July 5-11

July 5 – July 11

We arrived at the Duke Point Ferry at 7:00 AM, only to miss the 7:45 sailing by only 3 vehicles. After catching the 10:15, we arrived in Penticton in late afternoon. We dropped off Matt and Nichol’s stuff and had a nice visit with Dale and Ann. We then drove a half hour north to the South Okanagan Provincial Park for a couple of nights. It was a lovely place, right on Okanagan Lake:

It was brutally hot, but we both (yes, both) cooled off by swimming. We spent our last night chatting with our neighbours, a really nice couple with two lovely children.

The next day, we got an early start and followed the Yellowhead Highway north and west toward Jasper National Park for what was supposed to be 4 nights at the Pocahontas Campground, about 40 minutes north of the town of Jasper. We had forgotten what a truly beautiful drive this is:

Upon arriving at the campsite, we realized within minutes that this was not going to be a typically idyllic camping experience. The mosquitos arrived in full force, and no amount of repellent could keep them at bay. The only things we could do to survive the onslaught was to spend our days away from the campsite as much as possible, and to avoid getting out of the van when we arrived back.

On Saturday, we headed into Jasper and spent the day exploring the town, which is a much quieter and smaller version of Banff, its more touristy cousin down the road. After spending some time in their impressive museum, we went for some pub grub at Whistler’s, just off the main drag. We topped off the day by going to 7:30 Mass, with music provided by a contingent of the local Filipino community (4 guitars, a mandolin and a box drum, played with one hand by one of the dads, his other arm occupied holding his two year old).

On the way back to the campsite on Highway 16, we were fortunate enough to see these two Wapiti Elk up close, grazing by the roadside:

The next day, we went into Jasper for a Wildlife/Boat Tour we had booked previously. One the way in, we stopped briefly so Jeannine could wade in the Athabaska River.

Is there any more iconic picture of Canada than this?

The tour turned out to be one of the highlights of our trip so far. Our small bus, driven by Carly, a delightful and very knowledgeable young lady, only had a few other people aboard. We drove up towards Maligne Lake, making a stop at Maligne Canyon. The word “maligne” means evil or wicked; one of the early missionary priests used it to name the canyon and lake after he underestimated the power of the water and lost all of his supplies. Still, it is impressive:

This tree shows evidence of a lightning strike (look closely for the zig-zag scar):

Maligne Lake and a lunch guest. Note the haze from smoke from the BC wildfires:

We took a boat tour up the lake to Spirit Island:

On the return trip to Jasper, we were fortunate enough to see a bald eagle chick on the nest:

and a cinnamon-coloured black bear chowing down on buffalo berries:

The day was completed by dinner at Montana’s (Who’s a Funny Moose?); anyone remember that commercial?

Monday morning, we left the mozzies behind and headed south towards Banff and Calgary. Because nothing is ever that easy, we discovered that we had a flat tire. Luckily, in the process of looking for a dump station, we came across a tire repair place very nearby, who, although crazy busy, took us right in. Turned out that there was no puncture in the tire; a valve extender had snapped off and let all the air out. An hour later we were back on the road. Isn’t God good? We had to stop in Lake Louise briefly to get the lug nuts re-torqued, then continued on. We made a stop at Athabaska Falls:

A few minutes later, we came across these mountain goats:

A view of the Columbia Icefield:

and the Athabaska Glacier:

That, however, was the best part of the day. We had used Travelocity to book the extra night at the Olympia Hotel in Calgary; when we arrived, it quickly became evident that the grandiose name was very far from reality. Where do I start? The hairs on the bedsheet and the shower curtain? The peeling paint everywhere? The stains on the carpet? The electrical outlet swinging from a wire? Fearing bedbugs, we brought in a quilt and our own pillows from the van and slept on top of the bedcover. We spent a lovely evening eating pizza from the Pizza Hut next door and watching TV which, amazingly enough, worked. If you ever have the bad luck to find yourself in this establishment, my advice to you is:

Keep your eyes slightly out of focus.

Touch as little as possible.

Don’t think too much.

We woke up thankfully without bites (isn’t God good?). We spent the morning and afternoon exploring a mall and a Canadian Tire, then checked into the Lakeview Inn, a very different place! We leave early tomorrow for our flight to Toronto, so I’ll put the blog on hold until after we return on the 27th and head for the Northwest Territories.

Our Trip to the Northwest Territories July-September 2017

Over the last two years, we have confined our travel to British Columbia, due to much-needed house renovations and the low Canadian dollar. Lucy has undergone a few modifications and mechanical work, so she (and we) are good to go. Now we are “on the road again”, leaving home July 5 on our way to Calgary, with a stop in Penticton and two nights at the Okanagan Lake South Provincial Park, followed by four nights at Jasper at the Pocahontas Campground (which looks lovely, despite its somewhat politically incorrect name).

We arrive in Calgary on July 11th, and fly to Ontario for two weeks for a family wedding, returning to Calgary on the 27th. The next day we head north for the Northwest Territories, with our first stop at Lesser Slave Lake. The next month will be spent exploring the Territories (one of two places in Canada we have never visited (the other being Newfoundland). Stops will include Hay River, Fort Simpson, Fort Providence, Sambaa Deh Falls, Reid Lake, Prelude Lake and of course Yellowknife.

We leave on August 26th for a 3-day Owners Rally in Winkler Manitoba, by way of High Level, Vermilion and Lloydminster Alberta,  and Blackstrap and Crooked Lake Provincial Parks in Saskatchewan, arriving in Winkler on September 6th, On the 9th we turn west for home, following the “Red Coat Trail”, the route followed by the first detachment of the Northwest Mounted Police as they brought the law west in 1874. We are looking forward to a more laid-back alternative to the Trans-Canada Highway. This route ends in Fort Macleod Alberta, near Lethbridge. We will then head north and west for home via Kamloops, Whistler and the Sunshine Coast, crossing by ferry from Powell River to Courtenay sometime in the third week of September. Here is a rough idea of our route:

NWT trip

April 10

April 10

End Of The Trail

We arrived safely back home in the late afternoon of Easter Sunday, April 5. If you have followed along, you will know that we have seen the good, the bad and the ugly, but it was a great adventure that covered 13139 kilometres (8164 miles) over 105 days, averaging 21 miles per gallon, which we are pretty happy with. As with all homecomings, this one is bittersweet; while we met some wonderful people, many of whom we hope to remain in contact with, and had some unforgettable experiences, it is certainly good to be home, to connect again with family and friends and to see the grandchildren.

What’s next? For the rest of this year, just some camping around the Island, including another sojourn to Chemainus with the grand-daughters. Next January/February we will be flying down to Santiago Chile to watch Matt’s PhD defence and take a cruise around the Horn, so Lucy will get a break. Beyond that, while we are mulling over some ideas, nothing firm will be decided for a while.

Thanks again for coming along with us (in the virtual world at least); hope it was a good ride. Hasta la vista!

April 3

April 3

Beach, Bunnies And One More Sleep

We woke up to rain, which continued through most of the morning. When the sun broke through in the afternoon, we went for a walk on the beach, one of the nicest we have seen on this coast:

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Tomorrow we leave this bunny-infested campground

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and head for Elma in Washington State for our last sleep before arriving home on Easter Sunday. I’ll make a summary post sometime next week; until then, thanks for following our journey!

 

April 2

April 2

Hidden Treasures

Today was a lesson in finding hidden treasures in unexpected places. After two hours of driving, we pulled off the highway to stretch our legs and change drivers. We realized that we were in a parking lot across the road from what billed itself as the “Sea Lion Caves”, so we decided to go have a look. It turned out to be a good decision; there is an elevator that takes you down 200 feet into what is the “World’s” or “America’s” largest sea cave, depending on which plaque you read.

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It is home to hundreds of Stellar Sea Lions:

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We spent a long time watching them play like children in the surf, diving in and pushing each other off. We kept trying to imagine what it would look like with the big winter storm surges rolling into the cave. Here is a view looking north from the other side of the cave:

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Before returning to Lucy, we took one last look south:

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We reached the Neskowin Creek Resort at around 4:00 and settled in. We spent some quality time in the indoor heated pool and hot tub, then decided to drive the half-mile up the road to beautiful downtown Neskowin, which consists of a Post Office, Hotel, restaurant and a handful of houses. The treasure here was the restaurant, a small friendly place with great food (we had stone-oven baked pizza, ribs, and a bottle of champagne). It was a very pleasant way to end the day.

Depending on the weather, we may go down to the beach tomorrow, as it will be our last opportunity before turning inland on Saturday.

 

April 1

April 1

Nostalgia Ain’t What It Used To Be

What would a drive through northern California be without a visit to “The Trees of Mystery”? We were last here with John and Lorna 40 years ago (and no Lorna, your camera has not yet been turned in), and there have been a couple of changes. Apparently Homeland Security considered Paul Bunyan a security risk and dis-armed him:

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They now have a wonderful little museum there, which contains a large number of artifacts belonging to First Nations/Native Americans from tribes all over North America and beyond, with separate alcoves for each tribal group. It really is impressive, considering that it receives no federal or state government funding, and exists only through donations and gift shop sales.

We continued up the coast, with new vistas around every corner:

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We arrived at the Bandon KOA in late afternoon and settled in:

Ma and Pa Kettle go to Bandon

Ma and Pa Kettle go to Bandon

We are here for one night, then head to Neskowin for 2 nights.