Sunday, August 28, 2016

Mom & Dad – Assisted Living is ‘Pretty Good’

Mom and Dad's living room,  Brookdale Orangevale Assisted Living community

When we left for Alaska from my sister’s house back in late April, mom and dad were a mere 100 yards away from where our motorhome sits when we camp on Arny and Sandy’s backyard.  In May they got word that the company who owned the home they rented wanted to sell it, and offered it to them at a great price…but when you are in your late ‘80s, buying a house is not what you are seeking.  Dad, being a WW2 vet, had been lined up for veterans assistance with Assisted Living for a few years now…it just wasn’t time…until now.  Howard (and Linda) of RV-Dreams wrote a GREAT post about veterans benefits for Assisted Living back in 2014, and well worth reading if it fits your needs or that of your parents.   (Note: yes, this post will have more of an appeal for family and friends, but you all are welcome to read on.)

Commons Dining Room,  Brookdale Orangevale Assisted Living community

By July, they were moved into the Brookdale Orangevale Assisted Living community.  They now have the option of eating in the nice dining room above, or they can eat in their apartment (first picture), or they can go out to eat with family, friends, or just with each other…although not having a car makes the latter a bit harder to do.  (Yes, you can have a car while living there, but mom gave up driving a few years ago, and dad felt it was time for him to give it up too.)

Commons Area,  Brookdale Orangevale Assisted Living community      Commons Area,  Brookdale Orangevale Assisted Living community

The “Common Areas” where they can mingle with other residents is a very nice atmosphere.  When I took these pictures there were twenty or more residence in a large “family style” room, some doing exercises, others just sitting around talking.  I would have to make faces “out of focus”, so I am not going to use those community shots…but the two small areas above represent the comfortable common area, as does the dinning room.

Mom and Dad's living room,  Brookdale Orangevale Assisted Living community      Mom and Dad's kitchen,  Brookdale Orangevale Assisted Living community
Mom and Dad's entry hall,  Brookdale Orangevale Assisted Living community      Mom and Dad's bathroom,  Brookdale Orangevale Assisted Living community

There is plenty of room for two people, less than the house they rented, but enough for the items they decided to keep.  Brookdale keeps the apartment clean, they assist mom and dad with what I call “overseeing safe showers” (there to help as needed so that no one falls), among other things.  The kitchen has a microwave, a refrigerator, but the electric stove/oven do not work in any of the units since meals are provided…and it keeps the places safe from accidental fires. 

Mom and Dad's second bedroom,  Brookdale Orangevale Assisted Living community      Mom and Dad's first bedroom,  Brookdale Orangevale Assisted Living community  

They have a two bedroom apartment.

Mom and Dad's front door,  Brookdale Orangevale Assisted Living community      Mom and Dad's hallway leading to commons area,  Brookdale Orangevale Assisted Living community  

Main Entrance,  Brookdale Orangevale Assisted Living community

They even have a little patio with a nice view.  Outside there is a Gazebo, a small putting green, and other outdoor activity…but no swimming pool.  I have seen a few people out walking around, but the heat keeps most inside, and you can get anywhere from inside corridors.  You can see their scooters parked outside their door.  It is a shorter distance to go outside and enter the front door (pictured above) than to make your way through the halls from their apartment…so when mom walks to the dining room, she goes outside…while dad rides his scooter through the halls each day.

Mom and Dad's Apartment Entrance,  Brookdale Orangevale Assisted Living community

Above mom and dad walk from the outside door near their apartment to our car for an outing.  This outing was for attending Sandy’s birthday celebration yesterday (Arny’s birthday is today), but on one such “outing” Marcia and I took mom and dad out to breakfast/lunch up in Auburn.

Awful Annie's, Auburn California

“Where?”  Well, we went to Awful Annie's, a longtime favorite of that area for breakfast and lunch. 

Having lunch/breakfast with mom and dad at Awful Annie's, Auburn California

Dad choose lunch while the rest of us had breakfast.  So much food, all well prepared, and the acoustics were such that we could actually have a conversation without talking too loud.

Awards,  Awful Annie's, Auburn California     Awards,  Awful Annie's, Auburn California

Awful Annie's has a nice warm feeling to it, and lots of awards that they proudly show off in their entryway as you come in and leave. This was our first visit to Awful Annie’s, but not our last…although I doubt we get up there again before we leave in 3 1/2 weeks from now.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Oregon Coast to Sacramento – Hot and Busy

Oregon Coast

We left Tillamook on Tuesday morning, stayed at Osprey Point RV Resort (Passport America $21), in Lakeside Oregon that night, drove over to I-5 and stayed at On the River Golf & RV Park in Myrtle Creek (Passport America $15) on Wednesday, stopped at Harry and David in Medford and drove on to McCloud RV Resort (Good Sam $35) Thursday, and made it to my sister's house at 1:30 Friday afternoon.  Mom and Dad were there waiting for us, and we parked, set-up, and kicked back for the rest of the day.

Oregon Coast

We always enjoy the drive along the Pacific Ocean, and could have stopped and stayed for many nights enjoying the cool weather and the lovely scenery.  But we also wanted to spend time with the family before we head back to Florida…so on to the hot Valley weather it was.

Oregon Coast

One last look at the ocean before we stopped Tuesday night.  The white building in the fog on that piece of land sticking out in the top left corner of the picture above is one of the many Oregon Lighthouses.

Elk along Oregon Highway 38   Umpqua River along Oregon Highway 38

When we left Osprey Point RV Resort, we headed north for 8 miles and turned onto highway 38, a new route for us.  Umpqua River runs along this route, and there are a few good Elk Viewing areas along it too.

Shasta Lake along I-5

On Friday after we left McCloud, we past Shasta Lake, and it was good to see water in the lake.  The last few times we passed by the water was so very low.

On Saturday I had the car cleaned and detailed and they got 95% of the Alaska Highway grime off of it. If you open a door and look hard you can see some of the dust…and I opened the hood and found it loaded with dust…that will be a job I tackle in a few days.  After the car wash I fix our grey tank lever, so I can again close and open a valve to allow the grey to flow as needed.  Our end cap had a small hose attachment, and I put a open/close nozzle on it so I could empty it as needed through a used garden hose…it is nice to have it working right again.  I had ordered a new valve through Amazon, along with a new laptop, which were waiting for us when we arrived. 

NEW LAPTOP?  Yes, the laptop I had been using was starting to show signs of age…sticking keys, turning off when you close the lid even though all settings tell it not to turn off, and it always ran real hot.  Last year we got Marcia an ASUS, and I got nearly the same one for me.  It is light, runs cool, and is easy to run on 12v unlike the previous laptop I was using.  Also, this is a windows 10 computer.  I just started to use it this morning after spending a good day and a half setting it up, updating it, etc. etc.  

Finally, I am replacing our water fill hatch, which is also on order and will be here Wednesday.  It has a small leak when hooked up to a city water system, mostly due to the pressure valve in the nozzle.  It should be a simple replacement now that I have loosened up the sealing tape.

I am also helping out Arny with his mother as needed.  Today two different caregivers were unable to make it, and at least one won’t be here tomorrow either.  We also have laundry to do, and pick up some groceries.  Picked up some more insulin for Skruffy today, who is enjoying being back in Sandy and Arny’s backyard…but can’t understand why she can’t run over to Grandma and Papa’s house like before…but she enjoy our visit at their Assisted Living home yesterday.  And Bubba, well when Bubba is at Arny’s, he is the happiest little fellow…he loves his Uncle Arny and Aunt Sandy, that’s for sure.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Things I Learned During Alaska Trip

As a summary of our trip, I wanted to share a few things that I learned during the trip up to, in and around, and back out of Alaska.  We crossed the border into Canada around May 15th, and we crossed back into the lower 48 on August 10th.  I will try and be brief, but you know how that is.  And, I hope that the pictures I show are ones I did not show before, but we will see how that goes too.

Alaska Highway, near Summit Lake, British Columbia

Not so "high up in the mountains" after all

I always thought that going up to Alaska was going to involve climbing high summits, and I even worried about how well the motorhome would handle that.  When I drive up to Lake Tahoe from my birth city of Sacramento, I go over Echo Summit at 7,382 feet.  Donner Pass on I-80 headed to Reno is 7,056 feet.   One would think after that climb to Donner Pass that would be the highest point along all of I-80, but Sherman Summit, between Laramie and Cheyenne, is at 8,878 feet.  So what is the highest summit we went over along the Alaska Highway?  According to the Milepost book:
The highest summit on the Alaska Highway is Summit Pass, elev. 4,250 feet near Summit Lake, British Columbia. The second highest pass on the Alaska Highway—and the highest point on the Alaska Highway between Whitehorse and Fairbanks—is Bear Creek Summit, elev. 3,294 feet in the Yukon.
The picture above was taken near Summit Pass…it was the only day we really hit snow on the Alaska Highway, not counting two other times that the snow was mixed with rain.  The highest summit we went over in Alaska itself was Eureka Summit, at 3,322 feet, on our drive between Valdez and Anchorage.  Going into Skagway you pass over 3,292 foot White Pass, but that portion is in British Columbia.  Essentially, the summits were not that high…nothing like I had expected.

Alaska Highway Bear in British Columbia

Not so many animals as we thought in Alaska

Bald Eagle, Valdez AlaskaOn the way up to Alaska we saw so many bears, along with some Stone Sheep, Mountain Goats, Buffalo, Elk, and even a Moose…that I just figured we were going to see lots and lots of similar wildlife in Alaska.  Well, in Alaska we saw lots and lots of Eagles, and Otters, but the only Bear that we saw was when we were leaving Haines, and we did see a Moose and a Calf…but that was just about it.  Coming back we again saw many Bear, some Moose, and even a few deer, mostly in British Columbia.   The bear above was one of many we saw on the Alaska Highway on our way up to Alaska.  The Eagle to the left is one of the many Eagles we saw in Valdez.   By far, we saw more Eagles than anything else while in Alaska.  They seem to be everywhere.

Resurrection Bay, Seward Alaska, just past midnight morning of June 21 2016

Yes, having light 24 hours a day does get to you

On the morning of June 21st, a little after midnight, a full moon arises over Resurrection Bay, at Seward Alaska.  I go out and take pictures of it…and as you can see above, it looks like dusk on any given evening…except that it has looked like this for the past hour, and barely gets darker than this the rest of the night, and by 3 am it is getting lighter, and by 4 am the sun is over the horizon…the longest day of the year has begun.  Had we been in Fairbanks, what you see above is as dark as it would have been on this night…maybe it was not even this dark.  Even though we have the bedroom windows blacked out with Reflectix, and the front windows with Reflectix, and have the curtains down over all the other windows…the light still comes into the motorhome.  The dogs, at 4:30 or 5:00 am think it is “Morning Time” and want to go out and start their day.  We had a tendency to stay up way too late…and then with the light coming through, and the dogs being restless, get up too early.  The only saving grace…the cool temperatures along Resurrection Bay allow for afternoon naps.

Road Construction washboard, Alaska Highway

Just when you think the roads are not that bad, they get REAL BAD

We had pulled over at a viewpoint just as we were getting to Kluane Lake, near Soldier’s Summit, the point where the original Alaska Highway was “joined together” from those working southeast out of Alaska, and those working northwest from Dawson Creek.  We had a conversation with these two guys who were coming out of Alaska, and we asked them how bad the road was gong to be.  They smiled and said something like, “Well, you will have about 45 miles which are hard,  but other than that…”.   So we drove on past Kluane Lake, past Destruction Bay, and yes the road had frost heaves, and some pot holes, and we get to this point where I once again pull over and make the comment, “Well, if that was the worse of it, that was not bad at all!”  Marcia agreed.  We drive not more than 5 more miles and see this sign about Yukon Construction.  Well, we already had some construction back in British Columbia…it was a bit hard to drive on, but we handled it pretty good. But here the concrete disappears, and we are suddenly on a washboard, a dirt and gravel roadway which is literally shaking the motorhome apart.  I hit it going 35 mph, quickly dropped to 30, to 25, to 20, and around 15-20 miles per hour, it was manageable…barely.  Then it would get a bit better…and I get it up to 25, and then it gets even worse, and drop back down to 12 mph.  There are no workers, no other signs, it does not look like anyone is working on it, and seems to last for miles and miles. Everyone is passing us…a lady grasps her windshield in terror as she goes by and mouths, “Can you believe this stuff?”  Then we suddenly are back on pavement again.  And just 5 miles down the road, back to the bumpy, washboard road again and it goes on for miles and miles.  Then back to pavement again…but within 3 miles we are back on washboard gravel again.  But this time, a few miles into it, we come across workers.  And we see them tearing up the road, and realize that not too many days ago, they were back where we had just been tearing up the road.  The traffic, if you can call 5 or 6 cars traffic, come to a halt as they are now escorting groups over what came to be a 2 mile stretch.  I have a hard time keeping up with the 3 cars in front, and the 5 cars behind are a bit restless as the gap grows…I don’t care, any faster and the motorhome is sure to fall apart!  So over some 55 miles, 45 miles were pure HELL.  That was the worse roads that we had…and that was enough.  It was really really bad.  In fact, it was worse than really bad.  In Alaska there were spots here and there that had construction…nothing was as bad as this 45 miles stretch in the Yukon. 

Between Glennallen and Anchorage, Glenn Highway

Double Yellow Lines are for...passing

For this one here, you are going to have to use a little bit of imagination.  In the above picture, take your eye off the scenery, and look at the road.  It turns to the right down the road a bit, and before it does, the broken yellow line turns into a solid double yellow line.  Now imagine this…a car has been behind you, has open road like this to pass you, but they wait until we all get closer to the curve…sometimes until the double yellow line is upon us…and then they decide to pass.  When this happens the first time, you wonder if they are crazy.  By the time it has happened for the umpteenth time, you realize that rural Canadian and Alaskan drivers are just that way.  I think some of them are truly confused and they think that you are suppose to pass when the double yellow line in there.  Which brings me to my next point…

Royal Canadian Mounted Police die-cast car

You can drive forever and not see any police

Now this time you must use your imagination…because how do you take a picture of something that you don’t see?  Honestly, once we left Dawson Creek, the first police officer I saw on the Alaska Highway was in Whitehorse.  Since we went to Skagway before getting to Whitehorse, that was over 1,000 miles.  That would be like driving from Sacramento to Laramie Wyoming without seeing any highway patrol cars.  Now in a couple of towns we did see local police…but I think we had driven well over 2,000 miles before we saw anyone getting a ticket.  The picture above is of a “die-cast” car with the RCMP/GRC lettering and emblem.  RCMP = Royal Canadian Mounted Police, while GRC = Gendarmerie royale du Canada.  (In Canada, all official wording has to be in English and in French…all road signs, all directions on something to cook, all the time you see something like Kathleen Lake with Lac Kathleen under it…I kept thinking they were two different places and kept looking for the Lac Kathleen area).  In Alaska the most we saw of the Alaskan Highway Patrol was between Anchorage and Fairbanks, where I saw three, and one was giving a ticket.  So I figure if there are no police, then people have no reason NOT to pass on the double yellow line outside of the danger involved.  Also, in parts of Alaska, “IF” you have five or more vehicles behind you, you can get a ticket.  I tried to never have more than 3 vehicles behind me…used more pullouts on this trip than I ever have while in Alaska.

Mama Bear with 2 cubs, Cassiar Highway

You can drive for miles and miles and not see anyone

Above is the little family of bears that we came across on the Cassiar Highway on the way home.  We had been driving for about 5 miles after I had pulled over, allowed a few motorhomes to pass me while I got a quick picture of the mountains behind us.  We had not seen a car going the other way, and no one else was behind us.  And we come across this family of bears…and we have a good ten minutes of enjoying them without anyone around.  Then behind us pulls up a car which had a couple in it that I had talked to back at a rest area about an hour earlier…after they stop he gets out and takes pictures too standing just outside the driver door.  Then a few minutes later a car comes toward us…and it slowly keeps coming toward the bears, and the mama bear eventually stands up facing them before they come to a complete stop.  So for 15 minutes we had this bear encounter…10 minutes with no one else around…right on the highway during what many would say is, “the busy time of year” for the Cassiar Highway.   I think the longest we drove without seeing any other cars going either way was on the way up to Alaska after spending the night in Fort Nelson.  We got off to an early start, and there was a time period during that morning’s drive that we did not see a car going the other way for a good hour, and no one passed us for over two hours.  We were going 45 mph during most of that part of the drive and stopped for at least one bear during that time period.  

 Oceanside RV Park Website Images

Yes, prices are high...but

Prices were not as high as I expected.  Above is a clip off the website of the RV Park we stayed at in Haines…an spot with a great view of the inlet, a most wonderful view, seven days cost $216.  In Seward we stayed at even a more gorgeous site, with no hookups, for $20 per night.  Had we not lost the use of our generator, we would have stayed at other non-hookup areas, some of which would have been free…there is LOTS of free camping areas in Alaska, and the views of these free areas is very nice, but many times you have no Internet.  When we were leaving Anchorage, we filled up at Sam's Club for $2.39…I called up my brother-in-law in Sacramento area and Arny said the going rate there was around $2.35…he could not believe I had just paid $2.39.   HOWEVER, and there always is a 'however', we also paid over $5 per gallon, $1.39 per liter, up in the Yukon…but I only put 20 gallons in that time just to be safe that we did not run out.  The average price in Canada was probably around $1.15 per liter, which equals $4.35 per gallon.  Now those gas prices I was pretty much expecting.  Food prices varied…some items were much more expensive, while others…such as eggs, were even less expensive than I paid in Sacramento before we headed up there.  Restaurant prices were pretty much 20% – 25% higher than than the normal.  Most of the servers who waited on us were from the lower 48, and were up in Alaska for the summer to earn some $$$$.  This is not uncommon in Alaska, and in Banff a waiter there was from Calgary, but moved to Banff a few years ago after working a few summers there.  Also, many servers have two jobs.  That is what it takes to make money over the summer…but they all complained how hard it was to find a place to live at a reasonable price…not one lived alone, some had more than two roommates.

Portage Glacier near Whittier Alaska

Not as Cold as you would think

Even with so much snow and ice around, it was never as cold as Marcia had expected.  She packed many “cold weather” clothes, and used very little of them.  Yes, there were a few days headed up where it was cold, but we rarely used any propane during the entire trip…about 10 gallons, most of that for cooking and hot water.  Some mornings we would turn the furnace on, warm things up, and then it would be off the rest of the day.  A few nights the furnace was set to 68, and it would kick on a few times during the night, but normally we had electricity and our De'Longhi SafeHeat Electric Oil-Filled Radiator  did wonders.  And you pretty much don’t have to worry about getting too hot, at least we didn’t.  I had to run the A/C twice but not because it was hot…it just needed to be run to oil up the seals.  Of course, I got many looks as I walked the dogs around 10 pm, still in daylight of course, with a sleeveless shirt and short pants while others wore coats. Yes, I did put on long pants a few times, but not many, especially after we got to Alaska  Marcia gets cold easy, and she told me that she was very surprised at how it wasn’t that cold during the trip…not like she expected at all.

Marathon Mountain, Seward Alaska

People were Wonderful

When your front door is this close to someone's front door for a week or more, you sure hope you are going to like the person.  This was in Seward, one of our favorite camping spots.  That is our motorhome to the right…that is Maxine’s trailer to the left.  Maxine never did tell us just how old she was…but from things she did say, we know she is over 70, but under 80.  She is from Ontario…and I just never got the feeling that she cared to have her picture taken.  We would sit looking over the inlet, or looking at Marathon Mountain shown there in the picture and talk and talk.  She is such a WONDERFUL person…we hated to leave her like we did, but Skruffy got sick and we had to get over to Soldotna  There are many people just like Maxine that we met, just did not camp next to them as long as we did with her.  It reminded me of the week we had at South Beach along the Olympic National Park last year when I met Tino and Gil.  In Alaska, we met many wonderful people…too many to name without accidentally leaving someone out.  But I would be amiss if I did not include the GREAT, absolutely GREAT people that work at the Soldotna Animal Hospital.  Those of you who have followed our travels know what they did in saving Skruffy from sure death.  And although Dr. Meezie, our Fisherman Veterinarian, and Tim Bowser, head Veterinarian and owner of the Hospital, are the Vets who treated and oversaw the treatment…all of the Staff at the Animal Hospital were just wonderful…every single one of them with whom we came in contact with.   

White Pass Summit on Klondike Highway to Skagway

The Pure Beauty of it All

We both thought it would be a nice trip…but never in our imagination did we think there would be so much beauty, so much vastness, so many picture opportunities, so much, so much, so much…   We were driving along the Alaska Highway on the way up to Alaska, and at the end of the day we would say, “Wow, how could anything top that?”  And the next day it was topped.  When we went through White Pass on he Klondike Highway to and from Skagway (pictured above), we wondered if we would find anything as nice…and yet we did…over and over again.  Even as we headed down the Cassiar Highway on our way back to the lower 48, we wondered how it would be…and then we would come upon areas which were so pretty.  On the way to Prince Rupert we first wondered if that was a mistake…but the closer we got to Rupert, the prettier it got.  Even our last full day in Canada we passed through Thompson Canyon…and we were still awestruck.  I have traveled through nearly every state, and four provinces now.  I have seen beauty in every state, in every province.  I just have never taken a trip that was so full of “awesome” as with the trip to Alaska.  And then you look at a map and realize, we only saw such a small portion of this giant state…to see more would require a boat, an airplane, or going over hard gravel roads which are just too hard on us to do.  A Bush Pilot in Alaska would be hard pressed to see all of the state…as for us, we will keep our ten wheels on the ground…which is why we’re GoingRvWay.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Tillamook Oregon, must be Tillabars Time

We ended up staying at Stan Hedwall Park for 3 nights, and drove over to Tillamook today (Monday).  It was a nice drive with a short stop for gas at Fred Meyers in Longview.  We had not driven this route, US 30 to Cornelius Pass Road to 26 and then to 6 before.  Only Cornelius Pass Road was narrow...the rest of the roads were just fine.  Stan Hedwall Park is not bad at all for $15 per night, water, electric, dump station.  Not far off I-5, and the trains that run near can be heard, but no whistles, and the sound is heavily muted by the trees and brush between the park and the tracks.  Yes, we heard, they did not wake us or bother us at all.

Of course, if in Tillamook, a visit to the cheese factory to pick up some Tillabars is in order.  Marcia was a bit tired, so she sent me over, and I came back with some cheese, and five boxes of Tillabars.  Showed her this yummy Raspberry Truffle box and told her I got five boxes of them.  Of course, she and my sister Sandy want Lemon ones...but send a man to do a job, and you get what you get.

Well, just because I am a man does not mean I have stupid written across my forehead!  Only one box was Raspberry, the other four are Lemon.  


Karen and Tony were also in the Tillamook area, and knowing that we were headed that way, Karen contacted me and they too stayed at the Port of Tillamook RV Park, also called the Tillamook Airport RV Park.  For $15 you get nothing other than peace and quiet and place to put your RV...although if you need water, they a few spouts in the park to fill up from.  We all went out to dinner to the Pelican Brewery & Tap Room which was a place that they can park their RV at since they travel solely in their RV, which accommodates Karen's need to be in a wheelchair.  This is their third wheelchair accommodated RV, and I think they like this one the best.  They have been fulltiming since 1993, and in October of that same year she had a freak accident at the Albuquerque Balloon Festival which left her paralyzed from the waist down.  That did not stop them from their dream to travel though.  Karen has assembled one of the best collection of RV travel related and also wheelchair related maps and resources than anything I have seen on the Internet.  Give them a visit at their website, Rolling in a RV - Wheelchair Traveling.   Nice seeing you again Karen and Tony...until our paths cross again...

Friday, August 12, 2016

Welcome Back – I-5 Traffic Eats Us Alive

Washington State Travel Alert Map

Not a good travel day on I-5 through the Seattle area, that is for sure!  We left at 9:00, and got 200 miles in six and a half hours…and that was with 10 minute stop for gas, 10 minute stop for the dogs, and another 5 minute stop for me.  That comes to around 35 mph average for the 200 mile trip. Combine bumper to bumper traffic with idiot drivers…I had it.  And the 90 degree weather did not help any…it will take us time to get use to the heat again.

We are at Stan Hedwall Park in Chehalis, WA for two nights.  We had thought about going up to Mount Rainier tomorrow, but not now.  If it was a Tuesday or Wednesday, I think I would be up for it…but I just don’t want to fight the traffic.  This is a city park, first come, self serve, $20 per night for power, water and four channel of Cable TV…so it will be a relaxing time.  On Sunday, if we are up to it. we will head over to Tillamook, a 140 mile trip, where we will stay for 2 more nights back in 70 degree weather again.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Williams Lake BC to Ferndale USA

Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep near Spences Bridge, Trans-Canada Highway, BC

This 325 mile drive took us 2 days…250 yesterday (Tuesday), and 75 today.  The first half of yesterdays trip, from Williams Lake to Cache Creek, was good.  From Cache Creek to the US Border was absolutely gorgeous.  At Cache Creek we pick up the Trans Canada Highway, and soon enter Thompson Canyon along the Thompson River.  It was at Spences Bridge, population of under 200, along the Thompson River within Thompson Canyon, that we saw this small herd of young Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep along the highway.  In this area, the snowfall is around 2 feet per year, with average temperatures ranging from as high as 85 to as low as 20…although the record high is 108 and record low is –20.  So living here is not “that” hard, but one MUST be prepared for the extremes. 

Williams Lake, Caraboo Highway BC

The drive started out much like the last … miles of scenery with lots of power lines.

Williams Lake, Caraboo Highway BC     Williams Lake, Caraboo Highway BC

Williams Lake, the community where we stayed Monday night, is just north of Williams Lake, a body of water which is 5 miles long, and nearly a mile wide.  The lake runs east to west, and the Cariboo Highway runs along the northern end of the lake…along with a lot of electrical wires.

Cariboo Plateau,  Caraboo Highway BC     Cariboo Plateau,  Caraboo Highway BC

This area is part of the Cariboo Plateau, a volcanic plateau in south-central British Columbia.  The Plateau runs south just past Cache Creek.

Classic Car on Caraboo Highway BC

Sorry Arny, I almost got a picture of all of it…I guess this guy loves “Gold”.

Lower Cariboo Plateau,  Caraboo Highway BC      Lower Cariboo Plateau,  Caraboo Highway BC

Lower Cariboo Plateau,  Caraboo Highway BC

The plateau area is full of lakes and streams, farm land, and painted skies.

Lower Cariboo Plateau,  Caraboo Highway BC

We had a very little bit of rain, enough to wet the pavement and window, not enough to cause us any problems.

Lac La Hache Caraboo Highway BC

Lac La Hache, or “The Lake of the Axe”, was named during the fur trade, after the unfortunate incident of a French-Canadian voyageur who lost his axe head while chopping a hole in the ice.  A recreational and retirement community by the same name is now along the lake.

 Caraboo Highway before Cache Creek, BC     Caraboo Highway before Cache Creek, BC 

Caraboo Highway before Cache Creek, BC

As we get closer to Cache Creek, the terrain changes.  The first half of the days drive is over…the second half is entirely different…

Thompson River, Trans-Canada Highway  BC     Thompson River, Trans-Canada Highway  BC

After Cache Creek the Thompson River is on the driver’s side of the road as we drive further south.  It is hard for me to take pictures unless we stop, and it is hard to stop since the pullouts are on the other side of the road.  Above I stop and get a picture to the north from where we passed, and to the south toward where we are headed.

Thompson River, Trans-Canada Highway  BC

I get a few shots, but the road has curves, and traffic, and we wonder if we missed too many good shots…but then…

Bridge over Thompson River, Trans-Canada Highway  BC

…we come to the Spences Bridge community, we pass the Big Horn sheep (first picture), and we cross the Thompson River.  Now Marcia has free ride to take picture after picture with the river on her side…and she does…nearly 300 more pictures!  That’s what I get for having it set on multi-picture mode…

Thompson River, Trans-Canada Highway  BC     Thompson River, Trans-Canada Highway  BC 

Train tunnel along Thompson River, Trans-Canada Highway  BC
The Thompson River runs through a real nice canyon.  In the bottom picture, if you look close just above the river, there are  a series of tunnels, three shown in this picture alone.  To the left is a close up of one of those tunnels.

Thompson River above Lytton BC, Trans-Canada Highway    Thompson River above Lytton BC, Trans-Canada Highway 

Kumsheen Rafting Resort,  Trans-Canada Highway

This area of the Thompson River has some very serious rapids.  It even has a “Rafting Resort”, the Kumsheen Rafting Resort, a rustic adventure sports resort with teepees and cabins is a 6-minute walk from the Fraser River.  In addition to whitewater rafting, mountain biking and rock climbing trips, the resort features an outdoor pool, a hot tub and a poolside bar…along with RV hookups.

Fraser River below Lytton BC, Trans-Canada Highway     Fraser River below Lytton BC, Trans-Canada Highway

Thompson River merges with Fraser River, Lytton BC, picture from WikipediaAt the community of Lytton the Thompson River merges with the Fraser River.  The Fraser River is a much darker river than the Thompson.   Above are two pictures after the merge.  I did not get a picture of the merge, but found this one to the left on the Internet.  Thank you Barbara for pointing it out to me…but we missed the turnoff to get the picture.  Sad smile  

Trans-Canada Highway, Hell's Gate Tram, BC     Trans-Canada Highway, Hell's Gate Tunnel, BC

As we got close to Hope, our destination for the night, we passed by “Hell’s Gate”, an  abrupt narrowing of the Fraser River.  There is a tram which takes people down to the other side of the river.  The picture on the left is the ticket office for the tram.  Just a little further down the road is a series of tunnels, one of which is named “Hell’s Gate” (if you click on the picture to the right, you can read the name along the bottom right of the picture.)   We were just thankful that the only “Hell’s Gate” that we had to pass through was just a traffic tunnel.  Smile

Trans-Canada Highway, Hope BC
30 miles more to Hope where we stayed at the Wild Rose Campground, $31 Canadian for full hookups with good cable.  I got rid of the rest of my Canadian money, and left her an extra $2 which I asked her to use to help some child who was short buying an ice cream.  She smiled and said, “I do that all the time..."

Trans-Canada Highway, Hope to US Border     Trans-Canada Highway, Hope to US Border 

Trans-Canada Highway, Hope to US Border    Trans-Canada Highway, Hope to US Border 

Sumas Port, US Border

Fifty miles down the road and we cross back into the states at the Sumas Port of Entry.  I wish it was as easy for me to get into Canada as it is to the United States.  Another 20 miles and we are at the The Cedars RV Resort for two nights.  It is nice to be back in the lower 48…and we will always remember this wonderful trek to a place called Alaska, along with the trip up and back through a very wonderful area of Canada.