I can’t remember who thought up the idea of traveling the northwestern part of North America, encompassing Alberta, BC, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and a teeny bit of Wyoming. I think it started innocently enough, much like the conversation that brought our New York vacation into existence.
We started talking about it in the early spring, about the time I started a new job. It was like a reward, for toughing out the hardest year of our lives. How the itinerary took shape? Your guess is as good as mine. It’s like we theorized that it would be cool to take a whirlwind trip to see my parents, threw metaphorical darts at some cool places we’d always wanted to visit which were sorta kinda close by (only hundreds of kilometers away) and compressed them into one epic road trip… that would be awesome.
It’s amazing all the things you need to think about when it’s you, your family or friends, your car, and the open highway. We started booking our hotel and campsites in April, asked the other two members of our intrepid crew to join us in May, got a lead on a tent in June, and bought a roof bag in July so that we could carry more stuff. We got maps from our local registry office, drew cool pencil lines on those maps, read more campsite reviews online, gave the car a tune-up…
And then August 26 just suddenly… appeared! Like magic, like a day you never thought would come but finally did.
We threw a party before we left. A bon voyage party, if you will. No fewer than 15 of our newest and oldest friends and family came and went, enjoyed terrific food (prepared by Ben and/or brought by guests), tossed back a drink with some laughs and occasional candid conversation on our patio.
We kicked everyone out by 9:30 so we could get up early and hit the road as early as possible; we had a lot of ground to cover.
(Time is for driving only, not including stops)
Saturday, Aug 26: Edmonton, AB to Richmond, BC ( 1,164 km; 11 hours, 45 minutes)
Sunday, Aug 27: Richmond, BC to Abbotsford, BC (approx. 80 km, 1 hour)
Monday, Aug 28: Abbotsford, BC to Cascade Peaks Campground – with stops at Pike Place Market and Mt. St. Helen (approx. 600 km, 7 hours)
Tuesday, August 29: Cascade Peaks Campground to Memmaloose State Park – with stop in Portland (358 km, 4 hours)
Wednesday, August 30: Memmalloose State Park to Rigby, Idaho (1018 km, 9 hours, 35 minutes)
Thursday, August 31: Rigby, Idaho to Grandview Campground – with stop at Old Faithful (700 km, 7 hours, 35 minutes)
Friday, September 1: Grandview Campground to Garnet, Montana – with stops at Little Bighorn National Monument, and Billings (600 km, 6 hours)
Saturday, September 2: Garnet, Montana to Izaak Walton Inn (280 km, 3 hours 15 minutes)
Sunday, September 3: Izaak Walton Inn to Edmonton, AB – with stop at Radium Hot Springs, BC (960 km, 10 hours)
Total: approx. 5750 km, 60 hours
Hoshi, Our 2006 Nissan Altima, was as tuned up and ready as “she” would ever be. Jenny, my guide dog, had her up-to-date Rabies vaccination and would put her “curling-up” skills to the test. Ben and his sister Sarah would split driving duties. I would handle food, snacks, and other random things that require both hands. Our friend Dwight would provide deep thoughts, lots of laughs, and the only British accent in that Nissan.
No one said we had bit off more than we could chew.
No one knew what magic would take place on that trip.
We knew it would be a road trip of epic proportion.
We were just waiting for the Awesome.