1966 Airstream

Restoring aluminum on an iron chassis

July 29 Part Deux: The Enchanted Forest

 

Seventeen years ago, my husband and I sped past the Enchanted Forest. He wasn’t my husband then, but I do believe he asked me if I wanted to go. By the time I answered, he had left it in the dust (PS, I kind of wanted to go, but I remember it being dark and it must have been closing time. ). Now we have a 7 year old with just enough reading skills to determine that this is a place he must visit. So we did. I was expecting a Roadside Attraction. With the exception of the Big Texan in Amarillo, I haven’t been to many Roadside Attractions so I didn’t know exactly what to expect. In a forest that looks like it belongs on the West side of the Mountains (ferns, big trees, etc), concrete figurines of fairy tale and nursery rhyme characters are displayed. Allegedly, the figures were made without molds, which seems like a very challenging thing to do with concrete. It is not clay. Some of them looked a bit scary in the way clowns are scary, but we had a good time.

kittens

Poor little kittens.

Most impressive, as my husband pointed out, were the fairy tale houses: Little houses constructed out of real wood, stone, brick, and wood shinglest hat were just the right size for my two year old daughter. As the Canadian said, if these were at Disneyland, they would be made of styrofoam or plastic, and probably wired for internet. But in British Columbia, it is the real thing. I expected Frodo Baggins or at least one of the seven dwarfs to step out and say hello.

fairy houseshoe

A hobbit house and The Old Woman who lived in the Shoe.

After a one hour walk through the enchantment, we headed back to the Nature Trail to take a swamp boat ride. The swamp was impressive: no bugs and it was not smelly (Ahh..this is the swamp for Disneyland). It was about 2 feet deep, and you could see to the bottom so the water was quite clear. We put on some ancient life jackets and paddled around for a bit.  We walked back via the nature trail and were delighted to see another vintage Airstream in the parking lot. A “Bambi” sized one.

 

 

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July 29 Mt. Revelstoke

After a day at Glacier National Park, I was eager to drive the “Meadows in the Sky” Parkway. This is the name of the road up Mt. Revelstoke in Revelstoke National Park (Revelstoke is a very fun word to stay. It makes me want to revel! And give me a fire so I can stoke it! ) . In some stroke (stoke) of good fortune, our National Park admission from the previous day was good until 4:00 PM the following day. We entered , started the 20 something kilometer drive, and pulled over to check out this view of Revelstoke and the Columbia River:

view

You are required to park your car 1 kilometer from the top (When in Canada, I try to embrace the Metric System. It is hard. Very hard.), and there is a shuttle to take you to the top. On top, there are a network of short trails and some longer hikes. We wandered around the shorter trails, looking at wildflowers and according to my husband, admiring the National Bird of Canada (The Mosquito). The Ranger who drove the shuttle (the same cheerful guy who warned us about the Mama Grizzly), positively explained that the mosquitos pollinate the wildflowers. I was thankful I had brought the mosquito repellent. Simply on the premise that I would be highly irritated if we needed some and it was back in the Airstream. And need it we did. We had many sightings of the National Bird of Canada, and I got to share with others (even the cheerful Rnager asked for a squirt). The highlight of Mt. Revelstoke was the wildflowers in bloom.

flowers

We were surrounded by Mountains. There were mountains in any direction that you looked. In Canada, there are so many mountains, that a group of them visible from the Fire Lookout was designated “The Unnamed Peaks.” Might I propose the following names: Anonymous, Jane Doe, John Doe, TBD, and Unknown.

Glacier and Mt. Revelstoke are smaller National Parks that must live in the shadows of Banff and Lake Louise. I found these parks to be under-appreciated jewels. This was good luck for us. Neither was crowded. We saw about 8 people on our hike at Glacier National Park.  Mt. Revelstoke was busier and more easily accessible. Our shuttle van to the top was full, but I wouldn’t describe it as crowded. I also appreciated the fact that there were no gift shops or things for sale. This is much different than that National Parks I have visited in the USA, where there are gift shops everywhere.  Though I really wanted a sticker for our Airstream.

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Side Trip: Revelstoke

On the way home from the Glacier hike, we drove through downtown Revelstoke. Our first drive through had been before the hike, when we realized we needed some gas to get up to Roger’s Pass. I noticed a Visitor’s Center near the gas station, and walked over to collect a stamp (two more until I get the prize!). I chatted briefly with the staff, and got a map of Revelstoke. I don’t know how this happened, but our family started watching a Discovery Channel show “Gold Rush”. Because of this, my daughter plays with toy excavators. Anyway, Revelstoke was featured in an episode when Todd goes to collect a trommel, which tumbles and separates rocks and dirt from gold. Or it does when it works. So I asked. The young woman at the Visitor’s Center remembered the filming, and knew the location of the trommel-maker (there must be a better name for this profession, but I do not know it. Mining Supplier?) On our way home, I had the Canadian drive by the industrial park where the trommel was made. He was a little underwhelmed by this suggestion but he did it anyway. Something else was being made in the garage. And the trommel-makers (friends of the elves and the Shoemaker, no doubt) were still at work at 5:30 PM. I snapped this photo:

trommel

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July 28 Glacier National Park

“The Columbia Mountains are steep and the valleys narrow, allowing for only a few easy hikes and a good number of challenging ones” read the trail guide picked up from the Roger’s Pass Visitor’s Centre. With an energetic, solar-powered seven year-old boy and a backpack to carry our two year-old daughter, my husband and I decided that we were up for the Glacier National Park challenge. We headed to the Illecillewaet Campground, and selected the Mt. Sir McDonald trail. We were encouraged by a cheerful Ranger who insisted that the Mama Grizzly and her two cubs spotted in the area would not be much of a danger as long as we stayed in a tight group and made noise. “Sing!” he suggested. I caught his both his optimism and his warning, and proceeded to sing almost every song I know. Our hike began on a wide, flat trail that followed along the ruins of the Glacier House Hotel. Here my concert began, a camp song describing how “The Other Day I Met a Bear.” The trail was formerly a mountaineering route laid by Swiss guides for guests of the hotel. We crossed a bridge at the confluence of the Asulkan and Illecillewaet Rivers. My singing continued “Flea, Fly, Mosquito.” The forested trial continued uphill along the river, not too steep but enough to get my heart pumping. My son scurried, his movement steadily ringing the bear bell on his backpack. We arrived at a sign stating that we were entering an avalanche path, prime grizzly bear country. We proceeded, following the cairns that led us through the boulder field. Hiking, singing, and breathing in high altitude requires a lot of oxygen. I just have a feeling that perhaps, that day was the first time the words to “Oklahoma” rang out in that valley. We declared a stream in the boulders our turn-around spot. The descent was quick, we never met the bears, and the kids happily posed for a picture at the end of the trail. Hiking: if the kids are happy, “Everything is awesome.”

Roger’s Pass Visitor’s Center: I was very happy to find out that Canada has a “Little Explores” program akin the the Junior Ranger Program in the USA National Parks. One of the activities was on “scat”: identifying which animal made the poop on a display in the visitor’s centre (yes, I spelled it the Canadian way. The rangers who greeted me with “Hello. Bon Jour just put me in that sprit) . You will be happy to know that the scat was made out of rubber. I was going through the activity with Shay, and one scat (moose, I believe) was described as looking like a cow pattie. Shay looked at me and said, “What is a cow pattie?” Yes, through the Little Explorers Program I made the horrifying discovery that my son did not know what a cow pattie was nor what it looked like.  I had failed him as a mother some how. I had failed as an Oklahoman raised by Texans.  I had failed as a person who likes clean-ish shoe bottoms.  I knew what a cow pattie was and how to avoid stepping in one by the age of 7 (Thanks Dad, it was probably you who taught me this).   The ranch neighboring the Ranch we were staying at Sicamous houses cows in the winter, so the Canadian was able to point out an old, stepped-on, cow pattie but not a fine specimen. I am on the hunt! No photo on the internet will do. This is field learning, my friends.

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July 27 Sounds of Sicamous

After so much road-tripping, we spent the day on the ranch and in nearby Sicamous. The ranch had an ambitious vegetable garden planted by Cousin Kerri: carrots, potatoes, cucumbers, beets, lettuce, corn, basil, tomatoes. She was kind enough to invite us to harvest a few things during our stay. Shay demonstrated his ability to “live off the land” and picked a few carrots for him and his sister to munch on.

sicamousranch

We ate breakfast and headed to the town of Sicamous. Our first stop was the Visitor’s Center (new stamp!) We went to Moose Mulligan’s for lunch, which is located on the Shuswap Lake. There are actually boat slips for parking (and a traditional parking lot). We watched the boaters park.  After lunch we headed to the public beach on lake Shuswap. The beach was nice and sandy, the day sunny, and when I stepped in the cold water I noticed that the sand sparkled. Because I watch “Gold Rush”, and am an expert, I decided that the sand contained the mineral pyrite (fool’s gold). I felt like Edward Cullen sparkling in the sun (if I rubbed myself with sand). We splashed, dug, and played. At one point, my daughter was face down in the sand and told me she was a starfish. After attempting to wash off as much sand as possible, we packed back into the car and headed to the local grocery store to stock up for the week. Canadian finds that slipped into the cart: Cheezies (better than cheetos with a much shorter ingredient list and no msg), True Lemon (lemonade powder made with stevia and lemon oil) Que Pasa tortilla chips (made in Richmond, British Columbia but just roll with it), Things that were all wrong that slipped into our cart: Cadbury Dairy Milk in lieu of Hershey’s. The “family size” bar was part of the s’more display. Yes, it was chocolate and yes, it tasted just fine, but still, all wrong somehow. My editorial comment: Canadians pay a lot for food. Things cost around double the Trader Joe’s price.

The town of Sicamous and a ranch lie on a major rail line. If I were observant, I would tell you it was the “Transcanada Rail” or ” Canadian Pacific Rail” but, alas, I can not tell you.  The sounds of Sicamous come from the frequent passing trains. A trestle (is that what you call a bridge for trains?) even passed over the lake and public beach. Any train tracks that I can think of in the major metropolitan area where I live are fenced in or are otherwise unreachable. I guess Canada is so large, and the track so long, and perhaps Canadians so smart as to stay away, that they don’t even bother. I marveled on the public accessibility of the rail tracks.

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July 25 Border Crossing

We started the morning with a quick trip to downtown Coeur D’Alene. The kids and I got dropped off in a park while Dad packed up the camper. We played on the beach and saw part of the moose trail, that recreates a children’s book about a moose and a mouse.

We drove to Post Falls, Idaho to cross the border into Canada. Interestingly, they have appeared to cut a straight, thin, clearing through the forest and across the mountains that must indicate where the actual border is. I had to deposit our uneaten because-they-froze-in-the-camper-fridge apricots into a chest freezer because they were not allowed across the border. Thankfully the rest of us were. The drive to Kaslo, BC included the longest free ferry ride in North America across Kooteney Lake:

We stayed at the Mirror Lake Campground near Kaslo. The Mirror Lake Campground contained a lakeside vintage playground and a floating dock that you could swim out to and jump off of. I took my first teeter-totter ride with my son and daughter. Reminder: He who weighs the most works the hardest on the see-saw.  I pushed them on a metal merry-go-round (and hopped on) It was always big responsibility, being the pusher who had to hop on. We got what I consider the best site in the campground, right by the lake and by the playground. It was an electrical-only site, and that must be why we got it, since every other trailer/motorhome seemed to be loving their sewer connection (the stinky slinky). It pays to simplify. Our bathroom system still doesn’t work.

mirrorlakecampsite

 

Site 185

 

vintagemerry

 

Ride the Vintage Merry Go Round.

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July 26 Kaslo “Switzerland of the Americas” to Sicamous

switzerlandofamericas

 

We spent the morning in Kaslo, “Switzerland of the America’s” alongside Kootney Lake surrounded by mountains. I was looking for chocolate and a yodeler, which are things I associate with Switzerland. Also, Ricola cough drops. I didn’t find any of the above, though I expect I could have found some chocolate. However, I did find some delicious garlic. I bought it at the Kaslo Saturday market. the It was $2.00. I even think the farmer gave me a discount. I was feeling a bit ripped off until I actual cooked with the garlic. The “Quebec Northern” was lovely, fresh and delicious. I wish I had taken it’s picture, and had a way to thank the garlic-growing farmer.

My family toured a boat with Victorian antiques while I spent some time in the visitor’s center. I picked up BC Parks Passports for us. You gather stamps at visitor centers and provincial parks for a prize! After our morning in Kaslo, we left for our final destination: Sicamous, BC. This trip included a stop in New Denver (visitor center stamp!) and second free ferry ride at Galena Bay. We arrived at the Shuswap Guest Ranch in Sicamous, BC, and were joined by what came to be our favorite evening dinner guest: a screech owl who hunted in the garden on the ranch each evening. The ranch owners told me that it was screech owl, and I believe them, but we never heard any screeching. Perhaps camping with a 2 year old and a 7 year old make us immune to those things, and it doesn’t make sense to screech while hunting anyway. He was very silent while he hunted.

 

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July 24 Silverwood and the Polar Vortex

 

The Couer d’ Alene stop allowed us to spend a day at Silverwood Theme Park, full of family fun and kettle corn. There was all kinds of excitement at Silverwood. The storm that had caused us to pull over in Ritzville the previous day had put on a big show at Silverwood, and there were trees down. In the Silverwood campground, We saw two rvs that had been somewhat smushed due to falling trees, and talked to many people who were back because they had gotten free tickets due because most of the rides had shut down the previous day. The day was rather chilly. We learned the hard way that people can pay 25 cents to spray you on water rides where you think you might not get too wet (Log ride). They probably targeted our sweet, innocent family because we put on our rain coats to ride. Take that! My son and husband are part Canadian polar bear, so they wanted to spend some time in the water park, called Boulder Beach. I made a joke as we were walking through the near-deserted water park, calling it “Hypothermia Beach.” A lifeguard overheard me and said that someone had actually gotten hypothermia. Instead of getting hypothermia, Ella and I opted for a spell of vertigo and rode the carousel 7 times in a row.  We reunited as a family. I took Shay on his first roller coaster ride: The Tremor. It just may have been my last roller coaster ride.

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July 23 Fed Dub to Coeur D’ Alene

All good trips must come to a beginning, so we left home around 11 AM for a 5 hour and 40 minute drive across I-90. Airstream. Check. Passports. Check. Two children. Check. We were taking the long/scenic way to Sicamous, British Columbia, Canada. It was raining hard when we left, and continued to rain until we were headed down Snoqualmie Pass. We stopped in Ellensberg, WA for fruit: doughnut peaches and apricots. I encountered my first can of Cougar Gold, a cheese made at Washington State University that is stored in a can. I really wanted to buy it. According to the sign, it could last 10 days at temperatures under 70 degrees, and then needed to be refrigerated. I wasn’t sure that the Cougar Gold tin can would survive our Airstream tin can, so I left without it. Next time. As we passed Moses Lake, the rain started again and also brought it’s fine friends: lightening, wind and more wind. We enjoyed watching giant tumbleweeds that looked like hedgehogs racing across the desert attempt to cross the road in front of us. They were fanatastic. I wanted to collect one, with visions of hanging lights on it at Christmas. But I didn’t have space for a large, wet tumbleweed and wasn’t sure about attempting to get it through US-Canada customs twice (My apricots wound up confiscated and in a freezer at the Port , Idaho border crossing. The freezer was large, but not large enough for the tumbleweed) And the winds were blowing like crazy, so it would have been hard to catch a tumbleweed. We continued to watch them blow by while we waited out the storm in Ritzville, Washington.

 

The next scheduled stop was a Wal Mart. Since this is a blog about restoring our 1966 Airstream, I must mention that the toilet/sewer/bathroom system is not restored. We normally use the campground restrooms/outhouses, so it is not a problem. Our destination in Sicamous is a ranch owned by my husband’s cousin, so the Canadian felt like we should equip ourselves. He made his first recreational, legal pot purchase. At Wal Mart, none the less.

pot

 

We arrived at Blackwell Island RV Park near downtown Coeur D’ Alene. We were in site # 180. It was a very large rv park with all the hookups, laundry, and showers/restrooms. There was a play structure, the kind you would have been jealous of if it had been in your friend’s backyard. The RV park was near a highway, so not exactly peaceful, but the traffic continued at such a pace overnight that it was almost white noise.

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Heading Home

On our long drive back from Prosser, we stopped at the Market.

.airy

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