SOUTHERN SASKATCHEWAN/MANITOBA

Tuesday September 12, 2017

We have it in our heads that there is no other touristy things for us to see so we will enjoy camping and take in the sites of the lower prairies. We have decided to stay in Canada as it is not worth the hassle of declaring our liquor and I really am not keen on supporting the US economy at this time.  We may discover a different route through Ontario but for now we are content to stop here and there and make our way back to Osgoode. Hopefully we will ease back into the time change. The fact that I am missing my two grandboys and our daughter has just announced to the world that she is expecting might hurry along our homecoming.

We stopped in Maple Creek, home of Zack Smith of the Ottawa Senators. Not for this reason, but it says in my Tour Book that this town is affectionately known as “Old Cow Town”. “The town still has a look of the Old West with trucks and Stetson-wearing ranchers filling the downtown streets.” Honestly I see more cowboy hats at the Metcalfe Fair and Greenwood BC had more Old West storefront ambience. Oh well…their descriptions get you into their town and we did have a delicious egg salad sandwich at “The Shop”.

We have stopped at a little campsite, two years old just outside of Swift Current. One shower …one toilet. But they’re new and clean. I find myself saying more and more on this trip “Build it and they will come”.

Wednesday September 13

Heading for Regina to visit the RCMP Heritage Centre.

Wishing we would have stopped here at the beginning of our trip. The influence the NWMP (as they were known) had on settling the West and eventually the North was inspiring. Both Ray and I had no idea, but are all the smarter now! It was truly a remarkable centre. One gets quite the history lesson with rooms full of artifacts and information as well as a virtual tour of the Musical Ride, solve a murder in a room full of clues, drive a RCMP car (child size) on a chase and even play dress up (Not everyone should wear a The Red Serge…no disrespect)

We watched the short movie ‘Courage in Red’ and I couldn’t help thinking of the Corrigans, Brandon Churchill, Inge Mathieson and Mike Potvin who lost his life while serving.  If we had planned this a little better we would have seen the parade. Highly recommend a stop at “The Depot” .

Tonight we will stay in Indian Head Campsite.

Thursday September 14th

Left Indian Head, SK this morning around 9:30am. Drove right through Brandon MB, Winnipeg , MB and have stopped at the Pine Tree Campground in Prawda MB. We’re just a couple of hours from the Ontario border. Once we go through Thunder Bay, north to Nipigon we’ll decide if we will continue with the route (Hwy #17) we took at the beginning of our trip or will we swing up north to Hwy #11, through Kapuskasing, Kirkland Lakes, New Liskeard, around the west side of Algonquin Park, and again chose the route to Home Sweet Home.

I have to say now that we are enroute to Osgoode (and we knew this would happen) we are quite anxious to get home. We still have our boat and dock to take out, weddings to attend; the RV will need a good scrubbing and I hear there will be some good golfing weather left.

I can’t wait to catch up with family and friends. I will sniff you…you know who you are…and hug you like I will never let you go. You have travelled with us via Facebook and the Blog and it has made me appreciate this trip even more. You are with us everywhere we go. We brag about you to anyone who will listen. We wanted to share the places we’ve been, the attractions we have visited, the people we have met and rekindled with, the wine we have tasted, the food we have eaten, the mountains we have climbed, the valleys that smoked us out, the lakes we have swam because you’re going to hear about it anyway! !!! See you soon. xoxoxoxoxo

 

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HITTING THE PRAIRIES: SOUTHERN ALBERTA

September 8th, 2017

Leaving Osoyoos we head to Cranbrook. There is no rhyme or reason for the next few places other than to stay in the southern part of the country and head east. It was interesting to pass through the Crowsnest Pass and come upon the town of Frank where it’s claim to fame was the Frank Rockslide. On April 29, 1903 at 4:10 am, 82 million tonnes of limestone crashed from the summit of Turtle Mountain and buried a portion of the sleeping community killing 90 of its residence.There are still mounds and mounds of rock on both sides of the highway that caused us to question the change in landscape.

Knowing we were heading to Drumheller in search of dinosaurs we turned off on to Hwy 22 known as the Cowboy Trail. Turning on our cow music we imagined what it would have been like riding the trail on horseback, herding a stock of cows from place to place in search of water in the hot desert sun. Thank you Louis L’Amour , a favourite western author of Ray’s, who finally feels he has experienced “the foothills”! Oh and by the way I know every Garth Brook song (just ask me to sing Shameless for you) and I have learned a few new cowboy tunes and NO I am still not a fan of cowmusic!

We will be staying at a campsite just outside of Calgary on the east end.

It is now Sunday September 10th.

I called a girlfriend of mine who lives in Calgary and hoped she would meet us on short notice. Heather KS is a friend I have known now for 50 years and it was wonderful that she could take the time out of her busy schedule to catch up with us. I wish I had a tenth of her energy. I miss her but know she is where she should be in the West surrounded by her children and grandchildren (and her Mom who will be 90…yah Mrs. McLeod).

We are only about a hour and a half from Drumheller and have landed at our campsite early afternoon. On the way to the campsite, we found the road of 11 bridges to the Last Chance Saloon in Wayne AB. Population then 2490 and now 28. Hahahaha….that is what the sign reads. We were treated to a live band from Montreal who really rocked the place “The Snyders”(a father, son and daughter) and dug into a plate of nachos and a couple of local brews. Met some awesome bikers too. Thankfully we did hit this joint as it was closed Monday.

On our way back to the campsite we went to the Suspension Bridge that really was a ‘suspension bridge.’ There was the cutest little family that had four children a year apart (I wouldn’t have been surprised that she was pregnant as he had all the kids and she lagged behind)

Next day we did up our laundry before we headed to our big Dinosaur Day. Our first stop was the Royal Tyrell Museum. A great spot for those enthusiastic palaeontologists.

It truly is remarkable to think that dinosaurs walked in that area 75 million years ago. We also visited the Largest Dinosaur in the World where you can walk up the 166 steps to the top for a cost, The Little Church where it has sat 10,000 people…6 at a time, we visited Horse Thief Canyon, rode a ferry to catch the other side of the dino trail, found where they do the Canadian Badlands Passion Play, (an outdoor theatre performed every July three weekends only). The area is similar to the Holy Land and portrays the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We finished the day with a visit to The Hoodoos.   Not sure what we expected and although remarkable, these little mounds that look like mushrooms were very disappointing.

HEADING EAST..OFF THE ISLAND BACK IN BC

Wednesday September 6th

Loved the ride back on the ferry from Victoria to Tssawaassan. There is scenery! It takes a hour and half. We take our lunch and book and enjoy being on the water.

The reality is that we are heading home, but there is still lots to see and do. We stop in and see my cousin, Colin McIntosh who is the golf pro at the Chilliwack Golf Course. He was gracious enough to take the time to show us around the course, pointing out an eagle’s nest that has housed 15 generations of Bald Eagles. So good to see him enjoying life and the West.

We decided to stay in Hope at the Wild Rose RV Park. Colin’s mom, Sue, had just been out to visit him and suggested we go to the Othello Tunnels. Good call. Once we got up in the morning and hitched for the day, we stopped for the 3.3km hike into finding this engineering feat of building railways through canyons to save on miles and miles.

As we drive into the Okanogan Valley we are immersed in the haze of local fires. We have stopped in Osoyoos at the Nk’mip RV Park and would love to take this area in. The park is beautiful and surrounded by the mountains (although we cannot see them). We are in the heart of fruit and wine country.

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There is also a desert that is the most northern point to the Great Basin Desert part of the vast Sonoran Desert that extends from Washington south into Mexico. But the smoke is hard to take. This isn’t helping my cough and our eyes are really feeling the sting that comes with smoke filled air.

 

 

 

ON THEE ISLAND…VANCOUVER ISLAND

Posting Sept 7th 2017 Wi-Fi sucks

Left Abbotsford BC for the ferry on Thursday August 31st so that we would avoid the traffic for the long weekend. We had reservations for the ferry from Tssawaassan to Nanimo so we knew our schedule. That would help our hosts on the island to know when they could expect us. It is about one hour and a half over to Duke’s Point south of Nanaimo. Fortunately Ray saw a whale so that probably saved us a couple of hundred dollars to NOT go whale watching. 😀

We arrived at J & L’s B&B on Ravenhill , Port Alberni late afternoon. Janice and I have been friends for 50 years. I moved to Winchester in 1967, Grade 4 and Janice in 1968, Grade 5. Janice moved to Port Alberni in 1980 and has never looked back. She met her (Center of the Earth Torontotarian) future husband Larry, had 2 children, have successful careers and are now entering the next chapter of life.

I had visited Janice about 10 years ago and I was excited to show Ray this fabulous island.

Friday Sept 1st, 2017

Time to Sightsee…

First stop … Thee Cathedral Grove where the size of trees are in a forest and are protected. You actually need to be there and hug a tree. I think we love trees, but oh man, these are treeeees! I feel reborn (refer to pic #3)

On to Chemainus, BC . Renowned for over 40 painted murals on the walls on the buildings portraying the history of the Chemainus Valley.

A full day of tree hugging and mural gawking, we head to Coombs. This quaint little village operates the Coombs General Store and Old Country Market, which is unusual for it’s goats that are kept on the roof in the summer. This market features everything the foodie would ever crave and more. All the more reason to love this island.

 

 

Saturday September 2nd, 2017

Up early because I’m going to call my sister Rhonda to wish her a Happy 50th Birthday xo. Also a Happy Birthday and phone call to GG Judi. And of course Face Timed my boys to catch up with their delightful shenanigans. Be still my heart to be so far away but have access to our loved ones.

We are still B & B-ing at the Cross’

Tonight the feast du le jour…Dungeonous Crab. Are you kidding me??? Not in season, but oh no, the hosts have an “in” and we will be treated to an island delicacy. But first we must work for our supper, as they are alive!!!! When in Rome!   “You tube on how to kill a crab”. Four dead crabs later we are going boating. There is no rest for the wicked here.    Hahahaha

Off we go in our 17’ Larson surrounded by the beauty of the mountains, the vastness of the lake, lunch at Drinkwater’s, a swim and wahhhhhhhhh….. I’m sorry Toto but I’m not sure I ever want to go home.  (2 huge water bombers they can’t use for the fires)

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Sunday Sept 3rd, 2017

But wait…there’s more. Ahhhhhhh Tofino!!! Hello Tofino!!! I’m back!!!! Janice introduced me to Tofino on my first visit and I was anxious to take Ray.   I’ve never said that there is one place I would move to until I went to Tofino. The ocean, the mountains, the trees, the sandy beaches and the laid back living style. Unlike other seaside villages, this area is for long walks on the beach, solitude, reflecting, enjoying the ocean as it should be enjoyed without the crowds or the commercialism.

 

Monday September 4th

Our time here in Port Alberni must come to an end but I am comforted to know that I can and will return.

If anything on this trip I’ve come to realize (although I think I already knew because I’m very deep that way J) how blessed I am to have friends and family, far and near, and feel the love!

We have decided to go to Victoria and will catch the ferry back to the mainland on Wednesday. Again a day of driving and we arrived at Fort Victoria RV Park late afternoon.

 

Tuesday September 5th

There are certain things people ask us when they know we will be in a certain area and going to Victoria was no different. Have you been to the Butchart Gardens? We have now! What a magnificent floral display. If you love flowers, trees, themed gardens this really is quite an attraction. A limestone quarry that depleted in the early 1900s became the dream of the owners Robert and Jennie Butchart and flourished into a family business attracting thousands and thousands of visitors. “Build it and they will come.”

Our visit on the island was not complete without a visit to Victoria. Unfortunately, we really should have set aside a full day for this city. We took the City Double Decker bus tour and enjoyed it immensely. Do this in the morning and Hop On Hop Off to all the sites this city has to offer. We did visit the Empress Hotel, like our Chateau Laurier, but did not make it for High Tea at $75 per person. We did, however go to Fisherman’s Wharf and enjoyed our fish and chips at Barb’s. We had our ferry booked; otherwise I think we may have stayed another day here.

Leaving the Main Land

 

Wednesday August 30th, 2017

We arrived at Carol and Harvey’s in Salmon Arm BC mid day Saturday Aug 26th. They had just finished a tennis game with friends who they vacation with in Mesa AZ as well as summer with in Salmon Arm and area. We came back to their place where we lunched and visited. Side note: I think I need to take up tennis again. It didn’t surprise me to find Carol and Harvey hosting and making everyone feel welcome…the more the merrier. We were treated to a pontoon boat ride and swim, around this huge lake of theirs surrounded by the Rockies. Hello paradise! Carol and I talked of things we could remember, she added more to what I could remember (pictures people…we needed pictures) and her memories and stories of Dad / Mom and babysitting us all. Ray enjoyed conversing with Harvey and getting to know him. We discovered that Harvey played in a band with Glen Porteous (Aimee’s beau’s father) V8 and The Cylinders. Unreal!!!

We ate, swam, boated, visited vineyards, and ate ice cream. There is nothing like being with family. Ray and I left their rested and rejuvenated. We hope we can reciprocate when they visit Ontario next year.

 

Knowing we will be heading over to the Island, we booked our ferry for Thursday the 31st of August. We have had a couple of relaxing days in Abbotsford BC at a lovely campsite Eagle Wind RV Park.

We are using this as our home base for the Vancouver area. Tuesday we decided to head up to Whistler, as this will be the only time we will ever visit.  Wowzer…this place would put our Mt. Tremblant and all to shame. A whole village in itself. It just goes on and on. I always feel so patriotic visiting these places and wish I was more athletic (brave) to experience the magnificence of the mountains and what they offer both winter and summer.

 

What to do…. what to do in Abbotsford BC??? Once we found out we couldn’t do the Ride and Wine Tour on the Tuskast Icelandic Horses (only Sundays and Mondays) (we’ll just have to go to Iceland) we decided to do the Circle Farm Tour. It’s self guided and takes you to everything from dairy, goat and beef farms, gardens, farmers’ markets, honey, and of course wineries. The Trout Hatchery was also so interesting and I’m beginning to think I need to fulfil my bucket list for fly-fishing.   This is a real agriculture area where a lot of fruits, vegetables, meat, honey, wine, etc. come from. Read your labels…you would be surprised.

Tonight we are enjoying the products of our tour today. There is a lot to be said for the 100-mile diet. Enjoy shopping local.

BC/Alberta/BC

Friday August 25, 2017

We pulled into Prince George on Monday (Aug 21) and knew this is where we would replenish our groceries, get an oil change, and fill up on propane and more importantly Mama got a pedicure.

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As we are still in the Northern part of BC and knowing we would be heading over to the West Coast, we crossed over to Alberta to visit Jasper/Lake Louise/Banff Parks and then we will head back over into BC to begin our southern/western part of the province.

There wasn’t a campsite to be found in Jasper so we found a KOA in Hinton, north of Jasper about 40 mins. Things had been quite uneventful so far until we were half way between Jasper and Hinton and were delayed by a bridge construction. Apparently this bridge along with 2 others in the area has taken three years and they still don’t even look close to being done. Whatever the delay was, we had no idea but this set us back about a hour and half. Now only 15km from our campsite, another delay. This time a tractor-trailer had lost part of his load and that left us another 3 hours from bunking in for the night. At least we had reservations and we did have our Eagle with us to “relieve” us as well as find some snacks to tie us over. We had lost an hour travelling back into Alberta so now it was close to 8pm (not so bad), found some supper in Hinton and bedded down for the night in anticipation of our day in Jasper Park tomorrow.

Next day (Thursday)

Without the Eagle we slid into town to have a little walk about and found it was not unlike the town of Banff. Quaint and touristy surrounded by the mountains.

Our reservations for the Jasper Sky tram were for noon. As we boarded and travelled up the mountain in our tram, our driver informs us of the surrounding sights and by the way…he wouldn’t advise us to walk to the summit, as there appears to be a storm moving in from the west.

I guess they don’t have radar to anticipate weather patterns?!?!  Perhaps give the customer the option that if there’s a storm coming in you might not see the sights, or get to the summit or there may be delays at the top to get back down. I guess they just take  chances.

Sure enough, after capturing some beautiful pictures of Jasper and the mountains, the sky opens. No problem…we’ll go in for some lunch inside. We have a light lunch, saw what we wanted, but wait…we’re not going anywhere. The winds are over 70km (and must be under 40), it’s ice raining and snowing, the temp has dropped and visibility is zero. The tram is stopped and wait there’s more. The power is out in Jasper and means once the winds do die down, they can only take half loads of customers because they have to run on a generator.

 

The upside to this (because I am working on being optimistic), we are sheltered, there is food and alcohol and flushie indoor bathrooms. There is also a little gift shop that has books. Lots and lots of books. So I decide, I’m going to the ‘library’ and proceed to unwrap every book I want to read until this f*^ing tram is operable.  Oh yeah!!! There wasn’t even a trinket or welcoming committee once we do land at the bottom.

Our day is still doable so we stopped at the Miette Hot Springs on our way home. They are the hottest springs in the Rockies and it was a lovely way to wind down and get all those tense muscles loosened up for what awaits us tomorrow!

 

It is Friday August 25th and we are up bright and early because we have a long road ahead down the Ice fields Parkway (Hwy 93) and want to frequent many stops including the Columbia Ice field. Our stops included a picture of Mount Edith Cavell, a visit to the Athabasca Falls, driving by the Columbia Ice field (way too many “Oh Ma” buses) besides we took a helicopter to a glacier in Alaska, way cooler. Although we have visited Lake Louise we decided being so close we had to go and get our pic taken. As we drive into the village there are traffic controllers which should have been our first indication. As we drive to the top we are directed back down the mountain to find the shuttle 5km outside of town. Crazy Crazy Busy. Screw it…Lake Louise hasn’t changed.

As we turn off to the Kicking Horse Pass we are delighted with how well we are doing time wise. Yup, you guessed it…. traffic stopped. Another truck overturned (our owner at the campsite says they give East Indians licenses with no training). That was the seventh accident since the beginning of the week. Yikes! As much as I am trying to make the best of a situation and I know it can be worse, blah, blah, blah, it brings out my anxiety. I need to work on this if I am to travel…right?? Bullshit…. pour me some wine!

Nestled in to the Whispering Spruce RV campsite just off the busy highway , (the only thing whispering are the Spruce trees) in Golden,  we will do some of our planning to the West coast and island after a visit with cousins in Salmon Arm.

P.S. Having trouble uploading pics from phone to computer but you are getting them either on FB or Messenger.

Still in BC Part 3

Saturday August 19, 2017

We have come out of Stewart BC and switched to Junction 16 where we will now head into Prince George and this is where we will decide the direction of our British Columbia’s destinations. After paying a permit fee of $5.00 each to see bears at the creek, this highway is plentiful with free viewings along with Mama and her cubs.

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My highlights today were visiting the Totem poles that have been relocated to Kitanga and also the ones mounted in Hazelton where the artist Emily Carr was inspired. As we were taking pictures here, a vehicle stopped. The gal in the front was giving me the thumbs up and once parked came running up to me “let me take a picture of you two in front of the matriarch totem pole”. I said “ no, that’s ok…I’m doing an art study and I don’t want any one in the pictures”. As they got closer (brother and sister…driver stayed put) you can smell the booze. They’re making friendly conversation??? “ What’s your name?” “ Thank you for visiting our town” “Take a picture of my mountain” “ Your mountain, that’s our mountain” Blah, blah, blah. As we non-chalantly walk back to the truck, we make friendly conversation??? Thank them for welcoming us to their town, tell them our name is “Faith” like as in one God, one Land…Enjoy the rest of your day…and we’re out of there. Did I mention these totem poles were on the outside of town, a little isolated, a little too much imagination.???

 

Now settled into Fort Telkwa RV Park and so excited to have unlimited wifi, cable, free showers, a sauna, and a RV wash. This is the area for Steelhead Fishing that apparently is a fly fisherman’s dream. We both would like to try our hand at fly-fishing but it seems to be off-season.

 

It looks as if we may be out of the actual wilderness part of our trip. I can’t imagine seeing this beautiful country any other way. We’re now looking forward to visiting some family and friends in the lower and western part of BC.