A Fairly Good Night

Shortly after I went to bed, a crowd gathered near the truck and gabbed until about 1AM. I wasn’t concerned as I figured out they were the party that belonged to the trailer near me, but they kept me up. Soon as they left, I fell into a deep slumber.

So where did I spend the night? In a motel parking lot, one that was set far back from the road and the view of the management office. I gave a bird watcher a scare when I opened the tailgate with a loud thud this morning!

I’m enjoying sleeping in the truck except that I’m not organized yet. I need to find a way to get some things up near the ceiling and out of the way. My bed is very comfy and the temps have been perfect for sleeping in light jammies under a good sleeping bag.

The weather is decent this morning with some sun and blue sky. Yaaaaaaay. Check in at the seminar goes on till 5:00, so I’ll wait till late afternoon to go do that and will likely spend the bulk of the day at another library.

I called Charles this morning to check in and let everyone know I scraped through before the highway closures. Neelix is doing great and doesn’t miss me. 🙁

I can’t believe the Alberta disaster isn’t front page news in the U.S. *shakes head*

I’m Loving Netflix!

(And my iPad and my Mifi when it works and my super fast Internet connection!)

I left the library at 6PM and headed to Orchard Park Mall to pass an hour or so and to see if their food court is any good. Not at all, but there is a Umi Sushi like at Park Place in Lethbridge. I was feeling just peckish, so I grabbed a California roll only rather than a bento. Lunch counted as a business meeting (Amber is my graphic designer for the new site so we talked shop) so dinner out too didn’t feel excessively extravagant, especially since it was just $5. I can’t very well live off trail mix and apples until I get home!

After, I headed out to my first choice of overnighting spot and it didn’t feel right, so I mulled the situation over and headed to the perfect place. I’ll give more details in the morning.

Then, like last night, I watched a movie on my iPad through the Netflix app. I have no doubt that I would have otherwise ended up at a movie theatre tonight. So my Netflix membership has more than paid for itself this month already. To watch movies, I sit in the driver’s seat and drape my iPad case over the steering wheel. It is a surprisingly comfy setup!

It should be another comfortable night. Zzzzzzz

Stettler to Kelowna

Tar Sands and Fort Mac
Redwood Strands and Kitimatt
(This is our home) and down in the Shuswaps too
I’ve seen many nights feel like high noon from the Dome to Saskatoon
There’s confederation bridge and butterfly ridge and Sudbury and the Sault
I’ve been snowed in for days on the Trans Canada Highway
And that was in the month of June and this is our home

(Mike Plume Band, This is Our Home)

Bitch as I do about the Canadian government and the cost of living here, the variety of landscapes and climates of this vast country will never cease to amaze me. There hasn’t been a moment since I left my property that I didn’t look up and marvel at the beauty of the scenery, from the Prairies through the Badlands, into the foothills, and across the Rockie Mountains. That I have done this trip for the second and a half time, doesn’t make it stale at all.

I left Stettler at about 9:30 on Wednesday morning and drove straight through to Olds, where I conceded I wasn’t going to reach cheaper gas on the outskirts of Calgary. From Olds, I continued southwestward, passing Spring Hill RV Park north of Cochrane, where I stayed in late September of 2008.

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(Spring Hill RV Park)

I didn’t go through the pretty town of Cochrane, instead veering west on highway 1A just before town, until I reached the junction for the Transcanada Highway.

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(very low sky entering the Rockies)

From there, it was a short drive to Canmore where I got some groceries, using my Safeway card for the first time in a year. I bought $30 worth of food, all on sale, and paid only $20 with my Safeway discount!

The entrance to Banff National Park is right after Canmore. I elected to pay the $9.80 for a day pass so that I could stop if I wanted to without risking a fine. Having been to Banff and Lake Louise, I had no intention of detouring, but I still wanted to be able to pull over for a leg stretch, a view, or to use the bathroom.

That said, this was my third time driving across the Rockies and I didn’t have much better luck than the previous two trips since the weather was crappy; very cold and rainy. 🙁

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(Not quite cold enough for snow, but it almost felt like it!)

Still, the drive was effortless. I don’t know what it is about this stretch, but it always makes for really good gas mileage. I’ve never done better than 500KM on a tank with my truck, but I ended up getting about 600KM on the tank I got in Olds. A good part of it is that you just drive straight through, so you don’t waste gas stopping at street lights and such, plus the stretch is mostly downhill. Several times, I put Moya in second gear and took my feet off the pedals, saving both fuel and wear and tear on the brakes.

I stopped at the Spiral tunnels and the entrance to Glacier Provincial Park, where the air smelled like evergreens and snow. I wish I could convey that smell through pixels; it will be a highlight of this summer.

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 (Lots of snow on the mountains, even though it’s late June.)

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(This cut in the rock shows how much work it was to carve a road into these mountains.)

This trip, I was finally about to stop at the Rogers Pass discovery centre! It’s a small museum that makes a good leg stretch break.

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(This is the first time I’ve noticed that the GPS screen more or less matches the terrain.)

I forgot that I was going into the Pacific time zone, so I hit Revelstoke much earlier than I would have planned. It felt too early to stop for the night, but I decided to find the 2008 turnout and see if I had internet there. If so, I would check if the Vernon Walmart was RV friendly, otherwise  I would spend the night.

From Revelstoke I quickly found my first landmark, but drove further past it than I remembered doing in 2008, so I began to think that the turnout was gone. But nope! When I came to it, I recognized it instantly and pulled around to the far side. I had internet and the Vernon Walmart is NOT RV friendly, so I decided to stay put.

A Gregory Peck movie on Netflix occupied most of the evening (my favourite actor of all time), at the end of which I discovered that I had apparently left my iPad charging cord in Stettler! Oh NO. I left myself just enough juice to check emails in the morning and went to bed around 9:00 (10:00 my time).

Even though it was pouring rain, the truck bed felt cozy and warm. I would have slept soundly if trains hadn’t passed by about once every hour.

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This morning, around 5:30, it was very damp out, but not raining, so that made it easier to repack for the day’s drive since I could leave the doors open. I had gained two neighbours, an RV and a semi.

I did the math and even with the gas prices averaging $1.35 per litre ($5.31 per gallon), taking my truck and sleeping in it is cheaper than it would have been to go with a subcompact and take a hotel. I’m going to spend about two weeks camping in the truck this summer (at least) and that will help me figure out what I need to make camping in it more comfortable and easier. A taller and non-leaky canopy is definitely in order! But it’s reassuring to know that I was dry even during last night’s downpour.

I pulled out and drove to Sicamous where I got gas and coffee. It began to pour again as I pulled onto highway 97 and it was a wet, miserable, couldn’t see anything drive into Kelowna. Sunny Okanagan my ass. This is my least favourite part of Canada. 🙁

My first stop was Walmart to see if I could find a cheap iPad charging cord, but nope. I tagged in with my friend Amber, changing our plans from dinner to lunch, and then I headed to a CIBC because I had left my ATM card in the reader at the Canmore Safeway. I HATE those friggin’ chip readers!!!

Getting the new card was painless and it’s one I can now use in the U.S. as it’s part of the Visa as well as Interac networks. I was warned that there are big fees, so I’m better off using my Visa or cash, but it’s nice to have a third option just in case.

Then, I went to Best Buy, which only opened at 10:00. Instead of waiting 15 minutes for them to open, I decided to go to a dollar store and see if I could find a super cheap iPad cord. It’s been my experience that using non-Apple cords is hit or miss and has absolutely nothing to do with price or brand, so it seemed like a worthwhile experiment.

My GPS directed me to a dollar store that had a cord for $12, cheaper than anything else I knew I’d find, but it wasn’t refundable if it didn’t work. Hmm. I knew that I had to get something marked iPad, not just iPhone or iPod Touch as the the iPad chargers offer more juice. I have a little Belkin cradle for my iPod Touch that I had hoped would tide me over until Donna can get my cord back to me, but I got the dreaded ‘charging is not supported with this accessory message.’ Anyway, I decided to take a gamble on the $12 cord, accepting that I’d be stuck using the iPod all weekend if the cord didn’t work. Yes, I am spoiled. 🙂

Well, the cord WORKS. YAY!!! It is charging veeeeeeeery slowly, but I don’t care. I’m just grateful I didn’t break the bank and have my iPad again.

I then headed out to Westbank to meet Amber at a Thai restaurant when I saw a sign that made me do a double take:

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OMG Dollar Tree has come to Canada!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 😀

I found Thai Fusion Restaurant without any trouble and Amber was right on time. We both had the chicken pad thai. It was fine, but not that flavourful beyond a little heat. I wasn’t surprised or disappointed since I know food tends to be bland out west. It was a nice portion and the prices were very reasonable.

Amber and I gabbed for almost two hours. It was so good to catch up!

I’m now at a library, catching up on some things and finishing up my slideshow. This branch closes at 6:00pm, so I’ll go find a parking lot to hang out in for a few hours before moving to my overnight spot, which I am not going to divulge for matters of safety, obviously.

The first event doesn’t start till 5:30 tomorrow, so I’ll likely spend a good chunk of time tomorrow at a different library.

Campbell River Visitors

I spent the afternoon with Croft and Norma catching up on everything that doesn’t get discussed on our blogs. They might be staying a second night. If so, we are going on a field trip to Camping World tomorrow. 🙂

I can’t help but marvel at the magic of this nomadic life that makes it such that you not only never know when you will next see friends, but also where you will meet again. It is a very long way from Campbell River to San Antonio, and I don’t just mean in terms of distance.

Norma wanted a Cracker Barrel dinner to celebrate their 44th wedding anniversary (wow!), so I was invited to come along (thank you!). I had the sugar cured ham for the first time (YUM) and took home a lemonade (not overly sweet and made with real lemons, a real treat!).

We had sun this afternoon again (YAY) so I made sure to unplug everything before heading over to Croft and Norma’s. I did that yesterday before going on my walk and came in almost 30AH up. I left at about 58AH down today and came home to a FULL reading. I would be frustrated with my badly working monitor if reader airmon hadn’t posted an explanation for that bizarre phenomenon. Instead, I am doing a happy dance!

I’ve Had Better Road Trippin’ Weather

Movin’ through the Rockies by way of the Crowsnest
These rocks are cursed, thrown up by some god
Who turned his back on a word called love
— Paul Gross, ‘Angels’

I set off for Fort Steele at about 8:30 yesterday morning. I’d been following the forecast for a week and knew that I could expect some flurries through the Crowsnest Pass, but expected good roads since that forecast kept improving day by day. HA HA HA HA HA. By the time I hit Fernie, the roads were pretty slick. But I knew I was heading downhill from there and had a better chance of hitting good weather quickly if I kept going west than if I turned back east.

I was right. The first 50 or so klicks out of Fernie were abysmal but, without warning, the pavement became dry. It was really quite amazing. I pulled into a turn off to let an idiot race past me only to discover that half of the turnout had several inches of snow and the rest of it was bare! So it was smooth driving to Fort Steele from that point on.

I arrived at 12:45, only 40 minutes ‘late’ as per my GPS’ initial arrival estimate. So that just goes to show that slowing down for the conditions really doesn’t add that much time to a trip when compared to having to wait for a tow truck because you spun out into a ditch!

Donna wasn’t home from work when I arrived, so I had a few minutes to snuggle my favourite dog in the universe while Ken brewed me a very welcome cup of coffee. Donna arrived with vittles and we had lunch and gabbed for most of the afternoon.

We went into Cranbrook for dinner, all enjoying a very satisfactory dinner at ABC Country Restaurant. This is a BC chain of casual family restaurants; I ate at one in Victoria. Donna and Ken had been there a few times and had a few recommendations, including getting the roasted red-skin potatoes in lieu of baked or mashed. Yum!

Back at the Ark, we gabbed some more, then Ken retired for the night. Donna and I chatted into the wee hours of the morning as she ran down the battery on my iPad playing a game. It’s a good thing I brought it. I’m not sure how she would have entertained herself otherwise. 😉

Needless to say, we all got a very late and lazy start to today, which included watching two movies. I headed out around 3PM in good weather conditions and had nice dry pavement all the way through the Crowsnest. I thought I was home free. HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA.

The sky became more swollen and angry the further east I drove and it finally erupted over Fort McLeod. I pretty much crawled for the last 50 klicks of the drive in near zero visibility with big fat snowflakes clinging to my windshield wipers. It’s still snowing and it’s sticking. Yuck! I am so glad to be home. I just checked the forecast and Lethbridge is under a winter storm warning.

Even though the driving conditions were less than ideal, I am so happy that I had a chance to visit with my friends before the spring migration. Based on today’s projections, we will see each other again sometime next summer…

Before I sign off, does anyone care to guess what the liquor store in Blairmore is meaning to say with this sign?!