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Saturday, June 22, 2019

Granddaughters !

Its been a busy few weeks helping Becky in the last few weeks of her pregnancy . Hard to care for a toddler while large with child, and it was very hot. With "Grammy" to entertain Ari, she got a lot done off her list: planting garden, flowers, sewing projects, setting up crib,and other baby gear. Finally the due date arrived and she was in active labour by the time she went in for the last Midwife visit. After several days of labour she needed another C section unfortunately , but Zenia Ruth was born safely on June 19th at 10: 50 am. Not as large as her sister at 9 lb 1oz, but nice and healthy. I will be staying on longer to help , now at a record of 68 days away from home, but we're both happy we got to enjoy such a great trip beforehand ! Mike is holding down the fort at home and enjoying lots of social events on Island so he doesn't go too nutty being alone for so long. It might be too late ... I was gone for that long when Ari was born, but he kept busy doing the siding on the house. I'm thankful to have had such a lot of time with the family here, and looked after Ariana while her parents and sister stayed in Hospital . She was amazingly well adjusted and we had fun prepping for the families return home. She chose some balloons, a card and flower for Mum, then insisted that Zenia get a birthday cake as it was her Birth Day ! It was delicious. If I ever get enough time to learn how to post pics on here I will, but being a dinosaur without computer training, it will take me a day or two I don't currently have to learn. Mike is using his time alone well doing research on water wheels and off grid power systems, hoping to get something set up in our secondary creek by this coming winter. He's so clever with the technical stuff and describes it in great detail to which I nod knowledgeably , not understanding a word. Heaven help me if something happens to him and I have to fix anything. we all know I wont... meanwhile, we carry on apart, taking a leaf out of Casey & Kim's book as he's so often away working, and they deal with the long separations as best they can. Life with a 2 yr old and brand new baby is very busy!

Monday, June 10, 2019

the road's less travelled all the way home

After our ( ok, mine) whining about campsites & crowds was over, we calmed down, had a coffee and did a summary of the trip so far- It's been great. What a gorgeous province we live in, and what a privilege to have time to spend exploring , meeting interesting people and stretching our personal boundaries. Still so many side roads to drive and sights to see . Our wandering time was up by May 30th as grandchild # 2 is due Mid June, and I wanted to be within a days travel for the big event. The plan was for all of us to explore and enjoy the Okanagan ,while spending lots of time with Ariana , our granddaughter and her parents, but after the storm we arrived in, Vernon had a heat wave and it was hard to keep the dogs cool Its certainly easier to deal with 3 dogs by yourself at our place than in a smoldering hot Urban subdivision, so Mike decided it was best if they all went home. ( The woodshed and numerous projects were calling, too) We took a week to drive back to Vancouver Island, stopping in Keremeos to visit friends, and camping in our favourite campsite near Hedley BC along the Similkameen River. Were blessed with good weather , & we both love the town of Hedley & chatting with the locals there. Sad to see the former site of the Old Hitching Post bare after it burnt down in Fall of 2018 . The owners were injured jumping from the second story , lost everything , and the town lost a historic landmark. We were glad to have been there for dinner on our last years trip, and hope all goes well with their injury recovery and re building. Onward from there to Tswassen ferry via the Hope Princeton highway, which is always lovely. Drove it in the Fall on our way back home after the first snowfall, this time grey and smoky from the Alberta wildfires. Hoping for a wetter summer with less fires for BC this year. Just made the Ferry over to Victoria, where Mike & dogs drove straight onto the Mill Bay /Brentwood Bay ferry for the drive north to French creek ferry. 10 Different ferry rides on this trip ( not including his ferry ride home)- a personal record! All different, all interesting and scenic and not a single ferry line up or sailing wait. Another personal record..we can all tell ferry wait horror stories! I got a ride to Victoria airport from my Mom to fly directly back to Vernon, and that marked the official end of our road trip portion : 40 days and 40 nights worth. Mike's now safely home on Island, keeping busy and trying not to get too lonely , the dogs happy to be home running free and cats delighted to see their pack back. Spiffy turned 16 last week and sure liked having them around for his party. Now for me, extended " Grammy " time which has already been lots of fun. I am reminded daily I'm not 30 anymore but oh well, its worth the pulled ligaments and body ache to play with a 2 yr old again, I love it.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Kootenays, Part 2

Kootenay travels, ! We really enjoyed stopping in Sandon, near New Denver BC .SOO worth a visit if you're in the area. Part of the town is owned by a Museum co operative group, and the Powerhouse owned by one family that has been working hard to keep it running with the help of donations. Its the longest continuously running power system in BC history ,the equipment has been successfully working for over 100 years. if you look it up online the articles explain the technical details much better than I can, but how cool it was to see it - Real "Green " power! A fast flowing creek was partly diverted 100 years ago and the powerhouse and equipment installed, but since then it generates enough power for the town and area of New Denver. No flooding, dams or fancy computerized equipment. It is an interesting model for other areas to get inspiration. Mike took a tour and got some practical ideas for our future pelton ( water ) wheel install . Currently we use a generator in the winter to top up our battery bank when we don't get enough solar light, but the plan is eventually to use our creek and waterfall to supplement instead. Our ancient Ginormous diesel Onan Genny uses very little fuel and is economical, but, like most of our ancient equipment will only run for Mike - he's an Old machinery "whisperer" We took the dogs for a walk up the road from the ghost town of Sandon to Idaho Peak, a scenic drive to a wildflower meadow we attempted on our Honeymoon. At the beginning of the twisty, one lane gravel road is a sign reading " no RV's beyond this point" .Seeing as how we were in our Jeep back then, it was fine although pouring with rain and foggy the day we tried. I wasn't convinced we'd see any vistas or wildflowers, but Mike was determined, so off we went. As I was staring down the sheer drop on my side, Mike was climbing us over a fresh mudslide partly blocking the one lane. No one had any idea we were up there( pre cel phone days) and I was wondering out loud if our bodies would ever be found should we go over, when around a corner descending the mountain, was a huge Motorhome!! What the?!! They gestured and shouted at us in German and the standoff ended only when Mike backed down, over the mudslide, backwards around a corner, and put the Jeep practically over on its side so they could creep by. Tourism and polite Canadians at its finest... We did make it to the top finally and the view WAS obscured by fog, but we saw flowers and marmots so all was not lost. Fast forward to 2019, the sign was still there, but road improved. Still one lane but now all sorts of vehicles go up apparently. (We took their word for it) . We also checked out the large collections of retired Trolley Busses parked in town as living " museum" displays . They had one open for touring so we took a look around and Mike realized it was from a route in Burnaby where he grew up and he'd actually ridden on it back in the day! His horrified face while telling me all about his motion sickness and why he wont ever ride a bus again was pretty entertaining. I also really enjoyed meeting the owners GF, who's from Chemainus on V.I. She had gotten burnt out from being a business owner caught in the rat race, sold everything and decided to walk around BC. Many miles later, she came across the Valley to town and has been there ever since. For all my complaining about the crowds in campsites, we both really enjoy meeting all the interesting people we come across and hearing their stories. After Kaslo , we headed across Kootenay lake on the Balfour ferry for a lovely 1/2 hour ride. Its the longest Free ferry in BC, (maybe even in Canada?) We'd been given directions to a Forest site accessible by a logging road by Island friends who highly recommended it, so off we went ,once again rattling and shaking along for 10 km of gravel roads. The road was well maintained, which should've been a warning... but it was as gorgeous as we'd been told, with lakeside sites and a fast flowing stream alongside. We chose our site and settled in, planning to stay for a few days. When the new caretakers came by to collect fees, they proudly announced how they'd been working hard to make the site better. We thought the setting was lovely and wondered what they meant .The place began filling up on a Thursday afternoon, the generators running immediately ,then at 7 am the next morning the weed-eater started. As I gave up on sleep and made coffee, the Lawnmower was next. There was no lawn- they were mowing the grassy verge on the beach! Good grief. Mike said, " Why are we paying to stay in these noisy crowded places and putting all the wear n tear on the Van to get to them again? We were longing for the good old days, where anyone could pull over pretty well anywhere; Forestry and Free sites were just that, and they were truly "rustic", with maybe an old outhouse and a rickety picnic table. Usually empty or maybe one or two others there just for fishing and privacy , making do with flashlights and campfires. Where are those places ?! Where are those people? I don't begrudge folks who like hook ups and watching TV while in the wilderness, fine, good for you, but I am not that person and no offence, but I don't want to camp beside you. We pulled out the next morning by 8 am and rattled our way to the 9 am ferry back across the Lake. It worked out well anyway ,as the weather changed and it rained off and on all the way back to Vernon. We pulled into town in the midst of a thunderstorm, understanding that we truly are from another time, perhaps even another planet and thats fine- we live in the right place!!

Friday, May 24, 2019

Kootenay days, part 1

I write this from an internet cafe ( " The Treehouse" )in Kaslo BC , great little place for breakfast, nice little town on Kootenay Lake. It hasn't changed a lot since we were here 20 + years ago, but they're coming soon judging by the real estate listings and development proposals. Can't stop progress , and its a beautiful setting, so hardly surprising. Best Mining history Museum we've seen is located in the basement of a coffee shop here in town, huge collection of mine artifacts, rocks and machinery. Mike was pleased that 2 of his outboard motors and a chainsaw were there on display. I recognized some of my kitchen appliances too. We went by the Sternwheeler SS Moyie, but didnt go on the tour this time. After leaving Vernon late last week, we took a side road from Lumby through the Trinity Valley to Mabel Lake Provincial park. it was worth the winding road and 2 km of gravel logging road, sites nicely spaced, lake is pretty and setting spectacular. It wasn't too crowded but even mid week in May all the Lake sites taken, so I imagine you'd have to book sites in peak season. The next day we drove hwy 6 east to Nakusp which hadn't changed at all . enjoyed the free and picturesque ferry rides from Needles/Farguier and Shelter Bay- Galena Bay. While waiting at the terminal at Shelter Bay , Mike went for a swim while I took the dogs for a walk up to a point overlooking the Lake. Part of the view was of smiling relaxed Mike, wearing nothing but shorts heading back up the ramp while the largest Bear I've ever seen wearing a lovely Cinnamon coloured coat , possibly silver tipped, was ambling down. Mike paid no attention to his wife screeching from above ,dogs were too busy looking for squirrels to notice anything and while I was grabbing my phone to -throw at Bear? film the encounter? Mr Bear diverted into the bush and carried on his way. We were on our way to the Eagle Bay rec site , a 30 min drive from Galena Bay down a logging road . Actually an Up, Down, Around, Repeat as needed one way logging road. When we arrived Bear warning signs were posted around but apparently they were all hanging around the ferry terminal as we didn't see any. Mike did see a Mama Moose with calf when out running a few days later though. The site is well situated on the Lake with a rocky beach and waterfalls feeding it. No cel service or hook ups and we were feeling rustic and self sufficient until the place began filling up with fancy trailers and even a bus/motorhome over the long wknd! Glad to have not met any of those rigs driving in or out . we enjoyed a few days there and the waterfall drowned out most of the generators, music and screaming kids. we retaliated occasionally with the barking dog chain . From there we took ferry back over, back through Nakusp, and onward to New Denver and the ghost town of Sandon. Sandon deserves a whole post, so I'll leave it here for now. Cafe s filling up and we have to be on the road.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

halfway through-a review

We've had a wonderful week " off " in Vernon with both our kids, their spouses, 5 dogs and Ariana, a very adorable and fun 2 year old ! Now , off to the Kootenays for a few weeks Lord willing. So far, we left Comox valley, drove north to Port hardy on Vancouver Island, took the " northern Adventure" ferry to Prince Rupert, drove the gorgeous scenic highway from Prince Rupert to Terrace, a loop from Terrace to Kitimat and back to visit Casey & Kim. From there we drove to Prince George, took the Yellowhead from PG east towards Jasper, then turned south towards Kamloops . From Kamloops we took the 97 via Monte Lake to Vernon with the family. We took our own mini trip to the Salmon Arm area this past wknd to attend an Auto swap meet . Thats a story for another blog post, but note to self-we are not the demographic they are looking for... hahaha. We've been doing our own campsite ratings along the way . Our criteria for a 10/10 campsite is different as we don't need hookups or the usual amenities and like to be in small, uncrowded ,off the beaten track sites, hence our preferred choice of Forestry or Recreational places. The positive side of travelling in an old Van is we can do some off roading ( now we have new tires, thanks Dan) and its stress free ( Barring break downs or falsely reading gas gauges) Its been a very mixed group of places we've stayed so far between Private, Provincial, Forestry and Free. I'm all for just pulling over anywhere and stopping, but those days are probably gone. A sad result of the times we live in is the amount of people forced to live in their RVs, many with other problems, so it brings some hassles. Van's doing ok - one broken gas gauge, 2 new rust holes ,a drooping fan belt and one new starter motor later but no tow trucks! Next , a Kootenay loop- we aim to drive along Hwy 6 from Vernon to Nakusp, south to Nelson/Kaslo and back to Vernon along the very south border of BC. It will be interesting to see how much things have changed in the Kootenays in the 20 plus years since we were last there.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Bear with us

days 11-14 of our trip : I write this from Vernon in a lull of the family storm as Ari sleeps and everyone else is out socializing and mini golfing. ( GP) Grandpa) is already in bed. We left Kitimat a half day ahead of Kim & Casey ,as we can only do 80 km , no matter what the posted limit is. Mike spends a lot of time pulling over to let others pass. Its interesting how few drivers signal a thank you for this anymore and so many scream by in stupid places -usually just before a double passing lane. K&C caught up with us after Kim finished work on Friday , and we met up in a campsite near Houston BC,about half way to Prince George. They could've easily gone a lot further, but were considering the slow oldies. The campsite was not our style but did the job, and had an open field for the dogs. We packed up and left early next morning while they slept in , drove right through PG except for gas . The prices are, thank fully, better than on Vancouver Island when we left . We've paid as high as 1.77/L and as low as 1.39 on this trip so far, becoming as familiar with service stations in BC now as Lordco s. We met one bored gas attendant in a small town, possibly practicing for a stand up routine, who regaled Mike with tales of various customers in an extremely politically incorrect way . He was on quite the roll when he said to Mike " What, did your wife take everything and now you have to live in your Van ? harharhar! " My cue for popping out the back door and saying, "nah, I made him buy it" Taking the Yellowhead highway out of PG is always a pleasure and it was a great drive- light traffic and incredible scenery, still lots of snow on the sides of the road. It was good we'd fuelled up in Prince George though, as there wasn't another service station until Clearwater. Its a long, lonely highway with no cel service. Just outside of town we saw 3 Bears (no Goldilocks ) then, along the roadside at various intervals, seven more! Seven Bear sightings in one day is a personal record! Casey & Kim caught up wth us in Clearwater and were running on fumes as they hadn't stopped. They saw two Moose on their trip. We all arrived at Canoe river Resort campground, (just south of Valemont) by dinnertime and got premium real estate along the river . it was lovely and quiet, although I wouldn't go near the place at rodeo time as the grounds are next door. We had to make a cardboard shield as our roof vent was missing & temp dropped to -1 overnight. (Turns out vent cover had blown off but was wedged inside the canoe,and an easy fix to put back later. Must've been those super high speeds we were doing) The next day ,amazing scenery of Rocky Mountains,and, the Rocky Mountain Tour train . They took pictures of us as we took pictures of them taking pictures of us. All was well with the drive into the sunnier , hotter climate of the Okanagan until just outside of Kamloops we smelled burning rubber ,and trust me ,it wasn't the tires . The conversation went something like this : me " I smell something burning, shouldn't we pull over?" Mike " I'm sure its not us, lets take this cool side road . Look at those Hoodoos!" . Many kilometres of bumpy, winding road later, we crossed onto the freeway, and the smell of burning rubber became stronger. Mike, " that might be us" Me "Yes! pull over! what if its something serious?!" Him " I'm not pulling over on the freakin freeway, done way too many repairs on the sides of freeways" This continued for many miles until we we finally stopped to let the dogs out at Monte Lake rest stop and he took a look under the hood. The fan belt had come loose ,was dropping onto the hot engine periodically and burning,causing the smell. He sighed, got out his coveralls, tools and fixed it in 15 minutes while I walked dogs along the Lakeside. The rest of drive uneventful, we arrived in Vernon by dinnertime,and as K & C were booked into the Cedar falls campsite in town,joined them there for a couple of nights. Visits, campfires, barbecues ,and this doting Grammy getting to spend time with Ariana, and BOTH my own kids ( and their spouses). Awesome. Casey and Kim leave tomorrow ( Friday May 10) to go back home and do the long drive in reverse, but this time not having to cater to the slow parents.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Kitimat wildlife

It was so great to see Casey & Kim and be able to visit a few days. Kim was working all week, but Casey had some time off so was able to show us around the town.We did some really nice hikes: one along the river through forest and on to some beautiful gravel banks and sandy beaches, and the other to the "Giant Spruce" then along the river. Casey was telling us all his Grizz stories as we were bushwhacking along the river bank, and pointed out some nice deep tracks in the mud. We're used to our relatively harmless & typically chill Coastal Black Bears, who can be chased off easily- I once had to squeeze by one on a porch using a recycling bin as a shield. He stopped chewing the garbage to stare at this insane human screeching at him for a few seconds and went back to his meal. Mike & I saw a Mama Black Bear with cub near Telegraph cove on our way up Vancouver Island , quite close to a sign reading " No Black Bear Hunting"so we assume she was on her way over there. Also saw a large Male running up one of the gravel backroads we were travelling on, racing for the bush and safety. Grizzlies are a tad different, as our son was explaining as we wandered casually through their territory. We did have 5 dogs racing through the bushes with us however- 2 Jack Russell terriers as possible Bear timbits, and 3 huskies to hopefully provide enough distraction . Fortunately we didn't have to test this theory,and enjoyed our hike. Had some real food which was especially exciting as we've had to re purpose our Van oven as a dog food cupboard ,and I only cook stove top meals. Fantastic prime rib dinner at the "Chalet" ! its still cold at night here, and has been windy which is great -no bugs! On our trip East to ON a few years ago we encountered mosquitos with air traffic control and squadron formations that hovered excitedly outside the Suburban just waiting for one of us to get out. We finally got a Motel one night and it looked like the aftermath of a horror movie the next morning with splattered blood all over the room. mostly mine. No idea how they got in, perhaps they flew ahead to wait. Here, the 5 dogs have been having a great time with each other . Burton, Caseys' Malamute likes to be the pack leader, and he's big with the beautiful looks and singing voice to do it well, so all the others have complied with orders. The JRTs can easily get out of the back yard so have visited a few of the Browns neighbours... oops. They use our cat door at home to get in and out, and Marlowe presented himself early Easter morning in our neighbours house, alarming their grandchildren who were expecting the Easter Bunny and chocolates, not a leaping 20 lb terrier/terrorist. now we set off for the long drive to the next place, with all dogs accounted for and crated & will post again when we get to Vernon .