~Tuesday, June 21, 2022~
Day 737 (Travel Day)
Day 1 of Alaska Trip
Strangely enough, there hasn’t been a better mattress for my back in years than the one in our trailer. And believe me, it’s nothing fancy. It’s just a standard mattress with a plywood base and storage underneath. I remember when my dad used to have horrible back trouble, the doctor encouraged him to put plywood between the boxspring and the mattress for added support. I never tried it myself until our sleeping set up in the trailer. And it’s made a noticeable difference in my back ever since. So it was nice to be reunited with it after being away 10 days, getting a great night’s sleep before our first leg of the journey to Alaska.
It’s pretty cool that the first official start of driving to the 49th state, falls on the longest day of the year (summer solstice) and the official first day of summer! Today would be about a 200-mile day to Cranbrook, B.C. But first, a stop at our Harvest Host’s Hidden Acres store to purchase a few items and thank them for their warm hospitality.
All hitched up and ready to go, we left the duo at our campspot and took a 2-minute walk to the general store, where we ran into Nicholas, the owner, tending to a few chores while manning the shop.
I guess one of those chores was spraying for weeds which we were forewarned about when he noticed Sadie with us. So Jeff brought her back to the truck, driving her down to the store, so she could watch us from the truck while we shopped. Is she spoiled or what? Nicholas and his wife have done a terrific job carrying on the family legacy (3rd generation farmers) where the hard work never ends. From sun-up to sun-down there’s always so much to take care of but as Nicholas puts it, it’s the work that kept his grandpa and dad young for years. Aside from their U-pick concept, their shop is stocked full of amazing jams, syrups, and pies made from every fruit you can imagine. Deciding what to purchase was not easy, but we finally settled on a jar of huckleberry apple butter and a blueberry pie made from scratch with blueberries from none other than Riley Creek Blueberry Farm in Laclede, Idaho. What a small world as this was one of our first Harvest Host visits at the beginning of our trip in 2020. So it was pretty cool to hear how equally impressed Nicholas was with Stan’s blueberries. I remember like it was yesterday, how delicious Stan’s fresh blueberry pie was. It was also cool that Nicholas was willing to share his positive experience of being a Harvest Host member (they’re in their 4th season of hosting). It’s really helped level out their income stream with the steady flow of RV’ers and campers during the farm’s slower summer months. Their busiest season is Fall with apple picking and pumpkin harvest. Walking back to the trailer with our purchases in hand, we couldn’t help but notice the fancy chicken coup and greetings by the seemingly annoyed geese.
But stealing the show was a mama chicken and her 4-day old chicks…….all ELEVEN of them!!! How does she manage them all? Quite a lot of entertainment for Sadie too, watching from the truck.
Nicholas didn’t seem to need us out of there quickly, so we thought it was as good a place as any, next to the squawking chickens and geese, to fill out our ArriveCAN forms online before hitting the road. ArriveCAN is a digital platform (app) operated by the Government of Canada that allows you to securely provide mandatory travel information up to 3 days before arrival, including proof of COVID-19 vaccinations. The whole process is very simple. Now, it was just a matter of not having any of our food, including Sadie’s confiscated.
Since we had plans to dry camp this evening, I wanted to take advantage of our 5-hour drive by charging all necessary equipment, i.e. camera, laptop, etc. as we prefer not having to run the generator if we don’t have to. I think we finally hit the road around noon. It was nice to see the familiar towns of Laclede (where Stan’s blueberry farm is) and Sandpoint, ID that we liked so much on our last visit in 2020. Today, however, they would just be stops for food and our last cheap gas for the next 3 months (though it’s far from cheap at $5.90/gallon 🤑).
We were looking into staying at either the Horseshoe Lake Recreation area at $18/night or a free spot in a hardware store parking lot. Since it’s only a 1 night stay and we have plenty of water, we decided on living the high life at Home Hardware’s parking lot in Cranbrook, B.C.
I also needed to take care of a few items before crossing the border……the mobile hotspot in our truck and a delivery on a part that we needed. I was told that the hot spot would work in Canada as long as we weren’t too far from the border, though they couldn’t pinpoint exactly just how far that would last. For those of you wanting to know more about vehicle hotspots, it is a separate service (that many carriers offer by the way), which allows me to tap into internet service with my laptop (only if there is a signal and only if the truck is “on”, so to speak. This has been a huge timesaver for me, allowing me to take care of “business”, with the many hours of getting from point A to point B, and then some. Initially, the AT&T representative said that if I wanted to continue the service, I would have to purchase a separate LIMITED 1GB plan for $15/mo. or jump to a 10 GB plan for $70/mo. Usually, I have unlimited service with my $15 monthly plan. After all that, she came to find out from her supervisor that since the phone is registered in the U.S., that I wouldn’t be able to buy a limited service plan after all (something to do with crossing cell towers in different countries). I just have to work with what I have until it peeters out the further north we get, that is until Alaska where I can tap back into the truck’s service.
Next item….our vacuum issue. Wouldn’t you know it, right around the time that we have little to no access to deliveries, our Dyson cordless vacuum decides to have an issue. If there’s one item I cannot do without, it’s the vacuum. A broom just doesn’t cut it. The motor is fine, the suction is fine….everything is fine except the trigger to turn it on. Seriously it has been an amazing machine! And boy does it get heavy use. I use it every single day, sometimes twice a day with all the pet hair and “stuff” dragged in from the forests, beaches, etc. Before leaving this morning, Jeff took the handle apart and could see that the plastic mechanism that activates the power is broken. The part seems like it would cost less than a dollar. I called a representative in Canada and the U.S. to which I was told I could either take it to a service center in Canada or have the part shipped once we’re in Alaska. Since the service centers are nowhere near where we’ll be, it will likely be a delivery to Fairbanks or Anchorage that we’ll have to try and coordinate. And wouldn’t you know it…..our warranty expired in May. 😩Because we were so close to the end of the warranty period, they’re offering us 50% off the part which is normally $75 (it appears the part we need comes assembled with the motor, forcing us to spend more and buy a motor we don’t need). Isn’t that how most things are these days?
While taking in the beauty of the endless green forests against a dramatically clouded sky, (while not making phone calls from the road), Jeff and I came upon the 49th Parallel…..the 5,525-mile-long border between Canada and the United States. Established in 1846, it is the longest undefended international boundary in the world. While the 49th parallel is often thought of as the border between the U.S. and Canada, the vast majority of Canadians (roughly 72%) live below it. 49 degrees above the equator, this line forms the southern boundary of the western provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and most of British Columbia. In 1818, a treaty between Great Britain and the United States designated it as the international boundary from Lake of the Woods to the Rocky Mountains. In the Oregon Territories, a bitter dispute arose, nearly precipitating a war between the two nations before they agreed to extend the boundary to the shore of the Pacific along this parallel, though spats over smaller areas would remain for decades.
I know it’s how the borders layed out, but have always thought it so interesting that you have to go through another country to get to another one of our states? Finally, there it was…… “Kingsgate Port of Entry” and the welcome maple leaf flag (L’Uniefolie as it’s pronounced en Francais). It seemed a good time to arrive as there were only a few cars ahead of us in the one lane that was opened. Expecting a long inspection towing the trailer and all that was inside, the questions were few by our lady patrol agent……… “Are you carrying any firearms?”, “alcohol or tobacco”- to which we listed the ½ bottle of wine, tequila and gin, “What is the purpose of your trip and how long will you be here?” Since we had all of our ArriveCAN information loaded ahead of time on the app, along with the border cameras on our license plate, she had all the information she would ever need right at her finger tips. She took one more look at our passports and we were off. Painless. Hello Canada and hello kilometers. I’ve never been good about converting to metric.
We arrived to the Home Hardware parking lot around 4:30, before they closed. It was perfect timing as we got to choose the most level spot,
before others arrived. And yes, they have Wal-Marts in Canada, but we thought it strange that they don’t allow overnight parking for RVer’s, as most do. Maybe they became overly saturated once the word got out. Once we got set up, it was time for shopping. How could we not, since the Wal-Mart and Real Canadian Superstore were both a hop, skip and a jump from our parking spot. Before heading out, the RVer’s were showing up, where by night’s end, we were sharing our little piece of real estate with 8 others.
First stop…..Wal-mart to 1. replace a cracked dish bowl for our sink (when dry camping we use a portable dish bowl to pre-soak our dishes/silverware, but also for dumping grey water into our black tank). This keeps our grey tank from filling too quickly, and 2. Find a decent vacuum to get us by until our Dyson part delivery. We were in luck, finding the last Shark Ultra Cyclone at $89. It won’t quite be the Dyson, but hope good enough to get us through.
Now for some Canadian $$. We attempted our first currency exchange at Wal-Mart, but had trouble with the ATM machine. The Superstore was the ticket. A few “loonies” and “toonies”, and dollar bills. “Loonies” are $1 coins
and “Toonies” are $2 coins. We just love the look of Canadian money. So fun!! Why doesn’t everyone do this? And we’re liking the exchange rate which is 70 cents to their dollar ($1.29 Canadian). While at the meat counter, we forgot to put our request in grams, not pounds. The young clerk and Jeff had quite a laugh. He asked Jeff, “Would 200 grams work for you?” to which Jeff unknowingly replied, “Sure! Sounds good!” In the end, it looked like a half a pound. Luckily, 200 grams wasn’t a whole turkey.
All in all, a very smooth day…..border patrol was effortless, we have a flat, level free spot for the night, a refrigerator/pantry full of food, Canadian currency, and a deep dish pizza baking in the oven. So all’s good in our neighbor to the north!