worth of fuel over the course of a year, with gas at $2.50/gallon." I hope nobody idles quite that long, but considering that gas price are way higher now then $ 2.50/gallon the amount of money wasted could come close.

EDN: "A popular misconception is that idling your car uses less gas than turning it off and restarting. The truth is, if you are going to be sitting more than 30 seconds, it is more fuel efficient to turn your engine off."

Natural Resources Canada: " In fact, one of the most powerful arguments in favour of reduced idling is an economic one. For the average vehicle with a 3-litre engine, every 10 minutes of idling costs 300 millilitres (over 1 cup) in wasted fuel – and one half of a litre (over 2 cups) if your vehicle has a 5-litre engine. Unnecessary idling wastes fuel – and wasted fuel is wasted money."

I see, I see, the car enthusiasts are raising their fingers.....what about the car when it's cold?? I need to idle to warm it up properly, right?

Hmmm, maybe not....let me again quote some authorities:

California Energy Commission: 

"Myth #1: The engine should be warmed up before driving. Reality: Idling is not an effective way to warm up your vehicle, even in cold weather. The best way to do this is to drive the vehicle. With today's modern engines, you need no more than 30 seconds of idling on winter days before driving away.
Myth #2: Idling is good for your engine. Reality: Excessive idling can actually damage your engine components, including cylinders, spark plugs, and exhaust systems. Fuel is only partially combusted when idling because an engine does not operate at its peak temperature. This leads to the build up of fuel residues on cylinder walls that can damage engine components and increase fuel consumption.
Myth #3: Shutting off and restarting your vehicle is hard on the engine and uses more gas than if you leave it running. Reality: Frequent restarting has little impact on engine components like the battery and the starter motor. Component wear caused by restarting the engine is estimated to add $10 per year to the cost of driving, money that will likely be recovered several times over in fuel savings from reduced idling. The bottom line is that more than ten seconds of idling uses more fuel than restarting the engine."

Natural Resources Canada again has a informative website about that, the short version being:
"Contrary to popular belief, excessive idling is not an effective way to warm up your vehicle, even in cold weather. The best way to warm it up is to drive it. [ ] What's often forgotten is that idling warms only the engine – not the wheel bearings, steering, suspension, transmission and tires. These parts also need to be warmed up, and the only way to do that is to drive the vehicle."

BTW, I also saw a lot of people idle here in summer, to keep the inside of their car car related excuse here...

Next time you are tempted to idle, think twice!