Mesa to Saskatoon via Kelowna – Spring 2017

APRIL 4-8, 2017

Said our goodbyes. The baby owls are standing in their nest looking out at the world. Not a cloud in the sky. Will be a hot one. “I Still Miss Someone” song in my head at 9 am. There are 7633 km on our new vehicle. Hover lane takes us through Phoenix. Out in the country wide open spaces. Saying good-bye to the saguaros. Changing landscape. Hawks circling. Mountainous. Green Shrubbery. Smell of oil. Roadwork. Three car garage homes outside Wickenburg. Desert flowers. Purple and the orange and yellow poppies. Pear Cacti, Giant Cholla, Aquave. Mistletoe sitting inside a tree I can’t name today. Water has carved its way through the desert sands. Lupins and something chartreuse in color. A mountain of yellow goes by. A white rose looking flower I’d love to know the name.

Now in the Joshua forest. Amazing trees. A burning bush looking thing. Orange ocotillo; then buttercup yellow carpet of flowers with the California bright poppies swaying in the breeze. Purple lupin along the roadway. An Inukshuk looking landscape. Boulder upon boulder. A bridge through a sandstone mountain has me saying, “What a feat of engineering. Seems bizarre to see vehicles with no headlights. New vehicles. Just doesn’t make sense. A purple hillside and then a field of fire weed.

Las Vegas sign: Margarita with lime counts as a fruit. Taking new route northwest instead of Salt Lake City. Need to gas up as few services. Huge solar farms. Not much traffic and the children’s moon is out. Go by the Coyote Springs Golf Course. Will be worth an internet look. In a valley of Spring. Leaves are green. White birds on blue lake. Town of Hiko. Driving along and all of sudden down inside like a hoodoo canyon. Rocks are like just hanging on. Get out of there and into scrub desert. Greyish sage green clumps. Seven calves and their mamas. Sun is going down this first day as we see the first wildlife. Four antelope jumping in cedars. Snow capped Nevada mountains. Ten degrees. We’ll stay at Ely. Pop:4041. Copper mining, ranching and recreation.

Surprise, surprise! Not used to freezing temperatures first thing in the morning. In the Humboldt National Forest. We head over a pass with glimpses of snow in the bushes and then into a small Nevada town with old matching near identical houses along a main street, a drug store, sewer and water department,library, a Greek Orthodox church, schools x 2, storage, a town club,Legion, boarded up buildings, Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints, Hotel, Post Office, a Cafe, Gas Station and General store with no one out and about at 7:20 a.m.

Cowboy country for hundreds of miles. Driving through a valley between mountain ranges. Cattle have open range. Two lane highway. Passing lanes every so often. Little traffic. More antelope. Every so often I read from the book, “Fifty Greatest Love Letters of All Time.” Jackpot, Nevada; saw five golf carts on green grass. Eleven degrees. Snow capped mountains in distance and soon we have the “Welcome to Idaho sign. At Twin Falls, deep cavernous canyon with black sides at the Snake River. In 1906 irrigation transformed the Idaho desert to lush farmland for barley, sugar beets, corn, beans, alfalfa, grains, sugar snap peas, seed crops and potatoes according to a town by town map given to us by a kind neighbor.

Berries, cheese and muffin snack after turning the wrong way on Highway 84l. Straightened around. Corn stalks on right; wind farm on left. Burning stubble. Cross the Snake River three to four times and end up in a valley similar to Saskatchewan’s Quapelle Valley climbing in and out of green hills. Nineteen degrees. Sign says nearly at Mountain Home. Wonder what that will be? Man on horseback with dogs heading towards pastureland. Came out of the valley like we’re on top of the world. Mountain Home has an ecological waste site and is part of the Old Oregon Trail; off the highway with desert looking scrub brush range land around it. Bigger than we thought with an air force base, Wall mart, Six hotels. Sign: Orange cones, No phones. Five exits later; town still going on with the last exit being a camping exit. We then pass another solar farm.

Boise, Idaho; where my great grandmother spent part of her adult life. Blossoming cherry and apple trees. Dandelions greet us. World’s Biggest Birds of Prey Museum. We are twenty five miles out of Boise and still like a busy, booming, industrial area of a large city. Confusing is the light beige farmland that actually looks like something it isn’t; like construction site to me.

Ontario, Oregon: Twenty degree sunny, warm day. Fresher air than Arizona. Leaving and see that the river has flooded with the snow melt. Chain up area not needed today but wonder what is ahead. Field of black mama cows and all the calves are brown with white faces. So cute.

Sign: One text or call could wreck it all. Sign: Your speed is 72. Slow down. We see that where it’s 60mph. Many well kept rest areas. Now into green pine forested hills and valleys. Beautiful. A 6% downgrade for miles. Three or four warning signs with two or three runaway truck ramps. The most rubber burning smell I have ever experienced from the braking semi tires. On the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial Highway. Lacrosse game going on in Hermiston, Oregon just before we’re into Washington State.

Daffodils in bloom. Flowering trees. We are off the beaten path; road has been cut through rocks. After being lost three times in what may be known as Tri Cities; Kenwick and Pasco found our way with lots of patience. Very wet land. A tractor is half buried. Evergreen windbreaks and vineyards galore. Newer homes and outbuildings. Farmer burning ditches. Affluent yards. Huge irrigation systems. Pass a feedlot. Each cow and maybe calf have their own tent. Pass more. Nearly choke on the fumes. Passing Pothole State Park. Smells like dirt now or alfalfa. We stay overnight at the Lake Front hotel at Moses Lake and have a fine dining experience.

Third morning is a cool misty morning as we head through Washington State. 7 degrees. Clears the windshield of the bugs. We will probably miss the rare to see a bug in Arizona. Soap Lake: A resort. Winding road around the lake. Cabins perched in unusual places. Roads carved from rock. Falling rocks an issue. Teepees set up on waterfront. Rocky, rocky land. Black mountains. Moss covered rocks. Mind boggling. Amazing that roads are carved out of this mammoth vast landscape. We comment that if the sun was shining an incredible postcard would be happening. Reminds me of Ireland as we traverse this Coulee Corridor along the Columbia River. See the Grand Coulee Dam area. WOW!

We also comment about the people with money who boat to the incredible cabins on the other side of the lake and we are driving by the have nots riverside cabins. Sometimes the immensity of the three and a quarter mile wide dry falls area and the canyon drop offs right beside our vehicle SCARE ME

Landscape changes; as we go on top. Farming amid rocky outcroppings. The rain has socked in. We are so high driving in the clouds as we pass the Chief Joseph Dam at Bridgepoint and into orchards galore. Wooden crates piled high like bail stacks. What a sight these orchards would be in their May bloom. My credit card will no longer work in Omak Washington(find out later forgot to tell bank we are traveling with it. They put a halt to it). Fifty miles of driving through orchards until Osoyoos. THREE minutes stop and go at Border. No issue.

Into Canada. Winery after winery. SIGNS: Apple & Hard Ice Cream; Organic fruit stand; Wine Tasting; Farms & Cellars; Garden Centers; Estate Valley Best Produce; B&B’s; Riverside Wine Lounge; Fruit Pickers; Golfing; Supermarket; Retail & Wholesale and this continues from one town to another as we go through Oliver; called the Wine Capital of Canada. Every type of service in these resort type towns like theaters, libraries, parks, churches. We are visiting BC in the rain and the clouds. 80 km/hr. Climb out of Okanagan Falls.

Penticton has an airport in the center of town. Sign to Naramatta. Never knew exactly where it was. Head for Summerland. Still in the clouds coming into Peachland. Waterfront lunch in Kelowna. Even if a more than misty day; can see the beauty. Frustrating that no cell phones working; can’t connect to a mobile network; takes hours and three stores later to get it sorted. Turn them off and reboot. Food is expensive in Canada. Street signs not so great and no left turn lights.

We are above the clouds leaving Kelowna. Good to touch base with friends and family. Kekuli Bay and Predator Ridge. Neat names. After effects of forest fires still seen today. Much blacker dirt here. Much wetter too. Being in the boonies feeling between Enderby and Sicamous. A field of blueberries getting started. First notice snow laying in yards or on shady side of buildings; now see ice on lake beside us. Sign: End of Slide Area. Shushwap Lakes. Boats all ready to go. Ice needs to be gone. Looks like Waskesieu. Just passed Last Spike of Railroad 1885 Sign. Revelstoke 4 degrees. Decide to go through the Roger’s Pass at 5 pm rather than wait for morning frost. Chain up area; water is pouring down the side of the mountain. More traffic meeting us with snowmobiles. Going through tunnels covered in snow in Glacier National Park. Trains with wheat, oil and potash headed west.

Roger’s Pass; Frozen icicles hang down the side of the mountain. Six foot old snow drifts along side of the road. Avalanche area. Dropped to one degree. Rain has turned to snow. We are now going down. My ears are popping. Heli skiing happening. Into Golden for the night. As we gas us next morning, big Tim Horton coffee’s are going into semis. The clouds and fog and tops of mountains going in and out confirms why I wouldn’t want to live in this. Kicking Horse Pass area. Walls of cement are now in avalanche areas. Water pouring down rocks probably better than snow. If I see another bridge ices sign and its still zero degrees and the fog is so thick and every so often I see the immensity of the Rockies. Mind boggling heights. I ask that we slow down. Yoho National Park. No divided highway. Road construction as they cut through rock. Amazes. Thank goodness not raining. Clearest it’s been. See the tops of the mountains. We are pretty little.

Now in Alberta. Chain up area. Noise big time right beside me. All of a sudden it’s a two engine train right beside my side of the vehicle. It came out of a mountain tunnel. Next excitement (???); Semi moves into our lane forcing us over the center line. Thank goodness no one coming. Semi did look little compared to the scenery around us although it was a little close.

Banff National Park; headed east. Sun is trying to break through. Lake Louise. Lots of snow. New road or new signage. We actually missed Lake Louise. Did see the new bridges for animals crossing the highways for the moose, elk and deer. Saw five of these animal crossing bridges. We did miss turn off to Lake Louise, did pass Sunshine and had a Banff rest stop. Still one degree; cloudy but not rainy. Miss the Arizona sunshine and warmth but the natural beauty does make up for it.

Spend some time in Canmore. Weird sign that says Do not report smoke or fires. Head out to Kananaskis. Don’t go far as we are on less than a secondary road and do not know where we are headed. Beautiful country though. Saw three ducks. Ice still on lakes. In the Foothills. We take a different route to Moxley. Gravel roads all around us. We are on pavement. Gravel pits galore. Horses. On an Indian reserve. No signage. Then there is: Watch for pedestrians on highway sign. No place for them to walk. No shoulders. See a little white church just off highway. Pass a pet resort, sign for a medicine lodge. Horse trailer in front of us. Have been driving by a long, long lake and find out it is Ghost Reservoir. Come to a sailing marina. Fancy Cottage. Seasonal speed limits for May to Sept. Gas plant; golden stubble farmland, newer homes and cattle on stubble.

Cochrane is building subdivision after subdivision. All the same colors. We head north. Seeing first poplars, oil pumpers pumping. Big round bales. See old, no longer in use, hip roof barns. Here we have seen many storage spaces overflowing with newer RV’s.

Something flies off the eavestroughs sticking out of the vehicle in front of us and hits our vehicle. Not going to pass that vehicle. Trees do not have buds or pussywillows. Coyote running across the field. Bit of snow in ditches but really a rare sight. Neat to see a herd of bison. First tractor in the field. Carstairs seems like quite a new town. They are pulling up the golf course tarps. We talk about why we prefer prairie over mountains; can change directions or go all directions; not just one way in and one way out.

We enjoyed a three meal highly recommended rest and renewal time at Three Hills. Catch up Time. Lots of laughs. Mess up on the map reading skills as we leave and we did a bit of gravel road travel before a taste of the Badlands on the way to Hanna. Sign: Alberta 4-H – 100 years. At sunbeam road the sun is attempting to come through. Haven’t seem much of the sun since Wednesday and it’s Saturday morning. Heard a meadow lark on this wide open prairie. Oil pumpers are not pumping.

Sunny Saskatchewan. YEAH! Cloud of snow geese outside Rosetown. Made a grocery list. Text connecting with kids, grandson, sisters. Check if the Saskatoon skyline has changed. Not much. Pothole our way onto and down 11th St. Welcome home. Happy to be back.


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