Well… it’s finally here. After what feels like an eternity of planning, at long last we’re on the road, and it’s the real deal. After four years of planning and preparation, we expected the act of finally leaving to be a momentous and event, but in the end we really had multiple little departures rather than one big one.
Mini-departure number one happened on Tuesday, June 28th when we finished packing and cleaning our house and handed over the keys for our tenants. Looking at our empty house as we closed the door behind us, I expected to feel like both an end and a beginning, but at that point we both just felt exhausted after a long haul of test runs and frantically finishing our preparations.
We then spent two nights with my mom and had a good visit and were able to help her out with a couple of things around the house. On Thursday we took her for breakfast, then caught the ferry to Vancouver, leaving Victoria behind (mini-departure number two).
It didn’t quite feel like the real thing yet, because we had a couple of days in Vancouver before really leaving. In Vancouver we had a little going away get-together so that we could say goodbye to friends and family on that side of the pond, and we spent Canada Day with my brother, Paul, and his girlfriend, Wendy, during which Pia exposed them to Troll 2 (the best-worst movie ever made, and one of Pia’s true loves).
Downtown many of the businesses still had plywood covering the windows that had been broken during the riots, which are covered with messages from the Vancouver public decrying the ridiculous riot and commending the Vancouver Police for how well they dealt with it. Similar sentiments were written on squares of fabric and placed like Tibetan prayer flags around downtown. This counter-cry from the vocal majority made us proud to be Canadians and British Columbians.
Saturday morning was our third and final departure: we left the province and country to head towards Boise, Idaho, our first planned stop. Our momentous real departure was dulled a little by four days of departure limbo and a weekend that may have involved a bit too much partying and a bit too little sleeping.
We spent our first night in Ellensburg, Wa. (having just been in that same KOA only a three and a half weeks earlier on the way to Yellowstone). The evening was super hot and we hid in the shade as we made our dinner and got some work done. Midway through the night, the heat was chased off by crazy winds that made us glad we weren’t in a tent. Sadly, our sleep that night was cut very short when Pia woke up at 4:30 in the morning with a urinary tract infection (sorry if that’s too much information, but never claim we didn’t give you the gritty details). Luckily, Pia had medication at hand, but it’s not a nice problem to have when you’re sharing a washroom or when you plan to be in a car all day long. At about 6:00 the medication was starting to work and Pia suggested it might be best if we got going and tried to make some progress in case it got worse again later and we had to stop early.
We made it all the way to Ontario, Oregon (how confusing is that?) on the border of Oregon and Idaho, only an hour’s drive from Boise. We checked into a hotel both for the private bathroom and because we desperately needed a good night’s sleep, and with temperatures in the high thirties (that’s the high nineties in fahrenheit for any Americans reading this) and no wind, it seemed unlikely we would get it in the van.
At this point we had not been having a very good time so far. We had followed an extended period of stress and burning the candle at both ends with several nights in a row of poor sleep. To make things worse, we had already had troubles with almost every piece of technology we had. We were both feeling grouchy and irritable and not having fun. If we hadn’t enjoyed the test runs so much we might well have been wondering, “What the hell were we thinking?”. I’m glad to report, though, that now that we’re more rested and have solved our technology issues we are in much better spirits and having fun again.
The next morning, after a good, long sleep, we arrived in Boise in time for the Independence day parade (how smart are we to make a four-day weekend by crossing the border in between Canada Day and Independence Day?). Neither of us are really big parade fans anyway, but this one seemed a little weird to us. There was a significant military presence in it (including a vehicle with an ad on the side to call your local recruiter) and there were quite a few “floats” that were just company vans with a couple of streamers taped to the side (I know it’s cheap advertising, but it just seemed tacky to me).
I’ve never been in the US for the 4th of July before, and can honestly say that I have now seen my lifetime’s quota of stars-and-stripes motif clothing. We were also able to watch the fireworks from our hotel room window (which is nice since we had decided we were too tired/lazy to go to them). We also saw a couple of other displays happening in the background at the same time. This is testament to how flat Boise is, and how few tall buildings there are, that from the third floor of a downtown hotel you can see for miles.
Other highlights from Boise include: a great alehouse with a huge selection of beers from the Northwest, a really tasty Basque tapas lunch (Boise has the surprising distinction of having the largest Basque population outside of Basque country), breakfast at Goldy’s (rated one of the top 10 breakfast places in the US), Black Butte XXIII (a cask conditioned porter made with cocoa and orange zest – mmm!), and a visit to the Old Idaho Penitentiary (build in the 1870). All told we really liked Boise. It’s small and unassuming, has some nice little squares and shops, and it was nice to see cyclists everywhere.