Back in the US again. I’ll cover the wholes between my last post and Fort Nelson. We made it to Dawson Creek from Fort Nelson, only about 300 miles. Spent the night in the parking lot of an abandoned store, then left early the next morning. Heading south from the Alaska Highway is where Canada really starts to get nice. There’s pine trees, farms, and a lot of small towns. The drive from Dawson Creek to Prince George still isn’t very eventful, there’s a few pulp mills and really run down factory towns, but nothing of any note. We made it to Quesnel that night, and stayed by a commercial complex.
South from Quesnel is the Fraser Valley. Most of the valley is rather arid and rocky, something that seems out of place in the Pacific Northwest. British Columbia also has the highest concentration of ghost towns in the world, something that’s really evident driving through. Most of them are goldrush-era settlements, or collapsed agricultural communities that are somehow still standing. About halfway down the river the landscape gets really desert-like and resembles New Mexico or Colorado, complete with rodeos and cows.
That night we stayed in Hope, a small truck stop community in the Fraser canyon, instead of continuing all the way to Vancouver. The next morning we got and and drove the 100 or so miles to Vancouver through the farmland of Chilliwack and Abbotsford. We stayed in an RV park in Burnaby, and I left for the day to explore Vancouver. The RV park was about a half a mile from a SkyTrain station, so I walked there to head into the city.
One thing that I find fascinating about Vancouver is how much industry is in the city itself. There’s factories that are bordering high-rise apartments, and it makes me wonder why the factory is still there if it’s on three million dollars worth of land. Anyways, I got into downtown at about 2:00. I wandered around for about forty-five minutes before deciding that I was completely overwhelmed and that I should try to find somewhere to eat. I googled something like ‘best cheap restaurants in Vancouver’ and found one on Mainstreet and King Edward Avenue. I figured out which train to take and got within a half a mile (though I thought it was further at the time). I took the wrong bus, then decided I’d just walk after waiting for fifteen minutes for the right one with about fifty other people. I was kind of disoriented because I got off of the subway in the middle of a residential neighborhood, like with nothing but houses in any direction. Turns out that Vancouver is incredibly well zoned/planned, and that businesses are only on main streets, something that’s kind of alien in a city to me. I ended up finding the restaurant and getting some excellent Malaysian food for five dollars before catching a bus back to downtown. In an uncharacteristically touristy move, I bought a ticket to the observation deck at the Harbor Center (or Harbour Centre in Canadian). While not the best tower, it did have a pretty good view and I got some good photos. The ticket was also good all day long so I could go up later at night.
I came down from the tower and started to head over to meet up with my family on Davie Street. The bus system is really intuitive, the buses go in one direction or the other on every street, and then if they go somewhere else, it says it on the LED board. While this might be the standard in most places, everywhere I’ve ever taken the bus has been really kind of complicated. I got to Davie Street about twenty minutes before my family so I went to get some coffee in a Tim Hortons. After I met up with them I head back to the observation to look at the city at night, then I went to the train station to head back to the RV park. It took me about half an hour to figure out which train was the right one, but I eventually made it back at about 8:30.
The next day I toured Simon Fraser University, then we left Canada. In Everett, a suburb of Seattle, someone yelled “Your axle’s on fire!” at us on the freeway. Needless to say, we pulled over as soon as possible to find that our axle was, in fact, on fire. We’re still not sure what happened, but I think that water/mud got into it on the Alaska Highway and started causing friction. After driving for an hour in the rain in Washington, more water got into it and pushed dirt back into the wheel, which led to a downward spiral where the axle grease stopped lucubrating as much, which caused it to heat up, which caused the water to evaporate and leave more dirt in the axle, further increasing viscosity. We ended up staying in a Walmart parking lot until morning when we could get the parts to fix it.
Right now I’m in a coffee shop in a strip mall. It’s empty except for an old man reading the newspaper and an English tutor helping a younger Korean guy learn how to read English. Hoping to make it to Portland tonight, I’m touring Lewis and Clark college in the morning.