June 11, 2009Day 29. 155.2 miles today; 3103.8 miles total this trip.
We are finally headed out from Soap Lake. We did not get off as smoothly as we had hoped. Susan had an excellent idea for how we would start out—I would pull out into the exit road, then back up down till we did not block any exits and then hook the jeep up. This would allow others coming out behind us to get out and give us plenty of time to unhook. Unfortunately, we did not follow this plan initially. Once I came out of the space, it looked ot me as if I had plenty of space to turn at the end of the row, so we just went ahead and hooked up. Wrong. I had brought the coach too far forward and too much to the right to make the turn. I might have made it had I set up right, but once we had the jeep on I couldn’t back up and get correctly aligned. So we had to unhook the jeep. Rather than try to re-set in the row, I just decided to go back to the original plan, which worked great. As it was, we were the last coach out of the park except for the tailgunner.
We weren’t last for long. We drove past about 6 coaches that had stopped to see the Dry Falls Visitors Center. Since we had toured it the night before, we just kept on going.
The drive was mostly desert looking country
with some occasional cattle ranches, but every once and awhile we would see a vast plowed field with little green shoots coming out. This is high desert, but when you add water all sorts of stuff can grow. We were rolling through good sized hills and pretty valleys. We saw a few deer crossing the road or on the side of the road. We even saw a wolf padding across the road and into a field.
Once we got to Bridgeport the land became a lot more agricultural.
We were traveling in a valley along the Okanagan River, and all along the river were greenbelts of land.
During the travel briefing yesterday, we had been told to look for a Conoco in Omak to get diesel. It was supposed to be on the right immediately after the Wal-Mart and offer easy in easy out fueling. Susan and I looked and looked and we couldn’t see anything. We kept going thinking we would come across it, but we never did. At this point we were mostly out of town, but we pulled over just before a right turn onto a road that looked like it looped back. Omak is not very big, and this literally was the last road back to Omak. Since we had been told there was diesel here, and we needed some, and we wanted to fill up before Canada, we determined to circle around and go back. So we took the little side road, and, relying on Susan’s trusty Streets and maps program, worked our way back to a main crossroad, turned onto it, then saw a Shell truck stop that we turned into. This was easy for us to get to. Cost us a little more for diesel, but easy access is worth a little more.
From there we continued North to Oroville, where we saw the easy in easy out Conoco on the right. (Turns out the trip log we had was wrong and there was no Conoco in Omak.) At this point we are nearing the border. That morning I had gotten an email that had attached some documents that I needed to sign before a notary. We were about to see our last US notary for 2500 miles. There were wide parking lanes along the side of the road, and I saw a bank, so I thought “Let’s get signed up.” Walked into the bank, used the notary there, got directions to the post office 2 blocks away, and got an envelope and mailed everything off. While parked, we were passed by several of the coaches that we had seen parked at the Falls so I figured we were last again. Unknown to me was that our tailgunners the Adams had parked about 2 blocks behind us and made lunch while they tried to figure out what we were doing. I saw them when I came back to the coach, called them on the CB to let them know we were ready to start off again, and headed toward the border.
We were a little nervous at the border, but we had worked hard to become compliant. We followed the directions we had been given in the travel briefing to get in the right lane. But when the car ahead of me was finished, I took that as my cue to move instead of remaining stopped at the light. As soon as I started the lady came out of her booth and held up her hand to stop, then strolled to the stop lights and gave me a two-handed Vanna White-like “here they are” gesture to tell me don’t come forward until I see a green light. Our soon-to-be inquisitor was a young, slim platinum blonde with a ponytail in black t-shirt and combat pants with dark black gear on them (guns, flashlights, billy clubs? I couldn’t tell)
When I go the call I rolled up apologizing. I then turned off the coach, (I had already changed from my sunglasses to my regular glasses so she could see my eyes), handed her the passports, and began the interrogation. She was courteous but curt with me, and I was as cooperative as I could be. The stumper she asked was how long would we be in Canada? We had to get our calendar out and count off the days. (it was 17) She asked about fruits and vegetables—none. She asked about weapons-none, she asked about alcohol—I admitted to a few bottles—and she asked about tobacco—I admitted with chagrin to 2 cigars (which Susan didn’t know about). She asked me if we had any pistols for personal protection—we said no. She asked about pepper spray--we showed her our pepper spray for bears, and she said that it was ok. Then she asked about tasers—we said no. (ironically, we think of peper spray and tasers in that order too. We bought our bear peper srpay and a teaser from Dave Balagia, a popular guy on the RV lecture circuit who died of a heart attack earlier this year.) A lot of these questions were about stuff we weren’t supposed to have, especially weapons. But we were well prepared and knew what was ok and not ok. She waved us through with no big inspection. Much less traumatic than I thought it was going to be, but I was sure that if I said something the wrong way this gal could get me taken care of with no help.
We pulled up through the Okanagon Valley, still following the Okanagon River. We went through Osoyoos, then to Oliver. Oliver is the wine capital of British Columbia, and our road to the RV park passed several signs for wineries down the side roads.
We found the park without incident and got parked.
This was about 2:00. We separated the jeep and took off to tour a few wineries before we had to be back at 5:00. We stopped first at Antelope Ridge winery,
which I picked because I thought it had nice looking tasting room and I thought I had heard of it. Turns out it is this little winery that has an intercom on the tasting room. If you want to do a tasting, you call on the intercom, a little old French lady answers, and she says I will be right up. She is one of the owners, and her husband brought her up in this little red car from the house down among the vines.
She was a hoot. We had a little language barrier, but she could communicate with us more or less. The main thing we learned was of her award-winning ice wine. We sampled some of it, loved it, and bought a bottle. We also had a very good view from the ridge.
From there we went to Inniskillin,
a winery that we knew made good ice wine. I tried their other wines but could find nothing I liked. The ice wines were good, however, and we ended up getting 2 different kinds.
We got back in time for the social,
where everyone wanted to know how it went going through customs expecting our Texas license plates to get us tagged for a more thorough firearm inspection.
We all went to a dinner at Savvio’s in Oliver.
Susan had an excellent Souvlaki—I had a poor attempt at a Greek take on Italian lasagna, but the companionship was amiable.
We got home about 8:00 and went to bed shortly after that.