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Report 9: Cochrane AB to Surrey (Vancouver) BC

Route:

From Cochrane AB we stayed on the Trans-Canada highway, through Banff AB. Near Sicamous we turned south on highway 97A/97, following the Okanagan valley to Kelowna. From Kelowna we took the 97C connector toward the Coquihalla. We turned down 5A to Princeton, where we took highway 3 to highway 1. From there it was a bunch of back roads into the RV park in Surrey, next door to the Pacific Crossing to the USA.

Highlights:

We travelled over the kicking horse pass (URLhere), elevation 1627 metres. It straddles the continental divide about 10 km west of Lake Louise. Sir James Hector and his party explored the pass in 1858. Hector was kicked in the chest by a packhorse, thus the name. The pass, which connects Yoho and Banff national parks, is also crossed by the Canadian Pacific Railway, via spiral tunnels. Next comes Rogers pass (URLhere). Travelling through Rogers Pass requires going through five long tunnels, which provide protection from avalanches and falling rocks. The lofty sensation of crossing Rogers Pass is one of the rewards for travelling here. Rogers Pass, elevation 1382 metres, is located at the summit in Glacier National Park. We never tire of travelling this road as the scenery is awesome. Our timing was fortunate; we had ideal weather, until, near Revelstoke, we encountered light rain. Only days later it snowed in the mountains. We walked around Revelstoke, but many of the attractions were closed, and we could not really do it justice because of the rain. So we moved on.

The trip down the Okanagan valley (ckickforURL) is awesome, as there are numerous views of the mountains and lakes, and there are places to pull over to rest and just have a look. In Kelowna, the largest city in the valley, we met up with Maurice's friends and their families from work (both named Bob). Having our RV with us made for a much better stay than when travelling by car...much less hurried. We stayed an extra two days to be able to have a good visit.

The leg from Kelowna to Vancouver was a bit troublesome. We opted for the easier drive along the Coquihalla. It turned out to be anything but easy. First, there is a spot on the connector with an exceptionally long, steep hill, and at one point our motorhome overheated, even though it was cold outside. After we got it cooled down we continued up the mountain in third gear at about 25 miles per hour, hazard lights flashing...we are right at home travelling with semis! Then, while travelling along the connector, we encountered a temporary sign, just before the 5A turn-off, that we thought said highway 5 south was closed. No detour route was indicated, so we make a snap decision to take highway 5A south. |It seemed logical, given the placement of the sign...wrong! About half way down we encountered a semi tractor/trailer rig that had gone over a small cliff and was being extracted. The road was down to one lane, with flagmen. So, the sign must have said that 5A south was closed. Anyway, we continued on over the hundreds of hills and curves on highway 5A, then turned west on highway 3, which wound around some more. We arrived in Surrey just before dark, tired and a bit sore; as easy as it is to drive, the motorhome takes rather more effort than a car.

Our stay in Vancouver has been great. We have family and several friends there. So we have stayed long enough to see nearly everyone. Since we were here for (Canadian) Thanksgiving, we were invited to dinner, first with Maurice's cousin, Bill and his family, then with our friends Barry and Jan. We had a nice visit with Charlie Fisher, who retired from the civil service a few years after Maurice started working with him in Winnipeg. He's still going strong at over 96, and points out that he has been retired for longer than he worked. It's great to see someone of his age with such a sharp mind enjoying retirement. It was nice to be with friends and family during the holiday, as we missed being with our children.

One of the neat things about the Pacific Border RV park is that it is alongside the Canada/USA border, bounded by zero street. On one side of the street the houses are in the USA and on the other they are in Canada. While walking the dog along zero street we notice an apple tree on an empty lot; a short illegal crossing followed to liberate a few apples. Later we were told that a guy from the RV park had been walking his dog and strayed into the USA...and was escorted by officials back to the RV Park!

Our friend Barry is an accomplished handyman, who readily agreed to help us fix the mess that the cabinetmaker in Ottawa created with our shelves, office nook and a few other areas in the RV. Since he has a big shop behind his house, modifying the office nook and varnishing everything that the cabinetmaker failed to do was easy, especially since Barry did most of the work ;-) He also built a slid-out unit for one of our cupboards that the cabinet maker in Ottawa could not do.

An easy side-trip at this time of year is to Vancouver Island. Unlike during the summer, there are usually no long waits for the ferry crossing. We went with our friends Barry & Jan to a lovely resort at Crystal Cove Tofino (URLhere), where we had a two bedroom log cottage right on the water. Tofino is Canada's surfing capital, as during the winter there are huge waves. Our second stop on the Island was in Victoria. We were at a lovely five-star B&B near Government House (abbeymoore.com). As luck would have it, the Olympic Torch Relay parade went right by us. Alas, due to a bunch of demonstrators being present down the street, the actual torch exchange, which was to take place right in front of us, happened up the street, nearly out of sight. Still, it was way cool.

October was our month to be under the weather; we both had lingering colds. With all the hoopla about H1N1, our first concern was that we might have that, but we think we didn't. But we did the responsible thing and holed up in the motorhome until we were sure.

While in Vancouver we had some minor problems with the RV. It would appear that when our inverter went out (as mentioned in the last report), it took out our automatic awning retraction control and our energy management system. (EMS) The former is no big deal, as we usually furl the awning before leaving the RV. The EMS is another matter; it is the gadget that allows us to hook up our coach, which is wired for 50-amps 250-volts, to RV parks that are wired for 30-amps 120-volt (or less), without popping the shore-power circuit breaker. We took it into Fraserway RV, one of the biggest RV repair centres in the country, and they found the problem to be a capacitor on the control board. Unfortunately, they don't do board-level repairs. And, as usual, getting replacement parts is a problem.