To Hell and Back

……..that’s DrumHELLer and back!!

It had been about a month since we were camping….if you can call our little excursions camping. After all, we have cable TV, wifi, a bathtub, a queen sized bed, and all manner of modern convenience. It can be difficult to leave Kelowna in the summer between numerous relatives visiting and the many attributes our fair community offers….but it was time.

During the previous few weeks, our motor home had been languishing in a progressively oxidizing state by the side of our house. We were itching to get out there and experience that open road feeling once again. Motor homing is like a party drug for the elderly. Those unseen miles are just waiting to be injected into our lives.Drumheller2


As it was Miss Caroline’s turn to decide on a destination, she chose to drive half way across America to Drumheller, Alberta, where there were apparently a bunch of old bones. When it was my turn to choose a destination we travelled sensibly to Skaha Lake, about 35 kilometers away. We have a different idea of what camping is all about.

One Wednesday, we set out about noon, when I had finished three sets of tennis and Caroline had packed enough lunches to accommodate our whole trip and anyone else we may encounter along the way. The dogs had occupied their morning with noses pasted to the kitchen window, seemingly worried that, whatever was happening, might not include them. Eventually, ravaging a few trees and flattening a hedge, I maneuvered the motor beast out of its home and onto the driveway. There could be heard a satisfying rumble as we loaded the last provisions for our quest to discover America, one week at a time. I was present to ensure that some of that fine Okanagan wine found its way on board as I was certain there would be no such beverage to be found in the badlands of our destination.

Drumheller8With the dogs boarded, exhibiting their usual frenzied anticipation, we rolled onto a busy Boucherie Road and set out on our journey.  About one kilometer from home, however, a pit stop was required at our local Timmy’s for a steeped tea. I was concerned that the primitive environs of Southern Alberta may not have such a fine service. Fully replenished, with oil, gas, tea, Okanagan wine, and a myriad of meals planned weeks in advance, we actually crossed the bridge and set out to leave our little community by about 2:00 PM.

Our first night’s destination was to be Revelstoke, about 200 kilometers away, which would cost us about $100.00 in gas for the motor pig. Once on the road I learned that we were actually going to the Noak’s Ark Resort somewhere between Sicamous and Revelstoke.

During the previous weeks of indolence, our motor home had acquired a nifty little device called a Garmen GPS that was promoted as a trustworthy guide to any destination in North America. While installing the device I had thoughts of being unwittingly directed along some shortcut through the mountains that would see us bogged down in a snow drift and left to an unwilling grave. Discarding those thoughts and thinking myself quite amusing I programmed our GPS guide to exhibit an elf-like voice deDrumheller4scribed in the options as “The Holiday Theme”.  Once on the road for about an hour, however, we had been enduring an unrelenting screechy elf voice talking about sugar plums and Santa’s reindeer. Rather than throwing our new little GPS out the window, we pulled over to seek a new guide. The second voice was named Samantha, who was of no apparent theme, and whom I thought would be soothing and personable. Another 100 kilometers with Samantha demanding that I “turn around, you idiot” in an anything but a soothing or personable voice, I pulled over once again. Going through the options I found Michelle, a most pleasant woman who is more likely to ask me to “please turn around, you idiot”, but in a much gentler, kinder sort of way. I conceded to Michelle.

Reaching somewhere between Sicamoose and Revelstoke, Michelle suddenly blared without warning, albeit in a most gentle and soothing voice, that I should turn left immediately. This was after a bend in the road with 12 vehicles angrily following me. It seemed we had arrived at our destination. Somewhat traumatized, I veered left, cutting off a line of cars, and turned onto a road amid a chorus of bleeping horns. Clear of the highway vehicles, I found myself confronted with a family van stopped in the middle of the road. Its inhabitants were apparently having a nice cigarette break, but seemed to think the world must comply to their needs…..much like most smokers who regard the world as their ashtray….I digress. As I idled the beast about four inches from their bumper, waiting for the addicts to move, they glared at me before finally relinquishing their smoking pit in the center of the throughway.

Negotiating the bdrumheller1east past the possible terrorists and down a winding road we came upon an ark. I guess this shouldn’t have been a surprise but there it was, an apparent frozen yogurt shop build on the back of an ark-like structure. As we later learned, there were truly two of every kind of yogurt you could think of and plenty of dainty treats to sprinkle on top. I guess yogurt was the modern-day theme loosely associated to the original ark’s purpose. The ark was very nice looking but not fully constructed. I guess Noah was in the process of accomplishing his quest, that hopefully would not take the 120 years that was required for the original construction.

We were not there for yogurt or surviving a devastating flood, however, and soon found the standard campground office. A short wide man named Noah (big surprise) took my money and directed me to our home for the night. The resort was fairly quiet as it was a Wednesday and we were assigned a nice site bordered by trees and no other campers in our vicinity. I had the beast hooked up to every modern convenience imaginable and was happily sipping a Kelowna vintage on our little patio within 5 minutes while attempting to dissolve those brain cells containing any memory of Samantha, the elf, or extremist smokers. About half way through the second glass, I had no awareness of conflict in the world.

Come morning, with the sun streaming through our bedroom window, we were awakening at 5:00 AM. I groggily sauntered over to the facilities for my usual shower. Now, someone should do a study about campground showers. There are no two alike. At the very least they should be standardized so we poor campers know what will confront us so early every morning. Our Canadian government imposes standards on everything imaginable. Why not campground showers? I never know if they are going to be free, cost a loonie or two, how many minutes of hot water one receives, if there is actually hot water, which way to turn the handle for hot, whether they are clean, dirty, or will I be exposing myself to some traumatized camper of an undetermined gender. Some campgrounds test your patience by saying “Canadian Loonies Only” but neglect to tell you how long the water will last for said loonie. It is like playing Russian Roulette. Should I leave the rinse in my hair or wash it out immediately? Will there be enough water to shave as well? In Canmore’s Silver Spring Resort they had nice warm water but no purported time limit and every time someone flushed a toilet the water would boil, then after a few seconds change to icy cold. I just want a nice warm shower like at home.

I descended upon Noah’s showers armed with loonies, toonies, soap, a towel, and much trepidation. Noah was unique however. There was no little money box in the shower stall, the water was warm and lasted indefinitely, and there were clean towels….for us campers. Hallelujah! I rejoiced in relative luxury thinking that this Noah runs a tight ship!

Drumheller13With my shower a fond memory, we embarked on the next leg of our journey, Kananaskis, Alberta. Neither of us had been to this destination, knew nothing of the area, and apparently only chose this location because Google Maps mistakenly portrayed it as being on the road to Drumheller.

Reaching Revelstoke I spotted a trusty Tim Horton’s and attempted to guide the beast into the Tim parking lot for a little steeped tea. My brakes, however, were suddenly not working and I became aware that it took a Superman’s strength to turn the steering wheel. With miraculously quick thinking of a man much younger, I determined that the engine had stopped working. We were coasting through an intersection unable to stop or turn in a 5 ton colossus on wheels. Had Samantha imposed some sort of revenge for my desire to be with Michelle? I managed to start the engine while we sailed towards another motor home and was able to turn away from a certain demise. The engine sputtered to a halt once again. Now I was heading for a gas bar. Yikes!! I envisioned a mushroom cloud torching everything within a 100 meter radius, including us and the motor beast, without enjoying that final steeped tea. I attempted to start the engine again in full flight whereby it rumbled to existence, mercifully granting us both brakes and steering. I quietly glided into a gas station bay for a fill-up with not one person in the vicinity aware that a life altering event had very nearly occurred. It seems our gas gauge sticks at half full. Our subsequent $150.00 gas fill-up proved this and we were soon on our way once again, steeped tea in hand….just in case!

………….more to come next post. On to Kananaskis and Drumheller.

More about Ron

I have worked in the Corrections system in British Columbia in jails, on the streets, and as a report writer for the Courts. I am mostly retired and enjoy, now, writing for pleasure. I hope the experiences I have had will entertain or enlighten others.

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