My alarm went off at 5:50am. I wasn't in any rush to leave really, but I had to say goodbye to the Skipper before he went to work at 6:10. I wasn't entirely awake and I hadn't slept well the night before (woke up sweating, that nervous sort of sleep when it's the eve of something big), so we didn't have lots of words at that hour. But we hugged, and there were tears and sniffs, well wishes, and then he was gone. Then I went downstairs and let some more tears fall.
Toni and the Skipper had helped me to repack my truck last night. With some careful rearranging, and minus a few things, there was a bit of extra space. It was a good thing, because this morning when I went to shove in the final few items, I needed that space.
As I was packing up, Sam was freaking out. She's known that something is up, she knows she's not going to like it, and she knows it probably involves another long stupid car ride. Every time I sat down this morning she was on my lap, purring. Don't leave me behind, she was saying. Then when it came time to put the kitty in the truck, she tried to run away upstairs, so I had to corner her and catch her. Meow meow meow.
Then it came time to say goodbye to Toni as well. We've known each other so long that we are family now. They have been so good to me, to me and Dan, to me and Dan and the kitty. I feel so at home in their house and it was hard to leave that comfy bed and that lovely tall toilet seat in their guest room (I know, it's the small things, right?) Another round of tears and sniffs, then the kitty and I were off.
Meow meow meow. I hate this why are you taking me for a car ride, you know I HATE car rides.
Last night I had my mind made up that I was going to take the Departure Bay - Horseshoe Bay ferry. Then the Skipper had a look at the maps, the routes, the schedules, and advised me to take the Swartz Bay - Tsawassen ferry. He said I wouldn't save any time and by going the southern route I wouldn't have to go through Vancouver *and* it's a route I already know. I decided he was right, and went that way. The ferry only cost me $63. Can that be right? For some reason I was expecting $80 or more. I guess I'm so used to getting gouged by BC Ferries that I always expect ferry fares to hurt. It was nice to have money left over for a change. I could afford to have breakfast!
I mostly stayed in the truck with Sam on the ferry. It was busy upstairs and as I had been crying (a lot), I was in no mood to be around people. I don't know who was in more need of comfort: me or Sam!
Sam decided she liked to be in the foot well on the driver's side. Not going to work for me, far too dangerous, so I put a pillow in the way to block her access. Eventually she settled in to the space on the bench right beside me, meowing only occasionally, and panted. It was warm for much of our drive, and while the air was flowing, she was panting partly from warm and partly from stress. Her poor cute kitty paws were sweating! Not once was she interested in eating or drinking or using the litter box. At one point I put on the halter and leash to see if I could interest her in peeing on some nice bushes but no, she just wanted to climb and get up high. On a rock face. No no kitty. Bad kitty. Meooow. At least she didn't bite or scratch me, just hissed.
I prayed for an uneventful drive. It was more or less uneventful, except I apparently took a wrong turn at Hope. There were options! I could take Highway 1, the TransCanada or Highway 5 to get to Kamloops via the Coquihalla. I do in fact own a road atlas but dang it! I left it at the house of Dan's father when I had dinner there on Monday night. I thought I could make it without it. How hard can it be to follow road signs, after all?
Well, I did make it to Kamloops. It was just before Lytton that Dan messaged me, asking where I was. I sent him my location (not being entirely sure where I was but was admittedly concerned that none of the road signs said "Kamloops XXkm", just Ashcroft and Cache Creek.) He told me I should have taken the Coquihalla... Ok well make sure you turn right at Cache Creek (that's what the sign said to do anyway)
So even though I didn't get enough sleep last night, I got this crazy idea in my head that I would drink lots of coffee and maybe just drive through the night. Nap at rest stops. Dan did it when he was on his way to North Carolina, I can be just as tough as him! Then Dan astutely pointed out that he had a bed in the back of the truck AND didn't have the kitty with him. Right. Okay okay. He's right. He booked me a room at a Travelodge in Salmon Arm. 319km away from where I was. I rolled in just before 8pm. Had a text chat with Dan, a lovely bath, and now I'm telling you all my story.
The weather conditions where I started were warm, then hot, but overcast for most of the day. It was even muggy, so I was glad to have air conditioning in the truck. So was the kitty. Just after Kamloops it started raining, driving home that fact that I really need new windshield wipers. There comes a time in every woman's life when we need to learn how to do these things. Age 37 is better late than never, right?
Something else also surprised me: mountains. I grew up with family road trips over the Rocky Mountains once or twice a year during my entire childhood. The few times Dan and I have driven in the western United States, I've seen a few mountain ranges. There are mountains on Vancouver Island, but certainly not nearly as impressive as some of the bigger ones I've seen in my life. I'm embarrassed to say I got to a ho hum point in my life where if you've seen one majestic mountain, you've seen them all... WELL I'm here to tell you I was all wrong. I must have driven through the Cascades before at different points but certainly not this particular route. At one point I came around a corner and saw this rock face of hundreds of years of compressed solidity that spanned for thousands of meters, different coloured rock all running into each other. The mountains started rolling into high desert mounds covered in sage and I knew I must have been nearing Kamloops. I knew I was near Kamloops because of the sage, not the mountains. I've seen mountains like those in the States, which makes sense because the mountain ranges don't stop at the border.
Tomorrow I'll drive through the Rockies, it should take me between 8-10 hours to get to my sister's place. I'm hoping to be on the road by 6am, cross over to Alberta well before noon, be at Lori's place for dinner (or as they say, "supper", since they refer to lunch as "dinner"). I sure hope they let me get some rest before making me start playing Favourite Auntie