Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Wells Gray Provincial park

July 11th, 2016:

We leave John and Donna’s house in Logan Lake on Monday July 11th, heading north on route 5.  We are towing again due to the high price of gasoline in Canada, approximately $4.50 a gallon.  It’s a beautiful drive to Kamloops with small picturesque lakes along the highway.  After Kamloops route 5 reduces down into a single lane highway following a river valley with much farming, vegetable markets, cows and horses.  We were running in and out of rain showers all the way, but luckily no wind to contend with.  We stopped in the town of Clearwater at a food market to get groceries and to check at the “Wells Gray Provincial Park” information center about the camping situation.  We ended up heading for Pyramid Campground in “Wells Gray Provincial Park” about 28 miles away.  It’s a first come, first served campground and was fairly empty, that’s what we like to see. A nice roomy campsite, but quite a few mosquitoes, I was glad to have bug spray.

The winding road north of Kamloops

Our campsite at Wells Gray Provincial Park

We heard running water at the campsite, took a short walk and found a trail that led to the fast flowing Murtle River.  This is a really fast flowing river, you would not want to fall in.  We then drove about 5 miles away to the Helmcken Falls which were truly spectacular.  The Murtle River plunges straight down 462 feet here.  There was an excellent viewing area along the canyon rim and the sun actually came out for a while. 

The Murtle River behind our campsite

Fire Weed is common here

Helmcken Falls

Another view further away

A coyote crossing the road in front of us

Next was a drive back past the campground to the narrow one lane bridge that we had previously driven over with the RV.  It is a very scenic view as the Murtle River is flowing very fast with large turbulent rapids.  We somehow missed Dawson Falls which was only about a 1/4 mile down the road.

View from the bridge looking upstream

Another view of the bridge

I wish we had more time at this park, so many good trails, river views, wildlife and waterfalls, but we have a campground reservation at Jasper.  I hate getting locked into reservations, but camping spots are so limited and in such demand at National Parks, you sometimes can’t avoid it.  

Next stop is Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada 

Twinkles and Slick

Friday, July 15, 2016

Logan Lake

July 7 - 11, 2016:

We get on the road at 9 AM with light intermittent rain which lasts the entire drive.  It is a caravan led by John and Donna Waddell, Hughes and Judy Moir and us.  We drive across Vancouver over several roads and bridges with considerable traffic to get onto route 1, the Trans Canada highway.  Eventually we go up into the mountains with a steep climb up the Coquuhala Pass with beautiful mountain views.  After that uphill grind and then descending halfway down on the other side we arrive at the town of Merritt with a huge lumber mill where we exit onto route 5. It was then mostly picturesque back roads to the town of Logan Lake.

Driving through Merritt

John and Donna live on a quiet street in town with room for all three RV’s to park.  We decide to sleep in our RV’s although there is plenty of room in the house, four bedrooms, it’s just easier and we can use the shower inside the house.

The town of Logan Lake is a mining town, actually established in 1970 by the Highland Valley Copper Mine for the mine workers to live in.  It has a clean, small downtown area with a few stores, a small library, a school, a cross country ski park and an attractive looking Recreation Center with Hockey arena.  There is a lake, Logan Lake, with a nice picnic area, a boat dock a walking path around the lake and a campground on the far end.

Logan Lake

Logan Lake Recreation Center, Hockey and Curling rule

Our first day involves a 40 mile ride to the city of Kamloops, the largest city for many miles for shopping, a haircut for Hughes and lunch at a popular town cafe.  It has all the chain stores and restaurants and I would guess is the largest city Kamloops is a city with all the chain stores and restaurants and is possibly the last big town you are going to see heading north in Canada. 

Hilltop view in Kamloops with the Thompson River flowing through

Every Canadian city seems to have a Curling Center

Girl talk among Twinkles, Donna and Judy

Sunday is a cool, rainy morning with a fabulous breakfast of pancakes covered with butter, maple syrup and fresh blueberries, it doesn’t get any better than that !  I also had some of John's porridge with hoard made toast covered with blueberries. Yum !

Latter in the afternoon it began to clear and we took a ride to the Logan Lake information center.  It is an unusual one housed in a huge Bucyrus Crane that was used years ago in the mine.  They also have a enormous WABCO Electric Haulback Truck that our host John actually drove at the mine.

I'll call it John's truck, a 3200B WABCO Electric Truck powered 
by a GM Electromotive 645-12 cylinder engine, 2,500 HP, very 
similar to a Diesel-Electric Locomotive with the engine powering
electric motors on the wheels

Twinkles, Judy, Donna and John pose in front of tire

Mine Crane and information Center

View of Logan Lake from hilltop trail

We next went for a ride to the Highland Valley Copper Mine which is the largest open pit Copper Mine in Canada.  It extracts mainly Copper and Molybdenum.  It was started in 1962 and it is hard to believe how huge it has grown since then, mountains have literally been moved.  John and Donna both worked there until retirement and their son currently works there.  We took a ride to a roadside overlook with a great panoramic view of the Mine.

A view of one section of the Mine

John took us on a walk from their house to the ski trails, practically behind their house.  There is an extensive network of trails for hiking, mountain biking, winter snowshoeing and cross country skiing through a forested area. It's a really extensive network of trails going for miles and miles.

Ski trail map

Summer Tanager posed nicely for me

Beautiful ski trail through green meadow

Mushrooms are everywhere

Judy and Hughes learned of a forest fire in their county within a few miles of their house in Nederland, Colorado.  This fire spread rapidly due to the heat, dry conditions and wind and quickly became very serious.  As a result, they decided to change their original travel plans to tour Vancouver Island and head straight back to Colorado on Sunday morning.  It sounds very serious as everyone in their home area has been evacuated and their house is very close to the fire line. It was not the expected happy kind of goodbye to them and we will be hoping things turn out okay as we really want to visit them, in their current house, one day soon.

Next stop is Wells Gray Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada
Twinkles and Slick

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Vancouver British Columbia

June 30 - July 3, 2016:

We towed the Jeep today, first time all year, north on route 5 to the Canadian border.  After about a 10 minute wait in line, we went through customs without incident and made our way to the town of Surrey to visit Bill and Linda McMeekin.  We know them from our winter stays at Desert Trails RV Park in Tucson, Arizona.  We were able to park the RV on the street in front our their house and stay in their spare bedroom.  It was real nice to have a full size bedroom and bathroom for a few days.   

This is going to be a very social oriented couple of weeks for us.  After leaving Surrey we are moving to a campground on the other side of Vancouver where we will stay a few days with John and Donna Waddell from Logan Lake, BC and Hughes and Judy Moir from Nederland, Colorado.  These are all friends that we know from our winter hangout at Desert Trails RV Park in Tucson, AZ.  

Bill and Linda took us to the Canada Day celebration on July 1st in downtown Vancouver.  This is equivalent to July 4th in the US.  It takes place along the waterfront at an area called Canada Place.  The Vancouver waterfront area is a spectacular sight by any standards surrounded by mountains, watercraft, boats and ships of all sizes and float planes taking off and landing.


Canada Day in Vancouver

Donna and Twinkles are in party mode

Sort of a Olympic flame thing

Bill proudly sporting his Canadian attire

Vancouver is a spectacular city which is very diverse, 52% have a first language other than English, it is the 4th most densely populated city in North America and is consistently named as one of the top cities in the world for livability and quality of life.

On Saturday, July 2nd we ride north on route 99 known as the “Sea to Sky Highway” to Whistler Village and the Whistler Backcomb Ski Resort.  It is the largest ski area in North America and was the site of the 2010 Winter Olympics. We took a ride on the Peak to Peak Gondola between Whistler and Backcomb mountains which is the highest and the longest unsupported span in the World.  It was a cloudy day, with a few breaks, but the surrounding mountains were mostly visible and it was a fantastic ride.  It is still possible to take a higher chair lift above the gondola station to actually ski.  There are miles of trails open for hikers and mountain bikers all over the mountain.

Snow and ski runs above the Gondola Station

Hanging on (white knuckles) in the Gondola, actually
we were fine all the way

Well maybe a little queasy looking straight down at highest point

And when the Gondola seems to be going straight down

A picture moment

Afterwards we walked around the huge Whistler Village, filled with people, so many shops, restaurants and hotels.  It’s an amazing place !!!

Whistler Village is really Olympic sized !

Canada Day attraction

Vancouver Philharmonic Orchestra playing

Ferry Boat crossing the bay on the ride back to Vancouver

Sunday, back in Vancouver we go to Granville Island to a great food market and shopping area on the waterfront.  This area was originally an industrial area with sawmills, boat works and factories that over the years has transformed into a very popular residential, shopping, dining and entertainment area.  We met John and Donna Waddell there, hung out for a while then took the water taxi across the “False Creek” and walked along Beach Avenue past a waterfront park and beach area.  It’s a warm, sunny day and lots of people are sunbathing, walking, riding bikes and running. We stopped for a drink at the Tennis complex where a tennis competition was in progress and saw baby sandhill cranes in the tree tops learning to fly.  It sounds weird, but this is a protected breeding ground for them.

One of the last industrial businesses left on Granville
Island is this Cement Plant with an artistic element

Sunny outdoor seating at the Public Market

Vegtables are okay

But pastry, cakes and pies are better ?

Donna doing her best scream imitation

A beautiful beach view

But I prefer this one 

On July 4th we pack up and leave Bill and Linda’s house in Surrey for the ride across Vancouver to Capilano River RV Park.  This was a stressful ride, many turns, lots of bridges and roads to cross and no direct path to get there.  Our GPS is not working in British Columbia, so we tow the Jeep while Twinkles navigates using her iPhone.  Bill and Linda had given us a good route to follow but it wasn’t a fun drive.  At the RV Park we meet John and Donna Waddell and Judy and Hughes Moir, also camping there, and go for a walk along the Capilano riverfront area.  It’s then Happy Hour followed by another walk to a local Thai Restaurant for dinner.

View of the Lions Gate Bridge on our walk

The Capilano RV Park is adjacent to the Capilano River and is on the Squamish Indian  Reservation.  The Indian have a pretty lucrative RV Park here and fish on the river using traditional fishing methods.  The area is mostly developed with residential buildings and a huge shopping Mall complex.

Totem Pole at the RV Park

We walked over the mile long Lions Gate Bridge to Stanley Park on Tuesday.  The weather went from cloudy to light rain as we walked, it’s always recommended in Vancouver to carry a light rain parka and we were prepared.  Stanley Park is enormous and incredible with many walkways through the old growth semi-rain forest.  We stopped at the “Prospect Point Viewpoint” for photos overlooking the Lions Gate Bridge.  The Trees, vegetation and wildflowers in the park are fantastic.  We stopped at the Aquarium’s outside cafe for a coffee, passing through a portion of the Rose Garden.  We then walked along the seawall that runs around the perimeter of Stanley Park stopping at a Totem Pole display area and then back over the Lions Gate Bridge for a total of about 11 miles.

Lions Gate Bridge from above

View from the Bridge in one direction

View of downtown Vancouver from the opposite direction

Hughes, Donna, John, Judy, Me and Twinkles

The girls are tree hugging

Really getting intimate

Beauty in the rain

People have sat under this tree for centuries

Native art

A very artistic Totem pole

Girl in a wet suit statue

We then had a sort of Desert Trails RV Park reunion Happy Hour with John and Donna, Judy and Hughes, Bill and Linda and Jim and Christie, all fellow Desert Trails winter campers.  There was much eating, drinking and catching up on everyones travels.  

Our final day in Vancouver involved taking a bus to the Granville Island market area and shopping.  This was followed by a walk to central Vancouver where we stopped for lunch at the “Steamworks Brewery”.  We then walked past the cruise ship port, Canada Place and then along the seawall to a bus stop and a bus for a toreturn to the RV Park.

Water Taxi at Granville Island

Inside the Public Market a second time

A most entertaining escape artist in the courtyard

Fabulous building facade in downtown Vancouver

The Burrard Street Bridge

Royal Canadian Mounted Police have
a souvenir shop

Steam Works Brewery sign

The Cruise Ship Volendam from Rotterdam in Port

Next stop is Logan Lake, British Columbia
Twinkles and Slick