We were heading towards Merritt. The rain was pounding on our car and it seemed like the wind was picking up. But we had hope. After all, many times when we’d driven east the weather was bad leaving Vancouver, but past Hope it would improve. And if it was still raining past Hope then immediately after going down from the Coquihalla summit, the sun would be shining, with no sign of rain.
So we hoped. But the weather did not get better past Hope and it did not get better on the Coquihalla. In fact, as we were getting close to Merritt it seemed like the rain got stronger and the wind picked up. It’s often windy in Merritt, but we’ve never seen it rainy.
So a plan B was in order, because there was no way we were going to cycle in that rain and wind. It was also getting a bit late, and Neil was getting cranky, although he was great most of the drive, for over three hours…
We turned on to Highway 5A, which we had planned to cycle, and when we saw a sign for a campground we turned and drove the 6 km to Kentucky-Alleyne Provincial Park campground. We found a spot that was somewhat protected from the wind and set up the tarp. Neil was very happy to finally get out of the car and it didn’t seem like he minded the rain.
We had lunch under the tarp and thought: “where did summer go”? It was just the weekend before that we had a ‘heat wave’ and everyone complained about how hot it was. Even ten years after moving to Canada from Israel, I still find it a bit funny that people complain about 25c. So now winter was back, no doubt, and I was already in my down jacket, but poor Gili only brought shorts…
Neil was ready for his nap, and so was I. The rain had stopped by then, but it was still very windy and I retired to the tent. Luckily Gili took Neil for a short ride up the road from the campground, Neil fell asleep after 1 km and I very much appreciated some quiet time in the tent.
When the boys got back we went to explore the two lakes by the campground and to figure out what the hell is the story of car camping, and what are we supposed to do in order to pass the time. We are much more used to setting up camp after a long day of cycling or hiking than driving to one with our car.
On the next day we woke up early thanks to Neil. It seems that while camping he wakes up once it is light, in this case at 5:30am. Oh well, an early start was not too bad, although we could easily continue sleeping. After looking at the map and trying to figure out the distance we decided that we were still going to try to ride to Allison Lake, where we had meant to go on the previous day.
I’d had my eyes on Highway 5A for a while already. It’s a quiet road that connects Merritt and Princeton (skip the first 30km or so from Merritt where it’s still 97c which is a big busy road). Neil was asleep after 1 km again and the ride was very pleasant, with little traffic and we passed a few lakes and ponds. We managed to ride the whole 28km in one go and to stop at Allison Lake for a long lunch break at around 11:30 or so.
We had fun resting and throwing rocks and sticks into the lake. There was no one around, until two people showed up on the lake in a small boat and had a very sophisticated way to upload the boat onto their car which Neil thought was great entertainment.
The sun came out just as we were leaving the lake and it warmed up too. We again did the 28km in one go, but it felt harder and hillier. We basically did what we had planned to do in two days, but in one day. It was of course a bit easier without all the gear, and we skipped the first few kilometers of the road too.
The drive back to Vancouver seemed to take forever. Gili said that Merritt had magically moved farther away since Neil was born… I believe it’s true.
We stopped in Merritt for gas and ice cream, and then in Hope for dinner. We tried the Greek restaurant in Hope and it is by far our favourite choice of food in Hope, from the not so attractive culinary choices there.
We listened to a lot of Raffi which kept Neil happy on the drive, even if he didn’t sleep at all, the whole drive – from just before Merritt. Finally back home Neil was ready for bed and so were we. It was a great weekend despite the unwelcome visit of winter. Hopefully summer will come back for good at some point soon, and I am pretty sure we’ll be back cycling in that area soon too.