The “whop whop whop” jolted us out of bed at 6 am. It was a helicopter dangling a rather large water bucket from a long rope.
We had just arrived in Oliver, British Columbia and settled into our RV park the day before, not realizing we were within yards of the airport. We knew fires burned nearby. We could see smoke rising in small puffs from a nearby mountain. That was where the helicopters were headed.
We were on a three-week RV trip to BC, Canada along the eastern side of the Cascades. Forest fires and smoke blanketed the area.
Helicopter in with water bucket. Stu poses at Bend's High Desert Museum.
But back to the beginning. Bend, Oregon is one of our favorite places with good restaurants and great local breweries like Deschutes. We enjoyed some of our favorite places: the High Desert Museum, Lava Cave at Newberry National Volcanic Monument, and we walked the trail photographing rock climbers on Smith Rock. We also visited the nearby town of Sisters, named for its three mountain peaks.
We visited two of our favorite towns in eastern Washington: Yakima and Ellensburg. Yakima’s splendid museum showcases the town’s history including some great old neon signs. We’re glad we discovered the excellent railroad museum at the old Northern Pacific train depot in nearby Toppenish.
Old Neon sign at the Yakima Museum and automobiles in Ellensburg, Washington.
Victorian architecture adorns Ellensburg’s downtown with its ornate Davidson Building. Kittitas County’s historical museum taught us about the area’s history, and we enjoyed photo exhibits at Clymer Museum.
We discovered Chelan, Washington, perched on its namesake lake, a dozen years ago on our first RV trip north. This time we were concerned because we read that two huge wildfires surrounded the town. Would we be able to drive through the area and camp here? How badly had the town suffererd?
We arrived to smoky skies with some gray overcast. We ate in and tried not to breathe too deeply. But the morning dawned clear with blue sky and sunshine. We could now see where the fires had burned and firefighters had lit backfires to protect the town.
View of Stehekin, WA from our ferry and view of Chelan Lake from our plane to Stehekin.
In the morning we headed for Stehekin, a small village at the head of Lake Chelan, some 55 miles up the lake. The last time we were here, in 2003, there were only three ways to get there and back: by boat, on foot or in an airplane. Still true.
Our trip to Stehekin from Chelan was on a 20-minute seaplane ride with Chelan Seaplanes. Beautiful scenery below made our cameras shutters fly!
In Stehekin, we walked down the road (there is only one) to the most famous place in town–the Stehekin Pastry Company! Everything here is delicious–and we devoured some wonderful pastries and coffee.
Later in the day, we met several young hikers close to completing their backpacking journeys on the Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada. They were about 90 miles from Canada and Stehekin was their last stop to pick up mail and supplies before heading to the end of the trail. If you remember, we were proud to walk 193 miles across England in 2012. That was nothing. These hikers covered over 2600 miles!
We traveled back to Chelan on a 4-hour boat ride. This time of year, only the small slow boat is running, but the sunshine and views were beautiful.
We ride the Kettle Valley Steam Train. Stu on Giant's Head in Summerland, Canada.
Our last leg was into BC Canada. We crossed the border easily. Most wineries in the Okanagan Valley seemed to be destination wineries with restaurants, sometimes inns, striking architecture and manicured grounds. We ate lunch on one winery’s patio overlooking well-tended vines, toured a winery that looked like a modern mission, and had lunch at one named Dirty Laundry.
A few days later, we traveled north to Kelowna in British Columbia. It sits on Okanagan Lake and our RV park was on the lake. We rode the historic Kettle Valley Railroad, visited the popular Farmer’s Market on Saturday morning, an historic Grist Mill, a mission and more.
The weather improved with more clear skies and less smoke. Kelowna provided us with some lovely vistas. On our last day, Stu got this great idea to drive to Kamloops, some 100 miles round trip. The weather and scenery was gorgeous and we found a good ice cream place, but it took most of the day.
The next day we headed home.
Beer in Yakima's Bale Breakers Brewery. Yes, there are climbers on Smith Rock!
On the way we stopped at a place north of Bend we’d passed numerous times over the years. It is a used vehicle lot with old cars and travel trailers for sale. We peered in all the trailer windows–some restored and others not. And Stu checked out the old cars. We enjoyed seeing them all up close and personal– no we didn’t buy one!
We went home the way we came with mostly clear skies, and a chance to visit a few places a second time.
We wish you Happy Travels, Janet and Stu