Summer Travel Map

Friday, July 27, 2012

July 15-27: Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada

July 27, 2012
Kamloops RV Park, Campbell Creek/Kamloops, BC

We bid Vancouver farewell and made the trek to “the interior” of British Columbia as planned on the 15th.  We really enjoyed our stay in Vancouver and will definitely visit the area again.

We hit the road just before our “normal time” of 10:00 AM and were soon back on the TC-1 (Trans-Canada Highway), this time heading east.  Shortly after we passed our border crossing point near Abbotsford, the highway turns to the north and east.  We followed the TC-1 to the town of Hope, recognizing several landmarks and a rest stop along the way; this portion of the route was on our return from Alaska in 2009.  After a short segment on the Crowsnest Highway (PH-3), we turned north on the Coquihalla Highway (PH-5) toward Kamloops.  This was a great route with excellent roads for the most part.  The Coquihalla was apparently the only toll road in BC up until 2008, when the tolls were abolished.  Good thing, I say.

Once in Kamloops, we re-connected with TC-1, and said “goodbye” to PH-5 turns into the Yellowhead Highway at that point and continues north to connect with TC-16.  Not on our route this time.

I will say this about the road builders here: they love their grades.  In the US, we have a lot of steep grades, but they’re often broken up into segments or have switchbacks.  On PH-5, we climbed and descended several 6-8% grades that just went on and on, probably for 10-15 km in some cases.  We had one grade that brought us down to about 30 MPH because we got stuck behind a truck for a bit and couldn’t regain momentum.  Fortunately, the coach did just fine going up and, using the Jake Brake exclusively, going back down.  And, since we’re retracing our route on the return, we’ll get to do it all over when we leave here.

We’re staying here for almost two weeks, which may be the longest stop on this year’s route.  I’d planned to stay a week and then meander down the Okanagan Valley (wine country, you know) through Kelowna and Osoyoos before crossing back to Washington.  Then we (I?) decided to have two major coach upgrades (desk and refrigerator) done starting July 30th back in Oregon.  Well, that’ll change the timing.  So, we decided to stay put a few extra days and then return to Oregon by essentially the same route (back to the border, over to I-5, then south).

This is another older park that’s had a series of upgrades to bring it into, or at least close to, current standards.  The sites are pretty narrow and gravelly, but the 50 Amp power is strong, the water pressure is good, all the sites are “full service” (electricity, water, sewer), and - fantastic - the Wi-Fi is pretty stable and reasonably quick.  After last week’s struggle with a Wi-Fi system that was constantly crashing, this is a very welcome change!

We didn’t have a lot of things planned this year that required us to be in a certain place at a specific time.  This stop, I’d arranged our timing to be here when our good friend, Dave, arrived to start one of his long-distance bicycle rides.  This one, the Rocky Mountain 1200 (, is particularly tough.  Of course, Dave’s in great shape...

Anyway, after some email coordination, I made arrangements to pick him up at the Kamloops airport on Thursday, and we got him to his lodging at the Thompson Rivers University (Kamloops sits at the confluence of the North and South Thompson Rivers).  We had some time, we we drove back to the coach, where Merlin remembered Dave well and was quite attentive.  From there, we headed out to a quick dinner at a local restaurant and brewpub, the Noble Pig.  After sandwiches and a brew, we were all ready to call it a night, so we dropped Dave off and headed home.  The RV Park is about 15 miles east of Kamloops proper, so it wasn’t a bad drive.

Friday, Dave got his bicycle reassembled and did some exploring on his own, and we made arrangements to host dinner at the coach.  The Rack of Lamb was excellent, if I do say so myself.  Saturday night, Dave and I went to a little hole-in-the-wall Chinese place for dinner, and he was ready for the ride activities starting on Sunday.  The weather’s turned a bit mixed, with cooler temperatures and periodic showers, some heavy.  The bike ride started at 10:00 PM on Sunday night; here’s hoping for a safe trip for everyone!

During the following few days, we had some mixed weather.  We’d planned a day trip south to Kelowna and the Okanagan Wine Country, but ended up deferring that as each day had forecast, and actual, thunderstorms.  We did manage to visit some of the local dog-friendly parks, giving the pups a chance to experience some new places, too.

On Friday, we finally trusted the weather enough to do our wine trip.  It was a longer drive than I anticipated, but we had a nice day nonetheless.  We visited two wineries, Cedar Creek and Gray Monk and made the obligatory purchases.

Back home, we were ready to wrap up our stay, with our normal night-before-travel routine.  It was a nice visit in an area we hadn’t stayed before...

Monday, July 23, 2012

Vancouver Follow-up

July 23, 2012
Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada

So, I've learned enough to be dangerous with a video.  Well, maybe not dangerous but Steven Spielberg has nothing to worry about at this point.  I posted this short video to Facebook, but also wanted to share with our non-Facebook friends.

While we were in Vancouver, BC, earlier this month, we took a whale watching cruise from the Steveson section of Richmond (just south of Vancouver), across the Strait of Georgia, around Saturna Island, and back.  I wasn't sure of the size of the boat and the conditions, but I knew that they dress all their passengers in heavy-duty protective suits.  So, I chose not to bring all the expensive camera gear and took a chance relying on our small point-and-shoot camera (plus our phones, of course).

Well, we saw plenty of wildlife and did get a few pictures, even though I could have brought the Nikon gear without any issues as it turned out.  When I realized how difficult the Orcas were to photograph (they're smaller and quicker than the humpbacks, minkies, and fin whales we've seen on other trips), I decided to try to capture some video.  It's not HD-quality, but not bad for a 4+ year old pocket camera.

Once I had the video moved over to the computer, I had to learn a little bit about video editing before I could go much further.  I figured out how to get the clips I wanted, crop them to the segments I liked, and adjust the audio (one was louder than the other and you can hear all the wind noise).  Another fun project!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

July 8-14: Vancouver, BC

July 14, 2012
Capilano River RV Park, North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
As always, please click on any picture to see a larger version...

It was a good thing we arrived well rested, because we had a busy week in Vancouver!  We thoroughly enjoyed our visit and already have a list of things for “next time”...
We had an easy drive getting here, heading north from Bellingham on WA-539, fueling up (won’t need diesel in Canada if we work it right) and crossing the border with no issues.  This was the first time we were searched leaving the US - by US authorities.  We had to exit the coach and they poked around inside for a while before letting us go.  The questions from the Canadian side were perfunctory at best.  Who knows what we’ll find when we get back in a few weeks.

Once across the border, it was a short drive north to Trans-Canada Highway 1 (TC-1), which we followed west to Vancouver.  If we’d gone up I-5, we’d have had to drive right through downtown Vancouver to get to the RV Park, so I mapped out a more circular route.  We crossed the Fraser River and were soon in North Vancouver, where we exited and quickly found our destination.

This RV Park is older and pretty tight quarters, but we had a prime spot with a small hedge next to us where we could put up the dog pens and sit out almost every afternoon.  The weather was fantastic with sunny skies and relatively cool temperatures (70s).  We deployed the outdoor cooking equipment and even ate out on the picnic table several nights.  That’s unusual for us because we normally eat so late that there are too many bugs, but no issues this week.

One of the local “tourist attractions” is the Capilano River Suspension Bridge, so I gave it a shot (Geri politely declined).  It was an interesting way to spend an afternoon, and I got a few photos of the various “death defying” set-ups hanging several hundred feet above the River.

Since the weather was nice, we booked a whale watching cruise during the week.  This was a bit of a project, since it involved getting the pups into doggy day care and being at the dock by 8:15 AM.  Since it was about an hour’s drive south through the city, this meant getting up at oh-dark-thirty, but it was well worth it to see the Orcas and other wildlife.

The other “attraction” close to the RV Park is Grouse Mountain.  Essentially a ski area with summer activities, it’s quite popular.  We took the aerial tram up to the top and had great views.

Closer to home, I took a walk across the Iron Gate Bridge and meandered along the shoreline in Stanley Park toward Downtown Vancouver.  It was an excellent walk on another nice day.  Next time we’re in the area, I’ll try to walk around the whole park’s seawall, a loop of probably 22-25 km (13.5-15.5 miles), or maybe I’ll have a bike with me to make it easier.

We also took a walk over to Ambleside Park on the north side of Burrard’s Inlet, right near the RV Park.  We took the pups so they could play on the beach and see other dogs (it’s an off-leash beach), and everyone had a good time.  It was Merlin’s 14th birthday and he loves the water so it was a special treat for him!

On our last day in Vancouver, we headed to the Granville Island Public Market to stock up on good foodie items for the next few days.  We really enjoyed browsing through all the stalls, although that C$100 I got from the ATM seemed to disappear quite quickly.  It reminded us of the West Side Market in Cleveland or the Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia.  Cheese, meats, vegetables, greens, mushrooms; we got some of each!  Although we’re being careful to manage our food around border crossings, we’ll definitely eat well for the next week or so!
Tonight, we did our standard pre-travel activities, putting away all the outside stuff (dog pens, grill, chairs) and getting much of the interior secured before bedtime.  Tomorrow, we have a longer-than-usual driving day of about 5-6 hours, but nothing that’ll cause us to leave before our “normal” departure time of 10:00 AM...