Saturday, May 30, 2015

Helloooooooo Canada

After pushing hard for two days in a row, we had positioned ourselves for an easy mid-day border crossing into Canada on Wednesday.   That all went well.  We had no fruits or vegetables,  a minimum amount of alcohol, and no guns/ammo.  The only real question was why we, as Maryland residents, had Nevada license plates on our vehicle.   Easily explained and we went on through.

The remainder of the day, we plucked our way through mostly unappealing terrain. What could/should have been a beautiful drive, was cluttered with billboards … thousands of them, small and large commercial areas, and much congestion.  It took a long time to travel not very far.  We can only imagine what it would have been like at the height of summer.  Glad we’re here now – ahead of the travel curve.

We made our way to the O’Keefe Ranch – a site we wanted to tour Thursday.  The on-site camping was a stone’s throw from the highway, as were many campgrounds we passed along the way.  Unaesthetic, but we were so tired, it didn’t matter.

Only a few beauties along the way:

The O’Keefe cattle ranch was settled in the 1860’s.   The buildings have been placed in a historic trust and open to the public for tours.  The interesting guided tour provided insight about the grit it took for Canadian pioneers moving into British Columbia.  The original settler, Cornelius O’Keefe, has three wives and a total of 17 children.  Many descendants still live in the area.
This home was quite luxurious for the era.

Interesting detail on how wallpaper was applied:

We learned about 'overlanders' - pioneers who traveled part the way west by public transportation (stagecoaches) then the rest of the way (250-300 miles) on FOOT!   Brave and hearty souls.  The overlander family that eventually built this house traveled with 3 small children.  On the day they arrived in the area, mom delivered another baby.

School house on the ranch

Ranch activities the evening we were there

Friday, we drove to Barkerville, and toured another national historic site.

Sights along the way:

Lunch spot along the way:  

Barkersville was settled in the 1860’s as part of the Cariboo Gold Rush.  There are 125 original buildings on site. 

Costumed docent tours taught us everything we ever wanted to know about life in a Gold Rush town.

A few gold miners made money, most didn’t.  The people who started businesses catering to the gold miners did very well.  Successful entrepreneurs included women who ran boarding houses, and black physicians and dentists who fled the United States in fear of slavery laws.  

Buildings are built on stilts to accommodate overflowing riverbanks during spring melt, caused by stream modification and lumbering for building and mine timbers.

As we were leaving Barkerville, it was raining, we were chugging along an old country road – about 50 miles to our planned campsite, and right there on the side of the road was a BEAR !  Our first of what we hope will be many sightings. 
Saturday, we made a big push to Dawson Creek – ‘Mile 0’ of the AlCan (Alaska Canadian Highway).  We’ve traveled 2284 miles since picking up the RV in Los Angeles.
Happy Trails -K&T

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Rough Start ... Good Ending

Bright and early Monday morning, we were raring to go, and plans came to a screeching halt due to an underinflated tire.  Yeah Tom for figuring out how to solve that problem.  The treacherous dirt road which we took into the campground three days earlier had, unfortunately, NOT been paved over the holiday weekend, so we were forced to drive it again. 

Finally - On the road again

Love the rocks   

The first 60 miles of the days’ drive took 3 hours.  At this rate we’ll never get to Alaska.  Fortunately we made better tracks after that and landed in La Pine, Oregon by dinnertime for a total of 400 miles on the day.

The ground under the trees is carpeted in yellow flowers 

After a couple long days, we will be in terrain where we want to travel slower and take in the sights.  This part of the country is not in this years ‘slow tour’ itinerary.  But we did enjoy a spectacular travel day Monday.

We decided to try a different overnight arrangement tonight.  Travel blogs often reference staying in truck stops.  We found an ‘RV friendly’ truck stop with clean showers, the key objective for tonight’s stop.  When living in the camper, we must take ‘navy baths’ due to limitations on waste water carrying capacity and a small hot water tank.  The long hot shower and shampoo was much needed.  The truck stop had a diner and a free wi-fi connection.
Whoo-Hoo – reconnected to the world !!

Another lesson learned.  We are a ‘sail’ going down the road.  We thought that at a travel weight of 13,000 pounds - we would naturally fly downhill, but as it turns out, our box has lots of resistance and we don’t coast very well.  Not to comment on gas mileage … just sayin’.  

Tuesday we were on the road by 6:30 and enjoyed magnificent scenery in northern Oregon and Southern Washington, landing in a Columbia River waterfront state park campsite just north of Wenatchee in Chelan Washington.  4835a

 Sites we saw along the way:
‘Three Sisters’ mountains

Serious windmill farms.  These structures are HUGE.  

Tomorrow is border crossing day – we cleaned the frig eating all non-permitted foods.  They may still make us jettison something we weren’t aware was on the banned list.

Stinky’s take on Monday/Tuesday

Well, just as I was getting used to the campsite in the Tahoe forest, they dragged me off to a new completely unfamiliar location.  Frankly, I thought it was rude, so since I had plenty of rest while they were driving, I stayed up all night and I ran all over them.  They tried to hide under the covers but I could still find them. 
Now when we stop during the day, they wake me up to go on a long walk, or rather, I take them for a walk.  

 I don’t like the halter and leash, but it’s fun to go outside.  I wish they would let me run.  I’ll come back … really … maybe

My take on the end of the day

Cheers and HappyTrails 

Monday, May 25, 2015

Last Shakedown

The last three days have been interesting.  It was our last shakedown camping trip before the big push north.  Becky and John took us to a campsite in Tahoe National Forest in Northern California.  Off the highway exit, we drove for a hour down a paved fire road, then another 40 minutes on a dirt road to get to our beautiful campground.  The dirt road was ridiculously rough, with rocks and deep mud puddles and small landslides.  We drove in 1st gear, at a crawl, weaving to the best pathway under the circumstances.  The drive certainly pushed the capacity of our vehicle.  The campground (Firtop) has 10 sites, a shared water spigot and a single flush toilet.  It was beautiful, with a short walk to the lake, and very quiet.  Our kind of campground. But still too populated for Becky and John!  We were so far off the grid that our weather radio, which has faithfully provided information to us on every trip we’ve been on, never received a signal, not on any one of the seven bands. But NPR came in clearly!

We played down by lake, 

 photographed interesting vegetation, 

And made wonderful meals.  (Morel Mushrooms above)


We saw a flock of white pelicans, tons of chipmunks and an unusual mountain otter. 


It’s really fun that the animal sightings have started already !!

Since we arrived in California nearly 3 weeks ago, it has rained or snowed every day - some days quite a bit.  It’s badly needed as some lakes are completely dried up, but it’s hard on a vacation.  We’re glad we have a comfortable, dry and warm inside space to retreat to.

We stayed 3 nights and started to understand limited camper resources and the rhythm of our day.   We lived on 50 gallons of water, a small amount of propane, and power stored in 2 six volt batteries.  We never used the generator.  The house furnace quickly warmed up the inside of the coach in the morning (which got down to about 50 each night).  We were not as cold as we were at Becky’s house, where the inside temperature dropped to 44 degrees at night.

Several things learned:

  • ·        Never throw away the directions of ANYTHING, no matter how apparently insignificant, even if you think  you know how to operate the item
  • ·         Learn to put things away.  There aren’t very many usable flat surfaces in the camper.  Maybe we’ll take this new habit home.

Becky and John took us on an OMG 4-wheel drive, in their truck, up to a mountaintop lake deep in a mature forest within the National Park.  

 It’s an area they know well and often go to for true boondock camping.  There were a couple of times Kris got out to walk – the driving was too scary.  We picnicked at the TollHouse lake (7050 ft. elevation).

Tonight we said good-bye to the kids as we are leaving bright and early tomorrow … flying solo.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

First Outing

My parents have been talking about and getting ready for ‘camping’ for a long time.  I had no idea what they were talking about until last weekend. 

We went to a Scotts Flat campground in their camper, and I got to sit outside and watch the world go by.  

I went for a long walk, with a string attached to me so that I couldn’t run off.  I sun bathed down by the lake.
My parents tried out everything in the camper - the shower, the heater, the stove.  

They even made me hamburger for our first dinner in the camper.  The trip went much better than I thought it would.

They haven’t been able to use their phones or computers … something about being off the grid.  I’m liking that.  They walked ½ mile uphill to make a phone call.  Glad they didn’t make me go on that walk! 

They went to a town called Nevada City and I had to stay in the camper while they went into town.  I slept in the overhead bunk, looking out the window as people walked by.  Mom and dad came back, served me a picnic lunch and went out again. 

We stayed two days and they made a list of things they are going to do to the camper.  I hope they don’t move my box, my bedroom, or my bed.  I finally figured out where everything is.

Tomorrow they food shop for ‘the big trip’ (where are we going ???)   and we leave Friday morning.

Stinky’s parent’s addition:

Nevada City (northern California) is a cute Victorian / gold rush town where old hippies go to retire.  

It has funky, quaint and odd shops, wineries and small museums.   

The historical culture (turn of the 20th century) was a blend of native Americans, Chinese railroad workers, and gold seeking pioneers.  

Was a fun place to spend a day while supervising Stinky’s camping trip.

Apparently you need to have lots of facial hair to be a member of this music group:

Happy trails ---

Monday, May 18, 2015

We're ready to sail!!

Thanks to son-in-law Johns help, we built a pantry to store food, splash-backs for the kitchen sink and stove areas that have clip on containers for the frequently used items, installed a bathroom medicine cabinet, paper towel holder, soap dispensers and a Kleenex box holder.  

WHEW.  It was a whirlwind – but best done like a live amputation – quickly!

Juniper played in the stream while all this was going on.

The next morning … snow … again.  In and out of the camper moving items back and forth until the pack and construction process was complete.  It was a mud bath, but easily cleaned because it’s soooo... small.   Something to be said for downsizing.

Snap-shot day –
We helped Becky with Lake Tahoe’s snap shot day - when water samples and feeder stream assessments are taken from all around Lake Tahoe.  We hiked a mile to a secluded beach that she had been assigned to survey.  We collected data, made stream pathway drawings, collected water samples, tested some on site and brought some back to the central lab.  It was a great excuse for a walk through beautiful woods.

In the forest we saw unusual 'snow flowers’, which are really fungus.


We leaned one thing interesting … Incense Cedar trees which have incredibly thick bark (up to 10” thick- see bark size reference with glasses), 

have become a host for the invasive mistletoe plant.  

The mistletoe grows all over the cedar (like Spanish moss) and the tree eventually dies.  Resistant to forest fire, and succumbs to mistletoe!

We said our good-byes (just for a few days) and they launched us off onto our first expedition.  We were very excited.