Sad Goodbyes & Travel on hold

Saskatchewan Crossing

The saddest days come when we inevitably say goodby to friends, whether they are two-legged or four-legged. Today was one such day. Days like these are filled with reflections and gratitude for having been graced with such beauty in the rear view mirror of our lives.

Aside from my own dogs, there are two dogs who have lived here by the sea with Helen since long before we met. Anyone who visited this place would have been given and enthusiastic greeting by Nell the gregarious black labrador retreiver and her little sidekick, Annie the elderly West Highland White Terrier. On Saturday, Annie was suddenly acting strange, finding weird places to hide and curl up in the house, and when we’d find her, she’d look annoyed and shuffle her way out to a secluded spot in the garden.

Before we retired after our regular Saturday movie night in Helen’s house, we went out to the garden to look for little Annie. She was found curled up in the woodshed. As I carefully picked her up I knew she wasn’t going to make it through another day and maybe not even through this night. I just felt it and I could tell little Annie had already accepted that. I carried her in and gently put her on her normally self-designated spot on the couch in the cozy warmth of the woodstove.

Sunday morning I would find Helen on the couch, tearful and holding little Annie for the last time. The little dog was already gone, another bright star to dot the night sky. Annie will be missed by all of Helen’s many friends and family.

Travel adventures are on hold

Each dog I have had, has represented a chapter in my life, such as numbers could never represent. One day, I may write a book about that. But for now, I will share a “travel” update.

I put the word “travel” into quotes. Why? Widespread and rampant Covid variants have spread throughout Western Canada. The BC government finally did the right thing and banned travel between health regions. BC Ferries is not allowing RVs of any kind on any sailings from Vancouver Island unless they are returning home. The RCMP is conducting spot checks to see where people are headed. Word has it that campgrounds are closed throughout BC. It’s not a good time to travel at all. The travel ban will be in place in BC until the end of May. But here I am stranded on a beautiful Pacific Island on a beach beside the sea.

Travel Plans

I am lucky enough to be getting my first vaccine next week, which will be followed within 2 months by a second dose. I should be able to travel then. So, my travel planning has continued. There are so many exciting and intriguing places to see throughout BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. So, I bought a bunch of road maps. Last summer I found that Google maps had some strange and very creative ideas about highways that could be travelled, and I wound up on some fantastic adventures.

As we were outrunning a really ugly Tornado nearish to Regina, Google Maps took me through Saskatchewan over crumbling back highways and gumbo dirt roads probably only used only workers at the huge farms throughout the regions. When you are on these narrow, shoulderless roads, there are long stretches where you can’t turn around anywhere, and so on you must press. And by then a mix of curiosity, bewilderment and road weariness takes over so when you get to a spot you could conceivably turn your rig around, you don’t. You carry on in amazement and utter awe that Google Maps found this back highway to direct you down. It was for sure one of the most scenic routes I have been on.

When I returned to BC, on our way back to the island, Google Maps directed me down mountainsides, over gravel wilderness roads and straight through a cattle ranch, past recent landslides and near ghost towns.

In Alberta Google Maps took me over some pretty decent highways through pretty country and to the wonderful discovery that in Alberta’s provincial campgrounds, I wouldn’t have to back in! I have to confess, backing the trailer is not my long suit, especially when there is always a sparse but predominantly male crowd observing like the multiple judges at a figure skating competition who forgot to bring their scoreboards and brought beverages instead. My white and brown German Shorthaired Pointer, Earl always barks his loud encouragement at these special times.

Anyway, folks: The good people who planned Alberta’s campsites made sure you could pull through at each and every one of Alberta’s provincial campgrounds. The one’s that I stayed at anyway. I had to like that.

This awesome Hereford bull stood impressively in the middle of the highway in BC

When I returned to BC, on our way back to the island, Google Maps directed me down mountainsides, over gravel wilderness roads and straight through a cattle ranch, past recent landslides and near ghost towns.

Anyway, all those surprise journeys made wonderful memories, but they also made me decide I wanted to feel good, old fashioned travel maps in my hands instead of trusting Google and my cell phone provider, which happens to be Telus right now. Which brings me to the subject of wifi and cell service when I travel.

How to stay connected during travel

So, most RV parks offer some sort of Wifi connection. Friends and family always have wifi too. The trouble is, that we are often camped too far from the office or house to pick up the wifi signals. I guess I could get a wifi booster to help with this. But for the relatively few number of times I stay in RV parks, I felt it was better to get the fattest unlimited Data plan Telus sells and then hotspot with my phone. Telus also sells a data hub, but it seemed to me to be an even more expensive option than using my phone as a hotspot.

Most of the time this is a good system, but there are many areas where there is no cell service. I haven’t figured out the workaround for this, other than going with a satellite phone. And those cost a lot of money, so I will stick with my present solution for a while yet.

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