Sunday, May 31, 2009


What a day of contrasts. This country certainly has it all and of course it’s all BIG.
Leaving Boulder, Colorado a bit later this time as we had family over at our small cabin at Chautauqua – bagels and strawberries – all very civilised from our regular plastic bowls of cereal and a tub of yogurt. Once out of Boulder the countryside quickly became very similar to the green rolling pastures of New Zealand, but then it quickly changed again as we drove through massive canyons, with towering rock walls very close either side of us. It was truely spectacular and again were amazed at the engineering it has taken to put roads through some of this countryside. This four lane highway was divided in 2 – 2 lanes each way, but it was a bit like the Scottish song... you take the high road and i’ll take the low road... because our road was about 40 feet higher than the traffic going in the other direction, so in fact the road builders have built 2 highways. When we could see ahead often we could see that these roads were held up by huge pillars that had been driven into the rocky terrain. Actually that is another thing. I now know why the Rocky Mountains are called this. Because they are – incredibly so. The ground surface is very very rocky, at times you wonder how the vast forestation can in fact inhabit the same terrain because there seems to be no dirt/soil for it to grow in. But they do.
We counted the number of tunnels we went through -13 in all today. Some short, but several were at least a mile long. Imagine digging a tunnel through a mountain this long!
Once through the mountains the landscape again changed. I know i mention this quite a bit in the blog, but it is one thing that has been quite amazing for us throughout this journey.
The scenery became incredibly arid, a bit like NZ’s desert road. Huge plains, circled by mountains.
But it was the scenery as we drove right to the tip of Colorado and into Utah, that was the most stark. Moutnains, turrets of rock that appears like sandstone, grey and completely stark of any plant life. There were plains with strange mounds dotted across it, then these towering edifices of rock in the distance, their tops completely flat, but the hillsides streaked with what appeared to be almost rivulets of rock.
I think i mentioned yesterday about the storm we had just before the wedding started. Well it seems that weather is quite typical of the area and as we left Grand Junction, the storm clouds brewed. Huge bulbous clouds, almost dark purple in color. Thankfully they blew the other way and we never had to drive in the forked lightening that we experienced yesterday.
And so that is our journey so far. We have arrived at Green River, Utah, a kind of blink and you miss it place, but it is surprisingly busy and has quite a few hotel/motels. I think this is because it is on the brink of an area with several national parks. Tomorrow we drive south to Bryce Canyon and beyond....only 10 days and we head home.

Happy days
Jane and gang


Well, here we are, the actual purpose of our trip in the first place. To attend the wedding of Shannon and David – Neil’s nephew. We arrived in Boulder on Thursday a.m. after a quick drive down from Cheyenne Wyoming. Boulder and the environs are more green and rolling – though there is always the presence of the mountains in the distance. It’s a lush city, quite flat. A university town. I have been told that the average age of the population is between 28-32. Thursday we caught up with the relies, (relatives). We are staying right beneath the mountains which if you need to figure out the directions, they are in the west. Friday brought some sightseeing and going to a local hardware store - huge. But it was the rehearsal dinner on Friday night which brought us really into contact with the locals, and getting to know Americans on their own turf. These pre-wedding dinners are new to kiwis, not something we do before a wedding. There were 60 guests at the bride’s family home in Castle Rock an outer suburb/township outside the southern end of Denver. Yep more driving. Actually about 50 plus miles and through Denver on Friday rush hour, so that was an experience!!! Denver i believe has 2 million people so twice as many in rush hour as we experience back in Auckland. What should have taken about one hour took closer to 2 hours. But the Delay whanau (family) made us very welcome and everyone was interested in life down under. They were congratulating others on some sporting prowess, band the bride to be gratefully translated which sport was which to the clueless visitors.
Driving back was another experience! Fast and frantic and more freeways with no night lighting for part of the way. Eeek. But we made it safely.
Wedding day dawned beautifully hot and sunny – 76deg F. Teens got their nails done while I met up with American Palmist Myrna Goldbaum who I’ve known cyberly for some years. She’s a great lady, very talented and a prolific writer living about 20 minutes from Boulder. Sceptic Neil even had his palm read!
We looked at having some of our ‘shopping’ shipped home only to balk at the price – about $400 US which would make our ‘bargains’ absolutely NOT bargains. So that didn’t happen. We’ll just have to buy more suitcases. But you can be proud that we have kept the American economy buoyant during our visit here.
Then it was time to gussy ourselves up and head back down the freeway to the wedding. A huge castle /ranch called Cherokee Ranch Castle built in 1920 by a divorcee as her folly. But it did in fact become a successful ranch which she ran as a single woman. Wandering antelope welcomed us as we drove up the 2 mile long driveway. The castle has a splendid view across the mountains and of particular interest to our car nut friends...a view of Pikes Peak, all 14000 plus feet of it which was duly photographed.
Inside the castle is like a grand room, with an overly large Juliet balcony. The wedding ceremony was due to be outside but by 5pm the electric storms with rather grand fork lightening was in full swing and so we were all shuffled inside – actually i ran as it was b....freezing, and where might you ask was the lovely brown fluffy coat that i had lovingly packed and hauled thousands of miles for this particular occasion... right back at our cottage 50 miles away, that’s where!
Neil and the girls and about a million others piled up stairs to watch the wedding procession/service. The bride was lovely- beaded, strapless, dress and the bridesmaids in deep plum. The service was fun and relaxed...all that is until Anzhela my 17yo decided to faint upstairs! No one else knew what was going on, but the it did create some extra excitement. Boulder is very high altitude and if you don’t keep drinking you can get a bit lightheaded, so guess what happens!
Niblbes, chatting, dining and laughing at the jokes during the reception were great. There were little boxes of candies on the tables for the guests, none of the Americans of course knowing what the red and chocolate candies were – Jafas all the way from NZ. So there were definitely a few kiwi influences here. So too with the wedding cake. Banana cake for the bottom layer - courtesy of the NZ Edmonds Cook Book, then a chocolate layer followed by a vanilla layer.
A safe drive back and all tucked up in bed by midnight. We were so welcomed by everyone, the Americans making their new kiwi relations feel part of the family. Thank you. It was definitely great to see how others live and to realise, that hey really, there may be thousands of miles that separate us, but we’re all really just the same.

Happy days...and we’re on the road again.
Jane and family.

Thursday, May 28, 2009


Left Cheyenne Wyoming today and headed to Boulder, Colorado. But before we left, we chatted to a farmer and his wife from Nevada and he was able to clear up a few questions I had. All along the way we’ve noticed the lack of cows/sheep etc on the farmland. Where is it? They’ve been moved to higher ground so that the lower pastures have a chance to regrow. The farmer farms 750,000 acres (yep that much) which he rents off the government. On that land, because it is desert like, he only farms 500 cattle.
The drive to Boulder was quick – on the interstate. And the landscape again changed. We still have the mountains in the distance, but the land close by is lush. Industry seems to have changed too. Huge, huge IBM plant. It is like it’s own city, plus apparently Google has its office here in Boulder. The city is a university town and very green with tree line streets. We’ve met up with the relies and the couple about to tie the knot on Saturday. No nerves. All going to plan.
We’ve been to this HUGE – funny how everything in America is huge – hardware store. They sell everything.
We’re staying at a kind of cabin place called Chautauqua. There is a central building which is an historical landmark and then all these little cabins. They are set out in what is like a little village, with street names and numbers . The cabins are one bedroom, have a kitchen, bathroom, little lounge and a closed in porch and are well decorated and fitted out. Very cosy after cramped motel rooms for the last month.
Dinner with the family tonight, then our first experience at a wedding rehearsal dinner tomorrow and then the wedding on Saturday. It will be interesting to see how weddings differ from our NZ variety.
I’ll let you know.

Happy days
Jane and family

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Remember all those cowboy movies we watched as kids, and TV programmes like Bonanza and The Virginian. Well today’s journey really brought those memories back.
We left Rawlins and headed east, but not before stopping by a parked up Union Pacific steam train for a photo opportunity. Also, parked up at a gas station was a double ended car, someone had cut two Cadillacs in half and then welded the 2 fronts together, steering wheels and all.
Long winding roads, going up to 8500 feet at one level, until finally the landscape changed from the barren plain to slightly more lush – only slightly – plus more of the wind farms, and oil rigs dotting the landscape. Wyoming is rich in oil, though with the downturn in the economy (despite teenage shoppers!) they were talking on the news tonight about oil workers being laid off.
Actually before i go any further, must tell you... it sure is a small world.... Would you believe it!
We met our relation’s neighbour over breakfast! We were in hick town Rawlins, Wyoming population about 5000 and were having breakfast (free danish and coffee at the Super 8 motel) and anyway, she says you’re a kiwi? Yes I say, then she tells us her hubby saw the news item about the tiger attack...well we got talking. they are from Mt Albert. What road... your road... what house... the one right next door to my daughter’s sister -- What a small world.
Anyway back to travels.... We stopped at Laramie about 1 hour from Cheyenne. Also a cowboy town, with a lovely historical area to wander around. Found a great book shop that has books all on the history of the area, even how things were cooked by those on the wagon trains.
Cheyenne too is full of history. We found the Nelson museum – full of military and cowboy and Indian artefacts. Plus stuffed animals of all kinds. It was a real treasure trove find.
Note to tourist bureau’s though. Please don’t forget your road signs. They put signs on the freeways, then as soon as you pull off the freeway, the signs and directions disappear. This is something we have come across frequently in our travels.
But on the other hand good directions from a worker at The Home Depot had us find the Safeway supermarket easily and hence the teens won’t starve. In Cheyenne, they celebrate their heritage and art at the same time, and have put these giant cowboy boots – about 8ft tall – around the town and they are decorated by local artisans. There are some lovely brick buildings, while the houses we noted as we drove around are replicas of many of the houses on this continent, those chocolate box houses. Very cute.
So that was today...onto a family wedding this weekend being celebrated in Boulder, Colorado.

Happy days
Jane and gang

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


This country is vast, the landscape offering us such a myriad of changes. Today as we left Ogden (quick apology here...Osmonds I realised were not from Ogden, but Provo Utah)..anyway we headed out on the freeway, winding through the hills to find ourselves in an enormous plain. You could see nothing for miles and miles except flat land. And some sort of ‘boxes’ and pipes that dotted the landscape the further east we drove. I think they were for either gas or military pipelines. There were long windbreaks along the sides of the motorways, i think to prevent erosion of the soil, which could possibly be verified as earlier when we stopped at Lyman I saw a pickup go past with a sign for Erosion Prevention. Lyman is a mining town of only 2000 people. The main employment is the mine where they mine for soda ash.
We had lunch there, and chatted to the local cop. He told us about the area and gave the girls both a police badge key ring.
We drove for hours on a long straight road. The number of trucks on the road is massive and constant We also these amazingly long trains. There were three, sometimes four engines and they hauled about 100 carriages, one we lost count at about 130 carriages. Each carriage had a container on it, and on top of that container, was a second container. Huge hauling.
We’ve stopped at Rawlins for the night after being on the move since 9a.m.
On the plains we had risen about 7000 feet high and at one stage so Neil tells me (i had snoozed for a moment) the road was at least 10 or more miles ahead and it simply disappeared into the horizon. There was also a wind farm. The rocky landscape had nature made turrets of red-brown rock and hillsides that just levelled off completely flat. So different from the towering snow-capped mountains of a few days ago.
Cheyenne tomorrow and then finally into Boulder where we stay for a few days attending Neil’s nephew’s wedding.
Happy days
Jane and family


Pinkie reporting here....
Monday here was Memorial day (think Anzac day dear Kiwis). Anyway the family decided to take me out of the case and give me some true American adventures today. Firstly, we drove all the way to Salt Lake City. Not far, but on that fast freeway again. Gosh those car whizz by. The idea was to go down by the lakeside and view it. We could have gone to Antelope Island which is situated in the lake and joined by a causeway, it’s a nature park. There was meant to be a visitor centre just off the freeway. Note to Utah road authorities. When your tourist brochure says to follow the signs, please remember to actually put the signs there. We came off the freeway and yep, you guessed it. No signs. Not very helpful to dumb tourists like my owners. We drove...and drove...and drove and silence reigned in the car, and a few expletives.
We found the island...but no other area to simply park and gaze wonderingly at the lake. So, frustrated, we hightailed it back the route we came.
My next adventure involved a man in reader, not a policeman. Neil’s driving is too perfect for any cop to haul us over. But we stopped at an aerospace museum. Lots of jet fighter and a model of the 1st plane flown by the Wright Brother, but what was interesting and scary at the same time were copies of atomic bombs dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. The place was crowded with families on outings just like me for Memorial day.
We had a real American lunch at the museum, fresh hot dogs and Anzhela had her first sloppy joe, Ground beef all sloppy with sauce on a burger bun. And me... Pinkie...did they feed me? Oh no siree. Not even a crumb.
Dinosaurs were next on the agenda. The Eccles Dinosaur Park. Fossils over 350 million years old, and no that’s not Jane i’m talking about. Then out into the park with life size dinosaurs roaming in the bush, accompanied by real life sounds. And me... I had the photo shoot of a lifetime, posing with the dinosaurs.
Shopping came next – and yes it was another Wal-Mart. I think singlehandedly that these girls have reactivated the American economy. Good job!
Happy days

Monday, May 25, 2009


We are so pleased that we had fab weather going through Yellowstone National Park yesterday (Friday), because today we got all sorts. We decided on the spur of the moment to head south to Utah (Ogden north of Salt Lake City) instead of going across Wyoming.
Interesting thing about Wyoming. No one pays income tax! Wouldn’t that be cool. Can’t understand why all Americans haven’t moved then to Wyoming! Apparently the timber and oil industry is so rich in this state that the locals don’t need to pay tax. My kinda state.
The landscape was changing too today. We had enormous plains banked by more snow capped mountains. Though not as high as the one in Yellowstone. The lakes are huge. In NZ we think that Lake Taupo is huge – i mean it’ the biggest lake in the Southern Hemisphere. Well, readers, the USA has HUGE lakes, and not just one, but so far Montana and Wyoming have heaps of them. More snow, more plains, more mountains. But we also drove through tiny towns boasting their pioneer history in the way the buildings were designed to blend into the scenery and looking as if they have been there forever. Bear Lake, we stopped at for a moment because we spied a Ford Single Spinner (1949) in someone’s backyard. Neil went into to investigate and got chatting to the owner. He tells us he is going to restore it /or hot rod it one day. We’ve heard this from so many people. Their ‘one day’ dreams. But most cars are lying neglected along with several other. It seems like every ten year they buy a new one and just park up the old one in the paddock.
Bear Lake seemed to be a burgeoning resort town with clusters of modern day log cabins. This man pointed out the oldest house in the vicinity, it was made by hand in that the builder cut down the logs with an axe, shaped them all with the axe and cut all the tongue and groove timber with the axe. Truly a work of craftsmanship and still be standing today.
Torrential rain going through a gorge kept the speed limit down, i.e. 2 speed wipers couldn’t keep up. We have stopped at Ogden Utah, and yes I’m old enough to remember that this was the hometown of the Osmond (i.e. Donny Osmond), but not old enough to remember the dinosaur that we are going to see today – Eccles Dinosaur Park. Ogden is surprisingly quite big. Being in a Mormon state virtually nothing was open yesterday (Sunday) which is quite unusual for the USA.
Also heading into Salt Lake City to view the lake today too.
The sun is shining, hopefully the rain will stay away. The bottom of the state has been hit by a deluge of floods, so we will have to rethink our driving next week when we come back to Southern Utah after the wedding in Boulder.
Happy day everyone
Jane and family

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Landed in Utah

Just landede in Ogden Utah, totally unexpected. Hope everyone is enjoying the blog, would love to know it makes sense to you all?????


Yesterday we drove from Butte Montana, through Yellowstone National Park, The Grand Teton National Park and came to rest at Jackson, Wyoming.
What a day
8600 feet above sea level, huge snow drifts either side of the car that in fact were higher than the car, frozen lakes, and towering mountains that at times were completely circling us. Not only that but we watched Old Faithful blow – this geyser blow for between 30 and 100 minutes, and about 120 feet high, using about 8-10,000 gallons of water each time. It was fascinating to watch. We arrived about an hour before it blew, the crowd was small. But by the time it did its thing, there were well over 1000 people sitting on the boardwalk waiting for the ‘show’. It was well worth the wait.
The temperature was hot, the snow at our feet. Such a strange combination. Before we entered the park at the western entrance, we stopped and had lunch, walked around the town with its old world look. The girls and Neil went tot he Grissly Bear and Wolf exhibition. The staff come out and hide food for the bears which they then had to hunt for. Wolves have become a bit of a problem in the park again. Apparently t hey were reintroduced some years ago, but have bred well and now are coming out to hunt a bit.
Leaving the town we entered the park through gates – There were four lanes going in – paying $25 entrance. Took ages as each car got a ‘lecture’ about rules etc. But once in, we hadn’t gone more than a few miles when we were surrounded by Bison. They wandered everywhere, it was wonderful. At one time we had bison within 2-3 feet of the side of the car. They seemed such placid gentle creatures. There were elk and bisen grazing through the park. For me this was the highlight of my day.
Before we entered the park, we found ‘another’ car place. Just driving through Montana we came upon the ‘Montana Classic sales.’ It was kind of like a wreckers yard for old cars. Heaven for Neil. You name it, it was there.
We were on the road for 12 hours yesterday. A record for us. It was exhausting, but fabulous and a real day to remember. We arrived in Jackson exactly 12 hours after we had left Butte.
We are going to discover Jackson today. But first impressions is that it has kept the old buildings so that the town holds onto its heritage.
Right, back to snooze for a bit!
Catch you all tomorrow.
Jane and family


Pinkie has had an outing. Meant to tell you yesterday. Pinkie came with us to Deer Lodge when we visited the prison. She was arrested and put behind bars!

Jane and family

Friday, May 22, 2009


We’re staying put today in that we don’t have to load up the car with the increasing luggage (Anzhela’s shopping is to blame). By 9am we headed out to Deer Lodge (a small town about ½ hour away) This small town is home to the county’s old prison which dates back to the late 1800s and was actively used until about 1960s and closed down after a riot. At one time it would hold up to 700 prisoners and there was also a small women’s prison adjacent. The earliest female prisioner to arrive at its doors was in 18****. It also houses a huge collection of vintage cars! Suprise! There are approximately 120 cars dating back to the horseless carriage and the early Model As and other brands. Interestingly, I saw poster that said in the 80 year car industry in the USA there have been over 18,000 different styles of cars manufactured.
The other small museum – which is a pioneer/mining museum was closed, so we ended up lunching in the supermarket carpark – not very classy I know. But Safeways the supermarket chain was having a $5.00 sale for 6 pieces of cooked chic ken. Only after we had eaten did we find out that there was a picnic area about 20 metres away! Actually that is one thing we haven’t seen a lot of. Just areas to pull off and eat on the roadside.
Next we drove back passed our motel and headed into the township of Butte. It is a mining town, originally gold, then silver and finally copper. Dotted all around the township are the gallus*** which designate where a mine was once active. There is a huge mining pit at the south end of the town which is no longer active and nor are the vast – almost a whole mountainside – of dig outs** where the ground has been excavated for minerals.
The township was surprising. It’s on a hillside. Surprising because I didn’t expect it because most of the towns we’ve been into so far have been flat. In its heyday the town boasted a population of 115,000, now it’s about 43,000. It looks a bit neglected, but is full of grand brick buildings and once grand houses which denotes is historical past. In its day it was the biggest town between Philadelphia and Seattle.
We then found the Mineral Museum which was a great find – and free- It is set within the Butte Tech buildings and is the place where they monitor earthquakes – the area has in the past had several quakes. The room was full of display cases of minerals, mostly from the area, or the USA, but some from as far away as Namibia. Also was a mini video on the history of mining in the area. Very insightful.
The temperature today is hitting the high 60s and it is very noticeable. We’ve had such vast differences – lowest of 38deg F to today’s of about 68deg F. All in the space of a couple of days. Actually we were talking to a couple this a.m. who were trying last night to get into their holiday home but had to turn back about 50 yards from it as there was too much snow!
The sky is pure blue and cloudless. I don’t think I have ever seen such big skies...but I think i’ve heard them call the state Big Sky Montana or something like this.
Right now, Neil and Anzhela are doing the underground tour of the mine, while Yana and I chicken out and stay atop.
Neil and Anzhela’s report on going into the mine
Cold, dark and damp. Underground Butte is riddled with tunnels, though they only went through 3. Saw lots of drilling equipment that was used for mining for copper. They had to wear helmets with little lights on. A railway line is used for the buckets which remove the rubble. They saw one of the only 15 ever made snowmobiles that were made by Ford Motor Company. The mines shafts went down about two thousand feet though they went down only about 30 feet below ground.
So it’s been a great day, very interesting and the Mineral Museum where Anzhela had at first declared she didn’t want to go in because it would be boring, finally admitted she was wrong!!!!
Onto Yellowstone next

Jane and family

Thursday, May 21, 2009


What an exciting day of contrasts
We left Coeur D’alene at 9am after trying to book motels for this coming weekend with not much luck – It’s Memorial day here on Monday so a long weekend. Everything is booked up in Yellowstone, so we may have to divert somewhat.
However, we’ve had a fab day. We had a steep climb out of CdA through more snow-capped mountains, houses dotted through the area where you wouldn’t believe people lived. I mean i couldn’t see where they would work, or could survive. But sure enough there were lots of small communities with just houses and not much else. We stopped to get gas at Alberton which boasted a road side sign announcing it had a bookstore with over 100,000 books – and it’s true!
A tiny house turned into a bookshop with barely room to move, but all categorised. Shelf after shelf. A definitely writers/reader’s paradise! But in fact i only left with one book – hard to believe.
Next we tried to find the ghost town down the highway, but couldn’t find it – reckon that’s why it’s a ghost town! Ha ha ha. But we stopped at Philipsburg. It’s an old mining town which is set against a hillside and is really cute. Locals have restored the buildings and recreated the town as a bit of a tourist stop. One store has been turned into a candy store and sells over 920 varieties of candy, plus 87 flavors of jelly beans, including NZ licorice all sorts. Kid’s heaven! We had lunch there in an old fashioned diner and then headed south. A small town which once boasted 1500 people and now has only 1000 but has 3 churches! The area around it was farm country backed by mountains, but once again for this kiwi, very few farm animals.
Leaving Philipsburg, we realised a few miles later we had missed the 2nd ghost town! - see it's a ghost - u can't see it! ha ha ha. Then we found something so unique for us - it was wonderful. Georgetown Lake - actually 2 lakes and for kiwis u can figure out the size - this wud have been as big as or nearly as Lake Taupo. But the exciting thing was it was still frozen over - i mean right across, only the first few feet at the edges were watery. We saw a few frozen dead fish, but beneath a piece of ice we chipped off were fish still doing their fishy thing - despite the thick crust of ice.
The landscape once through this area – which i think was named Glacier National Park, has changed considerably. Brown rolling hills, backed by mountains, trees dotting the hillsides, but nothing like earlier.
Now were in Butte, munching on our candy. We’re staying here a couple of days doing trips around the area, so should have lots more to tell you then.

Happy reading
Jane and gang

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

One border, one province and a new country

Yep, we’re back in the USA!
Left Osoyoos about 8.30 a.m. climbing high out of the town, through the mountain range to see more snow and a few flurries of snow. 5575 feet high. We crossed the border at Midway. More of a border outpost really. Just a bar across the road and a small cabin to one side. Neil was asked to provide the car rental papers which of course were stashed in the trunk (boot to those with kiwi-speak). While delving into the dungeon of the trunk, the guard asked if we had any weapons, narcotics, fresh food. Or anything more than $10,000. Neil replied – he wished, and the guard just laughed. I of course heard this and got out of the car saying we had grapes. But the moment i stepped out of the vehicle the guard said please stay inside the car (memories of all those cop programmes we’d watched sprang to mind and I sprang back into the vehicle tout suite) imagining the next moment the guard would produce a gun. Once re-seated I saw a second guard peering outside the window at me! Eeek...I shut the car door.
Apparently they get people taking stolen cars etc thru this border so hence the extra security. The landscape around Midway and just south was really pretty. Low lands, bordered by high hills, but beautiful trees, particularly poplars which were in new leaf bud. A river ran alongside us for at least 20 miles.
Sporadic housing, sometimes mobile homes, farm houses. But what was missing? Animals. No cows, no sheep, and again for this kiwi, the lack of seeing animals on the farms, kind of hit home. Seemed strange.
But what we did see lots of were cars just left to rot in the backyards, or on the farms. And of course the cars we saw were vintage cars for us. Pickups, trucks, a Lincoln here and there. Oh joy.
We lunched in a small town called Arbys. And yes we’re trying all the local junk food – well sometimes... i mean i’ve got to fit all the new clothes i’ve been buying!!!!!
Just out of Colville we saw a sign for an Auto museum... and free to go in This was a hidden treasure. At least 60 vintage cars, the oldest a 1909 Model T. There were De Soto’s, Willys’, T-birds, just everything. Even a 3 wheel Peel – cute, but to me impractically small!
As we drove out, we realised that it was right next door to a Casino. The casino car park was packed and this was only 1pm. We understand that the museum is connected to the casino as an added attraction.
We drove through Spokane. Quite a nice town, but very spread out... and then headed east to Coeur D’Alene. This is a tourist town which we are staying at tonight. It was named after the French traders who traded with the local Indian and found them to be sharp witted in wheeling and dealing. Coeur D’Alene means Heart of the Awl – which i understand the awl was the sharp tool used in leatherwork.
We’re back in a motel 6 – something we know, but which is reasonably priced when the exchange rate is not good for kiwi dollars.
Tomorrow is a bit of sightseeing around the waterfront, then heading east into Montana.
Catch everyone later
Jane and family.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Goodbyes are always hard, and today was just that. We left Kathleen and Glenn’s home in Vancouver. Over the last 30 years Kathleen and I have said goodbye nine times and each time we believed we probably wouldn’t see each other again. But that prediction has never come true and so today, though tinged with sadness, had us in fact planning another get together. In France maybe? Hawaii? Who knows were, but you certainly can’t put down a great thirty year friendship. So as I said goodbye, I also added that probably we’d be getting together when we’re both using zimmer frames!
But leave Vancouver we did, and earlier than expected. We left at 8 a.m. driving through busy rush-hour traffic, heading east along highway 1 as far as Hope. It was an easy drive, as some of it we had experienced the other day when driving to Langley.
Then came the drive through the mountains. Oh what a journey. The mountains soared hundreds if not thousands of feet skyward. They were not just snow capped, but the snow came down to ground level in places. It was so exciting. All along the roadside was a fast flowing river, with great white water rafting /rapids potential. Then we came to a road workers place where the snow had been piled high. We pulled in there and couldn’t resist a snow fight and of course Mumkey (i.e Monkey) had his photo taken with the snow. Unfortunately Pinkie missed the photo opportunity.
Back on the road we soared up and down the hills, and then it began to SNOW! Very exciting. It was only like that for a few minutes, but flurries definitely landed on our windscreen. Then came the rain.
Actually we have experienced temperatures of 39deg F to 59 deg F today.
We stopped at Princeton, which seemed to be mostly inhabited by retirees. A sad little town with a lot of closed shops, but a young man in the supermarket said that there were entrepreneurs coming to town trying to start up new businesses, so maybe there is life for Princeton yet.
Next we passed Hedley – unfortunately we didn’t stop – which was a shame as this old mining town is full of interesting exhibitions. But most interesting were the mining holes/caves that we could see still open half way up the mountainside.
And mountainsides...oh what mountains. Once over the snowy mountain range, the landscape changed. The land became arid and there didn’t seem to be much soil. What there was, was huge mountainsides of loose rock/rubble. Just everywhere. But still the ever present Fir trees still managed to grow in the stony surface.
In several places along the roadside, we saw piles and i mean piles of vintage wrecked cars parked . Made you want to cry.
We’ve arrived in Osoyoos, which is a lakeside tourist town at the bottom of the Okanagan (British Columbia).
We could either go over the border here...just a few minutes up the road, or drive further east and go over by either Lethbridge or Midway. So gotta do a bit of research on distances. Whatever we do, it’ll be mountains and more mountains. They’re truly beautiful.

Dinner is brought and we're in a motel with a kitchen this time, so it's nice to go for fresh for a change.

Happy days everyone
Jane and gang

Monday, May 18, 2009

Sad to say's good bye to Vancouver


Saturday dawned absolutely beautiful. One of the things I wanted to do on this trip was to take my friend of 30 years, Kathleen, off to lunch, for some ‘just us’ time.
So early afternoon we headed to the Richmond area of Vancouver to London Farm which is a restored old farmhouse and gardens run by volunteers. It has tea rooms set in what would have once been the drawing room and a small shop selling teas and hand made soaps etc. We had afternoon tea and then went out to the garden. Saturday was their annual plant sale day that they use to raise money for the restoration of the house. There was an old barn in the traditional red painted style and angled roof, plus a working Victorian garden. Richmond is very flat and in fact the land is below sea level and so the area is criss-crossed with dykes in case of floods. But it was a lovely area and with the chocolate box houses I’ve mentioned before it was very quaint and calm.
Family and friends came by Saturday night and it was great catching up. Wine and roast pork and lots of laughs. It was a real celebration of 30 years of friendship, and how that friendship has become a true family.
Sunday, another gorgeous day and we really didn’t want to do much. It was so nice just to sit rather than play tourist, so out came the wine and the visitors arrived and we did some more chatting. But we did hike it over to Value Village, a second hand shop that sells everything. Fun to browse. Even got myself a ‘leather’ style jacket for $10.00.
Monday was in fact Victoria Day and not BC’s Anniversary day as I thought earlier. Apparently this is due to Canada being part of the commonwealth, but I’m not sure if in fact Quebec celebrates this day.
All in all we have had a wonderful time in Vancouver, doing some touristy things, but generally just kicking back and relaxing after our long drive north. Now, tomorrow we head off east along the bottom of British Columbia and then into Alberta which will take us about 2 days to drive, and then down in to Montana.
Weather reports are at worst -3 and at best about 31, so it’ll be an interesting drive.

Happy days everyone.
Catch u tomorrow when we find our bed for the night.
Jane and gang

Saturday, May 16, 2009


My title today refers to the coast from North Vancouver and up to Whistler, the home of the coming Winter Olympics in February 2010. Friday was glorious and sunny, but accompanied by that slight chill you get from living close to mountains remain capped with snow despite it being late spring. We layered up, took extra clothes in case and set out on our journey to Whistler. It should take about 2 hours. But for us was just over three.
British Columbia is getting Whistler ready for the Olympics and this means the roads too. We had road works most of the way and so delays, plus this trying to be navigator had us off a freeway exit that infact took us down to Horseshoe Bay where the ferries leave for the Gulf Islands. Thankfully there was an extra lane that we were able to divert down and do a U turn, otherwise we would have been in a four lane cue which was considerably long and heading towards the ferries, with no way of turning around.
Back on the highway. The mountainsides come right down to the highway. The are densely covered in trees, with large portion of mountains crested with snow. Just beautiful. I’ve loaded some pictures so you get the idea.
Whistler was very compact, and very picturesque. Something like a Swiss village, or perhaps something out of Austria. There were four huge parking areas and a ten minute walk through a small park where young guys practiced their BMX biking and we came to the chair lift area. The gondola and the peak to peak gondola were not working! They said there were road signs about it on the road up but we never saw them. Anyway, the chair lift was working and even though it was beautiful and sunny and it’s late spring, lots of people were going up to ski! I mean hundreds!. Neil and the girls took the chair lift to the top. It’s actually 2 chair lifts – you change half way. I didn’t go. I’m not a fan of heights and certainly no fan of dangling my legs while sitting in a chair hundreds of feet in the air. So i stayed and sat in the sun.
At the top they were 2440 metres high and it was about minus 3 degrees. So chilly. Snow fights, lots of photos and back down they came. Anzhela really wanted to go skiing but had no ski gear and rental was pretty expensive.
The drive home took an hour less, road workers gone home. But the traffic driving north was constant. It’s a long w/end this weekend here in British Columbia.
One of the interesting things we’ve been doing is trying different eating places while away. We’ve done McDonalds – similar to home, and Wendy’s again, similar to home. Then there are the Taco type places. Also Vancouver has a huge Asian population and so Chinese food is everywhere. The real deal. Vancouver has a huge ethnic mix. As I mentioned, lots of Chinese, plus Indian, Iranian etc. It’s a real global city.
View from cable car on Blackcomb mountain at Whistler.And then you get sleeping kids on the way back too....
Happy days...
PS: We're 1/2 way through our journey. And i'm missing my dog Bingo. Boo hoo.
PPS: Just discovered. If you double click on the pictures, they will come up much bigger. That way u can get a great view of the mountains. ...Jane

Friday, May 15, 2009


My friend Margaret and I... I'm on the right.

Wednesday was a day for catching up with friends and making new ones.
Thirty years ago I was young and silly and backpacking around Europe as Kiwis do and while in a youth hostel in France I asked a young Canadian girl if she would mind swapping my top bunk for her bottom one. That is my friend Kathleen who I’m staying with now...all these years later. We’ve been buddies ever since, visiting each other and I was even her bridesmaid.
Another Canadian that day was Margaret, and yesterday we caught up again, having lunch at a lovely restaurant in Pt Grey – suburb of Vancouver. We chatted for hours, wondering where the years have gone, talking about the directions our lives have gone. It was a lovely few hours, one we do every few years, when the opportunity arises and we visit each other’s shores.
Then last night, Neil and I had the opportunity to make some new friends. As many of our Kiwi mates will know, Neil is a vintage car enthusiast. Well last night we drove about an hour eastwards to Surrey, over the Simon Fraser Bridge which is 2-3 times as high as the Auckland Harbour Bridge and rises to a peak then you descent very steeply – it is a kind of suspension bridge with large wires and although rather a grand and an architectural and engineering masterpiece, it did not inspire confidence in me. Give me the older concrete sturdy looking bridges any day. However, we made it to the Firemen’s Hall on 144th Street, Surrey and were warmly welcomed by the Fraser Valley Ford V8 Club for their monthly meeting. Lots of inspiring things going on. Planning runs months in advance, a huge picnic coming up in July, t-shirts and jackets with club insignia on them and not to forget the coffee and tea and muffins at the end of the evening. It was a lovely time and we were given lots of advice on different places to see and do on our proposed route southwards.
We got back home – and yes via the bridge, but were amazed at one part of the freeway that had no lights on it and it was another scary driving experience. But we made it home safely to bed...ready to start another day of playing tourist.
Another fun thing...Pinkie found an accomplice. A dress store called Pinky Clothing. Isn’t it nice she isn’t alone in the pink world!
Happy days
Jane and the whanau.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

An interesting day

Today we set out to do more tourist things. We wanted to go to the Police Museum, so headed downtown, very close to where we were yesterday. This is the beginnings of the east side of Vancouver. Yesterday it was a 'bit' scary. A few drunks/addicts etc, but today was sooo different. Sad to say, but for a few blocks we were quite scared. We were in the car, but there were cops everywhere, a road blocked and drunk/addicts trawling the street, lining up we think for a soup kitchen. Very appropriate that this was close to the Police Museum. However, we decided to by-pass the museum, too nervous to walk those few blocks.
So instead we headed to way out east of the city to Langley and looked at car parts - yes hubby was cruising for parts for his vintage cars! Then we made a few turns that looked like we'd head way out where no maps existed - at least not in our car, so we did a U turn and with our tourist tails between our legs, we headed back the way we'd come.
Tomorrow I catch up with another Vancouver friend i've known for 30 years. I met her and the friend I'm staying with 30 years ago in a youth hostel in France and we've been mates ever since.

Keep reading, more tourist stuff coming. Off to Whistler, home of the 2010 winter olympics is our destination for Friday - all going well and no snow on the roads.

Oh, by the way, Pinkie has made another appearance, at Stanley Park in downtown Vancouver, pic in yesterday's blog. But she actually is accompanying the tourists on a daily basis now, we hope her spring like colours will encourage the spring to spring forth and not leak too much more.

Jane and gang


Really did the tourist thing today, starting off by driving down to Granville Island Market. This is in downtown Vancouver and is situated under a bridge. It’s a foodie’s paradise, with inside stalls selling everything from bagels to fish, herbs and chocolates. There are an abundance of outside cafes and you can sit and watch the small water taxis dashing across the harbour. Then with a few detours – read that as going the wrong way – we made our way over Granville Bridge (so from the underside to the topside) and into the heart of the downtown. It’s hugely busy, traffic lights just at about every block, but the road leads down to Stanley Park – a seven mile circumference park that juts out on the city headland. Right beside the park is the Lion’s Gate Bridge which spans the harbour from the park/downtown to the north shore of Vancouver. Over the bridge, a couple of wrong turns and we headed up through the northern suburbs to Grouse Mountain. This is a ski area which is often used in winter for night skiing, because of it’s close location to the city dwellers. Although it had been sunny when we left downtown, by the time we got to Grouse the clouds had lowered and it wasn’t worthwhile going up the gondola (phew – i don’t like heights), because the clouds covered the top half.
A coffee, a quick drive back over the bridge – because we now knew our way. Driving through Stanley park was lovely, but one thing we did notice was that you had to pay everywhere for public parking, even just on the waterfront round the park.
The roads in Vancouver run east /west and north /south, so if you know your cross roads it gets quite easy – eventually. We managed to find our way down town to Gas Town. This was named after a pioneer who opened a bar and was known as Gassy – because of the tall stories he told. There is now on one of the corners a steam powered clock. The area is quite touristy, but leads to what was once the heart of the city, but that has moved closer to the water now. This old area is sadly a bit rough, with seedy types and so we didn’t stay long.
But we made our way home safe and sound, hungry because we’d never managed to stop for lunch.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


But it's only water, right? Spring has sprung a leak! We did try to do tourist things yesterday, standing at the bus stop to take the bus downtown and walk around Gas Town and China Town, but after waiting about 25 minutes in the rain, (no raincoats) we decided it was a bad idea and went back home. Then the sun came out!

We went to indoor activities - Oakridge mall. Everything very expensive which didn't seem to worry junior teen who bought some high heels the height of the Eifel tower, all glitzy and black. Very practical for walking in the rain! Then we found a supermarket. Prices in Vancouver are definitely dearer than in the USA and the tax is higher too. 12% added on top of indicated price.

Been watching DVDs of I Love Lucy - kids thought it funny and also DVD of Mr Bean. So a relaxing tourist day, albeit a tad soggy.

Grey outside today too, but hopefully only showers and NOT RAIN.

Jane and gang.