Thursday, August 25, 2011

Across British Columbia

Travelling, wandering, meandering across the province of British Columbia we experienced some of the diversity of its nature. From Whistler’s snow-capped mountains and coniferous forests we drove east, through high mountain passes…

…watching the landscape morph into a dry, almost desert-like prairie, reminiscent of parts of Colorado or northern New Mexico. Trees became scarce, replaced by scrubby cedars and, mostly, sagebrush. Only in the streambeds would there be vivid green. We stopped for a few nights at a campground in Cache Creek, where Nancy could take advantage of a decent WiFi signal. Right behind the campground were miles of dusty trails over prickly grasslands, plateaus and rolling hills. We walked the dogs there daily. Well, walked Toby & wheeled Kinsey.

At camp, the aspens watched over us:

When it was time to move again we kept on trucking east, planning to camp in a little lakeside town called Sicamous (The houseboat capital of the world?). But…we didn’t make it. After a few hours driving on a hot summer day we came to the Swiss/Canadian town of Salmon Arm. As we rolled through we noticed a lakefront water park that advertised RV sites. Somehow the idea of throwing on swimsuits and shooting down twisty waterslides appealed to us both at that moment, so we turned in there, parked at a site, and did just that. It was great fun and very refreshing on what was one of the hottest days of our summer in the north country.

The next day we drove again. The waterpark RV site served its purpose, but wasn’t anyplace we wanted to stay for multiple days. A few hours further east landed us in the town of Golden, situated on the Columbia and Kicking Horse rivers, in the valley cut by these, and between the Columbia and Rocky mountain ranges. On the way we drove through Canada’s Glacier National Park, and were awed by the vistas of Roger’s Pass:

The town of Golden maintains a municipal park and campground. We were lucky to get a site with electricity, but unfortunately it was only an old 15 amp outlet which the camp manager said could only deliver about 10 amps. So…no air conditioner – bad news on a hot day. We managed by running fans, and it cooled off overnight, making the rest of our stay comfortable without any climate control.

Speaking of no A/C, during our drive to Golden the truck didn't have any either. No air of any temperature would emerge from the vents. So, my first task while at Golden was to take too much of the truck's dashboard apart trying to get to the fan. I finally got it, discovering just how easy it could have been if I'd only known how. The fan was stuck, but spun again with my help, and spins like new now that it's gotten a dose of lube. Problem solved!

The Kicking Horse river rushed by just a dozen or so yards from our site, providing some nice white noise for us and white water for the daily raft trips which floated by.

The sound of the rushing river wasn’t enough, however, to cover the rumble and clatter of the frequent trains that roll by just across the river. Golden is some kind of rail hub, so there was almost always something going on over on the tracks. We enjoyed our stay there, though. Bighorn sheep traversed the banks above the tracks, and a multi-use trail followed the riverbank through camp and meandered all through town, so we could get around by bicycle.

Up on the mountain side there was Kicking Horse Mountain bike park, but I’d gotten my downhill thing on at Whistler, so I opted to ride some of the town’s excellent single track cross country trails instead. I had a really great ride at the Moonraker trail system, particularly enjoying long sections built on a slight downward pitch, providing pedal-free cruising. Of course what goes down must come up, so I did my share of climbing as well, but it was well worth it. The only issue I had was with mosquitoes – stop for just seconds and I’d be covered in the winged bastards despite my ample coating with DEET. We have, by the way, up ‘till arriving in Golden, been enjoying a virtually bug-free existence. Not since we left Georgia in January have we had to deal with biting insects. Even here in BC, at Vancouver, Whistler, Cache Creek and Salmon Arm we had none. Golden has had us reaching for the OFF, keeping the screen door closed, and even setting up our outdoor screen room.

Next stop: Banff National Park. Should be a good one!

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