Just before Christmas I counted up the number of countries I had been to this year, and what I thought was 35 turned out to be 34. A Canadian road trip was the perfect remedy.
On December 29, I drove up to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada with my dad. Two days later we left with plenty of adventures under our belts.
It started with driving up from Portland with two other passengers I found on Craigslist to help pay for gas and dropping them off in Seattle. We continued up to Vancouver, arriving shortly after sunset (4:10 PM). We stopped at a Tim Hortons and connected up with a fellow traveler I originally met in Cambodia on a bus, again in Chiang Mai, and once again in Kuala Lumpur. She had been back home in Vancouver for a couple weeks, and was a perfect person to meet up with to get advice for what to do in town. Better yet, she ended up being our tour guide for a day.
Our journey took a wonderful turn when we grudgingly told my friend that my dad and I were planning to sleep in the car or at a campground. She insisted that we stay at her parent’s house, which turned out to have two spare bedrooms! The parents were more than inviting, accepting us to stay and making that stay exceedingly pleasant.
The next day, our host planned quite an adventurous day for us. First we went to a little known gem where we hiked thorough snow to an amazing waterfall. At the end of the trail, we climbed up the ice-covered rocks (ignoring the warning signs) to the waterfall itself. The freezing spray of the water made some fantastic natural artwork. Pine branches had every needle encased in ice. Plants on the ground were similarly frozen. At the base of the waterfall there was a patch of large ice pebbles which were forming in the falls. The scenery was breathtaking. Not even two slips my dad made on the ice while my friend and I were up at the waterfall could dampen his spirits.
Next on the agenda was picturesque Harrison Lake, a small resort town with amazing views. There wasn’t a lot of hiking involved at this point, and the wind had picked up .While my dad stayed in the car, my friend and I walked out to the lake for some great pictures. We didn’t dally long, since the wind was strong and cold, and there was still one more destination to get to before the sun set.
The last stop was another local favorite. The sun was getting low in the horizon, and the golden sunbeams playing on the water was idyllic. When the paths were built to the waterfall, they closed off the trail to the top of the waterfalls. We went up anyway. Everything was snow-covered and icy, which made it even more beautiful. We stayed until the sun set, and then drove home.
That night we all went to a party, ate an amazing home-made lasagna and had long talks about travel and countries around the world.
The next day, New Years Eve, we drove up to Lynn Canyon Falls, a well-known park with plenty of trails and a series of waterfalls, plus a high suspension bridge over one of the best falls. My had and I hiked for awhile. At one point, going across a second suspension bridge, we saw a swimmer down in the river playing in the falls. To be honest, had I not been with my dad, I wouldn’t have hesitated to join them, despite the water being snow run-off and freezing.
Finally we were ready to head back to the states. We drove down to the border and waited nearly an hour at the crossing with the rest of the NYE traffic. But when we tried to cross, we had a bit of a snag. My dad had forgotten his residency card in Portland. It was actually the first time I learned he wasn’t a full American citizen, just a resident. We got really lucky when we were told that the first offense was free, while the second violation carried a $500+ fine. It just took us nearly two hours to be told that. Seems everyone else was having trouble getting through the border that day too.
Finally we were released just before sunset. We made it down to Seattle with plenty of time to get some dinner. In fact, we were early. We ended up waiting nearly three hours in sub-zero temperatures for the New Year’s countdown and fireworks to start. We had a spot directly beneath the Space Needle, which is probably the best show in the US. Of course, it had nothing on Edinburgh, which I watched on Youtube. I will be there next year for NYE without question.
When the fireworks ended, we decided to drive back down to Portland where we knew there were warm beds waiting for us. We made it most of the way, but finally we pulled into a rest stop instead to get a few hours of sleep. Finally our Canadian road trip ended in Portland a little after 7 AM. It was hard to believe that the whole trip lasted less than 72 hours. So much done, and such a great chance to spend quality time with my dad. Beautiful sunny skies the whole time and the perfect way to end the year.