This photo was not taken in Whistler.
We were supposed to spend the first night of our two week camping road trip in Whistler, British Columbia. After a beautiful drive up the Sea to Sky Highway, we rolled into town were excited to learn a downhill mountain bike competition was in full gear and a triathlon was to be held the following day. Then we got to our campsite at the Riverside Resort and I got my first lesson in never booking a campsite at a place with "resort" in it's title.
Instead of the open and airy campground pictured on the website, the sites were dark, dank, filled with remnants of parties with poor taste in beer. The sites certainly did not look recently refurbished, as was claimed. Additionally, there are huge power lines running through the entire property - whenever I touched either my husband our pup I got a strange vibration. Creepy.
So you could say that this, our very first night, is where our travel plans started to go awry.
With a refund in our hands, we desperately tried to find another place in Whistler to spend our planned two nights. We tried the visitor information center first - only to be told by the rather surly Whistler ambassador that the entire town was booked (actually totally untrue) and she couldn't help us. So we staged ourselves by an open wireless network to look for lodging options. Everything was out of our price range and with the entire town shut down for the triathlon the following day, we gave up and pressed on. We drove to the next town over, passing some crazy gypsy party with live music and lots of fire, to Pemberton, and that's where we started to consider the possiblity of sleeping in the truck.
Again turned away by a total lack of lodging options (including campsites for that matter), we pressed on and I began to get pretty sleepy. 130 kilometers later we made it to Lillooet and spotted the signs for an open campsite with showers.
In rather swift winds in an unsheltered site, we got our tent set up for the night and headed to the washrooms for some hot water. I tied Parsley, our pup, to the door so she could just get inside the doorway to me. I start washing my face, and then I see it.
A black widow spider.
A huge black widow spider.
The size of a grape.
I hate spiders.
This is the biggest spider I've ever seen out in the world (as opposed to in captivity).
I stop washing my face, leave the suds dripping onto the concrete floor, grab Parsley, and freeze to wait for my husband to come meet me and get her out of there. As I wait, I notice more black widow spiders throughout the washroom, but none as big as the first. When my husband shows up and gets the pup out of there, I stomach the courage to quickly splash my face with a bit more water and high tail it out of there.
Taking a shower or using that washroom in any other way became out of the question at that moment for me.
Like I said, I hate spiders and this was a HUGE poisonous spider.
Incredibly disconcerted, I get back to the tent to try and get some sleep - only to get bit by another spider. Turns out sleep wasn't really in the cards either - we had ridiculous loud winds shaking the tent all night long and also the nightmares about that spider.
This should have been the first sign that the weather on our trip was not going to be particularly friendly.
The high winds and wild weather continued on every stop throughout our trip. On our hike to Wilcox Pass, at the southern end of Jasper National Park, some rather frightening storm clouds and strong winds rolled in quite quickly. So much so that poor Parsley got rather scared and needed to be comforted - she doesn't normally forcibly make her way on to my lap like this (which is what she did after trying to hide in between my legs).
As we made our way towards Yoho National Park on a Saturday (big mistake), the storm clouds and rain continued to follow us. Arriving at Kicking Horse Campground after dark - we found it to be completely full, along with the rest of the campgrounds in the park (nearby Lake Louise was also full). We drove the short loop around the town of Field, to see one no vacancy sign after another.
And so, we slept in the truck.
Yup, that happened.
And turns out, it wasn't the worst thing ever.
We grabbed a corner spot in the overflow parking lot, dropped the tailgate, and made hot tea and fruit salads for dinner. For bed, we took everything out of the cab and furnished it instead with sleeping bags and blankets. The seats don't fully recline, so a pillow (or sweatshirt) for the lower back was a must.
Parsley loved it.
Well, at least more than sleeping in her pocket bed in the tent.
Arriving at the next campsite (another "Resort"), in between Glacier and Mt. Revelstoke National Parks - we were welcomed with a "no refunds" policy and found ourselves with yet another dark and dank campsite.
At this point, I was just done with all things dark and damp.
Instead of setting up camp, we got in the back in the truck and drove.
We decided we might as well drive into the park to get a peek at what were stopping for.
Even though we had set up camp in the rain twice at this point, by the time we got Mt. Revelstoke National Park we still hadn't been caught in a total downpour. Even though the weather was threatening to storm with a 70% chance of rain, we decided we may as well drive the Meadows to the Sky Parkway anyway. At the top, it looked like the weather was beginning to clear so we walked the last kilometer to the summit. Of course, this was the moment when the extreme downpour happened. Again, poor Parsley was less than pleased.
After that experience - we were done with dark and damp campsites and I buckled.
We spent the night in a fancy Best Western Plus in Revelstoke.
Now let's talk about what I did to cope with our plans going awry, aside from splurging on a night in a hotel.
Enjoy the Sunset Views
Crummy weather often makes for some absolutely glorious sunsets. During our stays in Jasper and Yoho National Parks, we had absolutely beautiful views from our campsites to enjoy at sunset. It's just impossible to feel sorry for your dirty, damp, and cold self when you're staring up at a glacier from your camp chair.
Enjoy the Little Things
On one of the last days of our trip, we had a special route planned that in a way was made even better due to some of the changes in our travel plans. While cruising around on our Revelstoke hotel's WiFi, I found this great article about speciality food merchants in the area. That led us to a coffee shop which instead of paper to-go cups offers mason jars for a dollar deposit. It just melted my heart - I love that kind of thing.
We followed that up with a free ferry ride over Upper Arrow Lake.
And I just love a good ferry ride.
Before we crossed the border back into the United States, we made it a point to eat up the best of the fresh foods we had left. The most important of which was the goat mozzarella we had picked up at a natural foods store in Jasper. So we used all the bread and all the cheese we had to make a small mountain of grilled cheese on a lakeside beach.
By planning all of our meals ahead of time and being able to pack without a weight limit (the plus of car camping), I was able to ensure that we ate really well throughout the whole trip. The camp oven meals we made were some of the most comforting. My favorites were the Hawaiian pizza pockets and the blueberry cobbler, the later of which makes for fantastic dinner and is guaranteed to make you smile and laugh since it will turn your teeth a bit blue.
Have your travel plans ever gone awry? What did you do to cope?