July 29, 2004

The Great White North

July 19, 2004
Nelson, British Columbia

From Schweitzer (note corrected spelling) we ventured into Sand Point, Idaho and visited another high school friend of Dan's. Courtney and her family took us to Sand Point's public beach, we had a lovely time playing in the water with her kids and basking in the hot Idaho day. Sandpoint is a neat town, positioned on a huge lake with views from everywhere and a good ski area right up the road. It is a bit too large for our liking, but it seems like a really nice place to live.

From here we headed west into Washington, which allowed me to add another state magnet to our almost completed map of the western U.S. We crossed over the Canadian border around 7pm, which is a late night of driving for us, and rolled into Rossland after 8:00. Rossland is currently #1 on our winter ski town list. Red Mountain Ski Area is legendary and the town is very quaint.

We camped at the base of the ski hill. Val, our hostess, was very helpful and filled us in on Rossland in the winter and our housing prospects, should the camper not be a suitable Canadian winter abode. Her place, Red Mountain Village, is cheap at $10 Canadian for a primitive spot, or $20 for a full hook-up, especially when you consider that it is AT the ski area. Her hospitality definitely makes this place worth spending a night or two.

We had intended to spend two days in Rossland, but a day was enough to hook us in. Nelson was only 60km down the road so we decided to skip ahead, thereby gaining an extra day and allowing us to slow down the pace a bit. It just so happens that we hit Nelson during Street Fest, which we would have missed had we waited another day. Street Fest is a street performer's festival.

And not the street performers who paint themselves silver and stand perfectly still all day, but the true vaudeville types. It was great entertainment.

This morning I write from the City Tourist Park in downtown Nelson. This campground has the feeling of a youth hostile, people are packed on top of each other and the facilities are pretty run down. However we are back to the location factor,this campground is about 4 blocks from the main street in town and it has views of the Kootenay Lake. For $18 Canadian we have electric and free showers.

This week is dedicated to finding the ski area where we will be spending the winter. We intend to visit, Kimberly, Banff/ Lake Louise and Kicking Horse after which we start heading for Victoria and 3 days 2 nights in a B&B there. It is hard to believe that we have been full-timers for 6 weeks now and away from Durango for over a month. Only a few more weeks and we’ll be on the Grand. Time is flying.

This week also marked our first bouts of homesickness. We both miss our friends and the routine of normal life a bit. Not enough to go back or anything, but enough to give us moments of pause. Thanks to all our buddies who are emailing us frequently, we love hearing from you.

July 21, 2004 Fairmont Hot Springs

There is a ferry outside of Nelson that boasts that it is the "longest free ferry in the world". Works for us. It allows a traveler to continue on HWY 3 despite a rather large lake that would otherwise make this difficult to do. Aside from saving us from having to retrace our route and adding a few dozen miles to our trip, this ferry ride is a treat because of the views. If you get to ride the ferry might I suggest you do so in a 12' tall camper. This way, even if you are parked in the middle of the ship, once you crawl onto the roof you have the best view in the place.

Once on the east side of the lake we consulted our books to see where we could camp. Our Passport America book let us know that there was a campground right down the road.

So we spent the night at Cedar Grove in Gray Creek. Our hosts Ken and Lyn were great and even had us over for a campfire, which I reminded Ken wasn't a good habit if he wanted to increase his fire wood sales. This campground had bocce ball, badminton, a beach and was located on a creek complete with waterfalls. We got an electric hook up here and our cost came to $8.50 Canadian. We couldn't have been happier. The low rate is a result of our Passport America membership. P.A. is an RV club which gets you a 50% discount at their member parks. So far we have only stayed in two P.A. parks but both were treats, and we have almost saved enough to pay for the membership.

The beach at Gray Creek

Random tourist trap on East Kootenay- this house is made entirely out of formaldehyde bottles

We made a pit stop in the town of Kimberley which has been re-vamped to look like a Bavarian town. It was very cute.

All of their hydrants are painted like this.

The ski area looks like fun; it bills itself as a "family resort" which we read as, heavily groomed. Probably it is worth a day or two of skiing this winter, but not a home base.

Onward from Kimberley to Fairmont Hot Springs. We had set our hearts on spending a day at the springs before we read our Lonely Planet Guide, which has this to say about Fairmont. "If you head north from Canal Flats (the headwaters of the Columbia River) on Hwy 95 you'll come to what is essentially a giant sinkhole for tourist dollars- complete with golf courses, a 311 spot RV park, a private airplane landing strip, a small ski hill, plenty of shops an restaurants, the resort lacks anything low budget and caters to high-end, short-term vacationers with plenty of money to spend". Uh-oh.

Well too late we were here. We decided that if the $21/ night primitive camping fee included passes to the springs then we could splurge. Well of course it doesn't, but as I was learning this another woman was learning that she and her kids were not welcome in the park with just a tent. Tents are only allowed in conjunction with an RV. Ding-Ding! Ma'am would you like to stay with us? We have an RV. So it came to be that we are camped next to Loraine and her sons Levi and Cody from Edmonton. This little arrangement not only made the campsite affordable for us, but Lorraine showed us where the free hot springs are. Now for my photo montage of the various springs available here. In my humble opinion, anyone who pays to go to the "sardine pool" is out of their bloody mind.

Free Pool

$10 Pool

Free Pool

View from our camp spot.

Other Items:

We intend to put camper friendly recipes on here from time to time. This section of our blog will be entitled Cheap and Easy.
Here’s the first one.

Cheap and Easy Salmon Times Two.
Ingredients: Approx. Cost:
One can salmon $2.00
(Preferably sockeye or at least a wild Alaskan variety)
One package cream cheese $1.00
Dill weed n/a (you should already have some)
Cucumber $ 1.00
Crackers $1.00
Eggs (4) $ .50
Toast (4 slices) $ .50
Total: $6.00

Here’s what you do. Mix cream cheese, salmon and dill in a bowl, until smooth and pink. Slice ½ of the cucumber, (save other half for that week’s dinner salads). Set aside a little less than half of salmon mixture. With the remaining portion, spread on crackers and top with a cuke slice for an easy lunch.
The next morning scramble 4 eggs and add the mixture for a salmon scramble, serve with toast.
Average meal cost $3.00.

Also we will publish helpful travel hints as we learn them, this section will be called….

Gee I wish I knew that: Visitors to Canada are entitled to a tax rebate on the 7% GST taxes you pay when you make certain purchases. In order to qualify for the rebate you must make $200 worth of qualifying purchases during your visit. Then you simply fill out a form, which is available at most Visitor’s Centers and mail it in along with your receipts. GST is clearly marked on all receipts where it is charged and this can add up quickly since there is a GST tax on fuel and most items other than food.

Extra Foods and Canada’s Real Discount Store (the name being an apparent jab at the Wal-Mart next door).
If you can find one of these stores with a gas station adjoining then you will earn 7.5 cents in groceries for every liter of fuel you purchase. Case in Point yesterday we spent $56 on fuel and earned $6.60 in groceries, you are given a receipt that works just like cash inside the store. Just to make this deal even sweeter their gas station had the cheapest diesel we’ve seen so far in Canada at .63/ liter.

July 21, 2004
Fairmont Hot Springs Day Two.

We decided to have a layover day today. A trail map we had seen had a “cross country” trail listed, we took this to mean Mtn. Bike friendly. After breakfast we set out on the “Red” Trail. There are many trails here, White Trail, Blue, Orange, Yellow and Green Trails. The Red one however, was the only one designated cross country and it lead up to the ski area, so we chose it.

At this point it is probably prudent for me to define my trail ratings. I use a modified scale apparently, because all of the guides I have seem to not view trails as I do. As a result I often take what they consider to be an easy trail and I bump it up a few notches. Basically my ratings go like this.

Easy: converted railroad beds, possibly paved, relatively flat, up hills are not long and down hills are not bone-jarringly scary. Generally through town to a bar or restaurant.

Easy +: Not entirely flat, somewhat challenging up hills, enough to make you sweat but quickly followed by down hills which cool you back off. Some obstacles may be present, such as sand, mud or downed trees, which require one not adapt at the art of clip-less pedaling to dismount for short periods of time.

Moderate: Up hills are equal to or slightly more than down hill portions. An up and back trail falls into this category. Up hills should last no more than 45 minutes before a nice flat stretch. Moderate trails may require short periods of hike-a-biking due to sand, mud or need to catch one’s breath. Pride saving excuses like, “just wanted to check out the view” or “wow never had a cramp come outta no where like that before” are to be used in these instances. Additionally Easy+ can become Moderate trails if it has recently rained, you are riding with your dumb pro mountain biking friends, or you had too much to drink and/ or too little sleep the night before.

Moderate+: The upper echelon for me. This means I walk almost as much as I bike. Or as I like to call it, “hiker assisted biking”. Basically there had better be something pretty damn cool at the top to get my ass up there, otherwise be prepared for me to whine the whole way. However, these trails seem to always pay off in spades, with an amazing view or the feeling that I am getting better at this godforsaken sport and that my asthma-impaired lungs are somehow rejuvenating themselves. These rides once completed make me understand why people pay two grand for something you then have to pedal uphill. This is of course assuming I did not crash. When a crash occurs, these runs become Dan’s fault, and provide further proof that he is trying to kill me.

Difficult: Best summed up with my standard response: “If I wanted to go for a hike I wouldn’t have brought my @#$%* bike!”

Alrighty then. Now that we have established the ground rules I can tell you about our ride today. The Red Trail is a double track loop trail which starts in the parking lot. From there you have the choice of riding up the dirt road or up the double track, which we would have known if we’d remembered the map. Since we did not, we road up the road. This portion fell into the Moderate to Moderate+ section, because I did not know how long this route was and was quickly bored with climbing up a gravel road. Once at the ski are we found the real Red Trail and followed it for about 9km. The trail is truly beautiful and it rates a Moderate on my scale. There are really rocky portions which I walked, because “I wanted to more closely inspect the geological features”, Dan rode, because he can. This trail lets you off almost at the top of the ski lift. We hiked up the rest of the way, the views were stunning.

Our ride down was on a 4x4 road, which was a bit rocky, but still only a Moderate. I was feeling pretty confident in my ability to handle the trails around here so we opted to try the Green Trail. Verde es malo! The Green Trail’s description boasts a chance to take a close-up look at the area’s vegetation. Yeah- could that be because you are bushwhacking for 3.1km?? So after this “trail”, (and I use that term lightly), we decided a nice soak in the hot pool was in order. Now nicely tanned and warmed, we are preparing a dinner of chicken fajitas and enjoying our campsite for another night.

July 22, 2004
Banff to Lake Louise

Now we’re off to Banff. Along the way we stopped in the town of Radium Hot Springs to visit the Forest Service Information Center. There we purchased our Canadian Parks Pass.

Our route this weekend will take us through four National Parks. We began by driving through Kootenay, N.P. The southern entrance is immediately followed by Sinclair Canyon which is spectacular. From there the drive takes you through majestic mountain ranges, past a turquoise blue glacial river and among abundant wildlife. We headed for Banff first.

Banff is a beautiful town mostly due to the surrounding scenery, but the town was built it would seem to cater solely to tourist dollars.

Once you get out of the downtown area thought there seem to be plenty of hiking trails and recreational opportunities. The ski area looks like fun. It is smaller than I thought it would be.

We saw this Big Horn Sheep on the drive up to the area.

Lake Louise by contrast is the largest ski area in Canada, but unlike big American ski areas this one has no condos or trophy homes. This is a result of its being inside a National Park. At the base area there is one large lodge and that’s about it. We found this to be rather refreshing. Finally I had to pull my husband away from the trail map where he had been standing drooling for far too long. This area looks amazing, tons of bowl skiing and four faces to choose from.

As if it isn’t enough to have a huge not overly developed ski area with the terrain to back up its claims, the view from the mountain is enough to convince everyone they should ski there. From the base are you can see two glaciers and an Icefield.

Last night we camped at the Castle Mountain Campground between Banff and Lake Louise. Cost $17 Canadain plus $6 if you want a fire permit, but that comes with and unlimited supply of cut firewood.

Gee I wish I knew that:

A few last notes on Fairmont. If you go, get a non-serviced spot for $21/ night. Then once you get to the obvious RV spots, keep going to the right past the pavilion onto a, hard to see, gravel road which will take you to the secluded and wooded campsites, some have views of the waterfall.

The free pools are cooler than the pay sardine pool, I’d guess 90 degrees, there are at least 7 pools along the path, 2 above the falls and 5 below. Also there is an old bath house above the check-in booth which has 4 bath tub like pools. We didn’t go into them but they looked fine to us.

Canadian Parks Pass: An annual pass for two people runs $89 Canadian. However they offer a sort of try before you buy program. If prior to purchasing a pass you enter a National Park, get a receipt for your entry fee, if within the next month you decide you want to buy the pass, give them your receipts and that amount will be taken off of the pass cost. For instance when we went into Waterton we paid $10 for park entry, so our pass cost yesterday was $79.00. Also you can upgrade your pass at any time to include the National Historical sites for another $30.
Here are this week’s expenses.
Fuel $ 101.62
Groceries$ 48.01
Liquor $ 17.00
Treats $ 5.00
Repairs $ -
Camping $ 96.80
Park Fees$ -
Other $ 9.34
Total $ 277.77
Remainder $2.23

The ‘other” was for propane. In almost 5 weeks of full time living in the camper (you’ll remember one week we were rafting) we only used $9 worth of propane- this is remarkable to me, since we use it to run our fridge, stove, and hot water heater.

WOO HOO $2.23 left over!

July 23, 2004
Lake Louise to Golden

We were treated to this view on our drive. There were four cubs in all, only two made it into this picture.

While in Lake Louise we drove up to both lakes. Moraine is infinitely more beautiful and much, much less crowded than Lake Louise.

Moraine Lake

After a few minutes with the hoards up at the Chateau on Lake Louise we were ready to be alone again, so we rode our bikes along the river tail. This one rates a nice Easy on my scale, with one section of Easy + where the electric anti-bear fence is a bit too close to the trail. The rivers here are the most surreal blue color I have ever seen. I now know where the fashion color palette of the 80’s came from, this place is a vivid collaboration of teal, yellow, green, magenta and red. My wildflower pictures never do these sweeping fields justice, but take my word for it they are breathtaking.

The ski area looks amazing, but there is no town here, no place to live in the winter unless you are an employee. As a result of this we figure there is just no way that we could spend more than a week there.

We had another night to spend in the National Parks so we chose the Hoodoo Campground in Yoho N.P.

En route we stopped by the natural bridge which was so cool. Here the Kicking Horse River is choked down to go through a small slit in the rocks. It goes from maybe 30’ wide to about 5’ wide. Dan tried to scout his kayak route but then he thought better of it.

The Hoodoos Campground is being “re-constructed”, this apparently means that it is just chained of for the season; we saw no evidence of repair or construction. We have heard from many along the way that the park system up here is hurting for funds, just like the U.S. parks. Anyway they turned the picnic area into a makeshift campground for the time being. No shade but easy access to the Hoodoos Trail.

We rode our bikes the first 2km, through a thick lodge pole forest with a very rooty trail, a Moderate on the scale. From there we left the bikes to hike the last 1.6 km which are straight up hill.

Back at camp we organized a rip roaring game of Ultimate Frisbee with a motley crew of Germans, Swiss, two kids from Belgium and ourselves. The language barriers proved to be a bit rough, so we paid little attention to the actual rules of the game, just throwing, running and periodically cheering whenever someone ran anywhere near our imaginary end zones.

Onward to Golden, home of Kicking Horse Ski Resort. Golden has a campground right in town which makes it really easy to park the rig and ride our bikes everywhere we need to go. This first day in Golden was spent scouting out the ski area and having some much needed tidy time in the camper and at the Laundromat.

Back at camp we were treated to group after group of paragliders landing right behind our campsite, you can see one in the background if you look closely. Also a heard of big horn sheep climbed the cliffs directly across the river from us. All this and electric and water for $17 Canadian.

Golden has fabulous whitewater and challenging mountain biking. We opted for a Moderate + ride through the Moonraker Trails area. This ride was fun, but so rooty and log choked that we walked as much as we rode. It would have been really enjoyable were it not for the mosquitoes. Here’s a thought- how’s about the government takes just a small portion of the 88 billion dollar defense budget and pours it into the eradication of the mosquito? Really I think this could make for a happier world. I know it will never happen, the Calamine Lotion and Deet lobbyists will see to it that my anti-mosquito initiative dies in committee, but I can dare to dream.

We met a lady from here while we were soaking in the springs the week before, when we told her we were headed for Golden she asked if we were going for Golden Daze. Of course we had no idea what this was, so we played it cool and said “what’s that”? Well as we came to find out, this is a party primarily for locals, which was born out of an old end of the season rafting company party. Over the years it has grown, but it is still a very intimate affair. A local guy, George, throws a giant bash at his house in the mountains and hires some fairly major band to play. This year the band was…. Spearhead with Michael Franti. Well it just so happens that I love, LOVE this band. Did I mention that I love them? So I write this from the aftermath that was Golden Daze, sitting in a random field just outside of town. I am joined by about 800 other campers/ concert goers. The concert/ party went from 6pm to 6am, it is now 10:30 in the morning and the fact that almost all of the 800 are awake and moving is very impressive to me. For those of you who know me, you will be proud and amazed to hear that I made it until 3:30!! This was hands down the greatest concert I have ever been to, a small outdoor concert, but with big concert lighting and sound and where the band played for four hours straight.

I am really starting to wonder how in the heck we get to be so lucky? I don’t know what we did to earned the right to take a year off, while meeting the nicest people and having the most amazing experiences. I don’t know what I did, but I intend to keep doing it.


plastic comb said...

Hi Underaged RVers, it’s late in the evening, quiet and peaceful. This is good computer time for me. I thought I would check on solid wood and see what came up. The Great White North is something that is interesting to many people. I will also spend a little time checking on solid wood. Getting late, have a good evening.

Grand Canyon Tours By Vegas Tours said...

Hi, The theme of your blog made me curious to stop by and check out your blog, its interesting. Feel free to check out my new site for when you get a chance It has all kinds of stuff for The **Grand Canyon** The new website is: **www.vegastours.com** Have a Nice Day and enjoy!

Anonymous said...

Hi there. I know that this post is a long time past, but I feel obliged to inform future readers about a bit of misinformation about the rockies ski area's. The big ski area near banff is actually sunshine mountain which is bigger than lake louise. The biggest ski area with amazing terain is blackomb/whistler near vancouver. Just an update from a local in the area. Loving the stories.

-Richard the Canadian

Anonymous said...

couldn't sleep this am and ran across your blog while searching for Gray Creek pictures. Nice Photos btw... Im from Kimberley and just wanted to say that you will find a lot of ungroomed black diamond runs if you come ski in the winter if thats what you were looking for. They are hard to see from in town because of the angle of the valley to the backside of the hill where the advanced runs are.. and Sunshine rocks..nice hill good fun too..in the old old days we use to have to take chained up buses up where the gondola goes today :) scraping each other on the way by (one up one down) sometimes led to excitement when you wondered if it was your skis that just launched off the racks over the cliff...anyway..nice pictures... Steve, Kimberley BC

Anonymous said...



A片,色情,成人,做愛,情色文學,A片下載,色情遊戲,色情影片,色情聊天室,情色電影,免費視訊,免費視訊聊天,免費視訊聊天室,一葉情貼圖片區,情色,情色視訊,免費成人影片,視訊交友,視訊聊天,視訊聊天室,言情小說,愛情小說,AIO,AV片,A漫,av dvd,聊天室,自拍,情色論壇,視訊美女,AV成人網,色情A片,SEX,成人圖片區





Anonymous said...







Anonymous said...

酒店經紀 酒店打工 酒店工作 酒店上班 酒店兼差 酒店兼職 打工兼差 打工兼職 酒店應徵 禮服店 酒店 經紀 打工 兼差 台北酒店 兼職

gaohui said...

There are many ed hardy Clothing maternity brands that offer ed hardy sale expectant mothers ed hardy trendy and fashionable maternity wear ed hardy UK for every ed hardy cheap holiday occasion. Such ed hardy Clothes famous and chic maternity ed hardy store fashions are designed by edhardy.com the most celebrated designers christian audigier sale that includes: Nordstrom ed hardy dresses Maternity , Liz Lange, Ann Taylor ed hardy Polos Loft, Gap Maternity , Old Navy Maternity , Isabella ed hardy sandals Oliver, Motherhood Maternity, Babystyle , and much more. These hot brands ed hardy Jackets will make you look stunning at every holiday gathering.

Anonymous said...

酒店經紀 酒店打工 酒店工作 酒店上班 酒店兼差 酒店兼職 打工兼差