Archive for July, 2008


Sunday, July 6th, 2008

While I had done some extensive catching up a few weeks ago (finally), I seem to have gotten quite behind again. The one main contribution I made in the last two weeks was a brief main page blurb about the very original inspiration for this trip in my mind. You can see that “Inspiration” link on the left near the top, or click to it from this link below:

Officially today we have rounded off our trip of eleven months around the world with our return to Edmonton. While we had left home on July 31, 2007 driving South, our first flight segment departed Edmonton on August 9. It’s been completely amazing and I will continue with finishing up a few posts (backdated of course) describing our experiences and visits throughout Western Canada. While we all breathed a little sigh of relief and satisfaction on returning to Oilberta, it is also not with just a little sadness that we conclude our Grand Adventure. Now it’s time to pay off some debts and start saving and planning for our next one.


Northern British Columbia

Saturday, July 5th, 2008

While we were all a wee bit weary of road travel, we soldiered on. It was still very enjoyable to meet and reconnect with various friends along the way. From Vancouver Island we headed straight North to Kamloops. Originally we had planned on meeting up with my brother Jeff’s family camping at Barkerville in Northern B.C., but a more thorough look at the map quickly derailed those plans. Similar to getting to Cairns (or even our loftier goal of Bill & Linda’s in Darwin) in Australia, this thought proved to be just too many kilometers in too short a time period. I looked up a friend I had worked with at Diavik who lived in Kamloops. When I was first talking about the trip a few years ago, he extended the invite to stay a night or two. And so Rob and his family welcomed us all with huge open arms for supper and a swim at their neighbor’s pool. That was particularly refreshing and wonderful considering the extreme heat. We hadn’t encountered such conditions at all except for Egypt on pretty much the rest of the trip. Luckily we had planned to hit most other hot countries during their colder (+25ish) seasons.

The other terrible thing about the Kamloops area was the massive devastation of the pine beatle. Well over three quarters of the area forests were the stark burgundy of dead needles. Worse though, is that with global warming, these pests are moving steadily North and wiping out everything in their path. If that alone isn’t terrible enough, the extreme danger of forest fires sweeping through these heavily populated valleys is an even larger concern by all. I’d have nightmare’s if I lived there for sure! It was also about this time that we finally watched Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth”. Even more ammunition for those afore-mentioned nightmares. It really does seem overwhelming! Until the politicians get out of the back pocket of utility companies and car manufacturers, there seems little hope of genuine development of reasonable alternatives. Sadly we just all need to choke it back, and take a hit to the economy before any sort of reasonable progress can be made. Time will tell…

After a great night in Kamloops we headed back South to Kelowna. We were staying at Jeff & Jo’s house while they were away, but managed to spend the afternoon and supper with my youngest Aunt, Reola. She had a great condo with a pool that the kids thoroughly enjoyed, and even better was the fact that her son was visiting. I hadn’t seen him since before we had moved North, so we all had a great visit catching up. I also finished showing her and Josh how to manage their domain registration and hosting accounts. She had designed most of her own web page for a commercial project and was getting supremely hosed by a local company who were maintaining it to the tune of about $1,200! That was the equivalent of about $90/year that I set her up with, and two hours (absolute tops) of work they had done setting up and transferring files. Crazy what people will stoop to get away with if the poor customer doesn’t know any better.

That night we went the Artiss’ home and marveled at the incredible garage they have. All the toys a guy could ever want, and then some. Wow! They showed up in the gas guzzling behemoth that is their cozy but older motorhome the next afternoon and we had a wonderful night visiting together. We even shared another bottle of the Strawberry chocolate wine in our cross Canada efforts of exposing everyone possible to Rush Creek Wines in Southern Ontario. This proved very “fruitful” (pun intended of course) for rush Creek as Jeff & Jo and another couple of friends later ordered a few dozen bottles. That’s pretty amazing, I figured, coming from residents of the Okanagan Valley.

The next day we headed back to Kamloops for another few nights, but this time with Uncle Steve and Aunt Helena, (my dad’s youngest brother). We had stayed with them our last time through the area several years previously and it was also great to catch up. They were empty nesters now, with a big house high in the hills and a very “sportly” equipped garage. We did even more relaxing and visiting while Auntie Helena cooked a great lasagna. It was naturally fabulous but Luke was particularly thrilled as he hadn’t had any in quite a while. Friends of ours from Smith, the Gauthiers, had planned on staying the same two nights in Kelowna on their way South to Vanc. Island for their family vacation. With a huge landslide on one highway, they were extensively delayed, but still showed up for some re-heated lasagna before heading to their hotel. I had booked a mine tour for the eight of us the next day at Highland Valley Copper pretty early so we crashed shortly after.

The hour drive out showed valley after valley of more dead coniferous forests. Still an incredibly sad sight. Speaking of raping and pillaging the earth, the mine was one of the largest open pit operations in Canada. Very incredible to see. There were a few good photo-ops and the eight of us were the only ones on the tour. After a great day wandering around Kelowna we headed East to Cowtown (and, sadly, even closer to home) the next morning.

Southern British Columbia

Tuesday, July 1st, 2008

After a refreshing but quick visit with Grandpa James & Grandma Dianne in Lethbridge for the night, we continued West into BC. Pete was a very welcome addition to our traveling party, and found some “spots” to lay claim to in the car. He rotated every so often among them, but didn’t seem to quite get the same captivated attention from watching Hogan’s Hero’s that the kids and I did. We were following the GPS through Trail and up the hill a little ways to Rossland. Mike & Michelle Tanguay had lived in Fort Smith for several years before we arrived, but moved South a few years back. Mike had long worked at the neighboring mine to Diavik, but now worked locally to Rossland while Michelle flew up to the Arctic for three week on, three week off shifts. Sadly, Michelle would be gone working during our single night stay there. We had a spectacular visit with Mike, Logan and Lilly though. With a few steaks cooking we all got caught up on things and shared computer ideas while the kids ran around outside and explored the neighborhood a bit.

While we had the option to stay two nights in Rossland, we decided to continue on to Vancouver Island and try and spend the night with parents of some other neighbors of ours from Fort Smith. The (only slightly) senior Keizers come up to Smith once a year it seems and we have come to know them fairly well. They have a spectacularly large house (for empty nester’s that is) just outside of Victoria in Esquimalt. Deer and all sorts of other wildlife frequent their backyard forest which backs on to the Canadian navy base. The next morning after wolfing down some huge homemade waffles, we hit the road for the couple hour trip to Ladysmith, just outside of Nanaimo.

While there were several possible tourist stops along the way, we were only up for one viewing point balcony overlooking the inside coast. It was higher up and gave a rather nice view of the coastline and all the stunningly green islands. We quickly concluded that the pine beetle can’t swim in salt water… There were fruit stands galore on the side of the highway, and we made it to Ladysmith in quick time without too many stops. We settled in for lunch with Dad & Janet after some hugs all around. It was nice to spend a few days relaxing, visiting and just generally catching up. We arranged an evening picnic in a Nanaimo park to visit with any James relatives on the Island who could join us. That was a blast, and after even more hugs all around we sat and ate, and even tossed the frisbee around a bit. It was wonderful seeing so many James relatives that we hadn’t talked to in several years (since the last time we came out to the island, now that I think about it; Hmmmm…) and swapping stories (all true!) about Grandpa James. We had originally planned on touring the island a bit and hoped to go to the West Coast of the Island and up North a ways past Campbell River a bit. Due to time these extra options went the way of the dodo, a visit to crazy Horse and a “leisurely trip across the country”. Perhaps next time, in a few years, once these bills are paid WAY down.

We departed after less than a week on Vancouver Island, heading North towards Kamloops & Kelowna. We didn’t even bother stopping in Vancouver at all, and just trucked on through. Vancouver traffic is CRAZY! But still not as bad as Montreal or Toronto I sadly have to admit, (Or Hanoi, Vietnam for that matter). Still, I have no idea how people can possibly live in such concrete jungle conditions…