Monday, August 2, 2010

"Gang Aft Agley"

It was time to move on.

We left Cochrane, Alberta, with memories of the beautiful prairies, lakes, and mountains near this town of 14,000 between Calgary and Banff.

Before turning south on Route 22, we passed this lumbering business on the edge of town. Seeing this yard reminded me of a very large-scale game of Pick Up Sticks.

But we were headed to Vancouver.

It was overcast the day we left which makes for an easy-on-the-eyes type of drive. The following scenes were observed on the drive along Trans Canada Highway 3 to Vancouver, but there is another story along with the scenery . . . .

We were enjoying the open spaces of southern Alberta when a sudden "POP" came from the truck. After pulling off the highway, I could not find any flat tires, leaking fluids, or broken hoses.

When I tried to drive away, I could go no faster than 20 mph (30 km/h). Not knowing what would be the con-sequences to the truck and to our welfare bopping along at 20 mph, I pulled over and began the series of phone calls to our RV emergency road service company.

I could tell from our GPS that we were about 12 miles north of the intersection with Highway 3, but I had no idea how far we might be from the nearest tow truck or repair station.

After about an 80-minute wait, two trucks showed up--one truck to tow our truck and one truck to tow the RV. Yes, we learned that in Canada it is unlawful for one truck to tow a truck and an RV hitched to the truck.

So that meant unhitching the RV--no simple task on the shoulder of a highway--fortunately, a less-frequently traveled highway.

So, I in my tow truck and Kate in hers headed down 22 toward Pincher Creek, Alberta, listening to tales of the road from our respective drivers.

Pincher Creek, a town of fewer than 4,000 people, had a Ford dealer-ship and some very friendly and helpful people in the service department and the billing department. After offers to tow our RV to one of two nearby campgrounds and a tour of the larger campground, we decided to leave the RV outside the dealership and walk to the nearest motel about a block away.

Now two of the questions that we have been asked over the past two years are: "Don't you ever feel cramped in the RV?" and "Are there times when you wished you could stay in a motel?"

Our answers had always been: "No, we don't feel cramped" and "No we have not wanted to trade a night in the RV for one in a motel."

Well, after a night in a very satisfactory motel, our beliefs were comfirmed. Kate enjoyed a long bath, but that was the only positive.

The next morning brought some good news. The folks repaired the problem involving the hoses for the turbo and provided some additional good news: all the costs were covered under the warranty. Coupled with the bill for towing the two vehicles--total cost: $0.00--we felt very fortunate.

We thanked the people at the dealership for all their assistance and vowed to make Pincher Creek a destination stop if we returned to Alberta again.

It was 10:00 a.m. and we were on the road.

Now an internet distance estimate indicated that it was 420 miles (676 km) from Calgary to Vancouver with the caveat that the distance is calculated "'as the crow flies,' so this may vary from the actual driving distances." Vary, indeed. Given the requirement of navigating the Canadian Rockies, Highway 3 looked something like this on a map as we drove from Pincher Creek, AB to Vancouver, BC: vV\__/\___/\/\__ and totaled a bit over 600 miles (1000 km).

One of those sections of the highway that brought us close to the US border was around the city of Osoyoos, British Columbia.

From our first glimpse of this city in a valley and bordering Osoyoos Lake, we thought this place spelled summer/winter resort.

Probably so, but it is located in the heart of Desert Wine Country. We passed vinyard after vinyard, wishing that we had been able to stick to our original schedule and had included a stop in this area.

We learned that Osoyoos Lake is the warmest fresh water lake in Canada and that the semi-arid climate produces very hot, dry days in the summer and very mild days in the winter.

Since our travel schedule had to be revised, we had to cancel our two overnight stops on the way to Vancouver. Since we were unable to get reservations near the end of our day's travel, this meant a second night in a motel--in Grand Forks, BC.

This time there were no pluses to the motel stay--and our cats were not too pleased with the revised travel plans, either.

(This was a sign along the highway in Keremeos, BC.)

But with our travel situation, we are able to make revisions on the fly, for as Robert Burns said: "The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men, gang aft agley."

But we arrived at our scheduled stay near Vancouver, specifically, Fort Langley, British Columbia on time. The provincial park campground is located on an island in the Fraser River and was a welcome place to just relax after the two days of mountain driving.

By the way, the mountain scenery along Trans Canada Highway 3 was beautiful.

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