May 22: Readington, NJ to Mount Vernon, WA
Sipping coffee, watching the rain fall here in Mount Vernon, Wa. We are camped on the Skagit river and have had a very slow start. We arrived yesterday after a long flight from New Jersey. Everything went smoothly. Pups arrived safely. We rented a tank (GMC Yukon) and went to the RV storage to get the Greyhaven awake, stopping along the way for a bite to eat at Burger King. The motor home started ok and after we loaded it up with our gear and water, we headed back to the airport to return the tank.
John was feeling tired, but not anywhere near the way he felt last time we were here. Although I was just as pooped, we decided to just head north a bit. We stopped around Maryville for a quick grocery shop, then slugged 40 more miles through heavy stop and go traffic around Everitt to stop for the night in Mount Vernon. Not the best looking RV park, but cheap and close to Wally World. Crashed soon thereafter without even eating.
May 23: Mount Vernon, WA to Hope, BC
Today we are feeling still out of sorts. Decompression has begun. We did not get going till after a lazy morning trying to adjust to the time change. The weather is now rainy and cool. John felt that the tires on the motorhome needed some air so the first thing we did after getting gas was head to a tire store. sure enough, the chappy there checked the pressure and all tires were really low. After filling the tires up with air, we were ravenous so we shopped for lunch salads and groceries at the Haggen next door.
We turned northward, traveling on a local road through farmlands and orchards up to the border crossing in Sumas, WA. The wait was about 30 minutes and we crossed into Canada without a problem. I have always found that when you enter Canada, there is something very subtle that changes. You sense you are in a different place, but it is unusually difficult to actually say what the differences are. The skies seem bluer, though today they were overcast. The homes and gardens and farms seem neater and well taken care of. People are more friendly. The air is crisp, cool and clean. Whatever it is, both of us are always happy to be back here.
We traveled up the Fraiser River valley, and were surrounded on both sides by lush farms growing trees, shrubs, bushes, raspberries, herbs and even bamboo. We did not go very far as we soon began to wilt. Traveling eastward on the Trans-Canadian Highway (Rt.1) the river valley soon began to narrow into a steep walled canyon. The tops of the canyon peaks were hidden in the mists of the clouds and everywhere you looked, you could see huge towering waterfalls cascading down the sheer granite walls. We decided to stop in Hope, BC at the Wild Rose campground. We enjoyed fresh chicken pot pies for dinner while listening to freight train whistles echoing down the canyon. To bed after doing some computer work.
May 24: Hope to Kelowna, BC
I am writing this while enjoying the sunset on this cool, crisp spring evening. We are in an RV resort just north of the large sprawling town of Kelowna. Our start this morning was slow. Not sure if we are just tired or ailing. It was misting with rain when I got up at 2:30ish to walk the pups, and was still drizzling as I was making coffee. After breaking camp, we explored the small mountain town of Hope. We checked out a small used book store, bought some pens at a stationary store, and walked the pups around Main street after a bite to eat.
We decided to stop by the Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park and the Othello train tunnels located a few miles east of Hope. The train tunnels were carved out of the solid sheer granite canyon walls in the last century when the area was a new focus for gold and silver mining. We took the pups with us on our hike. The trail was easy and led us through five massive very dark tunnels which traversed a canyon with the roaring, flooded Coquihalla river beneath. There were many other hikers out enjoying the Saturday afternoon with us. I was amazed at the engineering that went into creating this railway. It was fun to walk down the trail and I think the pups enjoyed the walk with us.
Afterwards, we decided to keep heading eastward. We took Rt. 5 north through some wild scenic expanses of pine forests and rocky hills. At Merritt, we turned eastward, continuing our trip through empty pine wilderness. Everywhere you looked there were vast swaths of pine trees scraped away and clear cut down to the dirt. The trees looked very skinny and young, too short to be real logging trees. We guessed they might be forests full of the devastating borer beetle we saw in Colorado. We journeyed across hundreds of thousands of acres of wilderness with not a house or a road in sight. Suddenly, we arrived in the crowded, strip mall lined town of West Kelowna, then crossed Okanagan Lake into the larger town of Kelowna. It was a huge difference from the lonely, desolate vast forests we just came through.
We decided to stay the night nearby so we stopped at the Holiday Park Resort. Like all RV parks with the name ‘resort’ after them, it was a sprawling long term community of RV sites and condos for retirees. Expensive, compared to last night’s campground, but we were too spent to continue on elsewhere. We took the pups for a run at the dog park. The weather and the sounds of the European Collared Doves in the trees reminded me of being in Sidmouth, visiting John’s mother during the summertime. It was warm out, but cool, and felt just like southwest England. Back to our Greyhaven for dinner and a movie.
May 25: Kelowna to Revelstoke, BC
This Sunday dawned overcast and cool. While John did some emails in the morning, I took the pups to play in the dog park. There were a few other owners there with well behaved little dogs. This is a big difference from my experiences in NJ where people bring huge, wild, out of control animals and let them run free without thinking of their responsibility to control them. Most of the folks I met here seemed to be older retirees. It seems to me that here in Canada, a trailer park or mobile home park or RV resort is not a dump as in the states and is a reasonable affordable alternative to being in an elderly home. The RV resort had motor home lots for sale, so I guess you can buy the slot and pay taxes and utilities just as you would a house. Almost all are impeccably kept, with flower and veggie gardens outside, and most folks travel by golf cart. As we were leaving, we spotted quite a few California Quail running about with their to knot feather waggling.
We packed up around 11 and decided to visit one of the many wineries the Lake Okanagan region is noted for. If you look at a map of the British Columbia territory, the land is striated with very long slender lakes running north-south for hundreds of miles. The lakes are at the bottom of are u-shaped valleys which have been scoured out by the retreating glaciers of the last ice age. In their wake were left verdant soil thus making this area a vast agricultural haven. Many many wineries line the Okanagan valley on the eastern shore.
We stopped at Grey Monk winery just outside of the town of Lake Country. The winery was founded by the Heiss family from Austria and is the oldest one in the entire valley. Grey Monk means ‘pinot Gris’, the first wine the Heiss family brought over to cultivate. We first had lunch at their restaurant which was located on the hillside and commanded a spectacular view of the lake. Both of us had the lunch special, a luscious pan seared salmon with fresh local asparagus and rice in a white wine cream sauce topped with wild chives..flower and all. Yummy. I had a flight of the three most popular wines made by the winery: Latituge 50 white, rose, and red. My favorite was the rose.
Tipsy from lunch, we headed north up the valley towards Vernon and then to Revelstoke. The landscape slowly changed from open farm valley, to mountain lakeshore, to passage through steeper mountains and small hamlets. The rain became more steady and, as had been the way throughout this trip so far, we began to wilt around 5pm. Once in Revelstoke, we sought out a small local provincial park, Williamson Lake, and the small campground next to it. There, we made camp for the evening. Though the ad boasted of it having WiFi, we were unable to get a decent signal, even though we moved our campsite to a more open area.
We took the pups for a walk along the small beach, not reading the signs that dogs were not allowed there. Oops. I saw a few trout leap out of the waters and began to itch for a fly rod, but I did not have a license for BC Canada yet. We watched an episode of ‘Wallander’, a detective series starring Kenneth Brannagh set in Sweden, while having pasta salad and fresh bread for dinner. Off to bed early.
May 26: Revelstoke to Golden, BC
I am having my morning coffee looking out at the Kicking horse River rushing by our campground. We are in Golden, BC, a beautiful mountain town on the doorstep of the route to the high peaks region around Banff National park. I am watching freight trains on the opposite side of the River going up into the canyon. On the other side of the valley are the snow capped peaks of the Columbia mountain range.
The time zone here is mountain time so we have lost an hour since last night, and I am having trouble adjusting to the small change. Yesterday, we spent the morning visiting the Revelstoke Train Museum. Inside was a restored sleeper car and a huge steam locomotive. Afterwards, we had a bite to eat and visited the Revelstoke visitor center for maps and info. John did some email communications while I browsed around the town. There was a book store, quite a few cafés and mountain sports equipment and clothing stores. We did not linger and left after lunch. The rain showers stopped by midday and the skies cleared just enough to view the spectacular glacial valleys and surrounding mountain ranges.
We did not go too far, just 100 miles or so to Golden, where we set up camp in the Municipal campground on the kicking Horse River. We decided to eat out and walked a short distance to the Wolf den, a log cabin restaurant just down the River. John had a great burger, and I ordered a NY strip steak. When I took one bite, I immediately sensed it was off. John smelled it and agreed. I could not eat anything after that. The waitress apologized but I had lost my appetite. I felt bad but I did not want to get sick again on a trip like I did in England. Back to our campsite where we spent the evening watching trains pass up and down the opposite side, and watched an episode of ‘Wallander’. I am hoping I do not become ill in the next few days.
May 27: Golden to Banff NP
Another spectacular sunny, low humidity day has dawned. I was hoping for a day like today to at least see the stunning scenery going into Banff for the first time. We broke camp around 11 and drive about an hour east on the trans Canadian highway 1 into Yoho National park. We stopped at Field, a small hamlet on the Kicking Horse river and had a bite to eat after getting some maps, entrance permit, and info at the national park visitor center. I managed to get a fishing license for the national parks, but few locations are open this early in the season (some are still iced in from winter!) After lunch, we took a short drive up to Emerald lake, a stunning glacial green lake surrounded by soaring snow capped summits. We took the pups for an after lunch stroll through the lodge village. There was a trail circumnavigating the lakeshore, but it looks snowed in and muddy so we returned to the RV and continued on down the Bow River valley. We drove the more scenic Bow Valley Parkway, looking for wildlife such as bears and elk. Within an hour, we arrived at the town of Banff.
Since I was a child, I dreamed of coming here. Living in small suburbia of Edison, I read about far away places such as these glacial silt emerald lakes high up in the Canadian Rockies and always wanted to see them along with the beautiful mountain terrain. The journey here was put on my personal bucket list, and I am very excited to finally be here and experience it. We briefly drove through Banff, and headed to the major camping areas at Tunnel Mountain. There are three separate campgrounds here, one just for tents, one for big rigs with full hookups and one for trailers with varied service options. We chose the trailer park area and got a site overlooking the Bow River valley and Tunnel Mountain on the opposite side.
We did not hook up for the night, but ventured into town for an hour or so. Named for a village in Banffshire, Scotland, birthplace of Canadian Pacific Railway president George Stephen, Banff became a major tourist destination for the wealthy traveling on the newly constructed transcontinental railway in the 1880’s. Many luxury hotels were built here. It also drew many people with illnesses for the sulfur hot springs. It is a beautiful mountain town located amidst soaring snow capped mountains with many shops, cafés, restaurants, and boutiques. We browsed a book store and a few gift stores, then had a cappuccino at Starbucks while watching the tourists walk by. There were many Chinese tour groups about. We could also catch some French and German being spoken here and there.
We returned to our campground and set up for the evening. No WiFi service here either, so we made do with a couple of long walks with the pups, gawping at the breathtaking scenery. Dinner was Swedish meatballs while watching a ‘Wallander’ episode. To bed early and some reading. Tomorrow’s forecast looked grim with showers and thunderstorms, so we think we will hunker down outside the National park in a campground with a WiFi and get some work and laundry done.
May 28: Banff to Canmore, BC
It poured all last night and into the early morning hours. Yesterday was a wash and mend day. We did not travel far, just 19 miles to the town of Canmore down the Bow Valley. We got some more groceries and fresh water at the Safeway in town, then headed for the only full service campground in the valley, Spring Creek. It is a beautiful campground set in the valley surrounded by tall snowy mountains and it had working WiFi. We tried three separate sites before we found one with a suitable connection. Apparently Canadian campgrounds are just beginning to tune in to the fact that campers need and wand an internet connection as a necessity to traveling. John crashed for a while as I spent the afternoon catching up on email and laundry (only 1 dryer! in the wash house.) We booked in for 2 nights so that we can explore Lake Louise and other things without using the NP campgrounds.
Later in the afternoon, we walked the pups around the campground and spotted the Canadian Rocky Mountaineer sightseeing train pass by the campground. The thought of traveling by train across the Canadian Rockies is an exciting idea, the cost is not. $3-4K starting price for a week. i managed to do some birding along the beautiful crystal clear creek next to the campground. I spotted an Osprey, which often means fish in the river, and a pair of Mountain chickadees.
May 29: Canmore, BC
Today we visited Lake Louise, the most visited and photographed lake in all of Canada. It was pouring rain when we arrived after stopping by the roadside by the Bow River for lunch. The lake is at 6000′ elevation and the parking lot walkways were still snow covered! The lake itself did not appear like any of the photos I had seen….emerald waters below towering mountains. The lake was still ice covered from winter, and the mountains were hidden in rainy mists. We took some photos, then returned the pups, soaking wet, to the RV, and went to the Fairmont hotel to browse the expensive shops and have a hot chocolate. It was very cold outside so we did not hang around, nor try a gondola ride on the opposite side of the valley. So much for the changeable mountain weather. Back to our campsite in Canmore after filling up with gas for the long trek tomorrow up the Icefields Parkway and to Jasper
May 30: Canmore to Jasper, AB John’s Birthday!
I did not sleep for more than a few hours last night, so I got up around 6am, fed and walked the pups, then watched the sun and shadows play across the mountains on the opposite side of the valley. The day looked very promising with broken clouds and lots of sunshine. We broke camp early around 9 and headed north along the Icefields Parkway.
Often referred to as the ‘world’s most spectacular road’ the Icefields Parkway runs for 143 miles between Lake Louise and Jasper, Alberta. The road climbs through stunning, breathtaking Rocky Mountain scenery and varies from deep turquoise mountain lakes, surging aqua rivers, alpine tundra, to glittering snow covered glaciers and mountain passes. I felt so very very lucky to have the opportunity to finally do this drive and to do it on such a splendid day! The guide book description did not disappoint!! Mile after mile after mile offered snow covered peaks topping out at above 10,000′. Both John and I switched over driving so that we both could take in the wonderful sights. The camera did not stop clicking for the entire 143 miles!
We stopped for a birthday lunch around the Crowfoot glacier lookout. I made a pepper and onion omlettte while John made real thick European style bacon and fried toast. Finally, after days of rain and mists, we were treated to this awesome view. We continued onward, the road initially was well cared for and there was not much traffic. Towards the northern end up to Jasper, the road became more bumpy. The congregation of tourists, tour buses, mini caravaning RV’s was at the Columbia Icefield. About half way between Lake Louise and Jasper lies the Athabasca Glacier. It is very close to the road, though it has retreated about a mile in the last century, and offers tourists the chance to walk (or drive) out onto the glacier ice. The park offers rides in glacier buses, vehicles with huge tires, to take you out onto the ice so that you can get some photos and walk out on an Icefield. We decided not to join the squash of people going up there, so we took some photos and continued northward.
Another hour or two of driving through the glacial valley brought us to the small town of Jasper. We first headed to the only open park campground, Whistler, to grab a campsite. There were many folks at the entrance office already so we were lucky to get a full hookup. It being still early in the season, many park campgrounds are still not operational. After checking out our site, and taking a breather, we decided to have dinner in an exceptional restaurant for John’s birthday. Just up the road for our campground was the Jasper Tramway, a gondola ride up to about 7000′ above the valley. John and I had dinner at the Treehouse Restaurant, fish and chips and a view beyond belief. The skies were still a bit cloudy, but some blue shone through. You could see the entire valley floor 2000′ below with the Athabasca River, Jasper, toy-like freight trains, many glacial green lakes, and mountain ranges stretching in all directions. A short hike brought you up through the snow to the real summit, but we were too tired to attempt it.
Back down, to our pups in the RV. We took a short spin around the town of Jasper, taking note of the small herd of elk in the downtown park, and the large train station in town (also a stop for the Rocky Mountaineer). Back to our campsite, where we walked the pups, watched another ‘Wallander’ episode, and crashed for the evening. Wow! what a day!!
May 31: Jasper, AB to Clearwater, BC
I have had a difficult time adjusting to both the latitude and the time change. I don’t think I have been this far north and, though I have read a lot about the ‘land of the midnight sun’ in Greenland and Alaska and living in Arctic climes, I have never experienced this many hours of sunlight. The pups grow restless about 4:00am and need a walk. It is already dawn and the skies are brightening. We often get to bed around 10ish, after reading and a movie, and the skies are still light out. So that is about 6 hours of dark, and 17-18 hours of sunlight,and it is only Late May. We also have been criss-crossing the Mountain and Pacific standard time zones, which almost follows the Alberta and British Columbia province line. So going into Banff we lost an hour and coming band towards Clearwater we gained it back. My sleep clock is all screwed up and I am feeling out of sorts.
Today, we mostly did scenic driving through the Alberta Rockies. After packing up in Whistler campground, we took the scenic and wildlife-filled Maligne Lake drive just a few miles north of Jasper. We spotted a black bear (along with 20 or so foolish tourists out of their cars and very close to the animal to take photos), a mountain goat, and a few mule deer. Like Lake Louise, Maligne Lake is a hot spot to visit because of its deep aqua waters, reflections of surrounding snowy peaks, and boat tours that take visitors out to Spirit Island, a stand of fir trees in the center of the lake. Not today though…like Lake Louise, it is still ice covered. There were a few motored canoes far out in the cracks between the melting ice. After a short walk with the pups and illegally feeding a family of grey jays by the parking lot, we headed westwards and out of the national park.
We traveled the rest of the day through a vast rolling landscape of empty pine forests and mountain slopes. Not a single house or roadside stand for miles and miles, with only logging roads zigzagging up the hillsides barren of trees and large rapid-filled rivers of snow melt heading downwards towards the ocean. We stopped after 250 miles or so in Clearwater and crashed. Long days of driving like this one take its toll. John was dizzy and I was wiped out. We would stop more frequently in trips past, but here the camping areas and towns are few and far between. We are thinking of heading to Whistler and spending a few days there to chill.
June 1: Clearwater to Cache Creek, BC
Repositioning day today. Not feeling too chipper either. Wiped out and ailing. We kept heading westward after a lazy, slow start and stopped in Barriere for lunch at a local cafe. We then headed to the large town of Kamloops. There, we managed to give the rig a good wash at a self serve place located on a First Nations community. One of the attendants was a young native lad and he mentioned he saw our license plate..and then said he always wanted to go to New Jersey! We were stunned and tried to talk him out of it. Apparently he is a cinematography fan and likes Chris Smith of ‘Clerks’. We then stopped at the town visitor center for info and let the pups run around in their small dog park.
Some shopping followed at the local Chapters bookstore, then at a Staples. John got the idea of buying a small WiFi unit that we can use ourselves in these remote camping areas. It is called a MiFi and is used like a hotspot. I cannot use the hotspot on my phone because it would incur horrendous roaming charges, especially for data downloading. At the local mall, we were able to purchase the device at a Bell kiosk. Easily activated and has a month to month charge system.
The skies opened up in a downpour when we were leaving. We managed to stop at a local Costco on the way out of Kamloops for some fresh shrimp. Westward, along TransCanada 1, the scenery changed once again in the rolling foothills of the Rockies. The landscape became barren and desert like, with open ranges of sagebrush and grasslands. We followed the huge churning Thompson River on its way to the sea and stopped to camp for the night in Cache Creek. The campground was quite full of large rigs, probably heading north to Alaska for the summer (I guessed). We had a shrimp dinner and did not have enough stamina to stay awake for any movies. Off to bed.
Jun 2: Cache Creek to Whistler, BC
We are sitting by out Greyhaven in the Riverside Campground in the warm sunshine, awaiting a Canadian pizza for dinner. We arrived in Whistler after a long hard drive through some spectacular canyon scenery that was not in any guide pamphlets or on the map. We happened upon it by chance and by choosing the route west of Cache Creek.
It is called the Sea to Sky Highway and is BC Rt. 99, traversing the Cayoosh Creek Canyon from Whistler up through Lillooet. After breaking camp this morning, it soon turned into lunchtime. Just a few miles west of Cache Creek we came upon a winding broad canyon sculpted by the mighty Fraser River. We managed to spot the Rocky Mountaineer scenic train at a halt alongside the road, probably waiting for another train to pass. We pulled out at an overlook and enjoyed our lunch in the warm sunshine.
Continuing on after we ate, we passed through Lillooet and onto Rt.99, which suddenly became very narrow and twisting. It took us up to Lake Seton where I spotted salmon spawning runs up alongside the roadway. The lake is dammed for hydroelectric use. The salmon come up from the ocean, up the Thompson and Fraser rivers and then up these side rivers, like the Seton, to spawn in August. After the dam, the road became even more precarious, narrow, winding, and quite terrifying with the drop off on the driver’s side hundreds of feet down a sheer cliff wall to the Cayoosh Creek below. For several hours we switched off driving between John and myself. The road was treacherous and there were very few pull out areas along the way. The road also was being repaired in places, so the construction areas proved to be challenging in a rig our size with sudden stops and narrowed lanes.
It became a real ordeal in the end, especially on the down hill side into the Whistler valley. We stopped a few times to feed and walk the pups, and to let the brakes cool. John managed to see a Western tanager in one area. Great spot! Down, down, down we rode, down 15% grades in first gear till we finally came to Lillooet lake. Whew! Exciting but terrifying. Along the way into Pemberton, we entered a First Nations village of the Lil’wat People. I spotted large outdoor structures which resembled pole and canopy pavilions. These we read were used by the Native folks to dry salmon outdoors in the summer.
Down, down we descended into Pemberton, and finally into our campground in Whistler. We were totally exhausted. The resort/campground is on the edge of town and we were in no shape to do any sightseeing. We got a site for a couple of days, and ordered a pizza delivered to out site from Avalanche Pizza: organic bread, mozzarella, sauce, pepperoni, Canadian ham, bacon, mushrooms, and green peppers. A little ‘Wallander’ before reading a bit before bed.
Jun 3: Whistler, BC
We enjoyed the day here in this beautiful 4-season resort area. Bright sunshine, clear skies, and warm temps were with us most of the day. We started out having brunch at the campground restaurant, located in the registration lodge. It was the first time I had an eggs benedict, and it was delish!
After doing some laundry, we drove down the valley and spent a few hours in the downtown Whistler Village, a sprawling complex of lodges, hotels, plazas, restaurants and shops. The 2010 Winter Olympics were held here and these large lodges were built to contain all the visitors for that huge event. We did some shopping for grocery essentials, but could not get much since our RV was parked in a very distant parking lot along with the other oversize vehicles. In essence, this town is still a ski town, with small roads and parking areas. The guide books describe Whistler as being the mecca for mountain biking as Maui is to surfing, and it is very evident. Many,many biking trails lead up and down the valley, and of course the ski slopes become mountain biking terrain accessible by chair lift. Lots of folks peddaling around, which gave the ides for John and I to try it…possibly tomorrow.
We returned to our campground for a curry dinner. The Riverside Resort campground is a beautiful campground, designed with private sites, which are well spaced out, and offering many amenities. The laundry room was sparkling clean, and the staff is friendly and helpful. The resort offers Wifi, but it is limited and a cable box is offered for rent. John and I tried it but were unsuccessful at getting it to work. Satellite is also unavailable because of the high peaks surrounding the valley. Great chance to unwind while not connected to the outside news of the world. Lots of reading, stitching and long walks rounded out our evening.
June 4: Whistler, BC
Several things I have learned while being in Canada:
1.) The Canadians don’t really say ‘eh’ at the end of every question, nor do they say ‘ah-boot’ when saying about.
2.) The air is definitley cleaner up here. And the folks are friendlier.
3.) It is a very civilized society, as evidenced by the presence of HP Sauce in all the restaurants (according to John).
4.) They make the best ‘bennys’ here!! Benny, as in eggs benedict. Oh to die for!!! Soft boiled egg on an english muffin, with fresh smoked salmon and topped with hollandaise sauce. Heaven any time of the day.
5.) Whistler is THE mountain biking capital of the world. Ski lifts to the summit, miles and miles of trails (which become nordic ski trails in the winter). Bike it, ski it, hike it, dog walk it,…just incredible.
6.) Coming home will be a big let down.
After another ‘benny’ brunch (this time with fresh spinach), John and I finally bit the bullet and did the ‘E’ word today…exercise! We rented two mountain bikes for the day and, after taking care of the pups, biked along the Valley Trail (paved bike path) into Whistler Village. It was not so easy getting back into it. I had mountain biked years ago and found that, while enjoyable, the muscle memory was true…it is painful on the butt and knees. John was not to comfortable either, but we did make it to the village where we walked around a bit, bought some coffee and gellato, and relaxed in the warm mountain sunshine. We watched some very serious and dedicated mountain bikers tackling the Mountain Park (basically the downhill ski slopes converted into steep dirt tracks). Cycling to the village was a gentle uphill, and cycling back to our campground was an easy, enjoyable glide.
We relaxed for the evening, finally able to get a satellite TV signal by changing our campsite. After dinner, I biked a bit more down the valley, around the Nickalus golf course and by Green Lake where the float plane dock was located. I watched a few planes take off and land on the water, then headed back to our campsite. Early to bed because of a long travel day tomorrow back to the US.
Jun 5: Whistler, BC to Anacortes, WA, USA
Back in the USA. The crossing and trip back into the states were uneventful. The GPS selected a route that took us back through Blaine, WA and a secondary border crossing that took about 15 minutes. The first destination on our agenda was the Petsmart in Burlington so that we could get the pups checked for the flight back to Jersey. Everything was a-OK, and the dogs were cleared by the vet at Banfield with no problem. We decided to try camping at the Northern Lights Swamish Casino, just outside of Anacortes. Hooked up for the night with a fabulous view across the bay and great train spotting right outside our window. We had a delicious dinner at the 13 Moons restaurant in the casino: fresh salmon and halibut. Back to our campsite where we sat out with the pups and enjoyed the sunset over the water.
Jun 6: Seattle, WA to Readington, NJ
Long, long day. We first drove back to Seattle, rented a car (large Buick Enclave) at the SeaTac Airport, and went to the storage facility in Kent to put the Greyhaven to sleep. It is a long detailed process that requires a checklist similar to taking off in an airplane. All the perishable food needs to be thrown out, all the water in the holding tanks and lines need to be emptied, the batteries (engine and interior) need to be disconnected, dog crates need to be assembled and ice for the flight made in advance. Then there is the suitcase packing (with all the computers, cameras, and souvineers). Ugh. Just a long set of items that need to be done meticulously so that when we return (hopefully in August), the motorhome starts up OK, does not smell of rotting food, and is set to go.
Then, it was off to the Red Roof Inn (located close to the rental car facility and airport) to catch a few hours of fitful sleep. John checked us in and the pups were quite curious about being in an elevator and a hotel, probably for the first time. John then went down the block to pick up some Chinese/Pakistani food for dinner. Comfortable room with bouncy beds. Shelby and Daisy took to jumping up and down and across them. We both tried to sleep a bit, only to wake around 2am for the flight home at 6. The pups needed to be dropped off and registered at the United cargo desk. The United rep was supposed to arrive around 3, but did not show up till 3:30am. They were safely set to fly with us on the same flight home. That done, we went to return the rental car, hop a bus to the terminal, check in, go through TSA screening, and crash for an hour at the United Club. Ahhhhh…coffee at last. It is a long, long mental checklist of things to be done and when it is over and you get aboard the plane, it feels a bit better. For me, though, I still worry all the way home if the pups are OK in the cargo hold.
We arrived back in New Jersey to the familiar heat and humidity around 2pm in the afternoon. I picked up my car from Haynes parking and then picked up John. The pups were delayed a bit, but were happy to see us and finally empty bladders! Back home, and so to bed.