It's Monday, and we crossed into Canada last Weds. We are about 25 miles north of Nakusp, British Columbia, staying at a small hot springs resort with a small RV park. It is on a big, pristine lake in the mountains and is in the middle of nowhere.

Nakusp is a small town of about 1,500 and is very pretty. It's a resort town with lots of skiing in the winter, and hanging out in the summer, full of health food stores and alternative medicine practioners. We also bought a loaf of fresh bread in the local market that was the best bread we've ever had. We ate a little as a snack before we left the parking lot, and ended up eating half the loaf in one shot! It was so good, Cordula went back in to buy 2 more loaves, but alas, the last loaves were sold while we were gorging in the parking lot.

When we crossed into Canada at the US town of Sumas, into the Canadian town of Abbotsford, we had a little delay. Canadian Customs decided that we fit the profile of gun smugglers and consequently, searched our RV for a good half hour - they looked into cereal boxes, all of the cabinets, and even unscrewed a few panels to look behind them. It was a little nerve racking, as we had to sit outside of the RV, and wait for the Customs agent to go through all of our stuff - what if someone at the RV factory stuck in a little surprise?

It was also weird, because after searching the main "cabin", they decided to let us proceed. They never searched the compartments below, and that's where stuff could be hidden easily. For those of you who haven't seen our RV, there are large compartments below, like those on a Greyhound bus. There is plenty of room for all kinds of contraband. To give you an idea of how big they are, we have, in several different compartments, 2 large lawn chairs, 40 pounds of dog food, a case of bottled water, a bicycle, 2 tool boxes, a third tool box with spare parts, 2 garden hoses, a computer monitor, a step ladder, some warm jackets, extra dog supplies, power cables, cleaning supplies, the generator, the control panels for the water system, access to the fuel filters, and more...and the compartments have plenty more room for more stuff.

Who knows what will happen when we cross back into the US?

We spent two nice days in Manning Provincial Park - no hookups, so we "boondocked" - lived off our own batteries and water system. The park is in the mountains, and is about 75 miles from one end to another. We ran the generator once to recharge, and it was pretty simple. It poured rain one day, and it was very cozy inside with just ourselves and the dogs. We drove up to Cascade Lookout at 6,000 feet and could see miles and miles.

One morning it was very cold, wet and foggy. I was walking the dogs through the park. Some parks have showers in the campground, but this one just had a few pit toilets. I saw a woman who was not happy to be camping with her family, desperately wandering around in the rain, asking about the non-existent showers and sinks. At that moment, I knew I could have made a quick $50, renting out our bathroom and hot water.

The Canadian dollar is worth about 2/3 of a US dollar. After converting to US dollars, most things seem to be about 15-20% less expensive in Canada than in the US. Restaurants seems to be a good 25-30% less expensive. Even new cars seem about 10-15% less. Gas and diesel runs about 10% more than in the US, so not too bad. There is a 7% Goods and Services Tax (like a sales tax) but if you are an American, and keep your receipts, you can actually get a refund on the GST at the end of your trip.

WE spent one lousy Saturday driving to Vernon, BC. On the map, from the terrific Manning Park, the roads looked like country roads, and the towns seemed small. At first, it was OK. We stopped in Keremeos, population 1,200, which claims to be the fruit stand capital of the world. It could be so. There were maybe 50 or 75 fruit stands, ranging from little more than a shack, to large corporate type operations. We also took a tour of an 1870 restored wheat grinding mill, powered by a waterwheel, which still works and was a mechanical wonder.

After Keremeos, it was like driving on El Camino or the Boston Post Road for 60 miles. The area turned out to be booming with every American concept imaginable - Walmarts, Costcos, fast food, used car lots, tire stores, tanning parlors, Starbucks, Office Depots, Safeways - nothing seemed Canadian and the traffic lights were totally not synchronized. The only business we saw that seemed to have a local name was Canadian Bagel (a completely wrong concept, and not well executed, let me assure you).

I think we spent almost 4 hours going 60 miles, then the RV park we wanted to get into was full. So, we went another 15 miles and found one that had one last space big enough for us. It was very disillusioning to see how the suburban sprawl was even worse here - strip mall after strip mall, billboards, no zoning controls at all. In Vernon, I went for an early Sunday morning bike ride and found a combination farm market and Indian restaurant (Samosa Fruits, Vegetables and Take-Out).

We got out of Vernon early Sunday morning and finally got back into the countryside again. We went up and down through the mountains, and had to take a ferry across a lake. We found our way to Halcyon Hot Springs, and here we are...for two nights.

We plan to meander for a few days, seeing the sites, and maybe stopping at another hot springs before making our way to Glacier National Park. We've been eating well, RV situation is stabilized, getting e-mail from friends and family, so after about 5 weeks on the road, we are still all systems go to stay on the road through mid-September.

- Cordula & Steve