This is the third in a continuing series about our trip through Canada to Alaska
In yesterday’s article, I waxed prosaically about how Monique and I enjoyed the opportunity of stopping along our route to Canada to see sights that appealed to us, while staying within the guidelines set for us as a group.
Lots of folks told us we didn’t need to spend the money for an escorted caravan to Alaska. They could be right. Today, however, we began to really appreciate the investment we had made in our caravan. All the members of our group climbed aboard a tour bus this morning for visits to two British Columbia, Canada, wineries.
Now, had we not taken in the wineries as we stopped in the Town of Oliver, it wouldn’t have been the end of the world. We’ve been to several others on the East and West Coasts of the U.S. But it was another opportunity for enrichment, not to mention tasting some surprisingly good wines.
We learned that the Portuguese vintners who ran many of the 27 local wineries in this, “the Wine Capital of Canada,” were aging, and settlers from India arrived to buy up their vineyards. They have the advantage of large families that work together to make it a viable business. But the rest are owned by native Canadians or corporate bottlers.
We also learned that the grass between the rows of grapevines keeps the soil moist, with the help of earthworms, irrigation and ever-improving viniculture practices. We found out that the climatic warming trend is helping the grape crop, and that the longer days here (we have almost 16 hours of daylight now) mean better crops. You couldn’t get out of there without realizing that owning a winery is a very risky business.
And most of all, we enjoyed the chance to taste wine with some fun people. The camaraderie of our group was the best part, and we would have missed out on it had we whizzed past these wineries. This amounted to attending two shows. At the first, Walter Garinger of Garinger Brothers Estates Winery told us more than most of us could ever remember about the world of wine-growing, from its history in British Columbia and France to the uncertainties of the marketplace.
A few minutes later we were at Silver Sage Winery, where owner Anna served us taste after taste of a wide variety of fruity wines, while entertaining us with witty observations, such as, “If you can’t find anything you want to watch on the 176 channels on TV, take a bottle of this wine out of the refrigerator and you won’t miss TV.” The lesson here is without being part of the tour we wouldn’t have known which wineries to visit.
Next, Monique waited patiently behind a long line of RVers ready to pay for produce at a fruit stand with the best variety of items. How do you know where to stop if you don’t have someone to guide you?
If there is a negative, it’s that we won’t be around long enough to become oblivious to the constant pow, pow, pow of cannons going off to protect the valuable cherry crop across the road that is ripening now. After the cherries are ready, pears, apricots and then apples are ready for harvesting. We understand the cannons continue from spring to early fall to keep birds from destroying crops that fill thousands of acres of rolling hills in the shadows of a jagged ridge paralleling the highway. Incidentally, this is the northern tip of the Sonoma Desert, where the arid land has been turned into gold.
6In response to several comments, we have often heard about how you can plan to trade in your rig when you get back to the states because the roads in Alaska eat them up. Yesterday we had two broken windshields reported in our group and both were acquired on paved, smooth roads on the U.S. side of the border.
Our Adventure Caravans Wagonmaster Ken Adams preaches that most of the damage comes from going too fast and following too close.
At this point I want to make a suggestion. We travel at 55 to 65 mph, depending on the highway (I am considered a speed-demon by many of our fellow travelers, who maintain a 48-52 mph pace). Our truck and trailer combination is about 50 feet long, not very easy for traffic to pass. When I realize a vehicle has moved into the passing lane to come around, I assess the situation and slow down if I see any chance of danger ahead, like a hill or a curve. I am particularly eager to help motorcyclists, who stand a greater chance for problems.
Tomorrow we have one of the longest drives of the 58-day trek. That means less time for sightseeing, but we’ll keep looking for places of interest to write about. (All this traveling can get in the way of telling the story.)
From the “Never-Bored RVers,” We’ll see you on down the road.
© All photos by Barry Zander. All rights reserved
15 Responses to “Our Alaska Trip Camaraderie Part III”
▪. bbwolf on June 12th, 2010 4:44 pm Excellent log. Thanks again for today’s post.
▪. Stan Zawrotny on June 12th, 2010 5:03 pm Once you get farther north onto the Alaska Highway, your speed will drop down much slower. In many areas you will travel about 45 mph because of the condition of the road and because of the dust clouds. Anything faster is bound to do damage to your RVs. I don’t think I would want to be in a caravan on the Alaska Highway because of the dust.
▪. John Ahrens on June 12th, 2010 5:50 pm Stan, I don’t know when you were last up there, but when we went to Alaska, as far as Whitehorse, in 2004, the road was paved with no dust all the way. Barry, thanks for the travelogue. I am enjoying it. When we went to Alaska in 2004, we got one rock chip on our windshield when a van pulled in front of us and threw a rock as we were exiting I-5 in Bellingham WA.
▪. Robin Potter on June 12th, 2010 6:25 pm Thank you so much for sharing your trip. Alaska is on my bucket list – not on hers yet but I’m working on it and your blog may well help!
▪. Sheila Allison on June 12th, 2010 7:42 pm while sitting on the side of the road in a parking lot at Muck a Luk Annie’s, the foretravel bus was hit with a rock by an 18-wheeler breaking the windshield. This was on the road coming south out of White Horse. After we got home we really found out how to travel on their roads and how to protect the tow trucks and campers. If your travels take you to Portage for the train watch out how you load on the flat beds. We ended up with a 20 ft gash down the side of the RV. This was from a bar that was bent the wrong way. Instead of leaning out it was leaning in. It was a wonderful wild trip. Expensive but well worth the money.
▪. Bob on June 12th, 2010 8:19 pm Thanks for the great report. We’ve been planning to take that trip for a few years now but family plans keep interfering. In 2 years it’s MY trip and the rest of the family can sit tight!!!!!
▪. Gerald Kraft on June 12th, 2010 8:25 pm We are on our way back to the lower 48. 1 cracked windshield, 2 rock chips, and a lot of fun.
▪. Dennis & Chris on June 13th, 2010 6:30 am In ‘07 we traveled the Alcan and found it to be great most of the way. Some construction and a section of some sort of gravel but overall we were pleasantly surprised. We were on a Harley by the way.
▪. Frank & Terrie on June 13th, 2010 9:36 am We are loving your adventure. Could you also map out your journey so we can see where you are as you go along? This is also a trip we would like to make with a caravan if possible. [Note: My response later.]
▪. Garry Scott on June 13th, 2010 10:16 am HI There, I am following you from ENGLAND UK as i own a Monaco diplomat 36′ here in the UK and have always wanted to do the Trans Canadian highway from east to west coast then on to Alaska. Therefore am watching your blog with great interest, please put in all details as you can, be careful and have a great time, Best of luck Garry.
▪. Harold on June 13th, 2010 11:28 am We’re on our 4th RV trip to Alaska, 2001, 06, 08, 10, ever year the roads get better. The dust clouds mentioned above are due to road repairs. Our trip in May found only 12 miles of road repairs. 8 miles on the Cassiar, and the rest after Beaver Creek before the Alaskan border. We’ve come alone every trip, and enjoy every mile. Don’t put it off too long.
▪. Les on June 13th, 2010 11:34 am Hello, thanks for the updates. A couple of suggestions, if you could put in your title line “post 1, post 2, post 3, etc., it would be easier for people to keep track of your adventure. How are the people with cracked windshields getting them replaced? Does the caravan wait for you if you have mechanical problems? [more on this later, but the answer is it depends on the problem] Have a great time.