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Trip “Home” – Canada/US – Part I


May 14th, 2018

Las Vegas, NV

Our flights from Cusco to Lima, then Lima to Vegas via Houston all went well and our luggage followed along with us.  We were exhausted though as we had  the red eye out of Lima and barely slept.  Fran’s cold didn’t help but it could have been much worse.  After landing on time, we took the shuttle to the car rental place (Ace Rental – don’t use them!) and after over 1.25 hours, got a car and headed out to do some grocery shopping before checking into our condo rental.  The suite was very nice; one large bedroom, a full kitchen, huge bathroom with both a tub and a stand alone shower.  The living room had a pull out couch which Josh used.  We booked the smaller suite next door for Serena and Kurt and they were happy – it was nice to have adjoining rooms.

We got settled in and walked to strip – more or less a mile –

and hit the hay early that night.

Las Vegas has become a hockey town!  The newest franchise, the Golden Knights, is in the western conference playoffs (and the team is mostly Canadians) and it’s nice to see a brand new hockey city so into the playoffs.  The arena is located in behind the NYNY casino and the place is full of jerseyed fans on game night.  We actually met a couple from Winnipeg in their Jets jerseys here to watch game 5.

Wednesday we were up early to take a drive to Death Valley National Park.  Fran began the driving but after an hour, let Doug drive as she was not feeling great.  We spent a couple of hours at the park exploring in the car and drove back to Vegas before dinner and a hot tub at the resort pool.

Thursday after errands, we relaxed some and ordered the parts the Honda Civic needed to get the air conditioning repaired.  Serena and Kurt arrived with the Honda and we got them settled in and chatted over nachos and beer before Josh arrived around 9pm by plane.  After chatting for a while, we were ready for but the kids went to strip for a couple of hours.

Over the course of the weekend, we spent time at the pool at Tropicana

sometime at the pin ball hall of fame, Fran returned the rental car, we all saw “O” at the Bellagio,

enjoyed the Piano Bar at Harrah’s, lots of Fat Tuesday slushies,

the boys went to see Deal Pool 2 while the girls went shopping and had pedi’s, several trips to the strip to play penny slots, wander thru casinos, drink more slushies, rode the High Roller ferris wheel at the Linq on Saturday night with the all you can drink option,

We caught a Lyft to go up and check out Fremont Street – what a hoot we had on that ride; the driver had a karaoke machine and Serena did a Mily Cyrus song and then Josh surprised us all by doing a Weird Al song, “living in an amish paradise” and we had a blast.  Sunday morning we rode the roller coaster at New York New York (despite Fran not liking going upside down!),

Sunday morning we rode the roller coaster at New York New York (despite Fran not liking going upside down!),

and wandered through the Excalibur to the lower level to where Kurt remembered winning a huge stuffed XXXXXX as a child so some of us tried out hand at winning him another to no avail but we did win a stuffed happy face.


watched the Western Conference final between the Golden Knights and the Jets, had more Fat Tuesday (good thing we had refillable cups!) walked the strip,

had pool time at our resort and took kids back to the airport Sunday night for Serena & Kurt, Monday am for Josh.

May 21st

Salt Lake City, UT

Monday 21st – After dropping Josh at the airport at 4:30 am, since we were up, we packed and drove our Honda to SLC for 1pm where we had an appointment to install a new windshield and next new tires – a darn expensive couple of days felt hard after a week in Vegas!  We also ordered a new cruise control module (to be delivered to Seattle)  as that had been acting up for a while too.

We stopped are REI for some shoes Doug ordered (which they could not find!) and bought ourselves a couple of packable down jackets for the Andes. Fran’s friend, Mary made us a lovely dinner and put us up for the night (thanks SO much Mary – including accepting some Amazon parcels for us!) and next morning we hit the road early again to begin the road trip to Seattle.  Doug had to be at his company’s Bellevue office by the afternoon of May 23rd to get his laptop swapped out (no, he’s not working but also not “separated” from the company – he hasn’t “quit” and they’ve not let him go so he continues to have a company iPhone and a laptop – which apparently needs “upgrading” every 2-3 years….)

Distance driven:  653 km /405m

On to Seattle, WA

Tuesday we had a long driving day but nothing stressful – freeways free of garbage with high speeds (mostly 80mph thru Utah and Idaho – dropped to 70 in Oregon) and we managed to make it almost to the Washington state line at McNary by fivish.

In Idaho we made one detour off the I84 to Bruneau Canyon Overlook.  Heading down the road to it we came across Bruneau Dunes State Park which boasts the tallest standing dune in North America.

We arrived at the overlook after a five mile stretch of gravel road and it was a great spot.

nearby sign – only in America:

We made it to McNary, OR by late afternoon and called it a day.

Distance:  1095 km / 680 m!!

(could never do this in Latin America in less than 11 hours)

Wednesday, we were up bright and early and hit the road around 6am for the remaining 220 miles to Seattle (entering Washington – the fifth state so far….).  We hoped to make it before noon to get Doug’s computer to see if we could change his ocularist appointment to this afternoon rather than tomorrow morning so we could cross into Canada a day early.  (In order to avoid the healthcare insurance penalty the IRS charges, we cannot be in the US for more than 35 days a year so prefer to spend more time north of the border, to assist with this.)

We made it to Doug’s company office in Bellevue by 9:45 am, he exchanged his computer and the cruise control, we stopped at REI for some shoes he ordered and managed to change his appointment to today at 11:30.  We got there early but they had great wifi in the waiting room so we didn’t mind waiting.

When we checked into our hotel in Everett, Fran reached out to a fellow PanAm traveler who resides in the area and has started himself a business of assisting travelers with selling their US plated vehicles.  Alex was online and we arranged to meet him and his wife, Christy, for dinner.  Alex had driven the PanAm by motorbike a few years back and saw a need and ran with it.

We enjoyed a lovely dinner and got to know Alex and Christy.  Maybe one day we’ll need their services.

Distance: 416 km / 258 m

On to BC

Thursday morning we ran errands (including an oil change for the car) and drove across the border into Canada; first stop was to visit Doug’s mom in Chilliwack – she’d recently had hernia surgery and was still in the hospital.  We spent the night in a nearby hotel.

Distance: 171 km / 106 m

Friday morning, Doug installed the new cruise control himself (but could not get the horn working) and we returned to the hospital for another visit and then made our way to spend the evening/night with our longtime friends, Chris & Irene in Langley Township.  Irene retired last year but Chris continues to work for another two years.  They live in a large home and are always welcoming.  We took them out for dinner and then spent the evening, like old times, playing cards.

Distance: 83km / 51 m

On Saturday they took us for a beach walk in White Rock

and mid afternoon we made our way to Fran’s aunt’s and uncle’s condo in Richmond for dinner where her cousin Bryan, his wife Heidi and their two kids, Sean & Molly joined us.  Doug made the kids balloon animals.

After a late dinner we made our way up to North Vancouver to Fran’s sister’s part time apartment where we always stay when we come here and settled in for almost a week.

Distance: 63 km / 39 m

Sunday, Fran’s cousin’s family, dropped by for a visit (their hot water is not working and they wanted showers!) and in the afternoon we walked over to Therese & Pat’s for a drive to Cleveland Dam where we walked in the beautiful sunshine on paths in the park.   There is a fish hatchery there too:

After a lovely dinner on their patio we played some cards like back in the “old days”.  (we met these friends back in our South Africa days when we learned that he attended UBC at the same time as Doug)  They have a chicken coop in the backyard (yes in North Vancouver) and here’s a few clips of their “pets”:

Monday was a chill day and Tuesday we each went out to meet friends that evening.  Fran had a lovely dinner with her friends from the early 80’s – they all worked in the same law firm and Doug went to see Deal Pool 2 (yes again) with a university buddy.

Wednesday we awoke to another sunny day in the lower mainland.  It hasn’t been too warm around 20C/68F but quite comfortable.  Fran spent the morning at the library on the internet and then we drove into the city to meet Doug’s uncle, aunt and cousin for lunch.  (they live on the island but were over for a medical appointment).  We went to the truly BC restaurant: The White Spot and we shared a good burger.

Thursday was a little cooler and not quite as sunny.  Fran’s sister, Sandra came by mid afternoon and they went for a walk before dinner for which Doug’s buddy, Pete, joined us and we made nachos and drank beer (nachos with real cheese are hard to come in Latin America so a nice treat for us).

We were up early on Friday and headed out to Horseshoe Bay to catch a ferry to Vancouver Island.

We visited with Doug’s brother, David and his wife, Carol, before meeting their son, William for lunch.  William is getting married this summer but unfortunately, it’s after our return to Peru.

Then we continued down island to Victoria where were stayed with Doug’s youngest brother, D’Arcy for three nights and he had his girls, Emma & Sophie, for the weekend


We were up early on Friday and headed out to Horseshoe Bay to catch a ferry to Vancouver Island.

We visited with Doug’s brother, David and his wife, Carol, before meeting their son, William for lunch.  William is getting married this summer but unfortunately, it’s after our return to Peru.

Then we continued down island to Victoria where were stayed with Doug’s youngest brother, D’Arcy for three nights and he had his girls, Emma & Sophie, for the weekend

Distance: 134 km / 83 m

We visited with high school friends, Byron (and his wife Sharon – who laid out quite a feast of ribs & seafood) and Randy on Saturday,

walked out to Whiffen Spit in Sooke on Sunday to Fran’s father’s memorial bench on Sunday morning,

visited Doug’s sister, Dana and her hubby Mark that afternoon and ended the day with dinner with our longtime friend, Ted & Trish to Boston Pizza.

June 4th

Monday we were up and at ‘em early and just missed the 7am ferry but luckily there was an 8 and we made it to Chilliwack around 11 to have a final visit with Doug’s mom.  After lunch we got back in the car and began our drive eastward to explore southeast BC – we’ve never been east of Osoyoos along the Highway 3 that sort of hugs the US border.

The weather was cloudy near Vancouver/Chilliwack but once we passed through Manning Park, it began to clear and was completely blue with glorious sun by Keremeos where we stopped for the night in order to catch Game 4 of the Stanley Cup playoffs.  We picked up a bagged salad at the grocery store and with the cold beer in our cooler, had dinner during the game after a soak in the outdoor hot tub.

Distance: 390 km / 223 m

Tuesday we continued east along the Crowsnest Highway to Osoyoos (stopped at Spotted Lake but too much water – so no spots) and took a wander along the lake shore; stopped near Greenwood at the Deadwood Junction Café for some amazing cinnamon buns, then on to Trail where we checked out the new pedestrian bridge across the Columbia River, the free museum and then spent the night in Rossland.  We reached out to the son of our friends, Therese & Pat, Owen, who lives there to see if we could pop around to see their new baby, Nathan – born almost three weeks ago.  Owen & Rose went above and beyond and actually invited us for dinner and to stay the night but it was too late to cancel our reservation so we did go over and meet Nathan and see their new house.

Distance: 287 km / 178 m

Wednesday morning we made our way northeast to Castlegar where we saw many sculptures downtown,


walked in Millenium Park

and checked out the view over the city

then it was on to Nelson where we took a stroll along Baker Street

and then in Lakeside Park before heading north to the small town of Kaslo.

Sidebar:  Gasoline prices:  Prices vary as usual across US/Canada but man, were they high in the lower mainland of BC – In Vancouver, you can pay as much as $161.9 per LITRE!  The price did come down a bit while we were there but not a great deal.  Once we left and went east, the price improved but still more expensive (as usual) than the US and similar to Peru depending where you bought.  We did manage $125.9 a litre in Grand Forks but that was the cheapest that we paid in BC.  

Here resides the SS Moyie, The Moyie is the oldest known surviving intact passenger sternwheeler in the world.  Hundreds of this type of vessel worked on nearly every river in the west from California to Alaska/Yukon.   It was built in 1898 and its last run was in 1957.  It was purchased by the town of Kaslo for $1 from the Canadian Pacific Railway with the help of the chamber of commerce led by Jack Morris and the town has lovingly restored it and later became a national historic monument.

Next we backtracked south a bit and caught the free ferry east across Kootenay Lake from Balfour

to make our way down through Creston to Cranbrook by which time we’d had enough and found a hotel.  Fran did some laundry at the attached coin laundromat, Doug went to get some dinner and we relaxed the evening away.

Distance: 369 km / 229 m

Thursday we awoke to beautiful blue skies once again (yeah!) and made our way to Kootenay National Park via Kimberley, a small skiing town with a Bavarian feel.

As this was going to be an out and back drive, we drove to the furthest point first: Marble Canyon Falls where we did the short hike up the canyon to the falls:




We then began driving back stopping several times for views, (including Numa Falls but the bridge was out so we couldn’t see the falls but Fran did dip her feet into the glacial water)

some wildlife: a pair of mating black bears, mountain sheep and a grizzly bear with her two cubs.  and another short hike at Dog Lake before making our way to the hot springs at Radium for a dip

After a very late Subway lunch, we found a hotel and checked in.  Tonight was Game Five of the Stanley Cup Finals so we walked across the road to the Horsethief Creek Pub where we had dinner watching the game; how exciting it was and although we are happy for the Capitals that they won their first cup, to be honest we were cheering for Vegas as they are the Western Conference champs and had the most Canadians on their team ;-).  It has been quite enjoyable being able to watch hockey again.

Distance:  271 km / 168 m

For our last full day in western Canada we got back on the Crowsnest Highway and drove southeast through Fernie to reach the Crowsnest Pass (just to do it) which is at the Alberta border and enroute stopped in Sparwood to see the world’s biggest truck:

This is the Titan 33-19.  It can carry 350 tonnes of stuff!  Want to chuck two buses and a couple of pickup trucks in the back or need to move 2,000,000 golf balls?  No problem. It was conceived in London in 1968 and finally completed in 1974  it took EIGHT railway cars to deliver it to Las Vegas for a mining convention.

Fran went into the visitor’s centre to use the washroom and the camera fell off the shelf into the toilet!  She pulled it out almost immediately, but of course, the damage was done.  L  Luckily, we bought accident insurance with the camera and we’ve filed a claim so hopefully it can be fixed and returned (or replaced) before we leave to return to Peru.

We then returned to Fernie where we went for a hike to Fairy Creek Falls

stopped from lunch and groceries for dinner before checking into a room we rented at the Fernie Alpine Resort.

The town of Fernie is spectacularly located – mountains all around it and awesome views in every direction.

Distance: 322 km / 143 m

We were thrilled with this “little road trip” we did into the Kootenays and wish we’d done it before.  We highly recommend this part of BC to anyone considering a trip to western Canada.