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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

August 24

A journey North
The year was 2009 and it was supposed to be spring. I have already told you that we had to get out of the U.S. as our time was up. Our destination was the West Coast of British Columbia. 

A couple of months earlier we had purchased our Motor Home in Glendale,AZ Since we are Canadians with no address in the U.S. we could not get AZ license plates, so we had to find a way to put SOME license plates on the bus. The solution was found in the State of Montana. We started a MT-entity and registered the MH in the name of the company, and since MT has no sales tax we did not have to pay it either. When we started out from San Diego, where we had enjoyed the last day on the dog beach in nice and warm summer temperatures, we had MT-license plates on the bus. 
With the I-5 under our wheels we were rapidly moving to more northerly latitudes. Underway we met rain and snow, but we kept going.
We needed 5 days to make it up to the Canada-border. 

Rest stop along I-5

Fruit plantations in full bloom

Mt. Shasta covered in snow

Portland OR
When we arrived at the border we had to do the paperwork for the import of our bus. That proved to be a wee difficult, as the officials wanted to see the original bill of sale. But, we had sent that paper to the Montana agency for registering the bus. 
After a while things turned nasty as the customs officer does not believe us when we tell him the paid price for the bus. (we bought it on Ebay!!) They start searching the bus from the top to the bottom. 
While that goes on Molly is confined to an open crate in a very cold spot outside the main entrance. We are furious about the treatment we get here. 

Suddenly I remember that I had scanned in the bill of sale and title to my laptop. When I finally was able to put the laptop up in front of the officer to show her the  document, she starts pulling out import forms and we start the procedure of getting rid of $5000 in taxes. So after all this trouble they let us go. 
With a total delay of more than 3 hours we go on to the Tsawwassen ferry terminal from where we take the ferry to Salt Spring Island. Needless to say that with a total length of 59ft the ticket cost us a fortune. When the ferry arrived at the island it was near midnight. Our friends were waiting to show us the way across the island. 

The 250 Dollar-ride on the Tsawwassen ferry to
Salt Spring
Our campground was at Mary's Lake. Unfortunately we were parked in the shade of huge trees, which made for a very dark interior. A couple of days later we woke up to snow on the ground. On Salt Spring Island, snow is not normal this time of the year and we looked at it as a funny experience and let the furnace run. In order to save on propane we bought an electric heater, which managed to provide a certain temperature for comfort.

At Mary's lake

In a letter to friends I wrote:
We have been on Salt Spring Island for a week. It was an adventure to get here. Arriving at around midnight at Long Harbour we had problems to get  off the ferry. The low tide caused our trailer to "hang on to" the ferry deck. With the horsepower from the CAT-engine we finally screeched it off the deck - loosing a few lights, of course. 

The island is a charming place somewhere midways between a tourist trap and a nature paradise, a paradise which is mainly occupied by private properties. Only a handful of places allow the visitor to get to the water's edge.

Against all odds the first days were freezing cold and it snowed like it should on any old-fashioned Christmas Eve. I fell for the German-imported "Christmas Stollen" at the Country Grocer. No, we did not put up the Xmas-lights, but it was gettin darn close...!

Next morning we heard "California Dreaming on such a winter day" through our speakers. Darn again, how dare they ever!!

We have been visiting the Salt Spring Cheese Factory, which has specialized in goat cheese,  now without having goats on their own. Milk comes from Vancouver Island, we heard. Of course we did not leave without a delicate assortment of goat cheese. (Yam, yam...)

Hiking through the woods is what people can do here. We did it. Also on the east side of the Island on Walkers Hook Rd. there are nice views - one can even see the water for a change.

People, Islanders as they appear in Ganges and everywhere seem to be a different breed alltogether. Nothing like a guy would find in Vancouver or even on Vancouver Island. Women have long grey hair, and the men wear beards in all kind of shapes. We have noticed a kind of men which I would think are of the first choice when Santa Claus is needed.

Traffic on the island is something we have to get used to. Steve, our camphost, gave us the warning. Long-time islanders seem to think they still have their island for themselves and drive using the middle line as general guidance - between the wheels.  Sirens can be heard almost every day - the only resemblance to big-city life.

This island is blessed in a special way. It is clinically free of Mr.Mc.Donalds, Mrs. Wendy, the brothers A&W, even Mr. Tim Hortons is not here. All these "needs"  are filled by local interests with their very own style of menus and service.

Take f.ex. Mobys Pub, down by the harbour. We had lunch there. Coffee was served a little "cool" which triggered our protests for sure. BUT lunch was great and of huge portions.

Internet is something a person would need cable-hook-up for, as wireless communications are shaky to say the least. Cell phones cannot possibly have been around here for long. Telus connections vary, depending on behind which building or curve you try to connect to the network. Other wireless-companies have not even tried to make serious efforts to serve the islanders with working communications.

Even our good old satellite antenna is lost against all the trees on Salt Spring. So we have to drive to town where we have found a "disabled" parking spot to connect to the net. Luckily our car has a 110V recepticle which can keep the laptop working. We park at "disabled" as we feel "disabled" without a usable Internet connection. Nobody seems to worry about it.

Of course we wonder what to do for 4 long weeks. But once the weather turns agreeable we might just want to hang out In Ruckle Provincial Park sipping coffee and watching the ferries go by. For right across is Pender Island, a little bit smaller with fewer roads but probably the same type of people.

A girl we interviewed the first day at Fulford Harbour said it all in one short statement. The people of the island are either very, very poor or very, very rich. There is practically nothing in between. The Real Estate seems to mirror that. The poor people have nothing to sell and the rich ones don't really need to sell, which keeps the price level extremely high. If you would want to live in a decent abode you ought to invest the better part of a million and beyond. If you want to live in a shack you still need your entire life savings to buy a piece of shady and most probably steep forest. You might as well get an old camper shell or even a tent for the summer and you'd be all set.                        


  1. you folks are braver than brave..I would have been freaked at the border..I have no doubt once we are on the road we will sooner or later hit 'snow'...somewhere and I'm not looking forward to that.
    thanks for sharing...great pictures (except the one of the mh sitting in snow lol)...the only time you seemed stressed was due to the border treatment...had that been me Rick would have had to medicate me...hey Peter when I come to CI are you going to make me vanilla/chocolate pudding? Never mind I'll supply the desert ..rofl
    take care and stay safe

  2. You shared nice personal travel experience here. I think you somewhat struggled in the trip by ferries. Any way I hope great adventurous trip you had.


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