Saturday, July 31, 2010

Travelogue part 1. North to Kelowna

We were out of the house by 4am on the 15th. I usually hit the road that early, but we had to meet up with Toni and her van part way to the interstate, and I knew it'd take us a bit of time, so I suggested that we meet at 0430. Good thing, as we were barely 2 miles from home when Ken said "I don't believe this! I forgot my phone."

Nice to have that little turn-around buffer in place, although I still took the liberty of making a U-turn at a red light. BECAUSE I COULD.

We stopped a little earlier than planned, somewhere south of Red Bluff, for a Starbucks, and a potty. Maybe it was Williams? It wasn't 7am yet. But I was ready for some tea. Someone wanted to switch around cars, but I put my foot down that we HAD to get back on the road, and if they'd really wanted to switch cars, they would have had their plan in place, AND they would have gone potty while I was ordering drinks, instead of cracking jokes and lounging around asking their own mother if they could have sugary snacks, so that when it *was* time to get back in the cars, they wouldn't be saying "oh wait! I have to pee first!"

Yes, travelling with eight people in 2 cars is WAY more work than travelling with your own family of 5 in a single car. It was akin to herding cats, and I am glad to be back.

A gas stop was made at Weed, and I stopped driving our car (Ken had woken up, and had finished his doppio machiato). Toni was looking really rought (she is neither a morning person NOR a long-distance driver), so I got behind the wheel of her van, and we took the girls while the boys got settled in our van, with Ken driving. Barely 2 hours later, it was time for a run-around-and-eat-early-lunch break at the Rogue River in southern Oregon. I got back into our van, and had an afternoon nap until Nate had to suddenly pee, and we pulled off the road in some central Oregon small town and hit a gas station.

At that point, Toni got something in her eye (t was really hot and dusty), and couldn't open her left eye, so I took up driving her car again. That was a long shift, as we got to just south of Portland, and Ken's GPS screeched that the I5 was either closed or VERY clogged, and sent us on a lovely detour out to the 99, and around the eastern edge of some river I'd never seen before. Very picturesque, but also not any road I was familiar with. By the time we ended up in Washington (oh, and it was rush hour. Joy!), most of us really had to pee, so we stopped for gas, and groceries, and I handed Toni's keys back to her.

The GPS screeched again as we were coming up to Tacoma, but we didn't react in time, and we ended up in a total freeway shut-down because of a tanker truck on fire near the Tacoma dome. We finally were able to jog out of traffic onto an exit ramp, and took a very sketchy detour down back roads, and parking lots that brought us out onto the (deserted!) I5 just ahead of where the truck had been on fire. It was right behind us, and there were still TV camera vans on the overpass, filming.

We were very happy to get to Bothell, and find our hotel. The front desk clerk was very kind and said that our friends could use the pool even though they weren't staying at the hotel, but were staying at their Grandma's house just down the road, so we spent a nice hour and a half decompressing while the kids splashed around in the pool like crazy otters.

Except for Skip, who had had JUST a little bit too much time with Cole, and was therefore parking himself in a corner, so he could read "Practice Effect" by David Brin, in relative peace and quiet. Great book, btw.

We packed up the next morning, and waited for Toni and her kids to come back to the hotel. They were even a few minutes ahead of schedule, which was nice, and we convoyed up to the border, with us keeping our own kids in our own vans (for crossing-the-border purposes). An uneventful crossing, and then we stopped at the closest Starbucks north of the border, while Ken met up with one of his online friends who happened to live in Abbotsford, to enact a board game exchange.

We weren't really in any rush, so we stopped in Chilliwack to go to the little mall and get Canadian money, and some beyond-excellent Cob's Bakery bread products for our lunch. Then it was a little bit of driving, and we were on the Coquihalla highway, up in the mountains on a gloriously sunny summer day.

We stopped at some random rest area, and had a little picnic.

We were at my folks' place by about 4, and decided that it was TOO glorious a day to not go to the beach before supper.

The kids swam. I took photos. Ken relaxed.

It was not particularly warm in the water.

So the boys stayed on the bench for a while.

Star Trek man eventually moved off of the bench and towards the water. First, to throw rocks.

Then to show off his muscles in the water.

(Full disclosure: I told them I would pay them each a dollar if they let me take their photo flexing their muscles. Money, it's what makes the world go around)

Then he tried to catch a fish with his bare hands.

(Full disclosure: I told the kids that I'd give a dollar for every fish caught. Honestly? I think if I hadn't said "We are leaving RIGHT NOW!" they would still be there, knee deep in the lake, trying to catch little fish with their hands.)

Nate? He was happy just to splash around. He'd probably still be there if I hadn't bribed him away from the water, too.

And that was the end of our first day in Canada.

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