Late June. the time of sunshine, green grass, getting out of school…and…an attempt at crossing the nation. Imagine that. Us setting out from the southern tip of Vancouver Island and inching across the second-largest country on Earth.
From the fjords and inlets of British Columbia through the Rocky Mountains and their glaciers, across the great wide open spaces and golden wheat fields of the Prairies, through Ontario in early Autumn, the forests of Quebec and, finally, to the ruggedness of the eastern “Maritime” provinces of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland.
Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the great nation of Canada!
Here’s our air transport system…
This was a family experience to behold. We got as far as Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. My sister, my mum and dad, our dalmatian, Daphne, and our Volkswagen camper. But it was great fun, we had two weeks on the road and they were an eye-opener for a ten-year-old.
The first day covered the always-scenic ferry route between Swartz Bay near the town of Sidney, B.C., where we lived, and Tsawwassen, outside Vancouver. The hour-and-a-half sailing conjured up a romantic image.
There was Active Pass between Galiano and Maine Islands, where the west and east-bound ferries would pass within a few hundred metres. It was always entertaining to wave to the other ship.
English: BC Ferries’ Queen of Saanich navigating Active Pass enroute to Swartz Bay, British Columbia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
By dusk we were in the interior of the province, a place called Osoyoos, home to Canada’s one and only desert. It was a pleasant, green site in evening sunshine where we camped, and toasted to our journey with plastic cups and apple juice.
They were fun nights too. We would listen to the crickets croak. Just of think of that. Us sleeping amongst the wilds of the Pacific Northwest. It gave me goosebumps.
We would chit-chat into the small hours and awake, groggy, to a bright sunshine overseeing the mountains overseeing the valleys in high summer. I’d never wanted to get up early before that. I’ve done it ever since.
As we crossed deep into the Interior of British Columbia, we came across its unspeakable beauty. We stopped in the small town of Nelson, often seen in movies. This hillside town overlooks a lake of the same name and was a pleasant addition to our trip. It is notable not only for its scenery, but for its character.
English: Mount Robson, Mount Robson Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It conforms to a grid system for its streets but it seemed not to have a false atmosphere. The campsite was spent amongst a campsite full of greenery and trees, occupied, in turn, by cute, fuzzy creatures such as raccoons and squirrels. It also had exquisite Lake Nelson as its backdrop.
Rocky Mountains (Photo credit: The Brit_2)
Some pleasant memories lie in that campsite. My family were all together, my sister and I were able to run around unrestrained. As we walked our dalmatian on the gravel, dog-poo littered beach (I just ruined everyone’s pristine image of the my homeland), I felt the most joy I had done in many months…possibly even years.
The Fraser river! Many have chanced the rapids of this rushing torrent of water and lost. The whitewater rafting goes on all year and is not to be tackled by the faint-hearted.
There had been no deaths that year, to our knowledge, but we felt that we neither had the money nor time (bags of courage!) to brave the iciness and extreme, life-threatening cold that it had to offer.
If you’ve never seen a glacier, then you should start with the Columbia Glacier. It is FANTASTIC!! One could see the thickness of it from our angle. It must have been a hundred feet thick at least! Wow, that took it out of me…Its too bad that we only saw it from the vehicle. But it will last with me forever.
Jasper was great, the national park where elk and man may co-exist. The park lies on the Albertan side of the provincial border. The creatures wander around freely and will even come up close and personal with your vehicle. They’re sweet mammals, too. Leave them alone and they won’t harm you. Here are some shots of the park…
We spent two days here, swatting mosquitoes and other animals, namely elk and humans, before penetrating deep into Alberta true.
Alberta, as you may have presumed, is named after British royalty and has the amazing claim that one can sometimes drive for 10 miles with not even the slightest bend in the road, shuffle up to a closed train crossing and sit for several minutes while a train pulling more than a miles worth of wheat carriages goes by, and drive another ten miles with no bends again.
I scooped up pile of dirt in a plastic cup labelled “Alberta”; a tradition that I followed through on in Saskatchewan.
Canada is the world’s largest exporter of wheat and the fourth largest grower. It isn’t difficult to see why when you consider the distance between the Canadian Shield…a rocky, barren sub-tundra group of ice-age rocks…and the Rocky Mountains.
It is seven to eight hundred miles by road from Calgary to Winnipeg, depending on which road you take. As for the campsites in this part of the world, they’re o.k., except for when we stopped at a place called North Battleford, Saskatchewan.
It was run down, only offered a broken picnic table, stank of the brown stuff and had more mosquitoes than grass blades. It was around this time that we decided, due to our camper’s chronic engine trouble, that it was best to head as far as Moose Jaw.
We then witnessed an air show, and head home. This met with some disappointment, but we were running a little low on the ka-ching so it had to be done. Besides, this is what Saskatchewan looks like…
As I recall, the show was pretty good for my dad and I, but purgatory for my mother and sister. I don’t blame them. I think of how much I used to hate clothe-shopping. Now it’s rather fun. We saw the famous Snowbirds there…just three passes, kinda dull.
Then there was the chance, which I took, to sit in the front cockpit of a “Tutor” trainer aircraft, the type used by the team, and flick switches! It’s a shame I have no photographs of this or the other two journeys, in the blog. We were glad, of course, to see our house again.
Once, we had an attempt, and failed again, at a four-day jaunt from our home on Vancouver Island to Calgary. Our little Honda Accord had ignition trouble. Great.
We did, however, get to drive through Hope, in Silver Lake Provincial Park, and other small communities such as Penticton and Revelstoke, where we aborted the attempt.
Description unavailable (Photo credit: Magalie L’Abbé)
I remember us having to receive assistance from the ferry company when we docked to start our car again. Oh boy…they weren’t happy.
But it truly was a privilege to lose myself in the wilds of the Rocky Mountains.