So…where did we leave off?
Ah, yes, Anticipation City.
So, did we make it across the border?
If you’ll recall, the border that day was Turtle (of Turtle and the Hare fame) slow. We were one of two cars, the other of which the guard had sent off for a full inspection. We waited as their rig was given the once, twice, thrive over, anticipating our own packed to the brim paddywagon being unpacked item by item.
As the inspected car apparently passed with flying colors, it was now our turn. We pulled up to the window, rolling down ours, pulling our masks over our big smiles, doing our best to look the part of the precise people you want patronizing your Province (a mouthful of P’s!). It’s hard to look friendly when half of your face is covered but I told my smile wrinkles to put on a show. Now, I don’t know about you but when I get pulled over, I become a Chatty Kathy and so does my partner in crime. We did our best to simply stick to the facts and, as one of our friends suggested, “overwhelm with paperwork”. We had papers for the dog (who was looking all things upstanding citizen with his freshly bathed and brushed self), papers for my name change, papers for The Chief’s brief brush with the law, paper for our marriage, papers for our rental down south, papers for our COVID tests…we had what felt like a small tree’s worth of paper with us and we sent it his way. Nailed it, right?! He shooed the papers away. He wanted to talk. Cool, cool, cool…
We answered his questions with the cool of…a cucumber on a hot day. We did our best. He seemed unphased by our uncouth and then came the moment of truth. “Do you have your passports?”. Yep! We decided not to call attention to the expiration. He’d see it. Why highlight the fact that we were dum-dums?
He looked at them,
Looked at us…
Looked at them,
Looked at us…
Looked at them,
Looked at us and…
“How long will you be in-country?”
“We’ll be going through as quickly as possible! Two, maybe three days,” we promised eagerly. Was he agreeing that if we hauled our booties through at warp speed he’d let us through??
“There’s no rush. Take your time. It’s a beautiful time of year!”
“Will do, sir. Thank you very much.”
And with that, we were in Canada.
Canada! The place we had worried over since we met. The place we had wondered over obsessively for the past few months. Canada, that Country that held all of our plans in her sticky maple syrup grasp. Oh, Canada! I vowed I would never again sing SouthPark’s “Blame Canada” (it’s just damn catchy though, you know?!). We were in the land of kindness and courtesy. It was on! We pulled over to hoot and holler and take in the surprise. We had made it. For the first time in months, we finally knew what our journey would look like and that for certain, we would all be taking it together, as a family. The waves of relief continued to come throughout that first day. Randomly we’d look at one another and say “We are in Canada!” We were on cloud nine. And boy oh boy, he wasn’t kidding. It was beautiful.
It went from this, at the border (read: dismal at best, mirroring our low hopes for crossing):
To this, 30 minutes later (read: Ooohhhhhkaaayyyy…this trip might actually work out!):
To this gorgeousness, two hours after that (read: it’s on!):
The Border Agent was fully correct. This place was glorious and…so close by! As we stopped a few miles after this picture was taken, The Chief pointed out a nearby slew of mountains. “See those? Our home is right over that range. Despite the 700 miles and 15+ hours we’d driven, the shortcut had been there all along. If only we could travel as the crow flies…
That night we made it to Whitehorse, where they are oh so discrete about what territory they live in and who is welcome (hell yes, Canada!):
Despite our hotel being under total construction which was conveniently not mentioned when we booked, we were endlessly happy to have landed in the home of “Eh?” and Kindness. There truly is a Canadian gentleness that I’d always heard of but hadn’t felt so full force as when we were completely immersed in her arms. Even in rough situations (more on that later), the courtesy was constant. While Leto was still getting used to city life, The Chief and I were fully embroiled in the joys of on-demand hot water and a warm bed to fall into, which we did.
The next day, with morning work meetings and a bit of road weariness already setting in, we were off to a late start. We decided to have a leisurely breakfast, take a walk and then stock up on goodies at the epic local health food store before we headed out. After being at home or the usual grocery store haunts for the last nearly 3 years, it was so fun (for me) to see all the new offerings. Turns out kombucha is still a hit, kefir is kickin’ and Bitchin’ Sauce is apparently a must-have. Who knew? We decided to hit the road and aim for Jade City which was 6 hours away but…when you leave at 2 and there are umpteen lakes to stop at along the way and your wife hates driving in the dark, that makes it a little harder.
We stopped for gas in Nugget City just as night fell, just shy of the British Columbia boundaries. We still hadn’t decided if we would take the Cassiar Highway (less traveled, more potholes) or the AlCan (more traveled, better maintained). The answer came quickly at the station when an ex-Mounted Policeman told The Chief how many people he’d rescued from hitting herd animals crossing the AlCan and how the Cassiar had recently been redone. He also mentioned that he thought it best if we just called it a night, as most of the accidents happened in the evening. I looked at my phone. No service. Hmmm…driving at night with herds of animals suddenly crossing the road and no phone to call for help OR settling in for the night? We chose Option B.
The next day we were off to an earlier start (in spite of The Chief settling down in the cold morning dirt for 30 minutes to plug the fussy flat tire of the people in the room next to us. He’s pretty awesome like that). The Mountie was right, the Cassiar was beautiful and freshly paved and though we saw tons of animals, no herds hopped out of nowhere into the road. The night had been a little stressful, even after we settled in so I was glad we hadn’t added an animal dodging night drive to the mix. I still wasn’t feeling well from whatever was going on from before we left home and new symptoms had popped up that had us both feeling worried. Yet without service, there wasn’t much I could do to ease my mind except…crystals!
You can take the girl out of the hippie town but you can’t take the hippie roots out of the girl. Just as my worries were starting to peak the next morning, we hit Jade Mountain. For some reason (I’m not normally much of a gift shop girl), I was pulled internally to pull over and check out the goods. Right as I was about to suggest it, we both saw that the house-like gift shop boasted of Free Coffee. Something for us both, perhaps? Indeed! The Chief swung in and what did I see? Crystals. Call it what you will, but sometimes you just need a safety blanket and to me, that safety blanket was a pocketful of crystals to ease my ailments. The Chief left fully gassed up and I with a smile on my face. The rest of the day was beautiful. Although still chilly, we were finally in the sun again! I felt as if my blinders had been taken off and I could finally appreciate things. The overcast years in Alaska had felt like a heavy jacket, weighing me down. We stopped to smell the roses (and make more coffee for The Chief, snacks for me) along the roadsides, taking in the vitamin D every chance we got.
We made it next to Smithers, BC the night before Canadian Thanksgiving which I’ll admit I didn’t know was a thing, and decided (after a brief “you better slow down and let yourself rest” pep talk from my Mama) to take it easy and rest. The last month had been so intense with all the trips to and fro, the building and planning, the working from the road..and with my symptoms continuing despite my crystal protectors, we gave ourselves a day to see if perhaps a bit of rest was just what the doctor ordered or if, in fact, a doctor was in order.
Which was it?
Find out next time.
Trust me, you don’t want to miss this one.
From Alaska &…
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See you in two weeks in…2022!