Crossing into Canada! (and dialing 911!)

Bellingham WA was our last stop before crossing into Canada.  We met up with a couple, Linda and Steve (The Chouters & Scoopy), who I “met” on RVillage.  RVillage is a website, sort of like FaceBook, but designed for RV’ers.  When you “check-in” to your campground, it will tell you if there are others already there; also there are sub-groups you can join for common interests, and the group we met on is called “North to Alaska”.  We decided to meet up after realizing we were planning to cross at the same place only a day apart and decide if we wanted to travel together. Traveling with another couple (or couples) can be a lot of fun, we’ve done it before; but it can be difficult if all parties are not on the same page on things.  What kind of things you may be wondering?  Well, everyone has their own way of traveling – let me give you some examples:  What time do you like to leave in the morning?  How many miles/how many hours a day do you like to cover?  Do you like to eat in or out?  What type of places do you like to stop and see?  Where do you like to spend the night (only in FHU CG’s or is Walmart/Cracker Barrel type boondocking ok?)?  All these factors, and probably a few I have not mentioned, go into deciding if couples can be good traveling partners.  Most important, you have to be honest with yourself and the other couple about these preferences, as to avoid hard feelings later on.  After numerous messages back and forth and then talking in person, Bill and I decided we wanted to travel with Linda and Steve, and they felt the same about us!

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Our only full day in Bellingham was spent with me working on my post about Seattle, while Bill did a few last minute chores.  He set the frig on blocks so it wasn’t sitting on the front wheels anymore; he checked all tires for proper inflation; he inspected all the running gear and greased what needed it; sanitized the fresh water tank; and fixed our desk drawer (it’s had a bad habit of opening during driving).  We were originally going to go grocery shopping, but Linda and Steve were planning a stop less than 2 miles into Canada at a Costco, and offered to take us with them!  Awesome!

I was cleaning up after dinner and Bill says “come on – let’s go!”.  I’m like “where are we going?”  “It’s a surprise!”  Oh boy, you just never know with this man!  He entered an address into the GPS and after a few minutes, we pulled into a spot and parked.  Still no idea where we were headed.  A short walk later and there was the HUGE ice cream place coming into view – I should have known – ice cream!  It was yummy!  Probably a zillion calories, but very good!  I had cookies & cream and coconut flake with caramel topping.  Bill had some kind of chocolate and red currant with hot fudge and almonds.  We both enjoyed our caloric splurge!  Afterwards we walked around a bit, and stopped into a store that sold record albums!  I hadn’t seen that many record albums in years!  It was cool to just look at all the album covers.  Sadly, my phone had died, so no pics!

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check out these crazy sounding flavors!

We had agreed to be on the road on our BIG day by 10am, and we were ready to go right on time!  We pulled up to the Sumas Border Patrol Crossing right around 11am.  There were only a few cars in front of Linda  and Steve, and next thing we knew – it was our turn to pull up to the window!  The lady was very nice – but no-nonsense!  All business!  She very quickly looked at our passports and rattled off her list of well memorized questions:  How long will we be in Canada?  Will we be visiting anyone and leaving anything with them? Do we have any guns, tasers, knifes, or bear spray?  Do we have fresh produce, alcohol, or tobacco?  Also, where we were from, asked what town, and when was the last time we visited Canada. No questions about eggs, poultry, or even if we had a pet. We answered all honestly and pulled away from the window within 5 minutes.  She was polite and efficient!  Whew!

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that’s Steve and Linda in front of us!

Our first stop was Costco, less than 2 miles from the border.  We parked next to it in the parking lot of a store that was closed.  It was after we got out that Steve asked if our GPS was still working – yes it was!  We took the lead when we pulled out b/c theirs was not working since they crossed the border – Steve said it just quit working!  We can lead – no problem!  The plan was to spend our first night in Hope at the Visitor Center, so we entered it into the Garmin after putting away all groceries and away we went!

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Something I had not considered, but as we came upon the first overpass, is how high are we in meters?  We always figure 13’6″ for our height, but DUH – Canadians don’t mark their overpasses in feet!  For those unaware (and I was one of you!) there are 39″ per meter, so we are about 4.2 meters high.  The overpass was over 5 meters so we were good to go!  While doing some figuring, I decided to go ahead and convert our +/- 25,000lbs rig/truck into kilograms.  There is about 2.2 lbs per kilogram so we are about 12,000 kilograms.  I made a note with all this info and am leaving it handy in the cab of the truck.

The drive to Hope was beautiful and we had no problems, and we arrived at the Visitor Center before they closed.  Steve and Bill went in to find out where we could park for the night.  We got parked and settled and happy hour was enjoyed!  We decided to go for a walk around town.

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The river area was amazing!  There are mountains all around, and the clouds were just hanging around the tops of them.  Very pretty!

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The town was small and very quaint and had a lot of wood sculptures around.  We went into a store that carried camping supplies, as Linda and Steve were on the hunt for bear spray for hiking.

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Further up the road there was a liquor store.  While we weren’t really needing any, we wanted to take a look and see what prices were like.  Bill did end up getting a bottle of Cuban rum, as he wanted to compare it to our fav 2 Jamaican rums, and, of course, we cannot buy it in the states.

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We were back on the road by about 10am the next morning, our stop for the night would be Williams Lake, at the Discovery Tourist Centre.   The views along they way continued to be beautiful!  Bill and I needed to fill up on fuel, we got lucky and happened onto a small local station selling diesel for $.96 Canadian per liter.  Not too bad, especially for a credit card price.  We had seen it as high as $1.14 on GasBuddy.  There are 3.78 liters per gallon, so to figure what we paid per gallon, I can take .96 x 3.78 = $3.62 but then we have to convert that to US$; the approximate conversion is $.80 Canadian to $1 US, so $3.62 x .8 = $2.89.  Much higher than what we’ve been paying in the USA, but so far not as bad as expected.  That may change as we get further north.

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no height marked on the tunnel!

We passed some beautiful views along the way.

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Along the way to Williams Lake, we stopped at 100 Mile House Visitor Center.  We needed to stretch our legs, so we took a walk around the small lake nearby.

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getting in some nature and some exercise
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if you look closely, you can see our rigs next to the visitor center

We easily found the Discovery Visitor Center and pulled into one of their long pull through sites.  Linda and Steve caught up a few minutes later after filling up.  Bill had already gone in and gotten the official ok from the lady inside to stay the night.

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This sculpture is in honor a local resident, Rick Hanson, who was born in Williams Lake and suffered a spinal cord injury. He did a fundraiser called Man in Motion, he wheeled his wheelchair 40,000 km or 25,000 miles and raised $26 MILLION DOLLARS back in 1985, for spinal cord injury research. His foundation, Rick Hanson Foundation, has raised $245,000,000! WOW!

Linda suggested we finish setting up, and gather for happy hour in the space between our 2 rigs.  Since we were parked at an angle to the road, we were mostly hidden there.  What turned out to be a bit of a bad thing was our door side was exposed and we couldn’t see it while enjoying our wine and homemade guacamole (VERY yummy!  Thanks Linda!).

The reason this turned out to be a bad thing, since it’s usually not, is all of a sudden I hear a mans voice.  We could not see him, but heard him.  Bill got up and walked around the rig to find a man knocking on our screen door.  We had left the outside door open, thinking the visitor center is closed, no one is here but us.  Guess we were wrong!  The man wanted to know if he had a light, to light a stubby little cigarette butt.  Bill let him use our flame stick and he went away.  Thinking that was the end of it, he locked the door (just in case) and rejoined us.  While that was happening, the 3 of us were talking about if we should go see what was up, and just as I was going to ask Steve to go with me to look, Bill came around the side.  He relayed to us what happened and we were relived that the man went away.  Bill said he seemed like maybe he was on something, but was coherent and polite, and he didn’t feel threatened or anything like that.

Our relief was short lived, however.  Within 10 minutes the man was back.  It was clear to me immediately that he was not “right”.  I hate to say it, but he was very clearly high, possibly drinking as well.  He didn’t walk up close to us, stayed back about 15′ or so.  Steve got up to talk to him.  After a couple minutes, I nudged Bill to go stand with Steve.  Safety in numbers, right?  The man started to open his shirt and show them something on his chest and that really got Linda and I VERY concerned – this guy was not going away and we were in over our heads!  I had my phone right there, so I got up and moved out of sight and called 911.  Linda got up and whispered to me “Get in the rig!” So I followed her into her rig, so we could be away from the situation, yet still see what was happening.  The 911 dispatcher asked me did we need police, ambulance or fire?  I told her police.  She then asked what’s happening?  I explained where we were and about the man, this was his second time returning and he was clearly high, and something was wrong and he was making us nervous.  She tried to say “well – you are in a public place”, but then Steve came in and said the man was telling them he had been mauled by a bear and that’s what he was showing them scratches on his chest.  I relayed this to the dispatcher, who said “are they new or old looking scratches?”  Now I’m getting irritated b/c I feel like she is blowing me off a bit.  So – I raise my voice a little and told her I am not a doctor, I have no idea if the scratches are new, old or what – clearly this man needed help and more than we were qualified to give.  Ok – I had her full attention now – she would send someone.  Thank you!

It seemed like a long time, but it probably wasn’t, and not one, or two, but 3 cop cars – lights flashing but no sirens – pulled into the street.  After going the wrong way for a second, they came back around and pulled into the lot where we were.  They pulled in and took over the situation.  Linda and I stayed out of the way while they spoke to Bill and Steve and the man, who’s name we learned is Paul.  The police clearly knew him well.  I was not surprised by that.  Next thing we know, an ambulance and another police car pull in – Linda and I were very relieved!  We had been hoping they would take him away!

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After the police and ambulance pulled out – taking Paul with them! – we picked up where we left off with out happy hour!  We really needed that extra glass of wine now! We got the rest of the story from Bill and Steve, turns out Paul was “on” something and smelled heavily of liquor.   I was just so happy (as was everyone else!) that they took him, our concern being if he wouldn’t leave on his own and/or asked for something we couldn’t or were unwilling to give him, money for example.  Would he become violent?  We had no idea.

That sure could have been worse!  I have to say, and Steve and Linda agree, if either of us had been on our own, we probably would have left after Paul showed up the first time.  This is a huge part of the reason we like to travel with others when boondocking in public places – safety in numbers!  Thanks Steve and Linda!

The rest of the evening was uneventful – thankfully and we were able to get some sleep.   We woke the next morning to another sunny beautiful day!   We spent some time in the Visitor Centre and then went on our way toward Prince George, BC.

Have I told you lately how much I LOVE my life?!  I’m leaving you today with this pic of my very adorable kitty – who is very happy to be out of her crate!

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