Experiencing Ups and Downs

Life can be full of ups and downs. In the past few days, Betty & I have seen our fair share. This post captures a little of what we saw and experienced as we headed east from our winter home on Vancouver Island.

We were first on and off the ferry at Departure Bay, Nanaimo, headed into Horseshoe Bay, Vancouver.
All along our route were signs about the new provincial travel restrictions.

British Columbia introduced new COVID-19 travel restrictions this week, indicating that those outside of their health zone could be fined, and that BC ferries might no longer take recreational vehicles on board. Just in case this affected us, we bailed early.

We decided not to make stops in the province, except for gas. When I filled up, I masked and gloved up, and paid at the pump.
Heading through North Vancouver, we still experienced some heavy traffic.
When we reached our first pit stop at the Flying J in Hope, BC, Betty watered the dog, while I added some gas.

The motorhome had been running a little rough on our first day, but I thought it was because our gas was six months old. I had filled up last October before we parked for the season on Vancouver Island. I considered adding some gas-line additive, but didn’t want to go into the store. I also thought about using a higher octane, but it was too expensive…

After we left Hope, we began the climb into some beautiful mountains.
By the time we reached the summit of the Coquihalla Highway (elevation 4,081 ft), the engine was labouring badly.

From then on, Betty & I really experienced our ups and downs. While the scenery was majestic, after we passed Revelstoke, the battery light appeared on our dash for the first time ever, and flickered on and off through the Rogers Pass. From time to time, we would lose most of our power, dropping down to 30 mph, even when there was no margin to pull off the road. While I drove much of the time with my hazard lights on, I was never sure the motor wouldn’t finally die in the middle of the Trans-Canada Highway.

Limping into Golden BC around 5:30 pm, we contacted Columbia Diesel, and staff said they would take a look at our motorhome first thing in the morning. In the meantime, we were welcome to stay the night in their large parking lot.

I met up with service manager Derek Phillips at 7:30 am the next morning, and he assigned Guy, a very able mechanic, to diagnose our problem right way.

We pulled right into a bay in their heated shop, and were able to stay in our coach for the duration. Even though we had replaced our alternator before leaving Manitoba, it and our chassis battery had both died. By noon, Guy had replaced them both, and we were on the road again. BTW, the replaced alternator is still under warranty, so hope to be reimbursed when we get back to Manitoba.

Tunnels along the highway take traffic under some of the worst avalanche zones.

Continuing our ups and downs, the TransCanada Highway (#1) was closed from Golden to Banff, so we had to detour south through Radium Hot Springs.

The road northeast from Radium Hot Springs is quite dramatic, and we were most happy that our motorhome was working well again. In many places, there would have been nowhere to pull off the road, and all TransCanada traffic was on this detour.
Lots of ups and downs, twists and turns greeted us on the road back to Manitoba.
We arrived safely at our Banff campsite (B81 in Tunnel Mountain Village II) just in time for the start of a snow fall.
By this morning, our Smart was covered in snow, but we were safe and warm in our home on wheels.
As I began to write this post, a family of deer appeared across from our campsite, just as the clouds began to lift from Mount Rundle.

Now that the clouds have lifted, Betty & I hope that the road east won’t visit us with so many ups and downs. Just as we hope for straight, smooth sailing, we wish the same for you!


Here We Go Again, Again!

When I entered the name for this blog post, my computer told me I had already used the title “Here We Go Again!”. Did I want to replace that file with this new one? No, each time we set out on a leg of our overlandish odyssey, there are similarities, but it is a uniquely new adventure. Here’s the latest update.

Ontario’s provincial flower, the trillium, is blooming everywhere around us on Vancouver Island just now. This one is at our campsite in Nanaimo. Apparently, trilliums can take 4 – 15 years to bloom, and if picked, take 2 – 7 years to bloom again. Who knew?

As previously noted, this is the longest stretch Betty & I have spent in one place in the past three years. Vancouver Island has a moderate climate and is such a beautiful place to live, or just visit. There is so much to see and do here, and yet in these past six months we have seen and done relatively nothing!

While we enjoy shorts and sandals weather, there are snow-capped mountains all around. These are seen across Nanaimo harbour.

Now that we are packing up in preparation for our travels back to Winnipeg, we couldn’t help but venture out just a little before we go.

The price of regular gas in Comox is 143.9/litre. Hoping it’s less than that as we head east!
The scenic town of Cumberland is just southwest of Comox & Courtney.

Betty’s family was originally from Cumberland, England. Her dad was born in Egremont. So when we saw the Vancouver Island community with the same name, and his birthplace in a street name, we just had to go exploring.

The streets of Cumberland, BC are named after towns in England, including Egremont, where Bet’s dad was born. Other principal avenues include Maryport, Windermere, Penrith, Derwent, Allen, and Keswick.
A coal-mining town in the late 1800’s, Cumberland had the second largest Chinese population, after San Fransisco, at the turn of the 20th century.

It’s sunny and warm on the island just now. Everyone is eager to get out and enjoy some fresh sea air. Yes, we have heeded the advice against unnecessary travel. But after being cooped up all winter, this fresh air and sunshine is necessary! Besides, we could and did travel without personal contact with others. 

Petroglyphs Provincial Park is less than a mile from our campground in Nanaimo. We drove past it regularly, but visited for the first time this week.
Yesterday, Betty, Charlie & I visited Nanaimo harbour, and enjoyed boats and ships of all sizes passing by.

Despite the unexpected health issues, it’s been a wonderful place to winter, and Betty & I are looking forward to a return visit this fall. 

At Nanaimo Beach, lots of kids found their way into the water at low tide.
The beach was full, with everyone responsibly either social distancing or wearing masks.

In the meantime, here we go again, heading back to our family in Winnipeg that we’ve missed so much over this past six months. Almost time to cue Willy Nelson’s On The Road Again!

As one ferry arrives from Horseshoe Bay, another gets ready to leave for Vancouver. That will be us, later this week…


Déjà Vu

When the coronavirus hit just over a year ago, Betty and I were sheltered in place in the Arizona desert. Should we stay in our relatively isolated location, or should we head back to Manitoba? Travel was not recommended, and borders were closing. Since we were unsure of continued health coverage, we decided to cut our travels short and head back. 

Flowers have been blooming everywhere around Nanaimo for more than a month now. These are at a neighbour’s campsite.

Now we are in beautiful Nanaimo, British Columbia, having spent the last six months on picturesque Vancouver Island. While COVID-19 has been relatively rare on the island, another variant of the virus has been spreading through the province, across the country, and around the world. Should we stay in our comparatively safe home in Living Forest Oceanfront campground, or head back to Manitoba? Again, travel is not recommended, and while interprovincial borders are not closing, nearly every province is introducing new rules on what can stay open, and what needs to close. It’s déjà vu all over again!

Trees are also in blossom all around us. Bright and beautiful!

Vaccination schedules also vary between provinces, and we may not be eligible for injections here, as we are not B.C. residents. Manitoba Health allows us to be out of province for seven months of the year, but we must soon return to maintain coverage.

Charlie visits a flowering bush.

Besides, we really, really miss our kids and grandkids! So we’re headed back.

A long-time resident of our campground has used his vivid imagination to decorate his campsite.

In preparation for our return to Manitoba, we have been getting the motorhome serviced, and it is now ready to head out on the road again.

This week we added new tail pipes to our motorhome, replacing rusted and damaged originals.

Our original plan included extended visits with friends across the western provinces, and tours around B.C., particularly Vancouver Island. But we haven’t even been to Butchart Gardens or downtown Victoria on this trip! Visits with friends didn’t happen on the way here, so we said we’d catch up on the way back.

The site we occupied for most of the winter (#191) wasn’t available for April, so we are now in #9 until we head out later this month. The park is very well maintained, and all staff are extremely friendly and helpful.

Now with the more virulent variants, those visits won’t occur on the way back to Manitoba either.

Betty continues her creativity. These placemats are recent additions.
My sciatica has lessened somewhat, allowing me to get back to the driving range again. Beyond the green grass in the foreground, you can just make out the snow-capped mountains in the background. Stunning scenery!

Under the circumstances, it is our hope that we and others will be immunized by the fall of this year, so that Betty and I can try this trip all over again. I have saved our original travel schedule, and we have a campsite in Living Forest booked for next fall and winter. If everything is green-lighted, we can then head down the west coast in 2022, visiting national parks in Washington, Oregon, California, and Utah, before heading back to Manitoba. This year and next, we’re hoping for déjà vu all over again, just without the virus!

“I wandered lonely as a cloud, That floats on high, o’er vales and hills, When all at once I saw a crowd, a host of golden daffodils…”

Hope you’re keeping healthy and safe!

Purple flower power!