Roadtrip #4 - Canada

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November 30th 2010
Published: November 30th 2010EDIT THIS ENTRY

Back in the US after a 4½ day road trip up north.

I got up rather early, packed the car and started driving up north through Washington on Highway 97 for my first part of the trip; the Twin Peaks filming tour. Yes, I know it might seem lame. And no, I don't care. I've been wanting to go ever since I was 14 and saw the series for the first time. And now I had my chance, since it's only 3 hours from where I live. The main attraction was of course The Double R Diner. It turned out to be closed, since it was a holiday, but the owner (such a nice guy) let me in through the back, where he brought me through the kitchen and in to the restaurant. His entire family was spread out, watching tv, playing with a dog, reading, drinking coffee, as taken out of a Twin Peaks episode, while I was walking around taking pictures. I even got invited to their Thanksgiving dinner but I had to say no due to the pending snow storm outside and the fact that I needed to get to Seattle before dark. But, I did
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Thanksgiving Dinner
get some nice pictures of both the diner, the Great Northern, the Roadhouse, Twin Peaks High School, Ronette's bridge, Sparkwood and 21, Hap's Diner despite the rain and snow. (I know, if you're not fans you probably think this is completely lame and boring).

Anyway, driving on to Seattle I did end up in the snow storm anyway, where I at some point was the only driver on the highway while the others stood lined up at the side of the road, putting their snow chains on, and I was driving 25 miles/hour on summer tires. Thanks car rental office. I was lucky I didn't get pulled over and ticketed for not wearing chains or traction tires.

I reached Seattle just before 5pm and checked into the hostel I had looked up online. It was however located in between Chinatown and the Amtrak and Greyhound station which can only mean two things = druggies and homeless people, making it a bit unsettling to walk the streets by yourself after dark. So my only option, after having been surrounded by groups of them at every street corner I passed, was to try and eat at the hostel. Luckily the
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Thanksgiving Dinner
keepers of the hostel had brought in a chef from some local seafood restaurant and put everyone staying at the hostel at work. So by 6:30pm we all got invited to this huge Thanksgiving dinner with turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, home baked bread, vegetables and loads of dessert. I met some really nice people from all over the world who and had a great evening with the German girl in my dorm room, two American guys and some poor, freezing guy from Tasmania. I still slept with my camera bag and my purse under the covers in my bed, though.

Black Friday apparently meant hysteria and riots. Just before 8am I drove downtown in Seattle and parked my car in a garage, thinking that I could take a walk before it got too stressed on the streets. Little did I know that the craziness was already in motion. People had been parked outside stores since 3am, kids were screaming over some Santa who was crammed up between a sled and some plastic reindeers having his pictures taken with both babies and grandmas. I quickly went into Nordstrom's and bought the shoes I promised Christina, and
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Thanksgiving Dinner
5 minutes later when I got back onto the street the entire block was surrounded by police squads, yelling out ambiguous orders in megaphones. It was so difficult to move even by foot, I gave up and drove 30 min north to Bellingham instead to get to a post office.

An hour later it was time to cross the border. Rumor had it that the Canadians were overly nice and the Americans were the bad guys. Not really the case. This border guy kept asking me completely illogical questions while glaring at me from under his eyebrows, before letting me pass over.

As much as I hate driving in cities, Vancouver was a bit easier than Seattle. But I'm still not a big fan of being alone in a big city and especially not with a shiny, black car that doesn't belong to me. I was completely paranoid the entire weekend that someone would scratch it, or try to break into it, that I kept moving all my stuff in and out every night, instead of just leaving it in the trunk.

So Vancouver got a quick view and a coffee break in pouring rain before I
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Thanksgiving Dinner
continued north up to Squamish. If there's such a place as heaven on earth- this is literally it. The ride from Horseshoe Bay up to Squamish goes along the mountainside of Howe's Sound where the valley is surrounded by the pacific rain forest, the mountain tops covered in snow and the highway meandering over the clouds. Breathtaking.

I had a gourmet dinner at McDonald's and stayed at The Inn on the Water, paying just 30 dollars for a dorm room bed, but got a queen size bed and the dorm all to myself.

It was still raining when I woke up but as I drove further up in the mountains the weather just got better and when I reached Whistler Village, the sun was shining and it was +4 C (very confusing that the Canadians have Celsius degrees, litres in volume and the metric system but are still using pounds as weigh measurement).

Whistler and Blackcomb were.... huge and amazing. Maybe not in elevation (Whistler is 7000 ft and Blackcomb 7500 ft, while Mt. Hood, where I live, is 11 250 ft) but in skiable terrain and total area. There were so many lifts, parks, houses,
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Colombia guy, Colombia girl, Angelia (German girl in my dorm room)
hotels and stores everywhere that it was hard to grasp where the mountainside started and where the elevation top was. Whistler Village looked like something that Santa could live in. Like a mix between an Austrian mountain lodge and an American mall with christmas decorations. It was beautiful. And since it was opening weekend for the season, there were people everywhere.

I so envied everyone that were snowboarding but there was no way I could have brought all my snowboard gear with me from Sweden, and it was too expensive to rent everything + pay for a ski pass (and also, I hate wearing shoes that aren't mine, yuk!) so I had to settle for some oggling instead. I also made a short visit to the Olympic Park (I almost didn't make it up the steep hills with my summer tires, but only almost) where the biathlon, cross country skiing and ski jumping took place during the Olympics.

Driving down the mountain was a bit trickier with a heavy fog and I was a bit unsure whether I should go back to Vancouver (not really wanting to drive in the city again) or if I should go somewhere
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Angelina, me, Toni (Frencj guy) and Auckland guy.
else. But when I reached Horseshoe Bay I got the brilliant idea of going over to Vancouver Island. The ferry left 15 min later with me and my car on it. Two hours later I was in Nanaimo where I checked in to a motel = my own shower and cable tv!!!

Sunday offered great weather but no animals, though Vancouver Island has a large wildlife. No black bears, elks, cougars, or wolves or other exciting animal activity except I almost hit an eagle with my car, who dropped it's prey (I think it was a mouse) on my windshield, which scooted down the hood of the car and then disappeared underneath it. I hope it was dead before it hit me.

I took a walk around Victoria for a couple of hours and figured out what would be an awesome christmas gift to Johan. With a little help from a woman in a not-to-be-named-store I have now what I hope will be a perfect gift. Victoria was beautiful, especially the harbor. Sat 90 min waiting in line for the ferry back to the US. Went through security and had to answer another 20 questions, where a
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Toni, Auckland guy and American guy
woman warned me that they would check my car when I got over. 90 min later I disembarked in Port Angeles and no car checking. Not even anyone checking my Visa. And so the last part of my trip begun at 7pm and ended in Hood River at 2:30am last night, after a couple of coffee and restroom stops.

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