We just climbed a couple of volcanoes in California (Lassen Peak and Mount Shasta) and in Oregon (Mount Mac Laughlin and Mount Thielsen). It's almost July and it is time to drive north for a summer of alpine climbing in Canada. We're following the weather forecast on a daily basis - it is still snowing on the Icefields Parkway, so the routes we were hoping to do are not in conditions. There is no hurry so we're taking our time to get there.
After a rest day in Bend (the closest town to Smith Rock), we start the long drive north. We stop in Spokane along the way to visit our sponsor, Omega Pacific. They've just moved into a new facility. Big building… they are moving their factory out of the prison environment to concentrate their entire operation - including manufacturing - in the same place. A Supreme Court decision is what forced them out of using prison labor but they claim it will be a good move anyway. It will open new markets in countries like Canada and Europe where using prison labor is frowned upon. It should also make their operation more efficient by having it all in one building. Our friend Gary gives us the tour. We then spend the evening in town and go to the 9:50PM showing of Fahrenheit 9-11, the latest Michael Moore documentary. Great Bush-bashing for over two hours! Nothing we did not already know, but seeing it all condensed into a 2 hour-show really blows your mind away! Unbelievable and thoroughly sickening... We're back to the bus (we're spending the night on Omega Pacific's Parking lot) a ½ hour past midnight… then move the bus a bit to fill our water tank and resettle for the night… not in bed before 1:30AM! It'll be hard to get up early and leave tomorrow morning… (we don't want to pass for slackers by sleeping in late while everybody at Omega is working).
We leave Spokane the next day, direction Canada. The real excitement begins at Paterson, a small border crossing. Standard screening questions, check passports and green cards. So far so good. We wait a few minutes and they tell us they want to search the bus. Shit. Oh well, we've been through this before (going to Skaha last spring). And they search and search and search… In the meantime, we're just standing outside... in the rain! It really looks like a joke - it's raining only on the Canadian side of the border line. We find this funny the first 30 minutes but after an hour of standing in the rain, we really don't appreciate the joke any more. We're starting to find them surprisingly thorough… there's already a long line of cars at the checkpoint but both customs agents are busy searching our bus. They're obviously not concerned about people waiting. A few times, they talk to each other out of earshot with concerned looks… what the hell is going on? Finally, they ask us to come and talk to them. That's when they say: "OK, here's the problem; do you know what an ion scanner is?". Ouch. We don't really know what it is but we can guess and it doesn't sound any good. One of them goes on to say that they scanned our passports and Lucie's came positive for very strong traces of Ecstasy!!!!! What??? He goes on to try and intimidate us by saying that the scanner is an infallible piece of equipment and that the only question is not whether we have any Ecstasy but where it is hidden!! He even tries the "this is your chance; if you have any on the bus, you'd better tell us now, before we find it ourselves". What can you say to that??? We've never even been close to the stuff! It's a mystery how any of that stuff got onto Lucie's passport! We tell them so, and I guess we must have looked convincingly shocked because they decide to leave it at that and let us go. Wow! Scary! When you think of what happens in drug possession cases in the US… The only two things I can think of are: the scanner confused Diamox of Dexamethasone or another drug that Lucie carried in her pack, close to her passport while in Bolivia for a month… only that was two years ago and her passport has been stored with mine in a plastic envelope for all that time… you'd think both passports would be contaminated! Or it could be a custom's agent somewhere in France or Bolivia who had the stuff on their hands while checking her passport, but again, that was a long time ago, and my passport does not register any trace of the stuff after being stored with hers for months… The whole thing just makes no sense at all. Their scanner must be fucked up. Or they were simply bluffing. This whole experience had us pretty shaken for the rest of the day.
After all that excitement, we stop in Rossland, BC for an hour or so, but it is Canada Day so everything is closed. The town is pretty cute. A bit similar to Ouray, CO, in a way. We continue to Salmo, where we park the bus just off the main road in the middle of town and look for dinner. Subway is about the only appealing option. After that, we go to the town park to watch the obligatory fireworks display (it's Canada Day, July 1st). Pretty fun.
The next morning, we leave the bus at Salmo and drive to Nelson, BC, a well known resort town about 40 km north. Our Canadian roommate from last winter, Milo, had told us a lot about the place (as well as Rossland), so we wanted to check it out. Really cool town, with a lively and historic center, lots of outdoor restaurants and cafes (right on the street, as in Europe!). The place is known for good powder in the winter. Low mountains and huge forests all around. We shop around, visit the climbing stores, and have lunch at one of the sidewalk cafe. We're back in Salmo late in the afternoon, and drive the bus a few miles to a rest area for the night (just east of Kitchener, BC).
On July 3rd, we drive to Cranbrook. Grocery shopping and laundry are the chores of the day. We then continue on to Invermere. We find a decent spot to spend the night: a gravel pit next to the Chabot Provincial Park. This will be our home every time we are in Invermere during the next couple of weeks.
The next day, we call the wardens about Mount Stanley and other North Faces we were hoping to climb. Generally bad news: it's been warm and the faces are in bad shape. We decide to go to Canmore so we at least have something to do while waiting for better conditions/weather. We make it to Canmore that evening and settle on the RV parking lot between Safeway and IGA (now renamed Sobey's). We expect to be kicked out by the next morning. To our surprise, nothing of the sort happens and this becomes our designated "camp" in Canmore for the next couple of weeks.
Oregon to Canmore, Canada
|Driving through farmlands in northern Oregon.|
|A nice barn and more flat lands.|
|Beautiful sunset from our "camp" for the night, a Wal-Mart parking lot in Kennewick, WA.|
|The brand new building of our friends and sponsors at Omega Pacific.|
|Stop along the way - nice spot on the Columbia River.|
|It starts raining as we cross the Canadian border... Welcome to Canada!|
|Rossland, a cute town near the Canadian border.|
|We spent Canada Day in Salmo, a small village near Nelson.|
|Nelson, a great ski town in BC.|
|A small Bavarian village "made in Canada" (between Nelson and Invermere)|
|Interesting rock formations near Invermere.|