X-country Conclusion

Since the last blog which was sent from Drumheller, we have had a relaxing week mostly in the Okanagan. It was so nice to see the mountains on the skyline as we skirted Calgary and we had a beautiful day to drive through Banff National Park and the Kicking Horse Pass. We decided to try and have a quick look at Lake Louise which we hadn’t visited for 51 years! Although we were there on a weekday at the end of September it was still very busy. We ignored the suggested shuttle service from 5km away and eventually managed to find a parking spot within a five minute walk of the lake. On our previous visit the glacier had still been down to the lake while it has now receded well up the mountain. The next day we were not so lucky with the weather as Roger’s Pass was in the clouds with rain most of the way until we hit the Okanagan. We had a couple of lovely days in Lake Country and Naramata visiting old friends before heading down to the extreme south and the Nk’Mip campsite on Osoyoos Lake. We have visited several wineries in the last few days and are coming home with about 18 bottles of red we hope to cellar for a few years before drinking. We had been planning on heading home on the 5th, but had been on tenterhooks that grapes would arrive for us on the Island before we were home. On the 4th we heard that the first grapes were arriving on Saturday 7th. Whew!!!! The drive home from the Okanagan was uneventful and we arrived home after a 55 day absence and a drive of 12,580 km.

Looking back over the past six weeks, our initial reaction is the satisfaction of having safely made the journey. We have now so much better an understanding of the country, its huge size and diversity. It was such a brilliant idea to waive entry fees for the national parks for Canada’s birthday as so many people had the chance to enjoy what they have to offer and to get information from the very knowledgeable staff. We certainly took that advantage and enjoyed the history in St. John’s, the grandeur of Gros Morne, the Viking Settlement at L’Anse aux Meadows, the Evangeline Trail in Nova Scotia and and New Brunswick and Lake Louise. Our visit to Ottawa and tour of the Parliament Buildings was very special. Earlier this year we  were not hugely thrilled on hearing of all the money being spent on the birthday celebrations but felt that MosaiCanada in Gatineau was worth every penny. We were very surprised by our drive across the Prairies as it was anything but boring – so beautiful in the Fall sunshine. It was only when we arrived back in BC we realized how much we had missed the mountains. We approached Victoria on a lovely sunny afternoon and, having travelled right across the country, we felt so lucky to have our home in Victoria.

Some Statistics:

Total distance driven St. John’s to Victoria:12580 km
Crow flies distance SJ to V: 5063 km
Direct road distance (Google) SJ to V: 6761 km
Outward journey: 12,596 km
Total km on the van this summer: 26,176 km.- I can’t believe how close the outward and homebound distances driven are!

Days from SJ to V: 54
Average distance driven per day: 233 km
Longest day’s drive: 679 km
Were in 9 of the 10 provinces (PEI missed out)
Were in 6 time zones

Total cost of fuel: $2,681
Average litres/100 km: 18.7
Average fuel price: (includes price spike from hurricane on Texas Coast) $1.14/litre
Total repair bills – one oil change on return journey, new water pump and oil change on outward leg!

Some high spots– not in any order other than E to W
L’Anse aux Meadows NP
Gros Morne NP
Louisbourg NP
Grand Prè National Historic Site
Ottawa- including our home exchange in Gatineau
Stratford and Niagara on the Lake
Museum of Human Rights, Winnipeg
Royal Tyrrell Museum, Drumheller

Some surprises:
We did it!
The vastness and diversity of Canada
How quiet the TCH was (other than the Toronto and Banff areas)
How pleasant the scenery was in most of Northern Ontario
90 cent/litre gas in Manitoba and Sask.
The water, colour and relative lack of long, flat, straight roads crossing the prairies
The general absence of wasps, mosquitoes and flies

Some disappointments:
That, due to the shortening days, the closure of many campsites on or before the end of September and the likelihood of grapes arriving for us in Victoria, we did not have time to stop and see much in the Prairie Provinces.
Total lack of Roger’s coverage for our cell phone in most of Newfoundland

Most important equipment:
Robin’s iPad with Telus SIM card. This enabled us to use the I-maps GPS to guide us through cities and find the best routes across the country. Also we were in constant e-mail connectivity and could listen to CBC without having to constantly hunt for the local station. There was only one stretch of about 250 km in Northern Ontario where we could not get a Telus Signal for a significant time.