Travelog of Southwestern British Columbia and the Cascades, 2011

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Domination of Eiler Journal #23: Spring Offensive against British Columbia
May 2011

If you count by journal number, this may look like the first Domination of Eiler offensive since 2009. That's because everything since then (including the Transcontinental Expedition of 2010) was normal life at the time, so it shows up in "blog" posts. But now the Domination has regular mercenary work. So it's back to putting expeditions and the rest of life in separate boxes.

What Is the Domination of Eiler?

In one sense, "The Domination of Eiler" is a political entity modeled upon the Holy Roman Empire. Which is to say, it works through national and local political entities, but transcends nation-state boundaries. You may already be a citizen without knowing it!

In another sense, "The Domination of Eiler" is a pen name for an amateur but very prolific web journalist. Perhaps you may enjoy these travel writings, given this simple guide:

  • The Domination of Eiler is led by, of course, the Dominator.
  • The Domination has recently established its world headquarters in Bothell-Washington, and is actively expanding its holdings nearby.

  • Day 0: Friday 6 May 2011

    Until recently, an oil dump site.
    The spirit of Skykomish-Washington. See also:
  • The More Official Sign
  • Main Street
  • Rebuilding
  • Expedition went straight from work to previously-arranged quarters in Skykomish-Washington. This took an hour of driving, just to get to a place in the same county. It's (mostly) not that roads were slow; at 60 miles per hour, the Vehicle of Dominance was the slowest thing on the twisty mountain road. The county's just big, from seashore to mountains.

    A hotel on the way in Gold Key-Washington submitted lowest bid, but it was karaoke night at that hotel bar, and they weren't confident about noise level. Neither is Skykomish, but their hotel at least said it's their policy to tell people to be quiet.

    Tonight is a quiet Friday night in Skykomish anyway. Five patrons at the only bar in town, even counting the two playing ping pong in the back room. One or two patrons in the restaurant down the street, which is what tonight's hotel offers instead of karaoke. Bar for fried seafood with potato wedges ("Jo Jo's"), restaurant for pie.

    Trains are an exception to the quiet. The town of Skykomish was created alongside the Great Northern Railroad where it crosses Stevens Pass to get to Seattle. The whole town is practicaly a historic site.

    The railroad is still very active. (Amtrak even comes through here. And Amtrak hardly counts as active.) Great Northern practically owns this town. Which isn't saying much, because it's about six blocks long. Still, they used to illegally dump waste oil here, or release oil and heavy metals into the environment due to historic railroad activities, depending on whom you ask. The town is still recovering. Hence the lack of businesses.

    Tourists are an oddity here too, at least this time of year. Which is fine. Early May is a lovely time to come here, if you don't mind the lack of sun and snow. Which the Dominator doesn't. Now that metro Seattle is starting to top 60 degrees more than once every two weeks, it's getting too hot. A nice cool week in the mountains should be a nice temporary cure. He's even getting flashbacks to one of those rainy Nova Scotia vacations.

    People in the sunnier parts of the Domination of Eiler sometimes imagine that when they get half a week of rain which never stops, it's like Seattle. Not quite true. At least for the rainy half of the year, rain stops almost every day in Seattle. On the occasions when the sun shines all day, some Seattleites discuss online where to hide from it. The Dominator gets by with sunglasses.

    ... Well, that's about all to say about Skykomish. Time to go watch ping pong.

    Day 1: Saturday 7 May 2011

    Over the Mountain
    Stevens Pass, Leavenworth, Wenatchee, and Chelan-Washington.
    The spirit of Leavenworth-Washington. See also:
  • Log Cabin, Concrete Floor, Dental Office
  • Skykomish was restful. The expedition moved out in most excellent order at 9 am.

    The highway over Stevens Pass submitted massively scenic views of fog-shrouded mountains with snow cap right down to the road. Snow avalanche might even still be a danger in some places. Temperature at the top of the pass was 35 degrees.

    By 10:15 the force was on station in the first town over the mountain: Leavenworth-Washington. But the early arrival had a weird effect. The brewery and the town museum weren't open until 11 am or later! So...

    • The town riverfront park submitted a view of white-water rafters, plus a new hiking stick (the first one since the Transcontinental Expedition).
    • The town shopping district submitted accessories for the new stick, at a sensible drug store, plus a beer cozy labeled "Man Store". It was necessary to support the Man Store, because every other shop in town is cute stuff under fake Bavarian storefronts.
    • Town museum, local history, check. Pining for the glory days of the railroad, mostly. Leavenworth took on its Bavarian theme after rejecting Scandinavian, Wild West, and Gay Nineties themes.
    • Icicle Brewing Company, ceremonial beer, check. Consumed outdoors on patio while preparing the new stick.

    That lasted just over two hours. That was enough for Leavenworth. Next up, Wenatchee.

    • Target of opportunity: historical museum and pioneer village in Cashmere. Mostly collection mania, as witness the log cabin with the concrete floor, remodeled as a dentist office.
    • Scenic views: Fields of trees in blossom. Target city Wenatchee is having its Apple Blossom Festival this weekend.

    Wenatchee would be worth staying a night under normal conditions. It is a rival to Yakima-Washington in both agriculture and ambiance. But local intelligence indicated, hotels were full. Possibly not true, but also not worth contesting. Still...

    • Galaxy Comics submitted free comics for the Domination holiday of Free Comic Book Day! Limit of ten, which is the most generous limit ever seen. But by five, the selection was getting down to Richie Rich.
    • Town museum: Glitzy. History since the Ice Age, check. Artifacts, check. Bonus: Big wall of apple carton labels.
    • Festival: Bypassed. Deejay doing a live broadcast from an ammo store: Bypassed. But saw the deejay while listening to him on car radio!

    Final target: Chelan-Washington. Town museum, closed weekends. Heh, that's different. But there are Montana-style mountains, a lakefront, and a good choice of hotels and restaurants. Nap time was conquered at a small inn.

    Here over the mountain, we get Seattle channels on cable TV and root for the same sports teams. And it's mostly sunny now, though it was mostly sunny with showers all the way here. But people here whine when they get a season of weather resembling Seattle. One local was saying, the Cascades are supposed to protect them from that. Oh well.

    Day 2: Sunday 8 May 2011

    Across the Border
    Two nations's shares of obscure wine country.
    The Border
    The border crossing. See also:
  • A Really Up-To-Date Museum Exhibit
  • Church in Chelan: Disciples of Christ. They seem to thrive in the inter-mountain West. This church worshipped in much the same way as 100 years ago.

    Next target: Okanoagan-Washington, up U.S. Highway 97. It has a historical museum, open seven days a week... but only after Memorial Day.

    Target of opportunity: the Depot Museum in Oroville-Washington. The docent was very surprised to find a tourist in her museum today, but she got used to it. That museum has rotating exhibits; this year's is war memorabilia, from the Civil War to last week's big news in the paper.

    By then there was practically nothing between the advancing force and Canada. So, the expedition crossed the border. Canadian border authorities are much less suspicious of travellers who say they have a job. Though admittedly, they might have been distracted by two columns of peace marchers meeting at the border.

    Had a ceremonial beer from a brewery pub in Osoyoos, just 3 km across the border. Judging from tourist brochures, every town along this stretch of road fancies itself a wine country resort town. After today's advances, the expedition now has five days to accomplish about ten hours of driving. This could be a very lazy vacation.

    Canadian wine country actually looks pretty impressive. The nearby American side is ranch country instead. The Canadian side has some winery bed-and-breakfasts, which show potential. But tonight the expedition pressed on to the double-lakefront town. That could have been a miscalculation.

    Fancy barracks in run-down town... Penticton-BC has two different lakefronts, with about 5 km of strip malls in between. The expedition chose a fancy bed-and-breakfast (Casa Grande Inn) along the northern "downtown" lakefront, but on Sunday night it's like the neutron bomb went off there. The life is all at the strip mall district.

    • Almost accidentally rode the bus two miles to the local brewery (Barley Mill Brew Pub) for dinner. When the driver stopped for ten minutes at a time point, she actually took out a broom and swept the bus clean - into a bin, not onto the street. Canadian bus.
    • Dinner trips like this are usually a job for a bicycle. Unfortunately, the bike stayed at home on this trip to avoid the continuous rain over the mountains. A taxi will be doing the honors on the return trip to barracks. But the brewery has $10 Off coupons for taxis! How sensible.

    So far, every hotel and restaurant along the way has had Wi-Fi service. The Domination of Eiler has risen to the occasion, with its Linux netbook computer which has the power of a development station. (The Domination's engineers loan it to the phone company sometimes, to do image editing with open source software that the company can't afford.) So, even in the middle of nowhere, this is the most online vacation ever. Even if half the world is starving, the modern age has its advantages.

    Day 3: Monday 9 May 2011

    Day by the Lake
    Kelowna-British Columbia.
    The Neighborhood
    Tonight's neighborhood is significant enough to get a museum display. See also:
  • View from Lake Level - With Hippies and Policeman
  • View from Hilltop Level - With Log Corrals
  • Woke up at lakefront B&B in Penticton, thanks to landlady's helpful dog who barks when the owner comes in. At bed and breakfasts, it's always something.

    Declared a short day today. 66 km to next target town, Kelowna-BC. Lakefront, brewery, museums, and another B&B all submitted... sort of.

    • Town Visitor Center was most helpful. They not only called a place for a room for the night, they comparison-shopped on their own initiative. Parking throughout town requires payment, but they'll give you a four-hour parking pass for use at garages.
    • Target of opportunity: A used bookstore submitted books of revolution and apocalypse, including a scholarly account of 1848 and a dystopian future flooding story about 1983, for a total of $2. They threw a 1983 survivalist novel by a semi-famous militia sympathizer in for free. This part of Canada (at least) might be disrespectful of survivalists.
    • Okanagan Heritage Museum submitted a small town's worth of exhibits, wrapped in a large town's building and fancy exhibit scheme. Admission by donation. $6 recommended, $5 submitted, $3 more appropriate.
    • BC Wine Museum submitted an annex off the local government-sanctioned wine shop. It did at least point out that wine grapes grow best in semi-deserts (hence much of Western Hemisphere west coast wine country, plus Middle Eastern wine country for that matter), and that Christianity helped spread wine cultivation through Europe as part of Judeo-Christian sacraments and heritage. Free admission.
    • Tree Brewing Company submitted a tasting room, but not a brewpub. $2 mandatory donation for four sampler glasses. Doc Willoughby's Pub handles their full-size drafts, and provides a nice dark nurturing environment when it's crazy sunny out.
    • Unconquered thus far: Okanagan Military Museum and BC Orchard Museum (both closed Mondays) and Knox Mountain Park (far for a hike when it's crazy sunny out). But By the Bridge Bed and Breakfast is close enough to downtown for a nap, and is tucked away in a neighborhood mostly without the Canadian equivalent of bums, which puts it ahead of several fancy hotels. It's in a suburban-style house. The Dominator apparently has the Princess bedroom. It's always something...
    • Walked home for nap via town beach, with view of snow-capped hills. Swarms of Canadians were greeting the first day of Canadian spring. That alone was enough to make the whole day worthwhile.
    • Came back out after nap for pub dinner (O'Flannigans or some such place). Caught up on some reading, and watched the Dominator's Seattle hockey team the Vancouver Canucks beat the Dominator's Nashville hockey team the Nashville Predators... It's not always certain what team to root for in the Domination of Eiler.
    • A sensible dessert of steamed milk afterward, at a coffee place other than Starbucks. Though one supposes Starbucks is actually local here, just like Seattle news on cable TV.

    Day 4: Tuesday 10 May 2011

    Back to the Ranch
    Vernon and Kamloops-British Columbia.
    Bird and Stick
    One tired bird, saved from a historical village. See also:
  • Someone Thinks the Victorians Liked Pink
  • They Air-Condition the Room with the Stoves
  • Today is a rolling attack, starting with holdout targets in Kelowna.

    • Knox Mountain Park, Kelowna: Scenic view conquered. No sticks, though. The coastal woods will have to submit that particular bounty.
    • BC Orchard Museum, Kelowna: Oddly unconquered still, though their back office and ballroom was open! From the ballroom one can get a glimpse of orchard memorabilia in the exhibit room. It wasn't really worth asking someone to open the room.
    • Okanagan Military Museum, Kelowna: Military memorabilia conquered, including maps of what the Canadians proudly accomplished at Vimy Ridge, Dieppe, and Juno Beach.
    • Okanagan Springs Brewery, Vernon: Had directional signs up on the road, but no tour! The friendly fruit distillery next door took up the slack, though: they gave tastings. The Domination of Eiler reciprocated by buying $60 worth of fruit brandy, which will easily pass border control and fit in a small shopping bag with room for several days worth of tourist brochures.
    • Town museum in Vernon submitted some actual provincial history! They told the story of the BC Dragoon military force of the Okanagan Valley at least as well as the military museum did. And they told the provincial origin story as well as the BC Museum in Victoria did. (The story may be summed up: Eek, Americans messing with our fur trade and our gold fields!)
    • O'Keefe Ranch just outside Vernon submitted lunch, beer from the Okanagan Springs Brewery, and a Victorian ranch tour. $12, but worth it.
    • During the tour, the Dominator came across one of his bird-citizens failing to make it out a glass window from inside a cabin. The Dominator invoked emergency privilege while no one was looking, put some historic glassware aside, and opened a window. But by then the bird preferred to roost on the Domination's new Stick of Leavenworth and get carried out. Really. That was one tired bird.

    By then it was about 2:30 pm, but the day's target of Kamloops was just over one hour's drive away. And there's nothing much beyond there, until near the coast.

    The Domination's expedition maniacally drove along lightly travelled highland roads, largely accompanied by Ravi Shankar music now programmed onto the Conquering Cell Phone. Got into town around 4 pm, right about when museums were closing. Fine. Shelter is the priority at that hour anyway. Then dinner.

    • Did a small amount of comparison shopping for downtown hotels. All expensive. Settled on City Center Inn which at least has free parking and an indoor pool.
    • Downtown Kamloops was a target because it has a brewery. The Noble Pig Brew Pub submitted a fancy mushroom sandwich and some awesome Belgian-style peppered ale.
    • After dinner, an apparent BC restaurant chain Kelly O'Bryan's submitted lemon cake and some more beer of the Okanagan Springs Brewery. And locals were gathered there for a party. Hey, local chain is still local. And this was outdoors on the sidewalk for once! Might as well enjoy outdoor cafe weather.

    Day 5: Wednesday 11 May 2011

    Sky to Mountain
    Even down near the bottom of the Sea to Sky Highway, they're still skiing.
    The Spirit of Whistler
    Olympic brewery in Whistler-BC. See also:
  • An Upland Lake
  • Subdued the Kamloops Museum before leaving town. Town history, check.

    Today is a travel day. The next major target is Whistler-BC, home of an Olympic park city to rival anything in Utah. Though it's four hours' drive from Kamloops, it's been expediently chosen because there's practically nothing in between.

    Getting from Kamloops to Whistler requires three major right-angle turns from reality.

    1. The first takes you off the newly built express highway to Vancouver, onto the old Trans-Canada Highway which is considered the scenic Fraser Gold Rush route.
    2. The second takes you off that highway onto the road which goes north, ultimately to Alaska. But that's a popular road in British Columbia. The province is improving it.
    3. The third takes you onto a road which leads back to Vancouver, over the mountains the most convoluted way possible. At the sea end they call it the Sea to Sky Highway. At the sky end they call it Route 99, and only paid drivers or crazy people drive it, at least this time of year.

    Near the sky end of the Sea to Sky Highway, there actually are hotels and tourism. One can take a Victorian ranch tour, and find how the successful immigrants sold food to the get-rich-quick schemers... which is inspiring, but the Domination of Eiler already learned that lesson yesterday. So it just stocked up on tasteful earrings made out of local jade and hematite at a nearby gift shop.

    So, over the mountains again.

    • Pulled over at a hydro-dam recreation area on the way, and conquered a new hiking stick of sturdy hickory. British Columbia, check.
    • Not a lot of traffic. And at least on this mountain road, even the tanker trucks pull over to let people pass when they can. The Domination took advantage three times and yielded once.
    • But the roads themselves were scary. Temperatures got down to 37F degrees. One lake was still frozen. And there was unidentified white stuff on the roads. Maybe those crafty Canadians build their roads out of shiny quartz just to scare people, but it seemed safest to assume it was ice.

    Still, after 4.5 hours of hard driving, the expedition came into Whistler-BC. The town has a major attitude, because people are still skiing here even in May.

    • Other British Columbia towns may have only paid parking, but their Visitor Centres will give you a coupon for free parking. In Whistler, you have to pay to park even at the Visitor Centre.
    • At other British Columbia towns, the Visitor Centre will call for hotel rooms for you. In Whistler, they just give you a phone which links to a reception desk, which insists that you recite your credit card number over the phone while people are listening. Um, isn't that the sign of a scam? The Dominator responded by whispering and sticking his head down a wastebasket.
    • In every town the Domination cares to occupy, parking is either free or takes a token fee. In Whistler, the tourist bureau claims every hotel charges $22 extra for the privilege of parking your car there.
    • (To Whistler's credit, there's an unverified rumor that hybrid cars park free. That is good for the Domination of Eiler. 30.4 mpg average for the trip. On some of those downhill stretches, the vehicle was not only on electric motor, the motor was charging!)

    In Whistler, won through to an "instant deal" hotel: Crystal Lodge. It was on the other end of town from the local brewery, but that just meant ten minutes' walk. It'll be spa time later, then early bed time.

    Bypassed many, many cute shops on the way to dinner. When the revolution comes and the Domination of Eiler assumes formal power, it will give Whistler over to the nearby depressed First Nations - provided they keep the ski slopes running for the amusement of the Domination's citizenry, and don't just turn it into another casino town. If they loot it instead, set up roadside vending stands for the contents, and turn the buildings into animal pens, sweat lodges, and authentic First Nations historic guest lodging, that would be awesome.

    Also bypassed dessert back in the hotel. Its Wi-Fi has a paranoid hotel web page login which doesn't play nicely with the Domination's preferred operating system.

    • The technical analysis went round and round... "But our Wi-Fi works for everyone else" / "But my computer works at even the humblest bed and breakfasts". The tech support is some guy in Vancouver, and was unavailable for comment.
    • This hotel found no solution. It immediately lost the right to offer dessert. So did the nearest restaurant, for similar reasons. Finally settled on another BC-local chain restaurant, which uses standard Wi-Fi security. What a concept.
    • Merchants of the Domination of Eiler: It is your job to attract customers, not customers' to adapt themselves to you.

    Day 6: Thursday 12 May 2011

    Mountain to Sea
    Sea is much more restful than mountain.
    The Spirit of Squamish
    Pining for the railroad glory days. See also:
  • First Nations Artifact, Suspiciously Like an Auto
  • Second Nations Artifact, Suspiciously Like a Train
  • Whistler has two museums: one for the town, another for the First Nations. The latter has lots of artifacts of recent manufacture (at least they're keeping their craft tradition alive), but no historical exhibits between "First Man and First Woman heard someone dancing on their roof" and "In 2010 we built our cultural center in conjunction with the Olympics". Couldn't find the other museum due to parking barricades. Left town in disgust.

    The expedition is even now holed up in the Howe Sound Inn and Brewing Company, 60 km down the road in Squamish. This is the only major target for today's offensive, though there is a rail museum in town also. There will definitely be nap time today. But let the coastlands wait expectantly, for tomorrow the Domination of Eiler conquers the real-life town of Britannia Beach!

    Day 7: Friday 13 May 2011

    Britannia Beach
    Where the fate of vacation is decided.
    The Spirit of Britannia Beach
    Pining for the mining glory days. See also:
  • Inside the Mine Building
  • Britannia Beach Other Than the Old Mine
  • Border Landmark
  • Border Non-Landmark
  • Straight out of Squamish in the morning, went to the Britannia Mine Museum in historic Britannia Beach, once the largest copper mine in the British Empire.

    • The Domination of Eiler has taken an interest in the real-life community of Britannia Beach, ever since the Domination set some fiction there. This vacation was arranged to arrive at Britannia Beach one way or another. Though it took almost a week, Domination has finally come.
    • In the fiction, Britannia Beach was enhanced to have holiday condos. Real Britannia Beach has a post office, some gift shops, and just enough houses to hold the people who welcome the tourists to town.
    • The tourist attraction is the mine, of course. It's big enough that Britannia Beach still shows up in place of Squamish in CBC weather maps. It's awesome enough to charge $20 for the full mine tour, including underground train. But today, four busloads of schoolchildren had pre-reserved the entire morning of tours. The Domination patrol settled for the $10 self-guided tour of historic buildings. Still decent for a historical village.
    • The tour pointed out, Britannia Beach had happy residents. (Those who weren't happy were fired.) They had great community spirit too... until the Gov finally built a road from Vancouver in the 1950s and ruined everything. But the longtimers still cried when they closed the mine in 1974.
    • Even now, Britannia Beach contributes to world culture. Its major mine building (the ore sorter) was filmed as the monster factory for Scooby-Doo II!

    After Britannia Beach, the vacation was open. If anything had looked wonderful, it could have hosted two more nights. But there were no resorts to match (say) Squamish or Kamloops. Vancouver itself was full of traffic, therefore not attractive. Coastal points south of there were built around mud flats. So, just went home. More time to recover from vacation.

    This vacation shows these major signs of success: new lands conquered, historical attractions every day, and breweries too. All Hail the Domination!

    The Domination of Eiler believes in free sharing of information. But if you wish to reproduce significant parts of the commentary within, be aware that it is © copyright 2011 by Eiler Technical Enterprises. And have a niiiice daay.