The Road Trip begins…

Was it only yesterday that we packed up our belongings in Toronto and flew to Vancouver?  We got a real bucket shop flight at a low cost and reckoned it worked on quite a few levels. In the first instance our road trip is based more on the western side of the country which is over 2000 miles of driving, secondly the quote for the cost of hiring in one city and returning the car to the other side of the country was, on this occasion, $1500 CD, and finally we drove a lot of the Eastern seaboard side last year.  So, our time clocks took a hit (again) and we reached our very smart hotel in Vancouver at 11.30 or 2.30 by our body clocks left somewhere in Toronto.

That said, we were up and away in good time to go back to the airport and pick up the hire car. There are two parts to this story: the doorman at our posh hotel was helping to load our cases onto the courtesy shuttle, and being British we talked about the weather, the fact it was raining and there was a sharp fall in the temperature. He shrugged himself further into his cosy fleece and proclaimed that winter was on its way. Flappetty flippers, not yet!  But he did think we might avoid the first snow. Give me a break!  Second part of this story concerns picking up our hire car. We had already driven a monster truck this week, had booked a Jeep and wondered what was coming. Lovely guy said he had a nice SUV for us…promising. Turned out to be a very small Chevrolet SUV which would just about take one case but not both. Who was going to go without clothes?!  Carolyn declared this would not do, the man wanted to charge us for something bigger and Carolyn wasn’t having it!!  Who won?  Who do you think?  We now have a Nissan Rogue which takes all our stuff, no extra cost. Humph!

Next stop Ellensburg, but first we had to go and chat to the nice border people to cross from Canada into the USA. Now last year we queued at JFK for 3 hours to get in and I really thought that was a bit off. This time I hoped we might flash our passports and be waved on our way.  Don’t swear in print, don’t say it, don’t even think it!! We chatted to the nice lady at the kiosk (who had a very fine haircut) but smiles and compliments got us as far as something called “a secondary immigration check”, allegedly to put a stamp into our passports. A man with a gun and sunglasses (indoors on a cloudy day??) seemed impressed we had our ESTAs but he still made us queue for yet another Homeland Security Stamp in our passports. Blow me, we had to pay for the privilege too. $6 each!  So, an hour and a half later we were back on the road.

We had been asked where we were going. I said we were heading to Ellensburg, to which the quick response was, “Why?”.  It was the sort of comment which implied, “I wouldn’t if I were you”. Well, we had to stop somewhere as it is a lot further to Yellowstone Park.  Having arrived and driven around, it is OK. Turning off the southerly road at Seattle, we had headed east across some pretty impressive mountains. The rain and mist across the tops clung to the fir trees and mountain sides.  I swear the rain at the top was sleet and the temperature dropped to 10 degrees. Fortunately, once on the way down, the sun came out, the temperature climbed a bit and Ellensburg looked just fine, even the contrasting cheap and cheerful hotel is good enough without the joyful experience last night of sinking into the carpets!

Onwards tomorrow and another 300 miles to get nearer to Old Faithful – some geyser in Yellowstone!

Carolyn’s Curios & Curiosities

Yesterday was a strange day. We had planned that, instead of driving the 2700 or so miles from a Toronto to Vancouver, we would fly 2090 miles and begin our road miles in Vancouver allowing more time later in the trip.

From our pick up by Conroy, our quiet but capable Uber driver, the day dragged. We had to leave our hotel by 11 in the morning but our flight out was about 8 in the evening. We contemplated leaving our luggage at Union Station but, as our luck would have it, the whole service on that line was longer and less frequent that weekend. Never mind, we decided, we can leave our cases at Pearson Airport as the website indicated was possible. You’ve probably guessed that it wasn’t! So,… several hours with our cases and three more having gone through security guaranteed a somewhat potentially wasted day. However, we read, talked, had coffee and downright refused to be bored. It was, though, a strange day. 

Today was the 239 mile drive from Vancouver to Ellensburg which began in kilometres and ended in miles.

Now, here’s a thing, Canada measures distance and speed using kilometres, our car – hired in Canada – does the same. Our Sat Nav, nicknamed Sally for alliterative reasons, uses Imperial miles. Clash! Having recognised and adjusted my thinking to this quirk, crossing the border today into the U.S., the roads went back to Imperial but the car did not. Trying to adhere rigidly to speed limits from Sally Sat Nav on my car speedo in KPH was an interesting test of my mental arithmetic in conversion. Needless to say, it added to the interest! As did road signs: “Chain up parking only” and, one I’d seen before, “Keep off the median”. Place names littered with Native American derivations and Wild West references like ‘John Wayne Trail’ and ‘Custer’.

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So, another fun day ended with a Chinese meal and a local beer tonight after a Subway lunch. Well, when I say a beer, I didn’t drink half of it. Take a look at the ABV!

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