Thursday, August 22, 2013

We're hanging out in Coulee City...

....at a cool City Park Campground & Marina near the very large and famous Grand Coulee Dam.  We have a few days before crossing the border into British Columbia and this area provides sightseeing options and a nice place to organize our junk, subject to inspection and close scrutiny by border agents, as well as fairly close proximity for a day's drive to our next destination, Okanagan Lake Provincial Park.  We're pretty excited about this as we haven't visited this area in several years.


Banks Lake created by the Grand Coulee Dam


By the mighty Columbia, up-river from the dam
History lesson

We've gone through our to-do list many times:  yes, I remembered to renew my 10 year old passport in time, we broke the bank buying 4 new tires and 5 new batteries, we remembered not to stock up on wine and liquor, we don't carry guns, and questionable produce will be tossed.  

We've crossed a few borders in our 18 years and our Canadian friends often do this at least twice a year, many going on into Mexico.  We would never consider going to Mexico without checking with our insurance company (GMAC) so how in heaven's name did we forget to call re our trip to Canada; until yesterday, that is!  Our insurance covers both vehicles but our broker informed us we need insurance cards showing Canadian coverage, and no, they can't fax them to us, they must be the original.  No, they cannot FedEx but will send two-day Priority mail to a general delivery address.  So, we are at the mercy of the USPS.  Why do I not feel comfortable with this.

I remembered to call Verizon to see what our calling and data options are and ended up talking to 3 different customer service representatives, each one giving me a different plan and cost. The last person actually started making sense and we settled on the Canada/Mexico coverage for one month which gives us 1000 minutes, 1000 texts, and 4 GB of shared data between our two devices; the smart phone and Jetpack Mifi.  The 4 gig limit might be a problem but we'll hopefully pick up stray wifi from time to time.  The cost was only $15 more than we pay now for 450 minutes and 1000 texts, plus 7 combined GB of data, which we never use (except when the Garmin map updater goes crazy during the night when you forget to turn the computer off, dummy!). Wow, I say, that is pretty reasonable and then I am informed that my current plan is very outdated and a quick analysis would yield much greater savings.  Why, I asked, didn't Verizon inform me when a cheaper plan became available.  Oh no, we don't do that, our customers prefer not to be bothered.....Seriously!  I am frustrated at this point....

So let's go do fun things and see sights, dammit!  We've been driving alongside the mighty Columbia River and our campground is located at the south end of Banks Lake, created by the Grand Coulee Dam.  Following the lakeshore north we pass lots of day use sites, more campgrounds and state parks with boating, jet-skiing, and fishing in abundance.  We drive through Electric City where there is a great Safeway Market and into the very cute Town of Coulee Dam.  The dam looms large ahead and we pull off at an overlook.  We meet nice folks from Cape Cod who take our picture and tell us about places to visit with names like Provincetown and Falmouth, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket.  Our non-existent itinerary for going east this fall takes on more potential non-destinations.


Grand Coulee Dam overlook
One of the largest concrete structures in the world!

Great interactive exhibits in the Visitor Center

The visitor's center is very impressive with rooms of interactive exhibits and lots of information. There are dam tours hourly, and laser light shows at night, and a large, grassy day use picnic area.  Grand Coulee is one of the largest concrete structures in the world, and the largest power-producing facility in the US.  It is an impressive work of engineering.


Now, let's hope our insurance cards arrive tomorrow!

Follow us to Canada!

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