Rockies Circle, Part 1

We have embarked on a Circle Tour of the Rockies.  It all started when I said to Bill: “we need to go to Redwater to see your family”.  So we cobbled together a 2-week itinerary to drive 3000 km from home, up to Redwater, just north of Edmonton, and back home again.  Finding campsites with less than 2 weeks notice, in the summer, in the Rockies is quite a challenge.  But we did it.  This will be the longest trip so far, and a good test of living in a van for an extended time, as well as driving some long distances.   Updates will be sparse.  I’m writing this at the Visitor’s Center in Mount Robson Park, where there is some wifi, looking at the tallest mountain in the Rockies.  A nice way to spend the morning!

And, as usual, we are learning as well go!  Here are some of the things we have learned.

BC is beautiful  

We spent our first night in Hope, a lovely town in the middle of the mountains. After we settled in our campsite, we did a lovely walk along the Coquihalla River.

The next day we drove almost 600 km from Hope to Mt Robson Provincial Park.  It was such a varied route and all beautiful.  Initially, the mountains around Hope provided a dramatic landscape, even if it was a bit cloudy.  We did a lot of climbing up  to the summit of the Coquihalla and the scenery was stunning, down into ravines and valleys, with mountains all around.  Then it turned to ranch country, around Merritt and Kamloops, with rolling hills, lots of farms with bright green fields, providing a colourful contrast to the slopes behind.  We followed the North Thompson River for most of the day, and boy was it flowing fast and very high.  Water was rushing right up to the river banks, drowning some trees.  I guess the late melt contributed to the beautiful scene.  At times there were rapids big enough to put the large white water rafting trips down them.  As we got further north, we started to see the Rockies.  Snow capped mountains in the distance, or sometimes looming above the highway was very dramatic.   We enjoyed so many different views on that drive; I was glad we could do this type of trip.

We camped in Robson Meadows, in sight of Mount Robson.  The unsettled weather continued yesterday and we kept wondering if we should hike or stay put.  After lunch, when a stretch of sunlight lit up the skies, we decided to make a go of it.  We originally were going to do a climb to a nice viewpoint, but of course the clouds came in again, with some showers so we stayed low and hiked to Overlander Falls, and along the Fraser river.  What a sight.  Another large and historic river, running at full flow.  Fast and full with rapids and water crashing on the shores.  It was magnificent.

After dinner, we saw lots of blue sky and sunlight, so we walked back to the Visitor’s Center and were treated to sunlight on the surrounding mountains, including Mt. Robson. It was glorious and a real treat to cap off the short stay we had here.

There are mosquitoes in BC!  As we travelled north, they were there.  We put up the netting on the van back and side door, and that made it very livable.  We are spent a lot of time inside where it was ‘safe’ but with the back doors open, the van feels quite spacious!

Loytää and Bubbles behave well on the highway!   We were down to 60 or 70 kph on the steep climbs, but I never had a thought that we would not make it.  There were a lot of transport trucks that like doing speeds well over the speed limit, so I pulled over many times to let them, as well as cars, and even some larger RV rigs, pass us.  I was not in a rush, wanted to see the country side, and wanted to save a bit of gas where possible.  We finally figured out how to display gas economy and average seems to be between 14 and 15L per 100 km.  Not too bad for a large rig towing a trailer full of toys.  We did learn that 600 km is probably a good limit for day of driving, especially on mountain roads.  It took us over 8 hr (including lunch and a few other breaks) and that was long enough.  

We love the van life.  Being self-contained, in a very livable space is awesome.  I love being able to pull over and make a lunch like grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch (in a mosquito infested rest stop which meant Bill was killing mosquitoes in the van for the next couple of hours).  You can’t do that when you are in a car!  Our home in the trees is very comfortable and easy to enjoy.  My little kitchen is very efficient and easy to use and we have great meals.   

Somehow I chose another campsite with some road noise; that’s what happens when you are not familiar with a campsite and throw a dart at the campsite map.  It did not keep us up; I sleep well and Bill is deaf without his hearing aids 😉

Bubbles is the bomb  We now have ALL our gear in there, even hanging up our towels after a shower.  It keeps the van tidy, and free of boxes, and all the gear is weather-protected.  As we drove through the rain, I was glad our bikes were inside Bubbles, and not getting drenched and dirty on the back of the van.

So the first 3 days of our 2-week road trip have been a lot of fun.  Stunning scenery, interesting driving and feeling comfortable and happy in the van.  We leave this morning for another longish drive, looking forward to a weekend reunion with Bill’s family which will be a lot of fun. 

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