Tuesday, July 24, 2012

White Rock, British Columbia, by Margaret Ullrich, part 24, Transplanting

Things have settled down in our neighbourhood.
The boy's body was found.
He hadn't been mugged.
Apparently he'd gotten into a disagreement with friends.
Then he decided to run into the pond and go under the surface.

But Winnipeg has reclaimed the title Murder Capital of Canada.
The Winnipeg Free Press even has a map of where the murders happened.
Click on the icons and you can read all about the cases.
Mostly they're clustered in the West End.
Big surprise there.

It's been hot and dry.
We're supposed to get rain tonight.
Our grape vine has tiny green balls.
Our tomato plants have small green balls.
Our zucchini plants have tiny green sticks.
About average for this time of year.

I'm sorry to report there's no sign of our robins.
Mama and babies have left the nest.
We haven't seen them for a couple of days.
No sign of any trouble.
We still have plenty of sparrows and finches.
We're hoping the robins will come back.

About our first few days in the Vancouver area...
On July 16, 1972, late at night, we paid for two nights at the Blue Haven Trailer Park.
It wasn't that great a place.
We just wanted to know we had a place to stay while we got our bearings.

We had crossed the continent.
New York to Vancouver.
We had actually done it.

In hindsight we would have done it differently.
Paced ourselves better.
Driven a few hours each morning, then driven to a campsite in the afternoon.
We'd have time to set up, have a nice meal, walk around.
Maybe even spend a night here and there.

Well, it was a learning experience.
We didn't know a truck could force us off the highway the first day.
We didn't know we'd get two flat tires.
We didn't know the Rockies, the Cascades, the Selkirks and the Coast Mountain Range were so hard to cross.
We didn't know summer is THE tourist season in Canada.
We didn't know to make reservations during the tourist season.
Well that would've implied we would have paced ourselves.
Also that we would've known what we were doing.

But, after our journey, we did know that we could face problems.
No big make up scene like the ending in The Long, Long Trailer.
No major blowup which would have lead to the big make up scene.
We just got through the trip a day at a time, a problem at a time.

Vancouver was a disappointment.
We didn't know what to expect, so our imaginations had run away with us.
At one point during our trip we had discussed whether it would be nicer to have a mountain or lake in our back yard.
We thought we'd be getting a place like Loretta Lynn had in Coal Miner's Daughter.
Like in the scene where she and Doo were designing their new home.
The scene where she explained they should place the bedroom so the sun wouldn't be hitting them in the eyes first thing in the morning.

Vancouver was a city, no doubt about it.
And, if we'd wanted a city, well, we'd just left New York, a honking big one.
What was the point of the trip if we were going to be stuck in another city?
With these thoughts in mind, we went to bed.
Our first night in Vancouver.

After a good night's sleep we felt better.
We washed up and had breakfast.
Vancouver was a city.
Well, we could handle that.
It couldn't be any worse that being at Hell's Gate with a boiling radiator.

Blue Haven wasn't one of the nicest campgrounds we'd seen.
But we were glad we could leave our trailer there for the day.
And we were really glad when we had to park.
Vancouver is hilly.
Instead of parallel parking, one drove into a space by the curb.
As one would do in a shopping mall parking lot.
After parking in the space, either the driver or the passenger would open the door, then fall out of the car.
Well, every city has its little quirks.

We decided to get some advice.
We went to a tourist bureau and explained that we wanted someplace quiet.
He asked if we'd mind being away from Vancouver.
Nope, no problem at all with that.
He was surprised.
Most tourists wanted to be "close to the sights".
We explained, no begged, for something nice and quiet.
Maybe in a park?
We were planning to stay for a few weeks.

He pulled out a few brochures.
One was for the trailer park right across the Lions Gate Bridge.
North Vancouver was quieter in those days.
Paul said no.

There was another trailer park.
Quiet, right by the water, in White Rock.
There were people who stayed for the season there.
Snow birds, he called them.
He pulled out a map and showed us the way to White Rock.

Okay... Hiawatha Trailer Park wasn't in the town of White Rock.
We drove up and down, back and forward, on every street on every hill in town.
There weren't that many streets, but we were wondering if we were the victims of some kind of joke.
And we weren't in the mood for a joke.

We went to our old favorite, A & W, for lunch.
It was becoming an old friend.
We really were getting to know our Papa, Mama and Teen burgers.
Yes, the girl who brought our order knew where Hiawatha was.
No, it wasn't a joke.

We drove to Hiawatha.
It was perfect.
We found a spot up on the hill with the Snowbirds.
We checked out the showers.
We checked out the campground's septic tank.
Hiawatha had it all.

We paid for our first week.
We were told the park was open until Thanksgiving.
We'd be there until the end of November.

Who knew Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving the second Tuesday in October?


  1. LOL LOL LOL, Margaret! I don't think I knew that in 1972 either... oh my. I do agree with you though... Vancouver is a City - not as grand as NYC, but a City none the less. And, the hills. I didn't find them too bad - of course the hills in San Francisco can be pretty hard to navigate so these seemed rather tame to me...

  2. Thank you, Peggy!
    Our trip across Canada was a total learning experience. I guess if we'd known what we were doing, we wouldn't have had the nerve to do it.
    I can't believe how much White Rock and Surrey (where we ended up buying our first home) have grown over the past 40 years.
    We've caught glimpses of San Francisco in movies. Yes, the hills there are amazing!!

  3. What a great story Peggy! My grandparents owned the Hiawatha Campground and I have many fond memories of our summers running the campground for them. (Well, it was my parents running it, us kids just ran around hand had the time of our lives.)

    I loved reading your story and was thrilled that you enjoyed the campground. I could almost picture you up on the hill with the seasonals!

  4. Hi, Carroll! So nice to meet you!

    The Hiawatha Campground was a lovely place. We have many warm memories of when we made our first home in your family's campground. The other seasonals were snowbirds. They took us under their wings and introduced us to a whole new lifestyle. They, and your parents, were just what a young couple needed. They were very patient and helpful when we were learning about our new country.

    Hope all went well with your family. Wishing you all happy vacations in places as nice as the Hiawatha!

  5. I'm wondering if you're referring to the Hiawatha campground near the Canadian/ USA border a stone's throw from the Peace Arch provincial park? If so, my family used to camp there almost every summer. It was such a peaceful place. I loved the little general store they had. As a kid I would love buying candy there. If I recall there was two parking areas - one that was further up a hill. I wish I could see it again as I have many fond memories there (late 70s and early 80s) until I think it became an aboriginal reserve after that. I wish we had smart phones back then as I wish I had video/ pictures of what it looked like. All I have now are vague images in memory.

  6. I'm wondering if you're referring to the same campground that was a stone's throw from Peace Arch Provincial park that my family used to camp at in the late 70s/ early 80s? I was only a kid/ young teen then, and have many fond memories camping there. Although it was a long time ago, I remember it being very peaceful and beautiful. If I recall there were two areas, one up on a hill and one below. When you entered the campground there was a field to the right, plus a small general store to the left where I remember I would buy candy. I wish we had smart phones back then, because I would love to see pictures or videos of that place. All I have left are memories in the corners of my mind. I wish it was still around and you could still camp there. I think it's now an aboriginal reserve.

    1. Yes, it was the Hiawatha, near the U. S. border!
      You're right, there were two levels. The hill was used by people who were staying for the season. After we were there a week it began to feel like a cozy community. We would sit and chat about our travels.
      I'm glad you had good memories of staying there, too. :)


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