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The Journey Ends....

and we begin the process of making Vancouver our home for the next year. Can I tell you that we are slightly overwhelmed? Whew! As I type this I am in an eighth floor room in the beautiful Pan Pacific Hotel at One Canada Place.
We arrived about 6:00 PST last night amid total chaos in front of the hotel, following a very interesting time at the border crossing. I'll get to that shortly.

Our stay in Missoula was uneventful, but it was nice having a sliding glass door out to a large grassy area for Baxter. I was so hot when we arrived that I even went swimming for a bit in their open pool. I mention an open pool because a fair amount of the places we stayed in had indoor pools, including the Hampton in Pineview, which I know I mentioned before, but I can't say enough about that hotel and their staff. Hampton thinks they are great as well because they won an award for one of the top 25 Hamptons in the US; considering that there are more than 1,900 in the states, that is saying quite a lot! I wrote my last post while sitting here:
We heard there were some wildfires along our route to Spokane, and although we did not see any fire, we did see smoke.
When I was a student at Valencia, taking speech class, one of the first thing I learned is to know your audience to be an effective speaker. That tenant applies to all sorts of businesses as well. Rand McNally sure knows their audience, you know, the old folks who don't want to rely on wifi!
I don't know if she bought the same one as I did, mine is a LARGE scale!! Awesome, right? I had super spotty internet connection for most of the trip, so having the atlas on my lap pretty much the whole way allowed us to travel on the roads less traveled. Not only are there maps, but lots of fun facts, and Bruce is the best when I ask him to guess the population of a state. That's our idea of a good time on a road trip! At this same rest stop in Montana, look what I found! Does anyone know what kind of burrowing animal this is?
After staring me down, it popped right back into its' underground home. Our friend Sue insisted that we stop in St. Regis and try the Huckleberry Shake here:
They claim it is the best shake ever, and I tasted just a bit of it, and indeed it was delicious. Apparently huckleberries are quite the thing in Montana as I had a huckleberry dressing on my salad in Ennis.

Our friend Jeff told Bruce that he loved Couer d'Alene, so we matched our route to go and see it for ourselves, but first we had to get to Idaho!
Round and round the mountains we went, as well as up and down, but eventually we arrived in the beautiful city with the very large lake. It's a darn good thing neither of us get car sick! I should mention again that I drove not one mile of this trip as I am a total chicken when it comes to mountain or unfamiliar roads. I have many friends who are road warriors, however, they cannot include me in their group.
Off the interstate, and heading down the main street in Couer d'Alene,  you can easily see why it is a top tourist destination. Clean and tidy with gorgeous hanging flower baskets on charming light posts.
I thought this bench was clever...
After paying $10 to park, we made our way over to the busy waterfront with parasailing...
and people enjoying the sunny warm weather.
We were so delighted that we were able to have lunch on the patio at this cute place where they allowed dogs.
As well, we enjoyed a nice chat with some folks who moved to Idaho from Northern California 30 years ago and have never looked back.

Idaho was a short lived state for us, although I did take this obligatory shot of a red barn while zooming through. Don't ask me how it turned out!
You know what comes next don't you?
The only state on our trip that put the Welcome sign on the driver's side. What were they thinking?

The mountains gave way to a mostly blonde landscape in this part of Washington; specifically we were on our way for our nightly stop in Spokane. The Doubletree we stayed in could not have been any more different than the others; this one was connected to the Convention Center and was a high rise. So much for our screen door. At first it was disappointing until I learned that it was part of a huge complex built for the 1974 World's Fair held in Spokane, the smallest city to ever host one. I overheard one of the valet guys tell someone else to go around the wall covered with plants,  and following his directions, I came across this lovely view.
The Weeping Willow trees were both gigantic and beautiful!! One thing we've learned about these Western states is mining was king, thus, the sculpture above honoring those who made the economies of all of these states, whether it was silver, coal, copper, or gold mining, possible. I walked along the Spokane riverfront, once slowly with Baxter, and once at a little faster pace, admiring the beautiful scenery.
Some of the buildings from the Expo. including the 1902 clock tower.
We decided to get on the road as early as possible yesterday, with our destination Redmond, WA. Did I tell you the landscape was blonde? Wheat everywhere! Some parts were already harvested, and I noticed how the tractor, or tilling marks, whatever they are called, looked like quilting in the fields.
The above photo doesn't show it very well, but trust me on this one. At a stop off the interstate for gas, I chuckled at this place.
"I suppose you want to stop at the scenic overlook," Bruce said to me. You bet! He took care of Baxter, and I am so pleased at how this photo turned out. Talk about feeling small in the world.
They, and I use that term loosely, were gazing down at the gorge created by the Columbia River.
A few hours into the drive Bruce decided, and I concurred, that he wanted to just keep going, rather than stop for another night. Can you blame him? Each and every night he got a cart, loading all our stuff onto it, unloading, and re-loading, and it was getting old after 12 days on the road. Not that he complains, mind you. Because Bruce is a Diamond member of the Hilton properties, they kindly cancelled our reservation in Redmond without penalty. Fortunately I was able to book the hotel where we are currently staying for another night. the condo will not be empty until tomorrow night so we'd already planned on being here for a few days. So lucky!

Traveling on I-90, we crossed Washington State in record time. Aside from the gorge, this was my favorite scene from the drive.
Is my camera lens fast, or what? I cannot believe this turned out! We got on the 405, drove on the outskirts of Seattle, and joined up with I-5 for the final push to Vancouver. After so many days of rural driving, ending up in a traffic jam on a Saturday afternoon was a shock to our systems.

And here we go....the border crossing. Apparently there are four crossings from Washington; this one is called the Peace Arch.
Folks in the Kia in front of us, jumped out, running over towards the arch and the Canadian flag flower display for pictures. It was pretty funny watching them try and jump back in the car while it was moving along. We waited in this line for about thirty minutes until finally it was our turn.
Unlike most of the folks, when Bruce told the Border Patrol woman we were entering Canada for a work permit, we had to pull into a parking lot and leave Baxter in a crate outside. A first for him! We could hear him yelping while inside. As well, we saw a guy being taken away in handcuffs! Wonder why?

In spite of the reputation for all Canadians being nice, our Border patrol lady was not nice at all. After grilling Bruce for about twenty minutes, it took another twenty five minutes or so, for our passports and the work permit to be ready. She made no idle conversation, kept a completely straight face, and basically bugged the life out of me! Bruce matched her expression, never giving an inch. :)

Finally, after stopping at the visitors center for maps, we were on our way again. You can see the city from quite a ways away.
Do you see it in the middle of the frame? Woo hoo...3,600 miles of driving and here we are.
As I mentioned early on in this post, we were overwhelmed with all of the people and cars in front of the Pan Pacific. As good fortune would have it, we had a wonderful bell captain who was patient, directed Bruce to the underground parking, sent me and Baxter up the two floors to the lobby and locked all of our stuff in a room until we were registered. Our room is fab with wonderful sheets so it was worth the early craziness. It is in the middle of the cruise port, thus the huge amount of people of every nationality, dress, and age.

Canada is in the midst of celebrating their 150th birthday with banners everywhere and this spot for photo ops.
I took this photo early today, thus not the chaos of the night before. Two ships arrived overnight, or maybe after we went to bed. It was pretty cool to stand next to one of these giants.
Just a few minutes ago I asked Bruce, what's that noise? A ships horn honey. I'll have to go outdoors soon to see what boat left for Alaska.

So, you see the sky is blue as can be, which is such a blessing. Plus, the weather is warm but with a nice breeze. Plus, Baxter is happy to settle down for a few days.
The hotel provided a goodie pouch for Baxter, with a pillow cover which we promptly filled with one of the luscious bed pillows. Of course we put his quilts on top to make it familiar.

You might be wondering about our clothes on the long trip. Or maybe not? Well, here goes anyway....Since we both used only one suitcase, I packed lots of dresses, wore them at least two days, washed underwear in the bathroom sink, wore the same earrings and necklace the whole time, and mostly wore the above Keds everyday. They did get soaked at Yellowstone but they dried out just fine. I used the hotel washing machine in Laramie, or so I think that is where it was, the days are running into one another in my mind, for Bruce's clothes. A first for me.

Was it fun? You bet it was. Traveling from sea to shining sea....amazing!

yours truly,

Gail

p.s. this is going to be so weird living and writing in a different time zone....



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