Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Welcome back to Canada!

I don't know if she was officially 'homeless', but I spotted at little Oriental lady in the alley collecting cans and bottles, so I donated my accumulated supply. We were 'camped' for the night at the Walmart in Oak Harbor. There are not a lot of good boondocking sights around there, and the one that looked good on Google Earth had a military checkpoint, and was obviously not open to the public. But I had some shopping to do, and found a useable wi-fi signal, so it worked out fine.
Morning was overcast and cool, and I had been watching my calendar, and decided that heading north again was the best option.
I looked around a bit at a Camping World store in Burlington, which is back on the mainland and on Interstate 5. Then I found the HobbyTown USA store in Bellingham, where I stocked my hangar with helicopter parts, for the eventuality that my r/c helicopter might at some point have an unplanned, or 'hard' landing!
I headed for the border, but not before stopping to buy some last minute 'cheaper' US gas to fill the tank.
As a result of the recent purchases, I upgraded my 'loot' estimate at the border, but had no hassle there after an only 10-15 minute lineup. The border guard was more interested in my camping on the Mexican beaches than he was about the beer that I could not purchase at the Safeway in Lynden, Wa, because of a town ordinance against Sunday sales of liquor!
But I must say that coming up with an accurate estimate is difficult as you have to try to remember things you bought over two months ago, and may have been using ever since. I did not try to calculate the amount of cat litter left in the box, or the number of strawberries yet uneaten. But as I said it was not a problem and I stopped just north of the line to swap out the US cash and coins in my wallet, for the much more convenient Canadian version.
Then it was direct to Tim Horton's for some good coffee!

If I had known my friends in the Brent Lee Band were playing at the Big B Saloon in Mission the night before, I might have tried to run the border earlier, but I didn't, so that's that!

Anyway, watching the calendar count down, and noting the weather was kind of cool and drab, I decided to keep heading east towards Alberta, after dumping my tanks in case of freezing weather ahead.

The coquihalla highway was bare and wet, but there was a lot of piles of whitish stuff near the summit. I saw these small vehicles which appeared to be driven on the surface of such stuff. It was all starting to come back to me now.

The 'welcome home' was emphasized when I saw the price of gas, which was $1.22/liter in Kamloops with my Shell discount, and $1.26 in Revelstoke and Golden. If the Google conversion is correct, that works out to about $4.70/ gallon in the US.

I spent the night in Revelstoke, then headed up Roger's Pass on the last leg home. I knew from the Roger's Pass web cam that the road was bare and wet, but I met a convoy of army and Parks staff headed down the road, no doubt to conduct some avalanche control work. They were behind me, so I was not worried about delays, but I was worried when I noticed that oncoming vehicles had snow-encrusted grilles and headlights! I thought it was supposed to be spring? I tried to flag down some high-flying geese and tell them to turn back!
When I saw some more of those 'over-snow' vehicles being towed on the road, I knew that home could not be too far away.

It didn't resemble any of the RV convoys I had seen in Mexico, but I did see a flock of campers headed down the road, so perhaps spring was not that far off? We call them 'campers' or truck campers, but I found out in California at least they are referred to as 'slide-ins' or 'cab-overs'.
There was one more bridge to cross as it were, and that is the big, very high 'Park' bridge as they call it, east of Golden on the #1 highway. I did not burn the bridge behind me, as I plan to go back before long. The pics do not do it justice, but there is no where to pull off for a decent shot. It's 405 meters long, and really high!

Here is one I found online, taken from below.

But just to make up for my lack of pics, I have provided some additional stuff for you to look at, if you have the time.
Here is a YouTube video someone made with a good view of the construction from below on the old highway.
And a musical YouTube view of driving over the bridge from the top. When driving over the bridge it is so wide and the railings are so high that there is really no feeling of height. But when you see it from below ...
Yet another video from below while under construction - with a Creedence soundtrack!
Okay, if you are really bored, you can watch this BC government's 150th birthday video - which happens to have a clip of the bridge included.
As I pulled into the home neighborhood, I could see that winter had not entirely left yet,

But look at that; my driveway was bare!
It was 11:40 AM. My odometer showed that the truck had traveled 11,905km, not including distance on the ferry!

It had been 73 days, 7.5 hours since we were last parked in this driveway.

We have now spent 32 days in Canada in 2008, 21 days in Mexico, and 51 days in the US.

It will be the end of June before we will have spent as much time around home as away, and the same time till we have spent (suffering) under a stick roof, compared to the freedom of the camper.
But, have no fear, the camper will be going places during the summer on my days off, and the blog will keep going as usual, but with updates a little more sporadic, depending on when photogenic things happen at work or in the area.

And Harley and I will be hanging out, planning our next expedition. I hope you have enjoyed the ride along with us. Stay tuned.

Photo: T. Damm

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