To the Top of the World and Back in 10 Days – Part 1

I have always wanted to drive to Alaska and experience the North, and have been trying to get people to go with me since I was 17. Guapito and I decided that this is the year that we would finally do it. He booked two weeks off of work, but auditions, rehearsals, and the biggest windstorm I have ever seen (our power was out from Saturday noon to around 2:30 AM Monday morning… we live on a farm and are on a well and septic, so no power is a big deal) kept interfering, so we left a lot later than we had hoped. No power meant that we couldn’t do laundry or dishes or clean the house the weekend before we left, so all that was left until Monday. We spent Monday doing our best to finish the laundry, clean the house and ready the barn and coops for the farm sitter. Due to this, we didn’t end up leaving until Monday evening. We grabbed dinner on the way since the power outage had left us with no edible food. It poured rain for most of the way on the first night. We made it to 100 Mile where we decided to find a hotel after midnight. To our surprise, they were all full. “Is there a work thing happening?” Guapito asked. “No, they’re all tourists,” was the answer. We finally found a nice motel that had a room, and as a bonus, let us take our dogs inside with us.

100 Mile Visitor Centre

100 Mile House Visitor Centre

We hit up the tourist centre the next morning to get some information about our trip, and to see the world’s largest cross-country skis. The ladies working there were very helpful and gave us a map and guides for the places we were wanting to go. The map and the Alaska road trip guide proved to be extremely useful. I was anxious to get to the Yukon, so instead of exploring, we started driving again. I kept looking at the brochures and guides, seeing if there were any good, quick hikes or activities to do, but I was absolutely worried that we would not make it to the Yukon, and so we ignored all of them.

Williams Lake Tourist Centre

Williams Lake Tourist Centre

Aside from getting gas, where we bought some of the most delicious nectarines I have ever eaten from a little stand, our next stop was the William’s Lake tourist centre. There were lots of goodies to purchase there, and I more or less went wild. I bought some gifts for our farm sitter, and a few other little things. We were allowed to bring the dogs inside, and the employees doted on them and bestowed them with treats.

Not too much time passed until we were off again. Next stop: Quesnel, though we didn’t actually stop there. One of my friends is from Quesnel, and while we were driving through the first part, I couldn’t help but remark how great a thing it was for her to have left Quesnel, since it seemed to be a displeasing town. Later, however, I realized we weren’t actually in town yet. The town itself is actually quite nice, and I was pleasantly surprised. I could see why someone would want to live there, but that wasn’t enough to entice me to stop, so on we went.

We had a little debate about whether or not we should take the detour to Barkerville, and decided against it. According to Google, it was 2 hours out of Quesnel, so I calculated that going there would take an extra day in order to enjoy it. Though disappointed, I figured we could always go to Barkerville on another trip since it isn’t too far away. I was desperate to get to the Yukon, and quite worried that I would never get to see the tundra because we’d get caught up doing something closer to home. We ended up making an impromptu stop at Xatsull Heritage Village, which was excusable because it wasn’t far off the main road. Unfortunately, they only accept cash, which we had absolutely none of. Thankfully for us, they took pity on us, and we got to do our own walk-through free of charge. It’s in a very beautiful location, and we had an interesting chat with the fellow there. I absolutely love aboriginal cultures, so this place was totally up my alley, even though the tipis aren’t from that area. When I was young, I was set on living in a tipi, and I always made tipis out of cedar for myself and my cats. Now, I don’t think that is the ideal abode for me, but I still think they are awesome.

Xatsull Heritage Village

Xatsull Heritage Village from the lookout

Hill Home

After leaving Xatsull, we had to decide how far north we would go. We set an ambitious goal of staying in Fort Nelson that night (approximately 12 hours away from 100 Mile), but we almost didn’t make it…

Weekend Madness to Picture Butte part 3

Since we were on Mexican time the night before and had been up way too late eating those tacos, we couldn’t help but sleep in a bit. Once up, we were served barbacoa, which consisted of tongue and roast beef tacos. For those of you too afraid to try tongue, it’s actually quite good. I would stay away from the cubed meat though. I tried it once and the texture made me gag, however the well-cooked, so tender it comes away with your fork, tongue tacos are delicious.

After breakfast, Chuy gave us the grand tour of the farm where he lives and works. The day before, I had heard complaints of the stench of the farm, but didn’t understand why. I assumed their noses were more sensitive than mine. That is, until we stepped outside. The wind was no longer blowing the stench away, and even my nose was offended by it. I’ve had cows, and it was beyond the normal smell of cow poop. Anyway, it was interesting to see and learn how a feedlot operates. Apparently Chuy gets to ride horses cowboy style when trying to single one out if need be. For about 30 seconds I was extremely jealous. When I saw how small the lots were, the jealousy went away. I had been imaging those pictures they show in those articles about how bad feedlots are: giant, sprawling lots packed with cattle. That was certainly not what they were. To be completely honest, I’m not sure how I feel about them. They do make sense, but is it ideal for the life of the cow? Probably not. But then again, eating them isn’t either. At this farm, during the summer the cows are actually out on pasture, which is nice for them. Anyway, this is not about that! I just thought it was good to see and learn where some of my food comes from.


During the tour, we found out that the owners keep pet llamas. Guapito and I have talked about getting a llama because they like to chase coyotes and protect their herd, but the horses don’t need protection, and I don’t think it would work well with the chickens. If we ever FINALLY get goats, we are for sure getting a llama. He doesn’t know this yet.

Chuy then took us to a beautiful lookout point. I had severely underestimated the beauty of Alberta. Despite having been to Alberta before (Banff, Camore, Calgary, and Edmonton) I always pictured it as something not very interesting to look at. Whenever talking to foreigners about Canada, I always touted the whole “BC’s the best!” thing. I also stereotyped my own country by assuming that for 8 months of the year the rest of it was covered in snow. Just to prove me wrong, it was 20 degrees last weekend!



I decided this would be a good opportunity to take a picture of Guapito. What a stud.


We then went down the hill and arrived at the river you can see in the two pictures above. The scenery absolutely delighted me. It looked somewhat magical. I also greatly appreciated the fact that there was not one blackberry bush to be seen.


There is a cabin by the river with lots of cool things, including a playground for the kids. This is the view from in front of the cabin.


There is something about big hills and mountains that fills my soul with gladness.


Gahh! So pretty! That bright, green field in the background has a toy/back scratcher for the cattle. I thought that was cool.


For the first time in my life, I felt that it was necessary to take a picture of fallen leaves.


After our “quick” tour that took close to 2 hours, it really was time for us to go. We both had to work the following day, and didn’t want to get too little sleep. We said our thank yous,  and were presented with cake, 2 types of salsa, a package of tortillas, leftovers of the barbacoa, and al pastor. We said our goodbyes and off we went. I immediately ate the cake.


I wanted to stop and look at lots of things on the way back, but it was not an option. We stopped every 4 hours or so to let the dogs have a break to stretch, pee, and drink water. One of those places was Field, BC. I was once again utterly impressed by the beauty of the place. The giant mountains and the gorgeous, blue water were thrilling to look at, and beyond tempting for the dogs. It took a lot of strength to keep them on land. One of their absolute favourite things to do is swim in anything, anywhere, except the bathtub. They thought it was cruel and unusual punishment that I would take them by the river and not let them go in. It also didn’t help the the boots I was wearing had zero grip. They are completely smooth by design, and I felt like I was on a dogsled going down the small hill.



On the way home I felt inspired to try blogging again. I never wanted to do a travel blog because it’s so cliche, but then I said to myself “What the hey! I don’t need to be unique. If I’m going to do it, I should write about things that I do and love.” Traveling just so happens to be one of them. So while looking up at the clear, starry sky, I signed up for an account. Unfortunately, writing a post doesn’t work on my phone so I left it and tried to sleep instead.

It was around midnight when we finally got home, and despite feeling good about being back, I was totally ready to go on another adventure. I have Tofino in my sights right now, and storm season is coming up, so it’s the perfect time to go.


That concludes our 58-hour adventure to Picture Butte, where just under half of it was spent driving.

Weekend Madness to Picture Butte part 2

5 hours later, we were woken up by the curtain rod crashing down and the blazing sun burning our eyes.

“That’s one way to wake up,” I commented. I got up and looked out the window. What a beautiful day!

View from our room in Picture Butte.

View from our room in Picture Butte.

I didn’t feel very well as this had been the third night in a row with poor sleep, and my immune system was angry. Despite this, I was determined to go for a walk. Ceci made us some cheese-filled tortillas with bean sauce on top for breakfast, and then we headed out into the ridiculously windy day.

I had looked online for things to do, and there was a “Walk on the Wild Side” on the shores of a lake. I thought this would be an excellent place to stretch our legs. The lake was much, much smaller than I imagined, and therefore resulted in a very short walk. It would’ve been even shorter if the powerful wind hadn’t been blowing so fiercely on us. I’m surprised the dogs didn’t blow away.


It’s only slightly ironic now that I’ve read in more detail about the lake, that we walked in direction the led to the quickest dead end. If we had walked the other way, we would have been able to go for longer and probably have seen more. But that’s ok. My throat was really beginning to hurt and my cold ears were giving me a headache. After our brief walk, we picked up some tea (Mexicans don’t drink tea, after all), and headed back to the farm.


The lake at Picture Butte




Me being me, once we got back I decided I wanted to drive around the whole town and see what there was to see. This really took no time at all. I’m telling you: this town was TINY. We did drive by a sugar factory, and we guessed what it was they were piling up outside. Then it was time for me to go back and have a nap and try to get rid of the sickness. The last thing I wanted was to be ill while driving back the next day.


Every time I see this “Alberta Bound” gets stuck in my head.


Sugar beets!


Sugar factory


Guapito made me a cup of tea, and then he and Chuy went to Costco to buy the ingredients for lots of different kinds of tacos. We both hate cooking, so we must exploit every opportunity we can for someone to cook for us. Guapito also decided to buy Eggnog for them, because in the few years they’ve been living in Canada, they had no idea it even existed.

In the evening, we feasted on more tacos, and almost everyone watched soccer on the tv as we waited for two of our friends that we’ve known as a couple for 5 years. When they finally showed up, we all headed off to Lethbridge so that the boys could do what they love to do: play soccer. I’ve never known my husband to score a goal, but apparently he did this game. They tied 6-6, and they were all pleased as punch. I was delighted to have spent the time talking to my friend and interacting with her two young boys.


Guapito plays hard


We then all drove back to the farm and ate more tacos., even though it was past midnight. We probably ate more that weekend than we usually do in a week. It was a delicious time. The whole time we were there I wanted to know where the butte was. According to the town’s website, it was removed!!!!! Why would they remove the reason for the name of the town? It’s like getting rid of the white rock in White Rock (even though apparently that’s not actually why it’s named White Rock… but that’s a story for another day).



Weekend Madness to Picture Butte part 1

Here’s the deal:

6 horses

2 dogs

3 cats

35 chickens

… are our responsibility. Every. Day.

It doesn’t sound like much until you try to get away. So we rarely do. Together, at least. The last two trips taken in this household were done separately. I, to France and England. The husband, to Mexico to visit his family. Finding someone who has the ability, time, and desire to farmsit (not to mention not completely drain our pocketbook, and must be trustworthy) isn’t exactly the easiest task. Oh, and of course it can’t conflict with our other activities, like, you know, work.

This weekend, we managed to do it. My horse instructor had the time, we set a price, she agreed, and off we went.

To Picture Butte.

Google Maps said it would take 13.5 hours to get from the suburbs of Vancouver to that tiny little town.

“Can’t we take just one more day to make it a little more bearable?” I pleaded with my husband.
“No. I have to work a half-day on Friday and I can’t take Monday off either.” He was firm in his decision. Whatever. I didn’t have to drive.

Friday came. I cleaned the house, (there’s nothing worse than coming home to a dirty house) and he went to work. Around noon he came back home. We packed, then packed the dogs, and were able to leave around 2PM. The dogs were excited about the car ride.


First stop: Dairy Queen. Not even 5 minutes on the road and we grabbed some junk to titillate the senses. Blizzards, burgers, and fries! Oh my!

Second stop: Kamloops. 3 hours in, and it’s time for the dogs to stretch their legs and have a bathroom break. Maila apparently missed her potty time at home, and was dying to poop as soon as she got out. But only on the grass. Dirt just would not do. Everyone relieved, we grabbed some more high-calorie snacks and the hubster and I headed back to the car, only to find that Maila was insisting that she had seen enough driving so she could take over for awhile. We told her no, and she acquiesced.

DSC_0435We dropped by the casino in Kamloops and played a few rounds of Black Jack. We had just enough luck to leave without winning or spending a dime.

It was getting dark on our way out a town, so the pups decided to catch some zzz’s.
DSC_0441We stopped for dinner in Revelstoke. The husband in his pyjamas, we went to the 112 restaurant. I felt a tad awkward going in like that, but no one seemed to mind. Sitting in the car for so long and all the junk food made me crave something slightly more healthy, so I ordered a creamy prawn salad. He had steak, and we shared crab-stuffed mushrooms to start. It was all delicious. I was in heaven!

Leaving Revelstoke, I decided to drive for a couple of hours so that he could rest, seeing as he’d be driving until the wee hours of the morning. He snoozed while I battled the ridiculous fog, and of course woke up and demanded to drive once the fog was gone and it was clear skies. We took that moment as a bathroom break for all 4 of us, enjoying the clear, star-filled sky along the side of the mountain highway.

By this time, it was past midnight, and I decided it was pointless to stay awake, so I joined the dogs in the land of sleep until we reached Picture Butte. Instead of getting directions like a normal person, Guapito and his Mexican sidekick talked through the directions all the way from town to the house on the farm. “Why didn’t he just give you an address?” I asked. “Maybe there isn’t one,” he responded.

His friend, Chuy, and Chuy’s wife, Ceci, warmly greeted us at the door. I was shocked they were both up, considering it was 4AM. Since we had been on the road for 13 hours (we lost an hour with the time change), we made it short and sweet, trucked our stuff into the room, and all snuggled into bed for a few hours of sleep.