It's choice, not chance, that determines your destiny

This is my blog about life - travel - new experiences - growth.
Please join me in my journey.......

May 30, 2010

Prince George, BC

Today we drove to Prince George, approx 125 miles. We only stopped once at a nice rest area and walked the dogs along the river that parallelled it. If it was later in the day it would have been a nice place to picnic but we were a little early so we drove on.

We arrived in Prince George around 11:30 and stopped and got gas. It was about $1.07/litre. Cost me $131 plus the 3% I pay to put it on my credit card. Then we drove to the RV park that we'd picked out this morning. The book made it sound fabulous. We were thinking of spending a few nights to rest, get some chores done, etc. When we pulled up I think we all knew that one night would be tops. It's a small place, all gravel and there were two sites left. One pull through right next to the office and one elec/water hook up right next to the owner's house - and I mean right next to it. If I spit out my dinette window I can hit his front porch; in fact, my hookups are on the side of the porch. Essentially what he did was take his driveway and turn it into another site.  All this for $27! And that's with a Good Sam discount. My parents paid the same thing for a full hook up pull through site. (although it's not any better - at least I have a tree, flowers and wind chimes right outside my window!) Sometimes I think that when hosts/owners see we're traveling together they charge us the same rates - or they charge me more, as in the case of Fairmont Hot Springs, because they knew I had a dog or they just assume I'm traveling with a companion as in the case of the park ranger who charged me double to enter Banff National Park!

Maybe by the end of this trip I'll learn what to do and what not to do to get a better deal!! The idea of boon docking in the south holds more and more appeal!

I think we'll rest up for the afternoon and then head out tomorrow morning for Chetwynd. It's the chainsaw carving capital and they're having a carving competition on June 10th. We're a little early, darn it! In the meantime, I'll enjoy my afternoon here - maybe take Cooper for a nice long walk down Hwy 97!

That's the owner's house to the right. See my water hooked up to the porch?

That's my MH behind mom and dad's full h/u pull thru!

May 29, 2010

Icefield's Parkway

Can God do any better than this? What gorgeous country we traveled through today!

We left Banff at 8am and decided rather than buy another park pass for the day and spend another night in the National Park that we'd drive to McBride, which is about 100 miles west of Jasper, back in British Columbia. We traveled through the Icefield's Parkway and there are so many viewpoints that we didn't get to our campground until 5pm and that's gaining an hour since we've returned to Pacific Time Zone. Long day, but well worth it!

First stop was Lake Louise. Wow....the water is a beautiful turquoise color and crystal clear. It still had a lot of ice on the surface as you can see from the pictures.  Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is just as impressive. The Lake Louise area provides habitat the female grizzly bears and therefore a "group of four" hiking rule is required. For a bear to encounter one tight group of 4 is less of a disturbance than for a bear to encounter 4 individual hikers strung out along the trail. A group of 4 is less likely to surprise a bear than individual hikers. To be a "tight" hiker, the group must stay within talking range of each other throughout the hike. Guess I won't be hiking unless I join a group!

We stopped numerous times just to take pictures, trying to capture the essence of it all - the grandeur. I can't do it justice. It's something you would have to experience first hand to understand the beauty. There are over 100 glaciers that line the Parkway's western side and they feed turquoise colored lakes and thundering waterfalls.

We only stopped at three falls: Bridal Veil Falls, where we ate a bite of lunch, Sunwapta Falls, and Athabasca Falls, which has the most powerful flow of water in the mountain parks.

Ellie at a rest stop

Bridal Veil Falls - where we had lunch

Sherri in front of the HUGE Ice Explorer at Columbia Icefields

Sunwapta Falls

Athabasca Falls

We only had one wildlife siting today and that was a small black bear by the side of the road. There were cars pulled over and we stopped but didn't stay. It wasn't until we got back on the road again that I saw it off to my left. I almost hit the brakes in the middle of the road to whip out my camera. No wonder you have to pay attention when you're driving - a lot of others have the same idea! I didn't do it - this time! I'll have to get my bear photo later in the trip!!

We're camping at Beaverview RV Park in McBride, BC. It has nice grassy pull through spaces with water and electric hook ups. We're only staying one night and then hopefully we'll make it to Prince George tomorrow.

Gondolas and Hot Springs

Last night I turned my motorhome around so I'm facing mom and dad's motorhome. I wanted a better view of the mountain out my window. This morning I woke up and I wouldn’t even know a mountain was there if I hadn’t seen it yesterday. It was snowing! After a small cup of coffee, I finally pulled on my rain clothes and Cooper and I took a walk around the campground. It was really pretty but a little hard to see, as the snow was blowing in my face. I walked down to the entrance where I picked up a bunch of brochures and a bus schedule. The Roam bus drives through the campground every 40 minutes and it’s $5.00 for a day pass. I’m hoping I can leave Cooper in the motorhome without him causing too much trouble while I go check out Sulphur Mtn and Banff Hot Springs. I hear the weather should be a little clearer by noon today.
5pm – I ended up walking to town and found the Town Hall, where I could purchase round trip tokens for $3.00 (instead of $4) for the Roan bus up to Sulphur Mtn. I missed the first bus because I couldn’t find the town hall. The next bus was 40 minutes later and gave me a chance to wander in a few stores since I was without Cooper today. I didn’t buy anything although I sure wanted to. Since I’m already spending $55 a night in camping/park fees I passed on all the stuff I wanted to buy for everyone. Everything is expensive in this little tourist town! I have the feeling I may be saying that more often than I like as I travel through Canada and Alaska!

My walk downhill into Banff

I rode the bus to the end of Route 1, which stopped at the Gondolas that go up to the summit of Sulphur Mtn. Since the day was quite cloudy and the tickets were $29 round trip I decided to skip it this time. The ride takes eight minutes to reach the summit. You climb 2,292 feet to reach the summit at 7,486 feet. It was cold at the bottom – I can only imagine how cold it was at the top. I wanted to hike it but figured I wouldn’t have enough time. I didn’t see anyone else hiking it either. Guess that’s more of a summer thing! I bet on a clear day the view is spectacular at the top.

Instead I walked down the road to Banff Upper Hot Springs and bought a ticket for $7.30 (plus a dollar for a locker). I would have taken a picture but didn’t take my camera out to the pool. Just think of a large hot swimming pool overlooking the Canadian Rockies and you’ll get the idea. It felt great to sit in a hot pool on a cold day. This particular spa and bath house has been operating for more than a century and they have historic swimsuits from the 1920’s you can rent if you want to.
After spending 1-2 hours there I took the Roan bus back to town and found a small grocery store to buy some veggies because I was unnecessarily afraid to take any across the border. After that I walked back up that LONG hill carrying my bags and backpack. I think the hour I spent in the pool wore me out! I did stop right before the Village and bought a bottle of Big Rock Lager, brewed in Calgary, Alberta. It tasted fabulous when I got back to the motorhome! Cooper was happy to see me and I’m told he was a very good dog while I was away. For a reward I took him on another walk around the campground!
Tomorrow morning we travel the Icefields Parkway to Jasper. I think there are numerous photo ops along the way but the weather is supposed to be just like today. I don’t care – I’m having a great time!

Banff National Park in Alberta

Let me start with last night. I buy boxed wine for the motorhome because first, I like wine and second, I have the perfect spot for a box in the refrigerator. I opened a new box last night. About 9:30pm I heard a dripping noise and after investigating, it sounded like it was coming from the refrigerator, so I opened it and out came wine – onto the floor, the walls, all over the bottom of the refrigerator. My box had sprung a leak and after 4 hours since opening it, half was missing! For some reason, as soon as I opened the fridge, the alarm close to the floor went off. While I was trying to figure out how to shut it up, wine was continuing to drip out of the fridge. I found a mute button and pressed hard – aahh, blessed silence so, back to the task at hand. It took me an hour and numerous towels to clean the mess up and wine still continued to drip from cracks and crevices. I ended up putting paper towels on the floor overnight to sop up the remainder. The next morning the towels were wet but thankfully nothing continued to leak after that. Now - I like my wine – even cheap boxed wine and I wasn’t about to let all that remained go to waste so before throwing out the defective box I poured what remained into a small plastic pitcher and two glasses, which I covered with plastic wrap and duct tape! Where there’s a will, there’s a way!

Cooper and I woke this morning to rain, but the temperature was warmer than I expected. I finally dragged myself out of bed around 7am and we went for a jog around the campground. It was really nice. We dodged the puddles and Cooper peed on all the trees he could find and we were both ready to begin another day. I came back, made coffee, and took the shower I missed taking last night and by 10am we were ready to go. Today we drove to the town of Banff in Banff National Park. It was only 108 miles but took about 2 ½ hours to get there. Before entering the park you’re required to buy a park pass, which is about $9.60 a day or about $37 for an annual pass, which they’ll allow you to upgrade to if you decide you’re going to spend enough days in the parks to make it worth the money. We bought a two day pass but may end up staying 3-4 days, depending on what we find in Jasper, which is the stop after Banff. So I may have to buy the annual pass after all.
Driving through the park was beautiful. I even took a few pictures out the front window of mom and dad’s motorhome, while I was driving. I know, I know….believe me, I was mindful of what was around me before snatching up the camera and snapping away. It was a cool scene. Just their motorhome with the mountains in front of them and the trees on both sides - I wanted to capture it. There were also miles and miles of charred trees that had burned in a big forest fire. I seem to remember something about that but can’t remember the year.
We arrived to drizzle in Banff. I guess it rains a lot here but it’s really more like misty rain and easy enough to get out in. I wore my heavier rain coat because the temperature is cold at 5000 feet elevation. We decided to camp at Tunnel Mountain Village in Banff. It has three sections – The Trailer Village is full hook up sites, Village 2 is where we decided to stay and it has electric only. Village 1 is tent camping. I’ve read that during the summer Village 1 is the most popular campground and very hard to get into without a reservation, as Canadians love to tent camp and they love to build campfires and socialize together. I’m also under the impression that Canadians love to rent motorhomes because most of the ones in this campground seem to be rentals, either from Cruise America or CanaDream. There isn’t any Wi-Fi here, so I won’t be posting on the blog for a few days. Instead I’ll post to Word and paste it into the blog when I eventually get service.

The town is really picturesque and quaint, but also very touristy. I’m really glad I visited this time of year. I can’t imagine what it must be like in the high summer season. Cooper went with me so I didn’t do a lot of shopping. He’s quite obnoxious and protests loudly about being left alone so we stand outside and wait on mom and dad to shop in the little gift shops. He’s quite the popular dog then, as everyone wants to pet him and gush over him. Yes, he’s one handsome, well-behaved dog as long as I’m right by his side! The town isn’t very big and therefore, didn’t take too long to walk through. I took a few pictures to share.
I thought Cooper and I would walk the hill back to the Village. It’s a nice walk uphill, maybe a mile. Along the way we saw a deer – I think. Here’s a picture.

We’re staying here one more day. I’m hoping tomorrow to go to Banff Upper Hot Springs and also ride the Gondola to Sulphur Mountain at 8042’ elevation. You can also hike up from the Hot Springs but I’m not sure I want to go alone. Maybe if I see others I can tag along. After a hike, a nice soak in the hot springs would be very welcome! I’m looking forward to another glorious day in paradise!!

May 26, 2010

Crossing the Border

We're in Canada! We left Colbert, WA around 7am this morning. When I woke up I decided to take Cooper for a nice walk in the country so I set off around 6am, thinking we were leaving around 8am and therefore, I had plenty of time to walk, come back, have a little coffee and toast, relax a bit. Wrong! When I got back I noticed mom and dad were all packed, tow car hooked up and they were already halfway down the drive!! Okay then....change in plan...BUT.....I cannot go anywhere without my coffee so I beg a little off my generous cousin and then head outside to unhook the electricity from the motorhome, climb in and off we go. Another day of adventure!
After some time we stopped briefly and I was able to gulp down a roll. The coffee was long gone but luckily I had a nice supply of water with me! Cooper and I took another little walk and then we were back on the road. Next stop was gas and propane in Bonner's Ferry, ID. Almost $3.00/gallon but much cheaper than it's going to be in Canada! So I topped off the tanks, cleaned the windshield and we set off again.

We only had one small detour today. I have a hand held GPS and mom and dad have one with their laptop. Mom's GPS went down for a little bit so I thought I was being helpful and told them the road turned left up the road. You know how annoying these GPS' think you're going to turn on another road but really you're just staying on the same road the whole time. But we took her literally (always a mistake) and turned left onto a small dead end residential road! Oops! No problem for me...I could just back up my little 24' motorhome but dad has a 30' MH, towing a car behind and you can't just back it up. So we go all the way to the end where luck would have it - a small gravel turnaround. He slowly maneuvered his motorhome and car around and we headed back down the hill to the main road again. Whew...

Researching border crossings on the Internet had me a little nervous about what we were going to encounter crossing into Canada. Limited or no meat, dairy, eggs, alcohol, dog food, produce. No firearms. Pets needing rabies certificate and health exam record. Right before we get to the border patrol I'm gulping down the last of my apple, knowing it will be confiscated if I don't. I pull up to the window, show the guy my passport and he asks me where I'm from, how long I'll be in Canada, who's traveling with me and do I have any weapons or firearms. That's it! Took all of 30 seconds max. I noticed upon leaving, however, that the side trying to gain access into the United States was much longer. Maybe we Americans are much harsher than the Canadians....we shall see when we cross into Alaska!

Just in the nick of time we arrived at our RV destination, Spruce Grove RV Resort in Fairmont Hot Springs, BC. I was tired, hungry and in great need of a walk and a beer - not necessarily in that order. Before cracking one open I had to go resister my RV at the front desk. Unfortunately I took Cooper with me. I tied him up outside while I went inside to register and pay for my spot. The lady had previously told me the price so I knew what to expect. She's ringing it up. I'm getting ready to pay. She says "For two of you?" "No, just me." "Any kids?" "No, just a dog." That'll be Five Bucks more for the dog then.

What? So....I can have some unsavory loud, obnoxious person with me, but a "dog" will be Five Dollars extra? I'll know better how to respond the next time and I'll leave Cooper in the motorhome! I only mention this because my dad was there with me at the same time and she didn't ask him a thing about any pet!

Okay, I know we're at our first hot springs and I was all jazzed up and excited about experiencing it all but with walking Cooper, eating a bite of dinner and catching up on my pictures and blog, time has just flown by! Besides, our means of transportation is still hooked up to my dad's motorhome. Guess I'll just take another walk instead and then take a much needed shower in the motorhome. There will be more hot springs on this trip....Canada is known for them!!

Here's some pictures of our "Resort" for the night:

Mine is the little one!
View of the surrounding mountains
A little stream flowing into the river that runs behind the campground.

Day One!

On Tuesday we arrived at my cousin's house in Colbert, WA which is just out of Spokane. They have a beautiful home on 60 acres complete with three charming and very talented children. As you can see, we had plenty of room to park both our rigs and the view out our windows was serene. It was hard to leave such a beautiful place!  

I love this garden with it's organized raised beds!

And I'm jealous of the greenhouse too!!

Now this is a playhouse!

This is the dog's area - it's huge....and look where the dog's are!

How would you like a miniture horse as a pet? Isn't he cute?

May 24, 2010

Family, Repairs & Relief

Saturday, May 22, 2010

I met my parents in Washington at my brother & sister-in-law's house where we'll park for the next three nights. They have a great place to relax and Cooper loves the grassy park and walking trails behind their house. Even the weather has cooperated and it's been pleasant during the day, cool at night.

I picked the motorhome up from the shop in Oregon of Friday night and I finally have my new wing caps! The only thing left are a few decals and I'll do that when I return in September. Here are the before and after pictures:

This is the before picture. Notice the yellowed caps on the back left, right and center. They ship in three separate pieces from the factory in Indiana and they were on back order since January. When the last piece finally came in they were all installed at the original factory, and then the motorhome went to another location for painting, then back for trim and caulking. After curing for about 12 hours I was able to come and pick it up.

This is the after picture! All I have left are the decals along the bottom and top but I must say it's an improvement and makes the motorhome look a little newer and cleaner!!

The night that I arrived here I had another situation come up with the motorhome. The refrigerator stopped working. I also have a solar panel on the roof and a control panel inside that reads the DC voltage and it wasn't registering any longer. The two situations seemed to be tied together somehow but since I don't know anything about it I was in panic mode - again. I got the name of a RV repair technician that will make house calls and I called him on the weekend but of course they were closed so I left a brief message describing what little I knew of my current problem. He was nice enough to call me first thing this morning. When I explained in a little more detail, he said that he's seen this kind of problem before. When they install an after-factory solar panel they often connect it through the refrigerator instead of separately. He said that more than likely it was a fuse that was bad and once I replaced the fuse the refrigerator and solar control panel should work. Of course my dad was kind enough, once again, to help me out and he pulled fuse after fuse and tested them and all were good except for the last fuse tested, which was bad. He happened to have a fuse on him and when he plugged it in the refrigerator and control panel worked perfectly! I was jumping up and down like some happy deranged lunatic. All night long I was envisioning more money being spent on motorhome repairs and so a simple fuse was a much welcome relief.

After that I went to the local Walmart and picked up a package of different fuses so that I would have them on hand in case my dad wasn't around to bail me out! I really do hope that after this trip I won't agonize over ever little thing that goes wrong with the motorhome. I know things are bound to go wrong but at this "newbie" stage I'm in, every little thing becomes major (in my mind anyway). Once I learn more about my particular motorhome and motorhomes in general, I'll be more at ease, knowing that whatever comes along I be able to handle it!

 Here is a picture of where I'm currently parked at my brother's house. Tomorrow we head north to Spokane.

May 21, 2010

Last minute things

I'm in waiting mode. Ready to go without a home to go in. It's still in the shop. The painting is done and now the seams need to be sealed. I'll still be without decals but at least it's new and painted and the decals can be added when I get back. She'll be in need of a fresh wax job by that time as well.

The longer I wait the more little things I think I might need on my trip. Just in case......yadayadayada......I'm sure there will be many things I can do without and some I didn't pack that I could use. Making do with what you have or doing without. It will be fun and challenging to actually see if I can see and experience Alaska on a tight budget! I think I'd be better at that in sunny, warm climate where I can stay in one place longer & boondock, depending more on solar energy. Well...that will be the next trip! I'm not going to travel all that distance to Alaska with unrealistic expectations - I just want to be careful about spending money on "unnecessary" items. I don't think I'd be so freaked out about money if the stock market were going up rather than down. It's hard to stay upbeat and motivated when you're being depleted of future traveling funds! But am I going to let it stop me? No way!

I'm still downloading music to my laptop. Can't live without my music! I bought external speakers a few months ago and I have my beloved i-touch so even though I won't have TV (except for movies) I will have my music! I sure hope the weather is going to be nice. I don't expect it. After all, we're talking Alaska here. Doesn't it rain even more than the PNW? And I'm sick and tired of this cold, wet weather we've been having lately. See? I'm already whining and I haven't even started yet! My new mantra is going to be: Live in the Moment.....Live in the Moment.......

I'm starting. Now.

May 19, 2010

Almost time

I leave for my Alaska trip on Saturday. That's two days. In the meantime, Ellie is back in the shop getting new wing caps installed and painted. They've been on backorder since March and the final piece arrived yesterday via Fed Ex. This project should be done by Friday afternoon. Should be. Since Ellie's been in and out of the shop since January I don't hold out a lot of hope that it will be finished on time.

I am packed and ready to roll....mostly. There are a few last minute items to cram in. I keep adding more things that I think I might need along the way, which leads me to think I may have overpacked and therefore, overloaded my motorhome AND it seems that all the heavier items are on the right side. Fresh water tank, canned food items, stocked refrigerator, 20# of dog food, my small grill. How do I rearrange things so that I'm more balanced? Especially when I don't even have access to the motorhome? Hum....just something for me to stew about I suppose!

I'm going to drive to Richland and spend a few days with family and friends before heading north to Spokane to see another family member on Tuesday. Hopefully we'll cross the border into Canada on Wednesday, May 26th - a week from today. It's hard to believe that this day is almost here - after planning it for a year!

I've tried to do what I can to make sure the motorhome is safe and secure for this journey. I still worry, but will just take what comes and deal with it at that time. Never does anyone any good to worry over things that may never transpire.

I found a website the other day - I downloaded about 18 books to my i-touch so that essentially I can listen to a book and knit at the same time! In the past I could either read or knit, but this way I can accomplish both. I don't prefer audible fiction so I downloaded comedy, inspiration, motavation, self developemnt....that kind of thing. Recently I've been listening to a Cesar Milan book titled, "How to Raise the Perfect Dog." I feel like I'm about 18 months too late in reading this, as 18 month old Cooper has some "issues" that need to be dealth with. Maybe after listening to this book I'll  become THE ultimate pack leader!

Tomorrow Cooper goes to the vet so that he can be checked out and deemed healthy enough to travel into Canada. I need to have a signed certificate stating this fact, along with a rabies certificate and it has to be within 30 days of crossing the border, which is why I'm waiting until the last minute!