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Published: October 20th 2017
You know we boarded the ferry with the mouse passenger....well..... When it was time to disembark, we returned to the Rig and checked the traps with trepidation. They were still set, but the peanut butter had gone, and so had the mouse ....... obviously far too smart to fall for that old trick. Or the traps were useless.
We drove off the ferry and passed through customs. They asked the usual questions. In addition they enquired “any weapons, any bear spray, any pets”....... we hesitated. Do we say we have an Alaskan mouse stowaway then stand back to see if they rush on board like Ghost Busters and help eradicate him...? . The moment passed, sanity took over. “No, no animals” we replied. We were waved through.
That night, lying in bed, we listened to the sound of mocking jubilant, tiny paws pattering across the ceiling. Now we hated that mouse. War was declared.
We checked instructions on the internet. It appeared we had been over feeding him, only a tiny amount of bait was required and we were offering a feast.
Next day we set of to purchase
some different traps and thinking he might be more of a sweet toothed mouse bought some chocolate spread. Perhaps we could tempt him with a broader menu.
We unscrewed every area we could, removed ceiling vents and took out drawers. It looked like we were deconstructing the Rig. Traps laid..... we waited
That night we heard a scurrying noise and..... a snap!! I tried to ignore this but Graeme got up to look. Success, we had him, but alive. We looked at each other in despair and the mouse looked at us in distress. What should we do? Our first step was to contain him in a saucepan which had a clear lid, through which we regarded each other.
The rig was in a state of dismantlement and we were in a state of undress. We Googled “how far do you have to go to release a mouse so it won’t return” it was something like four acres. We then Googled, how far is four acres? Too far, it was half past midnight on an inky black rainy night.(A word of advice for you, there is absolutely no need for you
to ever visit Prince Rupert even though it has an inviting name) We looked through the lid of the saucepan, he looked back, big round pleading eyes, lovely little ears twitching. This situation confirmed we are not natural born killers.
If we had been leaving the next day we could have put him out as we drove off but we were not, another plan was required. Rather guiltily, the best option we could think of was to put him into the bear proof rubbish bin. It was bad, but not that bad as (a) he wouldn’t starve to death and (b) a bear couldn’t get him.
Feeling pleased with the outcome we returned to bed. Just as we were falling asleep we were disturbed by a now familiar pattering of paws rushing around above our heads. Perhaps it was looking for something?
Time for another Ferry trip, this time from Prince Rupert to Port Hardy on Vancouver Island. It is an 18 hour trip or, an 18 hour window of opportunity depending on how you look at it. Hearts now hardened, before we left the Rig on the vehicle deck, we
set the traps.
Result? Let’s just say that three of us got on the boat and only two got off.
The Inland Passage was a trip we had always wanted to do, which is why we originally considered a cruise. We felt we could complete our Alaskan experience by returning via this route. OK, instead of a luxury cruise ship you go by Ferry, and although the food experience might not be the same the scenery is. Well, it is if you can see it. Most of the way it was misty and rainy which really limited the views. Apparently this is not unusual. I had never considered the fact that you might book a cruise, fly all the way from the UK and not see anything. We still enjoyed it, and the weather did improve a bit to reveal the view. The scenery was lovely but, after the mainland views we had enjoyed, it was not really comparable.
We were heading to Vancouver Island for a few reasons.
We had visited before but not seen the north of the Island
We were looking forward
to meeting up with Jos, Sue, Lynn and Martin, who would be there at the start of their Canadian trip through the Rockies, and we were going to catch up with George and Kathy, who were our neighbours whilst we were in Los Barriles.
Well, true to BC geography the top third of the island was full of trees, lakes and tiny coves. It got more interesting from Campbell River onwards.
We met up with George and Kathy at their place in Lake Cowichan. They took us out on the lake in their boat and to a classic car show. Oh, and we went to their neighbour’s party which included an Elvis impersonator & a bloke who used to play guitar for Bryan Adams when he started out. Bryan Adams was originally from Vancouver Island. We then moved on to Victoria to meet up with Jos, Sue, Lynn and Martin. It was great to catch up with them all.
We did the touristy stuff, visited a great museum, enjoyed a free blues festival, wandered around an old boat show, and cycled. We would have stayed longer, but when we were in
Alaska our fridge had broken. We had been without it for weeks and were now bored with the situation, & it was time to get it mended.
As with many of these RV specialist places, the expert for this job was to be found in a small, somewhat out of the way community, and so to Enderby we did go. But first we dropped in to meet Ron & Cheryl, & spend a few days with them at the campsite they were staying on whilst their house was being renovated. A nice way to complete our Alaskan trip.
The place the guys in Enderby work out of is a rundown barn with a roof full of pigeons, but they have a great reputation as the place to go, to get RV refrigerators fixed. Over the next 3 days they refurbished the cooling system & returned the fridge as good as new whilst we checked out the local coffee shops and bars, all of which offered music and one, very good cocktails. It was a happening sort of place this Enderby. Just to check everything was ok, we booked into Mable Lake RV Resort, just
up the road, for the weekend. This was the first RV Park we have been to that had an airstrip on a golf course.
From Enderby we had planned to head north to Banff, to meet up with Loretta and Doug, who we had last seen in Mexico. But it was getting cold, and in places was already snowing, there were fires all around us in British Columbia, Oregon, Washington & Montana, & we didn’t really fancy any of that. Loretta & Doug were heading to Moab so we agreed to meet them there. We idled away a few more days in Penticton, where we met up with Jane and Rainer before heading towards the border.
We have a ten year multiple entry visas which allows six months in a year in the USA. We had only used two of our six months, and considering that we had been in and out of Alaska and Haines with no one stamping our passports we anticipated that we would be given the remainder of these months. Well, we had had it easy till now
The usual preparations took place, (you are now as
familiar with this as we are, aren’t you) and approached the border in Idaho. We handed over our passports and waited for them to be stamped. He looked at our previous visa stamp and said we could go. Are you not going to re stamp it Graeme enquired. No, he replied because you have until Oct 16th
. But we have been in Canada for months, so you normally you stamp them when we enter we said. No we don’t, he said. We tried to discuss it; he invited us into the office. Again we requested another visa stamp, he wouldn’t have it. But this is a multiple entry visa we said in as many nice polite ways as we could. I am not stamping it he said in just as many but not so polite ways. We stood there, he stood there, we stood there a bit longer and so did he. It was just like a Mexican standoff, only not, because in Mexico they say” come on in, how long would you like, stamp, stamp and in we go.
Eventually, we blinked first. The trouble was, he was huge, he was wearing the uniform, he had
a gun and at this point, he had our passports. He also had the power to revoke our visa completely. At one point he did go to the computer, to Google the rules I suppose. Then his boss came out and said “is Canada your home?” No we replied, and then you can’t have a new visa he said. We knew we were right, as every other time we had crossed the border they had stamped our passports, but we were not going to win this.
Then, rather oddly the Guard said “you could return to Canada, come back after Oct 16th
then we will give you another six months”. We looked at each other, this didn’t make any sense at all as we then would have had 12 months in a year, he didn’t appear to realise that, and we were not going to point it out!
He was sending us into the US with no stamp to show we had left Canada, or to show we had entered America. We could easily have become “illegals” We took our passports and left to consider our options.
We could return into
Canada, drive further along the border and enter through Montana, where hopefully they would stamp our passports.
We could spend another 3 months in Canada, but winter in Canada was not an attractive proposition, not even for Canadians. After all, most of them leave.
We could just drive through the USA and go to Mexico. It is 1600 miles from the Canadian to Mexican border. We know Canadians who do this in three days and we had 22, so it was doable but not quite what we had planned. We pondered on our choices for just a few seconds. We drove south.
We had spent many hours mulling over what we wanted to do on our way through the US. Should we drive through Yellowstone to see it in autumn, perhaps we would visit Glacier National Park, or Flathead Lake, which we missed last year, or perhaps head across to Texas and enter Mexico from there.
But no, not now, there was no time. We drove through Idaho, passed swiftly through “Big Sky country of Montana and into Utah, all in record time. To
recover we stopped each night to wallow in Hot Springs, then onto Moab, where we eventually caught up with Loretta and Doug. They had saved us a place at Kens Lake, one of the nicest sites we have stayed.
Moab is the area from which you visit The Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. Moab itself is a funky busy little town and one of the most popular places in the country for mountain biking and outdoor activities. It also happened to be where they were celebrating a Gay Pride event. Moab obviously supports this community but Utah and many other areas are not always known for acceptance of other peoples “differences” so we decided to go along to support them.
Now, Moab is high dessert, their average rainfall for October is less then 3cm. That morning there was a torrential downpour accompanied by thunder and lightning. In an instant, rivers of red coloured water, inches deep were cascading through the streets. I couldn’t help wondering how many people considered this a “sign” this parade shouldn’t happen.
Eventually the rain stopped the sun came out. I have to say I never expected
to be parading through the streets of Moab behind a rather soggy, dodgy looking rainbow unicorn stuck together with gaffer tape, followed by a variety of bedraggled looking musicians and people. Another first.
The Arches NP consists of 76,519 acres and is home to the world’s largest concentration of natural sandstone arches
Over millions of years the wind, ice and rain has exposed, eroded and created wonderful arches, towering fins, and tall spires and left behind some impossibly balanced rocks.
Some 300 million years ago a sea flowed into this region, eventually evaporating and leaving behind a huge underground salt bed that is thousands of feet thick in places. It is partly due to the absorption property of this salt base that the destructive effect of earthquakes are rare in this area. Although 43 arches have collapsed since 1977 from weather effects there remain over 2000 rock formation and arches, which tells the experts that this region has been stable for at least 50,000 years.
It is an art work in progress, it continues to be sculpted and moulded changing all the time. Old arches fall, new ones
are carved, and cliff faces crack and alter. The area is a geologist’s dream place. If you look at the exposed rocks you can see millions of years of geology looking right back at you.
If you visited here a million years ago you would have seen an endless flat plane dotted with vegetation. As we travelled further south we saw this terrain and could see the future canyons and Buttes emerging. Only a few million more years to go and it would be another spectacular sight.
I have always been a fan of the sound and light shows, and when I saw an advert for one down the Colorado River, I did a quick check on Trip adviser. It had good reviews and said it was “a unique, not to be missed experience”, so I suggested we should go. Later on I noticed it also said “Unchanged since 1966, it was a simple cowboy show and if you don’t want God and religion mentioned it might not be the show for you!”
Well, high tech it certainly was not, the light and shadows were created by someone driving a truck
alongside the river illuminating the cliffs. The narrative managed to please everyone by mentioning God, creation, evolution, cowboys, native Indians and travellers. No images were projected; instead we were encouraged to use our imaginations to define pictures from the shadows on the rock face. It certainly was “a good old Fashioned show”. As we floated along the river in the dark, gazing at the cliffs I felt it was all a bit surreal really, but in a strange sort of way also enjoyable and quite special. I did feel a bit guilty having encouraged Loretta and Doug to join us, it may have been an old fashioned show, but it was not old fashioned prices.
Next we went to visit Canyonlands. The area was once home of ancestral pueblans. Although the items and tools they used have been removed by looters, some of their stone and mud dwellings are well-preserved and you can see some of their petroglyphs.
There is a wonderful quality to desert light and as we strolled along the canyon cliff edge the red rocks of the arches and canyons change before our eyes, the view was stunning
Time for us to all move on. Loretta and Doug were also heading to Mexico but at a later date, so we waved goodbye and set off towards Arizona. En route we made sure to visit the wonderful Mystic Hot Springs, where we had stopped last year. We had to call in again to enjoy their unique hot spring baths. This time we met the owner “mystic Mike” and got to look inside all the old Buses. If you had rented one you would be pleased to find they look much nicer on the inside than out. It is one of our favourite places but I am still desperate to tidy it up!
During this time the terrible Las Vegas shooting had occurred. What can you say? We British will never understand the gun culture here. We will also never understand why, following an awful event such as this many Americans still do not think anything needs to be done and gun sales actually increase. So it was with some bemusement when a few days after the Vegas shootings someone asked me (yet again) if I felt it was safe to go to Mexico! For a moment,
I searched the sentence to see if I could identify any irony in the question, then I remembered where I was. There really is nothing you can say.
During our travels we have been in or near shootings in a Washington Mall, one at a middle-of-nowhere Gas Station, mass shootings in Florida, a shooting in a library in Albuquerque and a road rage shooting in San Diego, There were riots in Louisiana and stabbings in Salt Lake city, and we were not so far from the shootings in Las Vegas. Is this bad timing you may ask? Well no, I don’t think so, there have been 273 mass shootings in the USA to date this year. We have avoided floods, hurricanes, smoke and raging fires. Really all that is missing is pestilence. So the answer is NO, we are not afraid to go to Mexico, we will take our chances.
On a positive note, I was somewhat reassured to read that that Walmart had removed those “bump stocks” from their stores. I soon learned however this will not cause too much inconvenience for those that need this specific “must have” item. Amazon will continue
to deliver them, right to your own post box. That’s good to know. Reassured we headed on to Mexico.
Life on the road is full of coincidence. It was getting to the time of day to think about stopping for the night, so I looked up the nearest campsites, chose Distant Drums and booked in. Or so I thought. When we got there they didn’t have our booking. That sneaking feeling of doubt came upon me, had I called the correct number? Well, no I hadn’t. Still we were now here, it looked nice, and so we booked in. Later we were in the spa pool when we heard brummie accents, and after chatting to them for a while, soon realised that it was Tony & Cathy who we had met in Los Barriles, Mexico last year. They were heading back to spend the winter there. We exchanged news realised we were both heading to Tucson, & agreed to meet up there.
So here we are, sat in Arizona, sorting out things prior to crossing to Mexico next week. It may have been a shorter than anticipated trip through the USA but we still
managed to fit a few things in. The rest will have to wait. Sadly one of those things was meeting Donna & Hippie Jim in New Orleans for the Voodoo Blues Festival and Halloween. Now wouldn’t that have been great.
We have identified some wonderful Ruins, Cenotes, Colonial cities and campsites we want to explore in Mexico as well as revisiting a few favourite places from last year. Mexican markets, margaritas, avocados , Pollo Asada, cerviche, tostadas, tomatoes and veggies are calling. Looking forward to the next six months.
It’s a hard life on the road.
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