Day Seven of Sixteen
Kilometers Traveled: 398
Canada! Finally! First thing on our agenda this morning (really the only thing on our agenda) was to make a stop at Lynn Canyon Park. Probably not the most popular tourist destination, but we found it online and thought it looked cool.
They had a pretty sweet suspension bridge, a couple waterfalls, a neat swimming hole, and about two miles of hiking trails. Not necessarily strenuous, but definitely a solid way to spend a morning.
Once we had checked out all there was to see at Lynn Canyon we stopped for some much needed sushi at the cheapest prices any of us had ever seen ($2.50 for Toro!?). After we had overstuffed ourselves with fish we decided we should probably go check out the city. In rush hour traffic. Over bridges. Luckily there was a ‘Bus Only’ lane, and guess what? We’re a bus. Our route back ended up supplying some nice views of downtown Vancouver as well as placed us in Stanley Park, which we took the long way around (of course) and got passed by more than a few cyclists.
We stopped in the city, which was way easier to drive in than Seattle, and had coffee with Zach and Jared’s friend Kev at a VERY hip coffee shop (matcha lemonade is weird guys). When we got back to the bus we met two girls who were interested in checking out the bus. We showed them around and told them we were planning on staying near Osoyoos (about 6 hours to the east), to which they responded “No, you would rather go to Kelowna.” Jared had already wanted to go to Kelowna, but we had decided it would be better to take the southern route. We took this as a sign and immediately decided we should probably just go to Kelowna. And we were back on the road.
But not before stopping to get diesel at the smallest/sketchiest Flying J (/shell station?) that I’ve ever been to. As the tank filled we noticed an absolutely MASSIVE green screen not 100 yards (or maybe meters because its Canada) away from us. The attendant at the Flying J explained to us that it was the set for the next Star Trek movie and that over the last few weeks she had seen Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto and other stars from the franchise around. Neat. This was also the time that I found and reserved a spot at Woodlake Terrace RV Park and told them we wouldn’t be there until around 9pm, to which he begrudgingly said “Ok, I guess that’s fine”.
The set of Star Trek 3 behind the gas station.
As we headed east out of Vancouver into more rural BC we passed about 10 more movie sets, or signs for movie sets. I guess it’s true when they say that a lot of movies and tv are shot in Vancouver.
This drive east was the most fun drive of the trip so far. For some reason Canadians LOVED the bus. People were passing us and honking at us, giving us “hang loose” signs, and leaving us Instagram comments too. We love you too BC! Just outside the Vancouver metropolitan area (which is huge) we picked up a couple of French Canadian hitchhikers on their summer break that had hitchhiked to Vancouver and were now on their way back to Montreal where they lived. Luckily they were also going to Kelowna so that worked out. The rest of this drive had us absolutely falling in love with British Columbia. Steep green mountains on both sides, lakes, rivers. We had never seen anything like it and wanted to stop at every possible point, but we had to be Kelowna by 9pm if we wanted to make our RV spot, so on we pressed.
Something we had not taken into account at this point in the drive was the elevation profile of our route. That is, how many vertical feet are we going to have to travel. Well, turns out highway 97C into Kelowna is absolutely ridiculous. For a solid hour and half the bus was traveling at 20-25 mph up the longest, steepest mountain pass I had ever been on. Then we reached the peak, and went downhill the same amount in about 1/4 the distance. Do you know what a 9 ton bus feels like when it goes 80mph? You don’t want to.
We rolled into Kelowna at around 9:30pm. What time did I say that we would arrive? 9. How far away were we still? About 30 minutes. I called the RV Park and Larry, the owner, wasn’t very happy when I said we were still half an hour away, but he said he would still accept us. So we grabbed gas, some food, dropped off the hitch hikers and sped to Woodlake (literally). We pulled up to the smallest, quietest, most densely packed RV park we had ever seen, and if you know anything about the bus, especially with our now permanently-engaged radiator fan, it’s NOT quiet. The following was probably the most embarrassing moment of any of our lives to date.
Jared pulled in, bus a’rumblin, and I immediately jumped out and headed towards the dark office. I stopped at the door, confused. Then an older, mid-60s, man walks out of the trailer next to the office, looks at the bus, looks at me, and then looks back the bus and just says “Are you serious?”. I explained that yes, we were serious, and that I had a reservation. He had no idea what I was talking about. I said I just called and said we were late, and that jogged his memory (who else would it be?). Jared at this point, turned off the bus so as not to wake people up while I went in and paid. Once the paperwork was out of the way, I said goodnight to Larry and crawled back into the bus red in the face. I told Jared where the spot was, and he turned the bus back on. But it wouldn’t move. The parking brake wouldn’t disengage. All we could think was why, of all times, why was it now that something new had to break on the bus?? Zach leaned over and looked at the dash and realized that the brake wouldn’t disengage because Jared had bled too much air out of the air brake system holding the bus in place. So we had to wait. We had to sit there, bus idling, radiator fan roaring, with Larry staring at us out his window, while the air system refilled. Please take me anywhere else. After what seemed like 2o minutes (45 seconds) we inched up the short steep hill (which involved reving the engine quite hard), and then put in reverse to back into our spot. The bus has backup beepers. Jared pulled back then threw it in neutral and turned it off as fast a possible. For the next 20 minutes we sad quietly in the bus waiting for Larry to come up and tells we had to leave. He never did.
In all the embarrassment I neglected to ask Larry for the wifi password before we had parted ways and we wanted to update this blog, so Jared went and asked the only two people in the complex that were awake, a couple playing cards on on the other side of the road. Their names were Jamie and Kelsey, and they didn’t have the wifi password, but they invited us to come down and drink with them as they had been laughing at us as we pulled in. We joined them and spent the next two or three hours swapping stories about our travels, and wow, we thought our trip had some surprises built in (they were out here from Calgary). Before going to bed we learned that the highway to Osoyoos had been closed because of the fires in North Washington so we never would have made it there anyway (thanks for the suggestion cute Canadian girls!)
More of Canada tomorrow as we head east towards Glacier National Park.