Back in BC

5 May

Friday

The border crossing at Lynden was only open from 8am to 12pm but this was the best place for us to cross to travel into Vancouver calling into Langley where we purchased haRVey for discussions on some warranty issues.

As we approached the border Robert became concerned about the fact it was Canadian, and how would the US know we had left. Being the dutiful wife (and navigator) I reassured him, I was sure they communicated to each other the comings and goings across the border (seems I was less than correct). We were approached by a Canadian lady border officer who asked us a few, not too testing questions; she took our passports into her booth, and returned waving us across into Canadian territory.

As we drove away I looked at Roberts’ passport and saw a stamp but the green card was still attached, when I looked at my passport I had no stamp and also still had my green card. For anyone who like us is unfamiliar with the crossing system, we were given the card on entering US (after forms and questions etc) and on its reverse it states that you must give it up when you exit the country, otherwise it might impede your return at a later date. On looking again I realised the stamp in Roberts’ passport was an old one so he wasn’t stamped either, maybe my reassurance was premature. We discussed the matter as we headed further away from the border eventually deciding that when we arrived at the campground we would take advise from the staff there who we hoped would be able to help.

After lengthy discussions with the RV dealership we found our way, by a somewhat devious route to Pacific Border RV. We were met by Vicky the owner who booked us in and showed us around the lovely facilities. It was a sunny warm afternoon and the indoor swimming pool looked very inviting, we were a little preoccupied however with our passport issue. On discussing with Vicky and her husband Charlie the problem they thought it best we went over to the Canadian checkpoint (the RV Park is literally a sneeze away from the Pacific Border crossing) to ask advice there. Charlie was good enough to drive us as far as he could without crossing the border himself then we walked the rest of the way to the office.

To cut a long story short, the green card did not expire until midnight the next day, so would not be taken away from us in case we wanted to use it, but it was our responsibility to make sure it was returned otherwise they would not have a record of our exit. The other thing we learned and surprised us greatly was they do not cross check who has passed through the borders. The Canadian officer would have taken the card from us and it would eventually get passed over to US officials or we could walk over the 100yds or so to the US border control and give it back ourselves. We opted for the latter wanting to be sure whose hand they ended up in. Having delivered the green cards into the hands of the US officer and walking back into Canada we then had to go back through there control system and get booked in again!

We arrived back at haRVey hot and tired but legal, and thought about going in the pool however Robert discovered his swimming shorts were missing so we postponed and had tea celebrating being back in Canada – officially twice over!

Saturday

We had arranged to hire a car to get us around easily over the weekend and again the management at Pacific Border RV proved to be very helpful and gave Robert a lift to the Budget office to pick up the car. Meanwhile I organised a hair cut in White Rock for 11am and got the laundry started.

A little shopping trip in the afternoon resulted in a new pair of shorts for Robert and when we eventually got to the pool we had it and the hot tub completely to ourselves as all the Canadians were watching a ice hockey play off on TV! What a treat, the hot tub was really warm so the pool felt cool but refreshing, however my longstanding hatred of swimming still exists and I spent most of my time in the hot tub with the bubbles massaging my back.

Sunday

We had arranged to see our fellow Fleetwood RV friends Alan and Sue at White Rock pier for coffee and muffins and parked up with them on the ocean front then walked a few yards back to a tea room. Tea, Coffee and Cranberry muffins fresh from the oven were consumed whilst we swapped RV info and stories, only terminated when we realised our two hours parking had expired over ten minutes ago. Luckily there was no one on patrol and we stood in the very warm sunshine and chatted some more before parting with arrangements to meet up soon.

Vancouver certainly was welcoming us back with sunshine and we sat outside for a while in the afternoon and planned our next steps East in BC.

Monday

With arrangements made to return to Pacific Border for the run up to our flights home we managed to be on the road just after eleven, called to top up the LPG tank then made our way along 16th Avenue toward Highway 1 and all cities East.

Once we had passed through Chilliwack the road became a little less busy and we pulled in to Bridal Falls for lunch. We couldn’t just park up for lunch without taking the trail to look at the falls of course and after a steep climb up a well made path we were rewarded with the view of the 400ft falls cascading down the rock face. A young couple had climbed the rocks to view the falls a little higher up than they should taking photos and generally enjoying themselves, we took some pictures and were beginning our return as they were heading down the trail too, the young girl, obviously very happy with life called to us that they had been married at the falls five years ago next week, we congratulated them and I sort of understood why they would want to get further up on the rocks near the water, its obviously very special to them.

From Highway one we took Highway 5 and arrived at the Campground just East of Hope at three pm. The Othello Tunnels Campground is a short hike from the tunnels it is named after. Having settled haRVey we took the road towards the Provincial Park and the entrance to the tunnels, the railroad no longer in place they are open from April to October to walk through.

Engineered in the early 1900’s by Andrew McCullouch to enable the Canadian Pacific Railway Company to route tracks through the Coquihalla River Gorge trains last ran on it in 1959. It was always plagued with washouts and a major washout that year was never repaired. The tunnels were finally declared closed for good in 1961.

There are a series of four tunnels hewn from the massive rock face, the first three run one after the other with a wooden bridge between each pair giving views of the river rushing through the bottom of the gorge below, the final tunnel has a slight bend so when you enter you can’t, for a few yards, see the other end. The tunnels are very dark and drip with water seeping from above. The original concept for the tunnels was devised by the engineers when they lowered themselves in baskets from the top of the rocks above the raging water.

It was reputed that the timetable was ‘fixed’ so the trains only ran through the gorge after dark to save the passengers from becoming afraid of the drop into the gorge. A tremendous feat of engineering and with little modern artificial support stands to show the ability of the men who built them.

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