Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Up the coast, running the snowy gauntlet, and home!

After close to a week on the coast near Fort Bragg, Ca, the weather was starting to deteriorate, so it was time to move along.

Usal road continues pretty much right along the coast, while the highway heads inland, winding like a snake at times till it reaches the 101 at Leggett.  I've wanted to check it out for a while now, so parked on the highway and hiked up it a mile or so for a look back out across the ocean.  I found that it is a good hard surface, though very steep in places, but there are almost no places where you could meet anyone and pass!  Maybe sometime we'll give it a try with the truck camper or empty truck, but it would be foolish to even consider it with the 5th wheel.
Continuing north on the 101, we elected to slow our progress by taking several section of scenic, winding secondary road on the Avenue of the Giants, enjoying the huge redwood trees - quite a change after months in the desert!  About this time, I found and removed a rather engorged tick from Hailey - yuck!  Previously I had found a couple others wandering around on my clothing, including one that tried attaching itself to my leg.  Personally, I could do without ticks!
Next night we found an ocean view spot near Loleta, but near constant rain and wind diminished it's appeal, or our desire to stay longer.  Heading north with the help of some reserve fuel, we stopped near Orick the next night, and slept to the sounds of the surf again.  We did have to stop for a splash of fuel in Crescent City, just to get us as far as Brookings, where the Oregon fuel prices were not as crazy.  Added fuel and propane in Brookings, and used the dump site at the rest area across from Harris Beach SP to get everything empty in preparation for 'winterizing' :-( again before getting home.
A roadside spot with an ocean view near Humbug mountain was our next overnight spot, and the periodic rains continued.  We made a brief stop at Paradise Point SP in Port Orford, but the temperatures and wind deterred any thoughts of a nice walk on the beautiful long beaches there.  The sun was out and it was a bit warmer when we go to Bullards Beach SP, so there was time to check out the old historic lighthouse on the Coquille River there.

The next night was at another windy cool spot along the coast, and I took the opportunity to drain the hot water tank as the next step towards winterizing.  With Hailey's help a couple of stowaway mice were evicted from the rig - the first ones all season.
One last windy rainy night on the coast and we were ready to begin the inland leg of the return journey home.  But not before filling up the truck and spare fuel cans with $164. of diesel at the bargain price (in Lincoln City) of $4.85/gal!  We made the run through Portland, and then followed the south side of the Columbia River eastbound on I-84, till turning northward again towards Spokane, Wa.  Our last US night was spent at a BLM camp spot not far from Spokane, but with howling winds and rain, it was not all that enjoyable!  After another top off of the fuel, we headed for the Canadian border.  There was a big line-up (2 semis), so it took us 6 minutes to get across. Pretty good, when compared to friends who had spent 6 hours in line crossing at Coutts, further east, a week or two previously.  Removal of the testing reqirements at the border had created a rush of Canadians soon after that change occurred.

Once north of the border, roads were good, but we hit some falling snow on the way to our next stop at friends in Pincher Creek, Ab.  Freezing temperatures were predicted, so I completed the winterizing before we solved a few world problem over an adult beverage or two.  Of course, as is the norm there, winds were howling, and any loose articles would be found in neighbouring Saskatchewan!

To avoid the worst of the winds, an early start was in order the next morning as we headed north on Highway 22 - where special wind speed warning signs have been installed.  It must have been relatively calm overnight, as there was only ONE overturned semi still laying in the ditch as we continued northwards.

 As we continued on our way, we were treated to the best of winter driving in Canada.  There were sections of black ice, white ice, packed snow, blowing snow, falling snow, slush.  Traffic was light, and we managed to avoid ditches and incidents along the way.

After having a nice clean truck and rig, rinsed clean by the coastal rains, it was sure nice to get it properly covered in slush, dirt, and salt again ;-(.  A quick stop at a cell phone place in Cochrane to pick up a new sim card, and we were on our way northward again.


 Now, the road had some rough frozen ice sections to enjoy, as well as seeing some less fortunate victims of the previous nights conditions!

Tell us again why we left Yuma and Lake Havasu "it's too HOT!", I think we said?
It became increasingly apparent that there had been a big, unexpected dump of snow the previous night, and roadside ditches and fields were covered by a deep layer of heavy wet snow.
Another roadside, slushy stop, and we picked up close to 5 months of mail - nice that it wasn't all stolen like it was a couple years ago.

 The final leg of the journey was the worst, with unplowed roads bearing 8-10" of heavy wet snow with only a single track.  Fortunately, we only met a lone vehicle along this stretch, but when I chose a spot atop a low rise to pull over and stop, any attempt to move had us sliding toward the ditch.  Eventually, I was able to get back on the track and continue, but there are a couple of very steep and large dips to navigate.  This required going way faster than advised on the downhills to have any chance at all of making it up the far side, even in 4wd.

The yard at home was unplowed, but by taking the corner way too fast, we made it in our driveway.  Even managed a few attempts at parking properly before conditions halted us in our snowy tracks!

At least this year, I didn't have to get my snowshoes out to carry Hailey into the house!  Lots of honking geese around, and hungry robins arguing about why they were here in these conditions!

Luckily, after only a couple days at home, all the snow has melted away.  And, who knows, in another month, there might even be a hint of green in some of the trees.

We'll get the fifth wheel parked for the summer - likely, and put the truck camper on for any summer adventures that will inevitably ensue.  In the meantime, there will likely be not a lot to blog about.


  1. Glad you made it home safely, I have enjoyed following you and Hailey on your trip. She is my favorite internet cat.

  2. Anonymous7:15 am

    Glad you both made it home safe and sound. Northern Ontario is not really spring like either, hopefully spring barrels around the corner with seasonal norms very soon. I always enjoy your photos, they speak volumes. Thanks for sharing.

    On a long and lonesome highway…

  3. That was a rather harrowing last leg journey home you had. And here I am complaining that we had a tenth of an inch of snow overnight. I really liked that last photo of you and Hailey. I would entitle that photo just simply 'glad to be home'. Well, keep us up to date on what's happening with you guys this summer on your travels near and afar.