We usually fly with Chinese Airlines back to Australia so it was a bit of a change flying with Delta. Usually we are outnumbered by Asians but on our flight to Seattle there were a lot of Americans and I lost count of the number of friends Leo had made before we had even got to our gate to wait to board. Everyone knew we were on our way to visit our daughter and that it was exactly 30 years since he had visited the States and Canada.
After a 13 hour flight we arrived in Seattle at about 8am to a cloudy and cool 13 degree day.
We collected our luggage and jumped on a shuttle bus to get to the car hire place. Nico, the driver was such a doll, welcoming us to the United States of America, helping me with my luggage and then chatting to us all the way. Leo was curious to know whether Boeing was still the big employer in Seattle but Nico told us Amazon had bypassed them.
We hit it off with Myron, the lovely man at the car hire place whose wife had left him and taken his two children to live in Australia. He said he could see us having a beer together that night but could tell I was keen to get on the road to see my daughter.
We hit the road and headed straight out of Seattle past lovely houses on the lake.
Out in the country I loved seeing the red barns and Leo was excited to see farmers making hay.
We had no trouble crossing the border from Washington in the States to British Columbia, Canada. The man at the border crossing had taught English in China for a few years so Leo had a good old chat to him and of course told him we were off to visit our daughter and that it had been 30 years since his last trip.
We arrived at Tsawwassen and only had a short wait before driving on to the huge car ferry. Upstairs was like a luxury cruise liner with coffee shop, restuarant and gift shop.
I fell in love with this place instantly and then realized why when we were told it was where my all time favourite TV show, "Beachcombers" was filmed.
Once off the ferry we drove to Victoria which was absolutely jumping. There was a jazz festival on and also College Graduation.
Luckily we found a room at a gorgeous Hotel overlooking the water and out towards snow capped mountains.
We set off to the Old Town in a water taxi and had a drink at Darcy's Hotel. It was there that we discovered our new favourite wine from the Okanagan Valley. I loved how you bought the wine by the ounce and got your own little carafe.
After living in China we were craving some good seafood so off to Nautical Nellies we went for dinner. Leo had fresh oysters and seafood chowder for entree and I had crab cakes. Talk about delicious. We then ordered the fish of the day which was Halibut for main which we weren't that fussed on so we didn't eat much of it. The waiter asked how our meal was and Leo being his honest self said, "It's dry and tasteless".
It was one of those moments where I was wishing I could just disappear.
The poor waiter got the shock of his life and offered us another meal, or a dessert or a drink.
No, Leo just wanted the bill.
Quickly I said, "Don't worry, I'm sure everyone else in the restaurant would probably love the fish and we absolutely loved our entrees so don't worry".
I was thinking, just let me get out of here!
The bill came, they hadn't charged us for our mains, we paid and hightailed it out of there. I am sure they were just as glad to see us go as I was to get out of there.
After an amazing sleep, we started the day with a delicious breakfast overlooking the water.
We decided instead of going back on the same ferry we came over on we would drive to Nanaimo and catch the ferry to the mainland from there. The views along the way were beautiful.
We knew it was going to be busy being a Sunday and so many people heading back after the weekend but thought we would take a punt. Arriving at the ferry we were told one ferry had broken down but if we lined up we might not get on the next one but would definitely get on the one after that in 4 hours. So we lined up with everyone else, had lunch and then I had a cat nap in the car while Leo made friends.
While I was having a walk around the Marina and waiting for Leo to get off the phone I could see this guy coming towards me and I just knew he was going to stop to talk to me. Sure enough he did. He came over and said, "Do you know how to make pancakes".
I couldn't very well say, "Only with the bottle mix" so I said, "No, sorry".
He yelled, "F*#%K" and walked off.
I couldn't help but laugh.
Leo gets off the phone and we continue our walk and sure enough run in to the man again, "Are you the guy they call Fat Albert?", he says to Leo.
"No mate, Slim Jim", Leo says.
Time went quick enough and it didn't seem that long before we were on the ferry.
We were hoping to get to Whistler that night but we were behind time due to the ferry breaking down and it was drizzling rain so we pulled up at Squamish for the night at 8.30pm. The Restaurant at the Motel kindly stayed open for us so we could have a quick bite to eat. It was crab cakes all round tonight which were delicious.
We woke to a dreary, freezing cold day and set off to Whistler only to find that the Peak to Peak Chair Lift was closed due to lightning in the area but went on the other chair lift up as far as we could. The visibility wasn't good but as we stepped off the chair lift down came the snow and I just thought things could not be better. How absolutely magic!
We then set off driving through more amazing scenery, stopping a couple of times to take photos of pivots and beautiful farming land, making it to Merritt, a country town in the Nicola Valley.
We found a Motel and Leo was taking forever to check in and I wondered what the hold up was but he came back to say the owner of the Motel was from China so they were having a good old chat. We checked in and headed to the pub for dinner and a few drinks.
As soon as we opened our mouths to order our drinks people heard our accents and were wanting to talk to us.
It wasn't long before one guy said to me, "Do you know how to 2 step?"
I said, "No, but it is on my bucket list to learn during this trip".
There began my first 2 step lesson and we were dancing around the bar. What fun!
Leo played pool against one guy but the other guy said he would just sit with me, talk and flex his muscles, and flex his muscles he did.
Leo's birthday today but we were up early and on the road again, we were getting closer to our girl.
Today we were driving through the Lakes District, if only we had time to stay here for a few days. Kelowna was a bit city on the Okanagan Lake with beautiful lake houses, wineries, orchards and hay farms. A perfect place for a holiday I would say and also home to the wonderful wine we had discovered.
A special lunch stop today for the birthday boy, we pulled up at Revelstoke at a lovely Italian Restaurant. Leo had seafood linguine and I had meat balls.
We tried to make it to Lake Louise but got too tired so we pulled up at Golden and booked in to a Motel surrounded by snow capped Mountains.
We just wanted a really quick dinner so we could get to bed and went to a diner and ordered some fries which took forever to come. Eventually the waiter brought us a plate of wontons.
I was so tired I nearly burst out crying when I saw those wontons sitting on the plate and had to quickly give myself a talking to.
"We didn't order wontons, we ordered fries", Leo said to the waiter.
"Oh, sorry I have really messy writing so your order must have got mixed up, would you like me to get you some fries?", said the waiter.
Leo being his honest self again said, "We would like anything but wontons as we live in China but don't worry we will eat them".
By this time we just wanted to get to sleep.
I hate to tell you but we got this dinner for half price as we are starting to sound like the customers from hell.
Today was the day we would get to see Eloise and for many years now I have had Lake Louise on the very top of my bucket list so I was up early and rearing to go.
The scenery on the drive to Lake Louise was stunning.
As we approached, my excitement was brewing, we bought a pass at the gate and drove in to the car park. We drove around for a bit looking for a park but had no luck. Leo said, "I didn't come all this way to drive around a car park".
I looked at him and he said, "You will have to download a picture from the internet" and out of the car park we sped.
I did manage to get this photo as we zoomed past though.
We then headed to Sulphur Mountain where we managed to get a park and up the Mountain in the gondola we went. It was very cold at the top but it was worth it for the views. We enjoyed a delicious lunch of trout in the Restaurant at the top before going back down in the gondola.
It was then time to hit the road again, traveling through beautiful Banff towards Strathmore to see Eloise.
To read the next part of our adventure look out for Part 2 which will be coming soon.
A Week on the Prairie.