Category Archives: 2014 Summer – Our Drive Across Canada

2014 Oct 10 – Day 113 – Osoyoos, BC to Salmon Arm, BC

Today was the last leg of our journey.  We arrived home after 16 weeks and 25,165 km.  It was a beautiful sunny day for our drive through the Okanagan Valley.

Osoyoos, where we spent last night is a favorite wintering spot for folks from northern Alberta and BC, and from farmers escaping the winters of Saskatchewan and Manitoba.  The place is packed with RVs and Motor Homes all winter long.  It is also the heart of wine country with vineyard after vineyard after vineyard – and lots of orchards.

IMG_2420 - Copy IMG_2429 - Copy IMG_2435 - Copy IMG_2438 - Copy IMG_2441 - Copy IMG_2443 - CopyOsoyoos is only 3 1/2 hours from Salmon Arm.  We made a short stop at Costco in Kelowna  and drove in the driveway at 2:15.

We have been over this road in whole or in part many times over the years but today I took the time to take some photos for my last blog.

IMG_2451 - Copy IMG_2455 - Copy IMG_2459 - Copy IMG_2462 - Copy IMG_2465 - Copy IMG_2469 - Copy IMG_2471 - Copy IMG_2473 - CopyKelowna                                                                Oyama

We even stopped at the viewpoint south of Vernon overlooking the Coldstream Valley; a place we have driven by hundreds of times.

IMG_2503 - Copy IMG_2504 - CopyFrom Vernon we left the dry land and drove through the fertile Spallumcheen Valley to Enderby.

IMG_2508 - Copy IMG_2515 - CopyA half hour later we were home – to over three months of mail, 45 missed phone calls, 17 messages since I last checked them, overgrown shrubs and hedges, weedy flowerbeds, appointments, meetings and schedules.  Well, it was fun while it lasted.

IMG_2519 - Copy IMG_2520 - Copy IMG_2521 - Copy

PS.  My two favorite signs.   IMG_4546 IMG_2393   Make that three:  We never figured out what this one meant.  There was no roundabout up ahead.    IMG_9944I’ve had fun writing this blog.  I hope you have enjoyed reading it.  Thanks for sharing the journey.    Janet and John

2014 Oct 9 – Day 112 – Coeur d’Alene, ID to Osoyoos, BC

We are back in Canada and back in BC.  We crossed the US/Canada border at about 3 pm this afternoon.  It is nice to be back home; even if we are not actually home yet.  Although I am never anxious for vacations to end.  I enjoy traveling.  I enjoy being away from all the normal routines and meetings and appointments.  I guess I am just an escapist.

We left Coeur d’Alene just after 10 this morning and crossed the border into Washington state a little while later.  Our eleventh state on our return journey.

IMG_2322All of the area west of Spokane, WA is grain farming land.  The after-combining stubble stretched out from the roadside in both directions for miles and miles.

IMG_2325 IMG_2326 IMG_2327 IMG_2330 IMG_2331 IMG_2334 IMG_2335At the little community of Wilbur we headed north on Route 174 up to Grand Coulee Dam.  This is desert country; dry dirt and lots of rock bluffs and cliffs.


IMG_2366 IMG_2378Grand Coulee is one of the world’s largest concrete structures.  It is a mile long and contains 12 million cubic yards of concrete.  It began operation in 1942.

The Roosevelt Lake behind Grand Coulee Dam stretches back for miles.  It is a very popular recreational area and in today’s lovely warm sunshine it is easy to see why.  It was so nice and warm today we put the top down on Poppy after we had lunch at the Grand Coulee Dam overlook.


IMG_2340 IMG_2341 IMG_2345 IMG_2348 IMG_2353 IMG_2356 IMG_2362We continued north through Colville Indian Reservation where they have very interesting clumpy rocks scattered all over the hillsides. They remind me of the geological Conglomerate Rock formations that we have seen in other places.

IMG_2371 IMG_2372 IMG_2376 IMG_2380 Once we arrived in Omak we arrived in irrigated orchard territory.  It is so easy to see where there is water.  The hillsides around Omak are barren, dry rock.  Down in the valley there is lush green alfalfa fields, heavily-laden apple trees, and irrigations sprinklers spreading life.

IMG_2387 IMG_2388 IMG_2396 IMG_2403 IMG_2405 IMG_2412 IMG_2414Omak is 46 miles from the USA/Canada border so it wasn’t long before we arrived, went through Canadain customs and drove into Osoyoos for the night.

IMG_2417 IMG_2416 IMG_2419



2014 Oct 8 – Day 111 – Kalispell, MT to Coeur d’Alene, ID

We made it across Montana at last, and for good measure we almost crossed Idaho.  The drive from Kalispell to Libby was through forested trees along mountain roads.  The dark green of the firs and pines was interspersed with the glorious gold of the Aspens.

IMG_2178 IMG_2181 IMG_2191 A few miles west of Libby (1 mile east of Troy, MT) we turned south on Route 56, a 35 mile stretch of road that paralells the Cabinet Mountains.  About half way down we turned off the main road and climbed 4 miles up a narrow winding road to the Ross Creek Giant Cedars.  A one mile loop trail leads through the forest and back to the parking lot.

IMG_2207 IMG_2212There were some VERY large trees in the grove.  It was interesting how many twinned ones there were and how many had been lightning struck or burned.  The length of some of the fallen ones was amazing.  It was very much like walking through Cathedral Grove on Vancouver Island and nice to see these old denizens of the forest have been preserved.

IMG_2215 IMG_2231 IMG_2235 IMG_2237 IMG_2238 IMG_2244

IMG_2252 IMG_2247This triple tree has one huge base.    A ‘normal’ size tree (about 2 1/2                                                                                 feet around) growing beside one                                                                                 of the giants.

IMG_2250 IMG_2251


IMG_2218 IMG_2219 IMG_2222 IMG_2225 IMG_2220IMG_2255 IMG_2265



The Cabinet MountainsIMG_2272 IMG_2275 IMG_2277When we got to the bottom of Route 56 we turned west again on Route 200 into Idaho.

IMG_2301Just past the border we took another turn off the main road and went to see the Cabinet Gorge Hydroelectric Dam.

IMG_2292 IMG_2294This dam was built in 1952 to overcome the power shortage after WWII.  1700 men and women worked around the clock for 21 months to complete it.  It is 600′ long and 208′ high.  The river was run through two diversion tunnels while the dam was under construction.

Route 200 takes a northerly slant along the coast of Pend Orielle Lake to Sandpoint where we picked up Highway 95 into Coeur d’Alene.

IMG_2307We are now on BC time, having crossed back into our normal time zone halfway across the narrow top of Idaho.


2014 Oct 7 – Day 110 – Havre, MT to Kalispell, MT

Montana is 545 miles  across (877 km).  We have spent the last two days driving across it and have 123 miles to go tomorrow to the border with Idaho.  As mentioned yesterday this is cattle country, grain country, and cowboy country.  Almost every community has grain elevators and every farm has multiple silage silos.

IMG_2061 IMG_2063 IMG_2065 IMG_2075 IMG_2080IMG_2090IMG_2096I was quite excited to see the Sweetwater Hills, which were higher than many of the so-called mountains we have seen in the east.

IMG_2070 IMG_2083And then, just west of Cut Bank we saw the MOUNTAINS.  Yay!  It was like coming home; even if these are the smaller cousins of our Canadian Rockies.

IMG_2112We stopped for lunch at the marker for Lewis and Clark’s furtherest western exploration of the Marias River (this exploration was originally to find the headwaters of the Missouri River which they hoped was as far north as 50 degrees latitude.  According to the terms of the Louisiana Purchase the US received all the land south of the headwaters of the Missouri River.  If the Missouri headwaters were north of the 49th parallel the US could claim some of the land of Canada that was being commercially used by the British. They discovered the Marias River headwaters instead – the Missouri River headwaters are west of Great Falls.)

It was a shame to see the graffiti all over the marker; but quite normal out here to see the bullet holes. There was a big shotgun shell hole in the sign about the Sweetgrass Hills. We have seen bullet holes in many of the road signs since we arrived in ‘the west.’  It seems anything is fair game for target practice – or just fun to shoot at.

IMG_2114 IMG_2115 IMG_2116 IMG_2087

IMG_2119 IMG_2120 IMG_2122 The views from the hill on which the Lewis and Clark marker was erected.

Another long train sitting on the siding.

It took another hour or so to get into the mountains, but I enjoyed the scenery of the wide open spaces as I alway do.

IMG_2123 IMG_2134 IMG_2135 IMG_2137 IMG_2139 IMG_2142Then were in the mountains and driving in and out of Glacier National Park along its southern boundary.

IMG_2143 IMG_2155 IMG_2162 IMG_2171 IMG_2174 IMG_2175 IMG_2177We have been here before on our first road trip in September 2007 after I had purchased Poppy.  It was nice to see the golden yellow of the Aspens again.

IMG_2158 IMG_2150 IMG_2153PS.  My favorite cloud photo from yesterday’s blog was number 7.  I really like how low the clouds look and how threatening to the lone bush out on the prairie.







2014 Oct 5 – Day 109 – Sidney, MT to Havre, MT

Today we drove almost half way across the Big Sky State of Montana (their actual state motto is The Silver State, but Big Sky used to be on their license plates and describes it perfectly for me) leaving behind most of the interesting bluffs we saw in western North Dakota.  We were on the big, old, almost-flat prairie. Most of the views were of cattle grazing, a few horses here and there, hay fields and open-to-the-horizon grassland.

IMG_1966 IMG_1971 IMG_1975 IMG_1977 IMG_1978I love Montana.  We came here several times during the years our son attended Montana Tech in Butte and we drove through the middle on one of our road trips a couple of years ago.  Even though there is not a lot of variation in the landscape the sky changes constantly.

IMG_1996 IMG_1998We stopped for gas not too far out of Sidney and this gal from Texas was filling up her giant Hummer.  I would love to have been there to see her clamber back into that thing.

IMG_1979We drove by a collection of derelict grain elevators (and lots of newer ones too)

IMG_2029We passed a railway siding with three VERY long stationary trains.

IMG_1987 IMG_1988We saw a selection of dinosaurs and other animals positioned on the hillside.  There is a Dinosaur Trail in Montana leading to seven or so museums and digs.

IMG_1989 IMG_1990 IMG_1994We went by these two lovely pinto horses and  I asked John to turn around so I could get their picture.

IMG_2050 IMG_2049I was able to snap a photo of this pueblo-looking church.

IMG_2055But my favourite thing to photograph as we drova along today was the sky and the clouds.  I kept telling myself to stop taking photos of them but I kept succumbing to temptation when the next formations came into view.  I have posted my favorite ten sky photos from today.  I would like a vote on your favourite.  Please just message me the number of the one you like the best.  I’ll tell you tomorrow if there was a clear favourite and which is my favourite.  Just for the fun of it.

IMG_2001   1.IMG_2008  2.IMG_2009   3.  IMG_2019   4.

IMG_2017 5. IMG_2037  6. IMG_2044  7.IMG_2052  8.IMG_2058 9.

IMG_2021 10.



2014 Oct 5 – Day 108 – Rugby, ND to Sidney, MT

Yay, yay, yay there was a change in scenery again and stuff to see today!  I loved all the coloured trees (as you could tell by the number of them in my posts) but we have been driving by coloured trees since leaving New Brunswick on September 22.  I was happy to see the prairie yesterday and even happier to arrive at buttes and bluffs as we drove west in North Dakota today.

IMG_1882 IMG_1900Before we left Rugby this morning we located the cairn marking the geographical center of North America just beside the highway on our way through town.  I took John’s photo, he took mine and as we were walking back to the truck another couple got out of their truck and offered to take a photo of us both. Sweet – and I don’t like having my photo taken as a rule – but I was glad to get this one.

IMG_1848 IMG_1854We are in the prairie belt of America – lots of sugar beets, vast plantings of sunflowers, corn, wheat and alfalfa.  We are also in oil and gas country.

IMG_1856 IMG_1866 IMG_1870 IMG_1872

IMG_1871 IMG_1958 IMG_1897Sugar beets

A small corner of a massive field of sun-flowers.  We saw several of them well over a 100 acres in size.

Yesterday I was on Facebook chat with my cousin in Washington and told her our route for the day. She said, “Watch out for Williston, I’ve heard it is crazy there.”  “What makes it crazy?” I asked.  “The new oil.”  Well she was right.  Lots of trucks and equipment on the road, temporary housing units by the hundreds, full RV parks, trucks and trucks and more trucks at every hotel in town, new roads, upgraded railroads, new power lines, lots of businesses building.  And brand new pumps working in the fields 25 miles in all directions from the town.

IMG_1864 IMG_1893The Park Ranger we were talking with at Fort Union said he used to pay $800 per month for a one bedroom apartment in Williston.  He came home one day and was told his rent was going up by $400.  Now one bedroom apartments are over $2,000 per month and many are $100 per day.  The good and the bad about an oil or gas boom in the area.

Williston is quite near the North Dakota-Montana border and we turned south there on Route 1804 to see if Fort Buford State Park and Fort Union National Park were still open.  Just down the road for the turn to Fort Buford there is the Visitors Center for the Confluence of the Missouri and Yellowstone Rivers.  We turned in and went through the large visitor’s center to the pathway along the riverbank.  Up a short hill you could see over the young trees and just make out where the two rivers joined.

IMG_1909 IMG_1911 IMG_1916



Windy?  Just look at those flags.



Just down the road from the ‘meeting of the waters’ is Fort Buford.  There were only a couple of buildings reconstructed but the site was quite large and they had informative signage around.  The wind that greeted us outside our hotel in Rugby (with 1 degree celsius temperature – that’s about 33 F for you American folks.  Brrrr.) was blowing even stronger at Fort Buford.  It was literally hard to stand in one place.

IMG_1932 IMG_1920 IMG_1931 IMG_1925A mile further down the road is Fort Union, the longest running fur trading post (30 years) in America.  Back in the day there would be 5,000 tepees surrounding the fort belonging to various tribes bringing in hides to trade for blankets, colored fabric, guns, pots & pans and all manner of other goods (contrary to movie westerns beads were only thrown in as a bonus.  The Indians did not want to trade their hides for beads.  They wanted useful, practical things.  The inventory records of the fort showed only 5 trade transactions for beads in 5 years).  Over 50,000 buffalo hides would be traded at Fort Union every year, along with beaver, otter (prized in China for the robes of the Emperor and still desired by the Chinese today), fox, wolf, badger, even mice (the pelts were used to line gloves).

During the archaeological digs at the fort site they uncovered two million artifacts – beads, buttons, 6 different china patterns, fabrics, iron implements, nails, you name it they found it.  All but a few of the items are housed in the vault under the Bourgeois’s house (term for the fur trading company manager) because until funding is received to reconstruct some more of the buildings at the fort there is no room to display them.  Maybe some day.

IMG_1934 IMG_1935 IMG_1937 IMG_1938 IMG_1941

A fur press.  It would be used to compact 100 buffalo hides into a bale for shipping to EuropeIMG_1943We had a great chat with the Park Ranger.  There were no other visitors, and at this time of year there are likely not too many, so he was enjoying telling us stories.  One neat story (very shortened version, I promise) was about a troublemaking fellow named Deschamp who skipped across the Canada/US border in about 1865.  He had three rabble-rousing sons as well.

A few years ago a new RCMP officer from Regina was visiting the fort and saw the write up about Deschamp and the fact that he had killed a Lord Sutton before skipping to the US.  The officer told the ranger that the murder of Lord Sutton was still an open case in Saskatechwan.  When he returned to Regina he told his superiors about the information he had read at Fort Union, they contacted the Fort archivist, received corrobatvie documents and the RCMP were able to close a century-old murder case.


16 miles down the road brought us to the border of Montana and the town of Sidney where we are camped in our hotel room for the night.  And the sun came out too….the wind didn’t quit but the temperature warmed up to 16 (62 F)!  All in all a pretty good day.

IMG_1960 IMG_1961


2014 Oct 4 – Day 107 – Grand Rapids, MN to Rugby, ND

Boy. oh boy, was it cold this morning!  A icy, cutting wind that never really died down even though the dark clouds dispersed and we got sun and cloud in the afternoon.

We were going to try see three things in Minnesota on our way west, but only found the first one, which was the Pokegama Dam just west of Grand Rapids.  It is a little dam, but it is on the Mississippi River and 6 miles or so west of Bemidji (60 miles west of Grand Rapids) we passed a marker for the headwaters of the Mississippi – that is one long river!

IMG_1802 IMG_1800 IMG_1805The other thing we lost today were the trees on both sides of the road.  At McIntosh, 50 miles west of Bemidji we arrived in the prairie.  Wide open sky and fields on both sides.

IMG_1807 IMG_1812 IMG_1814

IMG_1815 IMG_1827The main crop we passed, which was being harvested everywhere, were sugar beets.  We had many loaded trucks go by us on the road and saw lots of machinery in the fields.

IMG_1820 IMG_1832We also passed quite a few acres of sunflowers; and the usual hay and corn, of course.

IMG_1835 IMG_1838

It was very nice to see some lighter blue sky.  The temperature never rose significantly all day and when we got out of Poppy at our hotel in Rugby, North Dakota we removed our luggage as quickly as we could because it was so cold.  We are just wooses, I know.

IMG_1840 IMG_1844 IMG_1846

2014 Oct 3 – Day 106 – Iron Mountain, MI to Grand Rapids, MN

Our third consecutive day of driving in the rain.  Today, though we added snow to the mix!  Yikes.  We covered 526 km and were in three different states – Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Last night was spent in Iron Mountain at the border between Michigan and Wisconsin.  When we left the hotel we drove about 1/2 mile and entered Wisconsin, going north for about 5 miles we re-entered Michigan and drove northwest paralleling the border until we reached Ironwood where we left Michigan again and re-entered Wisconsin.  A bit convouluted, I think, but that is the way the road was built.

IMG_1720 IMG_1733 IMG_1731It was cloudy when we left but the rain started soon and continued all day, sometimes heavy, sometimes very light; sometimes it would even stop for 10 minutes.  We got very excited once when we crossed a 100′ strip of sunshine on the road.

IMG_1740 The scenery hasn’t changed for days; straight roads bordered by lovely colored trees with slight undulations in the ground.  We see an occasional lake or pond or river, but generally it is open highway and trees – pretty trees, but trees nontheless.  We did see four wild turkeys eating beside the road.  That was cool.

IMG_1724 IMG_1741 IMG_1754 IMG_1764We stopped briefly at the town of Wakefield, WI to see the lake and chanced upon the Visitor’s Center that had a very nice tribute to all the persons in the town that have served in all the branches of the American military.  They also had a huge carved statue of a historically well-known Native fellow.

IMG_1748 IMG_1743 IMG_1745Wisconsin is not very wide at the top and borders Lake Superior.  I considered – very briefly – standing in the water again to do all the Great Lakes within the week but it was so cold the first time and so windy and wet today I overcame the urge; quickly, I might add.

IMG_1774 IMG_1776Superior, Wisconsin is across the bridge from Duluth, Minnesota.  Both are port cities, with Duluth being the larger. But Superior is proud to have the world’s largest grain elevator, iron-ore docks and coal-shipping terminal based on the world’s largest body of fresh water.

IMG_1780 IMG_1788 IMG_1789 IMG_1792We drove right through Duluth then headed NW into Minnesota.  The heavy rain we had been driving through turned into horizontlly blowing snow!

IMG_1794 IMG_1798By the time we drove into Grand Rapids for the night the snow had stopped and it was raining again, but the wind was very cold.  We dashed across the parking lot to the hotel next door for dinner and happily closed the door to our hotel room when we got back.  I sure hope we don’t wake up to six inches of snow tomorrow.


2014 Oct 2 – Day 105 – Mackinaw City, MI to Iron Mountain, MI

Another day of driving. Today was a rainy day instead of a foggy day.  It did stop sometime after lunch but we crossed the 5 mile ‘Mighty Mac” (Mackinac) bridge in pouring rain which was too bad.  I bet the view of the Lakes (Huron on the right, Michigan on the left) would be great on a sunny day.

IMG_1695 IMG_1696

Obviously those two Great Lakes are at the same height above sea level – 579′ – but there are differences in the other three.  Lake Superior is 600′, Lake Erie is  570′ and Lake Ontario is the lowest at 246′.  The Soo Locks (4 in the US and 1 in Canada) adjust the difference between Superior and Huron.  The Niagara Falls on the Niagara River which flows from Lake Erie into Lake Ontario, cascade 128′ plus all the rapids upstream.  Impossible to navigate; so the Welland Canal locks, not too far to the west, were built to drop the ships between Erie and Ontario, a difference of 324′ and then into the St. Lawrence River to the Atlantic Ocean.  The five Great Lakes were extremely instumental in the expansion west of Canada and the USA.

Despite the rain; hardy, dedicated little ol’ me stood in the cold, cold water of Lake Huron to complete my Great Lakes.  We saw a flight of steps leading to the shore and walked through gorgeous sand at the top and bottom.  Once again, on a clear day it would have been gorgeous – reminiscent of a tropical beach.

IMG_1697 IMG_1704 IMG_1703 IMG_1702We stopped for gas and we stopped for DQ ice cream, but that was as good as it got again today.

There were major deposits of Iron ore in this northwestern corner of Michigan, hence the name Iron Mountain. And Ironwood, MI is about 50 miles further up the road. You can tour an iron mine here in the summer time.

IMG_1708 IMG_1709 IMG_1712 IMG_1716 IMG_1717We checked in to our hotel at Iron Mountain and when we saw the clocks in our room we realized we had crossed a time  zone and it was only 2:30!  That made it a nice short day!  Not a very exciting read for all of you though.  Sorry!

2014 Oct 1 – Day 104 – Port Huron, MI to Mackinaw City, MI

It was a driving day all the way. Other than a couple of pit stops for gas and a snack we drove in and out of the fog for 386 km up to the top of The Mitten to Mackinaw City.  From here we cross the Mackinac Bridge to the U.P. and head due west to Iron Mountain, which is right on the border with Wisconsin.

IMG_1677 IMG_1678The Mackinac Bridge is the only link between the Upper Peninnsula and The Mitten.  We have been told it has a $5.00 toll.  They must rake in a lot of money since all the folks in Michigan must cross it to get from the top of the state to the bottom. Why the smaller portion of the Upper Peninnsula wasn’t just added to the state of Wisconsin, I don’t know.  It would have made more sense really.  But, I’m sure it was a case of, “My land is my land and I’m not moving my border just because it is logical.”

The I-90 that we travelled through New York was a toll highway.  It started about 50 miles east of Saratoga Springs and went right across to the Canadian border at Buffalo.  Every exit/entry point has toll booths. When you enter the freeway you are given a little card.  On the card are the names of all the accessible cities with their freeway exit number and the cost to get there.  If you go all the way from one side of the state to the other it will cost you $11.60.  We started part way along and left before the end and our cost was $10:40.  You hand over your little card at the booth when you exit, the person can see where you entered the freeway and you will charged the stated fee. It is a pretty slick system.

Since we were travelling northward once more we noticed more color in the trees again.  The fog would lift for awhile then sock in.  The sky was a low grey all day.

IMG_1687 IMG_1691 IMG_1692We passed a little island in Lake Huron; shrouded mysteriously in the fog.  John stopped the truck and I clambered down the bank to take a couple of pics.  That was the excitement for the day.

IMG_1680 IMG_1682 IMG_1684This entire coastline is one small holiday town after another.  Everywhere there are cottages to rent.  There are some lovely sandy beaches and quite a few State Recreation areas and parks.  I think it must be booming in the summer – a very busy holiday and fishing area.

They also have a plethora of skunks.  We drove by so many dead skunks it was ridiculous.  Since New Brunswick most of the road kill has been skunks, raccoons, and porcupines.  We have seen two dead deer, a couple of birds and quite a few squirrels (we even hit one in a town.  John didn’t even see it.  It ran out of the ditch on my side and right into the truck.  No chance at all) .  But the smell of dead skunk just seems to clears away and we see another one.  Poor things.