It turns out sleeping in the roof top tent is AMAZING! 🙂 We have a lot more space them we anticipated and we can even hang things on the ‘ceiling’. We also didn’t fall through or crashed the car whilst getting inside so that’s a very positive point too. We spent most of the morning reorganising our stuff so that we are more accustomed to camping.
We even installed a wash line in the car made out of electricity wire and a little creativity (you never know when a little experience in renovations comes in handy…)
Today we had a lot of driving ahead of us as we needed to get to Eagle Lake, which is located in California near Susanville, before sunset. Yesterday we noticed that it’s better to arrive during daylight to ensure that you know where to find the showers… to avoid having to wash yourself over a sink in the ladies washroom (yes, Patrick was there too 🙂 )
We did have a quick sneak view at Crater Lake though since we were so close-by. It was formed when a volcano collapsed over 6,000 years ago and discovered 100 years ago by a gold digger on a mule!
Then we headed south to our new camp site. Along the way we saw a lot of new landscapes. Most of them were farmland, forests or desert.
At some point we even felt like we were participating a Formula 1 race as we had to follow a pilot car. (don’t worry, that’s how they organise road works in the US … it’s pretty amazing actually… they even have people standing at both ends indicating whether you need to stop or continue driving. In Belgium we would just put a timed traffic light…)
… when finally we saw a lake appearing behind the horizon.
As we arrived well before sunset, we decided to go for a little stroll near the lake.
When we got back we even installed a little camp fire and made a cup of tea before going to bed!
We arrived in Bend quite late, so we had a long and refreshing sleep in the Sugarloaf Mountain Motel. Bend is not a major tourist destination, but we came here on a mission: installing our roof top tent. With the friendly help of Shawn we finished the job in about 2,5 hours. Shawn had to go to the hardware store to get different bolts and because our roof racks are quite low, it was a tricky job.
Today was the first day we had some rain and the temperature was below 25°C. We decided to ignore the bad weather and head to Mount Saint Helens as planned. Climbing the mountain by car, we came across some very curvy roads covered in fog. It’s a good thing that we had a map from the Information Centre and the locations were indicated with signs otherwise we might have got lost.
With a day pass (which only cost $5) we were able to view all trails on the mountain. The first trail we did was through lava mountains. The mountain quite literally exploded in 1980 and the top of the mountain got projected throughout the area killing over 50 people. The lava stream that poured out of the mountain has left beautiful mountains though. The explosion also opened up an underground river which leads to a waterfall. The path that leads to the waterfall is described as ‘difficult’ and that is no lie indeed. This trail is quite steep and small and slippery. As we didn’t want to risk our lives, it was only a one-way route and there was nothing to see at the end, we decided to return after seeing the waterfall.
Our second trail was less adventurous. This was called the ‘Trail of Two Forests’. Patrick believes the name was given because there is an underground forest and an above ground forest. This area of Saint Helens got burnt when the lava poured over the land. This results in holes in the ground where trees used to stand. Some of these holes have collapsed under the weight of the lava. Other holes are big enough to crawl through.
Then we drove to another site marked on the map of USA as a must-see location, the ‘Ice Caves’. I suppose in winter time that these are much more impressive but knowing the weather outside is 26°C and there is still ice 2 meter under the ground in an open cave, is already pretty amazing on its own.
As it was already 5 o’clock at this time, we needed to get moving to Bend. On this 6 hour drive, we saw some amazing landscapes from the car.
A last view on Mount Saint Helens…
A toll bridge in Hood River over the Colombia River…
The Colombia River, border between Washington and Oregon, which followed us along route 84…
Farmland mountains as far as the eye can see…
Big distant mountains…
Until we reached Bend in the dark…
Brussels has the Atomium from 1958. I did not know until today that the following world’s fair was in 1962 in… Seattle! Today we acted as real tourists in the big city of Seattle. We went to see the Fremont Troll, the Space Needle, Pike Place Market, the Experience Music Project building, Pioneer Square, Seattle Library, the Great Wheel and the very first Starbucks coffee bar.
Walking through the tall buildings you could see the beautiful reflections in the windows.
We also went off the beaten path and found these hidden treasures in the city. You would find the last one interesting if you knew what it’s made of. 🙂
For lunch we had the traditional clam chowder in the ‘Pike Place Chowder’ which is apparently the best in the city for already multiple years. We can admit that it was delicious!
Then we headed further south and crossed the world biggest arena with a wooden dome in Tacoma.
We spotted Mount Saint Helens in the distance and decided to go for a visit in the information centre. It is famous (infamous) for the large vulcanic explosion in 1980 that completely changed the face of the mountain. As it was already closed we just had a little walk around the area and followed a short swamp trail. Tomorrow we will hike around Mount Saint Helens!
You can get your heart to spin
On the outside looking in
Moon ain’t gonna last all night
Well let’s work up an appetite
Today we went for border crossing number 3! Passing from Belgium to the Netherlands was by far the easiest. From the Netherlands to Canada was pretty smooth too. Today we took the car on the ferry from Sidney (on Vancouver Island, Canada) to Anacortes (in Washington State, USA). We booked the ticket already yesterday, so no stress about missing the boat! We drove for about 45 minutes up to the terminal, paid for the tickets and drove up to the US border: sunglasses off and big smiles on! Patrick’s paperwork was all good, but when Marijke’s passport was scanned the alarm went off. Officer Perez’ computer malfunctioned, to which he replied “it means I’m going to have to shoot you now!”. We put even bigger smiles on. Marijke had to fill out some paperwork, get her finger prints taken and we were stamped in to the USA without any problem. We also got some instructions about what we need to do when we leave to Mexico later on.
Today was our second day on Vancouver Island. We spent the night at Cowichan Bay and then drove down to Victoria. Victoria is a nice little town although a bit touristy.
You can also sign up for a whale watching trip but we thought it was a little too expensive ($100 per person) plus we already found these guys in the city centre.
We will take the ferry off the island tomorrow but you can also take the seaplane!
The air plane company works like a real airport. They have real ticket control and they call passengers to onboard the flights through speakers. We especially liked the gate 🙂
Marijke wanted to go with this option but then realised that we also have a car to transport… 🙂 People have said that our car is ‘too clean’ for a road trip. Enter the birds of Victoria, stage left.
Well everybody’s heard about the bird
Bird bird bird bird bird bird!
We started the day by copying some documents. These will come in handy at the border crossings or in case we lose something.
Most of the rest of the day was spent on a cross-over to Vancouver Island from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo. We didn’t make a reservation but made sure to get there early. So we were there 2 hours before the ferry was supposed to leave and we managed to get the car on board.
Once we got on the boat, we had a beautiful view off the coast lines of Canada all the way up to Nanaimo. We didn’t see any whales or seals though 😦
Vancouver Island is very different from the mainland. We discovered that it has a lot more farm lands.
It still has a lot of forests too off course so after refuelling the car we went to see the ‘Kinsol Trestle’ (a rebuilt railway bridge) which is in the middle of nowhere but very beautiful to see.
We had dinner in the ‘Rock Cod Café’ in Cowichan Bay and are spending the night with Tom and Connie, whose house has beautiful views over the ocean (not ‘the lake” as Patrick mistakingly said).
Tonight’s dinner: fish and chips. If you like spicy, order the fish tacos (especially the chips are HOT! 🙂 but they are very tasty)
Our love is like a ship on the ocean
We’ve been sailing with a cargo full of love and devotion 🙂
So I’d like to know where, you got the notion
To rock the boat, don’t rock the boat baby
Rock the boat, don’t tip the boat over
We really enjoyed our stay in the new AirBnB. After a tasty breakfast we said goodbye to Lori and drove into Vancouver to park our car outside the bicycle shop. We then went to get our bikes and did a little detour around Stanley Park before handing the bikes back to the shop.
Patrick also found this amazing cupcake bakery shop.
We then headed for Whistler. On the way over, we saw very beautiful landscapes from the car seat.
We had a short stop at the Shannon Falls (335m high).
And also at the Brandywine falls (70m high)
Whistler was a little disappointing though. It’s a very clean and well setup town but it all feels very artificial. We only stopped here because it was the host town of the 2010 winter olympics.
I must admit that they did have some very beautiful 3D chalk drawings.
And then we headed to our hotel town, Squamish which looked deserted. It was very calm and open and felt like a real forest town.
Our hotel in Squamish is wonderful. Funny anecdote: it’s run by Dutch people. Who would have thought that we would be able to speak Dutch in America and they would actually understand us :).
Tonight’s dinner… PIZZA!
One evening as the sun went down
And the jungle fires were burning,
Down the track came a hobo hiking,
And he said, “Boys, I’m not turning
I’m headed for a land that’s far away
Besides the crystal fountains
So come with me, we’ll go and see
The Big Rock Candy Mountains
We got up early in the morning to go to the Toyota car dealer (our appointment was at 8:00 am) to get it fully checked. When we arrived we heard a *kling* and when we looked under the car we saw this…
I have to say that we both slightly panicked but luckily we were at the right place to get it fixed. We asked for a full check-up and it seems that our car is a little sick and needing some maintenance 😦 The bottom is a little rusted and also the connections to the engine are a little old. The thing that fell off is not that important (thank goodness). It’s just the screws that were rusted. The engine and breaks all in all seem to be okay still. So we should be safe enough going forward but we might get more surprises in the next few months (let’s hope the dealer is mistaking about this)…
Once the check-up was completed we went to get our missing camping equipment in the ‘Mountain Equipment Co-op’. There we bought sleeping bags, chairs, a cooking gas fire and 2 soup bowls. Surprisingly and very unexpectedly Marijke is now an official member of the MEC community (apparently you have to be a member to be able to pay at the till…).
With all our gear we drove up to Kits Beach to see if it would all fit in the trunk of the car. After some puzzling … and some more puzzling and reorganising, we managed to get it all in! (makes you wonder though if you really need that many clothes or that much stuff)
As the weather was great and we were already at the beach side, we went for a little stroll along the coast line.
And found a wild rabbit … maybe a friend for Pina? … 🙂
Tonight we are staying in Richmond in a new AirBnB. So far, no bags to be moved or rooms to be shared so that seems to be all good 🙂
Don’t worry about a thing,
‘Cause every little thing gonna be all right
On Sunday we went to ‘Canadian Tire’ and ‘Home Depot’ to look for plastic boxes to be able to better organise the car. We found some really good ones in the first store which perfectly fit within the car trunk. Unfortunately Lady Fortune was not completely on our side as we discovered a rattling sound underneath the passenger seat so we need to get that fixed. We decided to leave the car parked in front of the AirBnB and bring it in for maintenance on Monday.
We met Marc and Marisa at the food cart fest and enjoyed an Indian lunch.
Then we headed to Granville Island (which is technically not an island …) with the Aquabus.
We found a wonderful market (Granville Island Public Market) where farmers were selling local food and dishes.
Walking back into Vancouver town we got a beautiful view over the ocean and Stanley Park from the Burrard bridge. We will try to go to the park in the coming days.
To close off the day we had dinner at a Japanese restaurant called ‘Miku’. The food was de-li-cious!! Sashimi, sushi, shrimp, etc all straight from the ocean. (and yes, the salmon IS indeed a lot more pink :))
At the end of the day we had to say goodbye to Marc and Marisa as they will fly back to Toronto and Ottawa. 😦 We will miss you guys!
Now I’m sitting here,
Sipping at my ice cold beer,
Lazing on a sunny afternoon.