December 26-27

December 26-27

Jelly Beans and Beer

We set out from Silverton yesterday at 6:30 A.M. for what will hopefully be the longest day (11 hours) of our trip. Although there was snow on the sides of the road as we climbed into Mt. Shasta National Reserve, the highway itself was bare and dry:

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The drive itself is very pretty, and with a clear blue sky, Mt. Shasta was impressive:

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We arrived at the Delta Shores RV Park at around 6:00, and got hooked up by flashlight, as the sun had set.

This morning we started some laundry, then spent some time with some fellow travellers in the lodge. As always, we were greeted warmly and exchanged stories of life on the road. Around 1:00, we went into Fairfield, and made our planned pilgrimage to the Jelly Belly Factory, where, like last year, we did the wine-tasting/chocolate-pairing ritual, then joined the factory tour. (We did this last year, and enjoyed it so much that we couldn’t help doing it again). This time however, there was no production run going, but it was fun anyway. The guy who served us the wine and chocolate was kind enough to phone the Budweiser Factory and get us on the 4::00 tour, which we had planned to do last year, but found them closed. After the Jelly Belly Tour, we made the requisite visit to the store and bought a case (yes, a case) of Belly Flops (Jelly Bellies which were imperfect). Go high or go home, we say. We grabbed a bite to eat in their cafeteria and barely made it over to the Budweiser factory in time to make the tour, which included a glass of one of four kinds of beer. The factory itself was not in full production, but it proved to be an interesting experience nonetheless.

We visited one part of the factory and stood in an aisle between rows of huge stainless steel tanks, where the beer was fermenting on a bed of 800 pounds of beechwood chips. to give you some idea of the size of these tanks, there is enough beer in each tank that if you drank one 12-ounce can every hour (24 per day), it would take 68 years to drink all the beer in one tank. There are 80 tanks going all the time. The factory operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. We returned to the park at about 6:30, just in time for a potluck dinner with about a dozen people.

Up early tomorrow and headed for Pasadena. As I mentioned earlier, we will not have access to Wifi for the next 5 days, so will pick this up again on January 2nd or 3rd. In the meantime, Happy New Year to all, and see you in 2015!

December 23-25

December 23 – 25

Of Service and Services; An Ecumenical Christmas Eve

We arrived in Silverton after a rainy but uneventful drive and checked into the Silver Spur RV Park. We are actually in the same site we were in last year. After dinner, we watched a little TV and went to bed early.

The weather was cool and rainy, so the next morning we spent some time reading in front of the fire in the main lodge. They closed at noon for Christmas, so we went for a walk towards town and stopped to look at a restored 1928 Pirsch fire engine, which was used by the local Fire Department for many years and is still used in parades. One of the Volunteer Firefighters on his way to lunch was kind enough to take us inside for a closer look.

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1903 horse-drawn hose reel

1903 horse-drawn hose reel

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We had arranged to volunteer at a Community Dinner on Christmas Eve, hosted by the First Christian Church, and it was an interesting experience. It was started by a church member in 2008, when the recession had a big impact on the town, and was originally intended as a place where those who were homeless, the working poor, and the unemployed could come every Wednesday and get a full meal. There were 37 people at that first dinner; last week they served over 500. In July of this year, they served their 100,000th meal. Originally, the church board agreed to fund the dinners at $100.00 a month; they have never spent a penny of that money. It is run entirely by volunteers from churches all over town, and is a great example of ecumenism at its best. Several individuals donate the bread, milk etc. Last night we served 265 meals, and they considered that a slow night. They quite deliberately keep any verbal or physical signs of religion away from the dinner; there is no grace, and no religious pamphlets are displayed.

When we arrived at 4:30 looking a little lost, we were greeted with an almost embarassing warmth; “You’re the Canadians! You’re actually here!” After a quick prayer circle, we were put to work; Jeannine was in charge of doling out cranberry sauce, and I was on bun detail. The menu was…interesting; cooked ham with beef gravy (?), mashed potatoes, salad, cooked broccoli, corn, cranberry sauce, buns, and a variety of beverages. (Turkey is a Thanksgiving thing in the States; it’s ham for Christmas.)

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The Cranberry Queen

The Cranberry Queen

The Bunmeister

The Bunmeister

After dinner, we helped clean up, and continued to be thanked by everyone. The instant acceptance and friendliness of these people reminded us of our Thanksgiving experience at Bass Lake a couple of years ago. We now have a standing invitation to return.

We were invited to attend their Candlelight Service, which we did. It was quite lovely (if not very liturgical), with songs and readings. It was quite low-key, but I was impressed by the fact that it involved all ages, from the very young to seniors. Afterward, we went and parked Lucy over by St. Paul’s Church and killed some time reading and resting until 11:30, when carol singing began, followed by Mass at midnight. The Homily was captivating, in that it went beyond the standard “Christmas Story” into real life. He used examples like “volunteering to feed the homeless is Christmas”, “caregiving for Alzheimers patients is Christmas” to reinforce the point that the Christmas Story should play itself out throughout the year; Christmas Eve is merely the celebration of how it all began.

After returning to our site, we opened a bottle of wine and de-briefed our experiences, finally going to bed at 3:15! Needless to say, we slept in, awaking to find that Santa had come:

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As I write, Jeannine is out at the picnic table doing some quilting; it’s cool, but apparently not quite that cool!

At the end of Christmas Day, what could be better than Shepherd’s Pie?

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December 22

 

December 22

Bad Border Guard, Good Border Guard

We were on the road by 5:40 A.M., and after the required stop to pick up Egg McMuffins and coffee, we got to Duke Point in time for the 7:45 ferry, which was only about 1/3 full. We were at the Peace Arch crossing by 10:30 and predictably endured about an hour wait to reach the booth manned by The Border Guard Christmas Forgot. After a few curt questions, he bestowed upon us the dreaded “Orange Sticker” and directed us to the Inspection Building. After apparently being in the wrong line for several minutes, we were “found” by The Border Guard Christmas Remembered, who pulled us out of the line and over to his station. He was friendly and pleasant and had me quickly fill out a card of questions. He went over the answers, then took the keys and he and his partner went out to inspect Lucy. Amazingly, he was back in 5 minutes, handed me the keys, praised Jeannine’s Christmas table runner, wished us a Merry Christmas, and we were on our way.

We stopped in Bellingham to pick up a few groceries, then drove to The Cedars RV Resort, a few minutes north in Ferndale. We received a warm friendly welcome. The only problem with camping at Christmas is the crowds:

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De-stressing

De-stressing

We are off to Silverton Oregon tomorrow, where we will be spending Christmas. It is a 5-hour drive, and we have been advised to leave around 10:00, rather than the early start we had been considering. This will allow much of the Seattle rush hour (which begins around 5:00 A.M.) to dissipate, and still get us there by late afternoon.

 

On The Road Again… December 22-April 5

Checking more items off the Bucket List

This time, we are headed for both familiar and unfamiliar territory. On December 22, we are leaving the rainy west coast of BC for (hopefully) sunnier climes on the west coast of California and Baja Mexico. We will be spending our first Christmas away from home in Silverton Oregon, and plan on attending Christmas Eve Mass at St. Mark’s, a lovely little church we attended last year. On December 28, we will be in Pasadena to attend a 5-day Rally put on by Fantasy RV Tours. While there, we will be dry camping at the Santa Anita Racetrack, helping to decorate the company float, attending the Parade of Roses (a long-standing item on Jeannine’s bucket list), and taking in the Rose Bowl game on a big screen TV.

After the Rally, we will be spending the next few weeks resort-hopping through southern California and Arizona, re-visiting old favourites such as Sedona and Blythe, and a few new destinations including Quartszite and Bisbee. On February 8, we will be in Chula Vista California to join a Caravan (again through Fantasy RV Tours) leaving on February 10 for a 37-day tour of the Baja Peninsula, including an opportunity to do some up-close and personal whale-watching (a long-standing item on Chris’s bucket list). Our itinerary is below:

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We return to Chula Vista on March 17 and will begin our return home up the coast on Highways 1 and 101, planning to arrive back in Courtenay on or around March 26.

Throughout the trip, I will be updating this blog as often as possible; however, during the Rose Bowl and Baja sections of the journey, access to reliable Wifi will be limited, so there may be some periods of time without an update. I will be writing a running series of entries during that time, and will post everything when we return from the dark side of the Wifi moon. In the meantime, we wish all of you a Merry Christmas and a peaceful holiday season.

Here is a rough map of our wanderings:

Pasadena Baja Trip 2014-2015