Travel Journal

We got banffed, ring of fire, driveby’s, hello officer, getting lost, and farewells

(Tuesday 29 May 2012) by Karen O'Shea
Hi ho hi ho off to Canada we go ....

Whow! The drive through the Canadian Rockies was amazing. To see the snow still on the mountains was awesome. It was real picturesque. I thought going over the border would be exciting, going through customs, a list of questions, some frisking perhaps!!! No....None of it, we didn't even get out of the van. To quote my Canadian friend "oh my god we let anybody in....":-):-)


Banff (Alberta Canada)

Oh my what a place. It was a real party town. Actually there was a party on, it was some Mexican celebration. The whole town was completely hammered.......(didn't see many Mexicans...lol)

We stayed here 3 nights and honestly don't think any more would have been good for my health. The second night we decided to stay in by the camp fire as we were wrecked from the night before. OMG we so should have gone out....ended up playing a game called "Ring of fire"... Guys its a class game, have all the rules written down.:-):-)

Got woken abruptly the following morning by the park ranger, not impressed that we didn't bear proof our campsite. Had left all the coolers out and the fire still burning. I had a mental image of the bears sitting by the fire drinking our beer....:-):-)

Eventually got to go hiking the following day up Sulphur Mountain. Took nearly three hours...the cobwebs were well blown off. The hike was tricky enough pretty steep, the elevation was very quick; i even had to stop talking, god i was huffing and puffing at times.

Also there was snow on the mountain just to add to all the obstacles. When we did make it to the top the views were pretty fantastic and to add to it there was also a cable car. So we hopped on praying they wouldn't look for tickets....which were nonexistent.;-);-)

Yeah Banff was some place. We even termed a phrase "you got banffed...";-);-)


Yoho National park

We decided to be pirates today..why not we are on holidays!!! Got make up, black teeth and eye patches!!! It was such fun, people were just looking at us not knowing whether to pass a comment or not. reminded me of wearing the tin foil hats we had in Roswell.:-)

Went for another hike here. This was tough work and i didn't enjoy it all that much. It was pretty steep and covered in trees so there really was no end in sight. But as always when we got to the top it was well worth it.

Found out later Devon was quite concerned at the bear tracks he found on the way. Man there was lots. He told some of the more nervous girls they were elk tracks, I kind of figured they were bear tracks but I didn’t want to know too much. So ignorance was bliss…..;-)

The campsite we stayed that night was awesome. Firstly we couldn’t find it for over an hour. The road we were on was a logging road reminded me of the one down to kildysart pier but way rougher.

Secondly there were very little signs to say where it was. Devon thought it was up this particular road only to discover it wasn’t and only to discover it was a nightmare to turn the van with trailer and then come back down hill, we were skidding quite a bit!!!

So back down the road we go. As Devon drove on for another 20 mins looking for a place to turn he spotted a sign which read.. ”keep on going”. Hilarious!! So we did and eventually found beaver foot campground our home for this night. I liked this campsite it was very basic, the site itself was covered in horsexxxx. The views of the surrounding mountains were amazing. Also they had wagons done up as lodgings with beds in them. They looked great. :-):-)

The following morning I got to do one of my favourite funny crazy things on this trip. I got to ride shotgun in the van so I could do a drive by with my bb gun!!!!! I loved it got to shoot all the road signs, it made my day….;-);-);-)


Kamloops (British Columbia)

This was just a quick stopover for the night. But I enjoyed it as I got to meet up with a Canadian girl I had met in Vietnam so it was pretty cool to catch up.


Vancouver

Really pretty drive this morning from Kamloops to here. When we got here we drove around the city. We played the tourist card and drove down bus lanes…it was fun!! What I wasn’t expecting to see was the amount of homeless here in the city. I really was amazing. There was such a long queue outside the Salvation Army for food. I mean this is Canada, a first world country, I didn’t even see this in asia. I was pretty gob smacked.:-(

Got to play cricket in Stanley park. Well when I say cricket I mean we had a stick as the bat, some Velcro discs as the gloves……at least we had a ball which was actually…….a ball!!!!

All I have been thinking about for breakfast the last number of weeks is BACON. God I would murder a decent rasher….(soon enough Karen). Just a bacon sandwich with hp sauce!!!! Myself and Simon (England) have so been discussing this for weeks. So we googled a place that had bacon on the menu for brekky!!!;-);-)

Eventually got there, had a nice full Irish/English as best as the Canadians can do. Still haven’t got decent bacon. Walked around the city for the day. We decided to play a game and make a list of random words and sentences…..ie. “The chicken will be cooked at half two”. So whoever saw the word the first shouts it out and so on. It was hours of fun!!

The city is pretty nice and very walk able. Took a water taxi to Granville island for lunch…………..brekky was barely over..lol. Then hit for cloud 9 which is a revolving bar/restaurant. It has great views of the city and is free to get into. Beats paying 15 bucks to get up too the tallest building in Vancouver.
I liked this bar especially as the floor revolved it would bring you to the bar of the toilets...excellent;-)


Returning to the US

This was the total opposite of getting into Canada. Had to get out of the van…..I mean really!!!!! How inconvenient…lol It took us a while to get through, as the Americans are quite thorough with border control. But we were back in the usa and hit the road for seattle.


Seattle (Washington)

I always thought Seattle was a state and I thought Washington city was a city in Washington. Wrong on both counts. Seattle is a city in Washington and Washington is a city in Maryland!!! Drove around the city to get our bearings. We always do this when we roll into a new town. We got to stay in a hotel tonight which was going to be a treat, not having to wrestle your way into your sleeping bags and spend the next 20 mins trying to get comfortable on the air mattress. Well it was a treat but unfortunately not for Hannah as we accidently locked her out of the room until the following morning….ooops me bad !!!!(I slept quite well myself)!!! So Hannah was “sleepless in Seattle”…lol;-)


Florence (Oregon) my 33th state to visit……

Such fun today, we went sand bugging. Ah it was some buzz. All seven of us were in this open air purpose built buggy. We went up and down and sideways on sand dunes. Flew over the top of the dunes and were in mid air from time to time. God do they get some speed up. It was amazing. All of us thoroughly enjoyed it. Florence was a nice small town. There were bikers everywhere all heading to a convention. There was also a classic car parade in the town. This was great. All classic old cars…with classic old couples onboard.;-)


A truly American experience

Devon’s driving throughout the trip has been 10/10 until today when a cop car flashed his lights for him to pull over. He was so annoyed with himself. As we are all sitting in the van watching in the mirror as the cop gets out and approaches the van. He explained to Devon he noted he was doing 55 in a 30 zone. Devon agreed with him.

The cop asks a few more questions, who does he work for, where is he going, where are we from etc. he gets Devon’s license and goes back to his police car. Devon is still so annoyed with himself as he will get fined, have to tell his employer, everything was going through his mind.

Anyway the cop arrives back (Devon is expecting a ticket) hands Devon his license and tells him update his picture as he is an 18 year old teen in the photo, and instead of producing a ticket, he hands Devon (for us) 6 gold police stickers that say junior ranger. Classic I loved it.;-);-);-)


Redwood National Park California

On the road to redwood we passed through a small town called fort dick which is home to one of Americas most top security state penitentiary called pelican bay. Redwood was a pretty cool park….full of trees. As I said when in rome…..decided to lick a slug which numbs your tongue for a few mins. Another American experience…lol

Got to see an Annular solar eclipse. It was amazing. Picked up a pair of them protective glasses. When I say I picked them up. I thought they were free. Only to realize when I was well away from the shop that you had to buy them…..oh well!!!

Actually they were a great pick up. You could really see the moon passing between the earth and the sun. and for a moment it was a ring of fire (not the game). A perfect black circle on the sun. amazing. So happy to have seen it, it was spectacular.;-);-)


San Francisco California

Rang lily today to wish her a happy sixth birthday. Really can’t wait to see the girls;-). Devon was so excited to get to san fran as this is where he lives with his girlfriend. We were quite excited to meet her as we felt we knew her and vice versa.

Heading down the freeway all in high spirits..than loud bang, smell of burning and the traction completely nonexistent. Pulled into the hard shoulder. The trim had come off the back tyre of the van and it burst something under the van in the process. Luckily for us the companys base was only a half hour away. So after about an hour a new van arrives for us.

Goodbye to vandolf the grey who had been so reliable for 8 weeks and hello to vandolf the white. We were at home in the new van within 5 mins, just put everything in the same spot as it had been in valdolf the grey. So high ho high ho its off to San Fran again.

The hotel we were staying in for these two nights hadn’t been used by the company before so Devon didn’t know much about it. The first thing we did when we arrived was walk over the golden gate bridge. This was so cool the place was covered in fog. As we were driving around the city he was explaining what part was the Italian side, rich side etc. He said the tenderloin area was a rough side of town………………low and behold we pulled up to our hotel…….in the tenderloin!!!!;-);-)

It was amusing to say the least. Felt very pale skinned here!!!! Safety in numbers and all that. Actually when we got inside the hotel it was lovely, just outside the door it was a different world. Apparently san Francisco is renowned for freaks and odd balls. And they just all happened to be outside the door. Ah man…..it was an experience just to watch people……..obviously at a distance!!!

We eventually got to meet Devon’s girl margeaux, she was pretty cool.
The following morning this need for bacon got the better of us yet again…so off we went in search of “Brenda’s soul food”.. After going in the wrong direction we decided to ask a local. Should have known from “going in the opposite direction” how the day would pan out. (anyway brenda’s bacon wasn’t anything to write home about so I won’t bother..lol).

The day was full of queuing, getting lost, back tracking, getting off at the wrong stops, ridiculous map reading and where did china town go too? I loved it all…;-);-)

Our first San Franciscan thing to do was ride the cable car hanging off the side. This was fun. Next thing we went to the top of the Crooketest Street in san Fran and roll tennis balls down it to see who could make it to the junction at the bottom. It was hilarious.. I love being a child!!;-);-)


Alcatraz

I was looking forward to going to Alcatraz. When we got on the boat to go there (we also queued here too) myself Hannah and Simon decided we would stand at the front of the boat. Nothing wrong with that, nice day good views. There was a sign that said “caution wet zone” which we completely ignored or I should say Simon stood in front of it. The water was a small bit choppy, was expecting a little sea spray. Turned around to take a pic of the golden gate bridge and I can only describe it as a wave that came over the bow…………….we were soaked. Before I got to turn to run inside a second one hit us…………..so so funny and so so not expecting it. We were like rats and made quite a few people laugh…………;-);-)

The rock was really interesting. Got an audio tour of the prison which I really enjoyed.
After a few hours on the rock we came back to the main land and decided to hit for Chinatown. Again got out that amazing map of san Fran which had let us down all day, but I had faith. Asked a few people how to get to a particular stop only for them to get out the same map……Was there anyone local????.

Alas did find one who sent us in the opposite direction. Ok eventually found the right bus and hit for china town, we particularly wanted to see the gates to it. Looking out the window it was beginning to look like a Chinese area so we conferred with the map and figured out we would get off in another two stops. Un be known to the map people somebody had built a tunnel and that’s where our bus headed. When we arrived out the other side………………No more Chinatown!!!!!! ;-);-)

Our last thing to do this evening was get a cable car to Devon and Margeaux’s apartment as we had been invited around for nibbly bits. Which was really nice of them. Quite simple really get on the cable car and get off a particular st. Easy peasy.

When we got to the street I said this is it, we all stood up and Hannah said this wasn’t a stop as the woman hanging off the side was still hanging on….so I believed her…hell she believed herself;-);-)

. Next thing we shot off on the cable car down hill, swung a right down hill getting further and further away from where we wanted to be. Looking around for the rest of the guys only to find out they actually got off at the stop that was a stop.;-);-)

All down hill meant walk all the way back up hill. San fran is so hilly. Ok I admit I am bad with directions but Hannah was brutal………..she asked why we listened to her when it came to directions…..i asked her why she opened her mouth…lol (sorry Hannah I mean it nicely..lol). Anyway we had a really nice evening.;-);-)


On the way to Yosemite National park.

Devon had promised us a really nice lunch. With salmon and margaritas!! Was expecting a strange bar in the middle of nowhere. It turned out to be lunch at his dad’s house. It was so nice. This was two days in a row that we actually got to hang out with family. The lunch was amazing and so too were the margaritas. It was a pity we had to get back on the road. I was quite cosy here. Devon started out over 8 weeks ago as the tour leader, after a few days into the trip he was a friend that drove us about.;-);-)

When we got to Yosemite we did a little walk about t get our bearings. Slept out under the stars as it was hot. Still was in 2 sleeping bags mind you….didn’t want to leave anything to chance. It was a lovely night, some shooting stars in the sky.;-)

Got up early the following morning to do some hiking. Myself Suzy and Lisa hiked to vernal waterfall which took about 3 hours there and back. I am not a great hiker and I know my limits. Devon Simon teegan and Hannah did a 20 km hike, fair play is all I can say. The heat was getting the better of me today. Strolled around the Ansel Adams photography gallery which I really enjoyed and later did a small walk to lower Yosemite falls. The whole place is amazing. No matter where you look it is beautiful. Later that evening straight into the hot tub to ease the muscles. Slept under the stars again only to be rudely awoken by raccoons attacking our food boxes. Should have slept with the bb gun under my pillow…lol ;-);-)


Pismo Beach

On the way here We stopped off for lunch near where James dean died in a car crash in 1955. Than drove on to “harmony winery” to do some wine tasting. Got to the campsite early enough. As this was our last night of our 64 day tour the tents needed to be cleaned. “THE HIPPO” had been Hannah’s and my home for the last 9 weeks…..felt a little sad saying goodbye to it, after putting it up and taking it down so many times…must admit it was so reliable. It was a liitle sad tonight as my family for the last number of weeks would all be going our separate ways tomorrow. A day we all dreaded and didn’t want to speak of. :-(:-(

We sat around the campfire reliving all our moments of the trip..And we burned some clothes and shoes that were completely worn out. Even burned my sweater that I bought at kathys thrift store for 50 cent all them weeks ago. It did me well..;-)


Los Angeles……where our adventure began 9 weeks ago.

And what an adventure it was. Nobody wanted to think of the good byes ahead. What did make us laugh to lighten the mood was watching a stupid jerk crash into an ambulance. (no one was injured). But it was funny….2 ambulances come speeding one after the other and every car just stopped….as is the norm even in Hollywood…..well except all but one car. You could actually see it happening before the impact. Even the ambulance stopped as he saw what was going to happen. The screech of the brakes was unreal and the car drove into the back of the ambulance, we could see the ambulance driver just shaking his head. And it was a MAN driver which made it even funnier I guess. I mean seriously did he think all the traffic stopped just for his sake…lol;-)

We met up with Jack who had done the first five weeks with us from LA to NY. It was good to see him again. He is in the process of writing a book about our five weeks together. Can't wait for it. Went out for dinner. First goodbye was to Lisa who was flying back to Melbourne. Second goodbye was to Teegan who was off on another tour for a month. And Suzy was flying back to Austria. Spent the evening in the hot tub trying to put off tomorrow.

But tomorrow did arrive. And the goodbyes got even shittier. Had to say good bye to Simon, Devon and Hannah who were all heading back to LA together. Tried to keep it together but I didn’t get very far with that. Hannah was the hardest goodbye we had shared the hippo for over two months. :-(

Anyway I know I will see these folk again. After travelling for 9 weeks together, covering 33 states and over 21,000 km it was impossible not to become close.

Seriously we ate, drank, swam, slept, ate again, drank again, shared the Hannah Montana plate, sat in the van day in day out, dj’d, hiked, tucked each other into sleeping bags, ate again, drank again, shared clothes, made each other laugh, put on a few pounds together, packed up each others bags, amused, read aloud too, hot tubbed, picked each other up when the need arose…(that covers Austin for you Hannah…lol),

Even on the free days when there was no plans, we spent them together. 9 weeks earlier we were a bunch of strangers now we had become a
family "The Salty Crew", ok guys number up 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 SALTY CREEEEEEEEEEEEEWWWW

I love them and will miss them but as I write this I am 100% American I shall see them again..:-):-):-):-):-):-):-)

;-);-)check back next week for my final installement of Little Ks Big Adventure ;-);-)

  • x by mandy
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