We were sad to leave Canada so soon, but have to move on. Vancouver was lovely and our accommodation was perfect. Thankfully we weren’t near the terrible fires faced in other areas of Canada which were shocking to watch on the news each day. Our thoughts are with those affected.
We headed to Vancouver bus station and took the Amtrak/Cantrail bus heading to Seattle, US of A.
We had two pick up stops prior to reaching the US border. Once there we disembarked, took all our luggage from the bus to the terminal, smiled sweetly as we were cleared through immigration and returned to the bus, reloaded our luggage and then waited ages! One passenger (the one who had been sitting next to Orla) had been detained and all we could do was wait to see if they would be re-joining us. The driver said he had never been this delayed before. Time ticked slowly. The coach behind us was cleared and left. Still we waited… Finally, she came back on board.
This meant we were really late setting off and hit Seattle traffic during Friday night rush hour. Arriving hours later than expected, we then had to walk/run/pant over 1 mile in a heatwave with our heavy backpacks through the city, swerving past many groups of people you wouldn’t want to bump into, not even daring to take our phones out of our pockets to check directions and gently steering the kids away from some of the wilder characters and the things they were smoking. However, after missing all the nice sights of Seattle (I am sure there must be some), we arrived very red and sweaty at the car hire place at 10 minutes to 6, just before they closed. Phew!
Leaving the very steepest streets of Seattle (not joking! Fortunately, our last question at the car hire office had been the location of the handbrake, without which we would have had our first accident 100 yards after pickup ) we still had 100 miles before our bed for the night, a motel in Ellensburg. Stopping for ‘gas’ we got the real taste of America (Mc-dinner at the Scottish Restaurant where the veggie choice = fries) This is going to be the way of life for the next 10 days. Ian needed some help at the petrol pump (you need a 5 digit zip code to pay with a credit card…), but as has happened many times, a couple of really helpful locals stayed with us until we had filled up.
The necessary change of plans which took us from our expected route through SE Asia, are due to us needing to return to the UK for a while. And as Ian doesn’t fly, we have to cross America very quickly (West to East) to catch a ship leaving from New York back to England. It will be full throttle through the States, and Route 90 rather than Route 66, but fingers crossed they won’t sail without us.
Not much time to stop but we have still tried to do a few things to break the journey and are choosing motels with pools so the kids have something to look forward to at the end of a day in the car.
Our route takes us over mountains ranges, plains, rivers, near national parks and many reservations including Cheyenne, Crow and Sioux. We stopped off at the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument near Crow Agency Montana.
Keeping up with the Wild West Theme, we visited King’s Saddlery, Wyoming which has real cowboy memorabilia and also spent a little time walking round Sheridan which was nice place. Ian had his haircut at a traditional barbers. We went to a rib house where the kids’ meals were served in cardboard classic cars.
People have been friendly, including a really lovely family from Casper at our motel and the road has been kind. A note to that family if they are reading this – we didn’t taste a Wyoming ribeye, but Ian did get to taste walleye and agrees with you that it’s mighty fine tasting fish…..
Perhaps the strangest place so far has been South Dakota’s Wall Drug – a huge place of memorabilia, a moving dinosaur, giant jack rabbits, dusty tat and goodness knows what else. It has to be seen to be believed. I don’t think I have the words and daren’t let Ian near enough to the computer to describe it to you. Needless to say, the kids liked it a lot.
So tonight we are in Fairmount, Minnesota, watching terrible news of tornadoes hitting Oklahoma and Kentucky and hoping we won’t catch the tail end of the storms as we (and they) head east.
Statistics so far …
Number of States: 6 (Washington, Idaho, Montana, South Dakota, Wyoming, Minnesota)
Number of miles from Seattle: 1589
Number of hours driving: 23.5
Number of hours driving listening to country music and/or Christian rock: ditto
Number of ‘are we there yet’ per child?’: 187
Number of gas stops: 9
Number of bugs cleaned from the windshield at each gas stop: 642
Number of visits to McDonalds: 1 (very grubby and cold)
Number of hitchhikers seen en route: 5
Number of hitchhikers picked up: 0 (sorry guys)
Number of miles to New York: Too many!