A Travellerspoint blog

2017 Happy Trails - Week 14

August 20 thru August 26, Marine Highway Prince Rupert, BC to Port Hardy, Vancouver Island, BC; Campbell River, Nanaimo; Marine Highway from Port at Duke Point to Port Tsawwassen on BC mainland; Blaine, WA Border Crossing to Mount Vernon, WA

Sunday, August 20

Drove 4 miles.

Route: Into and around the town of Prince Rupert

Campground: Prince Rupert Park Avenue Campground, Prince Rupert, BC $53.50

Today we spent a lazy day at the campground in Prince Rupert. Well I say lazy but in reality we took advantage of the crummy weather and did some needed cleaning and other maintenance activities around the trailer. And I cooked a few meals ahead so we will have something we can easily get to as we ride the ferry tomorrow.

Prince Rupert is located in the North West Rainforest so it isn’t surprising that it is raining here again today. The campground host told us they only get on average 20 days of sunshine a year! Yikes. He also said that come September 15th the ferry discontinues service until June and the Yellowhead Highway 16 closes due to snow over the mountain passes. So every year in the fall all activity pretty much comes to a halt until the next summer. Prince Rupert becomes nothing but a fishing port at that point so it isn’t surprising that there is little commercial and hardly any retail available. There is a tiny little Walmart and it is located in a small enclosed two story “mall”. Actually it is an enclosed building built into the side of a hill, two stories on one side, one on the other, where the bank, real estate office, one fast food place and a couple of other businesses are located on the first floor and the small Walmart on the street level above.

Monday, August 21

Drove 4 miles.

Route: Highway 16 onto the Northern Expedition ferryboat in Prince Rupert; south on the BC Marine Highway; off of the ferry in Port Hardy to Highway 19A then right toward Port Hardy; at first right onto Goodwin Road then quick left into campground.

Campground: Port Hardy RV Park, Port Hardy, Vancouver Island, BC $46.00

The beginning and the end of the day were very stressful but the 16 hours in between were lovely. It was like having a relaxing mini cruise in the midst of a long road trip! Well worth the freight - $$$.

The ferry was scheduled to leave Prince Rupert at 7:30am and we were instructed to be at the terminal two hours in advance because in order to guarantee our reservations we needed to check in no later than an hour and a half before departure. This meant that we would need to be up and packing by no later than 4:30am so we could be there to check in between 5:30am and 6:00am!

We woke to find that not only was it pitch black outside (there were no street lights and remember today is solar eclipse day, by definition New Moon, i.e., no moonlight at all), but it was also pouring buckets outside. So poor Tim had to hook up in the cold pouring rain in the dark! It was terrible. He couldn’t see what he was doing and had to do everything with a flashlight in one hand. Finally we were hooked up and ready to pull out but even that was no easy task. The campground was on the side of a steep hill and we had to circle downhill and around through a tent area before being able to drive back uphill to the exit. It was almost impossible to see where we were going in the campground. Somehow we made it without scraping the back end of the trailer and without sideswiping something.

The drive onto the ferry was pretty easy and uneventful – no backing up like we had to do in Skagway, thank goodness.

It was a relaxing 16 hours. The reclining armchairs were very comfortable and the scenery was beautiful even though the weather was the usual overcast, drizzle of the Pacific Northwest.

It turns out that the restaurant where we ate breakfast and lunch on the ferry was quite good with a cafeteria type line where you placed your order and then waited for your freshly prepared entrée of choice. Even so we decided to splurge for dinner in the formal dining room. It was delicious – the best “melt in your mouth” prime rib I’ve ever had plus lots of other dishes and scrumptious desserts, just like a cruise ship.

About every 2 ½ to 3 hours we had a “Deck Call” which allowed us to go below decks to walk the dogs between the vehicles and trailers on the parking deck. We met some other nice folks from Florida who were doing the same.

Pictures of scenery along the Marine Highway from Prince Rupert to Port Hardy
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I can't imagine why no one is sitting out here enjoying the scenery. LOL
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We saw many, many waterfalls and cascades. It is amazing how much water is flowing out of the mountains.
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Scenery as we were coming into the Port at Bella Bella, BC - an island native village.
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The reclining armchairs were very comfortable for reading, napping, and watching the scenery as we cruised down the Marine Highway.
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The ferry ride was 16 hours long which means we arrived in Port Hardy in … you guessed it … the pitch black dark of the new moon. The only good aspect was that while it was overcast, it was not pouring rain. Again there were few if any lights along the road leaving the ferry terminal and we had directions that had us “turn right onto such and such street and then a quick left onto yada yada, etc., etc.” We reached the campground at 12:30am. Luckily we got there without once having to back up and turn around in the dark. Also, it is a campground that caters to the late arrivals coming off the ferry and they had someone standing outside to greet us. So really it wasn’t that bad. But we were pretty tuckered out by the time we got settled.

Tuesday, August 22

Drove 170 miles.

Route: Highway 19 southeast to Hamm Road then north to Coastal Island Highway 19A to Campbell River, Vancouver Island, BC

Campground: Salmon Point Resort RV Park and Marina, Vancouver Isl., BC $58.60

Before leaving town this morning we took a drive into the town of Port Hardy and parked along the water near the Visitor’s Center where we picked up some literature about Vancouver Island, this being our first visit. It is a nice town, much nicer than dreary Prince Rupert. We stopped in Captain Hardy’s restaurant where we had an excellent lunch. It was a small little place but the food was delicious – Tim said it was the best seafood chowder of the trip!

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Views from the town of Port Hardy
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Another town with beautiful murals.
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The drive today through the north western part of Vancouver Island was scenic and pleasant. This portion of Vancouver Island is heavily forested mountains. Logging appears to be the main industry. Sadly the mountains are all scarred with long swatches of stumps.

Once we reached the Coastal Island Highway portion of the drive we were back in civilization at long last. The campground is a true “resort” with beautiful views out over the water. About half the campsites actually back up to the low seawall so they have spectacular views.

Evening view out over the water from the campground.
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Wednesday, August 23

Drove 111 miles.

Route: Coastal Island Highway 19A to Inland Island Highway 19 to Trans Canada 1 to Maki Road

Campground: Living Forest Oceanside Campground, Nanaimo, Vancouver Island, BC $49.35

Today we enjoyed a nice relaxing drive along the Coastal Island Highway 19A into the beautiful city of Nanaimo, Vancouver Island, BC.

For dinner we drove into the city and walked along the streets of downtown until we saw something that caught our eye – The Modern Café. It was a very classy place and the food was gourmet.

The Living Forest Oceanside Campground is one of our favorite campgrounds of the trip. It is located (as the name “Oceanside” predicts) right on the water with beautiful views. It had a swimming area at the beach and lots of family activities, trails, etc. It was so nice to hear the laughter of children playing again – we’ve been camping among old retired geezers so long we almost forgot what it sounded like. LOL

We ended the day with a stroll to the campground café overlooking the bay where we enjoyed ice cream cones while watching the sun set.
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Thursday, August 24

Drove 95 miles.

Route: British Columbia Ferry from Duke Point to Port Tsawwassen then Rte. 17 east to Highway 99 south to Blaine Border Crossing into the US; then south on I5 to Mount Vernon, WA

Campground: Riverbend RV Park, Mount Vernon, WA $32.40

We left our beautiful site at Living Forest Oceanside Campground this morning.

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We would have enjoyed staying longer but we had reservations for another ferry ride!

This one was on the Coastal Inspiration Ferry from the Port at Duke Point just outside of Nanaimo, Vancouver Island to Port Tsawwassen on the British Columbia mainland just east of Vancouver city proper. Departure time was 10:00am so we didn’t have to get up at any insane hour. And this one, like the one we took in Skagway, was on a sunny day so the views were spectacular! It was a little over three hours long which was just right for relaxing and yet still having time to have breakfast on the ship. And it was a beautiful ship, especially the dining room with its views out over the ocean.

Driving onto the Coastal Inspiration ferry at the Port at Duke Point
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Is this a beautiful spot for eating breakfast or what!?!
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Pictures of the ship top deck
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Passed a ferry boat going toward Nanaimo as we went the other direction
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Beautiful scenery as we cruised along.
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A few pictures to show how tight it is on the ferry with the BBOTTB.
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Driving off the ferry at Tsawwassen Port, Vancouver, BC
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Picture from the causeway as we left the Port.
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Peace Monument at the Blaine, WA Border Crossing. An uneventful 35 minute crossing.
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Once settled at the Riverbend Campground in Mount Vernon, WA we took advantage of being in a densely populated area (northeast of Seattle) to catch up on a few errands: Best Buy to have the camera repaired (sadly they had to send it off); Camping World for a Septic Cap (even though I’m boycotting Camping World since they have such a worthless piece of you know what for a CEO); AT&T to trade in my iPhone 6 for an iPhone 7 Plus – Yea! I’ve been coveting Tiffany’s ever since I saw the sunset photo she took in Ninilchek, AK. LOL

Also, Tim searched around online looking for a Ford Dealer where he could get an appointment without too many days delay. He needed an oil change, a fluids change, and to have the windshield wiper switch repaired. Ever since we left Stewart, BC two weeks ago the windshield wipers have been stuck on at the lowest delay wiper setting. It wasn’t too bad since it’s been raining or drizzling pretty much every day since then but now that we’re out of the North West Rainforest, it has to be repaired.

We ended a long day with dinner at Applebee’s Restaurant.

Friday, August 25

Drove 53 miles.

Route: I5 south to Marysville and back to the campground

Campground: Riverbend RV Park, Mount Vernon, WA $32.40

Tim drove south to Marysville to the Ford Dealer this morning and was pleasantly surprised that they were able to do all the work today without us having to wait for parts for the windshield wiper switch replacement. I stayed at the campground and did some much needed cleaning, paid some bills, and went grocery shopping at Walmart which was next to the campground.

Later in the afternoon I was getting pretty bored and so I walked to a nearby beauty salon where they took walk ins and had my roots touched up. BIG MISTAKE! OMG! It came out carrot orange. Seriously. They tried to redo it but it didn’t change. They offered to redo it again tomorrow free of charge so we’ll see what happens. I’ve got my fingers crossed.

Saturday, August 26

Drove 161 miles.

Route: South on I5 then skirting southeast by Seattle on I405 to I90 east to Ellensburg, WA

Campground: Ellensburg KOA RV Park, Ellensburg, WA $42.55

The beauty salon worked me in at noon today for my free redo. So they’ve redone it not once, but twice, and now it is an ugly mahogany color and my hair is fried. You’ll be seeing me in lots of hats for the next year or so. Oh my.

While I was in the salon Tim went to the nearby Farmstrong Brewery in Mount Vernon and had our 1 liter bottle filled with “Pull and Be Damned Porter”. I was tempted to drink the whole thing down in one sitting after leaving the salon.

We left Mount Vernon around 2:00pm and drove as far as Ellensburg, WA where we had made reservations at a KOA campground. It was a nice family campground right on the river with huge trees overhanging the sites. But we’re on our way to Coeur d’Alene, ID which we've been told is a beautiful spot so we will be moving on in the morning.

Posted by JudyandTim2015 15:53

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