BC Family Reunion July 2019

We hadn't had a family reunion since 2004, so we really wanted to be able to make it to this one. Unfortunately, I had been having health issues since the end of April. We didn't know whether or not I would be able to fly, since I had pneumonia and a partially collapsed lung. We ended up cancelling our flight, considering the train, and finally deciding to drive. It would give us the most flexibility: in case I wasn't doing well, we could turn around and head home at any time.

The top map to the left shows the path from home in Lansing, Michigan, to the furthest point West, Victoria, British Columbia. Four days of solid driving, start the drive after having breakfast, finish it when pulling into a motel after dark. We probably did 13-hour days at the most, sharing the driving. Sandra is a very good driver, she did most of the work on this trip.

The bottom map to the left shows the loop we did, counter-clockwise, through Washington state and British Columbia. We took two ferries, one from near Vancouver onto Vancouver Island, and one getting off of Vancouver Island and into Washington state.

Here is a link to a video that shows some of the things we saw on the trip. I really wasn't thinking about making a movie about the trip, so it's just some short clips edited together.


Days 1-2: Wisconsin, Minnesota, and North Dakota

Sandra and Christina did most of the driving, leaving it to me, with the most experience, to drive through the big cities (Chicago is a nightmare at rush hour) and the mountains. This was going to be a LONG trip, spanning 7 states and nearly 2200 miles, just to get to our first destination, Rock Creek, British Columbia. From there, we would continue driving to the reunion in Enderby BC, then on to other locations in BC and Washington State.

Somehow we managed to hit Chicago during rush hour both on the way over AND the way back! So many cars .. and trucks. Not fun at all. But, we got through it and headed West on I94. Most of the pictures were taken from inside our trusty 2005 Toyota Rav4, so they're not that great. Lots of reflections and motion blur. The picture below right is of North Dakota's Badlands, which Sandra really liked. Our friend Beth spent teenage summers around here.

Day 3: Montana

It turns out that Montana is very wide. The Eastern part of it is pretty flat and not that interesting, but the Western side is really cool, with a lot of rock formations that were unlike anything I had ever seen before. The speed limit in Montana is 80 mph, but people say that there IS no speed limit, that the police don't even enforce it. There were a lot of huge pickups passing us like we were barely moving. Even freight trucks wanted to go faster than we were going (low 70's).

Sometimes it seemed like the part of British Columbia that most resembled what we were seeing in Montana was Kamloops. Dry and deserty with interesting formations, though I think what is in Kamloops is softer, maybe sandstone? However, the formations looked different. More pictures of cool-looking rocks!

Day 4: Idaho and Washington

One of the few stops we made was at Coeur d'Alene, Idaho (pictured left and below left), a really pretty little town along a large lake. The downtown has a nice beach and park. We looked around and ate lunch and thought that this might be a nice place to retire in. Sandra said, though, that she wasn't going to move somewhere just because it looked great in the summer. Perhaps the winters are not that much fun here!

Driving through Idaho was pretty, with lots of little mountain passes. I did some research on a town named Wallace, which is crammed into a tight canyon. It has a rich history of mining and environmental contamination, and even some murders! We left Washington, heading for Midway, British Columbia, to cross into Canada. Turns out that Canada is closed there after 5 pm! We ended up getting somewhat lost, with no cell connections, and pulling into somewhere we had never heard of, Laurier, Washington! Luckily, Cascade, British Columbia was open, and so we were able to cross into Canada without a big (250 mile) detour.

Day 4: Rock Creek, BC

Rock Creek is a special place for me, it's where my parents grew up and met each other, back in the 1950's. I heard many stories from my Dad of "the olden days", which, of course, weren't that many years earlier, since he was only 23 when I was born. But to me it seemed like a long time ago.

My parents have been gone for a long time now, and I miss them. It would have been nice to have had them around for many more years. I'm sure they would have enjoyed knowing about Christina and her life, and the lives of all of her cousins, their grandchildren, too.

To the left, and below middle, is the Ingraham Bridge, taken from the riverbank of the Kettle River. Dad used to talk about how they, as teenagers I guess, would hang out at this spot. We always go up to the Rock Creek Cemetery, where several of my relatives are buried. Below right, Christina looks for the names of relatives she never got to meet.

Day 5: Rock Creek to Enderby, BC

After spending the night in the Kettle Valley Villas, a nice little spot near the Ingraham Bridge, we began the drive North to the reunion in Enderby. I had Christina drive first, so that she could get a bit of experience driving in smaller "mountains". The drop down into Kelowna was somewhat scary for her (pictured below left), but she did great. I like to give her experiences like that.

I didn't notice the dog in the photograph (left) when I took it, but Christina said "did you see that dog?" as we passed them. Click on it to see the full photograph, this is zoomed in.

Kalamalka Lake, between Kelowna and Vernon, often has a beautiful turquoise color, and on this day it was visible. I think it looked better in person than in these pictures, though. The two rightmost pictures below are of Kalamalka Lake, south of Vernon, another town that I spent a lot of time in as a child.

Days 6,7, and 8: Abel family reunion, in Enderby, BC

It was really great to see everybody that could make it. Unfortunately, a few people were unable to attend. My uncle Doug and aunt Gail hosted the event at their house, which has a great view of the Enderby cliffs. On the left, l-r, my brothers Ross, Grant, and then me. We have one more brother, Jim, who wasn't at the reunion. Below left, l-r, Doug, Janet, Elaine, Clark, and David. These are my uncle, two aunts, and their cousins (my second cousins once removed?). Below middle, the Clark branch of the family, some of whom live in Saskatchewan. Below right, my brothers and I, our significant others, and some of our children. More reunion pictures.

Inn at the 9th Hole

We stayed at a bed and breakfast between Salmon Arm and Enderby. It was a very nice place with a very nice host that ran an excellent ship! We were in a very large room in its own wing, with a sort of tunnel (basement hallway, actually) that let us go from one side to the other, to get to the breakfast area. Each morning there were one or two couples eating, and talking about golfing the different courses in the area.

Our suite had a very large bedroom with a king-size bed, a bathroom, and a little kitchenette. It was decorated with character, but my pictures didn't turn out very well, so I don't have any of them here.

Salmon Arm

I grew up in the Okanagan and passed through Salmon Arm many times, but it turns out that we never went down to the waterfront of the downtown. I don't know if it existed when I was young, but we found this amazing pier, pictured left. Salmon Arm is in a very pretty location, on a large lake, with large hills surrounding it.

I remember in the early 70's that there was a store that sold plastic models, and it was in that store that I bought, or perhaps, convinced my parents to buy for me (since I had no money), a dragster! It even had wiring for the engine, and these cool, fat, squishy rubber tires. It was really complicated, I think I couldn't get it to work using my rigid manner of wanting to follow the instructions exactly, and eventually my brother Jim finished it, taking some liberties, but making it look great nonetheless. A good lesson for me, there, that I think it took me many years to learn.

Days 9-12: Mission and Vancouver

We met our friends Al and Wendy in Mission for dinner, and the next day we went up to Westminster Abbey. Unfortunately, they were closed for lunch, so we just looked around the grounds and went to the viewpoint. We then continued on into Vancouver, where we stayed with our friends David and Eileen for three nights. They were very good hosts, feeding us breakfast and dinner each day. We met our friend Paul out at UBC, and took a picture (below left) in front of the Main Library, which has been totally redone since the three of us attended UBC. We watched the fireworks with David and Eileen from the top level of their house.

Day 12: Ferry to Victoria

We always love to take the ferry to Victoria, it's so scenic to pass through the islands. On this trip, I was able to choose which ferry we would take, so I chose one built in Germany in 2007. We were lucky this time to be one of the first vehicles put onto the ferry, and so were were one of the first ones off as well.

It was incredibly windy at the front of the ferry, behind me as I stood to take the picture to the left. I took Christina up to experience it as well, and when we were there, a probably 15-year old boy was near the rail and the wind blew something out of his hand and into the water. He turned to us, and in a strong Irish accent exclaimed "I lost me f***ing coffee!". I've never heard the f-word pronounced quite that way before ...

Days 13 - 14: Victoria

We love Victoria, I think sometimes of retiring there, but of course it's so expensive that we probably wouldn't be able to afford it. Living there, we wouldn't be able to eat out all the time, and just hang out in the Inner Harbour, either, so the experience wouldn't be as great as it is when we are just visiting. This was the first time that Christina could order alcohol in a restaurant, the legal drinking age in British Columbia is 19, while it's 21 here at home in Michigan.

Day 14: Ferry to Anacortes, Washington

We've never taken a ferry into the United States before. This one was on a somewhat smaller vessel, and the trip was longer, nearly three hours. The scenery was different, too, with many more houses on the islands that we went past. In the picture on the left, I believe that's Mt. Baker in the background. These people in the Jeep are enjoying the good life at the back of the ferry!

There were several bicycles parked on this ferry, loaded up with gear. We saw this in the British Columbia ferry as well, I think that traveling by bike is becoming more and more popular. I would like to do a long bike trip sometime, if my health issues get resolved. I'll have to start thinking about where to do it.

Day 14: Bellingham, Washington

We went to visit our friends Jen and Miriam, who lived in Lansing and moved recently to Bellingham so that Jen could take a job at Western Washington University. Jen gave us a tour of the campus and her office. They have a really cool house, pictured to the left with our Rav4. This house is set in deep woods and rolling hills. It backs onto a protected nature area with a seasonal stream and tall cedar trees. This area has great character, and apparently, good mountain biking trails nearby. I wish I had been able to try them.

The picture bottom left is from WWU's campus, you can see the ocean and Bellingham's harbor. In the bottom middle, this is the nature area directly (like, 5 feet) behind their house. Bottom right, l-r, Sandra, Miriam, Jen, and Christina, on the balcony at the side of the house. I didn't get a picture of it, but this balcony has a protected cat tunnel that lets their cats go outside and not be attacked by large birds.

Day 15: crossing Washington State and Idaho

We ended up taking the same path back (from Spokane) across the U.S., but maybe it would have been better to try to take alternate routes to see new scenery, even if took us a bit longer. The drive from Bellingham to Spokane was new, though, and it was quite pretty, with mountains and rivers to drive along. I really like this type of scenery, and miss it a lot.

Even though it was taken from the moving car, and is zoomed way in, the picture to the left turned out pretty well, showing people enjoying the river on a beautiful day. It looks like a great spot. Below right, a huge irrigation system is shown watering apple trees, in Wenatchee, the "Apple Capital of the World". It looks like a huge amount of netting over the trees in the background, I wonder if that's really what it was, to keep insects out? More pictures.

Day 16: crossing Montana

We spent the night in Missoula, Montana, as we had on the way to BC. It is the home of the University of Montana, and we drove around the campus a bit before heading out. The picture to the left shows the river that runs through the center of town.

Again, we saw many great rock formations, and I got a lot of blurry pictures of them. The one below middle was one of the rare ones that turned out well. This is zoomed in quite a bit. We saw a few interesting vehicles on this trip, but this sparkly batmobile, below right, was one of the best!

Days 17-18: crossing North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana

The rest of the way home was all about cleaning the windshield over and over. Bugs, bugs, bugs ... making it difficult to take pictures! We saw a lot of construction, both on the roads, and on the railway tracks. I wouldn't want to be working out there in the heat and sun! We saw a lot of orange and black BNSF trains, I don't think I had ever seen any of them before, but now I'm seeing them in Michigan, too.

And, of course, we saw miles and miles of crops and cattle. One section had signs naming the crops, and there were some surprises, things I've never even heard of ... but can't remember right now, unfortunately.