Tuesday, August 29 – Day 1
Our long-awaited departure date is finally here, we left our home in Princeton BC Canada at 7:20 am……hurrah.
Unfortunately, a slight delay, Lynda requires a follow-up visit to the dentist.
Another problem our dog Buddy seems to be under the weather, he has not crapped in a couple of days, not like him.
After a discussion on the way to town we agreed a stop at the vet to have him checked was wise.
We walked into the vet’s office just as the receptionist unlocked the door. Buddy was first in line, but still, a half hour wait.
The vet examined him and ordered x-rays.
An hour later the doctor entered the exam room with a doom and gloom report about what was causing Buddy’s problem.
Many options were presented including surgery to remove a possible intestinal blockage. The Vet left the room, Lynda and I decided a less invasive therapy of medication could work, we had the feeling the vet was being over cautious and maybe trying to upsell us.
After a couple of hours and a $500.00 bill, we were on the road north to Merritt. We met Ralph and Lois at the Merritt, BC Walmart at noon as planned, they left from Abbotsford, BC near Vancouver that morning.
We were giddy with excitement like kids on the first day of summer vacation, our departure date is finally here.
A smoky haze from the annual summer wildfires filtered the sunshine like a cloudy day. The smoke didn’t dampen our spirits we were anxious to begin our most fantastic journey.
Henry and Allyson, the 3rd couple of our group, left home a couple of days earlier to visit Henry’s ailing sister in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, several days drive east. The plan was to catch up with them in Saskatoon.
Our first day on the road went by quickly, the summertime traffic was heavy through Kamloops, BC, the largest city on our route today, but once through traffic thinned out and our pace picked up.
The first night’s stop for the four of us was Valemont, BC a small town in the Rocky Mountain foothills and a free overnight parking lot next to the post office, I found on freecamping.net.
We arrived around 5:30, tired but still excited, the first day’s driving jitters had taken its toll. Starting out on a long trip always brings some anxiety.
Did we forget something, is the house secure enough, will our grandbabies remember us when we return? Will we experience vehicle troubles?
I’m sure after a few days on the road the jitters will subside.
Time to relax and celebrate our first night on the road. We clinked glasses and toasted, ourselves, our friendship, our trip and anything else we could think of.
After the celebration we returned to our respective rigs, enjoying a late dinner and early to bed. During dinner, we endured the sound of semis filling the lot. By bedtime the lot was full and the night quieted.
As I lay in bed recapping the day’s events a surreal feeling came over me, after over a year of planning and multitudes of discussions and itinerary changes we are finally on the brink of our fantastic adventure.
There were times over the last year, I thought to bring the group together under one plan seemed impossible. Naturally, everyone had second thoughts and concerns.
Many problems and issues arose and needed to be worked through. Leaving our families, friends, and homes for 7-months. Living in a 35-foot trailer, traveling with 5 others. Sharing every waking moment with your spouse.
I have no doubt there were many more questions needing solutions.
In fact, the entire group did not make the final commitment until a month before departure date.
All pickup trucks and trailers, Ralph and Lois have a 34-foot travel trailer with a large slide. Lynda and I tow a 36-foot travel trailer with two slides, Henry has a 32-foot 5th wheel trailer with three slides.
Our trucks are diesel powered and comparable size, Henry’s is a Dodge 1-ton crew cab Cummings with an 8-foot box. Ralph and I have Chevy Silverado 1-tons, Ralph’s is a short box with a crew cab, mine is a dually and 8-foot box and a double cab, slightly smaller than a crew cab.
Our trailers are similar weight, Henry’s is the heaviest at 10,000 lbs, mine is 8000 lbs and Ralph’s around 7000 lbs.
Fortunately, our trailers and trucks are similar, no one should have a problem keeping up.
Wednesday, August 30 – Day 2
The late summer morning came early, the excitement of beginning the trip had not worn off yet.
The early rise was something to do with semis exchanging spots through the night and big diesel engines rumbling to life at daybreak, only to sit forever idling.
The orange sun peaked over the distant mountains as we pulled out of the post office parking lot. The wildfire haze seemed thicker this morning.
Our route took us north on highway 5 winding through pristine valleys bordered by rugged snow-capped mountains. At Tete Jaune Cache we headed east on highway 16, the Yellowhead highway.
Normally when traveling across Canada the quicker route is the Trans-Canada highway. The northern route was our choice so we could visit, Batoche, Saskatchewan, Henry’s birth town and Roblin, Manitoba, Ralph’s birth town.
After an hour or so a necessary break to drain the morning coffee. The stop, Mount Robson National Park the first mountain bordering the Rockies and our first photo opportunity of the trip, not high-quality pictures due to the wildfire haze, how long will the smoke be with us?
Mount Robson is the 2nd highest mountain in British Columbia, an ominous mass towering over all others like a giant sentinel. A breath-taking view words cannot describe, even through the smokey haze.
The drive through Jasper, Alberta was spectacular despite the smoky haze hanging over the magnificent Rocky Mountains.
Jasper lies in a wide alpine valley at the headwaters of the Fraser River one of the most important rivers in BC, it flows 1000 kilometers west to Vancouver BC emptying into the Pacific Ocean.
The valley is home to Big Horn sheep, Grizzly Bears, Elk herds and many other animal species. These majestic creatures are often seen along the highway seemingly indifferent to the crowds of tourist stopping to take pictures.
This day was no exception, as we drove through, a herd of Big Horn Sheep slowly plodded across the road, stopping traffic in both directions. Quite a sight, by the time we got stopped and readied the camera they disappeared over the river bank.
Our destination for the night is the Vegreville, Alberta Walmart about half an hour east of Edmonton on highway 16, another free night. Note; not all Walmart stores allow overnight camping, check with the store beforehand.
Crossing the BC/Alberta border provided the beginning of time changes, Pacific to Mountain Time, losing the first of four hours as we cross Canada.
Along with the time change came the end of our amazing BC mountains, we can look forward to straight flat highways and little or no hills through the rest of Canada.
We arrived at our destination late afternoon. The Walmart parking lot is large like most but not busy which is rare. We found a quiet spot far from the street and set up for the night.
While relaxing in our lawn chairs, enjoying the hard landscaping surrounding us, we noticed Ralph’s trailer and truck sat low at the hitch.
His trailer didn’t look level, after some technical observations and the use of a level Ralph decided his hitch needed an adjustment.
A visit to the nearby Canadian Tire in the morning was in order.
The days are getting shorter, fall is just around the corner. Evening and bedtime were on us before we knew it, hopefully, a better sleep than the previous night.
Another driving day tomorrow the end should bring us together with Henry and Allyson in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.