Tagged with " Greater Vancouver Area"
May 5, 2009 -

Sidebar: The Mighty Fraser

In English, there is no word for a great river that flows to the ocean. The French call them ‘fleuves.’ Two of the most famous such rivers in Canada are the Saint-Lawrence, on the east coast, and the Fraser, on the west coast.

I grew up along the Saint Lawrence, have traveled it in its entirety. It has lost its mythical qualities through familiarity, but, for some reason, I think the Fraser will always possess that magical quality that stokes the imagination.

Four months I spent commuting across the mighty Fraser, competing with other Lower Mainlanders for one of its few crossing points. My bridge of choice was the Alex Fraser, named for a former BC Minister of Transport. The Fraser itself is named for the famed Canadian explorer, Simon Fraser. I think they just like to confuse the tourists.

In the Greater Vancouver Region, the Fraser is muddy and smelly, but as you go inland and climb north, it becomes fresher, wilder, more like the river I imagine Simon Fraser discovered.

That is, until you reach Hell’s Gate, the narrowest point across the river, which Fraser claimed was not unlike the gates of hell.

Today, Hell’s gate is a tourist trap, with an airtram that crosses the river to a souvenir shop on the other side. It is possible to hike down and cross the river on a bridge and then return on the tram at a reduced price. I intended to hike down and back, having sworn to never ride on an airtram again, but May 3rd was ‘customer appreciation day’ and the tram was free! The ride down and then back up wasn’t as bad as that on Sulphur Mountain, but almost. 🙂

It is difficult to imagine what the river would have looked like in Fraser’s day, there having been so much construction since then. The building of a tunnel rendered the whole area unstable and half the mountain came down into the river, destroying a salmon run. Today, most of the debris has been removed, but for the salmon to return, manmade barriers that slow down the water had to be constructed. The views are still spectacular, but no longer wild, and I hope Simon Fraser would be appalled by this.

The first few pictures are of my commute to work, include some shots of the Skytrain bridge. These photos are my vision of the future, with environmentally sound monorails zipping about. Earlier in the gallery, there is a shot of Columbia Street in New Westminister in which you can see the concrete structures on which the Skytrains run.

The last pictures are of Hell’s Gate. The final picture in the set is of Miranda off in the distance, included because all I could think as I walked towards her was “Hey, I can see my house from here!” The simplest things amuse me. 🙂

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May 5, 2009 -

Coquitlam to Chilliwack

Ready to Go, Unable to Leave

Miranda’s insde was prepped and ready to go by 10:30 Friday night, but it took almost 2 hours for me to wind down enough to go to bed. I awoke around 5, my brain racing with everything I needed to do, but I was too exhausted to get up. I dozed and dragged myself out of bed around 7:30.

The day was brutal, but kind at the same time. For all I was inconvenienced, I was doubly convenienced. It wasn’t a great day, but, sum told, it was more exhausting than bad.

Finishing up exterior preparations didn’t take long. I could have pulled out at 8:30, but since I was waiting for Rack Attack to open at ten, I took my time.

When ten finally rolled around, I called the store in Vancouver and explained the situation to them. They were apologetic, claiming it was their fault that the clerk forgot that I needed a ‘stretch kit’, something that Thule doesn’t spell out but he ‘should have known.’ Yeah, blame the poor kid instead of the idiot manufacturers! He made arrangements with the store in Coquitlam for me, but warned me that I might have to wait several hours because I would need to be squeezed through between appointments. That was fine, I decided that I would simply drop off the car and go do with Miranda what needed to be done to Miranda.

I thought that I would never get out of Pacific Border! Miranda’s battery simply would not charge enough to get her started and I finally had to boost her. She still had her original 1997 battery, so, with a sigh, I added a stop at Canadian Tire for a new battery to my list of things to do. The sigh was more about the added stop than expenditure.

First stop was gas and propane. I really needed gas and fretted that I would be unable to start Miranda again after fueling up. I was right. Instead of acting like my independent self and unhooking the toad to give myself a boost, I asked for help, which I received grudgingly. So, propane was out of the question; there was no way I was turning off Miranda again until I had to!

Gas was cheap when compared to last fall. I filled Miranda up for under two hundred dollars. It once cost me over two hundred fifty to fill her.

The drive to Coquitlam was uphill and, thus, SLOW. Miranda made her awful grinding, but perfectly normal, engine noise all the way and I had to keep reminding myself that I could relax, that noise is a Good Thing!

Rack Attack

Getting to Rack Attack was quite a sport; there was some sort of police auction going on and both sides of the road were packed with cars. I just managed to pull into their lot and practically had to drive into a dumpster to get the rig straight enough to unhook.

The clerk told me that it would take about three hours to get me set up. That was fine, I suspected that the Miranda stuff would take at least as long. I asked him if, at the end of the day, he would be able to help me get the kayak on the roof and fully installed. He said yes, but that he would have to charge me the installation fee. Fine. At this point, I was already going to pay another 200$, less a 20% inconvenience discount, to get this kayak transported, so I chose convenience.

Mr. Lube

It took a bit of manoeuvring to back Miranda out of their lot, but I was soon off to the nearest Mr. Lube, about six or seven kilometres from Rack Attack. I knew the Mr. Lube on Fraser Highway in Langley could accommodate motorhomes, but didn’t want to assume anything so I’d called ahead to confirm with this one that they could take me.

I was apprehensive when I arrived because the entrance was tight, but they were waiting for me and had already figured out how they were going to get me in and out of the bay. It was such a lovely greeting, with a ‘welcome, ma’am, we’ve been expecting you!’ and then the giving of a newspaper and the offer of coffee and water (both gratefully accepted). I love these oil change places; they really know what customer service means, they are convenient, and, yet, their prices are quite competitive.

They were forthright and professional with me the whole hour and a bit I was there, telling me that a ‘basic’ oil change would be just fine instead of trying to upsell me to a fancy package, but informing me sadly that I badly needed a new battery and a rear differential oil change. I knew about the former and been forewarned about the latter, so I wasn’t as surprised as they expected me to be.

I was there, they had the parts, and they were willing to do the labour, so I just had everything done right then and there. A battery, installed, was 165$, which, really, isn’t that much worse than buying one at Canadian Tire and getting it installed. Sometimes, money is less important than is the energy that would have otherwise needed to be expended. The bill wasn’t pretty, but was right on par with what I’d been told her first tune up ‘should’ cost, so I didn’t fall out of my chair. It was pretty funny to be sitting in a garage in my house! The mechanics jokingly said that I was pretty rude, not inviting them in for tea!

Kal Tire

Next stop was Kal Tire, just across the road from Rack Attack. They had told me it would cost 12$ per tire to get the pressure checked and topped up, which I knew was exorbitant, but I wasn’t sure how to do it myself, so I figured that I would watch and learn, then do it myself next time. Yes, I admit it: I’ve thus far relied on other people to make sure that my tires are properly inflated. One learning curve at a time… 🙂

I rolled in there just past two and the gal at the counter told me that they had just accepted their last vehicle for the day. My face must have fallen, so she went around back to speak to the tech. He agreed to take me in even though his shift was over. Have I mentioned recently how much I love Kal Tire???

At any rate, even though Miranda had been sitting for four months, only two of her rear tires, so two out of six, were really low; the others were in the range of ‘fine.’ The tech explained to me what part to get to make the inner tires accessible so that I can check my own pressure next time.

On the radio these days, there is an ad for Goodyear tires and Fountain Tire stores in which a guy proudly proclaims that he is on his ‘cross-country Fountain Tire RV tour.’ So, I joked that I was on my ‘cross-country Kal Tire RV tour’, explaining that I’d been to the ones in Brandon and Regina. The laugh I got told me that he understood the joke.

It took about fifteen minutes for him to check and top up everything and then he wished me a good day. So much for getting a bill! Thank you, Kal Tire, you guys are GREAT!

Departure at Last!

The Rack Attack clerk had said he would call me when he was done, but I hadn’t heard yet from him. I decided to head back there and chill out until the car was ready. In one of those movie-perfect bits of timing, I pulled into Rack Attack just as the work was completed. Thankfully, the police auction was wrapping up and I was able to park Miranda on the street, with plenty of place behind her to line up the car for easy hooking up. The tech helped me get the boat out of the house and safely onto the car.

Ready to go, at last!

Ready to go, at last!

What awesome service I got today; a solid three for three. I was tired and cranky, but this really made the day pass by much more nicely than it could have. It was also easier to get the oil change and tire work done without the car hooked up because a lot of backwards manoeuvring was required. So, I would have have to dump the car somewhere anyway.

It was well past three when I pulled out of Rack Attack, so I decided to shoot for the Walmart in Chilliwack. You might remember that this was the first place I stopped in January when I came over from Oliver!

heading EAST on the Transcanada towards Chilliwack

heading EAST on the Transcanada towards Chilliwack

heading EAST on the Transcanada towards Chilliwack

heading EAST on the Transcanada towards Chilliwack


My first order of business was propane. This was my first time fully filling Miranda’s tank, so I was unprepared for the bill. Thirty-seven dollars and change. Really?!

I could see RVs parked in the parking lot of not only the Walmart, but also the mall across Luckakuck street, so I tucked myself in out of the way without asking for anyone’s permission. It was just shy of five and I hadn’t had any real food all day, so when I saw an Earl’s restaurant across the street, I decided that a dinner out was in order. This decision was mostly fueled by the fact that Earl’s makes the best mojito I have ever enjoyed and I really, really, really wanted a drink. 🙂

After dinner, I bought some stuff for breakfast and lunch tomorrow, then came home and started to write this post. At some point, I decided to go see a movie if there was a theatre close by. I don’t do that often, go to a movie when I stop somewhere. In fact, I think the only other time I did it was in Brandon! But I felt the rig was safe and that no one would steal the kayak off my car, so I asked Majel if there was a cinema within walking distance, and there was, just a half kilometre away! Majel often has the phone numbers of the locations she brings up (!) so I as able to use the cell to call the theatre to find out what’s playing.

The choices were pathetic–two teeny-bopper comedies, an adult comedy, and… oh, what’s this? A superhero origin story? I knew knothing about X-Men, but love superhero origin stories, so I decided to give ‘Wolverine’ a try. I enjoyed it very much, enough to make me want to seek out the X-Men movies so that I can better understand what I just saw. I can also say that any American movie that opens in Canada, has both its protagonist and antagonist be Canadians, and has the bulk of its story happen in Canada earns a plus in my book. 🙂

So, it’s now 9:30 and raining gently. I put a garbage bag over the seat of the kayak and hope it stays in place. Otherwise, I’m very relaxed and relishing the irony that I’ll have more privacy tonight than I’ve had in months. I don’t miss having neighbours. I just hope I can get used to the noise!

Aha, wrote too soon! Another rig just pulled up beside me. I actually prefer it that way in the sense that there is safety in numbers and I feel more legitimate when I’m not alone.

Chilliwack is set in one of the prettiest surroundings I’ve seen since Cochrane Alberta!

Walmart with a view!

Walmart with a view!

Walmart with a view!

Walmart with a view!

Walmart with a view!

Walmart with a view!

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Batteries, Boondocking/Dry camping, British Columbia, Canada, Electricity, Maintenance & Repair, Nice Folks, Preparations for Departure, Propane, Social, Travel    6 Comments
May 2, 2009 -

The Kindness of Strangers

Well, I’m packed and just about ready to go (not yet hooked up), and waiting for Rack Attack to open at 10. I thought of just heading out and calling them en route, but there’s a courtesy phone here at the park, so it will be a lot easier to make calls.


I need to fix that melted fresh water intake ASAP seeing as I have no other way of filling my fresh water tank. Oops. Oh, well, that should be a relatively easy evening at Walmart kind of project.

I also need a new sewer hose. Mine decided to spring a leak this morning; thankfully after I finished dumping the black tank and had quite a bit of grey water already going through! It’s just a pinhole, but this still qualifies as an emergency. 🙂


My neighbour saw me struggling to get the bike in the trunk, so he helped me with that and then we turned our attention to the kayak. It is now in the rig. The stern is in the cab and the bow is just nosing into the dressing room. It’s going to be so much fun getting it back out. *rolls eyes*

I am going to start off by calling Rack Attack in Vancouver, where I bought my kit on Monday, and ask them to make arrangements for me with their store in Coquitlam. If that works out fine, then the detour won’t be tooooo bad since there is both a Kal Tire (need to have the tire pressure checked) and a Mr. Lube near the Rack Attack store.

Today will be a success if I make it as far as Chilliwack and Hope would be a triumph. What disappoints me is that today is a beautiful day, perfect for hiking, and I had a short hike planned for just after Hope. That’s most likely going to happen tomorrow… when several days of rain are going to start. 🙁

I’m loving the new laptop! It was no hardship to put away the iMac last night, so much so that I forgot to synch my contacts and calendar! Thankfully, I don’t have anything going on in the next few days, so I can do without my calendar for a bit. 🙂

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Black Tank, British Columbia, Canada, Communications & Electronics, Computer, Fresh Water Tank, Grey Tank, Nice Folks, Plumbing, Preparations for Departure, Social, Technical, Travel    5 Comments