Monday, December 26, 2005


Well, that was it, Christmas gone in a flash!

Christmas Eve eve was spent watching The Forty Year Old Virgin and Bridget Jones and drinking a bottle of wine. I remember the first film but not much about Bridget Jones apart from the fact that she was a bit of a fattie!

Late that evening we opened a couple of presents as it was technically Christmas day, I opened the exciting stuff first; a toothbrush, some razor blades and a tin of deodorant – ahh married bliss!

We started preparing/cooking dinner about 1ish but by the time we got round to eating it was about 5 o’clock! We did a cracking job between us though and it all came together nicely so we sat down to this monster feast of turkey, ham, roast pots, cauliflower cheese, broccoli, carrots, leeks and gravy – oh and of course a sprout each – it was Christmas after all so you have to have at least one sprout!!!

~ Chris

Friday, December 23, 2005

Xmas Shopping & Eating in Vancouver

We spent the last 2 days in Vancouver and slept on the side of the road outside Wal-Mart’s car-park. We couldn’t get in coz of all the real Wal-Mart shoppers, damn their eyes!

We minced around the shops with no real aim other than to enjoy the Christmas atmosphere in the city. So often when you’re out and about just before Christmas it seems to be rushing around trying to get inspired to buy presents; not this year though, it was really quite enjoyable. We now know our way round Vancouver a bit better too.

We found the best Italian pasta restaurant; the second portion of which we ate last night at gone 11 after we got back and set up house. We were looking for somewhere inspiring to eat, both of us fancying some sort of Korean style place as every other food outlet was Korean or Japanese. Trouble was they were either very school dining hall like and very busy, (obviously popular being full of locals but no atmosphere) or nice and cosy looking but completely dead. We were just about to turn round and go back down the St, (Robson St) to pick the best one when we spied the Italian – both busy and cosy, so that did it for us and turned out to be the best choice in a long time, so much so that next time we’re there I’d be boring enough to want to go back.

Before eating we’d been to Stanley Park to look at the Christmas light display – very Christmassy and childlike!On the way back last night we ended up stuck in the most horrendous traffic jam, I could almost see the fuel needle dropping as we sat there for what seemed like hours. Not much fun for the locals trying to get away for Christmas after working all week in the city! Hah, no sympathy, shouldn’t be working!

Friday, December 16, 2005

Skiing trip to Manning Park

Lord knows how we’re gonna cope with getting up for work one day; we've been skiing this weekend and it was hard enough getting up at 7:15! How did we manage at Brize getting up before 6 to go to the gym? So, yesterday was a day of RV chores; I fixed the bathroom fan, the cab heater should now produce more hot air, the fridge door doesn’t catch, the driver’s seat is snug again, I put some goop on the water tank and I may even have found the squeak from the front end!!! Of course time will tell if any of these cures are permanent, driving this old bus seems to create snags!

Spun up to Manning Park; about a 2 ½ hour journey and 80 odd miles straight up, or at least that’s what it felt like. And it got progressively colder as we climbed past signs giving info about road conditions and telling us we should carry chains beyond this point – chains, pah!
We did have a little worry when as we were cruising along what looked like a billiard table smooth bit of road, the front end started really juddering quite badly. Bad enough for me to pull over, jack Harvey off his wheels and check all the wheels for looseness and dodgy brakes. All was well so it must have been the road surface, but it was quite dodgy; up high in the middle of nowhere at sub zero temperatures! We had plenty of fuel for the generator, propane for the heating and food/booze for us so we didn’t worry too much. Little did we know at the time how easy the water pipes would freeze solid!!!

Once we got there it was getting too late in the day to take the bus on up to the downhill ski area, so…on recommendation from the girl in the hire place we went for a hike around the Nordic trails by there. Off we trotted only to find there were no trail markers, (they hadn’t been put out yet!) and the forest was exactly that – a forest, with no way of telling where we should or shouldn’t be going!

So…we went back to the hire place and hired some skates and had an hour to ourselves on the ice rink. At last we felt like we’d gone all that way for a reason!!! We had a good time skating and apart from a couple of others at the beginning of our hour and a family toward the end; we really did have the place to ourselves. There was music playing and a fire lit by the side and it really was picture perfect – but boy was it cold – it peaked at minus 8 during the day! We finished off and went for another walk along the partly frozen river till it started to get dark, then went for a soak in the lodge hot-tub!

By now we decided we’d gone long enough without a drink, (almost a week, as we’d decided to stop drinking for most of December so Christmas actually felt like Christmas and not just another day off!) so we got changed and went in to the bar which after the RV was lovely and warm. We’d resigned ourselves to the fact that as long as there was a bar that also served food, there was no way we were gonna cook. So we had cherry brandies and bar snacks watching videos of people who really could ski. Luckily we were early as they stopped serving food at 8!!! Satisfied, we went back to the RV, turned up the heating to keep pipes from freezing and went to bed.

In the end we were both way too hot in bed as we had to keep the living/kitchen area warm which inevitably meant the bedroom/bathroom would be much warmer. The water however, was another matter; by the time we went to bed the hot in the bathroom didn’t work, it did however in the kitchen and the cold was all fine and as there was nothing we could really do we switched off, (ourselves) and went to sleep. But when we got up at 7 – no water anywhere! It must have frozen down by the pump as nothing worked. We had half a kettle full and a couple of bottles. I gave it half a thought in the night, (the wrong half obviously) but never did fill any more bottles/pans etc up just in case! Luckily we were parked outside a lodge so we weren’t short on facilities so I still got my morning cup of tea!

We had a bit of a flap around trying to sort out what we should do but as we couldn’t, we decided the only option was to drive somewhere warmer, (California?) to thaw out. But we’d come to ski and the bus was leaving in 20 mins, so we buried our collective head in the sand and went skiing – any damage would have been done by now! Although as our pipework is plastic I doubted any of it would burst!?!?

We got to the slopes, hired our gear and found out it was 8 bucks cheaper to have a package that included rental, lift passes and a 1 ½ hour lesson than if we’d just had the rental and lift passes! Madness not to, especially as neither of us had skied since Cyprus and would probably be like Bambi on ice! We had about an hour to ourselves followed by a quick warm-up drink before our lesson started so we stayed on the beginner’s slope. Our lesson was a bit basic but as we had bad habits that needed nipping in the bud; it was worth every penny we didn’t pay! Later on when we were on the higher slopes the same instructor was up there with another student and even took the time to check on us and critique our “style”. Bargain!

So, cold but happy we got the last bus back to the RV, used the last of the water to make hot chocolate and settled in for the drive back down, down, down the hill to the highway and civilisation. We got back in record time – 2 hours 20 after driving the first dozen or so miles in about an hour. I’m sure the roads were ok judging by the vehicle overtaking us but I was taking no chances – this isn’t just our transport, this is our home and it would be a restless night’s sleep upside down in a ditch – the duvet would keep falling off!!! And the pipes had thawed by the time we landed back on earth!

Friday, December 02, 2005

Seattle Bike Show

We drove into Seattle to find somewhere to park for the bike show and we found a big parking area right next to the arena, the price said $9 so I thought ok, perhaps we’ll get stung a little more? Yeah right – $80 to use 2 car spaces! So we went cruising the streets, (cruising in a 36ft RV with a bike hangin’ off the back end???) for a hidden spot!!! We found on-street parking yards from the arena and after chatting to the parking Nazi found that we could get away with paying for 2 slots until 6pm when they became free! So we paid a grand total of…6, yes 6 bucks for the evening!

The show was “Ok” for America – they could learn so much from the UK way of doing bike shows! There was a top stunt show though – 2 kids(?) probably brought up on “grand theft auto” and joy riding, on mopeds and small dirt bikes hooning around on ramps and stuff. I thought it was gonna be a bit lame at first as it was all small, but when one of them did 360 back loops in the air off a 6ft high ramp – I was impressed! And no-one shot each other!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

On our way into Canada...or maybe not!

We’re heading off to Canada to hibernate the winter away as everywhere of any interest in the northern states seems to close down for the winter. So there we were heading up the I5 toward Canada doing our last bits of cheap shopping along the way when we happen along a bike shop; Ducati, Yamaha, Suzuki and Kawasaki all under one roof – I had to stop! I bought a DVD and the guy at the counter asked if I wanted discount tickets to the bike show in Seattle. My first though was no, we won’t be in the country but I asked when it was. Turns out it starts tomorrow so we’re now heading back down the I5 (again) to Seattle (again) so I can ogle at what I can’t buy!
So really today was an early start as we had lots to do on the way out of the states but none of it mattered in the end, we should get to Cultus Lake on Saturday now with nothing to do on the way but drive and get there early, should…

That is if the snow doesn’t get any worse and we get stranded – it was hoofing it down today which kinda looked nice but would have been better had we been parked up at a camp site and not on the highway!

An Introduction

Ok, so this is a little late in coming...and yes it was a good idea from the start! It's taken us 12 months to get into 'the flow' of the trip and now's the time to start recording our antics. Me - Helen Mills, Him - Chris Backhouse, Harvey - the RV, and Donkey the Buell XB12R Motorbike.