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Travels With Lucy: Van to Cran


January 3, 2018:

Lucy is not a dog who enjoys Great Adventures. This is a shame, because her dad surely does.

It's funny; when I adopted Lucy, she had no problem with car rides, but as we've grown together, she's become very scared of them.

I think it's because so many of our road trips involve bumpy logging roads, which unsettle her, or camping, which she hates, or chasing trains, which any dog would agree are loud and obnoxious and scary.

Needless to say, we were both a little apprehensive when we set out to drive across the continent early in January. Lucy, at least, had medication to calm her anxiety. I had to rely on my friend Alexis's delicious, home-baked peanut butter and chocolate cookies.

We left Vancouver around three in the morning on January 3rd. Our destination was the family farm in Prince Edward Island, which by the most direct route is a 6000km drive.

But Lucy is part pit bull, and as pit bulls are banned in Ontario our route would take us south of the Great Lakes, ultimately adding 1500kms to the adventure.

Travellers heading east through British Columbia have a few options to get across the mountains. I chose Highway 3, the Crowsnest Pass route through southern part of the province.

It's a laid-back, two-lane, meandering route through orchard fields and vineyards and winding mountain passes; I'd driven it before and really enjoyed the relaxed pace, the small towns and the lack of heavy traffic. And I love the Crowsnest Pass region on the border of BC and Alberta, which is a wonderful spot to chase trains.

We jumped on the Highway 3 after fuelling up in Hope, and the drive through Manning Park was snowy and lonely in the predawn hours. What I recall are tall conifers laden with fresh snow, looming out of the darkness in my headlights on either side of the empty road. We took it slow and sang along to the radio.

Dawn found us in Keremeos, in BC's fruit and wine country, the many roadside stands shuttered for the season. We stopped to take the view in Osoyoos and then traced the route of the Kettle Valley Railway for a spell through Midway and Grand Forks.

Then we were up in the mountains again, traversing fresh snow over Blueberry-Paulson Pass and taking a detour to Rossland and Trail, inspired by Don Conway's fine photography work in the area.

I wished we'd had more time to stick around Rossland, to be honest, but we had to keep moving, and after a stop for fuel and to let Lucy stretch her legs, we pressed on, over the Kootenay Pass to Creston and Yahk, BC.

The foamer (a word for a train lover) in me was eager to explore the Yahk area, as it's where the Canadian Pacific Railroad interchanges with America's Union Pacific line into the United States.

It's also very close to the setting of my sixth novel, The Forgotten Girls, which takes place in the dead of winter just south of the border in Idaho.

We did some exploring and chased a few trains, including this southbound CPR unit potash train headed for the border, and as night fell we drove into the town of Cranbrook, BC, where we planned to spend the night.

Confession: I have a thing for cheap, unique motels, and if you show me a place called the "Lazy Bear Lodge" there's a damn good chance I'm going to stay there.

We did. The question was how to eat without leaving Lucy alone in the room. I couldn't take her outside when I went to a restaurant; it was subzero and raw outside. I wound up ordering chicken alfredo from Boston Pizza and eating it with plastic cutlery. It arrived lukewarm and was hardly the feast I'd been envisioning all day, but it filled me up, anyway.

Unfortunately, eating would be the biggest challenge of this entire misadventure. I would not get much better at it as the days went by.

But we'd covered 850kms of the nomadic stage of #projectnomad and Lucy was still looking me in the eye. That had to be a good sign, right?

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