Miles driven to date: 3,248
We arrived in Oregon in the rain, stayed in Oregon during the rain and left Oregon in the rain and it followed us FOREVER! But the long bare beaches gave Alice freedom to chase the shore birds and eventually she became a speck in the distance, only to turn around, not see anyone and dash all the way back to where Dawn, a friend, and I walked. Off she went again, suddenly stopped and stood rigid. Fifty or so lazing seals appeared at the shoreline. They scooched along, rolled on their backs as babies crawled on the bellies. Overlooking this National Geographic scene, a monolithic two-story house with wings jutting out from the main entrance violating the cliff’s edge and the horizon; it reminded me of Rochester’s house with Jan Eyre gazing out a window. You can barely see it in this photo – just the top.
After two days with friends in Pacific City indulging in fresh poached oysters and crab legs dipped in lemon-butter, I drove up to Brainbridge Island and Anacortes, Washington, and took a day trip to the San Juan Island. By this time, I was sure sun was no longer part of this planetary system and Mabel’s solar panels equaled misspent money. Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson muffled the constant clunk-clunk of windshield wipers. Occasionally, I felt my ribs to make sure gills hadn’t sprouted on the sides of them, or looked at my toes to ensure they hadn’t become webbed due some 10-million-year-old-throwback gene that regenerated due to the constant moisture. Alice looked like a Dickens street urchin begging for porridge by London bridge.
On Brainbridge Island, WA, I saw an old friend from the ranch–amazing to me how many people one way or another have a connection with the old place. The ferry ride to San Juan Islands to see cousins was uneventful although Alice was not as enthusiastic and stayed put on the floor. It had not stopped raining. Leaving Anacortes, cute little town, by the way, I thought I should fill the propane tank before entering Canada.
Alice: Thought I’d jump in, since I know this will not be recounted correctly. We stopped to fill the propane tank before we crossed border and were told it was impossible because of the positioning of the spare tire holder in the hitch the gas attendant told Lisa.
“Oh Christ, well I’ll go to a U-Haul place and ask them to do something,” says Lisa. We saw a “PROPANE FILLED HERE” sign next to the black and orange U-HAUL sign and made that ever-present unpredictable left-hand turn. This unsuspecting young man, baseball hat on protecting his full head of hair from the Northwest drizzle, listened to Lisa talk about the need for propane and “what to do?” I thought to myself, just give it up, son, you don’t stand a chance, you may not want to take off this 95 pound-tire-hitch-holder thing, not to mention a tire that could hold up the Himalayas, but I guarantee you are going to end up doing it, and somehow that propane tank will be full.
”Well, ma’am we don’t ordinarily take all this off.”
“I honestly do not know what I am going to do. There has got to be something. How hard can it be to take this thing off..doesn’t look too difficult..just super heavy.”
“No, doesn’t look difficult, but it is something we don’t do unless it is a U-Haul product.”
“I realize that but what to do? Can you imagine being in Alaska without heat. OMG. You have got to help me out. I’ll help you, if you’d like.”
“Well, I suppose I could (uh-oh, he has caved in, succumbed and gave up all resistance, I think) but will take some time.”
“No problem, I’ll be more than happy to wait while you go back to the office and bring your tools out here.” Big of you to just wait for the man while he totally does not want to do this, Lisa, I thought.
TIRE CARRIER OFF, TIRE ON GROUND, PROPANE TANK FILLED…….
“So now all that is left is to put all this stuff back in where it was originally, in the storage compartment. Can you help me with that too?”
She builds up to all the necessary steps gradually……I could have told him, just say “yes” in the beginning and he would have saved 20 minutes, but…. he did receive a nice tip.
Good bye, Alice.
After so many years of thinking THIS is the year I am going to Canada, on June 18, 2017, I crossed the Canadian border. They didn’t ask for Alice’s health certificate, they didn’t check the van, they did check my passport and waved me in!
I find British Columbia amazingly gorgeous. There is a wildness, which I have never experienced in all my travels. It is a welcoming wildness though, manifested by the kindness and welcoming attitudes of the Canadians. Land preservation and conservation seems to be an integral part of their culture. Hunting and fishing are huge pastimes. All the towns I have been through, Hope, Princeton, Peniticton, Okanagon, Kamloops, Forest Grove, Williams Lake and too many others to name all have “tackle, bait, licenses” signage.
I stayed at a campground and the owner was from Rio Rancho, NM of all places. Small world. I was in a coffee shop and met two young Belgian men hitchhiking throughout Canada and gave them a ride to Williams Lake, western side of BC. The people have all been so friendly, helpful, willing to go out of their way to give me information. Alice has been a constant source of conversation “she’s so cute” etc. The politics of the US are a mystery to all whom I meet.
I am still staying off main roads if possible. Campsites have been Provincial BC Campsites, clean, no hook-ups and by lakes or rivers. I visited a few wineries, taken walks along lake shores, met some other travelers and have learned that I have to stop every 5 or 6 days for two days to re-group, clean out the van so vegetables or grass don’t start growing in the carpet(!). I continue to learn more and more about this full-time RV life and organize the shelves and cupboards so every time I make a turn, cans don’t fall and roll on the carpet. I finally figured out all the buttons, what turns on what etc. Mabel chugs along faithfully, much like a plow horse – not a showpiece, but reliable!
The only way I think I can explain the beauty I have seen is to visualize myself as an eagle taking flight from atop one of the many peaks scattered throughout Southern BC. I soar high, catch a thermal lift or ridge lift or wave lift and follow these over rugged cliffs and down over their crevices filled with pine and juniper trees. The land then mellows out, fans out into long meadows covered with purple lupine or tiny white daisies. Those stretches of grasslands are broken up with a spot of brown where old homesteads used to be but have turned into forgotten hovels and tilted, worn-out barns. Against a hill, a newer log home with a pitched metal roof has taken its place but the old corrals are still there. Waterfalls give my journey much needed relief from the sun and I let the water’s roar take me to lakes and streams that scatter the country like sycamore leaves after a spring wind. The tops of pines form the horizon’s end in all directions at times. Aspen leaves catch the sun’s glare and a light grey meshes in with the pinks and whites of wild roses. A gas station, grocery store and a few houses line a backroad whose inhabitants have lived their lives in rough weather of 50 below to 80 above. Lakes freeze and augers come out for the ice fishing, kids put their skates on to feel the rush.
So, we truck along, never going much over 55 mph, enjoying the beauty. I strike up conversations with the store owners and park managers and listen to how wet the spring was, how the “season” really doesn’t start until June, or the story of their last fishing trip. Have only met one other person from the US which does surprise me.
Take good care, Lisa, Alice and Mabel