Déjà Vu Between Nanaimo and the Chasm

Being very tired, I decided to go to bed early in Nanaimo, so I hit the sack around 9:30. I also figured that it would be a cold and noisy night and that the longer opportunity I had for shut eye, the better. Well, the joke was on me. The Nanaimo Walmart was super quiet, much more so than Croft’s driveway! I slept soundly until about quarter to four, rolled over, and slept until 6:30.

I got up at 6:45 and went off in search of coffee (no propane, so couldn’t make my own!). The Walmart opens late, at 8, so that McDonalds wasn’t a possibility. I was going to cave and go to Timmy’s when I saw the familiar green and white of a Starbucks. There, they didn’t have the dark roast I favour so they made me an Americano for the same price. I love when that happens!

The streets were fairly quiet when I set out around 7:30 and it was an easy drive to the ferry terminal. Most of it was downhill, so I practised gearing down and did quite well. It had cost me $193.65 to cross in October and $214 today. Insane! I could tell they disbelieved my claim of 50′, but I had my receipt from October and was ready to show it, however I was processed without any undue fussing.

It was a short wait, maybe a half hour, at the very most, to board. There were a couple of sharp turns, but also plenty of manoeuvring room. I applied the parking brakes, hugged the kitties, and headed up to the passenger decks.

I hadn’t brought any magazines this time, so I treated myself to a copy of Woman’s World onboard, mostly for the crossword and recipes. We had a smooth sailing with mostly clear weather, but boy was it windy! I made the mistake of going on deck without putting on my coat first and it just about blew out to sea!

Disembarking was equally easy and I found myself on the east-bound Transcanada. I took a moment to say good-bye to the Pacific Ocean since my life on the road has thus far been working out as planned. If the trend continues, I will not see the Pacific again for several years. But salty water still beacons in 2010, when I will dip my foot in the Arctic Ocean!

When I came to the Island in the fall, one of my reasons for choosing the Sea to Sky highway was to avoid having to cross the whole of the GVR. I debated crossing back to the Mainland from Duke Point, but that would have put me in the bowels of Tsawwassen and I wasn’t convinced that navigating through Delta and New West was going to be any easier than sailing down the congested Transcanada through Vancouver. I decided to take the most direct route, armed with my knowledge of the route and the exits that would, hopefully, remind me when to bear left.

Getting through Vancouver turned out to be easy. Sure, there were a lot of cars and everyone merging on the highway expected me to slam on my brakes for them, but I was calm, remembering that this was nowhere near as bad as was crossing Montreal with only Miranda!

I had to stop at the Ikea in Coquitlam and Google Maps made this seem like an easy thing to do, just a blip off and on the highway. Ha ha ha ha. The Ikea does not seem to have any overheight parking whatsoever. I turned into an open area of parking and could not see any place to park, much less turn around, so I kept going down the main laneway. It led me to three choices: turn left to a covered structure much shorter than Miranda, unhook and back up out of there, or go the wrong way straight down an entrance that would take me back to Lougheed highway. I picked that option and got a lot of honks even though I was not blocking traffic and was in a position to make a turn into the right direction of traffic once all the cars passed.

Back in the mad rush of traffic, I decided to try parking near Rack Attack, remembering from last year that there was street parking there. Well, there was a police auction yet again and one side of the road is now blocked to parking. I circled right around the Ikea and decided to take my chance at the Canadian Tire nearly a kilometre away. There, I found a place to park with an easy exit, so I locked up and schlepped to the Ikea.

There, I was reminded that I hate shopping at Ikea nearly as much as I hate shopping at Canadian Tire. I had a clear shopping list and it still took almost an hour to find the right floor and section, then get some help to locate the items in question. I wasn’t even remotely tempted to shop for myself by the time I had my friend’s stuff!

Mission accomplished, I slung the heavy bag over my back and marched back to the rig. The things I do for my friends! 😀

The feeling of déjà vu was very strong as I headed back out onto Lougheed highway to catch the exit for the Transcanada. I remembered from last year that I had to be in the left lane and ready for some very tight turns, so it was smooth sailing out of Coquitlam and an easy drive to Chilliwack.

I also remembered from last year that the Husky at the corner of Vedder and Luckakuk is super convenient for gas and propane, so that was my next stop. I goofed and went to the cardlock propane tank, but was able to circle back to the correct one within the parking lot. From there, I just had to move up about five feet and over two to gas up. The propane cost $40 and I put in almost a 100L of fuel at 105.9 (same as on the Island, gah).

I thought of getting groceries in Chilliwack, but when I saw how hard it was going to be to get out of the Husky I changed my mind. I just had to do a right hand turn, but the traffic was solid. Every time it cleared after a green light another wave of cars would pull up from the previous light. I needed all three lanes of traffic to stop and let me in so I could do my turn, but everyone was too selfish to do that. I sat there for about twenty minutes, not willing to risk an accident and force myself into traffic, when a red Jeep cherokee stopped and waved me through. I started the turn, as sharply as I could, but I really did need all three lanes. I was blocking the first and part of the second as I turned and two cars in the second and third lanes just whizzed by me honking instead of taking two seconds out of their day to let me through. Soon as they were through I hit the gas and was able to complete my turn, finding myself in the wrong lane for the onramp back onto the highway. Thankfully, I was able to get over once I’d cleared the intersection and was finally on my way!

Once I hit Hope and turned onto the Gold Rush Trail, I was able to assess how I feel about being back on the road. I was relaxed and happy. Ikea notwithstanding, none of the day had required white knuckled driving and Miranda was practically purring.

The kilometres ate themselves up as I pushed north, marveling at the changing landscapes. I pulled over a few times to stretch my legs and admire the view, but drove determinedly to the Chasm. I had been tempted to stop to do some work, guessing correctly that I wouldn’t be able to at the Chasm, but decided that I’d just take Saturday off and catch up at Les’ Sunday and Monday.

One of the reasons I gassed up in Chilliwack was that I did not want to have to do so in Cache Creek. I’ve stopped there twice for gas and have had three accidents almost immediately after. I never thought I was superstitious until now!

I would have liked to arrive at the Chasm with beer and a treat for dinner, but it wasn’t looking up for that, so I was delighted to find a small food store at a Shell gas station next to a liquour store in Clinton, just a few kilometres from the Chasm turnoff. I was able to park on the street right in front. Awesome!

While small, the grocery selection was thorough and prices were competitive. I picked up a cucumber, red pepper, package of fancy sausages, sour cream, and sun dried tomato tortillas to make wraps. The liquor store didn’t have cold beer, so I put my six pack in the freezer. Having spent most of Friday with the fridge on battery power, everything was still frozen and there wasn’t much catchup to do once I turned it over to propane. The fridge had warmed just enough to make defrosting it easy.

It was nearing if not past six when I turned off to the Chasm and drove the seven bumpy kilometres to the turnoff. It was in great shape, albeit as unlevel as ever. I put the passenger side up on two sets of levelers; it wasn’t quite enough but okay for one night.

Like last year, it started to snow the second I got settled and began to prepare dinner, then the sky cleared. I made sure the fridge was working and tried the water heater, but it’s definitely toast, so getting the part for it will be a top priority once I get settled in Dawson.

I really hadn’t expected to have internet at the Chasm, so I wasn’t disappointed that I didn’t. I settled down to write this entry, had a wash, put on my new jammies, and curled up in my recliner with a good book.

Being back on the road is awesome. What a difference a year makes.







first glimpse of Vancouver!

first glimpse of Vancouver!





turnoff just north of Hope

turnoff just north of Hope


entering Ashcroft--back to desert after a winter in the rain forest!

entering Ashcroft–back to desert after a winter in the rain forest!





I'm just south of Cache Creek here

I’m just south of Cache Creek here

A Wee Bit of Trouble Getting Out of Campbell River

I have to salute the three heros who got me to Nanaimo today!

As is normal for me on the night before departure, I hardly slept a wink. After tossing and turning for what felt like hours, I got up around seven and finished prepping the inside. I was shocked by how quickly everything came together even if there are lots of things that still need to be properly organized. I finished putting away everything outside and then joined Croft and Norma for coffee before starting the Great Big Vehicle Ballet–we had two cars, two motorhomes, and a dolly to move!

Hero no. 1, Croft, made sure I hit the road with some breakfast and was quick to solve my first motorhome issue today: the stairs would not fold up! He found a bottle of a miracle product called ‘Moovit’ and that did the trick. Impressive stuff!

Getting out of the driveway was a piece of cake. First, I drove my car to the gas station to get it out of the way and then Croft guided me back onto the front lawn and forward into the laneway. So, obviously, Miranda started without any problems. I did trickle charge the battery yesterday, but it wasn’t really necessary. Croft’s latest post reminded me that the new brakes squealed something awful as I left the house, but they were silent by the time I reached my first stop.

I headed to the gas station to dump and ended up taking a shower. There’s a water hose there for cleaning up and it is super high pressure. I started it and it flew out of my hands soaking me with water! Pfft, pfft!

Next, I took on 150L of fuel (three quarters of a tank) and then hooked up the car. Everything was good and all my lights and blinkers and whatnot were working.

The oil change place is called Lube-X and is located on Ironwood Street. I’m glad I used my knowledge of Campbell River to get there instead of the GPS because it would have had me climb a steep hill for no good reason. I parked, went up to confirm what bays I should be in, unhooked the car, and brought it up to Bay 1.

I went back to move Miranda which is where, at first glance, my day went to hell:

I could not move her out of park.

Hero no. 2, the gang at Lube-X, moved heaven and earth to get me back on the road. I called Croft at one point to see if he’d encountered this issue with his rig at some point (our motorhomes have the same truck chassis), but no.

After doing a few things, like moving the steering wheel to unlock it, a call was placed to an expert who suggested that unhooking the toad might have tugged Miranda back enough after she was parked to make something stick. It was suggested we nudge her forward with another vehicle to unjam the thingamabob. It took a few tries, but Shawn, the Owner/Proprietor, finally got me into gear! I was advised to keep her in neutral with the parking brake on until we figured out what was going on.

That excitement must have taken an hour and I was finally able to move Miranda up into the bay for her oil change. That didn’t happen. Bob would not allow it, saying that my oil was still pristine (it had been changed in Pemberton and I’d only done a couple hundred kilometres). He doesn’t buy into the whole ‘do it every few months no matter how much it’s been driven’ rule. He also said that I hadn’t driven enough since my last differential fluid change to make that worth checking.

However, my transmission fluid was a bit thick and cloudy and it was pretty evident that one service was missed. Miranda has about 78,000km on the odo, which means that this was something the previous owners should have had done. I’ve since gone over my notes from the inspection and discovered that I had been advised to have the transmission fluid changed within a year or so and it was also mentioned on the Pemberton paperwork that I was coming due for a transmission service.  I could have probably waited a bit longer, but why? I really believe in doing things before they absolutely need to be done, brakes notwithstanding. 🙂 Megan took charge of my transmission fluid exchange and I was so impressed by the machine I took a picture!

Meanwhile, Bob called a nearby repair place to ask them if they could look at my steering column issue. I was told that they couldn’t do any work today, but I managed to get them to agree to just take a look at the problem to determine my next move.

Both vehicles still had the exact same tire pressure they had when I parked six months ago. I’m going to assume this is a good thing!

Finally, Shawn went way above and beyond and took it upon himself to derust and grease my towbar pins!

Oil change and filter for the toad + transmission fluid change and new wipers for Miranda: $349. Hardly noteworthy and a lot less pricey than the maintenance done on Miranda alone last spring.

All was going so well until I pulled out of the bay, parked Miranda in preparation for toad hook up, and moved the gear into park. I can be such a dumb blonde sometimes!

Shawn came and worked his magic again, very quickly, and discovered something very odd: I could not shift into gear with the truck started and my foot on the brake, but I could with the truck off and the key moved just one notch past off. Armed with that knowledge, I was able to head off to the repair place.

If you need an oil change done in Campbell River, Lube-X is definitely the place to go!

The repair place, Seymour Services, just north of town, is where I met today’s hero no. 3, Loren, who came out to look things over. He jiggled a few things and then asked me an odd question: did I have a brake light? I replied that I did when I left the gas station and hadn’t even thought to check it at Lube-X.

Well, I didn’t. The gang at Lube-X and I were so focused on getting the gear changer moving that we missed that completely!

My heart sank. This was getting to be a bigger and bigger problem! I could just envision the wiring job I was going to need in addition to a new steering column! And what if there was a problem with the transmission?! As someone who favourites manual transmissions, I am very suspicious of automatic ones and whenever something goes wrong I assume I need a new transmission. 🙂

Loren grabbed a multi-metre and checked all my fuses, spending an inordinate amount of time with the ones under the dash inside the cockpit. He came up for air holding a very corroded fuse, the very fuse the feeds the brake light.

He had some bad news for me: the dampness this winter caused some condensation in the fuse box and it will need to be replaced in the nearish future. It’s something that can wait till the fall, but not indefinitely.

He also had some good news for me: the problem with my gear lever was not mechanical, it was electrical! Turns out this was a very clever safety feature: the truck was telling me that it couldn’t go because there was a problem with a vital system, but still gave me a way to shift into neutral for towing. Loren replaced the fuse and both problems were fixed, just like that!

Of course, I had to pay for the help, which amounted to a grand total of 1,000… pennies. Yup, just ten bucks, hardly worth the multiple heart attacks I had! 😀 Thank you so much, Loren!!!

After that, it was fairly smooth sailing to Nanaimo, departing at about 3:30 with an arrival around 5. The day had started off hot and sunny but slowly turned to rainy, overcast, and windy to the point that I considered pulling off the highway after one nasty gust just about blew me into a ditch!

I’d set the GPS to take me to the Walmart, but it obviously has older information because it took me right by the Walmart telling me I still had 13km to go! I caught the sign announcing the mall, so I was able to turn in. I had wanted to get propane tonight; I’m completely out, but I was exhausted There’s nothing in the fridge or freezer that’ll go bad by tomorrow, I can do without a shower for one night, and I have enough blankets to make up for not being able to turn on the furnace.

This is a good Walmart for overnighting as it is very roomy. I am tucked away near the road and not blocking anyone.

For dinner, I was looking forward to going to a Japanese restaurant at the food court, but it was closed so I instead had some yummy Greek food. I then went into the Walmart to get a new water pressure regulator and decided to treat myself to some new pyjamas. It was either that or cheesecake and I decided the jammies would be better for me. 😀

It’s been a pretty good day back on the road and I feel I can relax now that I know that both vehicles are in top mechanical shape.

Tomorrow, I will get up and going when I do and I don’t care at what time I catch the ferry, although the 10:30 would be ideal. I’m heading up to the Chasm, so a mid-afternoon start from Coquitlam would be just fine, but I could go a little later if necessary.

I’m writing this post while sitting in my new recliner and it it is SO comfy and superior to the bucket chairs! I put a tray on my lap for the computer and I may never move from this position. 😀

Finally, here’s another shot of the blue water jug resting on the counter. It pours beautifully, but it drips for a short moment after turning off the tap, so it’s important to not pull away your glass too soon.

Finetuning Departure Plans

Six months and ten days ago I pulled into Croft and Norma’s driveway. I am expecting them any time today. I am a little boggled that so much time has passed. That’s the thing about life, it slips by quietly  and quickly; the only way to slow it down is to account for every single second of it. The end of October straight through the end of January were just about scraping by in a weary sort of daze, but February, March, and April sure have been manic!

I’m well on my way to being ready to go. There is still an hour or two’s worth of work to be done inside Miranda to get everything secured. Outside, the most pressing thing is to flush my fresh water system and fill my tank with that sweet Campbell River water I will miss so much.

My departure plans are evolving and I am starting to favour a mid-morning Friday pull-out, with an overnight in Nanaimo. There is a ‘ten-minute’ oil change place here in Campbell River that I would go to first since both the motorhome and the toad need new oil. They would also check the tire pressure for both vehicles, so it would be a convenient stop. The very friendly person I spoke to there said that I shouldn’t have too much of a wait, if any, before noon on a Friday. The estimates were reasonable and I reiterated several times that I just need oil changes since both vehicles had thorough checks last fall. These places always check other things for the price, like the tire pressure and other fluid levels, but I wanted to make it clear that I’m not paying for anything other than the most basic package. It’s these basic packages that make me reluctant to learn to change my own oil; for an extra $25 or so, all the basics are taken care of and I get a heads up on other things that may need to be fixed that I would have missed myself. I’ve never had a problem with these quick-lube places pulling the wool over my eyes and having a $50 oil change turn into a $100 job full of useless upgrades, although I have had one turn into several hundred dollars worth of necessary work!

From there, it would be a leisurely drive to the Walmart in Nanaimo. I just called them to ask about overnight RV parking and the answer was “no problem, just park at ‘the top’ near the road.” I had considered having my oil changes done there, but their service bays do not take motorhomes.

Being in Nanaimo Saturday morning would allow me to take an earlier ferry, most realistically the 8:30, which would put me on the Lower Mainland by late morning. I could do my Ikea stop, take on propane and fuel in Chilliwack, and then shoot straight up to the Chasm at a leisurely pace to arrive by dinner time. This would save me a day on the road, but, most importantly, a lot of stress and a huge to-do list on the day of departure. I could then spend two nights in Prince George and from there savour the rest of the journey north, no matter how much, or little, time it takes.

I will confess to being more than a little eager to be settled in my spot at Bonanza and back to the manic pace of a Klondike summer, and that this eagerness is slowly overtaking any desire to explore. I’ll see how things are once I hit the road.

Victoria to Campbell River

The drive home this evening was interminable. It was almost entirely stop and go from downtown Victoria to Parksville, north of Nanaimo, and then I caught every single red light between Nanaimo and home. It took four hours to get home (with a five minute stop in Nanaimo) and my clutch foot was actually swollen by the time I got here!

I made one photo-worthy stop on the way home, at the Malahat lookout, which offers great views of the San Juan Island and other American locales.






the long narrow cloud really looks like a leaf

the long narrow cloud really looks like a leaf

close up of the leaf cloud; it had a middle rib and lines that looked like veins

close up of the leaf cloud; it had a middle rib and lines that looked like veins

This was definitely a drive that was more fun with a companion and several planned stops. 🙂

A Final Day in Victoria

Being less than 300km from ‘home’ and not having to start work until 2pm tomorrow meant that I could enjoy a third day in Victoria. I dropped Mrs. H off at her friend’s house and then drove downtown to do a few museums. This post will gloss over some of the details of today as some destinations merit their own posts.

I decided to park in Chinatown since the daily rates are cheaper than downtown and planned my day as a loop. My first stop was just a block away and was a store! It was recommended to me by a reader and is called Chintz and Co.

Chintz & Co.

This store comprises 20,000 square feet (!) and is just about a one stop home decorating stop. It was the first time I have walked into a store selling new furniture and found myself liking almost everything. Had I had $2,000 I would have walked out with a handsome wingback chair covered in dark orange leather (*swoons*).  The furniture style was mostly luxe shabby chic, with lots of rich colours abounding. I could have spent hours there, but focused mostly on the remnants section, which was much larger than I would have expected. I found some fabrics I thought would coordinate with ones I have already picked up, but I wasn’t sure enough to buy.

I ambled down Store street and turned into Bastion Square:

alley off of Bastion Square

Bastion Square’s giant tulips

My next stop was The Soda Shoppe, which I had discovered on my first night in Victoria. It is located on Government Street right in front of the Empress Hotel, kitty corner to the visitor’s centre.

The Soda Shoppe

I would normally balk at paying $4.19 for a small ice cream cone (even if it is of the waffle variety), but they have bear claw, a dark chocolately fudgy caramelly cashewy concoction I haven’t seen in about ten years since an Ottawa shop carrying it closed down. It was as good as I remembered!

From there, I walked the length of the Empress Hotel, crossed the street, and landed at the Royal British Columbia Museum:

Royal BC Museum

After a couple of hours, I headed across the street

street separating the RBC museum from the Legislature

and strolled along the length of the BC Legislature:

war memorial

close up showing the addition of the Korean ‘police action’; a nice touch since many forget that Canada was involved in this war

the BC Legislative Building is quite a handsome structure! It’s almost as impressive as Ottawa’s Parliament buildings!

this is all of the Sequoia I was able to get into one shot 🙂

then crossed the street in front of it to go visit the Undersea Gardens:

The Undersea Gardens

After that, I slowly began to stroll back towards the car with a stop for lunch:

Victoria Harbour

there was a whole row of dedication plaques

a magnific mosaic orca

a map of Vancouver Island

I was just going to get a slice of pizza for lunch, but was lured by the siren’s call of Cafe Mexico. I had an excellent meal there of a chicken burrito with ‘fries’ (more like chewy potato chips with a hint of crunch). The highlight of the mean was the ‘mojitea’:


My drink of choice is the mojito, but I didn’t want to drink alcohol before a long drive home so I decided to try their virgin version even though virgin mojitos seem to be missing a little ‘something.’ Well, Cafe Mexico found what that little something is: sweet tea. The tea doesn’t have the same flavour as the rum, of course, but it’s the perfect non-alcoholic addition to turn the club soda and muddled mint into more than just minty soda. Yum! The burrito was fresh and light and the fries were served with a sauce that had me go ‘WHAT?!’ at first taste, but which grew on me with every bite. I asked the server what it was and she said it was a ‘chipolte aioli’ which I think means a smokey garlickly mayonnaise. It was the perfect complement to the fries. This wasn’t the best Mexican food I’ve had in my life, but definitely fits at the top of the list. It was reasonably priced to boot!

I grabbed an ice coffee for the road and returned to the car to plot a route to the Nanaimo Best Buy. My GPS is getting to be ridiculously outdated, so it didn’t have that store in its data base. It felt incredibly luxurious to boot up the laptop, sign on to my Telus connection, and get the necessary info. My life has definitely changed!

My destination mapped out, I headed out of Victoria at 3PM. I’ll write a separate post about the drive back to Campbell River.

Victoria left me with mixed feelings, some negative, most positive.

The negative feelings are towards the cost of museums and attractions: ridiculously high. There was nothing under $10 and most things were $15 and up. I would have loved to do the Maritime Museum, but with the RBC being $15 and the Undersea Gardens being $11, the additional $12 for the MM would have busted my budget. Having been to so many museums in both the Canada and the US I can say with a measure of authority that everything I saw in Victoria was way over priced. Whether or not I enjoyed myself is not relevant.

That said, Victoria is a beautiful and accessible city. If I have to stay in Canada next winter I will do so in the environs of Victoria, even if it means spending another $400 on ferry costs. I have nowhere had my fill of this city and feel that I barely got a taste of it. I’d like to spend more time exploring Beacon Hill Park and exploring the many hiking trails in the area.

Victoria is one of those Canadian cities that feels exquisitely ‘old world’ in its waterfront area, so much so that the cloppety clop of horse hooves is the most natural sound you could hear in the setting. The traditional architecture is Victorian with its emphasis on grand neo-gothic structures like the Empress Hotel. I didn’t get quite as much of a feel for the outlaying parts of town, but Mrs. H had me drive through many a neighbourhood that had streets lined with Victorian cottages, some simple, some dripping with gingerbread.

I had a lovely weekend and feel it is the perfect cap to my Vancouver Island winter.