Sunday, September 28, 2008

The First Leg - From Olds, AB to Fernie, B.C. to Columbia Falls, Montana to Vernon, B.C.

Sunday, September 28, 2008
Day Off

Leisurely day off today - no plans for golf. We needed the day to finish setting ourselves up at the RV resort, and to tackle some much-needed laundry and general housekeeping. We're heading out to Kamloops tomorrow for a day of golf at Sun Peaks, and will return Tuesday. The weather is perfect today, with even warmer days forecast.

Took the cats out for a 'tour' of the RV site, so they are feeling more at home as well.

Had a phone call from Lyle (the son) and it sounds like everything is going great in Germany.

Friday and Saturday (September 26 & 27, 2008)
Golfing at the Rise Golf Course - Vernon, B.C.

Joined Kyle and Norma Duncan and Rod and Wendy Wiebe for two rounds on the Rise Golf Course. Located high above the city of Vernon and overlooking Okanagan Lake, it is an absolutely stunning golf course.

Be prepared to leave a good number of your balls on the hillsides surrounding the fairways, and keep an eye open for the wildlife (or evidence thereof) that you will see. There are many deer, pheasants, snakes, bears, and even bobcats who call this mountainside home.

Make sure you take a 19th hole stop for drinks and a meal on their panoramic patio. Thanks to the Rise - they have a great course and extremely friendly staff.

Thursday, September 25, 2008
Fernie to Vernon, B.C.

Up and on the road by 8:15 a.m. and back to Fernie by 10:30. Cats were extremely happy to see us, but not real thrilled to hear the ‘house’ start up and begin moving again.

Brunch at Smitty’s and debated the route to take – south through Rock Creek or North through Revelstoke. As we will be staying at Swan Lake RV Resort which is located on the north end of Vernon, we decided it made sense to take the north route.

Weather pretty up and down for the trip – sun, pouring rain –a real mixed bag. Hoping for good weather tomorrow, as we have a round booked at the Rise Golf Course at 11 a.m.

Arrived in Vernon around 7 p.m. Parked and set ourselves up at the Swan Lake Rec. Resort (nice place) and headed over to visit the Duncan's and plan the next couple of days.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Meadow Lake Resort, Columbia Falls, Montana

Meadow Lake Resort is an RCI resort (timeshare). The only downside to our bargain-priced package deal (two nights accommodation and a round on their excellent golf course), was that we had to sit through a 90-minute presentation on the benefits of vacation ownership.

Our meeting was scheduled for 9 a.m., and they promised us that it would be a 90-minute pitch, After living through the horror of a 4-hour extremely high-pressure experience at Fairmont Resorts a few years ago, I was sceptical. Thankfully, our low-key salesman, Steve, lived up to their promise. While the resort is beautiful, it’s not for us at this point in our lives.

Our tee-time was 12:30, and the weather favoured us with sunshine and great conditions. The course itself was very nice – challenging but not so difficult that it frustrated any of us. There are some amazing homes around the course, and we were treated to a wildlife display from the local whitetail deer that casually meandered around the course.

We planned on supper in town, with a tip to try a restaurant called ‘The Back Room’. The only hitch was an issue with cabs – or more specifically, the lack thereof in the town. The front desk claimed that the local company had shut down, and contacted a company from nearby Kalispell. They quoted us $15 for the trip (no problem). When the cabbie arrived (a classy gentleman in peak physical condition – I’m being facetious - picture the worst), he proceeded to tell Rod that it would cost us $25. When we arrived at the restaurant, which was approximately 2.5 miles from the resort and all of a 7-minute drive – he tells us that it was $40. Fat bastard crook!

Into the restaurant. First impression – a glorified barbeque house. Initial disappointment. The waitress immediately set down a teddy bear squeeze bottle of liquid honey, and small containers of what we guessed were some kind of butter mixture. Puzzled, we tried to imagine what we would be eating that would require liquid honey as a staple. Turns out the answer is ‘fry bread’. And praise God for fry bread! It is deep fried heaven, drenched with whipped honey butter and drizzled with more liquid honey. Needless to say, the food was great, the staff excellent, and we even caught a ride home from a friendly waitress at the end of her shift.

But not before we called our fat bastard crook cabdriver and made arrangements for him to come back and pick us up…… vengeance is sweet.

Topped off the evening with a nightcap in the lounge and coerced the live performer to stick around a little longer and sing us a few songs.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Fernie, B.C. to Columbia Falls, Montana

The weather wasn’t exactly perfect in Fernie, but the setting is absolutely stunning. Terry and Rod braved the cool morning and golfed nine holes, with Wendy and I joining them for the last nine. It is a beautiful course, and with the fall colours on display, it was a near perfect golf experience.

I had one ‘incident’ on the course, however. After taking a drink from a ‘non-sanctioned’ beverage (sorry – I didn’t buy it from the course), I noticed that the beer cart girl had just pulled up. I tried to casually slip the bottle into my bag, and then moved down the hill to where Terry was looking for a ball near the water hazard. I caught something out of the corner of my eye and turned around to see my golf cart and bag hurtling towards the water hazard. Unable to stop it, the pull cart hit a rock and launched my bag, and illegal drink into the air. Miraculously, the bag landed on the edge of the hazard, missing the water. The only casualty was my drink, which ended up floating in the hazard. All this in full view of the beer cart girl. Nice.

On to Montana. Arrived at Meadow Lake Golf Resort around 6 p.m. Popped into Columbia Falls to pick up a few essentials at the local Pamida (a baby Wal-Mart) followed by a trip to the liquor store (hey –whatever happened to inexpensive liquor!). Supper at the resort (nice staff and good food), followed by a hot tub and drinks, then called it a night.

Monday, September 22, 2008
Olds, Alberta to Fernie, B.C.

We had a busy day ahead of us, so were out and about by 9 a.m. Leaving town for approximately eight months means a lot of loose ends to take care of – forwarding mail, setting up e-post for our bills, clearing things up at the office, meeting with our accountant etc. This took the better part of the day, with some things still hanging out there to wrap up while on the road.

Our intentions to leave town by 2 p.m. ended up dragging out till approximately 6 p.m. Our friends Rod and Wendy had left that morning, so we were going to meet them in Fernie, B.C, and spend the night there before heading out to Columbia Falls, Montana, the next day.

The drive to Fernie took us approximately 4-1/2 hours. This was the cats’ first real ‘road trip’, so we didn’t quite know what to expect from them. The last few times they had been in a vehicle, we had them in their pet carriers, and they howled from start to finish – the three tenors, as I liked to call them. We were really hoping that we wouldn’t have to relive that little treat. Turns out, they were quite quiet. Don’t know if they were in shock that the home they had been living in for a month would suddenly move itself down the highway, but all seemed to be fine.

Arrived in Fernie by 10:30 p.m. and parked the rig at the Fernie Golf Course. We were travelling to Columbia Falls in Rod and Wendy’s vehicle, so made arrangements to park there for the two nights we were going to be away. Cat care was left to Wendy’s sister-in-law Donna (thank you Donna!).

The Pack-Up: Sunday, September 21, 2008
Carefree Resort at Glennifer Lake, Innisfail, Alberta

After all the planning, discussing and mentally preparing ourselves for it, we finally reached the day we had to pack up and start out on our journey. We were leaving earlier than we typically would have (September instead of October), but had made plans for a golf weekend at Meadow Lake Resort in Columbia Falls, Montana, and from there were heading to Vernon and then Vancouver, B.C. to visit friends and family and then travel across the border in November.

Packing up entailed closing things up for the winter at our RV site at Carefree Resort at Glennifer Lake, and packing virtually everything we would need for the next eight month into our motorhome and 25’ trailer that we’d pull behind the RV.

As always, things took twice as long to get done, so it was the entire day and well into the evening before we were finally ready to pull out. Only two near disasters – Molly went missing twice, and Champ escaped once. Top that off with unseasonably cold temperatures and rain. Needless to say, the stress levels were running a little high.

We had decided that we’d spend the evening in Olds so we could leave from there after running all of our errands and wrapping things up at the bank(s), accountant’s office, office, post office, etc. etc. We ended up camping in the parking lot at Leo’s Castle Building Center (thanks Leo!).

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