Wednesday, 5 October 2011

CC Rider Rambles.....In the Beginning

Hello friends and relatives! The long awaited blog has begun……
For those of you who need a summary, I’ll go back to July 4 when we moved out of our Newmarket home and moved into “CC Rider”, our new home on wheels. If you missed a viewing, you can peruse the Allegro RED Open Road Motor Home on the Tiffin website.

For 6 weeks we unpacked, packed, sorted, did doctor and dentist appointments, banking, mailing, visiting and planning. We lived in Albion Hills, a Conservation Area just north west of Toronto. Those who have never been, will enjoy great hiking and fabulous bike trails there. Dixie loved it but continued to ask…”when are we going back to MY old backyard?”

Our takeoff date was pushed back for two reasons, cousin Marilyn and husband Mike were visiting from England and we would never miss an opportunity to socialize with them! Also sadly, as most of you heard,
my Mom died on August 4. Mark and Dina and Chris and I had a private graveside farewell. Danielle, over in Australia, connected with some special words for “Grammy”.

We left Albion on August 17 and headed for Collingwood to visit my cousin Jane and her husband Don, Marilyn and Mike. Dixie had never travelled in the RV and was very shaky and nervous on the journey. We were lucky to hook up in the Craigleith Ski Club parking lot next to Jane and Don’s chalet-home. Hiking, sightseeing, feasting and visiting was fabulous in great weather at the foot of Blue Mountain overlooking Georgian Bay.

Dixie was unwillingly coaxed into CC Rider for our official “Take-Off” on August 21. Jane & Don and Marilyn & Mike waved their goodbyes as we drove north towards Sudbury. We all felt a mixture of excitement and trepidation as we entered the life of full time RVing.

From now on I will select excerpts from my daily journal to help you travel with us. Aug.23, en route to Sault Ste. Marie; highway has been blasted out of shield rock and curves above ponds disguised under blankets of white and yellow water lilies. Seems like every town we come to has a “White Pine Inn”, “Shady Pines Motel” a “Windy Pines Campground” or all three!

Puwaskwa Provincial Park on Lake Superior was a gem. On a trail marked with Ojibwa wisdom, we experienced an area where a unique microclimate yields unusual ferns and mosses that give the forest a magical appearance. For sundown, we trekked to Lake Superior’s east shore beach. Waves crashed on the sand where hundreds of bleached trees and driftwood were piled. It was an artist’s paradise. Dixie discovered her “Inner Lab” rollicking in the huge breakers chasing sticks. We had to remind ourselves that we were not at the ocean while we watched the sky turn pink and purple over the turquoise water. Hiking during the next few days lead us over rocky, blueberry lined pathways where scraggy, wind-swept spruce framed spectacular panoramas made famous by the Group of Seven,

Camped in Thunder Bay where the highlight was Fort William Historical Park a great restoration of a Hudson’s Bay trading fort and native village. Dixie loved it, especially Sthe bannock bread samples.

Incredible scenery from the highway as we travelled west catching glimpse of Superior’s shoreline, scruffy pine, spruce and poplar and high rocky mounds and cliffs. A few nature sightings so far: deer, bald eagle, bear, magpies and gray jays, whooping cranes.

At September’s start, we crossed into Manitoba where rugged forests changed to farmland ,cattle grazing, horses and miles of fields, green and golden dotted with hay bales. Everywhere is evidence of the spring rains and flooding. Like mountains, potash factories loom off the highway. Dixie has adapted to her RV home and enjoys the hikes and “new back yards” at our campsites. She has been swimming everywhere, in Saskatoon, she cooled off in the huge Saskatchewan River that runs through the city. Saskatchewan travel was flat agricultural and each town had its personalized grain elevators with unique colours and logos. Before we knew it, we were seeing the mountain foothills.

RV living has been a blast. There is plenty of room, meal preparation is easy and most of the campgrounds have been pleasant. Of course everything has not been ideal. We got a stone chip in the front windshield, one of the jacks has been problematic, Chris lost his glasses on a beach, I fell in the RV while it was moving but only a few bruises, the CRV brakes caught on fire once, our stairs have been stuck down a few times and we have been in a couple of dud campgrounds, but only one-nighters! We still have to do laundry,
cleaning, grocery shopping and meal prep and cleanup but it does tale less time.

Another favourite campsite was in Jasper National Park, Alberta. We felt diminutive under the fifty & sixty foot pines. We started our stay there with a champagne toast to my official retirement. Lots of wildlife here: bear, ravens, marmots, pica, coyote and elk. Rode a cable car to the top of Whistlers Mountain for spectacular views over Jasper and surrounding rivers, mountains and tiny trains slinking through the valley. Remember Sam & Patrick? Jasper is all about the mountains and we hiked incredible paths to Mnt. Edith Cavell, Athabaska Falls, Maligne Canyon, Medicine and Maligne Lakes. All rivers and lakes are coloured with mountain salts and look deep turquoise or milky blue. Stunning! Wendy, I need your colour-name vocabulary!  Bear sitings are a daily event; the best was a mom and her three cubs, one naughty one who ran ahead, wandered off and climbed a tree, reminding me of my brother on our family trips. Sorry Mark!

Lake Louise Park was fantastic, but so wild it had an electric fence around the tent site to protect the campers from bears. The highway that joins Jasper and Banff is one of the most breathtaking. It took us between mountain ranges of such variety, some snow peaked or supporting glaciers, some green with pine forests, some rounded peaks and others with crumbling morraine and rock slides. I am out of superlatives, CW’s please send me some more adjectives!

We do take some down days where we stay in camp, do chores and catch up on correspondence. It’s fun sitting at the picnic bench under pine trees checking email. Try it on your deck, Ralph.

Memories of teaching..yes I am truly retired and LOVING IT! A special hello to the “Leaving Oz” gang. A young boy on a deck at Mount Robson creative centre struggled to put a few scribbles onto paper and uttered “ I just can’t get the glow right.” Little artists were using chalk pastel and paint to record the view.
It was an elementary school moment Dina and Kim.

Many memories of family travel with Mom, Dad and Mark camping out of the
station wagon, visiting Lake Louise, Columbia Ice Fields, Banff Springs, the iconic Western Canadian Hotel, mountain vistas, and checking out small railroad or cultural museums and fudge shops along the way. We were such a lucky family.

Another highlight was our tour of the Columbia Icefields. Dangerous fissures and a roaring river block the entrance for tourists to step onto the glacier. We took the icecoach past the hanging glaciers, 5’high-300 year old trees and various moraines to the surface of the glacier. It is amazingly thick, the height to the observation deck of the CN tower was where we stood. Volcanic soot left dark speckles in some areas and others shone blue in the sunlight causing deep turquoise pools and ice cold rivers to flow.

Revelstoke was our next stop and staying at an in-town campsite we were bear-worry-free for a couple of days. A winding, switchback road lead us up to the summit of Mount Revelstoke 6300’. The Meadows in the Sky Parkway as it is aptly named, holds a temperate climate that yields unusual and abundant wild flowers. Scenic mountain views reveal the huge Columbia River far below. In the same park stands a grove of Giant Cedars surrounded by humongous ferns. Our day packed with a wide range of hiking was complete with a campfire under our campsite willow tree. Dixie forces herself to stay up past her bedtime to join us at the fireside.

We woke up to a chilly 44 deg f. We travelled through mountains wrapped in rain clouds, then suddenly broke into farmland, sunshine and rough hewn hills covered in scraggly brush as we entered the Okanagan Valley. Temperatures were in the high seventies. Spent a few days in Oliver, the wine capital of Canada.  Lake Okanagan is a gorgeous source of moisture for the peach, apple and pear orchards and the wall to wall vineyards. Hiking the desert-like hills was challenging and we even ended up with small cactus piercing our running shoes and “paws”. Wildlife around here includes mule deer, quail, grouse and black bears. Highlight visits comprise the lecture on snakes with a live rattler at NK’MIP desert cultural centre, wine tastings and a hike to a sci-fi like site of the Astrophysical Observatory. Cousin Al and wife Jean took us to a couple of wineries and shared their expertise and a wonderful dinner at Tinhorn Creek Vineyard overlooking the Okanagan valley. We visited Marlene, a great friend from high school where we dined, reminisced and viewed her wealth of vibrant, amazing quilts. Thanks again Marlene.

We camped next in the high Okanagan mountains at the gorgeous home of Al & Jean. We toured the hills, markets, orchards and vineyards on foot, by car, on horseback and cycling. Our best of times were spent on their deck overlooking the valley, sampling wines of the area presented by our knowledgeable host Al and feasting on Jean’s fabulous and organic menus, veggies & herbs, including heirloom tomatoes fresh from her garden. Thanks so much.

Now close to Vancouver, I will end our tale for the time being. In future, our shorter, more current blogging will keep you up to date. I just heard from one of my students and extend a huge hello to those close to my heart who sent me off in such style at “The Hill”.

Continue to keep in touch! 

Caron, Chris & Dixie


  1. Great to hear from you Caron. Sounds like quite the adventure. Your words make me feel as if I were riding along with you. Happy Thanksgiving...stay well. Love to you all
    Wendy G.

  2. Caron and Chris,

    Welcome to blogland. Wishing you safe travels on your new adventure. We, the Smeal's have Canadian ties as my husband is from Calgary, his sister is in Nakusp,BC and we have family in Vancouver. Hope to meet you some day as we dream of getting out on the road ourselves. Until that time if you happen by Norman, Oklahoma give us a shout. We will follow you on your blog. Our blog is

    Happy trails....