Tagged with " Greater Vancouver Area"
Jan 6, 2010 -

A Most Peculiar January

In the world where I grew up, winter was a bleak, cold, and white month. There were exceptions; I remember being able to go for a long, non-icy, run on a day in mid-January, but, generally, there was very little to recommend about January.

Last year in Surrey, January was sodden. I don’t know if the last few days will set a pattern for the month, but only one word thus far applies to January 2010 in Campbell River: mild.

At home, the heat is on low just to cut the dampness, I’ve switched back to summer bedding, and I can actually hang out in bare feet. At work, I do my outside chores very comfortably in only my long sleeve tee-shirt if it’s not raining.

Needless to say, I’m completely mystified by the Campbell Riverites who come into the store bundled up for doomsday, teeth chattering, and full of complaints about how cold it is outside!

It’s presently 4 degrees at 2AM and the forecast ahead is just going to get warmer and warmer; we might even reach the double digits next week!

Even with the few weeks I had in Oliver last year, I’m starting to forget what real cold is, although I’m pretty sure that the -27 in Dawson City tonight is unpleasant. 😀

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British Columbia, Canada, Travel, Weather    6 Comments
Dec 5, 2009 -

Travels Without Miranda, #7: Chicago’s Navy Pier, Illinois

Chicago is one of my favourite cities. It is vibrant, clean, friendly, and approachable. I’ve been there twice, spending a week in 1999 and stopping over on my Great Lakes adventure in 2005 to return to Navy Pier. I also went through O’Hare on my way to Colorado in 1996, but I’m not sure that counts. 🙂

Until I visited Chicago in 1999 I considered myself to be a country gal with little use for cities, finding them to be ugly. Vacations were meant to be spent in aesthetically pleasing places; I had only come to Chicago to visit a friend, otherwise I would have spent my travel dollars on a great camping excursion instead.

My week in Chicago changed my opinion of cities in general and Americans specifically. Until Chicago, I thought all American cities were like filthy New York City and all Americans like its rude residents. I still had a lot to learn about not making sweeping generalizations about places and people.

One of my last stops during that 1999 trip was Navy Pier, a tourist trap jutting out into Lake Michigan that is filled with souvenir shops and over priced food. It’s one of my favourite places in the United States. 🙂

I walked down one side of the Pier that day and up the other, stopping in my tracks as I did so to take in the sight of Chicago. It awed me. Glimmering obsidian sky scrapers shimmered against a perfect blue sky, their reflections bouncing off the turquoise waters of Lake Michigan. I was looking at a downtown traffic snarl at the same time as I watched volleyballers frolic on a sandy beach. Cities can be beautiful, I thought with awe.

(I went through a long spell of traveling without a camera)

(I went through a long spell of traveling without a camera)

Six years later, I decided to return to that spot on the Pier and it was as though time had stood still. Chicago was exactly as I remembered her to be and while a stay over wasn’t on the plate for this trip, I was reassured that my memories hadn’t been romanticized over the passage of time.

Chicago taught me that cities can be beautiful, a lesson that I clung to as I so desperately worked to fall in love with Vancouver.

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British Columbia, Canada, Illinois, Travel, USA    No Comments
Oct 17, 2009 -

Crossing Over

My ferry options from Horseshoe Bay were 8:30, 10:30, and 12:30 if I wanted to arrive in Campbell River in daylight. I decided to aim for the 8:30 and be in line for the 10:30 if I arrived too late.

One of my many RVing rules is that I don’t drive in unfamiliar territory at night and/or in inclement weather. In order to get to Horseshoe Bay for 8:30 I would have to drive in the dark. I also woke up in Squamish to a downpour.

Having done the drive to Horseshoe Bay in the toad, I felt okay with taking Miranda out in those conditions. It was slow, slippery going, but I was reasonably relaxed and I refused to look at a clock.

I’m disappointed that I finished the Sea to Sky highway twice in such downpours as to negate the possibility of taking pictures worth sharing.

At any rate, I made it to Horseshoe Bay just as daylight was starting to break through the rain. It’s downhill from the first exit all the way to the toll booth and I was a nervous wreck by the time I stopped there because even with gearing down and pumping to compensate for the slick pavement, I could smell my brakes. Oh, I know it was a normal, new brake smell, not a something’s wrong smell, but I just wanted to get on that boat, disappointed that my relaxed mood had been spoiled. I was very grateful that I had come ahead with the toad and knew ahead of time which lane to be in with an RV.

My rig was measured and deemed to be 50′ long, not the 45′ feet I had guesstimated!!! I had used the BC Ferries website to figure out how much it was going to cross to get over and had calculated that a 45′ long over-size vehicle with one person would cost 275$, but wasn’t confident about that number because the math seemed very convoluted. So, I had a mild heart attack while waiting to know how much my passage would be.

Well, I got some good news! My vehicle combination was longer than expected, but I’d done the math wrong and it only cost me 193$ total for my fare. Imagine how pleased I was!

From the toll booth I was indicated to park in the Nanaimo lane and close my propane tanks. That done, it was about 8:20 and boarding for the 8:30 began.

A BC Ferries employee guided me to the correct boarding lane and it wasn’t a long wait before I was able to get onto the boat. Doing so was easy as the longer vehicles board at ground level in a straight line. I applied the parking brake, said goodbye to the catkids, grabbed my previously-packed bag of snacks and magazines, applied the parking brake to the toad, and headed up to the passenger deck. We were under way in minutes, pulling out at 8:35. I was impressed.

The ferry was huge and beautifully appointed, with lots of seating and a few restaurants and shops. I spent the two hours alternating between walking around, listening to a guy strum his guitar, and occasionally braving the wind, rain, and fog to stand outside on the deck.

I love being on the water and immensely enjoyed the trip from the BC mainland to Vancouver Island.

At about 10, an hour and a half after departing from Vancouver, drivers were instructed to return to their vehicles. I didn’t know how much time I had before having to leave, so I just unapplied the parking brakes and positioned myself to be ready to drive at a moment’s notice. Neelix came over to let me know he was fine, but Tabitha ignored me. I discovered an hour later that she was down with a bout of sea sickness. 🙂

It took only a few minutes before my lane started to debark. I followed the vehicles ahead of me out of the ferry terminal and then the signs announcing Campbell River. There was no convenient place to stop within Nanaimo, unless I wanted to drive around the parking lots of big box stores, so I just drove out of town, through rain, until I got to a pullout on the highway where I could take a bit of a breather.

Taking the ferry wound up being super easy and a much less stress-inducing experience than I would have expected. I think that in the spring I would like to take the ferry from Port Hardy to Prince Rupert and from there the Yellowhead to the Cassiar.

From that pullout, it was an easy 100km stretch to Croft’s place. He and his wife helped me get squared away and then we had the requisite ‘getting to know you in person’ chat that stretched long into the evening. 🙂

Taking the whole trip into consideration, it was a good one, but that last little bit has made me glad that I can stay put for a while.

I’m looking forward to the next stage of my adventure.

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British Columbia, Campgrounds, Canada, Cats, Driving, Nice Folks, Personal, Social, Technical, Travel, Weather    1 Comment