We crossed the border at Roosville out of Montana. It was a simple crossing with a few basic questions:
- How long will you be in Canada?
- Where are you going?
- I see you have dogs; I assume they are current on vaccinations?
- Do you have any fruits or vegetables?
- Do you have any weapons, ammunition or pepper spray?
- Do you have more than 10,000 in cash?
The man took the passports when we offered them, but never requested the dog papers. When I mentioned that we had bear spray from our last visit to Canada, he asked if it was labeled “bear spray” or “pepper spray” and I replied that it was clearly BEAR SPRAY. We also offered the radishes but he said they were fine. There was no inspections or checks of any kind.
We thought we would make great time to Nelson, but we were delayed by Operation Dog Rescue (see last post for that story). The drive is very beautiful however, so we enjoyed the scenery and climbed up and down the Canadian hills.
In Nelson we found our “usual” curbside parking location outside the VW/Peugeot/Citroën/Etc. shop of our friends and settled in. A dog walk through the neighborhoods of Nelson is a workout, as the town is built on a serious sloping hillside with a river at the bottom. It is similar to Jerome, without the sliding! Mexican dinner in town (albeit an abbreviated menu due to a power outage) ice cream and a brief riverside stroll made for a perfect Nelson evening. The true highlight of the evening was cruising town in the fully restored Citroën. It is luxurious, unique and quite beautiful. Thanks for the memorable ride, Keenan.
We hit the Nelson street market in the morning (another workout walk up and down the hillside) for some vegetables, homemade pesto and a pie for our next driveway stop. Then we tried to do a couple of errands in town, but it became somewhat comical. Each stop led us to another social call! We loved meeting van owners as they pulled in to say hello at the grocery store (hi Cheri) and laundromat. Just as we were leaving town, an Instagram of our van showed up on someones page so we stopped by the Tribute board shop to meet Shane! Once again Nelson felt welcoming and friendly to us.
It turned out okay that our Nelson day stretched out with social calls, because we didn’t have far to drive. The next visit would be just outside Castlegar. Along the way we stopped at the Organic Mechanic and it brought back a flood of memories. This man is probably at the tail end of his 60’s and has acres of VW’s. His wooden, two-bay shop is crammed full of projects and the walls are lined with OEM, German and pulled parts for VW. He has a well-maintained, extensive collection of tools to work on the Volkswagens that pass through his doors. The whole place looks a little rough, but he is clearly revered as a knowledgeable mechanic. Although the eyes and words behind his whiskers and spectacles revealed that he is ready to be done. He reminded me so much of my father it was eerie. And the similarities to the family shop; BB’s Project VW were striking. It made me ponder how many of these little gems are hidden all around. And reminded me of the burden we recently completed in liquidating the years of VW love and collecting in a place like this one.
About a year ago a VW Vanagon owner in the Vancouver area started a new Facebook page. It was her idea to connect VW travelers with people who could host them for the night. Fern and a few others developed a listing and a mapping system and it has grown HUGE. We use this resource when we are traveling sometimes and it always proves invaluable! A secure place to park and a bathroom are all most van owners really need. But sometimes more is awesome! If you are a VW driver that reads this blog, you might consider adding yourself to the VW Westie Driveway Camp Group page on Facebook.
Next stop- a beautiful, grassy yard with flowers and yard art, a garden and an outhouse! The driveway hosts were an absolute joy to visit with. They had prepared light snacks, which we enjoyed as we discussed Burning Man (yep, they are experienced Burners) and a delicious dinner. The pie we brought was boring compared to the kitchen skills that came from this household! Keith and Roxanne are warm and welcoming and have a beautiful location to share. The dogs enjoyed a long walk to the creek while I partook of the gorgeous outdoor shower! We made a quick grocery stop in Castlegar and encountered this big, huge sticker mobile! And of course, we had to try a Canadian Crystal Pepsi. If you are a Pepsi fan, skip it! It has no smell and no caramel coloring….. the missing odor really makes a difference!
Some time ago we had contacted a person through WorkAway.info regarding our free time and possible ability to help with the building project. We had been in touch several times as our plans flexed and changed. Finally we would meet Geoff and see his project. But timing of our visit had changed so much, we weren’t really sure we could be much help. The tour of his mountaintop paradise confirmed that worry. The place is amazing! Breathtaking views and a quality of construction that is unlike anything I have seen. But the projects that need to be tackled deserve a worker who can offer multiple weeks of commitment- and that is simply not us. We felt terrible saying no, but it would have been an injustice to stay a day or two and barely make a contribution to such a large undertaking. We enjoyed a night on the ledge of his beautiful place, and wished him well as we departed the next morning. If you are interested in opportunities such as this, I urge you to check out www.workaway.info (be sure you find dot info as dotcom is a scam). There are opportunities to work for people all around the world in exchange for room and board. It is a unique way to travel, meet people and share your skills. We just regret that the timing was not right for us when we finally met with this one.
As we rolled down from the mountaintop with some sadness and regrets we remembered the Vanagon owners in Penticton that we wanted to visit with. So a breakfast stop with Anna and Carol was next. Carol had invited us to our place up north but we weren’t going to make it. But as coincidence has it, she had driven her van south and was visiting Anna in Penticton. Anna’s house is awesome, but beware during fruit ripening season, you can’t leave empty-handed. Even though we offered very little notice, they received us readily as we rolled in, and we were so glad to meet them! Beautiful people with warm and welcoming vibes! It was just the visit we needed to cheer us back up. They gave us suggestions for routes and we shared info about past travels. We ate and chatted for a few hours and then packed up for a slow, deliberate drive towards the coast of BC. We are hopeful that we meet up with one or both of them again. Anna, if you are reading this post, lets head to Baja. Carol……. Arizona awaits your next visit and we can caravan across the border!
We picked a dirt road cut off from Summerland to Princeton that we wanted to tackle. But first we made a stop in Summerland. This area is known for it fruits and vegetables. This farm stand was beautiful. But Mike opted for a peach pie, which would later be a breakfast meal with coffee.
Then we located the muddy, messy road and took off for the woods. The road is a logging road and fairly passable. But to locate a campsite we took off down a two-track and claimed a small patch on the edge of a meadow. The holes in the meadow kept the dogs busy while we read, relaxed and discussed the flurry of social activities we had just wrapped up!
When we exited the logging road the van was a mess. We stopped for some van-spa action and then moved on to the west side of British Columbia.
This was a great break before the busy city of Vancouver hits us. Keep reading to learn about our adventures in Vancouver, the Sunshine Coast and some ferries!