2400 kms

2400 kms later, we completed a full circle: from Surrey to Seattle, resting at Coeur D’Arlene, Idaho, to Calgary, to Banff, resting at Golden, through Kelowna, and back to Surrey in 7 days.

The title of this post should have been “EJ’s Trans-America Trip”, because we were intending to purchase and drive a family car from Vancouver back with stops through Seattle, Portland, Yellowstone National Park, Mount Rushmore, Chicago, but due to a change in plans, the car stayed, but we took it to “EJ’s Non-Trans-America Trip” anyway.

In the 7 days, we encountered pretty much all four (3?) seasons: warm sunshine, rain and cloudy skies, and hail and snow. But, God answered my prayers, and for the days we were outside, the skies were clear, and we stayed dry! We were blessed to be able to borrow my dad’s bright yellow Matrix (a car I enjoy driving), so that we wouldn’t have to face hefty rental fees for cross border traveling. There was never a day that we didn’t spend time with a familiar face (apart from us two, of course), and we hit pretty much everything that was planned on our spreadsheet despite a tight schedule, sometimes with only a few minutes to spare:

  1. Tulip Festival

    After less than a 10 minute wait at the Peach Arch border (which is unusual compared to the Truck Crossing), we made our way to Skagit for the tulips! The lady at the information center, told us about Lopez Island Creamery Ice Cream, which was well hidden at the back of a side-of-the-road “produce stand” at Snowgoose Produce. The gourmet prices for the specialty flavours (Country Raspberry for me, and Clearly Coconut for j.w) were well-worth it, and it was satisfying enough for our lunch without me having to stop at Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory for a frozen chocolate-nut dipped banana

  2. We decided that we would skip Tuliptown (after visiting Roseengarde), so we had time to do a quick zip through Premium Outlets and didn’t come out empty handed, before heading to a previously booked Boeing Factory / Future of Flight Aviation Center tour in Everett, WA. The tour itself was pretty impressive – you could see people working on the assembly line, and the latest Boeing Dreamliner. The factory was HUGE; I think they said that they could fit 70 something footballs fields or a couple of Disneyland theme parks in it. And at that size, they had their own personal medical and paramedical services, cafes, dry cleaners, and buses! The $18 fee was definitely worth it (though we cut it close and had maybe 5 minutes to spare by the time we got there)
  3. A Visit with Friends
    Surprisingly, traffic from Everett to Bellevue wasn’t as bad as expected, so we arrived a bit earlier than expected, and just chilled in time for dinner with Virtualawrence, DTse, SH, and EHo at East West, a Taiwanese restaurant that Virtualawrence mentioned he’d bring me the next time we visited, which had some interesting dishes and flavours (like the pork burger and 3 cup chicken). with dessert at Yogurtland (though I’m still not convinced that self serve froyo is better in texture than Yogen Fruz) finished with a drive to Card Kingdom (a purposeful trip, just to find out that the online portion of the store closed for the day earlier that evening), and game or two of Dominion.

  4. After breakfast at a Parisian-style cafe with Virtualawrence (to which Fausbourg, Vancouver wins if compared), we headed out to Woodinville to spend the day with the Chens at their new place. The day passed quickly, but it was a fun time for everyone, even though we were all very sad to leave.
  5. Snoqualmie
    After a good breakfast the next morning, we opted to spend more time before heading out, so we skipped Leavenworth, a town famous that’s decked out to be all German. Because of that, we took a different/shorter route, which allowed us to see Snoqualmie Falls and some old, abandoned trains. We also spotted a random helicopter along the I-90E that was carrying wood/logs.
  6. Iron Horses
    And because we skipped Leavenworth, we took the shorter route and were able to see the iron horses that Waiki told us about, off the I-90. We took a short climb and was rewarded with a lovely view from the top, despite a short bit of snow on the road early on.
  7. Coeur D’Arlene

    We finally made it to Coeur D’Arlene and enjoyed some wine and cheese at the bed & breakfast pre-supper, and a great dinner meal by the host’s recommendation at a local restaurant called “Scratch” – where reportedly, everything is made from scratch on-site. Breakfast was scrumptious as well at McFarland Inn (our B&B) – they even have their own custom coffee blend from a semi-local roaster

  8. Drive to Calgary

    Our host at the B&B had told us to watch out for Frank’s Slide and the Okotoks along the way to Calgary. We had a beautiful drive: passed by a “Game crossing sign”  (immediate thought was board games), random cardboard cows on the top of a hill, two whitetail deers, a town by the name of Elmira and Yahk, BC  – the city that was made famous by the Red Paperclip quest, the world’s largest truck in Sparwood, BC (I didn’t realize it was once a running truck), and rocky mountain sheep roaming at Crowsnest Pass. The duty-free shop at the US-BC Border looked like a cabin, with sparse goods for sale inside. Unsurprisingly, we didn’t have to wait much at this border though I am sure the custom officer and the fellows at the duty-free shop wondered what we Asians were doing in that part of the country.

  9. With the Laus
    Sunday was spent mostly in Calgary: attended a large, local church for Sunday service and had the opportunity to hear Erwin McManus speak, who shared with us some life stories. I don’t know why I recognize his name, but one lesson that stuck out was avoiding jargon, which is a principle that can be applied to business as well. Some trekkie comiccon was in town as well, but by the time we got there (before 11AM), all the tickets were sold out, so we ended up heading to Banff a bit earlier to explore.
  10. Banff

    This time we stayed at Banff Aspen Lodge, at the beginning of the main strip. It looks like a motel on the outside, but you can tell that they spent some money to do some rework to make the rooms nice and modern (and clean) – the rates were lower than some of the lodging around them, and it even included continental breakfast, with homemade granola.
    Two of the local coffee shops that I would recommend in Banff is Evelyn’s and Wild Flour (also mentioned in Where to Eat in Canada), though I think I might like the environment of the latter a little bit more. We also found handmade natural soap at a place called Rocky Mountain Soap – the lady was very generous in that she even gave us some samples (on the second day, we went back, but the lady wasn’t there and this other lady didn’t seem as inviting)!

    It’s interesting to be in Banff, Lake Louise, and Johnston Canyon at this time of the year; snow still lingers on the trails, the lake, and the normally shimmery, reflective turquoise of Lake Louise is covered with white and ice instead. Lake Louise felt the most like winter than spring.

  11. River to Peaks

    After dinner with the Laus at a burger joint, we went our separate ways, with us headed to Golden, BC to rest our heads. The story of how we even found this accomodation still puzzles me to this day, to which I can only attribute to God’s provision! I can only surmise that I had sent out an inquiry to a chalet that offered longer-term accomodations, and they had directed us to River to Peaks Inn. Turns out, even though we had booked a King suite, we had the whole place to ourselves (likely because it was still low season, and a relatively new place as an Inn), and our host, Dan was great to deal with and told us a little about how the Inn came to be (was once resort staff residence; he lives next door – the Inn is in residential area and it looks like a converted duplex) and the simple continental breakfast made the stay seem like an even better deal. Actually, we felt that this was the most comfortable bed in terms of paid accomodations on our trip (did I detect Sheraton hotel bed sheets?). I felt a bit sad that we didn’t have time to explore Golden, or walk around, because the scenery was just so relaxing, with the view of the mountain and the fresh air around you. And yes, this region is where Kicking Horse coffee comes from!

  12. Sicamous, BC

    We were homeward bound the next morning, but with our first stop in Sicamous, BC at D. Dutchmen Diary for purportedly BC’s best ice cream (for breakfast?). Maybe I was comparing it to Lopez Island Creamery, but I found this ice cream to be too creamy and pretty standard; I had a good time looking at the llamas and the cows though, though one tried to lick my ice cream! j.w spotted a white and brown speckled eagle along the way as well. Though, in our notes, he also wrote, “falcon carrying a nest, almost hit [our] car”

  13. Kelowna, BC

    And a slight detour to winery country, which brought back memories of my childhood, although we didn’t see the Ogopogo and only saw what was once the floating bridge in the distance. Instead, we spent time at the Summerhill Pyramid Winery for some bubbly wine, and needed time to “burn” it off, so we stayed a bit later to share a very lovely three-beet risotto, where the ingredients are sourced organically and locally. This winery is a bit mystical/New Age as it uses a pyramid to age the wine (and all organic), but the acoustics in that thing is pretty crazy. Again, we only had minutes to spare before the winery tour began, but we were not at all impressed at how our tour started: this fellow comes out and starts speaking in Mandarin to two other guys. J.w notices and thinks that he might be the tour guide??? Anyway, he leads them back into the shop, at which point we follow, but then try to flag down someone to explain that we don’t speak Mandarin (and why would people assume that we do just because we look Chinese?!). And Kelowna of all places? Nevertheless, we refused to follow him, and thankfully, another employee took us for a private tour.

  14. airport Pie
    And this was it, the final leg of our trip. One last stop at Chilliwack’s Airport for some pie. Yes, it’s weird that airport food would be well-known, and that people go to this tiny, local.small planes airport just to eat. And their pies are popular; in fact, if you go the day of, there is a limit of how many slices of one kind of pie you can buy. If you order in advance, you get a discount too (which we didn’t know about!)
  15. TWU
    okay, so we also stopped at TWU after passing by a flipped tractor trailer on its side – thankfully we didn’t need to take that exit to pick up my dad from work, since he was without a car (in our possession). And, we drove home, right in time for dinner at that place with the giant, sweet slushes..can’t remember the name right now…was kind of disappointed in the quality; I think I would have preferred the Taiwanese food at Surrey Central more.
  16. Home Sweet Home
    then we flew home the very next day. The end

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