Canadian Rockies Vacation – October 2015

10/6  Bellingham to Clearwater

We had a little trouble getting going!  We had the BMW all packed and ready but it wouldn’t start. So, we moved almost everything into the VW and took off.  Later, I realized that my computer was still in the backseat of the BMW.  We figured out ways around life without a computer.

Click on the map or any picture to enlarge it.

Our Route. Bellingham to Clearwater to Jasper to Banff/Canmore to Lake Louise to Vernon and home

Our Route. Bellingham to Clearwater to Jasper to Banff/Canmore to Lake Louise to Vernon and home

As we started into the mountains at about Hope, BC, the maple, birch and alder trees were all yellow and gold.  Very beautiful against the dark green of the evergreens.  When we got to the Coquihalla Highway, we also began to pay attention to the geology.  This is an area shaped by glaciers!  The whole trip to Clearwater was lovely – rivers, farms, big hills and valleys. After we left Kamloops, we started seeing signs telling us to remember that we were on a “high mountain road” and that we could expect sudden changes in weather.  All day it was mostly cloudy, and around Barriere we could see it raining in the distance and soon we were driving in light rain.

The North Thompson River near Kamloops. David Thompson was the most famous early explorer of this region.

The North Thompson River near Kamloops. David Thompson was the most famous early explorer of this region.

About 4 p.m., we got to Tanglewood, our AirBnB.  Our host, Michael, warmly welcomed us and showed us around.  He and his wife Kristen (who we never met) are transplanted Brits with 4 homeschooled kids.  Michael is working on a PhD in environmental science.  His dissertation is on the effects of climate change in the Caribou Region of BC – particularly on the glaciers.  He was a fund of information on Wells Gray Provincial Park and on geology in general.

We had a great dinner at The Smoke House!

10/7  Clearwater to Wells Gray Provincial Park to Jasper


We picked Michael’s brain a little more about what to see and then headed out.  He suggested four stops in Wells Gray but we only made it to three of them.  Our first stop was at the Spahats Falls.  On the road there we saw some signs for numbered canyons and wondered about that.  Spahats Falls is part of one of those canyons.  I called them “slot canyons” because they are very narrow – less than 10 feet across – and very deep.  They were like large cracks in the rocks.  At the bottom of each of the canyons there was a creek.  At Spahats, the creek has carved the canyon deep to the edge of the rock and then the water falls 300 feet to the Clearwater River below.  It was a stunning view.



The second stop was at the Green Mountain Lookout – no big deal.  Our third stop was at Dawson Falls.  There was a large parking lot and from the parking lot we could see the river and a bridge.  We followed the signs to the trail leading to the falls and we were surprised when we came around the last corner.  The waterfall was big and broad.  We were glad we stopped there.


On our way through Clearwater, we stopped for lunch at the Strawberry Snack Shop for lunch.  We shared a good sandwich and got samples of a terrific brownie.


We continued to parallel the North Thompson River as we headed out of Clearwater.  As we got closer to Jasper, the mountains got bigger. We stopped for a look at the ranger station below Mt. Robson.  The clouds were down around the mountain so we did not get a look at the whole thing.  Mt. Robson is the highest mountain in the Canadian Rockies (12972 ft).


The rangers station was closed but we walked around it and I peeked in the windows and there saw a large photo of the mountain on a sunny day.  Our best view of the mountain.

In Jasper, we stayed at All Seasons Accommodations.  Gaetanne Tassoni was the host.  When we got there around 6 pm, we could not figure out which unit of the duplex was hers.  We walked around to the back looking for signs of life and knocked on the door where there were lights on.  Lucky for us it was Gaetanne’s back door.  She was surprised that we had not knocked on the front door and seemed a little huffy about it.  She said she had sent instructions, but we never got them. By the time we left we had this all straightened out – a foul up by  The room was clean, comfortable and in a terrific location downtown.  We could walk everywhere we needed to go for meals, information and supplies.




We ate at 4 places in Jasper, The Bear Paw and The Other Paw for breakfast, a family style restaurant and The Kimchi House.  We had our best breakfasts in Jasper – morning glory muffins one day and granola the other days.  Our favorite dinners were at the Kimchi House – soup! Monica, the woman who runs the Kimchi House was great!  She greeted every customer and remembered us and where we were from.  Her son studied at WWU and is now in med school in Miami FL.

Our first full day in Jasper, Dick woke up with a cold (I got it on Monday and gave it to him).  We took it easy in the morning and spent some time talking to the gals at the Information Center about hikes, where the bears (black and grizzlies) were, and things to see.


As we walked through town we also saw a sign for the Jasper SkyTram.  We decided that was at the top of our list for the day!  We bought lunch supplies and cold remedies, got our stuff together and headed for the tram.  Since it was October, there was no wait.  We got our tickets and got right in the tram.


The ride up the mountain took 7 minutes.  The brochure says, “Stand among six mountain ranges and overlook glacial fed turquoise lakes, flowing rivers and the scenic mountain townsite of Jasper.”  All true!  It was cold and windy at the top and the trails to the top went through some mushy snow fields.  We only went part way up and then I chickened out – going up was fine but coming down was not for me.  The views were amazing even without going all the way to the top!








Tram details:  travels at 6 meters/second, 1005 meter elevation gain, upper station at 2263 meters above sea level, tram holds 26 passengers.  (by the way…we started thinking in meters of elevation, kilometers per hour, and degrees centigrade pretty quickly. The transition is not that difficult. We also got used to road signs in both English and French and hearing lots of French accents).

We ate our lunch in the upper station and headed back down.

On our way back, we stopped to check out the hostel on Whistler Road.  The desk person was out to lunch so we looked around a bit. We saw the kitchen area with at least 4 prep stations  (stove, oven, sink, counter space and storage at each station), and the living room with comfy furniture.  We didn’t feel comfortable exploring further on our own so started to leave.  There was a guy putting his shoes on in the entrance hall and we asked him if he was staying there.  He told us that he was staying at the Edith Cavell hostel but that he’d come down the mountain to take a shower.  He was from Maine and was driving an old Mercedes station wagon with 400K+ miles.  He had lots of good stories.

We stopped at our room for a cup of tea and to gather our swim suits.  Our next stop was the Miette Hot Springs.  It was a long drive – 27 miles to the turn off and then another 9 miles to the hot springs.  Along the way there was a bunch of road construction and then a small herd of Big Horn Sheep in the road.



The traffic mostly stopped for the sheep.  Just a bit in front of us, a little girl was out of her family’s car and was walking toward the sheep in the road.  We were stunned!  Wild sheep, big trucks and traffic that was creeping through – it didn’t seem at all safe.  Even so, it was a thrill to see the sheep close up!  We got several photos.


As we wound our way up the road to the hot springs we started noticing a huge rock ridge to our left.  At a view spot we learned that it was the Ashlar Ridge – ancient limestone (530 million years old) that was lifted as 2 tectonic plates collided.  Our interest in the area’s geology grew and grew the more we learned.

The hot spring was a big deal – lots of parking, well developed facility.  We paid our entrance fee, rented towels and got ready. The hot pool was as big as a good sized swimming pool.  It was shallow at one end and up to my chin at the other.  104º F.  Perfect for us with our colds. We sat in the water until we were totally pruney and hot clear through.

This was the first night we ate at the Kimchi House.  Delicious soup!

10/9 – Still in Jasper

On the way back to our room after breakfast, we got our usual lunch supplies: carrots, bananas and cough drops.  We also got a bottle of cough syrup.  Dick’s cold was ruling the day.

Our first outing was to Mt. Edith Cavell – named for a famous and much loved WW1 nurse.  The road up the mountain was winding and mostly in the trees.  All of a sudden, though, as we came around a corner, we got a big view of the mountain and glacier.


We passed the hostel where our new friend was staying and headed for the parking lot.  Our friend had warned us that the entrance to the parking lot was a little odd.  Last year, a chunk of the glacier had fallen into the lake and caused a “mini tsunami” which filled the parking lot with rocks and gravel from the lake bottom.  All that was still there, along with the barriers erected to keep the majority of the gravel and rocks off the road.  Our friend’s Mercedes was in the parking lot but we did not see him.  When we first got there we could clearly see the mountain but soon we saw weather moving in  and before we knew it, we were in the middle of a driving rain storm.



We did not stay long and we didn’t do any hiking.  On our way back we stopped to look at Becker’s Chalets right along the Athabasca River. That would be a good place to stay for easy hiking on Mt. Edith Cavell.


Next, we took off for a look at the Jasper Park Lodge and then Lake Maligne.

The hotel was on a big piece of property and was quite spread out.  It looked like a fun place to stay.


On the drive to Lake Maligne (say it like a Canadian: Muh-lean) we stopped at Maligne Canyon, where Dick rested in the car and I went sight seeing.  It reminded me of Spahats Falls but with more places to actually see into the canyon.  There were huge bowls carved into the walls of the canyon.  All beautiful.  I walked much more of it than I thought I would – it was too fabulous to leave with out seeing it.

As we got close to Lake Maligne we came to a large, recently burned area.  Everything was black.  This was the site of the 2015 Excelsior Fire.  It was started by a lightning strike and then blew up into a major fire.


We also saw signs warning us to watch for Caribou but we didn’t see even one.

Before we got to Lake Maligne we passed by Medicine Lake, which was almost empty.


We later read that Medicine Lake fills in the winter and spring but has a gravel bottom that allows the water to drain out into the Maligne Karst.  Wikipedia says this about the Maligne Karst:

“Medicine Lake is a geologic anomaly in the sense that it is not actually a lake but rather an area in which the Maligne River (flowing from Maligne Lake into the Athabasca River) backs up and suddenly disappears underground. During the summer months during intensified meltwater runoff the lake (which during the winter months is a meandering frozen river) fills to levels which fluctuate over time and with the runoff events. Much like a bathtub that is filled too fast for it to drain, it becomes laden with water (lake) until it can slowly drain as the tap flow (runoff) is reduced (river). The underground system is extensive and during the 1970s researchers used a biodegradable dye to determine the underground river’s extent. The dye showed up in many of the lakes and rivers in the area to the point where it became clear that the underground system was one of the most extensive in the world.”


All this geology was fascinating to us!

After so much excitement, Dick needed a nap, so we headed back to our place for a rest before dinner.  More Korean food!

10/10  Jasper to Lake Louise

We settled up with Gaetanne for our room and headed out. I was the driver for most of this rainy day.  We had a map with all the scenic stops on the Icefield Parkway noted.  Our first stop was at the Athabasca Falls –  more canyon and waterfalls.



This was an old channel that the river abandoned some time in the past.

This was an old channel that the river abandoned some time in the past.

Next up, the Sunwapta Falls. This is the junction of the Sunwapta River and the Athabasca River. (An amazing fact about the Athabasca River is that it flows into the Arctic Ocean!) My most vivid memory of this site was of the gal being hoisted above her fellow’s head in full plank position while they were standing on the narrow bridge crossing over the brink of the falls. I could hardly look. The falls were impressive as the water dropped down the canyon.



There was a hotel and restaurant right at the corner of the highway and the road to Sunwapta Falls. (I’m going to write Sunwapta as many times as I can!  Say it with me: Sun-wap-ta) and we stopped there for hot water for tea.  When we came out there was a big rainbow right over the road.


We didn’t make many more stops but we saw a big flood plain, the Tangle Creek Falls – truly tangled, several glaciers, a sky bridge, and the Icefield Center where you could by a meal and tickets for the sky bridge or for a bus ride on a glacier.  When we were about 30 minutes out of Lake Louise, I switched seats with Dick and he drove the rest of the way.

When we got to Lake Louise Village, we stopped at the visitor’s center to ask about hiking and laundromats.  The laundromat was the guest laundry at the Lake Louise Inn.  There were two washers and two dryers.  No waiting.  We started our two loads of laundry and played cribbage until it went into the dryers.  Then we set out to see the  hostel across the road.  Compared to the Whistler Rd. hostel it was very large and deluxe.  We had a good look around and got cups of tea in their cafe.  By then our laundry was almost finished.  We finished our game, folded our clothes, bought lunch groceries and drove up to the Chateau Lake Louise.

What a gorgeous hotel and setting!




Our room was on the 4th floor overlooking the roof and heating system – the price was right.  We never spend much time in our room so we were fine with that.  We ate dinner in the Lakeside Lounge at the best table in the place!  After dinner we walked all around the hotel – many shops, a gallery of mountaineering history in the Canadian Rockies, great people watching.


In the morning, we went to the hotel deli for lattes and to get 2 cups for our granola.  When we got back to our room the housekeeper was there so we chatted with her while we ate and she worked.  All the help comes to work at the hotel temporarily.  They live in dorms behind the hotel and everyone we talked to was cheerful and hospitable.

Our goal for the day was to hike to the Lake Agnes Tea Hut.  It was a cool and gusty morning so we wore our jackets.  I was wishing for gloves for the first half of the hike.  The trail paralleled  Lake Louise as it climbed toward the Tea Hut and there were many spots with spectacular views.



As we went along, there were occasional strong wind gusts.  We stepped over two freshly fallen trees and heard another tree falling.  Dick said, “If you hear a tree falling, run in some direction!”  On our way back down we came upon a tree across the trail that hadn’t been there when we went up.  Makes me wonder about our hiking judgment.  We stopped briefly at Mirror Lake and then started on the serious climb to Lake Agnes.


When we got to the falls the trail became a stairway.  While we were climbing the stairs we were protected from the wind by the hill.  As soon as we took the last step up the stairs we came into the full force of the wind – Wow!  It was beautiful at Lake Agnes and Dick wanted to take pictures of the waterfall, the lake, and the surrounding mountains.  There was a small bridge (with no railings) over the creek that exits Lake Agnes and becomes the waterfall.  Dick was able to stand on it, but I was being blown too strongly by the wind.  I got across it as fast as I could and then, safely on the other side, braced myself to so I could stand and take a look around.




There were lots of people at the Tea Hut.  It was the last weekend it would be open for this season.  When we went in, it was jammed. There were only 2 open “stump stools.”  We claimed them and joined another couple at their table.  We learned right away that they were visiting from Perth, Australia.  We talked and talked and then walked down the trail together and then sat in the Lakeside Lounge and talked for a few more hours.  Andrew and Pene, our new friends from the Southern Hemisphere.


After they went back to their hotel, we made our dinner reservations at the Poppy Brasserie and went out to hike up to the Fairview Lookout.  It was another out and back trail with a good view of the lake and hotel.

We were so interested in the geology of the mountains that we stopped at the hotel book store to see if they had a book that would make what we saw even more interesting. They had just what we wanted…Ben Gadd’s Canadian Rockies Geology Road Tours…”The complete roadside guide. Fossils, formations, folds and faults presented in plain English.” The first 100 pages reads like a simplified version of Geology 101 and makes the sections on specific road logs easy to understand. We highly recommend this book if you are traveling to the region.

10/12 – Canadian Thanksgiving Day, Lake Louise to Banff & Canmore

On our way out of town, we made our usual stop for lunch groceries and then headed south on Hwy 1A.  This road parallels Hwy 1 – just to the east of it.  We only made a few stops.  Castle Mountain, a big view of Bow River, Moose Meadow – no moose, and the Johnston Canyon view point – it was closed.

In Banff, we started out at the Info Center as usual and then walked around town.  Banff is a tourist mecca – crowded with shoppers.  We went to the 1st Nations museum. We tried to go to the National Park museum but it was closed for the season.  We visited the Whyte Museum gift shop.  When we were finished with the town, we drove to the Bow River Falls and hiked up a small hill to get a good look at the falls from several different vantages.


We went to the Banff Center (a school for art and creativity) for a look around.


Banff Springs Resort from the Banff Centre

Banff Springs Resort from the Banff Centre

I remember my mother talking about this place even when I was a child.  She always wanted to take some classes at the center but never got to. We were looking around for her as much as for us. Almost everything looked closed but we saw activity at the Sue Borden Recreation Center and Dining Halls.  We went in for a look and two nice guys at the restaurant helped us with info and made a dinner reservation for us.

The Three Ravens Restaurant at the Banff Centre

The Three Ravens Restaurant at the Banff Centre

We checked in at our AirBnB in Canmore and met our hosts, Neils and Chrissy and their boys Arnold (5) and Solomon (3) and their dog, Shield.  We stashed our stuff and got familiar with the place and headed right back to Banff for dinner.  We thought Tunnel Road might be a short cut but it was only a beautiful drive – nothing short about it.  We saw 2 campgrounds and we did miss the crush of traffic through the middle of town, so we were happy.  The restaurant is on the 3rd floor (the top floor) of the Sue Borden Recreation Center and Dining Halls and all the walls are glass, floor to ceiling.  The guy who made our reservation earlier remembered us when we arrived and offered us any window seat we wanted. The view of mountains and valleys is terrific.  We had a perfect window seat, and just below us we could look through the glass ceiling of the pool and right into the swimming pool and hot tub.  There were a few people playing in the pool and sitting in the hot tub but no one was swimming laps. Our server, Maddie, was from Australia and there she is a dental nurse.  She is in Canada on a two year work visa having an adventure.  Since it was Thanksgiving Day, we had Thanksgiving dinner – turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes/polenta, gravy, veges.  It was delicious.  For dessert we had a sampler of 3 different treats.  A really delightful evening.  The Banff Center was very quite both times we were there but we learned that on Tuesday, they were expecting 300 people to arrive for a conference.  The place would feel different with all that activity.

When we got back to Canmore, we learned that we had not closed our room door well and that Shield had eaten all of our cookies! We visited a bit with Neils and learned that he is a cabinet maker.  Our room was next door to Chrissy’s painting studio.  You can look at her work here. Her paintings were hanging all around the house – we loved them!

We ate breakfast with the family both mornings we were there.  We enjoyed being part of their normal routine and got well acquainted even with the little boys.  On our one full day in Canmore, we walked around town…


…and along the Bow River trail in the morning…





…and then, after lunch (a bagel shop) we hiked to Grassi Lakes.  Everyone who we polled about things to do in the area said this was the must-do hike.  The gal at the info center, suggested that we hike up the difficult trail and down the easy trail.  She told us that the views were better that way and she was right.


When we started out, I was thinking it would be a good hike with any of our younger grandgirls.  After a bit, though, we started to climb (we gained 924 ft over 1.7 km) and began to be able to see the waterfall ahead,


then we were walking through streams that were part of the lower waterfall and needing to rock hop, then we came to tall stone stairs with a hand rail, of sorts.  I changed my mind about taking kids on the hike and I figured out why we went up the difficult way and not down it. That would be sketchy! The views were wonderful and the waterfall was gorgeous.  At the top, we were at the two Grassi Lakes.




Grassi was an Italian who arrived in Canada in 1916, when he was 26, to work in the coal mines.  He made the trail to the lakes that were later named for him, and many other trails as well.  He was a beloved character.  We did take the easy way down and were glad we did
We went back to the house for a rest and then went to Safeway for lunch groceries for our drive to Vernon and then home.  We went to Crazyweed for dinner (no, no pot) and had a delicious meal with a view of the mountains and the sunset.  After dinner we organized our stuff for the drive home, so we’d only need to take one bag in with us at Raj and Seema’s hotel in Vernon.

It was a long and beautiful drive to Vernon.  We crossed the Columbia River near its source at Golden, BC. Interesting fact. The Columbia flows NORTH for the first 200 miles or so. This confused the early explorers searching for the source of the Columbia. We went through Yoho National Park; Revelstoke; Glacier National Park and over Rogers Pass (with lots of snow sheds).

Rogers Pass

Rogers Pass

Rogers Pass

Rogers Pass

The Columbia River at Revelstoke

The Columbia River at Revelstoke

Click here to view ALL the pictures from this trip.

Raj and Seema’s hotel is very nice!  We had a comfortable, well decorated room.

And, of course, their hospitality can’t be topped.  We had dinner at their new house.  They have built their home for life and it is gorgeous.  They have wonderful views of the mountains and Lake Okanogan.

Click here for pictures of the visit to Raj and Seema’s.

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Walk – December 21, 2013

I decided in the Fall that I would be more active this winter.  It’s easy to blame the less than ideal weather for becoming a couch potato.  I’ve tried gyms, and they are not for me.  There is an expression here that I adopted…“There is no such thing as inclimate weather, only inadequate clothing“…

…so I bought everything I could find at REI that was Gortex, and made a resolution to walk 3-6 miles at least 4 times per week.

So far, I’ve pretty much stuck to that.  One big help to keep my resolution has been Strava.  Zack turned me on to this iPhone ap some time ago.  It makes walking, running, and bicycling more fun by recording your routes and statistics using the GPS feature of your iPhone, then loading the data to a web site where you can review your actuals against your goals.

Bellingham is a walk/run/bicycle friendly town.  Sidewalks, bike paths, urban trails, old railroad grades turned into bike/hike corridors, and cooperative motorists.  I like to vary my walk routes so I don’t get bored, but some of my favorites are variations on the one I did today.  Here’s the Strava map of the walk…

Screen shot 2013-12-21 at 7.48.35 PM

…and some of the Strava data…

Screen shot 2013-12-21 at 7.45.45 PM

Here’s an interactive version of the map if you want to play with it.

Most of my walks start and finish from home.  This one is no exception.

I walk through “the hood”…

…to Northwest Ave.  One of the few busy streets I have to cross, but no problem today.  Past Yaeger’s Sporting goods…

Over Squalicum Creek and around the corner to Cedarwood Ave…

…where I pick up an Interurban Trail.  This (like many in Bellingham) was an old railroad grade, most likely to carry coal from the mine that was once a few blocks from here to a pier on Bellingham Bay that we’ll see later on this walk.  This trail will become part of the unfinished Bay to Baker Trail.

The trail runs for about a mile down to Squalicum Beach at Bellingham Bay.

Past the dog park and ball fields at Squalicum Creek Park.

Across Patton Street in the Birchwood Neighborhood.

And along side one of my favorite spots.

No bees flying today!

A little further down the trail is the Oeser Company that makes poles.  All shapes and sizes but mostly GIANT.

Then, across W. Illionos…

…past where the trail splits  (the fork on the right goes to Eldridge and I take that sometimes)…

…and under Eldridge.

Shortly after Eldridge is the railroad bridge.  These are the main north/south tracks on the West Coast.

The trail now drops down to the beach, but if it was the turn of the century and you were on a coal train on the tracks that were here then, you would go straight on to this pier to unload into a waiting ship.

The beach can be a little “sketchy” especially at high tide, but a nice change of pace today.

Only a half a mile or so on the beach then I connect with Roeder where it dead ends to the north at the plywood plant.

A boxcar being loaded with plywood.  Railroad cars are always rolling art.

Here’s the “show off” side of the plywood plant.

I use this building next to the plywood plant often as a back drop for pictures of my cars.

Squalicum Way follows Squalicum Creek from Meridian down to Roeder.

Bellingham Cold Storage is just past this intersection.  Javier’s 350′ fishing boat has unloaded here in the past.

Seaview Boat Yard.  This (formerly) beautiful Ocean Alexander burned at Roche Harbor this past summer.  It was towed here to await the insurance settlement.

On down Roeder and past the F  ‘n G dock. (inside joke)

More of the small boat harbor.  This is another reason I like this walk.  Cruisin’ the boats is one of my favorite pastimes.

Here’s the launch ramp we use when we are headed into the San Juans in our little boat.

Mike and Sarah’s Star Dancer. 

We will meet up with them in Egmont, BC, and spend some time in the Princess Louisa Inlet in July.

Screen shot 2013-12-21 at 8.46.30 PM

The Bellweather is just around the corner from Star Dancer‘s slip.

Then the harbor entrance.

A couple of big fishing boats unloading at another cold storage facility.

Past the Coast Guard Station.

I cross the tracks at Roeder and F street and head up the hill past the mission.

I can hook up with the Old Village Trail and did so today.  It runs from Elizabeth Park to the Salmon Hatchery at Marine Park and eventually Old Town.

Through the Lettered Streets Neighborhood and across Haggen’s parking lot…

…and home again.

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Studebaker Sliding Roof Wagonaire Headliner


Unfortunately, the local shop that did my panels no longer does this work.  This blog may help your local installer and I can provide (at no cost) PDF files of all 7 panels.  The PDF files will be emailed to you.  They will contain digital images of full size templates.  You will need to go to a local print shop with the files that has the ability to print the appropriate size.  You can contact me at

The blog lists the materials used in the fabrication of my panels.  You may choose to use different materials.  In any case, I suggest you make “scrap” panels from the templates to insure proper fit of the finished panels.

Development and Installation of the Headliner Panels

As my 1963 Studebaker Daytona Sliding Roof Wagonaire neared completion, I started searching for headliner alternatives.  The original headliner for these cars (1963-1966 sliding roof Wagonaires) was a cardboard/foam sandwich with white embossed waffle pattern and silver dots on the “show off” side.  These are no longer available and not reproduced, so I was on my own.

There are 7 pieces that make up the headliner.  Front panel, middle panel, sliding roof panel, and 2 narrow sections on each side under the sliding roof rails.  In addition, the crossbar that covers the joint between the front and middle panels needs to be covered in the same material that is chosen for the headliner itself.

The front panel is the only real complex piece.  It has some compound curves to fit to the roof contour; it contains the cut out for the dome light and screw holes for the visors, visor clips and rear view mirror; and it must fit under the windshield seal.  The other pieces are relatively straight forward.

A friend with a similar car provided me with a PDF file of the complex front panel.  This was a great head start on the project.

I took the car to the upholstery shop on Friday and he started into the job that weekend.

This is what he had to work with…

I had put all the trim in place..  He would be removing this trim, but wouldn’t have to be searching for fasteners or learn what went where.

He started by measuring each panel opening and making scrap cardboard patterns for them.  He used the PDF template provided to make the scrap front panel.  In all cases he had to add or subtract material to the scrap panels in order to get an exact fit.

Once the scrap cardboard patterns were finalized, he produced the final cardboard panels from them…

He used a heavy coated and embossed panelboard from PerfectFit which is his wholesale supplier.  This is also known as Package Tray Panel Board.  The material is raw cardboard on one side and embossed and coated on the other with a black, vinyl pattern.  The coated side will be installed UP and the uncoated side will have the vinyl headliner material glued to it.

Again, the front panel is the tough one.  It needs to be molded to the roof contour before the headliner material is attached to it or the holes in the headliner material will be distorted.  This must be done slowly and carefully or the panel board will kink and crease.  This is probably the toughest sub-job of all.

The next step was to cover the panels with the headliner material.  There are many vinyl and cloth options available.  I chose a white-white marine vinyl perforated material…

He covered each panel and wrapped the edges without overlapping the material.  Here is panel #2, the middle panel…

For the front panel (panel #1), He left extra material on the front edge to tuck into the windshield seal and to be sure the corners were covered.  It came out nice…

As mentioned earlier, the original sides under the sliding roof rail were two pieces and had a visible seam between them.  He was able to join the two panels that made up each side from the rear (unseen side) with another piece of glued cardboard.  He then covered the pair with headliner material.  This made the sides seamless…

The crossbar that covers the joint between the front and middle panels was covered in the same headliner material and installed…

The remaining trim was replaced and that was that.  A beautiful headliner.  Not the stock waffle pattern with silver dot original, but it could pass for original and looks even better…

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Sucia Island…Solo

On my bucket list for this summer was to camp on Sucia Island in the San Juans.  The entire island is a Washington State Park.  It is about 25 miles from Squalicum Harbor in Bellingham where we launch our boat.

I’ve been there several times, but have not hiked everywhere there is to hike and have only camped there once and that was a few years ago.  Deb and I made an aborted attempt to camp there mid August this year, but we were rained out and came home early and didn’t get to spend the night there.

With our busy schedules and the weather not always cooperating when we both had free time, it looked tough for the two of us to try again this year.  So, with her permission and a good 3 day weather report, I decided on Wednesday for a solo camp out Thursday and Friday.

I pulled some minimal camping gear together Thursday morning and stopped by the grocery store on the way to the boat launch ramp.

12:15 PM Thursday…High tide at the ramp.  An easy launch.  I motored out of the harbor and into Bellingham Bay.  The Bay is generally the roughest part of the trip.  Today was no exception.  About 1′ wind waves which are no problem for the boat, but I do slow down to about 20 MPH (just barely on plane) to make the ride a little less bouncy.  I spotted a school of Dall’s Porpoise…relatively common in the San Juans, but this was the first time I had ever seen them in shallow Bellingham Bay.  Once out of the Bay and around Portage Island, Hale Passage and the Georgia Straits were flat and I cranked it up to 30-35 MPH.  The boat really likes it at that speed.  The Chevy V8 is singing and the ride is flat and smooth.

1:15 PM…Arrived at Fossil Bay, Sucia.   There were not a lot of boats on the bouys or anchored, but the docks were full.  I cruised around a little hoping that someone would be leaving the dock so I could have their space, but no go.  I finally tied up at a section reserved for unloading and started up the ramp when I noticed an open spot on the shore end of dock #2 just big enough for my little boat.  I jumped back and motored around to that open spot.

2:25 PM…Camp.  Once tied up, I set off on foot for the camping area just a short walk from the dock to locate a camp site.  There were only 1 or 2 other campers so I had a good choice of sites.  I selected one Deb and I had seen on our last trip (it was occupied then) that was on the isthmus between Fossil Bay and Fox Cove and faced Fossil.  It was pretty much surrounded by vegetation on 3 sides (private) and protected if the wind came up.

The park provides carts to make it easy to haul your gear from the boat to the camp sites.

My minimal gear easily fit in one cart.  I registered ($12 for the camp site and $12 for moorage), pushed the cart to my site and set up.

2:35 PMSet off on my first hike.  My main objective of this trip was to hike as much of the island as I could.  I had covered a good deal of the island already, but never made it to Ewing Cove so that would be my first trek this trip.

Over the two days, I hiked just about everywhere except to Johnson Point, and Deb and I had done that hike last time we were here.  Thursday’s hikes are in red and Friday’s in blue…

The walk from my camp to Echo Bay is mostly on unimproved dirt roads used by the resident rangers to service the various campgrounds and facilities.

Speaking of “facilities”, there is running water available just about anywhere on the island, but no flush toilets or showers.  They do have modern, composting toilets convenient to all the camp sites, however.  They are clean and don’t smell like old fashioned out houses…

2:55 PM…Arrived at Echo Bay.  Actually, what is called Shallow Spit, which is the low piece of land between Echo Bay and Shallow Bay.  There are no docks at Echo Bay, but it is a popular spot for “anchoring out”.  Boats can be spaced fairly far apart for privacy.   It’s an easy row to shore (nice beach) for hiking and exploring.  Some great camp sites here also.

Mt. Baker was just visible.  My long lens foreshortened things a little.  The mountain isn’t this close…

I found the trail to Ewing Cove…

…and started my hike.   Ewing Cove is 2.1 miles from this post and I think the post is about a mile from my camp, so maybe 6+ miles total for this hike.

The hike was BEAUTIFUL.  It is mostly along a ridge over Echo Bay.  The usual trees (Cedar, Fir and Madrona).  The trail is narrow but with few “scrambles”.

4:00 PM…Arrived at Ewing Cove.  I’ve been to Ewing Cove by boat a couple of times.  I’ve always admired the tranquility and privacy there.  Only a couple of boats can anchor there.  There are also a couple of nice campsites and a great beach.

I met a kayaker there who had paddled to Sucia from the Lummi Island Ferry dock yesterday.  He went over to Patos today, back to Sucia and was headed to Matia for the night.

He warned me about ravenous mosquitos where I was camped (he had stayed in the same spot the night before).  This caused me some concern since I didn’t bring any insect repellant, but as it turned out, I encountered only a few bugs in the evening.  No problem.

I headed back to camp along the same trail.  It was close to a 30′ drop off to the water in some places so I was watching carefully where I put my feet.  I also had my hat brim down since I was walking into the sun.  WHAM!!  I found myself on the ground with a pounding head.  I looked up and saw a rather large tree limb that had grown over the trail right at (my) head level.

The good news was, I landed on my ass.  Falling to the left would not have been a good idea.

(Note to self:  Wear bike helmet when hiking)

5:30 PM…Beer thirty.  A pretty good place to relax before dinner (and pretty good refreshments too)

7:00 PM…Dinner finished. I had cold roasted chicken, potato salad, and coleslaw.  Afterwards, I checked on the boat.  Fossil Bay was glassy…

…and got even more beautiful as the sun started to set.

Here’s my campsite about the same time of day from the other side of Fossil Bay…

I took a short hike on South Ev Henry trail above Fox Cove.

The sunsets at Sucia are magnificent.  Here’s a few views over Fox Cove.

I went to bed soon after dark.  Not much else to do.  I did stay up long enough to snap the reflection of the moon in Fox Cove…

Around midnight, the wind came up a little, I could hear the foghorn at the lighthouse on Pados Island, and some horn honking and other commotion in the harbor.  I never did find out what the ruckus was about, but I hope it was someone being alerted that they were dragging anchor and not just rude boaters.  When I was up then, I noticed the sky was just chuck full of stars.  No light pollution out here.

7:00 AM Friday…Breakfast.  Juice and a breakfast cookie.  I had brought along our little single burner back packing stove so I heated water and milk for my morning Notte (a term Zack coined meaning Latte without the foam).

It was a unexpectedly foggy this morning to the east across Fossil…

Not so to the west over Fox Cove…

8:00 AM…North Ev Henry.  I’d seen the trailhead for this hike many times, but never taken it.  It was a great way to start the day.  The fog made things more interesting.   Where you could normally see Orcas Island across the strait, it looked like this…

I couldn’t figure out this sign which was at the start of a side trail…

…so I followed the side trail.  It led to this…

Point Ev Henry.  So the point of the sign was to point to the point!

9:00 AM…I set out for Shallow Bay.  I knew I wasn’t going anywhere in the boat with this fog, so I decided to hike to Shallow Bay, China Caves, and Lawson Bluff.

Just a handful of boats anchored in Shallow Bay…

…including this beautifully restored old cruiser…

The trail is a semicircle around most of the bay.  It changes elevation several times.  Here is a view from one of the higher points looking down on the sandy beach just north of China Caves…

Here’s the beach up close…

China Caves is so named because rumor has it that Chinese illegal immigrants were hidden here awaiting transport to the mainland for work on the railroads, mines, etc.  I would put this in the “tall tale” category.

Lawson Bluff is on the north end of Shallow Bay.  It offered a great view of Patos Island…

I walked most of the Lawton Bluff trail, but it became a little “sketchy” for me so I doubled back and headed back to Fossil Bay and my camp.

Noon…Back at camp.  I picked up a cart at the dock on my way back to camp.  I finished off the chicken from the previous night and an apple for lunch.  I took down the tent and packed my gear into the cart and headed for the boat.

It was an easy cruise back to Bellingham.  Again, Georgia Strait and Hale Passage were flat.  Bellingham Bay had the usual chop, but with the wind behind me I didn’t have to slow down much.    I was back to Bellingham in 45 minutes.

A great trip!  Sucia Island is one of the top 10 boating destinations in the world, and we LIVE here.  Pretty neat.

All pictures here if you want to see more.

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The North Cascades

We had scheduled camping trips to the North Cascades before, but something always seemed to come up to make us cancel.  Not this summer.  We blocked out the week of the 19th of August and were determined to make it happen.  After all, we have lived here in Bellingham for 8 years but have never spent time in what was reported to be one of the most beautiful areas on the planet…the North Cascades.  AND, they are less then 2 hours from our house.  No excuses.

We left shortly after lunch on Monday and were at the Visitor Center at the National Park Headquarters in Newhalem by 2 PM.  There are two campgrounds with running water and flush toilets in the Park…one at Newhalem and one further up Highway 20 at Colonial Creek.  We had done some research on line and with friends ahead of time and had decided we wanted to camp at Colonial Creek.  It was closer to the “action” we were interested in.  This was confirmed by the Ranger we spoke with at the Visitor Center.  We  also got a good area orientation from her and some ideas for hikes we had not considered  and details on ones we had.

Newhalem was built by Seattle City Light in the 1920’s as housing for their workers who constructed the first dam on the Skagit River that formed Gorge Lake.  SCL went on to construct two more dams on the Skagit…one that formed Diablo Lake and the other that formed Ross Lake.  In total, Seattle City Light gets 25% of it’s electrical power from these three dams and 87% in total from hydroelectric sources.  All the Skagit River dams are above the portion of the river that salmon were able to get to, so the dams have not affected salmon spawning.   The Skagit River has 3,000 tributaries fed by over 400 glaciers.  The river provides 30% of all fresh water flowing into Puget Sound and 50% of Puget Sound’s Chinook Salmon population.    It is one of the largest nesting grounds for Bald Eagles in North America.  Pretty impressive watershed!

We left Newhalem headed for Colonial Creek.  We made one stop at the Gorge Dam overlook…

This is the oldest of the three dams, but has been “modernized” from it’s original 1920’s configuration.  The power plant for this dam is actually at Newhalem…about 3 miles down river.

Next stop…Colonial Creek.  A beautiful campground on the Thunder Arm of Diablo Lake. The campground was pretty sparsely populated and we had our choice of many prime spots.  We picked the perfect one, of course!

We had brought along our kitchen/dining room tent this time anticipating that there might be bugs. Deb here (always in italics):  We also were checking to see if we still need or want to keep the dining tent.  It was nice to have it, so it will stay around for a few more seasons.  There were a few bugs in the evening so it was a smart move.  You can see the “bear box” on the left side of the site.  This was a real bonus and made storing the cooler and food much safer.

We thought there might be a burn ban this late in the season, but not so.  We cook as much as possible over an open fire.  Somehow it just tastes better.

More campground pictures here.

Tuesday, the plan was to do the Thunder Knob hike from the campground, visit the “official” Diablo Lake overlook, hike down to Ross Dam, and work in a trip back to Newhalem for firewood.  We woke up at first light when a Pileated Woodpecker began drumming on the trees in the campground.  (A treat for me!)

After breakfast, we headed for Thunder Knob.  

We crossed Colonial Creek, which jumped its banks in 2003 and now is a sprawling, fast running creek.  It takes two long, log bridges and a few portages to get completely across.

And had some great views on the way to the summit…

Once at the top, Diablo Lake was spread out beneath us.

It is a BEAUTIFUL color due to the “glacial flour” contained in the tributaries that feed it.

More Thunder Knob Hike pictures here.

Next stop, the official Diablo Lake overlook just up Highway 20.  We had a different angle on the lake.  Just as beautiful as from Thunder Knob.  While we were watching the lake from the top of Thunder Knob, we noticed a barge being moved across the lake.  The barge was carrying two large dump trucks loaded with dirt.  We watched them dock and unload.  It became obvious that this was a regular ferry service on Diablo Lake.

Then, up Highway 20 to the trailhead to Ross Dam.  This was described for us by a Ranger as “3/4 mile down and 5 miles back up”.  It was rather steep, but we are better “up” than “down” and had the opposite experience.  Also, we were aware that the store in Newhalem closed at 5, so we did a bit of a forced march on the way up.  Good to know we can still hike briskly uphill!

This is the biggest of the three Seattle City Light dams and pretty impressive up close.  I was thinking that in the spring, when the snow melts, the spillways would be completely transformed by the flowing water.

From the dam, we could see Ross Lake Resort, which is a private resort in the National Park.  Semi-deluxe cabins that are actually floating on Ross Lake. I think ‘semi-deluxe’ means shared bathrooms.  Possibly next year?

We scrambled back up the hill and headed for Newhalem.  Our goal was firewood, but somehow we also ended up with strawberry ice cream.  Go figure.  A fitting reward for our fast hiking up from Ross Dam.  Do you think I really ate two ice cream cones?  Delish!

More overlook/Ross Dam pictures here.

Back at camp that evening, we determined that we weren’t going to let the lack of shower facilities turn us in to smelly campers.  We figured out we could wash our hair at the water tap down the road and ourselves in the dining tent after dark.  It actually worked quite well and opens up a whole new set of campgrounds for us since we have previously limited our camping to only those campgrounds that had hot showers.

Wednesday was “big hike” day.  We were going to do the 7+ mile Maple Pass loop that starts at Rainy Pass on Highway 20 about 25 miles up the road.  Rainy Pass is at 4,800 feet and Maple Pass is at 6,800 feet.  We were looking forward to some REAL altitude.

Before the hike, we went further east past Rainy Pass to Washington Pass.  Washington Pass is 5,300′ with some fantastic vistas from the rest stop there.  At the Washington Pass Overlook, we met a young couple from Duluth, MN and swapped stories and photo taking services with them.  The overlook is like a park and some of the view points are marked not only with place descriptions and names but also by poems and short essays.  There is also a plaque commemorating the men who had the vision for a northern cross-state highway and brought it to reality.  We cheered for them!

More Washington Pass pictures here.

Back to Rainy Pass and THE HIKE.

It is real tough to describe this beautiful hike.  You start in a fir and cedar forest, climb through every other “zone” to the tree line and beyond.  Around every turn is something new and beautiful.  The hike centers around Lake Ann.  We climbed around the north side of the lake, arrived at Maple Pass on the west side, then descended on the south side between Lake Ann and Rainy Lake.  There are two passes: first, Heather Pass (6200 ft) and then Maple Pass (6600 ft.).  The trail tops out at 7000 ft.  Between these two passes is a sort of saddle.   The higher we went on this hike, the more wild flowers we saw: columbine, Indian paint brush, pearly everlasting, phlox, etc.  The meadows were bright with flowers! On the way down, we saw several Clark’s Nutcrackers, a yellow warbler, a few yellow-rumped warblers and one little brown bird.

This was not the only place on our hike when it looked like the trail was taking us out into thin air.  I often reminded myself to ‘trust the trail’.  The trail always continued along a safe and doable path.  There were times it took my breath away – like on this ridge – but that is part of the adventure.

More Maple Pass Hike pictures here.

Thursday we packed up camp in a leisurely sort of way and hiked the campground’s nature walk.  Another beautiful walk through the woods and across several types of terrain, including a boulder field.  We saw a Northern Goshawk fly in and perch on a brushy log, looking for good things to eat.  A local chipmunk sent out the alarm, chipping loud and long.  Satisfied we’d done what we came to do, we headed for Diablo Dam (which happened to be on the way home).  You can actually drive on Diablo Dam and the road across the dam leads to the North Cascades Institute.

Check out the link above to the Institute.  Pretty cool!  We knew about the Institute because our grandchildren each got to attend Mountain School there for a week during 4th  grade.  They came home with stories.  We plan to participate in some of their programs next year.  Food, lodging, SHOWERS, and an education.  Hard to beat.

More Diablo Dam pictures here.

We had a picnic lunch in Newhalem and reluctantly headed home.  We are so stoked to have the San Juan Islands at our doorstep and the North Cascades a short drive away.  Hard to beat!  True!

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Oyster Dome – Anniversary Hike

Friday, July 12, 2013 was our 45th wedding anniversary.  We wanted to do something special.  It’s been a beautiful summer and we haven’t done enough hiking, soooo we decided to hike Oyster Dome on Blanchard Mountain in the Chuckanuts just south of Bellingham.  It’s at about 2,000 feet, but we chose to start at Samish Overlook which is about half way from the bay to the top (we ARE getting old, you know <grin>).

We drove south on I5 just south of Lake Samish to exit 240 (Alger).  Went west on Samish Lake Road to Barrel Springs Road, then right on a gravel road for 3.5 miles that took us to Samish Overlook.

Blanchard Forest and Chuckanut Mountain Trail Map

Samish Overlook by itself is worth the trip.  It has beautiful vistas to the west of Samish Island, Annacortes, and the San Juans…


…and to the south of the Skagit Valley.  It is located just above where Chuckanut Drive emerges from the mountains.


It was about 3 miles from Samish Overlook to Oyster Dome…about 1.5 hours.  The trail was relatively easy (only 1,000′ elevation gain in 3 miles), with a few steep sections.


We made it to the top just about lunch time.


There were several other people on the dome enjoying the view.


180 degrees from Whidby Island to Lumi…

Those three “little” boats in the video are humongous oil tankers waiting to offload at Anacortes to give you some idea of scale.

We had a great bagel, grilled chicken, crisp apple lunch and headed back down.

We topped off the day with a fantastic dinner at Dashi….

Dashi Noodle Bar

Totally Bellingham! (be sure to watch the video).

A great day!  45 wonderful years!!

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Pt. Foghorn Leghorn

Mimi and I went on one of our favorite short hikes today…Point Whitehorn.  It is a fairly new county park at the mouth of Birch Bay…maybe 20 minutes north of here.

A half mile walk through a mostly deciduous forest (some Cedars and Sitka Spruce), then on to a typical pebble Salish Sea beach.

We changed the name early on to Pt. Foghorn Leghorn after the cartoon character…

A drizzly, overcast day (so, what else is new?), but we had fun.

The trail was a little soggy…

…but just as interesting as in the summer.  Plenty of birds, squirrels, plants to identify, stories to make up.

Nearing the coast, there were several overlooks…

Then down to the beach.  Mimi pointing out Orcas Island over the tip of the north part of Lummi.

Mimi Three Hat…

The stairs from the beach were decorated with crab trap floats found on the beach…


View from the cliff…

Hidden sculpture…

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