Whistler, BC (Aug 22/20) – Traveling & camping in a Westfalia camper van is probably the safest way to get out and enjoy the great outdoors during this crazy pandemic time we all live in. That said, N&J have endeavoured to ‘get out’ and enjoy the fresh air & adventure that British Columbia has to offer as much as possible.
A week was planned (and reserved 3 months in advance) up on Shuswap Lake near Salmon Arm. N&J (and Jesse) left a few days earlier to spend some alone time before the big onslaught meeting of family & friends.
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After a rewarding drive north on the Duffey Lake Road (Hwy 99 between Pemberton & Lillooet), the mountain vistas so much a reminder of the views you would see in the Banff / Jasper corridor, yet so close to Whistler. A stop east of Lillooet at Marble Canyon Provincial Park along Crown Lake found near Pavillion, BC. was a welcome start to the journey. Good luck a suitable campsite was available as the campgrounds fill up quickly, N&J offered to share their good fortune (camp spot) with another Westfalia traveller.
After chatting with fellow campers, taking Jesse for the customary walk, it was an early night after being on the road for many hours, the air was fresh, the peaceful existence made for a great night sleep. Next morning a surprise was found on HOBBES windshield, the new found friends who shared the campsite had left a note expressing their appreciation & a ‘watercolour painting’ of HOBBES & JESSE in the window… WOW!!!
The ride continued east and a stop at the Horsting’s Farm Market (just north of Cache Creek), a visual & gastronomic feast. The produce, canned fruits, pies & other baked goods are worth the stop, sit at a picnic table among the orchards and enjoy the bounty. Traffic on the Trans-Canada Hwy was subdued & made for an easy drive, the weather was sunny & warm, the views of the Thompson River engaging every turn along the way.
Arriving in the Shuswap region a bit earlier than expected, found a ‘one night only’ campsite at Shuswap Provincial Park (PP) near Scotch Creek. It should be renamed ‘Mosquito PP’ in honour of Canada’s National Pest, as they are certainly alive & well in this campground. This made for a rather brisk walk pushing Jesse in his go-cart around the camp, N went for a quick refreshing dip into the lake, all the while the bugs were relentless….
The overnight rain lulled the threesome to sleep…
Next day brought sunshine and the impending excitement of the week-long camp-out ahead. The distance to Herald Park Provincial Campground took about a couple hours (including a refueling & last minute grocery purchases). Fortunately, even though N&J were two hours early for check-in, the campsite was ready. The setup was onerous, lots of extra stuff required for the week stay, HOBBES awning was rolled out, camp carpet, outdoor dining shelter (pesky skitters!!!), BBQ, camp stove/oven…you name it, it’s here. In hindsight, the bugs were not as bad as the previous stop.
Soon after family & friends rolled into camp, there were two campsites reserved to permit ease of ‘social distancing’, although all sat around the same fire pit, safe interaction was adhered to, hand washing galore. Local friends who live mere minutes down the road supplied the nightly firewood supply (Thanks A&R). N’s nieces H&A even quarantined themselves from their friends for two weeks previous to ensure all health concerns were minimized.
The beach at the campground is wonderful, grass areas and sandy conditions at lake level. A canoe & 3 stand-up paddle boards made for some fun on the water….all within a couple minute walk from the campsites. Even Jesse got some beach time, albeit in his go-cart.
When visiting this campground the short hike to Margaret Falls is mandatory. The canyon & large fallin’ timbers is rather awe inspiring, the trail criss-crosses the stream until you get to the head of the canyon where the falls tumble down the rock face. Even Jesse go-karted along for the group hike.
It was a week of good food, good company & ended all too soon… but the journey is far from over.
Back on the road. Heading south along Hwy 97 from Salmon Arm had a good feeling for HOBBES’ occupants, the weather was perfect (not too hot, not too cold), the skies were clear (robin egg blue), it is always comforting to travel the open road.
Rolling through Vernon & Kelowna, a stop in Peachland to visit old friends formerly of Whistler was in order. Situated along Okanagan Lake, the promenade along the lake’s edge is a beautiful stroll, small shops & restaurants dot the landscape. Looking for a place to overnight, as chance would have it we stayed at Todd’s RV Park… $82 per night!!! (talk about highway robbery; no washrooms, not even on the lake; during Covid times this is abuse of the traveling masses). Irregardless we enjoyed the visit with friends.
Hoping to continue our Okanagan visit, we stopped in Summerland (where J’s family vacationed every year for eons). Found a wild beach along the lake, far from the noise of the highway & crowds)… it was PERFECT!
N&J spent 2 days relaxing at this lakeside retreat, fishing, SUP-boating & swimming in perfect conditions. Jesse lounged in his ‘beach tent’ shaded by the trees along the lake… definitely a bookmark to come back to.
After a short visit seeing N’s family in Penticton, the trio escaped the intense heat of the city & ventured for an overnight along the Similkameen River near Hedley, BC. The provincial government has invested heavily in new campgrounds thoughout BC to meet the increased demand for tourist facilities, new Rec Sites & expanded provincial parks included.
The next day a bit further down the road (and river), another Rec Site located on Old Hedley Road was chosen to continue the experience. The campsite overlooked the Similkameen River as it flowed gently to the east, the camp although quite basic is more than enough to make for an ideal stopover. N enjoyed the river, practising her new found hobby… ‘fly fishing’.
A short drive (10 mins) to Hedley allowed for a restock of food & drink at the local store (they have everything; N&J try to support the local community as much as possible). Life along the river is peaceful, Jesse loves his exploration walks & seems to be ‘in sync’ with nature. A BBQ meal & a campfire to finish off what is a great day.
Continuing the journey westward along Old Hedley Road (opposite side of the river from Hwy 3), makes its way to Princeton where it rejoins Hwy 3. The Hope-Princeton Hwy (as this is usually called) has seen major upgrades over the decades, it is a smooth easy route compared to the twisty, hilly road it once was.
N&J stopped at the Lightning Lakes picnic site to check out what Manning Park Provincial Park has to offer (the campground of course is full, no vacancy). Beautiful mountain lakes, clear cold & ice-blue in colour. Certainly a place in need of further investigation in the future. Traveled up to the Alpine Meadows opposite of the Manning Park Lodge, via Blackwell Peak Road (approx 15km to the top). A lovely drive on a well maintained paved road to the lookout, then a good gravel road (5km) to the meadows.
The high elevation & short growing season are cause for the stunted trees & surrounding foliage…the signs telling hikers to stay on the path are there for a reason, it takes years (not months) to grow. The aroma of the mountain air is addictive. A leisurely path leads you through the multitude of wild flowers that grow high in the alpine….
….Nature at its finest.
The last night on the road was at Skihist Provincial Campground (just north of Lytton on the Fraser Canyon Hwy). Quiet place among the pine trees high above the Fraser River, Hwy 1 & the railways. Also in the campground is remnants of the original Cariboo Wagon Road completed in 1865, that created a travel route from the Lower Mainland of Vancouver to the historic gold town of Barkerville. A nearby signpost explains the history of the area…if you listen close you can hear ghost of horse’s hoofs & squealing wagon wheels.
The return to Whistler via Lillooet retraced some of the earlier steps of the traveling trio. Checking out the numerous Rec Sites in the Duffey Lake region was a reconnaissance to identify future camping scenerios. Lots of possibilities.
The moment HOBBES arrived back at his Whistler driveway, Jesse rouses immediately recognizing his home base… knowing that this latest Westfalia Journey has come to completion. 🙂