Shasta Caverns, Shasta Lake, California


We are already much further south, at Ventura, California as I write this post, but I promised I’d give you the scoop on Shasta Caverns, so I will do that first and hope to catch up again soon.

I have to say that these caverns are very interesting, and the area around them beautiful, although not as colourful as others we have toured. However, the tour comes with a warning – they aren’t for those with heart conditions or walking difficulties, especially stair climbing. And if you are in a large motor home, pulling a trailer, your driving skills and brakes need to be optimized. Here’s why:

The road into the Shasta Cavern Tours office is 1½ miles of narrow, uphill roads with hair-pin turns that had me holding my breath at times. It was a relief to finally reach the parking lot and see that there was actually room there for us to turn around and park!

We bought our tickets. When the announcement that the tour would start was made, we were given fifteen minutes to get to the boat that would ferry us across the lake. That was a another warning. We had to walk downhill almost as far as we’d driven up it seemed. One Hundred and Fifty stairs (or ramps if you preferred) switched back and forth, and then several more switch-backs on sand and gravel took us to the shore, where a large open pontoon boat with metal seats along the outsides and down the centre and powered by two 150 H.P. Yamaha motors, picked us up. The trip across the lake was beautiful. On the other side a ramp was let down so we could disembark, and then climb up a small hill to an awaiting mini-bus. The captain of the boat was also the driver of the bus, and the tour guide. If you think the sound of the drive up in the motor home sounded nerve-racking, you wouldn’t want to be on that bus; more hair-pin and S-turns sometimes at a 17% slope and hanging on the edge of the cliff. Good thing I was in the outside seat! We soon arrived at the little log cabin where the actual tour into the caverns began. Again there was a lot of climbing and although the stairs didn’t bother me, the high elevations did cause some heart palpitations that forced me to stop now and again for a rest. After any long climb there were always benches to sit upon. Our guide gave us lots of the history of the caverns and helped keep our minds off the physical challenge with some light-hearted chatter. The walking paths and stairs were all solid and railed. We saw some amazing examples of nature inside the several rooms that had been discovered. I’ll let you decide if it would be worth it to you.

The drive up

The drive up

The narrow road

The Narrow Road

Driving UpThe Walk Down to the Lake

The stairs to and from the lake

The stairs to and from the lake

Walking down

Crossing the Lake

Crossing the Lake

IMG_1430Crossing Lake

View from Above

View From Above

Inside the Caverns

Inside Caverns

inside caverns inside caverns inside caverns IMG_1461 IMG_1458Inside CavernsWhen the tour was over, we had to climb back down many more stairs to the bus, make the return trip to the lake, cross the lake, and climb back up the hill. Someone asked how many stairs there were in total and we were told 150 up and down the hill to and from the boat, and 691 through and out of the caverns! Is it any wonder that we were exhausted when we crawled into bed that night, and that I suffered with major hip pain for the next five days? It did make me feel better to hear some of the much younger people on the tour huffing and puffing just as much as we. It was another Adventure, for sure!

Next time I’ll tell you about San Francisco and a little contest, perhaps.

Three States in Three Days with Lots to See and Do


It’s hard to believe that it’s been only five days since we left Canada and we’ve already been through Washington and Oregon and are now deep into California.

Our first stop was Seattle, Washington where we arrived at rush hour so spent some time crawling along Hwy. 5 before turning off in search of somewhere to park for the night. Jim wanted to stay in the downtown so we could tour on foot the next day. However, there was only one RV Park that we could find listed near downtown and we were told that it wasn’t really a “camping” type of park, but only for long term, i.e. minimum of 30 days. At 6:30, hungry and tired, we asked if we could park overnight in the gated Home Depot Store/Rental Centre. We could, but had to be out before things got busy in the morning. With no restaurants within sight, we ate my left over Quesadilla from lunch. Close by there was…you guessed it… a train track crossing, and a shipyard! Things got quieter after 11:00 pm, but at 5:00 am street cleaners were at work just outside our door. We were up and out of there by 6:30 in search of breakfast (we hadn’t yet restocked our cupboards and fridge since crossing the border), and a place to park for the day. After a couple of hours I suggested we drive further south to a KOA Campground that was close to public transit. We got settled in there just in time to catch the 10:15 bus that would take us to the rapid transit station. Well, it would have if we hadn’t missed the stop. We waited at the end of the line for another bus to take us back.

Finally, at noon we were sitting down to lunch in a cafeteria, and from there took the monorail to The Space Needle, a remnant the Seattle Worlds Fair, where our tour began. The view from the Needle was worth the hour wait.

Space Needle

Space Needle

IMG_1293 IMG_1303 IMG_1305We caught the monorail back, and then the rapid transit to Pioneer Square, where we took the hour long tour of the Underground City. I found the history of the first city of Seattle interesting, but the actual remains not as impressive as I had expected. The tour guide was excellent though.

Underground City

The sidewalk grates provided the only light to the Underground City

Underground City

One store in the Underground City, perhaps updated?

We’d planned to meet other Mesa friends, Nita and Fred, for dinner, but that didn’t work out for them in the end.

After sandwiches at the nearby Subway, we boarded the train and bus back to the campsite. It was a wonderful day, but by the time we got back, at 7:15 pm it felt like midnight! I opened the fridge to get a drink of water and discovered that, from all the banging and bumping we’d done while crossing cobblestone intersections and jamming on brakes when it looked like someone was going to pull out in front of us that morning, a jar of Kalamati Olives had managed to flip completely upside down and all the juice had drained into the vegetable bins and the door shelves. Sigh. Not quite what I wanted to do that evening.

The next morning we enjoyed a hot breakfast available at the campground, before we got on the road again. We drove through intermittent cloud and rain, but the temperatures started to rise. When we were ready to stop for the night, there seemed to be few campsites around, but I thought I’d found a good one on public land near the reservoir at Cottage Grove, Oregon It took a bit to find it, only to discover that it was closed for the season. I’d missed that little detail at the bottom of the description. However we found a day Park with a paved parking lot right next to the reservoir. We parked there for the night. Fortunately we had stopped at a grocery store to buy a few groceries so we had food for dinner and breakfast.

Cottage Grove Reservoir

Room with a View of Reservoir

IMG_1343The next day, a visit to the Information Centre in California resulted in a decision to camp somewhere near the Shasta Caverns so we could do the 10:00 am tour the next day. It was only 3:00 pm when we pulled into Shasta RV Resort and Campground, but it was nice to have a shorter day. We enjoyed a walk through the forest and along the Shasta Reservoir while the sun was warm, and that evening we had great WiFi connections that enabled us to catch up on email, and I could add the pictures to my last blog post. If you want to see them, check it out.

Shasta RV Resort and Campground, California

Shasta RV Resort and Campground, California

IMG_1372Today, we did the Shasta Cavern Tour. It was quite the adventure, one that I will share in detail in my next post. I will say that we enjoyed it, but we were reminded that we aren’t as fit as we should be.

Tonight we’re at the Vineyard Campground, seventy miles away from San Francisco, where we will go tomorrow for a few days.

From Kaslo to Vancouver in the Motorhome, With a Few Detours


Our Canadian Tour has nearly come to an end. It’s been a busy time and I’ve fallen behind with blog posts, so before we start a new chapter with the US continuation of the trip, here is a summary of where we’ve been and what we’ve done since leaving Kaslo. Two posts about interesting things in Kaslo will follow. Since media uploads seem to be limited where we are, I will have to add more pictures, or do more detailed posts about some of these places later.

After a week of mostly sunny weather in Kaslo, and a trip with Sarah to Nelson, the weather turned dark and rainy when we left on the Saturday. We arrived in Vernon mid-afternoon and spent two nights with our friends, Judy and Keith. The sun was shining there. One morning Jim helped Keith pick the grapes from his vineyard, ready to be picked up by a commercial wine-maker. And I didn’t take any pictures! On the way home from dinner that night, we saw the eclipse of the harvest moon. I did take some pictures of that, but without a tripod handy, they didn’t turn out very well.

Monday morning we were on our way to Kamloops to meet up with some friends from our ukulele group in Mesa. Debby offered to put together a jam session with others from her Kamloops Ukulele Orchestra, and we had a great time playing for an hour or more. I was reminded again that I need to do more practicing if I want to keep up with that bunch, but it was fun. Thanks for organizing and hosting it, Debby.

Ukulele Jam

Ukulele Jam

Our campsite was along the South Thompson River, where we could watch some dragon boats glide by on their practice night.

South Thompson River

South Thompson River

Fortunately we were within walking distance of downtown Kamloops, since our trailer was parked up against a cliff, making it too difficult to get the bike out. We’d booked for two nights so we spent Tuesday walking across the Red Bridge and around the downtown. It’s a very interesting city to explore, but we were exhausted by the time we’d walked back to the motor home.

Crossing on the Red Bridge

Crossing on the Red Bridge

Before leaving the next day, we met with another friend, Patti, and her husband Wayne for lunch. Patti is another ukulele player from Mesa, but she couldn’t make it to the jam the day before. Thanks for a great lunch! It was fun to catch up.

From Kamloops we turned back south towards Hope. On the way, we stopped at Coquihalla Provincial Park to view the old Othello (railway) Tunnels, a stop recommended by Patti. They are amazing and well worth the stop. Also amazing was the fact that we met a woman, along the trail, who’s sister lives in the little Ontario town of Hastings, where we live!

Othello Tunnels

Othello Tunnels

IMG_1083 IMG_1090We spent the night in Hope, and were in Vancouver at Capilano River RV Park by noon the next day. It’s conveniently located just under the Lions Gate Bridge in West Vancouver, close to Park Royal Shopping Plaza, but the lots are very close together, with barely enough room to use the slides. The day was sunny and warm, but because we had domestic chores to catch up with, we got out only long enough to walk across the little bridge to the plaza for lunch.

On Friday we wanted to go to White Rock to another ukulele jam, also recommended by Patti, so off we went on the bike, ukuleles strapped into the back pack. Since we hadn’t yet put the GPS onto the bike we were going by Jim’s memory of a map. Three hours later, after getting lost while trying to visit Granville Island first, and then ending up on Hwy. 99A rather than 99, we finally arrived with ten minutes to spare! This group was much larger and zipped through tunes from their own song books. I had trouble keeping up, and even Jim got lost at times. But again, we had fun and learned a few things. We each purchased one of the two books which we will be able to use in Mesa.

None of the family we planned to visit was in Vancouver that week, so we spent Saturday just doing some shopping and staying in out of the rain. Early Sunday morning we loaded up the bike and caught the Tawassan Ferry to Victoria. After a cool start, the sun came out and warmed things up. Victoria is a marvelous place to visit. We took the Hop-on-Hop-off bus tour and had lunch at the award-winning Barb’s Fish and Chips outdoor eatery on Fisherman’s Warf. If we couldn’t go to Arizona, this would be a nice place to spend the winters – not as warm, but seldom snow or freezing temperatures. It’s very expensive though.

IMG_1120On the ferry to Victoria

On the ferry to Victoria

Tiny Floating Homes at the Warf

Tiny Floating Homes at the Wharf

IMG_1168Fishermen"s Warf, Victoria

Fishermen”s Wharf, Victoria

The sun was beginning to sink behind the hills when we finally got back onto the bike and rode to Nanaimo, where would stay for the night and catch the morning ferry to Denman Island, and then Hornby Island. By the time we got to Nanaimo I was shivering so much I couldn’t stop. We warmed up with bowls of hot chili and mugs of tea/coffee at Tim Horton’s, across the street from the Howard Johnson Hotel, where we stayed. We were impressed with the cleanliness and quality of the hotel, and especially liked the front desk clerk, Billy, a bubbly blond woman who was interested in the fact that we were on a motorcycle because she’d just recently bought herself a bike.

We just missed the 10:00 am ferry from Buckley Bay to Denman Island. We enjoyed lunch in the sunshine on the deck of the Subway Restaurant at the terminal, and waited for the next one.

Waiting for Ferries

While Waiting for Ferries

While we waited for the ferry on Denman Island that would take us to Hornby Island, we watched a seal dive for fish.

Seal fishing off wharf on Denman Island

Seal fishing off wharf on Denman Island

Watching the Ferry ramp descend

Watching the Ferry ramp descend

The next five days we spent just relaxing with my sister Pauline, her husband Jim, and the “woofer” (young travelers who work for room and board), Stephan, and three Retrievers. My niece and her family were away on a trip, so it was quieter than usual. Heavy rain on most days after we arrived deterred us from taking our usual walks on the beach, but we did enjoy coffee on the deck of the general store at The Cove one morning, and walked among the boats moored in the harbor. We celebrated Thanksgiving with a home cooked chicken dinner on Saturday night, and then Sunday morning we were dashing for ferries again, this time back to our motor home in Vancouver.

Toll Bridge, Surrey BC

The new Toll Bridge on Hwy 1 at Surrey, heading into Vancouver.

This is where we are as I write this blog post. We’ve shared as much time as possible the last few days with my daughter Ann and great-grandson, Lucas, and cheered for the Blue Jays. But during the day Ann has to work while the sun shines (she’s a landscaper) and Lucas goes to school.

On our own one day, we found our way downtown to Canada Place, and Gas Town, both busy and interesting places during the summer, but much quieter this time of year.

Canada Place

Canada Place

Where Cruise Ships dock. Sadly, none there that day.

Where Cruise Ships dock. Sadly, none there that day.

Canada Place Vancouver

Gas Town, Vancouver

One of the many interesting old buildings in Gastown, Vancouver

Stream Clock in Gastown

Stream Clock in Gastown, a popular attraction

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The time spent with family has been precious, but today it’s time for us to start making our way to Arizona.

Five Things to Do in Kaslo, British Columbia


I’ve just booked my annual trip to British Columbia to leave in a few weeks. This time I will spend my time in Kaslo relaxing with family and enjoying the Kaslo Jazz Etc. Festival, which has become a much bigger event than it was the previous time that I was there for it, ten years ago. I’m looking forward to it and hope to have some new stories to share.

In the meantime, I’m posting this blog that I drafted some time ago, giving you a little more insight into Kaslo, my favourite little town in the Kootneys.

In 1899 the City of Kaslo was branded “The Lucerne of North America.” This small mountain town, just west of Canada’s Rocky Mountains, lies between the peaks of the Selkirk and Purcell mountain ranges, offering serenity for those who seek it, and lots of activity for those who prefer to be on the move.

  1. Camping: There is a good sized Campground right by the shore of Kootney Lake.When we stayed there a couple of years ago we had plenty of room for our motor home. The lot wasn’t quite deep enough to accommodate the bike trailer, but we were able to unhook and leave it at a convenient spot nearby, at no extra cost. The price included electric, water and WiFi, and use of the dump station. The owner was very helpful in finding us what we needed.

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  1. Dining, Shopping, Entertainment: Within a short distance from the campsite is the main street where several restaurants, coffee shops, a hardware store, a grocery store, a pharmacy, clothing stores, and a Credit Union are located. Much of the food is organically, locally grown when in season. One of our favourite eateries is the Blue Belle.

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Patio at Blue Belle

  1. Accommodations: If you aren’t into camping, there is a very nice, fairly new hotel, aptly named The Kaslo Hotel, on the main street, and several Bed & Breakfasts throughout the residential streets.Hotel (2)
  1. Historical Attractions: Also situated on the main street, moored at the dock, is the SS Moyie Stern-wheeler, an historical, restored paddle boat that used to transport passengers, up Kootney Lake, the only way to get into the small communities along its banks at the time. During the summer and fall seasons there are open tours, and often there are shows in the lounge. On one trip we enjoyed an excellent performance by two young, accomplished violin players. Like most things in Kaslo, it is operated by volunteers and maintained through donations.

 

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SS Moyie

A short walk up A Avenue (Hwy 31), the volunteer-restored Langham Cultural Centre has an Art Gallery on the first floor where the many local artists have the opportunity to exhibit their work. On the second floor is a history of various buildings in Kaslo, and the story of the lives of the numerous Japanese people who were interned in Kaslo during the 2nd World War.

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  1. Biking, hiking, paddling: Throughout the hills of the Kaslo area there are great roads for motorcycling.

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And along the shores of the lake and the Kaslo River are many trails for hiking
and biking. Another volunteer group, The Trail Blazers, has worked tirelessly
over the years to create and maintain the trails along the river bank, including
the building of two wooden bridges across the river to allow access to both
sides.

Look for more details about this in my next post.

Kootney Lake is a popular place for kayaking and canoeing, too.