So where were we......
Canadian border formalities or lack of were bliss. We drove up to the immigration booth, didn't even have to get out the car and hand over the passports. At this stage we noticed all the staring faces from the office building on our right and then an official looking gentleman exited the building and came over.
"Any weapons etc etc?" "No Sir, only a pepper spray" "Well that is illegal in Canada, can you please enter our office and sign it over" " And while you are at it, we have been checking your website, think it is awesome and would love to have a peek at your Rig"
A wonderfully friendly welcome to Canada, a sign of things to come we hoped! We then checked into an RV park just outside Waterton National Park to get our bearings, update the US part of our trip on the website and James would clean up our latest oil leaks and see if he could patch anything!
Our first real stop in Canada was a small sleepy little mountain town called Ymir in British Columbia. We arrived un-announced at a small hotel owned by the son of a lovely Canadian couple, Doug and Cathie, we met in Mexico some months previous.
After initial intro's, Ross and Belinda were great hosts and we ended up camped the night in the car park. The weather was a sweltering 36ºC and we both spent the afternoon cooling off in a local mountain stream. We spent the evening downing a few beers to some local live entertainment which was very pleasant. As this is also an initial investigation to the possibility of working a ski season in Canada, Ross was the perfect guy to chat to as he used to be the General Manager of the local ski slopes.
The following day we did the short drive into Nelson, BC where we had been put in touch with friends of friends of two folks we had met in Mexico from Montana. Boy don't they wish they had not given us an invite - Joking! Well we arrived mid morning and met Jon, Joan and the two girls who were extremely hospitable, and in fact we got on so well with them that we felt like cousins after the first few hours.
Jon works for a local development bank so knew a lot of people in the area whom may be good contacts for skiing. Joan is in education and as it is the summer holidays she and the girls were on holidays. They have a beautiful house with a patio view over the bay and the first evening we had a BBQ with two of their friends Darcy and Helen. Fortunately they had a two bedroom basement with an ensuite bathroom so we settled in very well to our new abode.
We had also had some spare Landy parts sent ahead of us to the Exley's and these had arrived ahead of us which was very convenient. James fitted the new thermostat and we hoped this would solve our overheating. However in the interim, we had also started leaking clutch fluid from the bell housing so after some investigation, the culprit was a faulty Slave cylinder. Luckily this is accessible without taking out the gear box, so once again, on the internet James ordered a new reasonably priced Slave from the US and a seal kit for our steering box as this was starting to leak quite a bit as well. The goods would only arrive a week later.
Anyway, on the second day in Nelson, we did a drive following Darcy to Slocan Lake, where there was some excellent sport climbing and spent the afternoon with Joan and Tessa, Darcy and family having a picnic on the lake shore while rock climbing right beside the lake. The day was completed with a well earned dip in the cool lake. The next few days were spent lazing about four walls, entertaining Katie and Tessa and Joan and having large family meals in the evenings. How time flies when you are having fun. The girls taught us some skipping moves as they are real double dutch pro's, we introduced them to skype and had a long conversation with Russell first in Belgium and then in Libya and Leigh and Keera in Australia which was awesome fun.
Jon had worked some of his contacts and organised a meeting with Jeff a guy whom owns the local Cat Skiing operation, Baldface Lodge, a remote mountain hideaway that is only accessible by helicopter in the winter. The operation has 8 lodges and various other dorm like rooms for guests and 3 Snow Cats, they run powder skiing holidays in the winter which is very expensive but looks awesome.
After the 2 hour drive UP the mountain, the lodge has a superb setting, overlooking pure wilderness. After meeting Jeff, whom invited us to camp over for the evening, we went for a walk to some nearby peaks for dazzling 360º panoramic views. In the afternoon we then met Paula, Jeff's wife, whom came up for the night and her brother and family also joined us. All in all an evening spent networking but great fun. This would definitely be an awesome place to spend the winter.
The following morning we bade farewell and as well as stopping nearby to pick yummy Huckleberries, we stopped by a crystal clear stream on the way down and had a freezing swim. Back to Nelson for a nice relaxing evening with the Exleys.
The following day we were invited with Jon on a business trip about 200 miles north of Nelson to a small village called Trout Lake where Jon gave us fuel money to take Lodzi. We drove through the heart of the Kootneys north and then back on the east side of the range of mountains I can't remember. This was mostly dirt road hence taking Lodzi.
After a beautiful 3 hour drive we arrived in Trout Lake, Jon completed his business formalities and then bought us a hearty lunch in the local (only) hotel in town. His client, a miner, invited us back to the mine for a trip over 1mile into a horizontal mine shaft into the side of a hill. After donning exceptionally sexy mine attire, 5 sizes too large and what appeared dustier within than out, Jon and the two of us looked very amusing to the real miners. We then jumped on the tiny little diesel locomotive and did the long trek deep into the heart of the mountain. They were actually in the process of making an old derelict mine active again and their contract was to bring the ore out of the mine.
A very crude shaft and a lot of running water were the main ingredients, lots of mud and dust were extras but James did get to handle 2 huge sticks of dynamite and we saw the Molly (molybdenum or something!) in the rock just waiting to be cashed in. We did come out even dustier than we went in!!
The drive back to Nelson was beautiful, passing through deserted mining and logging towns of days gone by, skirting beautiful lakes and hugging the sides of the mountains we even managed to see a Black bear cow and her 2 cubs scuttling across the road. We stopped in at another of Jon's acquaintances, a pub owner and had a tasty local fish and chips dinner. Another memorable day in Canada.
The following day, after a lazy morning we spent the day at the local river beach with the Exleys, playing volleyball, Frisbee and generally messing around. On the Sunday, Jon organised a day trip out in the canoe for the two of us, Jon and Katie. We would take the canoe and do a 16km downstream paddle on a local river, stop for a picnic and a swim, play with Sally the dog and in general have a blast. After dropping off the pick up vehicle, launching the canoe we set off downstream. Once again beautiful scenery and we were even lucky enough to spot 2 Bald Eagles along the rivers edge as we cruised by. However, the clouds moved in shortly after we had started and the thunder and lightening arrived about an hour and 5km into our trip.
The first shower hit us as we dived for cover in some nearby trees and ate our picnic rather more chilly than planned. Back in the canoe and an hour further we dived for cover again as the second shower hit us. The first rain in almost 2 weeks on the day we decide a canoe trip. Trust our luck. The remainder of the journey was gorgeous but still too cold for any quick dips in the icy river. Lucky for us as when we returned, Nelson had had a humdinger storm with 50 mile an hour winds knocking over numerous trees and putting the electricity out for over an hour.
Another aspect of mountain life in Canada we were subjected to was the summer forest fires they have here, it is hard to describe watching a fire that burns ½ a million acres of forest in a week, the main culprit is dry lightning, striking the dry tinder and setting everything ablaze. We had numerous fires happening in the area the whole time; we would get days that reminded us of London, the entire valley would be enveloped in smoke with visibility extremely low. With our panoramic view over the airport we watched helicopter after helicopter take off and return to refuel. They would also come down to the lake with a water sack hanging below, scoop up water and carry this off to the fire. It literally appeared like a losing battle, similar to spitting on a house fire!
Our new spare parts that were due to arrive after the weekend surprisingly did not arrive. Kerry set about making a mosquito net awning for the back of Lodzi as we were still very nervous about all the bugs we were told we would encounter in Alaska! That evening we cooked a meal for the Exleys and Darcy and Helen as a thank you for their hospitality.
The following day, the part arrived early afternoon and James set about replacing the old Slave with the new. The old one came off fairly easily and true to Landrover form, the new part did not fit! Well to be exact our hose did not fit into the new slave! After swearing and cursing the supplier, James was on the phone to them and asking what was going on. Numerous phone calls to and from the US supplier and an overnight query to the UK, we were told that the part they sent us was as specified, all Landrover joins must be the same, WE must have a modification on Lodzi!! Unfortunately this was James' synopsis as well! Now what, a visit to the local machine shop and all the local auto suppliers for an adapter or modification was fruitless as well. In the end James ended up putting the new piston in our old slave and putting the whole thing back together again. We will give that a go.
Joan and the girls were heading east for a 3 week holiday with Joan's family the following day and asked if we could take them to the local airport about an hour away! Jon was also going away on business for the weekend and we had the run of the house for as long as we wanted. We stayed another couple of nights catching up on some DVD's, more R&R in four walls and after stocking up at the local store hit the road north - Destination Alaska!