We left Vernon on June 7 at 9 am with a starting mileage of 3735 miles (not kilometres). About 15 minutes later we had to stop at the Log Barn (see last entry) to fix the blind that fell down. We also took this opportunity to stock up on Mennonite sausage. It's great from this shop but it's expensive ($21.95 for 4 pieces of sausage). Just outside of Revelstoke the Sirius radio quit. We stopped and discovered (from unscrewing the unit from the housing) that a wire had come loose. Fixed and moving on. We stopped at the Husky in Golden for fuel ($131.1/litre) and lunch. We've stopped here before so we know the food is good! Our server at Husky said this was the worst winter she had experienced. There was apparently one day when they got two feet of snow all at once. They are doing a lot of road construction both before and after Golden. It should make the road much safer. Rivers continue to be very high. Along the way we saw four rocky mountain sheep (Golden), an elk with a very small baby (Field) and two bears (just before Banff). The weather is mixed, mostly cloudy with a few showers. We arrived at Riverbend Campground in Okotoks AB at around 7 pm. It wasn't the greatest spot. Very muddy and unkept. It also cost $50 which was a real rip-off.
On the 8th (Maureen's birthday) we went into Calgary with the coach to visit Craig at Shaw Direct (Star Choice) who has been so helpful to us over the years. We parked the coach at the Husky Travel Centre across the street. We hand delivered to Craig a bottle of 2005 Burrowing Owl Merlot and he took us on a tour of the call centre, introducing us to a lot of the staff including the Director of the Call Centre, the Manager of Technology and the VP of Operations of Shaw Direct. He also gave us a golf shirt and jacket. We then did a little grocery shopping and purchased gas for the Jeep at Safeway for $1.08/litre and then headed to Lethbridge. Bridgeview RV Resort is a Holiday Trails Resort and is much better, although quite muddy and wet in the first spot we were in. We had to move. We had a nasty rain storm during the hockey game.
The 9th the weather had cleared up a bit, although still cloudy. We went for a drive around Lethbridge. We started at Fort Whoop-Up. It is a 1967 replica of a fort originally built in 1869 during the fur trade and was used also as a NWMP (Northwest Mounted Police) base for the unlawful West. They have a lot of old artifacts there, especially from the Cree, Blood and Blackfoot Indians. Very well done. We stopped at Gunnery Park on Lake Henderson for a picnic lunch. This "complex" has Henderson Lake, Exhibition Park, a campground and the Japanese Garden. Of interest in this lake is the fact that years ago they introduced a Grass Carp fish which keeps down the weeds/grass in the lake. We then did a little shopping discovering Bulk Barn which was fun. What a great selection of bulk items. The first BC location is just going to open in Vernon. Then we went to the Keg for appies and drinks for dinner.
We left Lethbridge on the 10th for Regina. We stopped for diesel and lunch at Swift Current ($1.15/litre). Of note is the fact that Trans Canada 1 from Moose Jaw to Regina takes the prize for the worst road we've been on so far - beats out California! We stayed at King's Acres for two nights. There were a bazillion mosquitoes in the grass so we pretty much stayed inside the coach. We had a great visit with several of Larry's relatives on Saturday. Ethel and Donny (and Eva) are his mother's siblings. Ethel's children are Dianne, Doug (Sheila and Derrick), Ray and Darryl. In the afternoon we had a visit from another cousin, Marsha.
Sunday we left for Grenfell, where Larry and his brother were born. We stayed in Auntie Margurite's driveway (another sibling of Larry's mom). Her daughter Bernice and son-in-law Rick arrived shortly after from their cottage at the lake with some leftovers which we had for lunch. We went to their place for a great BBQ steak dinner. They have a beautiful new house. Rick is an exceptional cabinet maker so the woodworking is wonderful. We checked out a couple of places where Larry's mom and dad had lived during their time in Grenfell and Auntie Margurite told some good stories. It was a bit of a tearful goodbye the next day. Unfortunately we left a bit of a hole in the driveway from one of the hydraulic jacks!
Then on Monday we headed for Saskatoon and stayed at the Saskatoon 16 West RV Park for two nights. Not bad but dusty with more mosquitoes in the long grass. It's either mud or dust here in this province! We did this backtracking because Larry's cousin was not in Saskatoon until the 14th. We were able to visit with Dwayne and his wife Jan for dinner on the 14th. A young man who used to play hockey with Kelly dropped by for a quick visit also on his way home from work. Nice to see Jeff!
Impressions of Saskatchewan - rolling green hills, lots of standing water, long trains and big equipment along the highway, a big snake in the middle of the road, and silly gophers just standing in the road.
On the 15th we drove south toward Estevan. There is quite a bit of construction on the roads around Saskatoon and there was some bridge work being done on Hwy 2 near Buffalo Pound Lake. We were able to avoid the bad patch of Trans Canada 1 from Moose Jaw to Regina by going south on Hwy 39. It was pretty good most of the way. There was a slowing to one lane traffic near Midale where the water was threatening to overcome the road and was also close to washing out the railroad.
We had to park at the Wal-Mart in Estevan for two nights. Both the campgrounds were closed due to flooding. Larry lived in Estevan from 1955 to 1973. A lot has not changed - including the streets which have not been repaired since then - but a lot has - oil work is booming right now (or it would be if there was not so much water around). There is a huge open pit coal mine here as well as farming. We connected with some interesting people and went for a drink at the Legion. Bob is a meat cutter at Sobey's and took us on a tour around town as well as had us over for humongous BBQ steaks for dinner. We watched the very disappointing Game 7 at Bob's place.
The next morning when we woke up we discovered that the batteries had died! This meant the fridge was off for a few hours. We started the generator and soon hit the road. Larry talked to Tiffin on the road and they decided it was something to do with the Automatic Generator Start. Hopefully that problem is fixed, should we ever have to dry camp again.
We stopped in Carnduff, SK to visit Debbie, one of Larry's cousins. She has a hair salon there. She picked us a beautiful bouquet of tiger lilies. It was great to see her. The plan from there was to stay at the casino in Carlyle overnight but the drive was going so well we ended up going all the way to Winnipeg. There were several heavy showers along the way but once we got out of Saskatchewan the road was good. The Assiniboine River and later the Red, are very full, overflowing in some places. Diesel at Husky was $1.06 per litre.
This ends the first leg of the trip - aka checking on the relatives!