Crossing Over

My ferry options from Horseshoe Bay were 8:30, 10:30, and 12:30 if I wanted to arrive in Campbell River in daylight. I decided to aim for the 8:30 and be in line for the 10:30 if I arrived too late.

One of my many RVing rules is that I don’t drive in unfamiliar territory at night and/or in inclement weather. In order to get to Horseshoe Bay for 8:30 I would have to drive in the dark. I also woke up in Squamish to a downpour.

Having done the drive to Horseshoe Bay in the toad, I felt okay with taking Miranda out in those conditions. It was slow, slippery going, but I was reasonably relaxed and I refused to look at a clock.

I’m disappointed that I finished the Sea to Sky highway twice in such downpours as to negate the possibility of taking pictures worth sharing.

At any rate, I made it to Horseshoe Bay just as daylight was starting to break through the rain. It’s downhill from the first exit all the way to the toll booth and I was a nervous wreck by the time I stopped there because even with gearing down and pumping to compensate for the slick pavement, I could smell my brakes. Oh, I know it was a normal, new brake smell, not a something’s wrong smell, but I just wanted to get on that boat, disappointed that my relaxed mood had been spoiled. I was very grateful that I had come ahead with the toad and knew ahead of time which lane to be in with an RV.

My rig was measured and deemed to be 50′ long, not the 45′ feet I had guesstimated!!! I had used the BC Ferries website to figure out how much it was going to cross to get over and had calculated that a 45′ long over-size vehicle with one person would cost 275$, but wasn’t confident about that number because the math seemed very convoluted. So, I had a mild heart attack while waiting to know how much my passage would be.

Well, I got some good news! My vehicle combination was longer than expected, but I’d done the math wrong and it only cost me 193$ total for my fare. Imagine how pleased I was!

From the toll booth I was indicated to park in the Nanaimo lane and close my propane tanks. That done, it was about 8:20 and boarding for the 8:30 began.

A BC Ferries employee guided me to the correct boarding lane and it wasn’t a long wait before I was able to get onto the boat. Doing so was easy as the longer vehicles board at ground level in a straight line. I applied the parking brake, said goodbye to the catkids, grabbed my previously-packed bag of snacks and magazines, applied the parking brake to the toad, and headed up to the passenger deck. We were under way in minutes, pulling out at 8:35. I was impressed.

The ferry was huge and beautifully appointed, with lots of seating and a few restaurants and shops. I spent the two hours alternating between walking around, listening to a guy strum his guitar, and occasionally braving the wind, rain, and fog to stand outside on the deck.

I love being on the water and immensely enjoyed the trip from the BC mainland to Vancouver Island.

At about 10, an hour and a half after departing from Vancouver, drivers were instructed to return to their vehicles. I didn’t know how much time I had before having to leave, so I just unapplied the parking brakes and positioned myself to be ready to drive at a moment’s notice. Neelix came over to let me know he was fine, but Tabitha ignored me. I discovered an hour later that she was down with a bout of sea sickness. 🙂

It took only a few minutes before my lane started to debark. I followed the vehicles ahead of me out of the ferry terminal and then the signs announcing Campbell River. There was no convenient place to stop within Nanaimo, unless I wanted to drive around the parking lots of big box stores, so I just drove out of town, through rain, until I got to a pullout on the highway where I could take a bit of a breather.

Taking the ferry wound up being super easy and a much less stress-inducing experience than I would have expected. I think that in the spring I would like to take the ferry from Port Hardy to Prince Rupert and from there the Yellowhead to the Cassiar.

From that pullout, it was an easy 100km stretch to Croft’s place. He and his wife helped me get squared away and then we had the requisite ‘getting to know you in person’ chat that stretched long into the evening. 🙂

Taking the whole trip into consideration, it was a good one, but that last little bit has made me glad that I can stay put for a while.

I’m looking forward to the next stage of my adventure.

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Back on the Horse

As promised, Miranda was ready to go by 10 on Thursday. She’d undergone an oil change, thorough mechanical inspection, and been washed. I hooked up without fanfare and slowly drove out of there.

In my exploration of Pemberton, I had concluded that the AC Petroleum gas station was the most RV friendly, so I went there to fill up and then across the road to the information centre next to which there is a sani-dump and a potable water tap.

It had rained all morning, but the sky had really cleared up, and I had ideal conditions for getting back on the proverbial horse as I drove out of Pemberton. There was one hill with a steep grade and a couple of hairpin turns that was going to make or break me. I approached it bravely, heart in my throat, geared down, and got down safely, having to tap my brakes only once. They held up fine. 😀

I was caught in a bit of conundrum, time-wise. It was too late to get to Horseshoe Bay, grab a ferry, and arrive at Croft’s place in daylight, but it was much too early to stop for the day. I decided to stop at the Starbucks near the Canadian Tire in Squamish to do some online stuff then go park at Shannon Falls to hike and kill a few hours before pulling into the Walmart for the night.

There was no really convenient place to park at the Canadian Tire, so I took up a bunch of spots and tried to make myself as inconspicuous as possible, but I ended up not feeling comfortable enough there to stay as long as I could have on the Starbucks connection. So, after a catch up session with Will and a quick check of my email I proceeded to Shannon Falls Park.

There, I paid the 3$ day parking fee, squared Miranda away, and went off to explore the falls and trail network. It was a nice way to wile away a few hours, but I was exhausted and ready to stop for the day.

Three o’clock is too early in my book to park at Walmart for the night, but I decided to make an exception to my rule provided the Walmart folks were okay with overnight RVers. The Walmart in Squamish is really not set up for big vehicles, so I wound up having to park almost in the middle of the lot, taking up a full row of spots. When I came out of the rig and saw a Walmart employee coming up towards me, I figured that he was going to tell me to get lost. But no, he just came over to save me the trouble of going in to ask for permission to park and to let me know that I was parked fine!

The long evening passed quickly as I watched movies and set off on a three hour marathon blog post writing session in eager anticipation of being able to post with pictures. I went into the Walmart a few times to get various sundries and the fourth time the greeter told me “I know you’re parked in that motorhome. Don’t feel obliged to spend the night in here!” LOL!

It wound up being a pretty good night in Squamish, quiet and reasonably dark by Walmart standards. It started to rain in the wee hours of the morning.

Tantalus Lookout

Tantalus Lookout

Tantalus Lookout

Tantalus Lookout

Tantalus Lookout

Tantalus Lookout

Tantalus Lookout

Tantalus Lookout

A family picture. That Fiver-er is a Glendale Titanium, a line Glendale still produces even after dropping the Royal Classics

A family picture. That Fiver-er is a Glendale Titanium, a line Glendale still produces even after dropping the Royal Classics

Tantalus Lookout

Tantalus Lookout

Tantalus Lookout

Tantalus Lookout

Tantalus Lookout

Tantalus Lookout

Tantalus Lookout

Tantalus Lookout

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And the tension is broken in Squamish…

Whew.

Total cost of the repairs was 250$ less than the estimate, including all new brakes, a new tire, an oil change, a full mechanical inspection, and a much needed wash. I pulled out of the garage at 10, gassed up, dumped, took on water, and hit the road.

There is one last hairpin turn steep descent after Pemberton. It was nothing worse than what I’ve encountered on the Alaska Highway, but my heart was in my throat. I did everything I normally do at the top of such a hill–overdrive off, gear down, pray–and away I went. I stopped a few times en route to Squamish and finally pulled over here at the Canadian Tire next to which there is a Starbucks where I knew I could get online.

No sooner had I walked into the coffee shop than I heard a familiar voice say “Rae!!!”

It was my neighbour from last winter at Pacific Border, Will Imanse, author of an ebook I helped edit, Full Time in an RV. Too, too, too funny.

I’m off to find a place to hunker down for the rest of the day and then the night seeing as the next ferry is at 3PM and I’ve decided that would put me in unfamiliar territory too close to nightfall.

Scouting Ahead

I’ve discovered another good use for a toad: as a scout vehicle. From now on, I will park Miranda and use the toad to scout ahead 200km before engaging myself with the rig.

*tongue firmly in cheek*

It’s been a long day and it’s not over. I left Pemberton at about 9 after an internet check at the coffee shop and then I drove all the way to Horseshoe Bay, home of the BC Ferries terminal from which I will be sailing in short order. To give you an idea of just how far of a drive it was to West Vancouver, I was back in Whistler, 30km from Pemberton, by noon. 🙂

En route, I stopped at the Canadian Tire in Squamish to buy a new fire extinguisher. There, I was talked out of buying the biggest ass one they had for sale, but the new one is still twice as big as the one I’m replacing. 😀

The road ahead looks fine and I’m feeling a lot more relaxed about it, even though the whole ferry thing is still making me nervous. I had a chance to see what twists and turns to take and what lanes I need to be in, so some of the pressure is off when I arrive at the ferry terminal.

I stopped in Whistler, home of the 2010 Winter Olympics, for lunch, and more about that visit will follow soon as I can upload pictures. 🙂

I then went back home to check on Miranda’s status and found work halted seeing as some incorrect parts were received. It’s therefore doubtful that I will be back on the road tomorrow. This is not a problem seeing as I’m welcome to stay at the garage as long as I need to beyond the point where Miranda is repaired. I’m just not sure just what I will do with myself tomorrow if Miranda is still on the lift seeing as there is very little to do in Pemberton and I’ve run out of reading material.

This incident has saved me from having to do my seasonal roof check. There is a break room at the garage which overlooks the service bays, so I sat up there yesterday with binoculars and made sure everything was okey dokey. Making lemonade out of lemons, I am. 🙂