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.