A favorite quote:

Make play a high priority in your life for if you die tomorrow no one can play for you, but someone can and will do your work for you!!!" Ken Beebe (Dr. Play)

Sunday, August 31, 2008

3 days in...

We are on the third day of our holiday and we are really enjoying ourselves. Andrew has settled into a really nice routine and we are starting to feel fairly relaxed. Last night we had some nice hillbillies whooping it up until all hours, or it could have been 9:30 as we were sleeping by 9.

We were having a conversation with a nice couple from Oregon who are camped next to us and they asked if this was Andrews first camping trip. Heck no was the reply and we started to recount all the places he has been in his first 13 months.

  • Victoria BC, at less than 3 months old. Included 2 plane rides and a very nice stay in a Fairmont Empress suite.
  • Pittsburgh PA, At 6 months old, included 4 plane rides with 2 connections in Chicago and a nice visit with Granny and Pappy
  • Cypress Hills Park, SK, at 10 months old, a 4 day camping trip in our new trailer. Went fairly well. (he wasn't walking yet, and was putting everything he picked up into his mouth.
  • Dickson Leisure RV Park, Innisfail AB, at 11 months old, was starting to think about walking. We had full hookups here, so it was nice. First camping trip with the dogs, they did great, even though it was 30+ deg outside. (No AC on the first camper)
  • Cypress Hills Park, AB, at just under a year, a 3 day camping trip with our friends Mary Jo, Greg and their daughter Sophie. We had a great time as Andrew is walking regularly and isn't eating everything he picks up anymore. The day we left the campsite to come home I decide to take the family on a bit of an adventure. We ended up driving for 3 hours on Gravel highways in SE Alberta and proceedto destroy the camper rock by rock. We did get to see Manyberries (which has the not-so-famous akinoskway cafe), Writing on Stone provincial park (that has very cool stone pillars all over the place), Milk River the town, and last but not least we saw the Sweetgrass hills. This is the most isolated mountain peaks in the USA. they are a set of 3 giant hills that we could see for 200km on this trip that are located just across the border on Highway 2. They were really neat.
  • Banff, AB, at Just over a year, Andrew got to enjoy his first night at the beautiful Rimrock hotel. We saw an advert on expedia for 75% off the room rates, so since we weren't camping, we thought we would spend a night away for fun. He also had his first good booboo. He wiped out and his 2 bottom teeth split his upper gums when he smaked his chin on the heat register. He did not like this.
  • Nanton AB, a just over 1 year and a bit. The week previous I went in to get the parts needed to fix the gravel road damaged trailer and instead traded it in on a new one. Well new to us. Well, actually new. It is a 2003 model Trail Lite, that had NEVER been used. The previous owners bought it, pulled it home, then 5 years later pulled it back to the dealership. then we bought it. The protective film was still on the appliances. nice. anyway, I digress, the trip to Nanton was because we couldn't wait to camp in the new unit, so away we went. As mentioned in the first post of this Blog, it went really well, except that the dogs had their treats stolen by foxes. Lesson learned.
  • Mt Kidd, at 13 months old, see blog below.
  • Cranbrook Wal-mart, Christina Lake and beyond,

All in all our wonderful little child has seen a lot so far. The other thing it has done is allowed Traci and I to stop and smell the flowers along the way, because even though we have done and seen amazing things in 13+months with Andrew, time is still going too fast. We don't want to miss a thing and have loved every minute.

Back to Trail...

I mentioned it looked like Wheeling WV. I didn't mention that I thought the area was fantastic. Very cool and old. I like old downtowns and this one is right up there will the best of them.

The city street that leaves Trail and goes to Rossland is very deceiving. It looks like a regular street, straight uphill, then all of a sudden you are in Rossland. Rossland is so unbelievably cool, it is high alpine with character. It seems really friendly and approachable. They have what looks to be a really big historic mine with tours and a mine amusement park!?!

From Rossland the terrain is pretty plain, as much as the tops of mountains, curvy roads, steep cliffs can be plain, it is plain compared to what we have already seen in the mountains previously. We descend into Christina Lake. It is a real surprise to us. I don't know why, but I imagined it to be way more hick than it is. Where Creston is obviously a very Italian community, Christina lake has some pretty deep roots in Greece and Russia (we are really close to Grand Forks where the town sign says it is famous for Sunshine and Borscht) and is very clean and inviting. We are impressed. We drive through town to get to the Resort we are staying at and are very pleased. Most RV resorts have a lot of gravel in the sites but for some reason this resort is all lush grass. Superb for Andrew to run around! We set up and have a terrific evening, even though we are beat. We are in bed by 8:30 local time. yeesh what a couple of geezers. hehe.

Oh yeah, Andrew very much enjoyed the DVD player once again this part of the trip.

I hereby proclaim the name of this country... "ZELLER"

Major experience lesson #1 on this trip.

Our campsite is located only 2km from the US border. As we have never seen a vehicle border crossing we drove there to look. so far so good. We drive up to the little post that shows the international boundary between US and Canada. I get out and take a picture. Still good, right? I get back in the truck and shoulder check so I can turn around. All good.

Until I see that we have actually gone beyond the point of no return and are stuck in some weird land BETWEEN Canada and USA. I look at Traci and she gives me that look only wives can give their husbands in a situation like this... "you arsehole" are probably the best words that could have summed up the look.

SO... we have to go back through Canadian Customs and Immigration.

I tell Traci they are watching through the windows and have seen us pull up and not actually gone into the states. As we line up to "re-enter" Canada, Traci tells me we don't have our passports. But what we do have is 2 Canadians (1 baby), 1 American and 2 pugs with no tags. I tell Traci that this happens all the time and is normal for these border guards.

Yeah, not so much.

Neil -"Hi, yeah, we just wanted to see the border, we didn't actually go into the US."

Border guard lady - "I didn't see you" *see look from wife above*

Neil - "well we just turned around right here"

Border guard lady -"I still need to ask you some questions"

Neil - "ok"

Border guard lady - "I need to see some ID, where is home for you?"

Neil handing the Lady our Drivers Licence and Andrews Birth Certificate (thankfully Traci had this)- "Calgary, we are staying at the Cascade Cove RV Park"

Border guard lady - "How long are you staying at the Cascade?"

Neil - "We are leaving tomorrow"

Border guard lady - "Where are headed after that?"

Neil - "Harrison Hot Springs"

Border guard lady - "Very well then, go ahead"

Neil - "----------"

As we are driving away, we start laughing at my stupidity. We did however decide to name the really silly little bit of land that lies between the US border hut and the Canadian border hut. We officially named this bit of land "ZELLER"

Welcome to Zeller, may I see your passport please? Where are you travelling to? Canada huh? Do you have any idea it is illegal to transport Nutterbutters from the USA through Zeller? We are going to have to confiscate those from you. have a nice day.

The lessons to be learned are:

1. The border is for crossing, not looking at.
2. The little unmarked house on the left as you approach the border, is really the point of no return as it is the Canadian Immigration hut.
3. Don't assume the road will have some kinds of sign telling you to stop or at least tell you you are entering Zeller.
4. Bring your passports

The best part is, the Dogs kept their heads down the entire time. Normally they will get up when we stop, but I guess they knew the gig was up if they looked up. She never saw them.

up and down and up and down...

Leaving Cranbrook was really un-eventful. We drove about 1/2 hour to Moyie Lake and had to stop for a diaper change. The trailer is really amazing for impromptu stops for just about any reason. We can stop, flip the stairs on the back door out and we have a perfect mobile picnic shelter/ bathroom/ napspot/ dogwaterer/ fridge/ etc etc. Everything we ask of the trailer, the trailer comes through. Including....

... towing incredibly well. The Kootenay pass. More in a minute.

Creston BC - what a nice little town. This is the type of town that makes you want to move here. The long summers, the fresh fruit, the clean streets, the wide valleys, the pleasant mountains, cheaper gas in USA 10 clicks away, big river and even bigger Lake (Kootenay). Really really nice.
As soon as you cross the very wide Kootenay valley on Hwy 3, you make a turn. You don't turn left, you don't turn right. You turn up. Wow. From Creston it is straight up to the the kootenay summit at 1774m. Creston is 611m. In the span of 45km you rise 1163m, It seems like you should be at the top around every corner, but around every corner is another mountain peak higher than the previous. To top off the drive is a REALLY steep final km to the summit. This is at the tree line no less. The SUPERtruck is amazing. It just pulls. easy, smooth, without complaint. It pulls and pulls and pulls. Passing dodge trucks in the passing lanes with ease, cornering is very precise and the ride is great! Again, Andrew slept, well, like a baby through all this, even though my ears popped 10+ times on the way up, it obviously didn't bother him.

Now the most impressive part of the supertruck. Downhill control. Keep in mind the truck is 7500lbs loaded and the trailer is the better part of 6000lbs today, so we have 13500lbs flying down, get this, 1004m in just 12KM!!! That is 300ft of elevation drop in every KM. A 30 story building every 10 football fields. for 12 km. now when we fell off the backside of the pass we were travelling at the posted speed limit of 100km/h. That is crazy with the kind of weight we have. So down to 80kph, now the truck in trailering mode grabs way too many gears when you brake down the hill, so I flip it to manual shifting mode and gear down to 3rd or 4th gear and for the last 11km of the descent I don't touch the brakes once. Come to think of it I never touched the gas either.

Get your Duramax diesel Chevrolet, with the 6 speed Allison
Transmission at you local Chevrolet dealer today!

On the way up we got 10mpg. On the way down, 26mpg. heh.

Well that was it for major inclines... heh, yeah right. From Trail to Rossland is wild. 7km, 600m. on a municipal road. Then from Rossland to the Bonanza Pass it's another 497m up in a relatively gentle 30km. Then 40km from our destination, Christina Lake, and it's 1089m decline. Yup, we were quite happy to be done with this part. It makes the #1 highway seem like a curvy road in central Saskatchewan by Comparison.

The truck was looking for more, we were looking for a nap. All in all, the most fun I have had behind the wheel in a very long time! I am pretty sure Cypress Hills won't be on our Radar for a very long time, as we have discovered some of the most wonderful places we have seen in a very long time.

Back to Trail. Traci is from South Western Pennsylvania, there is a town called Wheeling, West Virgina about an hour from her hometown. When we drove into Trail, we both said it looked just like Wheeling.



Ain't that something?

More to come...

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Windy, Frank Slide and Cranbrook Walmart...

What a great ride, while it was incredibly windy from Nanton to Fernie, it is some of the most amazing scenery a person will see. I have seen just about every highway in Western Canada, except the Crowsnest. Traci has seen most in Alberta and BC, but this was the first time for both of us on the #3.

The Windmills in and around Pincher Creek are just spectacular. We get fairly close to a few of them, and the sheer size is amazing. As mentioned the wind was blowing ferociously, so we saw them in all their glory, fins bent trying to generate as much power as possible.

I guess the theme of this day is 'never seen it before'. Less than 2 hours from Calgary is Frank Slide. I have seen tv and magazine articles on it, and heard much about it, but to see it in person is CRAZY. What a path of destruction. This slide happened in 1903, and it looks like it could have happened 2 days ago, that much destruction and debris. 82 millions tons of limestone came crashing down in 100 seconds. CRAZY.

We stop in Bellevue for supper, Andrew wakes up, he has been sleeping the entire trip so far. The supertruck(truck earns nickname on 8-9% grades on next day of travel) is very comfortable for all occupants. A great little diner has fantastic burgers for Traci and I, and am able to order 1 chicken strip for Andrew. which he devours along with some fries. We hook up the seatback DVD player for the first time ever, and Andrew really likes watching his Backyardigans for the rest of the trip to Cranbrook. The Dogs enjoy a nice walk and some tasty slurps from Lost Creek which runs next to the diner.

Next on the neverseenit theme is Fernie, nice town, very built around the ski hill obviously. Driving through we are imagining 10-20 feet of snow piled up everywhere. That is the other consideration to this trip is 'holy crap, who'd want to drive this road in the winter' and we haven't even seen the kootenay pass yet.

The little town of Wardner is pretty neat, it is south of the highway about 1/2 hour from Cranbrook. When you first see it it looks like it is stranded over there, then we drive a bit and find the access road to go over there. A quick check on the map and we are driving next to the very north arm of Lake Koocanusa. Koo-taney -- Can-ada -- USA. Cool huh?

We stop for a stretch break at a great little rest stop about 45mins from Cranbrook. It is one thing that BC does better than anywhere else I have been, is rest stops. Spacious, clean, terrific picnic areas, usually near a river or lake, flush toilets that are clean. All in all we really enjoy spending some down time there to stretch and water the dogs on this trip.

Cranbrook. uh huh. not that pretty at all. Wasn't really impressed at all. for the largest municipality in the kootenay region, it wasn't that nice. 'nuff said 'bout that tho. We were only using it as our overnight stop at the Walmart. heheh. We had some trepidation about staying in the parking lot, but a call ahead to the store the day before made us feel welcome enough to try it. We arrived at 8:15 with about 10 other units arriving before us and by 10pm there were 6-7 more. There was even a person sleeping in their car. I guess it is probably the safest place to stop if you are beat tired.
Well, it turned out surprisingly well. We spent about a hundred bucks on supplies there, so the equivalent of 4 nights camping anywhere else (this is protocol at the wal-marts. Shop there and they will continue to let campers stay overnight as an extension of customer service). We were all very, very tired by this point, so at about 10pm we all konked out and rose at 7:30, rested and relieved that we weren't stolen or violated in any way. Tim Hortons was just around the corner, so obviously we had a very nutritious breakfast and headed on our way. A really nice option for long trips.

Monday, August 25, 2008


I'm Campin' ! wooowooo


What a great weekend at Mt. Kidd RV Park in Kananaskis. We left at 3:45, and then at 4:15. we forgot lots of stuff, not the least of which was the dogs harnesses, so they ended up with native made collars from the gift shop at the RV park, they did OK except for Kenickies Fat neck being larger than his fat head and the collar coming off whenever he wanted.

Andrew got to play tennis - well, he ran around the tennis court and pull on the net for a while. It was a really nice place for him to stretch his legs as there was nothing to fall into/over/onto. There is a really nice big grassy park next to the courts, and he made very good use of this area to frolic.

There is a sign coming into the park that reads "bear in area". what the heck? where? when? is he in the campground? A sign like this for a family like ours makes it pretty hard to do anything outside after dark or even around dusk. Too much fear of being bear kibble. I went out last night to tidy up the site, i looked up to see the stars like I have never seen them before, amazing, I couldn't get enough of them. I wanted to lie down and stare at them, but that would have made it too easy for the bears. So I went in.

On Saturday we just hung around and relaxed. Ate too much, of course. We did drive into Peter Lougheed Prov. Park. It has really cool place called William Watson Lodge. This total access lodge was built to enable Albertans with severe disabilities or seniors the chance to enjoy K-Country's' beauty. Great job Alberta! Otherwise the park has amazing campgrounds, the Spray lake reservoir is wonderful and the scenery is second to none.

I gotta say, Mt Kidd, from the vantage point of Mt Kidd RV Park is pretty impressive. It is probably the description of Mountain in the dictionary. Rocky, trees, snow, cliffs, peaks, meadows, it has it all.

Andrew got a visit from his Grandma and Grandpa on Sunday. We all went for a nice walk around the common areas of the park, had a weenie roast and got some ice cream (Andrew is a freak for ice cream). G'ma and G'pa rode out on their steel pony, Andrew seemed to get a kick out of the Goldwing when G'pa showed it off to him.

We stayed out until Monday morning, which is nice as it is very quiet by then and have no line-ups at the sani-dump. (we fretted over a plugged blackwater tank, when it was actually empty. sheesh) Andrew seemed happy to get home.

Sunday, August 17, 2008


Hot and dusty are the key words for the weekend. Andrew had a ton of fun running around, trying to avoid the gopher holes. Rizzo and Kenickie had their healthy extra treats stolen on Thursday night by foxes. I am surprised red foxes are watching their figures down near Nanton

We really didn't do much. The trailer was excellent, can't wait to have electrical (ac) though, as the 30deg temps made it quite uncomfortable in the afternoons. We did have breakfast at the Livelys on Saturday, it was nice to see them again, Dane is a very cute little 8 year old boy and 10 year old Alexi is tall tall tall. The picture is Kurtis, hard to believe he is our new CA. He takes great pride in letting people know he is a headbanging heavy metal freak. He is a great accountant though.

I think Andrew enjoyed the new camper as there is much more room to run around, and he gets to share the bed with his mom and dad, not just his mom as we had to split up in the old camper.

There he is asleep on the bed
Look at this, 1 year old and already brushing his own teeth! I don't care if this is normal for his age, don't tell me, he is a genius to me! hehe.

Friday, August 15, 2008

How much fun!

Andrew travels a lot, and being inspired by wherethehellismatt.com we are starting this blog.