Friday, April 27, 2012

We are in Kelowna

Friday, April 27, 2012

We arrived in Kelowna around 2:30 pm yesterday after a horribly rainy drive.  Our sightseeing drive from Soap Lake through the Grand Coulee Dam on highway 155 to Omak, Washington on our way back to Canada was a wash out!  The weather reports that we read said low rainfall but it was a torrential downpour over the summit area from Grand Coulee and down to Omak.  From Omak to Oroville south of Osoyoos where we cross the border it was again torrential.  Windshield wipers on high.  We’ll have to try the scenic route again in good weather.








These are the pictures of our scenic trip over the Hoover Dam.  Can you see anything through the raindrops?

We crossed the border with no problems.  I declared the minimal amount of goods I’d bought, some beer and a couple bottles of wine and we were on our way with no questions about vegetables or fruit or anything else and that was it.  They didn’t even want to know where we’d come from, where we’d spent our winter or anything except when we’d left Canada.  I guess big brother is watching and they know all of that anyway.  Didn’t even scan our passports. Easy!

We were set up in Ian and Linda’s driveway by 3:30 pm and all was well.   We had a good catching up chat with them, a few beers, dinner and we were in bed by 9:30 pm.  It was a rough drive and we were both tired. 

Today I spent a little time with Linda doing some shopping and visiting her mother Ena. 

Ena is soon to be 93 and will be going to a care facility where will have her own studio apartment but will have meals provided in the dining room.  This is the first level of care and is like the one that Eric’s mother Doris has just moved on from.  Doris is now in long term care in Coquitlam and we will go to see her on Monday.  Doris’ memory is gone and she may or may not remember us.  The good thing is that she is physically well and happy where she is.  There are people all around all the time and she is not sitting in her apartment by herself.  Eric’s family had a rough time looking after her until she was able to find a facility that had room for her.  A big relief for the family. 

  So at the end of the day a nice happy hour in the sunshine in Ian and Linda’s back yard with a beer. 


Ian and Eric.


Linda…..say what?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Tada! we made it to…Soap Lake, Washington.

Wednesday April 25, 2012

The weather had been very unsettled in the Boise area and north of us as well with all sorts of thunderstorm watches by the National Weather service along our route so we we worried about pounding rain and wind.  Guess what….nothing happened.  A slight tail wind 15C most of the way and now about 23C in Soap Lake…how great is that.  We have hit such terrible wind on this leg of the journey in the past that we are always really cautious.  We usually stop at the Wal-Mart in Othello, Washington but with our early leaving (7am) and no weather problems we forged on another 80 or so miles.  Arrived here at the Sun Lakes RV park on the north end of Soap Lake around 3:30 and are now set up and relaxing with a beer.  $20 per night (off season) or $40 for three nights which is a deal since we have internet, full hook up, a lake view, showers, hot tub, pool, tennis courts, etc.  It would be packed here in the summer and the price would be a lot higher.  Eric has always wanted to stop here so he got his wish!  We are parked in a beautiful treed site looking at the lake. 


Soap Lake looking south.


Pretty park, that’s us in the trees.


We had a little wind and rain while we had supper and then….the sun came out.


Pretty evening.

We did a little alternate route today and headed north at the Stanfield Junction instead of heading up I82 through the tri cities.  It is a boring desolate and usually windy drive until you hit the tri cities and then it is a busy hodge podge of freeways and traffic…so Eric wanted an alternate route.  We left the the I84 at Stanfield Junction onto 395 or 32 whichever you want to call it and then I took us off on South Edwards Road a county road.  We went up a slightly bumpy road through the farmland to #207 and then onto the Columbia Highway which follows the Columbia river and comes out on the east side of the tri cities and then north onto 395 .  We had lunch along the Columbia river and the whole thing was much prettier and more relaxing….except for me because as the not so good navigator I’m always sure I’ll screw up!  Okay today just one minor blip.  Tomorrow Eric wants to go via the Grand Coulee dam on our way to Canada via Osoyoos so that will be more country to see.


Pulled off by the Columbia having lunch. P1020937

Looking north up the river.

Tomorrow…the Grand  Coulee Dam.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

We are in Boise/Meridian.

Tuesday April 24, 2012

We left Ely at about 8am yesterday morning for our almost 400 mile drive to the Boise/Meridian RV park.  This is a long day for us but since it is all wide open straight highway is an easy drive if….there is no screaming wind!  Lucky for us we has slight tail wind and we made good time and got good mileage.  Sweet.  As we passed through the Twin Falls area it was a hot 31C and the thunder heads were starting to build. We were afraid we’d hit rain and wind but we got lucky.  After a quick lunch at a rest stop on I84 we forged on.  It was black behind us and to the west as we headed for daylight!  Everything was hot, wheels, truck, air and turns out record temperatures were set all over the area.  We pulled into the Boise/Meridian KOA park about 3:30 pm our time and 4:30 theirs.  At the front desk they asked how the wind was on the drive from Ely and I said we hadn’t had much.  This is a good thing and since there are huge wind generators along the interstate from Twin Falls to Boise you can guess how much wind they can get in this area.   Lots!  You are on a high, bald prairie.

We were set up and having a beer by 4:30pm and at that point the wind started to pipe up and the thunderheads were building.  It was really hot and it turns out they had set heat record here at 91F and we were happy we had a breeze.  By the time supper was over and we were watching over the air TV (too windy to set up the dish) it was getting dark.  In the middle of our program a weather warning broke in saying that there was a severe thunderstorm and wind warning for some counties of Idaho just west of us. The wind was blowing hard.   At this point we battened down the hatches and went to bed.  This will be happening over the next couple of days as well so we’ll see what our travel plans will be later today.

We were off to find new air filter for the truck, visit the Harley shop and get some groceries.  Eric found an air filter at NAPA and it was about $10 cheaper than the GMC dealer which seemed to be a good deal at the time.  Later when he compared the old one to the new one it is apparent that cheaper isn’t necessarily better as the new one only has only about 1/2 as many pleats as the old one.  Not as good.

At the Harley shop I went looking for the heated jacket I had seen here last fall.  Too late, sold out.  That will teach me to make up my mind more quickly!  Now it turns out they have discontinued that jacket and have a new and improved one that I don’t want.  Drat.  I did get the numbers for the jacket and will check with a few other dealers to see if anyone has one.  This dealer here is huge with the most bikes we have seen anywhere and a huge selection of clothes as well.  Today I was feeling old and frumpy wandering around the shop looking at gear for perky young things with perky young things selling everything.  The funny thing is that most of the Harley riders are actually geezers!  They were playing MoTown music so you know who they were targeting….us old people. 

At this point we were off to WinCo my favorite grocery store ever.  I might have mentioned that too many times already in other blogs but really the prices and quality are super.  Some meat, fish, Tillamook cheese etc. and I was set after paying a mere $150.00.   What really broke my heart were the gorgeous, cheap, fresh vegetables….the best since Mexico and I couldn’t buy hardly any because I can’t take them over the border.  Drat.

Home to unload, have lunch and….check the weather.  We are now in a severe thunderstorm watch area and it will continue along our route from here to Othello, Washington.  We will travel early tomorrow and stop if the weather gets out of hand. 

It is now 4:30 pm and we have just had a big thunderstorm pass through, drop lots of pounding rain, big wind and now the sun is shining and the rain has almost dried up.  Happens fast and furious and it wouldn’t be fun if you were driving on the freeway.  We did here sirens so you know someone had a problem.  We will try to avoid that!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Buy a ticket and ride the train!

Sunday April 22, 2012

Ely (play /ˈli/, EE-lee) is the largest city and county seat of White Pine County, Nevada, United States. Ely was founded as a stagecoach station along the Pony Express and Central Overland Route. Ely's mining boom came later than the other towns along US 50, with the discovery of copper in 1906. Though the railroads connecting the First Transcontinental Railroad to the mines in Austin and Eureka have long been removed, the railroad to Ely is preserved as a heritage railway by the Nevada Northern Railway and known as the Ghost Train of Old Ely.[1][2] As of the 2010 census, the population was 4,255.

Yesterday afternoon we went out after lunch to -get fuel and go down to the Ely train station where they have the museum and gift shop.   I wanted to buy a t-shirt for grandson Shane in Pittsburgh who is interested in trains.  It turned out that the steam trains are actually running right now and we could have ridden one today if we’d only known.  As we were standing outside the gift shop we chatted with a young boy in railroad gear who was a wealth of information.  His Grampa is the volunteer conductor and he told us we should come back and ride the train tomorrow….so we decided that would be a great idea as the weather was good and we aren't in a huge hurry.  So even though we had planned to leave we bought tickets for the 9:30 a.m. ride the next day as we may never get another chance to ride the train. 

If you are interested in seeing the Ely Nevada Railroad site have a look at the site has lots of information and if you ever have the opportunity to stop and have a look on your way through Ely, please do….you won’t be disappointed!  I’m not a railway buff but I was overwhelmed by it all.  Eric’s father, grandfather, uncle and Eric himself all worked for CN telegraph and so were all associated with the railway and the trains.  In the early years when Eric was just a baby he and his family lived in Pacific between Smithers where he was born and Terrace where we now live.   In the early days in northern B.C. transportation  of people and goods revolved around the railroad.  As there were no roads the train was the only transportation link at the time. 

Our day started off early as we had to be at the station by 9:00 a.m and I nearly had a fit when I heard the whistle blow at 8:30 am.  I thought we were late because I wasn’t exactly sure what the time was here in Nevada but lucky for me it was actually 8:30 and we were okay.  So….off to the station for great morning. 

There were actually quite a few people up early to ride the train and everyone was really enthusiastic including the boy who we’d talked to yesterday. 

The train was to take us from East Ely up the canyon to the mine site at Ruth that we had visited Saturday.

Now for the pictures.  I took over a hundred pictures but I’ve pared it down to 50 or so….


Our tickets for the train.


Coming down to the station….see the smoke in behind….that’s the steam engine.


That’s number 40 fired up and ready to go!


Is she beautiful or what?


That’s me in front of the train.  Pretty big eh!P1020830

Built in 1910.


That’s the way we’ll be heading, past all the shops and up towards the mine at Ruth where we were yesterday.


Eric’s heading up into the engine to have a look.  That’s Lennox, the boy we spoke to yesterday and his Grampa the conductor.


That’s the engineer.P1020834

That’s the fireman.


This is the boiler where the fireman has the to throw the coal.  On #40 his throw is about 8 feet to the coal from the tender into the boiler.  On the other locomotive the throw is about 13 feet….a lot more work!  It takes about about 1 hour to get the steam up to pressure on a warm day like today but on a cold day it takes about 4 hours. 


Ready to ride.


Safety first!


Inside the passenger car.


We decided to ride outside on the flat car for a better look.  That’s the caboose at the back.


Heading out on our ride looking back at the station and the yards. The ride out and back will take about an hour and forty five minutes and we’ll travel at about 15 miles per hour.  In her glory days #40 was clocked at 100 miles per hour!  Amazing. 


Steaming up the track.


Heading toward the first tunnel.


The same tailings we’d seen yesterday on our drive to Ruth.  I might mention that as we travelled along we had a running commentary about everything that we saw. 


Still heading up.


Setup for a shoot out. No one there today.  At this point we are on the Y switching to head back down to Ely.


Old mining ore cars used for erosion control.


Me enjoying the ride in the sunshine.  On the way up those of us riding outside had been covered in coal cinders when the train had been building up steam on the uphill grade. 


Heading back down to Ely.  We’d just done a switch on a Y and turned around to head back to the station.


The train yards in the distance.


The water tower is on the left and the coal bunker is on the right.


That’s a spreader car that spreads the rock ballast for the tracks.



Water tower.

P1020890 They use these cars during the summer months to take people out on dinner runs.  All of this maintenance and running of the trains and tracks is hugely expensive so all the tourist dollars are important.  One of these cars was a dining car in the old days.

At this point we got off the train and prepared for a guided tour through the shops where they maintain and rebuild the trains.


That’s copper ore on the left and coal on the right. 


Huge original equipment to repair and maintain the trains.  Eric is looking at a lathe to square up the wheels when they get worn.


Look at the size of that press.  It is used to press the axles out. 


Machines that are still being used and driven by flat belts.


Eric inspecting the machinery.  He would really like to get in there and get his hands dirty!


This is #93 the other steam engine used on their runs in the shop for a little maintenance.


#93 is a 2-8-0 which has 8 drivers while #40 is a 2-6-0 and has 6 drivers. So although #93 is much more powerful #40 is built for speed.  


Huge, huge machines.


This is the big hook!  A steam powered wrecking crane that is still used today to get derailed cars back on the track. 


Bottom of the boom.


This is the capacity for lifting of the machine pictured above.  Still lifting, working and she was built in 1907!


The tracks head right inside where they can work on the trains.


#40 is finished her work for the day and ready to come inside to rest.




The tour is done and the ride is over and we head back to the station. 


Just up the street from the station is this little cafe and we stopped in for lunch on our way home.  A charming old cafe and Inn from days gone by. 

A great day!