…and More Lakes

We were on the road last Fur-iday and I completely forgot about the blog until Saturday. Sorry about that. And Saturday was the fullest day on the trip and I was exhausted by the time we got back to camp.

Camp time by the Moyie River at Yahk.

So, where did I leave off? Right. T’s birthday and the anticipated company. Both arrived right on schedule, along with some cool, wet weather. But we RVers are nothing if not adaptable. After Auntie Sus and her friends Mike and Lily arrived from Ymir, the six of us walked to Two Scoop Steve’s for chili and soup rather than ice cream! There was also birthday cake eatin’, guitar pickin’, campground walkin’, story tellin’, and fireside sittin’. Good times along the Moyie River at Yahk Provincial Park (and we did get that ice cream cone when it started to warm up).

Birthday guests hangin’ by the Moyie.

Cranbrook was our next stop, just an overnight in an RV park to give T and Nollind a chance to sanitize the trailer tanks for the season. They took a walk around town without me because they had some shopping to do and I was quite happy to nap in the trailer rather than spend my afternoon tied outside various stores. In the evening we walked around our neighbourhood and came across a somewhat perplexing group of adult playground equipment. T and Nollind gave each machine a try while I watched from the rubber matting.

Adult playground in Cranbrook.

Tuesday morning we were on our way again, northbound on Highway 95A to Kimberley for a lunch stop. The weather was fine for outdoor dining so I scored a great spot on the sidewalk patio of a little Mexican place. I do love dog-friendly patios and think all restaurants should have them. At the Burrito Grill they even brought me my own beverage!

Dos Equis extra extra light.

Our destination for the day was Whiteswan Lake Provincial Park, a park with two lakes and four campgrounds at the end of a gravel road. It was a long, dusty, bumpy way in, but we finally arrived at Alces Lake (Moose Lake) and the first campground only to find it mostly full with just a few undesirable spots open. After 21 kms of white-knuckling the often narrow logging road, I could tell T was ready to get out from behind the wheel, but her desire to find a nice camp spot won out and we were on the road again. Four more bouncy kilometres later, we were at Muskrat Point, another nearly full and disappointing destination. Never one to give up on a dream, T drove on, bound for Inlet Creek.

Whiteswan Lake … so pretty but no good place to camp.

The next four kilometres were really rough but, without anywhere to turn around, we forged on, only to find that Inlet Creek was more parking lot than campground, about half full and right on the dusty logging road.

In addition to the disappointing campgrounds, the rough road had caused the medicine cabinet to bounce open and all of the tooth cleaning equipment had landed in the toilet. It was the final straw. The white flag flew, the towel was thrown in, I was fed my dinner on the side of the road, and we started our trek back to the highway with Nollind at the wheel.

After a short visit to Lussier Hot Springs at km 17 of the Whiteswan Road and a stop at an RV park store for a couple of toothbrushes, we were bound for Premier Lake. It was a complete unknown but looked good online and was close. The road in was not great but, compared to Whiteswan, a complete walk in the park, we found a nice spot in the loop nearest the lake, and we were settled and down at the beach just in time for sunset. The day had been salvaged.

Aaahhhh…first evening at Premier Lake.

Premier Lake was named for the premier of BC at the time it was established but the other meaning of the word— top-ranking, second to none and outstanding—definitely fits. What a place! Nothing but the sound of loons calling across the lake every morning, day hikes to nearby blue-green mountain lakes, wild turtles, a creek running right through the campground, and so many swimming opportunities. I could have stayed longer than the three days and can’t wait to go back.

Premier Lake near the campground.
One of the inhabitants of Turtle Lake.

The final stop on our 12-day tour was a cabin near Invermere that belongs to a friend of Nollind’s. We parked Simon in a lovely shaded spot and I was finally able to be off leash. Thanks, Al!

Invermere was the busiest (and most death defying) of our stops, with a trip to town for burgers and a walk around town on day one and a visit to the farmers market and a dog park on day two. Invermere was also the warmest of our stops with near 30C (86F) temperatures both days. By the time we’d wandered the market on Saturday morning I was so ready for a swim that I was in the water first chance I got at Ray Brydon Park. Trouble was, the water I chose, Toby Creek, was running high and fast with spring run-off and I was swept away before T and Nollind realized what was happening.

Breakfast at the Invermere Farmer’s Market.

I managed to swim to an island, scramble on shore, and there they were, my peeps, looking back at me from the other side with worried expressions. T called me to the upstream end of the island so I’d have more time to get across before I met the full, river-sized channel downstream. I wasn’t so sure I wanted to get back in there but I trust my people and there was T, looking enthusiastic and calling me to join her on the other side. I went back in the water and was immediately caught up in the current. T disappeared from view and I was swept past the spot where Nollind was waiting in an opening in the underbrush a little farther downstream. Oh boy, I was in trouble. I spotted another opening in the shrubs that lined the creek and paddled as hard as I could. I was so happy when I felt solid ground under my feet. I was thoroughly soaked and a little shaken but the welcome I got on shore was almost worth the scare. Almost.

Wiped out after my big day.

On the way home, we made one last stop near Banff for one more lake, one more swim, and one more nap. This trip brought my 2019 lake tally to nineteen—Sylvan, Sturgeon, Williston, Charlie, Little, Saskatoon, Crimson, Twin, Chinook, Alces, Whiteswan, Premier, Cat’s Eye, Turtle, Canuck, Yankee, Columbia, Windermere, and Two-Jack—and it’s only just the first day of summer!

Where to next?
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WWLD – A Tribute

We’ve crossed paths with a lot of great peeps in our travels, and our California friend Leon is right up there at the top of the list. Partly because he brought Sue and her endless supply of treats, but also because he was just one of those kind and gentle human beings that we dogs are drawn to.

Hangin’ at “The Pond”

We first met Leon back in 2012 on our first big RV adventure in the desert. We were boondocking at a little lake called Fortuna Pond near Yuma, Arizona. “The Pond” is a popular spot for snowbirds because you can park right beside the water … and it’s free!

That cowboy hat in the background would become very familiar.

Fortuna was pretty crowded when we arrived but, after consulting a Washington couple on how comfortable they were with us parked off the nose of their rig, we pulled in close to them, leaving enough room for maybe one small trailer between us and the next camp.

A couple of days later, we were off exploring the area and, when we returned, there was not one, but two good-sized motorhomes squeezed into the space we thought barely big enough for one. As it turned out, it was lucky for us these particular Californians were handy at fitting into small spaces because one of those motorhomes belonged to Sue & Leon and the other to their friend Rick.

There goes the neighbourhood!

That week at Fortuna was filled with many games of ladder ball, a few alcoholic beverages (the peeps not us), and many a campfire tale with our new friends (along with a few unsanctioned visits to Sue’s place for snacks). It was tough to say goodbye when it came time for the next leg of our journey, but we drove off confident we’d see our friends again.

Saying goodbye … or rather, “See you again soon!”

And we did, a few years later in Quartzsite when we visited their camp at Scaddan Wash. And then again the following year, when they invited us to camp with them at Ogilby Road near Yuma. We had such a good time those ten days and the fun continued when they joined our camp a few weeks later at Wickenburg.

The camp on Ogilby Road.
No doubt imparting some wisdom as Nollind hitches up Sid.

You may be wondering about the title of this blog, WWLD. You see, Leon was like an RV sage, all knowing, ever wise. He’d been RVing for years, had spent a lot of time off the grid, and there wasn’t a trick he hadn’t picked up, a shortcut he didn’t know about. So, when T and Nollind are stuck, they always ask, “What would Leon do?” At Ogilby, my peeps were ready to start adding to the propane tank system on Sid until Leon wandered over to have a look and ask a few important questions. Turned out the system already had the thing they were going to install!

Leon taking his girl for a spin in Fang.
A fond farewell at Ogilby … but not for long as it turned out.

From my perspective, the answer to WWLD is put a beer in your hand, a smile on your face, and wander from camp to camp getting to know the neighbours. Leon would know a little about everybody within an easy sauntering radius, always having time to listen to a story or tell one. He loved campfire time like no one I’ve ever met, and even built a cozy surround for the sometimes windy desert evenings.

Campfire time at Vulture Peak near Wickenburg, AZ.
The campfire surround set up at Ogilby Road.

We saw Leon the winter before last when we joined their camp at Scaddan Wash in early February. He seemed to be slowing down a little but still had that same sparkle in his eye, that same love of a good story.

Another winter, another gathering at Quartzsite.
A couple of old boys sharing a drink at Scaddan Wash in 2018.

Leon lost his battle with cancer a week ago and the celebration of his life is tomorrow. If Sacramento weren’t so far away, we’d be there to tell our Leon stories. I have no idea how his friends and family will possibly fit all those tall tales into one short afternoon.

Always time for one more story…
And one last goodbye.

As for us, I’m pretty sure the next time we travel south the desert will feel a little emptier. But, we’ll enjoy a campfire, take a walk, get to know a neighbour … because that’s what Leon would do.

Lakes and … More Lakes

Can you believe it? We managed to squeeze in not just one, or two, but three more lake stops on our way home from northern British Columbia. I was a happy hound.

We left Charlie Lake last Sunday after a teary farewell with T’s mom. She and I had a great visit. She even gave me a whole sandwich one afternoon, left it right there on a low table for me to help myself. For someone not accustomed to having dogs around she’s very considerate.

Picnic lunch in Hudson’s Hope (and yes, they shared).

We’d already said goodbye to T’s sister on Wednesday, so I was down to just one woman to spoil me as we set off for the same dog-friendly hotel we stayed at on our journey north. It was comfy and clean with no additional fees for me, right on the river for our evening and morning walk-abouts, and included a full breakfast big enough for T to share. Tough to beat.

The hotel’s backyard.

It was a cold, rainy day as we set out, but had cleared enough by the halfway point that we took a short detour to a place called Saskatoon Island Provincial Park near Grande Prairie for our midway walk break. T likes to stretch her legs every few hours and I am happy to oblige. Lake stop #1.

The path to Little Lake through aspen forest.

Saskatoon Island is just as the name might suggest, a piece of land between two lakes that is loaded with Saskatoon bushes. There weren’t any berries yet, but then I’m not a huge berry fan anyway.

We walked the trail to Little Lake, which is the smaller of the two lakes as you might have guessed, to a windy cove. I so wanted to go swimming but T was worried about the heavy algae that had blown into the bay, concerned it might mess with my digestive system. I suppose I get it. Diarrhea when staying in a hotel room would be a nasty thing to manage.

Can you see the tension on the leash? I really wanted to go in.

Legs stretched, bright green aspen trees enjoyed, we took a short tour of the busy campground (it was a holiday weekend in Canada) and the Saskatoon Lake boat launch area and were on our way.

I get comfortable with new places pretty quickly so returning to the Quality Inn was a bit like coming home. I trotted through the front door and went straight to the front desk to mooch a biscuit. Leaving the lobby to the right down a hallway instead of up the stairs was a bit confusing at first, but I guess that’s how hotels work…you don’t always get the same bedroom.

Movie time at the hotel. I do love a good movie.

Monday morning, after my bacon, hash browns, and toast second breakfast, we were driving on Highway 43 under sunny skies. T turned south on Highway 22, also known as the scenic Cowboy Trail. I’d seen her scouting the route south, looking for halfway hike locations, so I put my vote in for another lake stop. And she didn’t disappoint me.

Well worth the drive.

It was the longest off-highway detour we’d taken on our journey, fifteen minutes each way, but well worth the additional car time. Crimson Lake Provincial Park near Rocky Mountain House was the best lake stop yet. Wooded trails, a blue-green mountain lake, and a great beach for taking a dip. According to Wiki, the lake was named for the striking colours of the setting sun reflecting on the surface of its waters as seen by an early trapper. We didn’t get to see the sunset this time but, based on how T lit up during our short visit, I’d say we’ll be back.

A dip in Crimson Lake.

Again we toured the campground, more thoroughly this time, and I’m pretty sure T was picturing Simon in a bunch of the spots.

I’d barely settled in for the rest of the journey when we were pulling off the highway again. What? Another Lake? Yup, indeed. I’m not sure the name of the little lakes in this provincial recreation area, but it’s called Twin Lakes because there are, you guessed it, two of them! I’d had a good swim at Crimson Lake only a half hour before so we just walked a short trail to the larger lake and back. Lots of fish in this lake. I would have liked to sample a few.

The larger of Twin Lakes.

We break from our story for a quick lake tally. Sylvan, Sturgeon, Williston, Charlie, Little, Saskatoon, Crimson, and Twin. If I’m not mistaken, that makes eight lakes on our tour, nine if you count Twin as two! Do you think T likes lakes?

After a short tour of downtown Rocky Mountain House, we continued south on the Cowboy Trail, stopping in Sundre along the Red Deer River for our dinner stop and—can you believe it?—yet another walk.

Riverfront in Sundre at the Greenwood Campground.

As T oohed and aahed at the beautiful foothills landscape to the west of Highway 22, I settled in for the journey home, barely noticing when we turned east toward the prairie.

Somewhere along Highway 22, The Cowboy Trail.

Best. Road trip. Ever.