Today…is the day. We are going to drive six hundred kilometres, through high mountain passes, over fast flowing rivers, into deep,valleys and onto a floating barge (the ferry)…and go directly to Colin's house, in Halfmoon Bay, on the Sunshine Coast.
Packing and showering quickly (big day ahead of us ) we stop to say goodbye to our hosts, Jeffery and Grace. We take some time to yack with Jeff. He's an interesting fellow; novelist, commentator, blogger, senior partner at Avanti Growth Management (a private equity investment and consulting firm) and the co-owner of the aforementioned Monashee Lodge (which takes up all of his and Grace's time and energy). Wendy and I love the lodge and when Jeff mentions how much work it's been for he and Grace, I say “just like raising babies” and Jeff says “No, it's much more work” (Yikey Carumba)
We're having a really great conversation, unfortunately, it's hotter than heck and the road is calling to us.
We drive away, having promised to share info and very much appreciative of the fine room and outstanding service at the Monashee Lodge. We highly recommend it (http://monashee.wix.com/monasheelodge). Say, did we mention that sports teams rarely book in there? (It's very peaceful).
And, if you would like to check Jeff out…maybe read a chapter of his book…go to http://jeffreyarnold.ca/
First stop, breakfast. We are looking for something a little different today, and boy do we find it. It's a little German / Indian restaurant, 'Paramjit's Kitchen' (116 First Street W, Revelsoke) and for breakfast Wendy and I have Borscht (I have homemade Nan bread with mine) and an even share of nine beautifully handmade chickpea patties (with the best Dill Tzatziki ever). The borscht is awesome and the patties are so good, we order another nine for the road.
On the way back to the car (and I'm not even sure how this happens), Wendy shanghais me into looking at a dress she saw yesterday (while shopping). It looks great on her so I'm all for her buying it. She's pretty jazzed about that…and I'm happy for her (I have the weird feeling that somehow, I've been played…Wendle does look pretty satisfied with herself)
'Wendy's Follow Up Report'
The next morning we are on our way to breakfast and we just happen to walk by the dress shop. I casually mention that this is the store where the dress was (it's hanging outside the shop and I take it off the rack so Steve can see it (although I'm not sure it even registers). I keep my lips sealed and we continue on our way.
We eat breakfast… which is actually lunch at a wonderful Indian/German restaurant. We are going to head out from there on our 8 hour journey to my brothers house. We go and grab a coffee at our new favourite cafe and then of course, we pass right by the dress shop on our way back to the car. We really don't have any time and I decide to just let it go…when to my surprise, Steve turns to me and says…how long would it take for you to try that dress on? “Uh, about 2 minutes!” Off I go.
One of the things I can, without a doubt, rely on Steve for, is his honesty. He is a truth-sayer..(even if you don't wish to hear it) and he has a great eye for women's fashion. And he loves this dress! Houston, we have acquisition! Quickest dress purchase in the world. Three minutes later I re-join him on the street, dress in hand. (And that ladies, is how it's done)
Into the Civic and laying some of that new Yokohama rubber onto the streets of Revelstoke (just kidding) we begin the last leg of our journey. We stop for a second to take some pics of the the 'Rocky Mountaineer', it looks like a scenic tour train. It also looks like it would be a great ride http://www.rockymountaineer.com/en_CA_BC/
Back onto Highway 1 West towards Kamloops. We pass through the Monashee Mountains and Three Valley Gap…where we see this cool hotel…and a man holding onto his ass (really…that was the first thing that popped into your mind…wow)
Sicamous follows, then Salmon Arm, Chase…and ba-bam, we're into Kamloops. It's a funny thing, no city looks quite like you would have pictured it…our experience of Kamloops is one long busy smear of eateries, gas stations and construction
Just past Kamloops we hop onto the Coquihalla Highway (BC 5). Here is how the highway is billed on Trip Advisor…'The Coquihalla Highway (Highway 5) is a 4-lane divided road (5 or 6 lanes wide in some sections), and is both safer and reduces your driving time by over an hour compared to the Trans-Canada'.
It sounds perfect
This highway's maximum speed is 110km/h and although I'm sure it's been proven safe, you would never know it from watching Wendy's right hand…which squeezes the armrest without mercy (particularly on the many long descents and twisty curves). At one point she asks the speed limit and when I tell her it's 110, she says “Well that's just crazy.” I tell her that I'm only doing one hundred and she says “Well that's crazy too…it should be eighty”. I laugh like hell and shout…'Cokaheela'…with a Spanish accent (it's my name for this crazy highway)
I do have to admit, the many steep ascents and descents are hard on both car and body. Ear pressure builds and pops with regularity and the two of us are yawning constantly. It's therefore very much appreciated when, somewhere around the Coquihalla Pass ('Cokaheela!'), we see a sign for 'Rest Stop…2km Ahead'. We are definitely going to stop there.
Very cool rest stop. There's a building with a washroom and a snack truck tucked away in the middle of the bush. That's all of it. With backs and legs creaking, we uncoil from the car and head off to the bathroom. Exiting, we both look at the snack truck…then at each other…and shout…”Hot Dogs!”
While we're putting condiments on our wieners (seriously…how old are you guys?) a very young couple approaches the snack truck 'chef' (and I use the term loosely) and asks him if there is any gas at this rest stop. 'Surely you jest' (and stop calling me Shirley). Chef tells them that there isn't any gas for another seventy-five clicks (Ooh, this is getting interesting). The young man says “the light has been on for awhile” (go on…)…”but the needle isn't all the way down yet” (c'mon it's only 75 clicks through high mountains…you can do it). I guess they didn't see that sign back near Kamloops that said 'No Gas For 150km'. Well, there's certainly nothing useful we can do here…'back to the car Robin'.
I wonder if those two are still stuck out there…somewhere on…Cokaheela!
If anything, the driving is even more hairy after the rest stop. It takes seventeen kilometres to ascend one mountain…and what goes up…yeah, you bet…seventeen down…and with tight curves mixed in. It's very exciting and Wendy would almost certainly agree except I notice that her death grip on the door has tightened to the point so as to render speech impossible
And then somewhere after Hope BC (aptly named, whether you are coming or going), we merge back onto the Trans Canada, and the land begins to flatten out again
Then, in rapid succession…Chilliwack, Mission, Ridge, Coquitlam and…holy crapballs, we're in Vancouver…and, it's seven o'clock…we've missed rush hour
We have until seven forty five to book passage on the eight o'clock ferry to the Sunshine Coast and we make it with time to spare. It's our first time driving onto a ferry and any anxiety is considerably reduced by how BC Ferry has facilitated the whole operation. Wait in line and when the line moves, follow it until suddenly, you are parked on four deck with everyone else (not the tractor trailers, they are on a deck below)
We leave the car and go upstairs, (new coffees in hand) to enjoy the ride from the top deck. It's fantastic…and I don't even like boats (they tend to sink). The sea air is cool and the breeze feels like someone is whispering across your skin. In fact it's kind of cool out..where is that jacket of mine? I have the binoculars out (looking for samsquanch up in the hills above us) and I hear Wendy taking pictures. Ah, it's perfect
The ferry ride supposedly takes forty five minutes but in all seriousness, it feels like five. It is amazing and well worth the $78.00 (round trip). We go back to the car and hang over the side rail, watching while we dock
A sign says to turn your car on as the line of cars begins to move…and hey, they're moving…ignition…blast off. A long line of cars regurgitates out of the boat as smoothly as a babies dinner. Off the ramp…down past the ferry station…and onto the road to Gibsons (there's no sign of 'Relic' anywhere)
We stop for gas and discover a new winner in our cross country 'Canada's Most Expensive Gas Sweepstakes'. It was Marathon but Gibsons wins it all…by a good two cents a litre. One province over from oil rich Alberta and a world away in price. (I'll say it again…stop complaining Southern Ontario)
Driving on BC 101 North (the Sunshine Coast Highway)…through Roberts Creek, home of the Gumboot Cafe (must go there in the next day or so)…Davis Bay (see photo below)…Sechelt, named after the Shishalh people, the name means 'Land between two waters' (Sechelt women were famous for their beautiful cedar woven baskets, which were made using materials such as cedar tree roots, cannery grass and birch)…
…and finally Halfmoon Bay, a pirates den of inequity if ever we saw one (just saying)…actually, a very small community of approximately 2,800 residents (not including bears and cougars). A left turn on Redrooff Rd. (so named because the cottages on it all used to have red roofs) a right onto Fawn and oh my gawd there's a deer now…and then…we've made it.
We turn into the driveway and Colin (Wendle's bro) and his buddy Chris are standing there (a glass of wine in hand) waiting for us. I turn off the car and look at the odometer…621.9km and that is today alone
We will check the final, overall mileage for the trip and report on it tomorrow…but not tonight…apparently some of that wine the guys are holding is meant for us and we gratefully accept. Tonight (as Ricky and Bubbles would say) “We're going to party!”
Moose and Wendle (and Colin)
P.S. Here's a pic of that dress..you know the one…'The kind that when you go back home, people say, OMG I love your dress! Where'd you get it?' (oh yeah, I hear everything)