On Monday, June 3 we left Vancouver Island heading to Spokane Washington to pick-up ‘Blue Streak‘. We were on the 8:45am ferry from Vancouver Island to the mainland. We decided to drive the 800+KM to Spokane over two days rather than push for 11 hours just to get there. Our goal for day one was Grand Forks, BC and then cross the border at Laurier. On the way, we stopped at Manning Park Lodge for a late lunch and a beer. Then proceeded to make our way to Grand Forks where we stayed overnight at a motel. The weather was hot. Got some very interesting info from the motel owner about the city from his perspective. You know how it goes sometimes, you ask a question and you get a story! And of course, I love to ask questions 😉. Went out for supper and a couple of beers at a restaurant located in the original train station, at its original location – The Grand Forks Station – fascinating. Didn’t sleep much as so hot.
Got up early and were going to have breakfast at the Golf Course restaurant heading out of town, but it didn’t open til 11:00am so we continued on and had breakfast at the Welcome Centre at Christina Lake; it was good.
Canada to USA
Crossing the border at Laurier was without difficulty. The US Border Guard was polite and business like. Since Red Dragon was “loaded” with all our camping gear and trailer gear, we had spent several hours itemizing everything complete with invoices – just in case! (Crossing the border is like opening a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get – so we were prepared.)
Then off to Spokane to pick up Blue Streak! The trip down was quite amazing, so many variations of mountain types. We arrived around noon at Airstream of Spokane where our International 25 CCD Airstream Travel Trailer had been waiting all winter for us and we were not disappointed. We were welcomed by Nick and his wife Karen upon our arrival. We were to be there 2 to 3 days as we needed to have some things done on the Blue Streak before we drove it away. We were fortunate in that we could stay on the property site outside their office building and sleep in our trailer with electricity and water hookups. We ate all our meals out at local restaurants and a pub. We proceeded to put our personal items into place and make it home. We had a variety of weather while there – from hot to cool. We were in the Spokane Valley and not in the city.
Back to Canada
We were ready to leave on Friday just after noon for our return trip to Canada. We crossed the border in Nelway. Then drove to Salmo, BC to get Blue Streak licensed in British Columbia. The weather was pretty warm. We had a nice lunch at the Dragonfly restaurant – a very cute and friendly spot with great food. We walked down the street to buy a few groceries and wine. Mona had wanted to visit Salmo and check out where she lived and frequented but as it was nearing 5pm plus being tired. We didn’t spend much time there and talked about returning the following day but didn’t. While Salmo is only a 30 minute drive to Castlegar, BC – it’s actually a crazy steep hilly drive to Castlegar.
We had reserved a campsite at Syringa Provincial Park just outside Castlegar and drove directly there. We wanted to get settled in .. Backing Blue Streak and getting placed in our site was a challenge. It took some maneuvering to get it right. This is a great Provincial Park – very clean and well run, complete with hot showers and flush toilets besides the usual outdoor pit toilets. We had a couple of days of cool weather then back to warm and hot 38+C. We quite enjoyed it.
We drove into Castlegar to do laundry plus do a major food shopping, get some (more) wine, plus out for coffee and something sweet. The weather gets pretty warm there!! Castlegar is a very nice city, very clean and nicely laid out, benches, hanging baskets, waste bins surrounded with various types of artwork/sculptures … so rather attractive. Plus the folks were friendly and helpful. We made a second trip into town. We didn’t do any sight seeing other than what we saw driving by so no stopping to go into points of interest other than a couple of shops that were quite nice.
We had cool weather a couple of days then back to hot. We enjoyed being ever so lazy and simply relax. The trailer is so easy to live in and is very comfy as is the bed. For all the things we took along to read, write and do … we pretty much did nothing; not hard to do. Obviously was needing to allow that to happen! Brick loves to read from his Kobo and was able to find things to tinker with on the Airstream. He has a natural gift of being able to fix or figure things out.
After a full restful week at Syringa we made our way to Nelson, BC – just over half hour away. Mona was born in Nelson and spent a good part of her childhood there. For her it was a homecoming and for me an experience as a tourist. Got settled into our campsite at the Nelson City Campground where they have hot showers, flush toilets, laundry and group cooking facilities as well. It was much appreciated. This camp really packs in the people with little space if any between campers / tenters and the like. There was lots of movement with people coming and going for short stays and some had been there 2 weeks plus. We had a group of over 20 cyclists camp right alongside us and behind us in their tents for one night. Most of them were in their 60/70s and few younger all slim and lean and muscular doing the Selkirk Loop. They left in pouring rain! We had 3 nights of tenters right behind us. As I say, they really pack in the folks tight and close. We met a lot of interesting people from all over – a couple in 60s from Quebec, living in their very small modified camper plus have bicycles. They sold their house, furnished and everything to travel wherever they want rather than being tied down. Another couple in their 60s from London, England, travelling in a rented RV who love this type of easy breezy kinda life have made several trips like this in various parts of the world.
Our first day in Nelson, Mona took us for a walk from the campsite to her old house on Mill Street … I must say, it was quite the “up-hill” hike and not a walk. I (Brick) kept asking how much further it was which Mona didn’t know for sure but knew the general direction and possible distance! We just about didn’t make it!! Fortunately the walk back was “down-hill”. Nelson is a very hilly city, beautiful, but a very steep hilly place!
We spent a fair bit of time simply walking the streets and popping into places along the way. We walked to the Saturday morning Outdoor Market where the farmers and artisans sell their local products – located at Cottonwood Falls, in the area of the train station. It was a hopping place with lots of folks, and all kinds of interesting happenings – and local musicians to make it even more fun. We bought a Greek pastry for lunch; chatted with folks and took pictures of the falls. The weather was very warm/hot.
Nelson is quite a lovely city with lots of young people and families – lots of entertainment, artists and places to eat and drink. It has a very nice downtown look and feel, nicely maintained, very welcoming and interesting.
We went to 10:30am Mass on Sunday 16th at the historical Cathedral of Mary Immaculate. The priest gave a great homily about the Holy Trinity. Mona had special memories come forth of her childhood days and experiences in the church. Took some pictures of the interior and exterior. We were informed by a parishioner that the church is needing repairs as there is wood rot on the outside – so it will be costly to repair $200K. 100 years ago the church was built completely of wood. After the service, we walked past the modernized school and play yard. Then walked up Mill Street to Mona’s old house to have another look! We got lots of good walking in! Then back down Mill to the truck and then drove up around the areas where she lived and made our way down the back lane of her house – really no different from the early days; Still narrow, steep and dirt road. It was a special time for Mona, again bringing back so many memories.
One day we walked all the way down to Lakeside Park from our campsite, another trek! What a wonderful park it is! It has everything … the perfect park! Really!! Then we drove up to Gyro Park and again what a treat. It is lovely, like a mini Stanley Park (Vancouver)!
So leaving Nelson, we made our way to Cawston, BC where we stopped at the Rustic Roots Winery. They prepared us a lovely soup and sandwiches. We bought wine and then settled in for the night. The winds were rather strong and somewhat dusty. Then the winds got stronger and stronger and then the rains came, pelting and shaking our trailer. It was wild to say the least. Not much sleep for sure. We got up early and left that place, likely never to return!! It was very early and headed for Manning Park. Arrived before they were open so we kept on til we reached Hope, BC where we stopped for breakfast. Then we asked if we could stay parked there so we could catch up on sleep!! Which we did for about 3 hours!
It is now Wednesday the 19th, and we wanted to get the ferry back home on Thursday before all the weekend traffic. Our next stop is to visit with family in Mission, which was prearranged while we were in Nelson. We arrived mid afternoon at their place. We had a nice visit and the next morning were off to make our way to the ferry.
We arrived home late afternoon Thursday, June 20, tired and yet pleased with our trip. Lots of adventure and newness and lots of fun. The beginning of many more trips ahead!!! Summer has just begun!!