Making Some New Friends, and a Few Mishaps in British Columbia


We’ve been in British Columbia for over a week now. Our first stop was Golden, where we went into the Visitor’s Centre to get maps and take advantage of the free Wi-Fi. While we were sitting in the corner seats, a rather large beetle-like bug landed on my iPad. I instinctively flicked it off and stepped on it. When the area filled with a horrible smell, I knew it was a Stink Bug, also known as a Cedar Bug, the woman at the desk told us. We found a restaurant and had some lunch before moving on.

A couple of hours later we saw a sign for Canyon Hot Springs that offered RV camping. That sounded like a marvelous idea as the weather had turned cool and wet! Fortunately, they had plenty of room since they were closing for the season in just a few more days.

Canyon Hot SpringsWhile Jim hooked up the electricity and water, I thought I’d get something out of the freezer to thaw for dinner, but it turned out to be unnecessary – everything was thawed! For reasons that I won’t go into, the fridge had been off all day (or longer), and because there wasn’t much left in the freezer, it didn’t stay frozen. I closed the door, retrieved our swim suits from the bedroom drawer, and thought about what to do. When Jim came in I asked him to get the electric cooler from the outside bin and I put the half-bag of shrimp, four pieces of salmon, and a couple of pork chops into that. The fridge was now back on, but I didn’t want this meat to re-freeze and there wasn’t room for it in the fridge. I knew I’d be cooking more than I’d planned that night, but first things first. It was time to soak in the Hot Springs! Actually, it was two good sized swimming pools that were fed from the hot springs, one much hotter than the other. We acclimatized in the cooler one, and then moved to the other.

While we soaked, we chatted with a couple from California, Robin and Mike, who were enjoying a tour of Canada in a pop-up trailer, but were disappointed in the cool and rainy weather we’d been having the past week. They were glad to get warm in the pool. We learned that they were parked quite near to us, and that they had been camped in Jasper Whistler Campsite at the same time we were. In fact, they had had the privilege of watching the Elk family from their doorstep every day that they were there! I’m hoping Robin will send me a couple of the great pictures that she got. When we’d started to shrivel from the heat, we returned to the motor home and I began to cook. Knowing that there would be much more than we could eat ourselves, and that we would soon be sharing meals with my daughter and her family, we invited Robin and Mike to join us for dinner. I cooked the shrimp in some garlic butter, before adding the fresh stir-fry vegetables I’d bought for that reason. I dumped in the green beans and red peppers that had thawed in the freezer, and cooked some more quinoa to add to the leftover I’d planned to use for ourselves that night. I put the salmon pieces into the oven with a maple walnut coating, and while that cooked we shared a bottle of wine and good conversation with Robin and Mike. It turned out to be a wonderful evening after all, despite the pouring rain.

We hardly noticed the rumble of the trains on the nearby track (that seems to be a common denominator at campsites) that night. We slept well. The next morning we said our goodbyes to Robin and Mike before continuing toward Kaslo.

We stopped in Revelstoke for lunch at a friendly café in the downtown, then fueled the motor home at a gas station, and filled the propane tank a few blocks away. At the gas station I sat inside while Jim pumped the gas, on the driver’s side of the coach. At one point, I recall, I felt some rocking and a little bang. I thought it was the sound of Jim opening and closing one of the outside bins, so didn’t look out. Jim recalls feeling the rocking, but figured I was walking around inside. When he was done filling the tank, he noticed that the truck, with a trailer, that was using the pump on the other side of us, was so close to our coach that Jim had to turn sideways to squeeze past it. When he got out to get the propane ten minutes later, he noticed some major cracks in the fiberglass of the back passenger-side corner of the coach, and a missing light cover. It would appear that the driver of that truck had hit us with his trailer, backed up to re-position , and said nothing!

Coach Damage

Coach Damage

IMG_20150921_151140384Too late to do anything about it, we carried on. We crossed Arrow Lake on Shelter Bay Ferry to Galena and continued along Hwy 23 to Nakusp and then back onto Hwy. 6. IMG_0965 IMG_0966On our way out of Nakusp we saw a well-dressed hitch-hiker on the side of the road. We did something we’d never done before. We stopped to offer her a ride, and were glad that we did. Petra was a lovely young woman from Austria who was making her way around parts of Canada before returning home to finish her thesis. That day she was hoping to reach Nelson. Kaslo was on the way. While we drove we learned a bit about Austria, and told her some things about Canada. She’d never been in a motor home before, and she was grateful for the ride because she’d been standing on the road for over an hour. It was starting to get dark when we left her on a corner in Kaslo, with the promise that if she didn’t get a ride quickly, she’d find us in the campsite and accept our offer of the hide-a-bed for the night. We didn’t see her again, so have to assume that she made it safely to Nelson.

That was the start of a week in Kaslo with family and friends.

Exploring and Camping in Canada’s National Parks Part II


Banff National Park

We were awake at dawn the next morning so thought we’d postpone breakfast and get back onto the Parkway before other traffic, hoping, again, to see some of the wildlife that a multitude of signs along the road warned us about. We saw none. Fifty-two kilometers later we finally came to the only service area on the Parkway so we stopped for breakfast. It was nearly 9:00, but neither the restaurant nor cafeteria were quite ready to open. We looked at the restaurant menu and decided that we’d just grab some coffee at the store and eat cereal in the motor home. The Continental Breakfast would cost us $14.95 each, and the full breakfast buffet of bacon, eggs, sausages and pancakes, would be $25.00 each! As it was, two coffee cost $7.50.

The higher we climbed over the mountain pass, the more snow we saw on the evergreen trees and in the ditches. Fortunately it wasn’t on the roads. That’s the kind of snow I like to see! It was beautiful. By 10:30 we had crossed into Banff National Park.

Glacier Parkway

Glacier Parkway between the Glacier Centre and Banff

Glacier Pkwy (176)

It was just before noon when we reached our next planned destination, Lake Louise, but because it was still early we agreed to continue on to Banff and stop at Lake Louise on the way back the next day. An hour later we were at the Information Centre in downtown Banff getting campground information and lunch locations suggestions. We walked to JK Bakery and Cafe to fill up on salad and homemade lasagna for much less than the breakfast offered along the way. I also picked up a big loaf of their fresh multi-grain bread for less than the price of it in a grocery store. Look for it if you are ever in Banff.

We found a lovely, full hook-up campsite at Tunnel Mountain Trailer Park, that included a bus stop to catch the bus back into town, which we did as soon as we were hooked up. After looking around the shops, we found a grocery store where we bought a few supplies, and then had dinner at Tony Roma’s. To our surprise, the same cheery young Australian woman who’d waited on us at JK Bakery was our hostess here. In fact, most of the servers in the restaurant spoke with Australian accents. They love Banff, and I can’t blame them.

Banff

Banff

Banff

Our Campground

Banff (7) Banff (11)While we waited for our return bus I chatted with Wendy from London, England, who was in Banff on a bus tour.

The next afternoon we were out of the National Parks and into British Columbia. We decided to bypass Lake Louise this trip.

Exploring and Camping in Canada’s National Parks, Part I


Jasper National Park

We said goodbye to Edmonton just before noon on September 13, and entered the Whistlers campsite in Jasper National Park at 5:45 pm. Once we got out of the city suburbs the landscape began to change to hills and forests and then mountain vistas. I managed to capture some of the splendor with the camera, finding some clear spots between the splattered bugs and drops of rain on the windshield.

Jasper National Park

Jasper National Park

Jasper (16) Jasper (21)At the entrance to the National Parks we had to purchase a Park Permit at $8.25 per person, per day. Not bad for all that we saw! We purchased for two days to start.

We roamed around downtown Jasper, checked email and had a late lunch at Denny’s before we went to the campsite.

Jasper, Alberta

Some of downtown Jasper, Alberta

Jasper (29) Jasper (31) Jasper (32)It rained off and on most of the day, but had stopped when arrived at Whistlers, and we got a walk in before it started again. We’d hoped to get a glimpse of some more elk. We’d seen a family at one of the campsite areas on our way in. Jim tried to get a picture through the window, but we had to keep moving as we were blocking the road. Again the only wildlife that we saw was birds and squirrels.

Glimpse of Elk

Our only Glimpse of Elk

The next morning we moved on, returning to Jasper for a little more touring before checking into Wapiti Campground a little further down the road, where we left the trailer and drove the motor home to Maligne Canyon to spend a few hours walking the trails and snapping pictures. It was a good workout, not recommended for people with walking difficulties.

Maligne Gorge

Maligne Gorge, a beautiful hike

Jasper.Maligne Gorge (14) Jasper.Maligne Gorge (47) Jasper.Maligne Gorge (48) Jasper.Maligne Gorge (60)Next Stop, Columbia Ice Fields

We took the Glacier Parkway toward Banff the next day. The temperature had dropped and the off-and-on rain sometimes became wet snow.

By the time we reached the Columbia Icefield Glacier Discovery Centre, Jasper National Park early in the afternoon, the wind was blowing large snowflakes around. I dug out our toques and gloves, the only winter wear I’d packed, and we climbed the hill from the parking lot to the Centre. We booked a tour of the Glacier and had just enough time to grab something to eat in the motor home before we had to line up. We’d climbed more stairs to the cafeteria/dining room, but didn’t think we could get through that line in time. We had to climb back up the hill to the Centre to catch the tour. We sure got our exercise that day! While I waited in the tour line, Jim bought an extension for our National Park Pass and found out that we could camp in the parking lot for the night.

The tour took us by bus up a mountain road to the edge of the glacier, where we transferred to an Ice Explorer, a massive vehicle especially designed for glacial travel. We bumped over the packed snow and held our breath as we did steep climbs up and down until we reached the parking spot where we were able to disembark for photo shoots in front of the base of the glacier. There were many tour groups there, and some were so fascinated with the snow that they had to sit in it and make snow balls. The sun came out just in time for us to see the mountain peaks. Another awe inspiring experience to add to our memories.

Glacier Icefields

Glacier Icefields as seen from our campsite

Jim standing on the glacier

Jim standing on the glacier

Glacier Pkwy (110)

Our transportation

Icefields

The dark line in the middle is where the tour stops

Glacier Pkwy (87) When we got back to the Centre the crowds had dispersed. We had some dinner at the cafeteria before walking back down to the motor home and snuggling under mounds of blankets to get warmed up. After a good night’s sleep we were on our way again.

Motoring on to Edmonton


Through email, we’d made plans to join more friends we’d met in Arizona for lunch. Jack and Marnie live in the Edmonton suburb of St. Albert, Alberta so we looked for a campsite near them. We found the Kinsmen RV Park to be perfect, but when we arrived late in the afternoon we were surprised to find the park looking very full. We hadn’t made a reservation, but it turned out that it wouldn’t have made any difference. It seemed that a big BMX Competition was happening that weekend, and camping spots had been booked for a year. The fellow in the office wasn’t happy to see us and was even reluctant to suggest any other options, but he finally gave us a few numbers to call. In the meantime, a couple who had also been turned away and were parked along the driveway waiting until they could go to the home of their friends, came over with some other suggestions. On the second call, we found Glowing Embers RV Park and Travel Centre, but it was in the opposite direction. We punched the coordinates into the GPS and took off again. Between construction detours and the GPS getting us somewhat confused, it was an hour later when we got settled in and called to confirm lunch plans with Jack and Marnie the next day.

When we opened the trailer to get the bike out in the morning, we discovered that one of the bumps on our journey had moved the bike so much that one back strap had come unhooked and the bike had tipped over so hard that the handle bar had punched a hole through the plywood wall and dented the outside aluminum. With the help of a passing park guest, we got the bike out over our folding ramp that, we discovered in the process, had become unhinged.

The rest of the day was better. We made our way to Jack and Marnie’s with ease and spent a few hours of good food and conversation and a few games of Crocinole with their grandson.

From there we went to the famous West Edmonton Mall for a look that took three hours and we didn’t even get to the second floor! For those who know nothing about this mall, be sure to check the website. It’s not a typical shopping mall, but also a huge indoor amusement park where you can swim in the wave pool, skate on the ice rink, or ride one of several roller coasters, just for a start.

West Edmonton Mall

Lots of ways to play!

image image image image

When we left there at 7:00 pm dark clouds had rolled in and winds were very high. It was difficult to keep the bike upright and in our own lane at times. We got a little lost again trying to get back to the campground too, but we managed to get the bike reinstalled in the trailer just before the rain began.

From Edmonton we continued on Hwy 16 to Jasper National Park, where we will be touring for a few days.  Watch for details in the next installment.

Winnipeg to Saskatoon in the Motorhome


We arrived at a campground outside Winnipeg in the late afternoon on Wednesday. The grey skies cleared out and blue replaced them, just in time for us to unload the bike and ride into Winnipeg for a quick look-around. We found The Forks, a meeting place where the Red River and the Assinboine River converge. There is a big indoor market there now, several restaurants and a boardwalk along the banks of the river. We didn’t see much as it was near closing time, and we became engaged in conversation with a retired school teacher who is now a publisher of children’s books and was giving away a few samples while trying to sell others. She was very interesting and excited about the books. When we finally walked away, a couple of books in hand, the other shops had closed. We returned to the campground with plans to return the next day.

The next day was sunny and warm, perfect for a motorcycle ride back to The Forks to begin our tour of the city. We started at the new Canadian Museum for Human Rights. Little did we know that we would become so enthralled with what we saw there, it would be all that we’d have time to see.

Along the path leading to the entrance of the very unique building, we were greeted by a bronze statue of Ghandi.

GhandiAt the desk we were offered tickets for an architectural tour of the building, which would start in fifteen minutes. While we waited in the rotunda for the tour to begin, we watched with fascination as shadows of people of many statures, ages and sexes walked to a white board and wrote a greeting in their native language. Thirty-seven languages were represented.

Greetings on white boardGreetings on white boardThen the tour began. There is too much detail to cover here, so I’ll just share some photos and highlights. A quote on the website (https://humanrights.ca/) sums it up:

“The Canadian Museum for Human Rights will take you on a journey of education and inspiration unlike anything you’ve experienced before.”

Every component of the building was inspired by the late a philanthropist Israel Asper, to represent some aspect of life.

Once the architectural tour ended at the top of the tower, overlooking the city, we were on our own to tour the galleries.All were inspiring. Some were elating, others were depressing. The history of how inhumanly some humans have been treated over the centuries brings a tear to the eye, but changes have been made and the fact that more are being made, brings hope.

However, to quote John Humphries, “There will be peace on earth when the rights of all are respected.” We still have a long way to go.

One thing that impressed me was the stone carvings in one gallery that listed the names of every person who contributed to the building of the museum, from architects to pipe fitters and electricians. They all were recognized.

Contributors

One small section of the list of contributors

We took the stairs and ramps down to the main floor, learning new things in every gallery along the way. We finished in the private room dedicated to the interesting display of the Magna Carta, which was on loan for only another week. I couldn’t help but wonder when our current Prime Minister might have last read this document, if ever.

By the time we got back to the bike it was too late to do anymore touring. Instead we relaxed over plates of pasta and salad at The Spaghetti Factory, which was a real treat since these restaurants have all disappeared from most of Canada.

We were on the road in the motor home the next day, over some very rough roads, with strong winds blowing across the prairie. Our next stop was in Saskatoon where we spent a couple of nights with my cousin Terry and his wife Liz. It was fun to catch up with them and we enjoyed the tour of Winnipeg that they gave us, including a look into the Diefenbaker Canada Centre at the University of Saskatchewan, where we learned some more facts about our country’s history that we hadn’t known before.

Diefenbaker Memorial

Diefenbaker Memorial

Terry showed the rowing sculls that he and members of the Saskatoon Rowing Club use.

Rowing sculls

Saskatoon Rowing Club sculls

Some busy beavers have decided the dock is the perfect spot for their home, and everyday club members dismantle it only to discover it back the next morning.

Beaver Hut

Beaver Hut in Progress

We had lunch at The Berry Barn, where all things Saskatoon Berries were on the menu.

The Berry Barn

The Berry Barn

Jim was the only one to try a piece of pie after we finished our main course, but I had a taste. Hmm.

Next stop: Edmonton, Alberta

Four and a Half Days Crossing Ontario in the Motor Home


We’re on the road once again, this time taking the long way to Arizona to see more of Canada on the way. We left on Wednesday, September 2nd and spent the first night at Carol’s Campsite at Sudbury. Other than the fact that when I opened the fridge to get out the makings for dinner I discovered that the fridge had been off, it was an uneventful afternoon of driving (it was after noon when we finally got on our way).

The next morning I moved some food items into the electric cooler, thankful that I’d brought it along this trip. Later Jim solved the problem with the fridge and all is good now. We continued onto our next destination, Wawa, Ontario where we stopped at a Good Sam Park for the night.  Internet connections have been poor, so I made no attempts at blogging. We were lucky to get emailing done.  Even our phones were often out of service amongst the hills and trees of that part of the province.

I thought we’d given ourselves plenty of time to get to BC for a few weeks before turning south,  but when we stopped in Wawa I was already wishing we’d scheduled more time so we could spend a day exploring there. We met a couple outside the Welcome Centre,who were slowly making their way back home to Qualicum Beach in BC, having traveled all the way to Montreal in a very old, wide-body camper van, similar to the one we owned for a few weeks before deciding we needed something larger for doing long trips. They had been there all day, just enjoying the beauty and catching up on internet tasks (WiFi was good there).  They told us of the beautiful beach in downtown Wawa that we should visit,  but we had to keep moving; we had made plans to visit family along the way.

Wawa (11)

The Goose at Wawa, Ontario

The Goose at Wawa, Ontario

On Friday we decided to look up some Mesa Regal friends, who spend their summers on Loon Lake, in the small community of Shuniah, which is just east of Thunder Bay. While motoring along highway 17, we were startled by the flashing lights and a siren when a police car suddenly passed us.  A minute later, a small red car cut in front of us, just missing an oncoming transport.  It then passed the transport in front of us, forcing an oncoming car onto the shoulder! That was followed by second police car, also in warning mode, and cutting in and out of traffic. We both sat with our jaws dropped. How close had we come to being involved in a terrible crash?

We arrived at Loon Lake  at 5:00 pm to find Harp and Joan  thrilled to have us. Unfortunately the cottage turned out to be on a dead end road and there wasn’t a lot of space to turn our big rig and trailer around. Harp, his son Sandy, and I tried to direct Jim back into a narrow driveway, but cedar trees on one side stopped him, and when he attempted to drive forward to straighten out, the motor home was uphill, the trailer down. This resulted in the trailer hitch becoming buried under the gravel of the road. I left the men to rectify that situation and remove the trailer, while I went indoors to help Joanie with dinner. By the time it was about ready, the motor home was parked out front, facing the right direction to get us out of there, and the trailer was again connected. We could all relax and enjoy a drink on the dock before partaking of  a delicious meal on the deck.  We spent the night there in the RV and shared breakfast with Joanie and Harp before leaving the next day. Again, we would have liked to stay longer.  It’s a beautiful spot.

Cottage Life at Loon Lake

Cottage Life at Loon Lake

IMG_0517We stopped at the Terry Fox Memorial at Thunder Bay. The story still brings tears to my eyes, as it did when I tried to read about this brave young fellow back in 1981.

Terry Fox Memorial

Terry Fox Memorial

So far the weather had been sunny, hot and humid.  We made it to the outskirts of Kenora on Saturday night before stopping at The Willows RV Campground. Around 9:00 pm the rain began, followed by thunder, lightning and wind. It  stopped for a while, but after we got to bed it started again. The rain pounded on the roof for a half hour or more, not a gentle rain to put me to sleep. In the morning the park owner was out with his little back hoe leveling out some of the  holes in the roads caused by the storm. When we left the park an hour later, we watched two pickup trucks slowly make their way through a flooded area of the road we needed to take, then held our breath as we edged through it too.

Flooded Road

Yes, we had to go through that!

An hour later we were out of Ontario and into Manitoba, after traveling 1700 kilometers (1200 miles approx.) Jim says he once tried to tell a Texan how long it takes to drive across Ontario to Manitoba and the fellow replied, “I had a car like that once too.”