Friday, December 13, 2013

Where we've been for the past 17 days


British Columbia

High tea, Butchart Gardens, Victoria, B.C.

Mt. Baker, Washington

Columbia River, Oregon



Grand Marais, Minnesota
The milestone of our 40th wedding anniversary and the passing of Sam, our beloved dog, made Brenda and I realize that life is such an impermanent thing. Since we work at camp all spring, summer and fall, we had never taken a road trip, never seen North America, never done any of the things that most people do. The problem, of course, is that in order to do or see these things, we would need to do them in the winter months. It just never seemed

Cathedral Grove, B.C.
like a good idea.
This November we decided to heck with it! Come what may, we were going to see some of the rest of Canada and the United States! We loaded up our minivan with winter survival gear and took off.
It took us four days to reach British Columbia, first crossing the Canadian Prairie provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.
Except for running Sam to the Veterinary College in Saskatoon, Sask., in October, I had never been west of Winnipeg, Man. It was Brenda's first time as well. The Prairies were mostly flat, as I expected, although there were several regions of interesting rolling country too.
British Columbia held the biggest surprise. We passed into the province through the famous Kicking Horse Pass on the Trans-Canada Highway. Holy mackerel what a breath-taking, winding, steep road. We would go down steep inclines in low gear for 30 minutes! The fact that the road was snow-packed, two lanes and we were traveling in the dark added quite a bit to the excitement. Although the eastern end of this mountainous route is the steepest, I was stunned when we had 12 hours of mountain driving before we reached Vancouver.
We crossed by ferry to Vancouver Island and spent several days there, visiting family and enjoying fall-like temperatures although it fell below freezing and even snowed by the time we left.
Brenda and I got to tour the Butchart Gardens in Victoria and also took "High Tea" there.
We crossed by ferry again to Washington State and made our way to Portland, Ore. We then followed the mighty Columbia River (which we also had crossed as a creek high in the mountains of British Columbia) and made our way to Idaho where we visited family again.
Finally, we drove to Montana where we encountered our first really bad winter road conditions. We got stuck in a whiteout in a mountain pass between Bozeman and Billings and spent about two hours creeping behind a transport truck that was frequently visible from no farther than five feet. Eventually we got out of this high wind area and just had snow-packed and icy roads for about two hundred miles. Then we were in North Dakota and finally Minnesota and back to Northwestern Ontario.
Besides incredible scenery, we got to see a coyote, whitetail deer, mule deer, blacktail deer, trumpeter swans, about a million Canada geese, ducks, lots of bald eagles, a few golden eagles, one wolf, a herd of pronghorn antelope and a herd of elk.
The most common creature we saw everywhere we went was the raven, followed by magpies.
In total we traveled 8,700 kilometres or 5,400 miles.
Incredibly, we only used one jug of windshield wash for the entire journey and except for the one day in Montana, never encountered hazardous winter driving.
Now we're home for the winter.
I apologize for the lack of blogs in recent months and promise to get back in the swing of things again.
I'm afraid Sam's death had a profound effect upon me. I want to thank everyone for their comments on the blog, their e-mails, letters and cards. These things were a big help for Brenda and me. We're moving on again now.
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Anonymous said...

Thanks very much for the update and for the great photos. What a fantastic trip! And a wise decision to take it. Best wishes for a peaceful, safe and healthy holiday season.
mike and nate

Charlie & Barb said...

What a great trip. Thanks for taking us along.

Anonymous said...

Dan and Brenda,
What a great trip. I too took a trip back in August. Drove from Indiana through Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and into Reno, Nevada. On the return trip we drove back through Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois and back home to Indiana. A total of about 6,200 miles. I would one day like to take the trip you took but continue on into Alaska. Thanks for the tour and the great photos!