So we just left Jasper National Park after a breakdown that cost us an unnecessary tow. We finally arrive in the first city in British Columbia, Valemount, where we stop to refuel, before going to a campsite by a lake.
Except that the truck does not start after refueling. It gets too hot! We can ventilate properly when we are driving, but as soon as we shut down the engine, we have to wait for the whole thing to cool down before we can restart. We therefore ask for help to push our 5 tonnes a little farther on a parking space in the gas station so we don’t block the pumps.
We had been in contact again for several days with Jim and Laurie Pierce, a couple we had met in Russell, Manitoba. They knew we were in Jasper and offered to join them at a golf campground in Valemount. As we didn’t want to pay for camping, we told them we were going to a free campsite.
By chance, they passed by the gas station when we were broken down. We were able to spend time together, look at the engine and chat while it was cooling down.
About 30 minutes after the breakdown, we were able to restart and go to our campsite. The place was accessible by a completely dented road. I was not really serene that we could leave. And there, we saw our friends the AGIL family, who had been at this spot for two days already, since we left them in Jasper.
We were super happy to see familiar faces and the place was ideal for resting after so much stress. We stayed here for 3 nights and were able to find the cause of our engine heat problem. Jim and Laurie came to our campsite and invited us to dinner at a great restaurant the next evening. It was so nice to be invited. We ate really well and they even gave us some souvenir gifts to decorate the RV. Fabulous people!
Wells Gray Provincial Park, British Columbia
After leaving Valemount, the AGIL family, Jim and Laurie, we set off for Wells Gray Provincial Park in British Columbia. In this park, we went to Clearwater Lake where Pierre-Adrien had already been with his parents and where he absolutely wanted to go back for canoeing.
The first day, we arrived in the rain. So we waited until it calmed down before hiking to see a waterfall, which we were able to walk around behind. A really wet hike. 😀
The next day, we went to Clearwater Lake for a day of canoeing, on my birthday. We had prepared a small picnic that we ate, alone in the area, on a sandbank of this lake which is only accessible by a road in very bad condition. It was very relaxing, except the canoe. We didn’t pay much attention to the time and we went a bit far for the time we had left. The return was very athletic.
Once the equipment was returned, we swam in the lake. At that time, a small group of freshwater otters approached us. They swam near us for about ten minutes. It was a wonderful moment. 🙂
When we left the lake, we stopped at the Helmcken Falls, known in this park.
Kamloops, a mechanical stop
Before continuing our road trip on the roads of British Columbia, we thought it be better to stop in a city to do some repairs on the motorhome. The big city on our way was Kamloops and it has everything we needed.
So we spent several days in this city to have the truck checked in a garage. Pierre-Adrien repaired several things that had broken over the past few days such as our rear signal lights and a gray water tank support bar. We took the time to do laundry, shopping and rest. Unfortunately, we did not feel like visiting the city at all.
Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
Our next destination has been eyeing us for a long time. This is the place where we thought to settle. Our first stop was the city of Vernon. We were under the spell of this small town surrounded by lakes and mountains. Our concern was that it was difficult to find places to sleep for free, so we didn’t stay very long. We went for a swim in Lake Kalamalka in the provincial park of the same name, on a sunny and warm day.
We continued our journey towards Kelowna, the city we were aiming to settle in Canada. The city itself looked pretty nice, but it’s a retired population that has moved to this part of Canada because it’s the hottest place in the country. It lacked a bit of dynamism, and we were not drawn by the landscapes. We thought we would find lush valleys being a wine region, on the edge of a huge lake, but no, everything was quite arid.
Being in a wine region, we went for tastings. We tasted wines from Kelowna’s only organic production, then from the largest and fanciest vineyard in the area.
For wines known across the country, we expected better results. Personally, we were a little disappointed with what we tasted. In France, we like good Burgundy wines, with lots of body.
We continued on to Penticton, a small town south of the Okanagan Lake where the wines were better. After the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, we headed for Vancouver, with a stop in Hope.
North Vancouver: Whistler and Squamish
Our arrival in the Vancouver area of British Columbia also announced the arrival of rain. Lots and lots of rain… Our destination, Whistler, is on the Sea-to-Sky highway, a scenic route between mountains and ocean that is supposed to be beautiful. Unfortunately, on the way there and back, it was raining. It was still very nice but less appreciable than in good weather, I imagine.
In Whistler, we did several hikes in the rainforest, despite the bad weather.
Pierre-Adrien had already come with his parents, 10 years ago, where he had celebrated his 17 years in a restaurant. So we decided to go back to the same restaurant to celebrate our birthdays.
After Whistler, we went down to Squamish where we thought we would do several hikes. It was raining so much that we were a bit fed up and we had some infiltration on the truck.
The weather forecast announcing good weather only a few days in Tofino, we decided to go there earlier so that we could enjoy the ocean and let our things and the camper dry out a bit.
Vancouver Island, British Columbia
While waiting for the ferry at Horseshoe Bay, north of Vancouver, a ray of sunshine allowed us to do a few joints to repair the infiltration.
After arriving on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, we spent one night in Nanaimo to do some shopping before leaving for Tofino.
Tofino and the Pacific Rim National Park
Tofino is a charming little town at the end of the only road that goes to this corner of the island. It is located in the Pacific Rim National Park which offers protected ecosystems. There are many walks by the ocean on the beach such as on Long Beach or hiking in the rainforest.
As this is a national park, we could not camp near the city. We found a great place on the shore of Lake Kennedy to sleep for free, 30 minutes from Tofino. We slept there for 4 nights and met French girls with whom we spent several evenings.
The first day in this national park in British Columbia, we went straight to the beach to enjoy the sun and the ocean. We built a small teepee with driftwood to protect us from the sun. And we spent almost an hour having fun like children in the big waves of the Pacific. We were the only crazy people to swim in swimming suits. The other swimmers were rather surfers in wetsuits.
We then wandered around the city to book an excursion for the next day. Then we made a detour to Chesterman Beach, the best-known beach among surfers.
Hot Springs Explorer Tour
We did one paid excursion during our road trip and it was the best activity we could offer ourselves. We left in the morning on a zodiac with 5 other couples. For about three hours, we scoured the ocean looking for marine animals to observe. We saw seals, sea otters, sea lions, as well as a porpoise and several whales. It was wonderful!
Around lunchtime, our captain/guide dropped us off on an island where we had a 2-kilometer walk through the rainforest to access a hot spring. We picnicked there, and then bathed for several hours in this hot spring that flowed towards the ocean.
When you entered the pool, at the level of a small waterfall, the water was really hot. We could go between two large rocks to get closer to the ocean, where the waves brought in a little cold water to cool us down. It was perfect! The space was quite small, but we were ten people in the pools. We were able to chat with everyone and have a great time.
We had an hour’s meeting to leave with the zodiac in order to return to Tofino. On the way, our guide gave us the best gift. We were able to observe orcas for very long minutes. This endangered animal is so majestic, it was a real emotional moment for me. I will never forget that feeling when I saw the orcas for the first time!
Also on Vancouver Island, leaving from Tofino, we stopped at Cathedral Grove. It is a small loop walk to observe gigantic and very old trees.
Then we stopped again in Nanaimo to do shopping and laundry before leaving for Victoria.
In Victoria, the capital of British Columbia, we found a place to sleep for free near a bay in a residential area. We spent 3 nights there, going back and forth in town.
The first day, we walked along the seashore to Fisherman’s Wharf where we ate fish and chips under the rain. Then, we strolled in the city center and in Chinatown which is the oldest Chinatown in Canada. To return, we went through the big Beacon Hill park, where you can see peacocks wandering.
We went for a walk to Niagara Falls on Vancouver Island, very close to Victoria. Completely different from the known Niagara Falls in Ontario, this one is higher. There was a trickle of water compared to the billions of bathtubs dumped every second in Niagara.
We spent one last night on the island, on the edge of a lake north of Victoria before taking the ferry to Vancouver.
Vancouver, British Columbia
Arriving in Vancouver early in the afternoon, our mission was to buy bikes so that we could get around the city more easily the next day. It was quite an ordeal! We did not understand the prices of used bikes, $200 for a very nice refurbished bike…
By chance or miracle, we met a Quebecer who sold us two bikes and a helmet for $75. All that was missing was a crankset on one of the bikes. So we went to a sports equipment store to buy pedals, a helmet and padlocks. Unfortunately, it was not possible to find a crankset, so it will wait until the next day.
We were parked at Spanish Banks, along the beach west of town. For our first day of exploration, Pierre-Adrien was pedaling on his bike, and I held on to him so that I could move forward with my bike without pedals. We went for a stroll on Granville Island and then in the Mont Pleasant, Fairview and Kitsilano neighborhoods. After finally finding a crankset in a used sports equipment store, we were able to pedal each on our own to get back to the truck.
The second day, we crossed the arm of the English Bay to visit Stanley Park. We ate a hot dog there in the presence of raccoons who were going through the trash. Then we returned via downtown Vancouver visiting the West End and Yaletown. In the evening, we had dinner with friends whom I haven’t seen since Taiwan in 2002. 🙂
The next day, we left the city of Vancouver to return a little to the east, looking for a city in which to spend winter.