Our first mini adventure in the red rocket got off to a faltering start... but not because of him. We offered to drop a new acquaintance, Shannon at the greyhound depot hoping that karma would look upon this act favourably (it’s that sort of place, man)... Karma clearly not approve as we were still looking for it half an hour later (despite the fact it was only 5km away and we'd driven past it loads of times). But find it we did, and we eventually began the journey proper: 450km over mountains and through creeks, Jeremy didn't complain and just kept on going though he does seem to have a penchant for the gas! That's a 3 litre V6 American engine for you. But then you remember that even with all taxes and admin charges he only cost us around 600 sterling some or all of which we hope to get when we sell him, it doesn’t seem so bad.
I’d forgotten to mention that on our second day of ownership I’d decided to figure out the buttons on the keyfob (all writing having long since been rubbed off); I found central locking and a button for opening the boot, they were really handy but that still left two buttons; I kept my finger pressed on one and… the engine started! By remote control! How cool is that? In case you were wondering, the other button stopped it again. That kept me amused for ages :o)
Anyway, back to the journey… the scenery was immense: mountains and valleys all the way with the occasional prairie thrown in for good measure (usually housing a herd of alpaca). I saw my first major piece of wildlife: an enormous eagle took off from the side of the road just as we approached - the wingspan seemed to be as big as our van - very impressive (the thing that it had been eating was clearly less impressed). Not long after, we climbed our first mountain road and - very tentatively - put our faith in the snow-tyres. I realized how tentative when moments later a Subaru came flying past at twice our speed, but I don't care! We made it safe and sound (and just a little bit tired) to our new home of Rossland, BC.
The hostel itself is less salubrious than the last (and indeed, all the rest). There’s not much to write about as we are avoiding spending much time here. Plus points are its right on the high street and even though we booked in to an 8 person shared dorm we had it all to ourselves except for the last night (and you really can’t complain too much at $20 a night). We realize how much we liked the last place :o/
Thursday we hit Red Mountain with less enthusiasm than normal… so little snow combined with a lot of freeze/thaw has left the place very icey and no amount of piste bashing could make up for the conditions (hence no pictures). Katy went out for the afternoon whilst I absorbed the rays at the day lodge accompanied by Michael Palin (you will notice a trend forming here).
The following day we gave the snow a miss and went for a walk. We called in at the tourist office in the next town along (Trail) where a very bubbly lady talked at us about all the options. She warned us that bears had started waking up from their slumbers so we had to make plenty of noise (with our bear whistles!) to make sure we didn’t startle them. She was quite surprised when we pointed out that we don’t have bears in the UK and she said she couldn’t wait to share that fact with her friend from the Isle of Man :o) Anyway, we found our route and hiked through woodland on the outskirts of Trail.
The trail was nice but a little tame, so we went off-piste and ended up climbing a rock-face, hoping for sightings of eagles and bears but all we saw were ants and spiders. Anyway, it was a fab spot for lunch; we found a big rock and munched on sandwiches. But it transpired that the climb up is easier than the climb down; we both scrabbled and Katy fell (a little bit) and after rummaging through the undergrowth (taking on board more crawly-bitey things than we would normally be comfortable with) we made it back to the path. After a brief shakedown to remove wildlife, we headed back. We were disappointed not to see more wildlife, but very relieved to find Jezza where we left him.
We headed back via the river which runs through the town centre, it was a gorgeous hot, sunny day, but as Katy’s feet discovered, the river water was still alpine fresh! Back in town, we had our second only experience of American food chains (so far) when we ventured in to Dairy Queen on the hunt for ice-cream. With a name like that I was expecting good things but it turned out to be about as dairy as Burger King. Together I guess they are the royalty of fast food. Anyway, I got my ice-cream… first one in over six weeks – a special treat :o)
We popped in to ‘Canadian Tire’ to check the options for kitting the van out for sleeping if we decide to take him through America. It seems do-able! After that, Katy had her first go at driving the rocket. Twice around the car park, then on to the open highway. Tentative at first (but no more so than me) she soon got in to the groove and we successfully made it back to base (despite a slight navigator error, which I prefer to think of as an additional sight-seeing opportunity).
Katy removed another spider.