On our way down to Las Vegas we stopped off at a WillowWind RV Park that allowed us to visit both Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks.
Very nice campsite with a shady back-in for us.
The following day we set off for Bryce Canyon which meant a drive through Zion national Park to reach it, so I will not steal Zion’s thunder!! But I will say it involved quite a steep climb and a tunnel.
We reached Bryce Canyon about midday and boy oh boy is this place spectacular. It involves an 18 mile drive up the canyon and every stop seems to get better and better. For those of you who have never been there, Bryce is famous for its “hoodoos”. These are tall skinny spires of rock that protrude from the bottom of arid basins and “broken” lands with multiple levels of strata in them, all of different colours. The ones in Bryce Canyon are hundreds of feet high!! So with that explanation here they are.
We moved up the route and discovered this.
We got to the end of the canyon route where there was a controlled burn going on, so there were lots of fire fighters.
We then tracked our way back filling in the bits we missed and I climbed Inspiration Point, which made me puff a bit, climbing 500ft at 9,000ft does that, but the view was worth it.
There is one other place I ought to mention, Red Canyon. This is on the road up to Bryce Canyon and it has some pretty impressive red rocks in its own right. But in the evening sunset they are something else!!
The next day saw us visit Zion National Park which we had previously just driven through. A different type of park, but equally as spectacular with its massive rock faces, the 1.1 mile tunnel to the top, and at the top so many types of rock formations.
After this we moved on to Las Vegas, one of the subjects of my next post, but I will always remember the hoodoos!!
As I said in my last post we moved on to a site near Green River Wyoming as a base to see the Flaming Gorge.
Our route took us along the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway all the way up to a spectacular view of the valley we had driven through.
After arriving at Green River we set off the following day on a circular route that took in the Flaming Gorge Dam, Flaming Gorge and the Sheep Creek Geological area.
After about an hour we reached the dam but on the way we saw quite a few herds of Pronghorn Antelope.
And many bluffs displaying great strata lines of rock.
Just before the dam there was a “scenic overlook” that gave a great view across the dam and the lake.
So we moved on to the Red Canyon visitor centre to see the Flaming Gorge.
We then went round the Sheep Creek geological area where there were many examples of how the rocks were formed.
We then moved on to Salt Lake City Utah.
We arrived in Salt Lake City on Saturday and set off to explore on Sunday not expecting much to be open, and found that the Visitor centre and State Capitol building were open.
The next day we took the Trolley Bus tour and visited the Pioneer Memorial Museum, which did not allow pictures to be taken, but I managed to persuade them to allow me to take a photo of an amazingly restored Steam Pump Fire Engine.
The next day we decided to go and visit Antelope Island State Park, which is an island in the Salt Lake accessed by a causeway.
The island is surrounded by the Salt Lake which gets a bit stinky in places but was a fascinating place to visit.
It is also home to one of the largest Buffalo herds in the USA.
On the Thursday Anne and I spent the whole day in the Mormon Family History Museum looking up our family trees and filling in the holes. It is an amazing place that allows you to set up a free account to investigate your family trees and while you are there you get access to records that would normally cost you money to access. You also get access to some Mormon helpers who lead you through how to access certain sites and how to use the search facilities. A fascinating day, which finished all too soon, but we had planned to go and see the Mormon Tabernacle choir which held its practice on a Thursday and you could watch for free. It was a fascinating 2 hours and the choir and orchestra were very good.
On the Friday we went to the Utah State Fair and in the evening the Rodeo. We finally got to see a complete Rodeo from start to finish including the bull riding. How they stayed on the bulls I do not know, but getting off looked even more dangerous.
On our last day we spent the afternoon back in the Mormon Family History Museum completing some of the searches we were unable to finish the first time we were there.
The next day we set off for Las Vegas, but first stopping half way down to see Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks, my next post.
We went to Cody on the recommendation of Judy Goff (our friend in Bend, Oregon, who was born in Wyoming) and I have to say it did not disappoint.
I had managed to get a site reserved at the Ponderosa Campground right in the middle of Cody and we had a back in site that was a bit tight but provided views over the canyon behind us (just don’t go too far back!!).
Judy told us that, in her words “It will give you a fun and memorable bit of insight to this part of the American West! “, and it certainly did.
Centre piece of that experience was the Buffalo Bill Center of the West a massive museum that was actually 5 museums in one. A Firearms museum, a Western Arts museum, a Plains Indian Museum, The Buffalo Bill museum and a Natural History museum. Every one of them was an experience in their own right, but together they are incredible. If you ever go there make sure you have a day, as we did, because it will take you that long to go around it and do it justice.
For some reason I do not seem to have taken any pictures of the Firearms Museum, but it incorporates many exhibits from the Winchester Museum. I think I must have been so fascinated I forgot to take pictures!!
On the following day we decided to visit the Buffalo Bill Dam, which when it was built was the highest dam in the USA. You certainly needed a head for heights when you stood on top of the dam wall and looked down!!
From here we headed West towards the East Entrance of Yellowstone Park along the Buffalo Bill Scenic Byway. We were told we would have a good chance of seeing some bear and Longhorn Sheep on this road. We certainly saw signs but no actual animals.
The scenery was also very interesting with lots of spectacular rock formations.
And on our last night we decided to go to the rodeo, unfortunately the weather had turned cold and we left half way through as we were freezing!! We saw the bucking horse rides, some steer roping and met a brahma bull, but didn’t see any ridden as we were so cold.
From here we moved on to Dubois (pronounced Duboys here as they don’t like the French version!!). We were using this site as our base to explore the Grand Tetons.
We arrived at Windhaven RV Resort after a particularly windy drive ( I guess we should have expected that given the name of the RV site!!) and got set up with a site facing the river.
We used Dubois as our base to drive to see the Grand Tetons National Park. Decided to do it over two days as you drove into the National Park roughly in the middle and then you went North towards Yellowstone Park or South to Jackson Hole. Good job we did, as you will see from the pictures, because the first trip in we thought we had missed them! You only saw them once you were right on top of them because of all the smoke from the fires in California.
After this we decided to wait a day (we had some chores to do anyway) and then try the South Loop in the hope that some of the smoke would clear. But it did make some fantastic sunsets.
So, fingers crossed we set off on the Southern Loop around the park. It was obvious as we got closer that things had improved, but it still took a while before we actually saw the mountains.
We were late getting back that evening and decided to eat out at a local restaurant in Dubois called The Cowboy Café. It was a really informal dining place with great food. As we were sat there we were joined by a group of people who had taken their horses in trailers up to the National Park. They had been riding the park trails with their horses all weekend. They were all friends from Lander, Wyoming and we got talking with them and they were really interested in our trip. One of then turned out to be a High School teacher at Wyoming Indian High School near Lander and he asked us if we would be willing to talk to his pupils. So I foolishly agreed, and he gave me a number to contact him on.
Our final day in Dubois was spent in the National Bighorn Sheep Centre, where we learnt that they had the biggest wintering herd, kept on a State park just outside of the town. We still haven’t seen any Bighorn Sheep but at least we learnt the the main reason we had not seen them. At this time of the year they are high in the mountains keeping out of the way of Mountain Lions!!
Our next stop after leaving Dubois was going to be Lander, so I contacted the High School teacher (Cleeve Bell) thinking he would have changed his mind about speaking to his pupils, but he was even more insistent it was a good idea! We would be going right past his High School on the way to our next camp site so we should call in. In exchange for me doing the talk he and his wife would cook us a meal that evening. And he had elk on the menu.
So, hoping I had not bitten off more than I could chew, we drove the RV into the car park at Wyoming Indian High School.
And it all seemed to go quite well. The pupils all introduced themselves to us, including telling us what Indian tribes they were descended from. I used my laptop to show them where we were from, and then gave them a potted history of the British Isles. I showed them pictures of the Queen, Houses of Parliament and how we lived in England (not all in stately homes!!). We passed around our passports, UK notes and coins, and luckily Anne had a Hello magazine featuring the wedding of Prince Harry to Megan Markle which they were very interested in. We also got asked about the Spice Girls and One Direction!!
We then went on to the campground, got set up and drove back into Lander for a lovely meal with Cleeve and his wife. Their website is Here.
After dinner we got back to the campground to see a magnificent sunset over a lake in the grounds.
The next day we moved on to Green River to visit the Flaming Gorge, the subject of my next post.
Ever since I read an Eagle comic recreation of the Battle of Little Bighorn when I was a young boy, I have always wanted to visit the site of the only battle in which the Indians actually won!
So we moved on from Livingston to Billings, which was slightly off route but got us close enough to the battlefield to make my wish come true.
We drove to the battlefield the next day. I hadn’t realised until we got there that it was quite a long battlefield. I always envisaged it was just the hill on which the Last Stand took place but it was in actual fact spread out over 5 miles, after a crucial decision by Custer to split his command in two. One group of men under Major Reno was sent to attack the Indian encampment and the other group under General Custer continued West to try and flank the village and capture them in a pincer movement.
You can see here where the main 7th Cavalry force split on the right. Unfortunately for General Custer, Major Reno’s force was beaten back and forced to retreat back over the river and take up a defensive position in the hills above.
General Custer not knowing that continued west, splitting his group again to attack the village while he continued west. That force under Lt. James Calhoun was harried by Indian forces, losing many men, until they too turned back to the hills and rejoined General Custer’s main group.
General Custer then turned to attack the village, only to be met by superior Indian forces and was forced to retreat (dotted blue lines) back to where they were surrounded and lost their lives in the Last Stand.
Major Reno’s group knew nothing about this, as they were over 4 miles from that area, so they consolidated their position and beat off Indian attacks until they were saved by the advancing columns of Generals Terry and Gibbon.
While moving west General Custer was harried all the way by Indian braves. Wherever a white marker is positioned it is approximately where a 7th Cavalry soldier fell. Most of them have no names on them, as all they knew at the time was a soldier was killed here.
They re-joined General Custer who began his attack on the village but were met by a large Indian force, so they too had to retreat back up into the hills.
And then General Custer tried to defend the hill top that became known as the “Last Stand” hill.
The memorial lists the 268 men made up of 7th Cavalry soldiers, Indian scouts and civilian workers who died at Little Bighorn.
It should not be forgotten that many Indians also died here and to this end they have started to place markers for the Indian dead as well.
There is also an Indian Memorial.
And there was one other group that lost their lives at the battle, the horses, and they are remembered too.
All in all a very sobering place to visit. From my point of view I always thought of General Custer, after reading that Eagle comic story, as someone to be looked up to. This battlefield memorial makes you think of all the people and animals involved and makes you stop and think whether he deserves that image, and could all this have been avoided.
From here we turned South again and headed to Cody, home of William F Cody sometimes called “Buffalo Bill”.
Well our first stop in Montana was Campground St. Regis a small but very nice campground just outside, you guessed it, St. Regis.
We were told by our Canadian friends from Spokane we just had to go back into Idaho and visit a town called Wallace where, among other things, there was a very good Silver Mine tour.
And so it turned out, we really enjoyed the tour of the mine and the rest of the trolley bus tour gave us an orientation of Wallace.
We met our guide (an ex-miner of Swedish origin who had a very good sense of humour) and got kitted out with our hard hats.
We then had a look around Wallace itself. It is quite an old town that has the distinction of every downtown building being on the National Register of Historic Places. This came about because when they were building I90 they planned to knock down most of Wallace for the Interstate to go through, which obviously the inhabitants thought was a bad plan. A local businessman, Harry Magnuson, sued the Road building authorities saying they hadn’t done a proper environmental impact. And he won, and as part of that process got all the downtown buildings placed on the National Register which forced them to build I90 over Wallace on a flyover!!
It also considers itself to be the “Centre of the Universe” which came about because it claimed to be the centre of the silver mining area that had mined over 1.2 billion ounces of silver in the mines surrounding it. With a population of just 784 that is a pretty big boast, but you can see the plaque if you take your life in your hands as it is in the middle of a cross roads!!
There is also quite an interesting museum of the Northern Pacific Railroad.
Wallace was a very interesting place and well worth the trip if you are ever close by.
The following day we went to a local county fair. Local people displaying their handiwork, and their livestock, plus some events in the rodeo arena. Unfortunately the rodeo itself was not on until after we left the area.
And then we moved on to Indian Creek Campground, Deer Park which is just above Butte, Montana.
It never ceases to amaze me what we find on this trip of ours. Deer Lodge was chosen because it is just above Butte, Montana the site of the largest opencast copper mine in the country. But Deer Lodge itself was home to the Montana State prison Museum, a huge classic car museum and at least another 3 museums, plus the Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site a completely preserved Ranch.
And right next door is a classic car museum with cars from very early Mercedes Benz (1886) to the classic cars of the 70’s & 80’s.
I could put up more pictures but there are over 160 cars in immaculate condition.
And outside were two immense trains.
The following day we came back to see the other museums and the Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site.
All I can say is we were amazed that so much was available in a town with a total population of 3,111!!
So on to Butte, the reason we stayed in Deer lodge in the first place. We took the Trolley Bus tour.
Butte is a copper mining town established in 1864 and grew to become the largest copper mining town in the USA and at one time in the world. Incredible amounts of copper were mined using conventional techniques i.e. digging a shaft and then cutting galleries into the seam. Some of the mines were over 6,000 ft deep. In its heyday there were 19 mines (14 mine headframes are still standing) and in 1910 alone copper ore mined from the Butte mining district totalled 284,000,000 pounds (130,000 tons). It attracted miners from all over the world including Cornish miners from the tin mines hence why there are these.
In the 1950’s underground mining gave way to open cast mining leading to the creation of one of the largest open cast pits in the world, the Berkley Pit.
After the trolley bus tour we visited the World Museum of Mining which included another mine tour.
The Museum also had an old town section and a collection of dolls houses.
As always there is so much to see and we ran out of time.
From here we moved on to Livingston Montana and Yellowstone Park.
I was aiming to cross the border further East but hoping to not cross too many mountain ranges in doing so. So the first part of our route brought back memories of our RV trip in 2013, when we did the huge loop around British Columbia in a Canadream hire RV, as we were following the same route but in reverse. Up BC 1 to just above Hope and then BC 3 (known as the Crowsnest Highway) to Princeton.
We arrived in Princeton and stayed overnight at a small site called River’s Edge RV & Camping.
The next morning we were off again after dumping the tanks (getting rid of excess water etc. this site just had 30amp electricity and water connections), and on to BC 3 to the bottom of Christina Lake. Here we stayed in our last campsite in Canada called Cascade Cove RV Park. Purpose of the stop here was twofold. One to get ourselves ready to cross back into the USA by reading what we were allowed to take back in , and two to have a last look around Canada.
Our site was just above the border crossing at Laurier.
Just back along BC 3 from where we parked was the town of Grand Forks which had a fascinating little museum called the Boundary Museum. It contained a lot of very interesting exhibits from a whole room devoted to the Doukhobors, to a whole store and an exhibit of a copper mine that grew to be huge in 10 years and 10 years later nothing of it existed. Boom to bust in 20 years!!
The Doukhobors were a Russian religious sect that believed in hard work and rejected the use of any technology. A bit like the Amish they built a community in the area that farmed thousands of acres and built schools and towns devoted to their way of life. Unfortunately they were distrusted by the local population and by federal government, which gradually split the communities, firstly by making all schools abandon Russian as a language, and then by forcibly taking children and putting them in residential schools stopping them learning about their culture and breaking the link between generations. Because of this the community farms no longer exist and the Doukhobors were assimilated into the general population of Canada.
Grand Forks was an interesting little town but unfortunately a lot of it was closed up due to the Fraser river flooding it in the early spring.
We also had a look around Christina Lake which is a huge lake with homes right on the edge with boat docks, beaches (can never get used the idea of a beach on a lake) and lots of little inlets and parks all around it.
I also took a hike up to Cascade falls just up the Kettle river from Cascade Cove RV Park.
Having got rid of all the foodstuffs we thought would get confiscated at the US/Canada border on the Monday 23rd we crossed back into the USA at the Laurier border crossing.
And despite our best efforts our tomatoes and peppers were confiscated by the guard who searched the RV. Didn’t read they were banned anywhere until he showed us another list. But he let us back in and stamped our passports until January 2019.
So we set off to Spokane RV Resort in Deer Park just about 15 miles north of Spokane, Washington. This was a lovely site right next to a golf course.
To be honest we were treating this site as a rest stop as we thought there wasn’t much to see around the area and we needed a rest. The facilities were great, lovely sites, great swimming pool and we found that our next door neighbours were from Edmonton in Canada and we got on very well with them and enjoyed their company.
We were told we ought to go and see Coeur d’Alene which was a very pretty lake and there was quite a lot to see in the town. Well it turned out to be a nice lake but the town was one of those American tourist traps.
You can probably guess we were not too impressed, but I guess it must appeal to someone as it was doing a roaring trade.
Next stop was Spokane itself. There was supposed to be some impressive falls here. But two problems arose. Firstly the park (Riverfront Park) where the falls were, had been part of the 1974 World Fair and lots of the structures were being updated as they had obviously got a bit old and tatty. So about 60% of the park was closed and it made it a lot harder to walk around. I will give it its due when it is finished it will look quite spectacular if the plans are to be believed, but in 2018 it is a building site!!
And secondly the Falls we were told are spectacular when the river is in full flow. Only when we arrived there was not much water going over them.
On the Saturday we had to move sites right next to the golf course.
Then Deer Park held Settlers Day which apparently is the oldest continuous community celebration in the State of Washington, running over 100 years. And I have to say that Anne and I really enjoyed it. We walked around here for hours, meeting various people, and listening to the music that was being played by various groups.
And then we moved on into Montana after crossing a little bit of Idaho.
I have also updated the RV Map but as is usual it is ahead of where we really are.
But more of that in my next post as Montana is another story.
Caroline & Rashied and family returned late on the Monday from the USA as extensive shopping had to take place in various US outlet malls.
On the Tuesday they came out to us and we all visited the Fort that Fort Langley is named after. Another place with lots to do although initially a fine drizzle put a bit of a damper on it.
We ate in the RV and then they all returned to Tim’s.
Next up was the trolley bus tour of Vancouver. We decided that we would get off at two points, Prospect Point which has views over the harbour and the Lions Gate Bridge, and the Chinese garden.
Zara decided to entertain the people on the bus by giving them a royal wave much to everyone’s amusement.
Then we got off at Prospect Point where we had lunch and the terrible twosome were given sun glasses.
Then we got back on the bus and got off again at the Chinese garden.
Caroline and Rashied went off souvenier shopping again as they hadn’t bought all they wanted to.
On the Thursday we were invited to Brenda’s house (Emily’s mother) for a barbeque in the evening. So we decided to spend the day visiting Squamish and Shannon Falls as her as her house was at Horseshoe bay on the way back.
We went into Squamish to get something to eat and of course the obligatory shopping!!
Then we drove back to Brenda’s house for the barbeque. It overlooks Horseshoe Bay and the marina.
Brenda treated us to a great barbeque (with Tim on gas barbeque duty) and we thoroughly enjoyed the evening.
And then we reached the last full day before before Caroline, Rashied, Zaid and Zara were due to go back to the UK.
They still had some shopping to do so after returning their hire car we took the train into central Vancouver to “The Bay” (the shop named after the Hudson Bay company).
Then we went to Granville Island on the Water Bus.
You guessed it, more shopping took place, and we also had lunch there, before walking to Kitsilano (Kits) Beach for Zaid and Zara to get their last swim in Canada.
Tim and Emily joined us after work and we all walked back to the Afghan Horsemen for the family’s last meal out in Vancouver.
And suddenly it was Saturday the 14th and we arrived at Tim’s early to find they still hadn’t completely packed. They finally managed to get their clothes and all that shopping in their cases, plus a few extra carry on items!! Their luggage was a little bit overweight, but Zara did a good job of charming the airline staff, so they managed to check in without an extra costs. And then we had to say goodbye. Speaking for Anne and I we had a great time in Vancouver with them, and I think they thought the same!!
Afterwards we returned the car seats and the cot to the hire firm and then returned to the RV to relax!!
On Sunday we met up with Anna, Ian (Anna’s Dad) and Jim, Anna’s new partner, for breakfast at the White Spot, where we caught up with what they had been up to since we last saw them.
Monday was a day of rest and Tuesday was time to get the RV ready to move on. We met up with Tim and Emily in the evening for our last meal out in Vancouver.
And then on Wednesday we set off across Canada to reach the point we had decided to cross the border back into the USA, which is the next post.
We arrived in Vancouver on the 25th July a few days ahead of Caroline, Rashied, Zaid and Zara as we were charged with picking up the car seats and the travel cot they had hired for their holiday in Vancouver at Tim’s house. It was lovely to meet up Tim again and meet his new
It also gave us time to get ourselves sorted out before the rabble arrived!!
We had booked a site at Fort Camping, on Brae Island, near Fort Langley about 26 miles out of Vancouver from Tim’s house. About a week before we were due to arrive an email arrived saying this
We are currently experiencing a very high number of mosquitoes, not only here at the campground, but all along the Fraser River.
As you can gather we were not exactly looking forward to meeting them, but we had really no option as the booking was for 3½ weeks and no one else was going to fit us in for that period of time at such short notice!!
When we arrived we got even more worried as the booking office was covered in a huge mosquito net which did not bode well. Looked like we going to be wearing “L’Eau de Deet” for the entire stay. However, we pressed on and we had a nice site, but the mozzies descended and both of us got bitten setting ourselves up on the site, so we quickly retreated inside, although a few followed us in, where they met an untimely death!!
The next couple of days were spent sorting out various routes in and out of Vancouver and getting our supplies in from the local supermarkets and we also had a meal out locally with Tim and Emily.
Then Thursday 28th June arrived, the start date of the “Dirk Invasion” (the name of the Whatsapp Group we set up !!). Anne and I went and picked up the two car seats and the travel cot, taking them to Tim’s house, and from there Tim drove us to the Airport.
After about an hour wait, Caroline, Rashied, Zaid and Zara came through the doors into International Arrivals.
Caroline, Rashied, Zaid and Zara got in a taxi plus luggage and we went back to Tim’s car to go to his house, where they had already arrived plus the mound of luggage. They were are determined to stay up as late as possible, so the toys Tim, Emiy and Anne had amassed were brought out.
I took Zaid for a walk down to the Fraser river, because as per usual he was still going strong, and then we went to a local White Spot to get something to eat. At this point they were all beginning to feel the effects of the travel, so they all went back to Tim’s house for their first night’s sleep in Canada, and we went back to the RV.
The following day had been designated a shopping day by Caroline, so we met them at the Real Canadian Superstore near Tim’s house. They had already been there an hour when we arrived but it took a further 2½ hours to complete the shopping, at which point we all went back to Tim’s where later that day he cooked us a salmon dinner which came on a cedar plank. It made a very tasty meal, but the time difference and all that shopping had caught up with someone!!
Emily joined us on the next day as it was Saturday and we went into central Vancouver on the bus and the train to Waterfront Station. Walked down to Gastown and saw the steam clock where Emily had booked a sushi meal in a restaurant there for lunch.
After lunch we took the SeaBus to the other side of Vancouver harbour to see the city across the water.
Grandad was volunteered to take Zaid on the tour of HMCS Calgary, a Canadian Navy frigate, that was docked here and they were doing guided tours of the ship. The rest of them walked around the market. Zaid and I had a great time looking over the ship.
We then returned to central Vancouver to see some of the cruise ships leave.
Sunday saw us all going out to Steveston where there was big Canada Day celebration with the entire main street pedestrianised and turned over to all sorts of pop up demonstrations, food stalls, local stalls, beer areas and many other interesting exhibits.
After a long day in the sun we returned to Tim’s house for barbequed hot dogs, potato salad and salad.
Monday was a public holiday in Canada as Canada Day was on a Sunday, so we all went to Lynn Canyon Park to see the falls and cross the suspension bridge.
After the canyon, Zaid had spotted another water park on the way, so we ended up there.
Had a nice meal in a Persian restaurant called the Casbah and then everyone went home after a long day.
Caroline and Rashied and family visited us in the RV the next day, after they had been down to the USA border to get their entry visas for their trip to see Julia and Michael in Port Townsend. We spent quite a lot of time at the pool and then adjourned back to the RV for dinner.
They left so late that their car got locked in the visitors car park and we had to find the security guy to let them out!!
The next day was a swimming day as well, but this time at Stanley Park’s second Beach pool. It was a lovely day and almost everyone got in the pool at sometime during the day.
And the whirl continued the next day with a trip up Grouse Mountain on the Gondola.
Lots to do at the top, so here are a few(!!) highlights.
We had a long queue to get down the mountain to the car park and Rashied was supposed to be picking up their hire car by 6pm for their trip to see Julia and Michael in Port Townsend. Because we were late leaving we got stuck in the rush hour traffic and had to abandon that and find somewhere to eat instead. We ended up at Tony’s Fish and Oyster Café on Granville Island where we had a lovely meal.
We then went our separate ways, Caroline, Rashied and the kids back to Tim’s to get ready for their trip to Port Townsend, and us back to the RV.
The next few days we managed to get some well earned rest, as chasing around after grandkids is exhausting. Tim and Emily had a college project they had to finish. However, we did meet up with them on Sunday night for an Indian meal at Thali’s restaurant in Surrey, half way for both of us.
Part 2 covering the second week and more of our Vancouver stay to follow.
We drove along RT101 having already arranged with Julia (my sister Wendy’s daughter) that she would meet us on the edge of Port Townsend to guide us into our site at Point Hudson Marina and RV Park, as there was a lot of road works on the main route. She had investigated a couple of alternative routes, avoiding narrow roads (does such a thing exist in the USA?), and overhanging trees (remember we are 12ft 6in high just under truck height) and had chosen one that would work.
Julia was parked up on the edge of the road and we followed her in to our site. Wow not quite a front row waterfront site, but only one row back looking out over the Puget Sound which is around the Fort Worden Point from the Straits of Juan de Fuca and is the main shipping route into Seattle from the Pacific.
We went out for a meal at Doc’s marina Grill with Julia and Michael in the evening where we worked out what we would do over the weekend. It was lovely to see them at last and after a very nice meal we went to bed that night with sound of the channel bell tinkling away in the distance.
On the Saturday it had been decided we would drive to Julia’s and Michael’s early in order to drive to Hurricane Ridge, but on the way stop for breakfast in Port Angeles at a place that Julia knew called Chestnut Cottage. After a lovely breakfast we then carried on up to Hurricane Ridge, 5,242ft up in the Washington Olympic National Park. From here you get 360° views of the mountains inland to the south and Port Angeles, the Straits of Juan de Fuca and Vancouver Island to the North. There is also quite a bit of wildlife around, the deer especially just grazing peacefully yards from the visitors centre.
From here we went to Dungeness Spit in the above photo, a spit of sand that sticks out into the Straits and has a lighthouse at the end. Waves crashing in on the beach and yet more driftwood. An artist who used driftwood as their medium would not lack a supply for their art in Washington state.
We then returned to Julia and Michael’s house where we had a steak barbeque. The views from the front of their house over Discovery Bay are absolutely stunning especially when the sun sets through the trees.
The next day (Sunday) we set off early again from J&M’s house to go and see Lake Cushman, a snow melt fed lake in the Olympic National Park. The weather was now getting hotter and we arrived at the lake in brilliant sunshine.
We then drove back to J&M’s for another barbeque and another look at Discovery Bay.
Monday was a work day for J&M so we just pottered around the RV Park and the Marina, but we returned the favour and cooked them a meal in the RV after they had finished work.
On the Tuesday both Julia and Michael had the afternoon off so we met them at the Spruce Goose at Port Townsend “International ” Airport. It is an International Airport as people fly into it from Canada in their private planes!! The Spruce Goose is renowned for its fruit pies and I can say with some certainty they lived up to their reputation. We then drove back to Port Townsend and we walked around looking at the sights. Pretty little town with some interesting shops.
We ate out in the evening at the Old Whiskey Mill.
On the Wednesday we decided to drive to Seattle to have a look round. Got caught up in a massive traffic jam where they were redeveloping the I5 at Tacoma, so it took us a bit longer than expected.
First we visited Pike Place Market, which sells almost anything you can think of but is also famous for a particular fishmonger that throws their fish around when creating a display.
From here we drove to see the Space Needle and the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum. The Space Needle was partially closed because they were refurbishing it, but there were still some magnificent views. The Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum was an absolute stunning exhibition of Dale Chihuly’s glass works.
Judy (Anne’s pen friend in Florida) had told us to visit this place and all I can say is if you get a chance to see it don’t miss it.
After eating our evening meal in Seattle we decided to go back to Port Townsend using the Bainbridge Island ferry.
On the Thursday we had a rest day after the long day in Seattle, although we did manage to fit in a trip to Poulsbo for the mandatory Quilt shop visit. In the evening we went out J&M’s for a barbeque and the group photo!!
And Friday 22nd dawned and it was Anne’s birthday. We first of all Skyped Alan and then Claire, although we missed Caroline’s call, so they could all wish her Happy Birthday. We had managed to find some clotted cream in Poulsbo the previous day so I made some scones from a packet mix in the convection oven, and we had a cream tea in the afternoon with Julia, after we had visited the Port Townsend Museum.
And then we went to a local restaurant called The Fountain for Anne’s Birthday dinner.
Saturday dawned and we had to get up early to pack everything up, hitch up the Spark and get ready for our Ferry crossing to Coupeville at 11.45am. We had to be there 45 minutes before the booking time, and Julia and Michael came to see us off. We really enjoyed our visit to them and all they had arranged for us to do. We really liked Port Townsend and there house on Discovery Bay.
So at 11.00 am we pulled up at the ferry gate and got measured (50ft 6in long and well within the height as the ferry takes trucks).
We then paid our fare and waited in Row 1 for the ferry to arrive.
We were first on as we were the biggest vehicle on this trip and they parked us right at the front in the middle of the car deck, so we got a really great view out of our front window for the whole trip.
Eventual destination is the KOA at Concrete / Grandy Creek which is only 50 miles from the US / Canada border but below the last Flying J / Pilot gas (petrol) station where we have to fill up as petrol is way more expensive in Canada than in the US.
Also gives us time to figure out what we can and cannot take across the border as everything we read gives a different story from “they will intensively search your vehicle” to “they will stamp your passports and wave you through”!!
We arrived at the campground at about 2.30pm and parked up. Nice site, but obviously a Canadian / USA camping holiday destination as there are hundreds of children running around!!
After we had sorted out our laundry and checked all that was in the fridge etc. on Monday 25th June we set off to the border.
After about half an hour we reached the border. The guy in the booth asked us if we had any Tobacco, Alcohol, Firearms and explosives, to which the answer was “No Tobacco, 2 bottles of wine, no firearms or explosives”, he stamped our Passports and said “Welcome to Canada, enjoy your stay” and waved us through. Next sign we saw was …….
And we then drove to our Canadian site for the next 3 weeks, Fort Camping, Brae Island, Fort Langley, British Columbia.