Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Fourteen Hours

That's how long it takes to drive from Edmonton, AB, to Seattle, WA. It includes 4-5 brief stops along the way for gas, food, and pee breaks. It assumes the roads are in good condition (which they were), and it assumes no major traffic issues (of which there were none). It does not (and cannot), however, presume anything on a qualitative level.

The sun was on the rise as JM and I took to the highway. While I could probably be swayed to do a through-the-night road trip again if the circumstances necessitated it, it felt almost like a treat to be able to do most of the drive during daylight. We watched the vast white Alberta farm fields and snow-capped Rockies disappear into interior British Columbia desert. And then we watched that disappear into the lush, green coastal state of Washington. We stepped out of winter and into a reprieve of spring.

Fourteen hours allows for a lot. First there was the Creepy Green Jetta. We passed him between Edmonton and Jasper. He was elderly, with a flamingo pink shirt hanging in the back window. And when we passed, he gave us a slow, creepy, wiggly-fingers wave. We shuddered a quick "ew" and continued on. We topped up in Jasper, grabbed lunch, and got back on the road. Within an hour we were on the BC stretch of the trip. Early in, mind you, I noticed an oddly familiar-looking car. "Is that that green Jetta?" I asked. Sure enough, as we passed, we were given another slow, creepy, wiggly-fingers wave by the elderly man we had seen before. Did he wave to everyone who passed him like that? Or were we 'special'? Fortunately, we kept ahead of him after that.

Then there was the devil himself. AKA U-Haul. There was a curiously high ratio of U-Haul trucks and trailers on the highways between Edmonton and Seattle, I thought. Every time we passed one, I was forced to mutter "spawn of Satan" under my breath, but was simultaneously impressed that they were actually moving, and not broken down at the side of the road. I'm not bitter, by the way. At one point... we had made a pit stop in Hope, and while you can get back on the Northbound highway from the exit we took, you can apparently NOT get back on the Southbound highway, which is what we wanted. So we backtracked a bit, until I could exit off on a secondary highway. From there I noticed a small roadside turnout. JM alluded to just pulling a full U-turn from the road and not bothering with the turnout, but I was bent on getting my car back in the right direction as conservatively as possible, apparently. All around the roadside turnout were trees, so it was not until I was actually in the turnout that I noticed the abandoned U-Haul trailer sitting there. I gasped. From beside me in the dark, I heard, "I told you not to turn here."

...You can explore a lot conversationally in fourteen hours. The lyrics in music; the plot lines of favoured TV shows; the circumstances of life, friends, and work; the character of God. Customs officers, apparently, don't realize this. We pulled through the border at Sumas (always cross at Sumas--skip the Peace Arch), and were asked the standard questions. Then she got into the seemingly random and unusual questions. Which we were fine providing answers for. But near the end of her inquisition, she asked--with a slightly incredulous tone--"you drove twelve hours just for the weekend?" Um, yes, actually. And we still have two to go. And not only that, we've done it before. AND, I know of others who have driven longer for the same amount of vacation time. How rare did she think this kind of thing was? Seriously.

We arrived at the hotel in Bellevue NOT exhausted, and with time enough to spare before bed to check out the hot tub. I could have spent 14 hours there, too. But alas, Bellevue and Seattle were waiting.

No comments: