Day 21:  A “Bend” in the Road

After a great day in Washington, we crossed over the border into Oregon and because Greg is always wanting to please me every chance he can, he accommodated my request to “stop by” Bend, Oregon.  I’ve always wanted to see Bend.  Several of my friends have spoken highly of this town and I wanted to visit Bend as long as we’re close…actually we weren’t that close.  It was several hours from our last destination and quite a detour from the route that made the most sense.  Nevertheless, my road warrior husband tarried on, determined to show me Bend.  The problem was that it was so many, many miles from our last stop, we ended up arriving after 10:00 pm and it was obviously too late to do anything.  Then this morning, with a long day of driving ahead of us, we didn’t have any time to engage in any fun “Bend” activities…so the most I can say is that we passed through Bend…which by the way, looks like a very charming town.

Yesterday, while zip lining, we met some sweet people from Oregon who told us we really needed to see Crater Lake while we are here. So…that is exactly what we tried to do.  We drove from Bend to Crater Lake to see the spectacular sites.  We hear that the water is an incredible color, like no other place on earth.  As you can see by the pictures below, we are going to have to take them at their word, as there was no way to tell exactly what color the water was, let alone even see the water, with the viewing point so socked-in, it looked like nothing but white clouds/fog in the distance. 

You just have to laugh.  Keeping one’s sense of humor is imperative when one is an adventurer.  You’re either going to laugh or cry…our sightseeing isn’t exactly going the way we had planned today.  It’s especially frustrating that, after we’re already way too far down the road, we missed spectacular sights by just a few miles.  Oh well, guess we’ll have to come back some day after we’ve done more planning.

After almost seeing Crater Lake, we drove on Highway 138 to travel to our campground for the night in Coos Bay.  This was a very scenic drive for miles and miles and almost made it worth it to take the long way around via Crater Lake.  We enjoyed the winding, tree-lined mountain roads, listening to our book on tape and sharing time together. 

It's a beautiful drive on Highway 138
It’s a beautiful drive on Highway 138

Even the doggies seemed to enjoy riding shot gun with us. (As you know, Bella doesn’t much like it any time we are in motion…poor thing just paces up and down, wondering why is this house always moving?) At least for a moment, she takes a break from her pacing to pose for a picture.


Once we had a cell signal after we had passed through the Coast Ranges, we were able to phone home and talk to our Moms. It was great hearing their voices…we are so blessed to have such great family.  We will really look forward to seeing them when we return home in the near future.   Speaking of returning home, tomorrow we cross the border into California!  Home sweet home.  My mom told me tonight that our family took a similar road trip when I was very young, and stopped at a campground called Jedediah Smith, just south of the Oregon/California border.  We’re going to go check it out and see if we can stir up any memories from when I was about 4 years old. (After all, that was only about 25 years ago…I should remember SOMETHING! haha)  California, here we come, right back where we started from!!

Day 20: Mount St. Helen’s

This morning when we left our charming campground at Mt. Haven near Mt. Rainier, I found myself wishing we could stay a little longer…such a serene, beautiful place.  One night was not enough.  But alas, we had many places to go and see, and Mount St. Helen’s was waiting for us. Today might prove a bit more challenging, as the morning greeted us with strong winds and plenty of rain (which is actually very good news).  After a good breakfast at the base of the mountain at a cute place called “Patty’s Place,” we were off. The long, winding road up to the Johnston Observatory atop Mount Saint Helen’s was challenging for Greg to drive…very, very windy.  We noticed along the way that there were lots of tree stumps.  We couldn’t tell if they had been cut down, burned down or the victims of some other force of nature.  We would soon find out the answer to the mystery.  Once we finally made it to the Observatory, parked the RV and endeavored to make the short walk to the building, we were surprised by how hard it was to make it to our destination.  With the heavy rain and strong winds working against us, it felt like each step we took yielded no forward movement. The Champ grabbed me and forged our way to the building…had it not been for him, I might still be standing there, being tossed about by Mother Nature. (Sorry, no pictures to post…snapping pics wasn’t going to happen in the wind tunnel.)

Glad we made it to the Observatory.  There was a very interesting presentation by a Park Ranger describing the eruption of Mount St. Helen’s back in 1980 (which I only vaguely remember….guess I was too young haha :/  )  Then watching the movie about this massive volcano made me wonder when she’s going to blow again.  The Observatory was encased in 360 degrees of windows, so, in theory, the view of Mount St. Helen’s should have been spectacular.  However, there was zero visibility.  So, that was disappointing. Every time I watched one of these National Park movies (including Yellowstone, Mt. Rainier), I found myself wondering if today would be the next historical day that the eruption would take place.  Obviously, since I am sitting here comfortably in front of my computer, today was not the day.

By the way, the answer to the tree stump mystery: those stumps are remnants of the 1980 eruption.  All these many years later, they are tangible evidence of the explosion of gases that occurred after the avalanche.

After Mount St. Helen’s, we needed to make tracks!  Greg made us a reservation for a zip line tour about 2 hours away at Skamania Lodge in Stevenson, Washington along the Columbia River Gorge. With the road ahead pretty difficult to navigate through the wind and rain, we had to drive slower than normal, and wondered if we would make it there in time.

Thankfully, we made it with only a couple minutes to spare. So glad we made it!  It was a great time!

We were the clearly the oldest ones in our group…but we didn’t feel like it!  We felt like a couple of teenagers!

Today was lots of fun and full of several challenges.  So glad we experienced them together. Farewell Washington!  Hello Oregon!

A full moon welcomes us to Oregon
A full moon welcomes us to Oregon

Day 19: Mount Rainier: One Day is Not Enough

Today we got a later start.  I was 2 days behind in my blog postings, and our loved ones began to wonder if we had driven off a cliff, or something equally catastrophic.  So, we made an executive decision to camp me somewhere in close proximity to the strongest WiFi we could find, so I could catch up on the blog posts. (Who knows if the very post I am writing now will successfully upload…) I keep reminding myself that all of these kinds of things are what makes this an adventure.  It’s all about the unknown…which is most certainly stretching me as a person.  I had a good laugh with Greg today about this very thing…the title of our blog, “Greg and Sandy’s Epic Adventure,” should really have a subtitle, because we have a recurring theme so far in our journey.  Ready to hear the subtitle?  Wait for it….Subtitle is “Trust Your Husband & Listen to Your Wife.”  We are both stretching in these and countless other ways…this has all been very good for us, even though, at times, it has not been comfortable.  But I ask you… Were the Explorers comfortable? Were the Settlers comfortable?   Were our forefathers comfortable?  Ok, I admit I went a bit far…but on a more realistic note…even though it seems that nothing comes “easy,” I guess I needed to be uncomfortable in order to grow and stretch to meet this next chapter of my life.  The fact that we are into our 3rd week and still excited about our tomorrows to come, I think, is a very good sign. Quite a blessing! Thank you God!  By the way, if it doesn’t rain tomorrow, I will be zip-lining through the forests.  Let’s see if I’m still excited about this stretching thing….

So, on to our activities today.  We dedicated this whole day to exploring as much of Washington’s Mt. Rainier as we could.  It is such a massive, impressive, awe-inspiring place, there is just no way to see even a fraction of it in just one day.  However, the Champ and I are hoping to use this trip to get a taste of all the sights, with the plan to some day return to the places we love the best for an extended stay and really invest ourselves in all that they have to offer….hopefully by the time we return again, I will be in better shape to be able to hike/kayak and fish in this beautiful country.

As for Mt. Rainier…it is as beautiful as we have heard it is.  So green, so majestic, so powerful.  We especially loved how uncrowded it was.  There were far less tourists here than in the other national parks we have visited so far. Also, it is special to us to visit region where our daughter-in-law Val’s family lives.  I can see why they love it so much here.  It is so beautiful.

I could go on and on with my superlatives…but I will instead let a few pictures of the day tell the story far better than I possibly could….

Day 18: Back in the USA…Hello Mt. Rainier!

When was the last time you had “one of this days?”  Well we had “one of those mornings”…Poor Champ! Just about everything that could go wrong, did go wrong.  Trying to keep up with the flow of traffic, he got pulled over for speeding.  (It will be interesting to discover how to resolve a Canadian traffic violation…another part of the adventure?) Then, when we were finally able to navigate our way to catch our ferry into Washington, they could not locate our reservation, and because we could not wait until 3:00 pm for the next one, we were rerouted to a commuter ferry about an hour away.  Then, things started to look up…We were able to board the ferry in Swartz Bay in Victoria, bound for Tsawwassen, Vancouver.  Once there, we successfully made our way to the U.S. Border Patrol  entering Washington state.  Crossing the border took a little more time than we hoped, but we did make it through and had enough time to drive Kent to Sea Tac Airport and get him on his flight back home.

Next on our list, make the long drive to Ashford, which is at the base of Mt. Rainer in Washington.  There we hoped to grab a much needed dinner at a place I found on Yelp called Copper Creek Inn.  We hadn’t eaten since breakfast, so we were more than ready for a good meal.  We drove through lots of Washington cities and finally made our way to beautiful mountain roads for the last 35 miles of our drive.  We enjoyed the huge trees that hugged that road,  and at the same time felt really sad to see yet another forest fire, along Alder Lake.  Our waitress Becky told us it’s been burning for about a week now…so sad.  Big theme across the lands we have traveled so far…there are fires burning just about everywhere we have been.

We had a delicious dinner, I had salmon and Greg had a flat iron steak.  With full stomachs (finally), we made our final, short trek to our campground, Mount Haven RV and Cabins.  Absolutely gorgeous site.  Might be my favorite one so far!! 

Tomorrow, we will look into hiking and exploring Mt. Rainier, Washington.  We are tired, but happy!  Hopefully tomorrow will be nothing but smooth sailing!

Day 17: Last Chance to See Vancouver Island

P1040501We started our day’s journey in the charming town of Tofino, had a little breakfast and looked around a while.  Then,  since yesterday we allowed ourselves to go wherever our adventure would take us, today we needed to backtrack a bit, to get us to our destination campground at Weir’s Beach, in Victoria, BC.   That was a-okay with me, because I slept through our drive by Cathedral Grove in MacMillan Provincial Park in Nanaimo the first time around and this time, we opted to stop and look around.  So glad we did…the Grove was magnificent!  These trees are so huge, it was impossible to capture their size in pictures.  The oldest trees in the grove are 800 years old, but most of them sprouted after a fire 300 years ago.  There are warning signs throughout the grove telling visitors to exit immediately in case the wind kicks up, as the trees are vulnerable to destruction in the strong winds.  All 4 of us enjoyed the serene walk through the forest (I’m including the ladies, of course.)

We hit the road again, with the goal of making it to Butchart Gardens, which we have heard about since our trip years ago to Vancouver.  According to our calculations, we would make it there around 5:00 pm, which seems like late in the day to visit an attraction, but actually it was perfect timing.  Most of the tourists were gone by then, and the park had only a few people visiting by the time we got there.  Here’s a little information about Butchart Gardens, to help you appreciate what we saw.  Butchart Gardens was founded over 100 years ago, when Jennie Butchart planted a garden of rose bushes and sweet pea pods on the grounds of her home, which was situated adjacent to a a giant pit from which her husband Robert was excavating  limestone. Her attempt to beautify her surroundings, combined with her green thumb, the mild weather conditions on Vancouver Island and her kind, hospitable spirit, led her to grow this world renown 55-acre garden that is maintained by 50 full time gardeners and open to the public 365 days a year. The planning and care for these gardens over the years have yielded the most expansive, amazing gardens I’ve ever seen.  (I’m going to have invent some new superlatives! It seems I use this them over and over again :/)  This place is definitely worth seeing, if you ever have a chance to visit Vancouver Island.  Taking in all the beautiful flowers will give you a “peaceful, easy feeling.”

At the end of another day, we made a winding drive to our campground, Weir’s Beach, where our spot for the night was right on the sand.  Too bad we didn’t get there until after dark, and left at sunrise, before we had a chance to enjoy the sandy beach and the gentle tide.  Oh well, such is the life of adventurers…no grass grows under our feet! We have places to go and people to meet.  Speaking of which, I almost forgot…you know by now that we enjoy meeting people along the way and learning about them. Well yesterday we had quite an experience early in our day at a little town called Ucluelet.  We stopped for gas and propane at a local gas station and then the WEIRDEST thing happened:  A gas station attendant came out and actually filled our tank and checked our oil for us!! Whaattttt??? Have we entered a time machine back to the 1960’s?? We are quite taken aback by this level of service which is obsolete in our world.  Tim, the delightful attendant, not only serviced our RV, and gave the doggies a treat, but he did so with a huge smile on his face.  

When Greg engaged him in conversation, Tim said that for many years he suffered from overwhelming depression.  He said that his father was a very negative, mean person and that he couldn’t stand the idea of being just like his dad.  Instead, he purposely tried to be more like his mother and found that serving people with a great attitude cured him from his deep sadness.  He went on to say that he’s not a rich man, but he has found his purpose by helping people at this gas station. Greg encouraged him and thanked him for being a bright spot in our day. Thank you Tim for our delightful brief interaction.  It was memorable!

Sandy’s final thought for the day…Tonight, when you get ready to say goodnight to your WiFi,  give it an extra big hug and express your appreciation for it for its strength, accessibility, faithfulness and consistency, making it always possible to reach the ones you love…. when you don’t have your virtuous WiFi by your side, it makes life much more challenging :/  I look forward to good ol’ fashioned U.S. WiFi!!

Day 16: West is Best

Let me start of by saying that today, I was highly driven by the desire to nap.  Knowing that Greg has a co-captain who is far more capable than I to navigate Vancouver Island, I took the liberty of snoozing while they drove.  So, almost all of the pictures you see today, are to the credit of Kent, the extraordinary photographer and navigator (aka the “Sidekick.”)

Any who, today we traveled to the west of the island.  So beautiful.  It’s amazing how varied the landscape is on Vancouver Island.  We went from port, to bustling city, to riverbank to fjord, to beach, to rain forest, back to beach again. Vancouver Island has it all…the Champ and the Co-Captain (he doesn’t prefer “sidekick”) are having lots of conversations about wanting to purchase property here.

So going back to the beginning of the day…we left our campground and headed westbound to the other side of Vancouver Island.  We traveled through Cathedral Grove which was stunning (or so I hear…I was asleep.)

Contiinuing on, we made our way to Port Alberni, which was located at the base of a river that ended in a fjord, which is a deep cavernous inlet that is carved out by glaciers.  The Champ spotted a little restaurant there called Pescadores, and let me say the food was DELICIOUS!!  A highlight for all of us for sure!!

From there we continued on a beautiful highway and made our next stop at Provincial Park at Sproat Lake. The ladies joined us for a walk down to the lake.  We all thoroughly enjoyed the sights surrounding us.

Back in the RV again and off we went, miles up the road, to our next stop, Wickaninnish Beach, located on the Pacific Rim.  People from around the world come here to see the sheer power of Mother Nature in the winter, as the storm waves are extraordinarily huge.  Hard to believe, since right now the sea is so calm and so lovely! Driftwood lining the shore. Nothing like we’ve ever seen in southern California!!

Ultimately, we stopped in Tofino.  We abandoned our original plans and decided to stay here for the night.  We had amazing tapas and cocktails, created by Chef Ryan and served by Felix from Quebec.  Delicious and memorable.  Add these two to our list of favorite Canadians…they both made us feel very glad we stayed here for the night.  Honestly, these people are the friendliest people around!!

We started off our day wanting to go wherever God leads us and we end our day feeling so very thankful for the people and sights we experienced today!  Wow! Wow! Wow!  Over the moon with gratefulness!!

Tomorrow…on our way to Butchart Gardens…We’ve heard about this place for such a long time.  Can’t believe we get to behold the sights ourselves!

I am loving blogging!! Thank you for reading!!

Blogging is fun!
Blogging is fun!

Day 15: Vancouver Island’s Full of Surprises

Today is a big day!  We get to explore Vancouver Island, a place that the Champ has wanted to see ever since we went to Vancouver with our mom, sisters and brothers a few years ago.  First on the agenda, take the BC Ferry from Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver to Nanaimo BC.  Now up to this point, if you said “ferry,” I would picture the boat that transports cars from Balboa Island to the Newport Peninsula.  Let me tell you…it was NOTHING like this.  Keep in mind that we are driving an RV, which, by itself, would never fit on the Balboa Ferry.  The ferry we rode on today was GI-NORMUS! Our RV, along with several 18-wheelers, numerous other boats/campers/trailers and many passenger cars, fit on the ferry.  My planner husband knew the particulars of taking the ferry way before we left, so we had our reservation paperwork in hand and knew to arrive an hour before our scheduled departure time of 8:30am… All this meant, of course, that we needed to leave our campground at zero dark hundred, ONCE AGAIN! (I’m seeing a trend here :/  Good thing I’m naturally an early-riser!)

Once we arrived in Nanaimo, we jumped on old Highway 19, the road that hugs the shoreline, and went in search of our first meal of the day.  We agreed upon the highly rated restaurant  Pacific Prime at the Beach Club Resort in Parksville, BC.  We were not disappointed!  The view from our table was breathtaking and the shrimp/scallop nectarine and beet salad I ordered was delicious.  The Champ and his sidekick enjoyed the bison burger and the fish tacos respectively.

Even better than the view and the food, was the engaging conversation we enjoyed with a few locals there. First on deck…Candice, our server.  This young gal was friendly, outgoing and bursting with personality, and when she learned we were from California, immediately resonated with us.  From Nainoma, this gal loves LA, has a passion for comedy and has big dreams in this arena.  We encouraged her to try out her stand-up routine on us, but in fairness, it was a bit too early in the day to deliver zingers.  Nevertheless, we exchanged information and offered up our place to stay on her next visit to California. Check her out on Twitter…Candice Hall@theCandiceHall!

Candice the aspiring comedienne. Sweet girl!
Candice, the aspiring comedienne. Sweet girl!

Then we met the hotel’s Food and Beverage Manager, Ian, who came over to our table to say hello (after spotting my UCLA cap, gave us a little ribbing on behalf of his team, the Texas Longhorns). He used to live in Irvine, CA and returned home to Parksville to take care of his aging parents.  It was interesting to talk to him.  When discussing the world-famous California drought, he shared how far-reaching the effects of our plight are having way beyond our borders.  Turns out in the last year his food costs have increased 5-12%, which, of course, drives up his menu costs.  I’m too limited in my thinking.  It never occurred to me that our drought has had a worldwide impact.  I need to work on that…note to self…think more globally, Sandy!! :/ 

Candice the comedienne and Ian
Candice, the comedienne, and Ian

Something else I think is interesting… it seems to me that most every Canadian we have met is quite enamored with the US, particularly California.  Granted, Canadians, on the whole, are very nice, friendly people.  So, perhaps they are just being polite; or, are they genuinely intrigued with the notion of coming to the US? Or is it because most of those people are of a younger generation, which is generally-speaking more enamored by experiencing new things?  Or…is it the green grass syndrome, where we all subconsciously think that life somewhere else would be better than where we are? If there are any socioligist/psychologist types out there reading this blog, feel free to research this idea. I will gladly report your findings!

Back on the road again after lunch on old Highway 19.  Driving along the picturesque coast is calming and beautiful.  The cedar trees along the highway are truly majestic.  We made our way to our campground for the night, the Thunderbird  RV Campground on the Campbell River.  On one side was the river and the other side, the Pacific Ocean, where the fishing boats share the waters of Discovery Passage with the arriving/departing cruise ships. Ours was the ocean view.   After getting our bearings at the campground, we took the advice of the office ladies and headed over to Painters Lodge on the Campbell River.  From there, we could catch a shuttle boat over to April Point on Quadra Island and have dinner on the water. During our 10 minute wait for the shuttle, Greg sauntered up to a couple also waiting on the dock and had a nice, friendly conversation with them.  He learned all about them…he’s a wheat farmer from eastern Washington who had just harvested his crop and had an early vacation, because of the drought.  Do you know one of the many things I love about the Champ?  He is one of the friendliest, kindest, most engaging people I know.  I’m pretty sure he is the reason why both our kids can engage any one they meet in conversation.  (Of course, it couldn’t be from me, because I’m so shy and demure, haha!!)

Enjoying our delicious dinner while watching a beautiful sunset over the Pacific Ocean was the perfect way to end our day!  We are blessed!!

Tomorrow…we’ll explore the west side of Vancouver Island.  We’re excited about what lies ahead!!


Day 14: Don’t Go Joan!!

We left early this morning (AGAIN!) because we had a long drive from Mt. Robson to Vancouver, where our sister Joan needed to catch a flight back to LA.  We are grateful that Kent can spend a few more days with us, but we wish Joan didn’t have to return.  While we made the motions to get her to the airport in time, secretly we all hoped that she misses her flight!! DON’T GO JOAN!!

As I said, we did the right thing and hit the road early to make the long drive to Vancouver.  As such, today was mostly a travel day, road warriors barreling down the highway.  Nevertheless, I do have a few observations about the day.

Driving along the mountain roads, up ahead we SAW A BABY BEAR crossing the road. (Sorry 😦 no picture!) Was it a black bear?  Was it a grizzly?  It’s debatable…but no doubt!  We saw our bear! Check that one off the bucket list!! 🙂

Our first stop was at the Country Inn Restaurant in Jasper. While the food was fine and the waitress was very welcoming, the most exciting thing about our morning was the fact that we finally had WiFi (did I mention that the night before at our glam cabin, we had neither wifi nor phone service?!?  Talk about a fish out of water!!) I won’t speak for the rest of us, but I’m sure I seemed quite obsessed with the WiFi, focusing more on my computer and phone than I did on the breakfast nor the waitress’ friendly banter.  Whatever!  I was a day behind on my blogging!! 😦

Driving along the road south to Vancouver, our surroundings were extremely smoky for many, many miles.  I’m not sure of the location of the fire/s, but I’m sure they were nearby.

The road to Vancouver was very pretty, but very smoky!
The road to Vancouver was very pretty, but very smoky!

After several hours of driving along windy, bumpy roads and coloring…and reading…and napping…and crocheting…we arrived in Vancouver.  Good for Joan, bad for us!!

We had dinner at Rodney’s Oyster House in Yaletown, Vancouver and enjoyed yummy food and great company.  Afterwards, we made the trek back to the RV, grabbed Joan’s suitcases and made the sad walk to the train station, where we said our goodbyes to Joan.

We love you Joan!  We’ll miss you! Tomorrow…Vancouver Island!

Day 13: City Folk “Roughing It” With No Technology!

*Note from Sandy:  Our ability to tap into WiFi or cellular networks has been drastically limited in the last 24 hours…Sorry for the delay of this posting.  Hopefully the Wifi here in Vancouver is enough!!  Here we go!!

**Please know that all of the beautiful pictures featured yesterday and today were the fine photography of our brother Kent!!

After a wonderful day of celebrating like royalty, the early morning came too soon and our tour directors (Champ and Kent) were very focused on getting us out the door and on our way to the adventures that await us.  Joan was very pliable, and Sandy, not so much.  I still had to post yesterday’s blog before we lost WiFi!! 😦

But I am so glad that they pushed the envelope, because the sites that awaited us beyond Lake Louise were well worth the early morning rush!!

First on the agenda, a 300 m hike on Rockpile Trail  to Moraine Lake, which is a glacially-fed lake in Banff National Park.  The view of the lake from the top of the rock pile is one of the most photographed locations in all of Canada.  As a matter of fact, the view of the mountains behind the lake in the Valley of the Ten Peaks is known as the Twenty Dollar view, as it was featured in the reverse side of the 1969 and 1979 issues of the Canadian twenty dollar bill. Did I mention how COLD it was?? :/ Burrrr!

From there, Greg really wanted to go see the Burgess Shale Formation, which is a well known fossil field, but with so many places on our hit list, and because, honestly, we couldn’t find it…we opted out.  Greg was a good sport, but I know he was disappointed.   Next, we drove on to the Columbia Ice Fields, which is the largest of its kind in the Rocky Mountains of North America. We had planned to take a tour of the Athabasca Glacier via a specialty tour bus and receive the tour guide’s wealth of glacier information for the low, low, low price of $80 per person.  The lines were long and super crowded…We made a unanimous decision to pass.  Glad we did! (Please don’t tell us if we made a tactical error.  Ignorance is bliss!!)

At a minimum…we took pictures of this natural wonder as we drove by…

We proceeded on to the Athabasca falls, which is a waterfall in Jasper National Park, known not so much for its height, but more so for the sheer power of is force due to the large quantity of water falling into the gorge. Hooray!  No signs forbidding pets on the trails, so the Ladies get to take a stroll with us to the viewing platforms.  They are overjoyed to get out of the RV and commune with nature!!

Back on the Starvation RV Diet, we have yet to eat and now the hunger pangs are catching up with us, so we stop for linner/dunch  in Jasper.  It is here we discover than we have all voraciously consumed the last of our cell phone international data plans and from this point forward, we are restricted to WiFi (which is spotty at best) and old fashioned paper maps….WHAATTTT??? I guess we were pretty vocal about our disappointment with our cell phone carriers (AT&T & Verizon)…  A sympathetic bar patron bought us round of drinks to drown our sorrows!!

Now being true explorers limited to navigate via paper maps (will we have to build a fire later by rubbing two sticks together?), we continued on to find our campground for the night.  Poor Greg, we all took a little afternoon nap while the Champ tarried on. We crossed over into British Columbia and finally arrived at our cabin at the Mount Robson Lodge.  Quite a departure from the majestic Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise from the night before, but actually quite scenic, albeit rustic. 

Even though we were all road weary, we rallied and went a short distance for dinner at Riverside Cafe, on the bank of the Fraser River in Tete Jaune Cache.  The view from this charming little restaurant was so serene and beautiful and the food, quite good! 

Our german waiter Herbert recommended one last site to see for the day. He suggested we drive a short distance away, to Rearguard Falls where we might get lucky and see salmon trying to swim upstream and jump up the falls to continue their 800 mile migration from the Pacific Ocean.  Only a few Chinook, largest and strongest of the Salmon, come this far and we were there to see this spectacular site.  Watching them try, try, try again to make it up and over these falls was a great lesson in tenacity that we will all remember for a long time to come. 

And with that amazing spectacle, we ended our day, looking forward to tomorrow’s trip to Vancouver BC.

Day 12:  A “Champion” of a Day

I am overflowing with joy and have way too many things to report in one post… this is the kind of day where less words, and more pictures is the best way to capture the excitement.

First and foremost…HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO OUR AMAZING MOM!! You are the original explorer and gave us all the courage and curiosity to seize every opportunity to experience as many adventures as we can in our lifetimes!! We love you and appreciate the legacy you are passing on to your entire family!

Greg and I are overjoyed that Joan and Kent arrived last night and are here with us for a few days to experience things that just words cannot do justice.  Our day started off with a wonderful breakfast at Holy Grill in Calgary:)

And now for the BIG news of the day…Greg Sizemore is the new WORLD CHAMPION in the 60’s Doubles Division of Handball!! Wow!! We are so happy happy happy for him.  He played an absolutely amazing match with his partner Merv.  Congratulations Champ!!  It was a day to remember for a long time!!

After the match, we drove from Calgary to Banff, through SNOWY weather, to Lake Louise where we checked into the Fairmount Chateau Lake Louise.  The sites were stunning!

We just finished an amazing dinner and now,  we are getting ready to end this glorious day! Tomorrow, we wake up early for a hike around Lake Louise, before we continue on to Jasper and Whistler….Congratulations Greg! This was certainly a day to remember for a long, long time!