The sun was setting, not just on this day of roadtripping, but on the trip back to Los Angeles.
We passed through Sacramento around dusk and tried our best to use our Schwarzenegger accents to mispronounce “Sacreementoe” and “Grey Davis” and “the buuurocrats.”
On the route back to L.A.
As you all know well, Glenn is a huge Poth Heed. He constantly rambles on about BC Bud and Humboldt County. So when we drove through the California town of “Weed,” he went into convulsions.
I’ve never seen him film more B-Roll in my entire life.
There was a section of the prairie where there were no Weed signs.
And then, like the burning bush and Lot’s wife, a Weed sign stood tall and erect before us.
To further express the divine intervention bestowed upon us, God blessed us with the “Glenn” County.
If that ain’t divine intervention, I don’t know what is.
Crossing into California again.
Further down the interstate, you can see Mt Shasta in the distance.
Filled up the grease here in southern Oregon. It was getting hot. It’s practically a desert down here.
Glenn was too scared to fire up the AC because he noticed his harmonic balancer was hanging on by a thread. He figured the pump would put bust what remained of the v-belt setup off. So we had to schlub it back to LA.
Once we get back to Los Angeles, I’m going back to vegetarianism. Since we are just going to drive through the evening and night to L.A., this afternoon might be the last meal I get that is meat. And if I’m going to eat meat for the last time, I’m going to eat freaking BBQ.
We popped up the Google Maps and found the nearest BBQ south of Eugene, and some craphole place in Creswell appeared. We drove there around lunch time, and the bartender said they didn’t have any food ready for a few hours. She then suggested we wait, and I said, “Fuck that. I want BBQ now.”
That’s how we found Oregon Snack Shack Food Truck nearby. Now they know how to serve lunch. Unlike their competitors.
Honestly, how do people stay in business when they don’t serve lunch. Oregon is a weird state. We got a bunch of BBQ stuff and pigged out on ribs, pulled pork and whatnot.
The food truck was parked near an RV lot on the entry of Creswell.
After dinking around long enough and getting some supplies at the convenience store across from the RV park, we got back on the road to find people flipping their cars all fast-and-furious-like.
Normally, we don’t spend a lot of time at junkyards on our roadtrips. We’ve had bad luck. Like the time in 2009 when we were ASSURED that the used Passat fender would be ready to hang, but the junkyard in Grand Rapids totally lied. Also, we tend to not have any time to dink around pulling parts.
But this trip was different. We smoked a deer in Saskatchewan and it blew up our whole front end. We repaired it with duct tape and it looks pretty good, but if we could find a replacement bumper cover at a junkyard, that would be amazing. While at the hotel in Moose Jaw, Glenn found an amazing thing. He found a 1998 Chrysler T&C that is gold colored and full of usable parts. AND, it was on our path back to L.A. What a find!
He reserved not only the bumper cover, but also the broken fog light, inner fender, wiring harness, and other parts as well. They gave him a decent price, and they parked the junked van right in front for us. In fact, this van was 1000x better condition than Glenn’s own van. No rust or nothing. Too bad the yard already shredded the title, otherwise it would be totally worth towing back to Wisconsin.
We got to the junkyard, and there was a guard dog driving around the yard. These Oregon dogs are really advanced.
We got all the parts needed, and was able to situate them in the backseat of the van, so we didn’t have to move any grease or cubes. Since we were planning on driving the rest of the way all the way to Los Angeles that day, we didn’t need the rear bench seat anymore.
We had to abort the remaining few hundred miles of the 101 Highway because we hit a deer in Saskatchewan. When we assessed the damage, Glenn found a junkyard in Eugene Oregon that had a gold Chrysler minivan with all our missing or damaged parts. That means we had to divert from our plan to drive the whole coast down to the point where we left off in 2008.
We took Hwy 26 from the Oregon coast to Portland.
We don’t like coming back to Portlandia. It’s weird. And some douche in 2008 stiffed us on some grease, and we now hold it against all Portlanders.
Even worse, we ended up hitting construction. Typical Oregon.
How big is this town? We just want to get the heck out of dodge. ASAP.
Only a few more miles to Eugene.
Passing through Warrenton…
And Seaside. That would conclude our drive down Hwy 101. Due to the deer damage and our junkyard being in Eugene, we decided to forgo the rest of the trip down the coast because we drove most of the 101 down all of California in 2008.
Also, it was getting dark. Seemed kind of odd to drive the coast when we couldn’t see the coast.
So you want text on everything? Well, tough. This one is just pictures.
Raymond must have some out-of-work welder that has lots of leftover plate steel, cuz he made a gazillion cut outs of various animals and scattered the sculptures across town.
After a few miles, we visited the Willapa National Wildlife Refuge.
Not much to say. We were hammering down to get to Eugene Oregon, so that we could get to a junkyard that saved us a gold-colored bumper cover.
Holy crap. We got to visit Humptulips. I’m no marketing genius, but I’d seriously consider renaming your city, Humptulips. Maybe Bangroses, or Slamcarnations, or Poundflowers.
While passing through and giggling the whole time, we saw some super sketch-looking dude hitchhiking. He wanted a ride. He seriously looked like he was going to murder us with his gaze, so there was no way we’d entertain picking him up. Especially in Humptulips. The last thing we needed was to have our corpses get humptulipped.
This was all occurring in the wake of a massive Canadian manhunt looking for some hitchhiker murderers, so we had to play it safe.
After blowing most our day at Cape Alava and the preceding and subsequent hikes, we got a late start on the drive back down Highway 101. We stopped in Forks to get some supplies.
The town is surrounded by forests.
Also, as you progress south on 101, you get glimpses of the coastline. Hwy 101 is pretty cool.
More sightings of the shore.
On to Eugene.
On of the major places we needed to visit on the 2019 WVO Roadtrip was Cape Alava. We are really into driving to geographical oddities and extremum places, and Cape Alava is the westernmost point of the contiguous United States. We had already visited the northernmost points (accessible by vehicle) in the contiguous and entire U.S., so why not the west as well.
The trail to the cape started at the Ozette Ranger Station in Olympic National Park.
Even though the place seems pretty empty, there were lots of vehicles in the lot. A whole boy scout troop was packing up for a long hike. It seemed like everyone had huge backpacks and gear for days.
The trail is only three miles long. Glenn and I didn’t even pack a spare bottle of water. Fuck this crap about packing all sorts of hiking gear. If you can’t hike a mere six mile round trip without packing half your house, then you are totally out of shape.
At the start of the trail, there are placards. Thank goodness. Glenn has a diabetic need for placards, otherwise he gets grouchy.
More of the tall vermin on the trail. They are everywhere. I hope they smell the blood and guts that is stuck on the inside of the fender and it drives fear into the hearts of all deer.
Heading out on the “Coastal Trails.”
The moisture up here is crazy. Seems like any wood that isn’t treated instantly turns into mold or fungus.
The trail was pretty outstanding. We passed several people resting on the side of the trail. Must have been too tough for them.
I was expecting a sasquatch to rape us.
We brought our jackets just in case it rained. It was overcast, and probably could’ve rained at any moment. But thankfully, as we reached further towards the coast, the clouds thinned.
Avery mile or so, a clearing would emerge. The grasses were almost five feet tall. Glenn kept a rapid pace so the mountain lions couldn’t attack us.
The hike wasn’t too bad. The temp was great, but the moisture made it a bit humid. Overall, three miles only took us about 45 minutes.
At the shore. This is wild.
There are islands all over the coast. Turns out, campgrounds pepper the coastline and islands. That’s why everyone had so much gear. I suspect they trek out on the receded waterline when the tide is low, and stay there until the high tide disappears.
The shore is covered in alien plant and wildlife. It’s all red and maroon. Really odd.
We found a dead seal. The whole time, we heard seals barking in the distance. They must be nearer to the deeper water.
As with our tradition, we threw rocks out in the ocean. We made sure to interrupt a romantic couple who was trying to enjoy the scenery. We even ended up scaring some loon or crane that had majestically stood on the coast.
I threw my back out sleeping on that minivan chair in Port Hardy, so it was hard to throw rocks. Even after I ventured out into the dangerous rocks to get a 50 yard headstart, Glenn somehow cheated and outthrew my rocks from the beach.
Another thing checked off the bucket list.
Heading down to Ozette and down the Hwy 101, we visited part of the western end of Olympic National Park.
Almost smoked another deer on this trip. Such pests.
While on the ferry from Victoria to Washington, I got a call from my dad about the trip. He inquired on where we planned to stay, since we hadn’t slept well since Cache Creek. I told him I reserved one of the few hotels in the northwest part of Washington state, the Bay Motel.
We arrived around 11pm and it looked pretty closed. We pounded on the door until a woman emerged from the side room of the lobby. She said the owner was sleeping, but I suspect he was getting his freak on and didn’t want to put on a pair of pants. We got a room on the side of the complex.
It wasn’t the best hotel, but not the worst. It was definitely not a four-star like the reviews claimed. It was pretty average, and I would give them a better review if it wasn’t for the fact that the room wasn’t clean. I don’t think it had been vacuumed in a month, and with the ocean moisture constantly bathing the campus with dampness, it had a bit of a moldy odor. Also, the fridge looked like someone dumped yogurt all over the inside.
I don’t really care if some of the amenities were dated, but the cardinal sin of a motel/hotel is not keeping their rooms clean. Don’t change your sheets or vacuum the room, and it’s a one- or two-star max.
We were the last off the ferry from Victoria. We had a big drive to Seiku WA where our motel resided.
The ferry from Victoria to Port Angeles is an international crossing, so there is a bunch of security. They recommend you show up 90 minutes early to the dock, but I’d recommend getting there even earlier. There was a large line after us, so we lucked out by getting there early.
We parked our van in the array of lines, and left the waiting lot to wander around the shoreline and parks nearby. By the time we got back, they had border agents searching all the cars for illegal stuff.
Eventually we parked the van on the ferry and found a seat up on the top deck.
The tall ferry proved to be a great vantage point to view all the oddities of Victoria. So many marine options. Even these hilarious water-taxis.
Heading out on the open sea.
See ya next year Canada.
Sunset over the mountains of southern Vancouver Island.
Heading toward Washington state. We reserved a motel in the northwest part of the state, since we plan to drive the coast down to Los Angeles. What I didn’t expect was all the mountains on this side of the state. They are massive! It’s going to take us ages to drive the 60 miles to our motel.
Getting dark as we approached Port Angeles. Almost back to the USA.
Hung out on the deck until the end. It was cold AF. Good thing I brought my sweatshirt and windbreaker. Circa 1992.
We were parked on the last possible spot on this darn ferry, so were literally the last to get off again. Just our luck. We were hoping to get a head start on the drive through the winding roads along the coast and mountains to Seiku.
We still had an hour to kill prior to our departure for the ferry to the United States, so we went to the Wharf. Some of the people we met at the Mile 0 Monument recommended this place.
It’s a bunch of floating houses, timeshares, and restaurants on the “harbour.” And about a gazillion tourists.
Nearby are a bunch of ritzy houseboats and yachts.
I was kind of hoping for some kind of aboriginal fusion or exotic food, but this place kind of caters to the average tourist visiting Canada. We got some fish and chips at Barb’s, and then some ice cream because we couldn’t find any poutine. What a gyp!
Now that we stuffed our bellies with mountains of Canadian food and gained over 20 lbs, it was time to head to the ferry back home.
Since this was an international border crossing, we had to get to the dock 90 minutes early for inspection.
Heading down to Victoria….
I’m 99% sure this is the capital of British Columbia. If I’m wrong, the capital must be somewhere else in the province. Google it.
Totem Pole with Northwestern aboriginal mural.
On to the “Mile 0” Trans-Canadian Highway Monument.
This is it. This is what it’s all about. This is the last segment of the THC that we need to drive! Then it’s all done. Every mile, from St Johns Newfoundland to Victoria British Columbia.
We passed through Victoria and cruised straight to the end of the THC. Figured we would get that out of the way first before we found some grub in the wharf. There were two memorials, one for Terry Fox, who tried to run the THC with one leg in the early ’80’s.
Next to his statue, there is a big sign and placard designating the end of the THC. Finally.
But here’s the weird thing. We’ve been to the “Mile 1” landmark in Newfoundland. But here in Victoria BC, it’s “Mile ‘0’.” WTF? Shouldn’t it be something like “Mile 3127” or something? Or “Last Mile?”
We ended up in Nanaimo twice on this 2019 WVO Roadtrip.
First, we landed here on the ferry ride from Horseshoe Bay to here. The captain was a surgeon. He somehow got this massive ferry in that tiny bay.
We rushed down to the auto bay and hung out near the Frankenvan till it was time to drive out.
Driving out of town on our way to Port Hardy. No time to dilly dally.
The second time we passed through here, we were on our way south from Campbell River to Victoria. Traffic was starting to get bad, so it was good that we got an early start.
The drive from Nanaimo to Victoria is the last tiny bit of the THC that we still hadn’t finished. In St John’s Newfoundland, we got to visit their “Mile 1” Landmark, marking the first mile of the THC. Well, now we can drive to the last mile of the THC. (Spoiler alert: Turns out the last mile is “Mile Zero.” WTF? Is this some kind of metric mileage?)
We got into Campbell River around lunch time. I had to piss like a banshee so I started screaming like a racehorse. We stopped off at the Campbell River Art Gallery Slash Visitors Center to destroy their bathroom and get some souvenirs.
The arachnids around here are cray cray.
Glenn was enamored over the prospect of visiting Plumper Bay. This is sunglasses weather.
Up here in the northwest, they have stores and shops catered to the marginalized sasquatch community. I’m so goddamned hirsute, that the clerk thought I was some kind of albino Big Foot. I yelled, “I’m not a freaking Yeti, you fool!” but after trying on a spiffy bison-leather jacket that fit perfectly, I found the place kind of welcoming.
We wanted to check out the Maritime Heritage Center, but we only had time for the pier and lunch.
The Visitors Center told us to visit the Discover Fishing Pier. Actually, they told us to visit some other pier, but we got all turned around on their city streets, and stumbled upon this place instead.
A restaurant on the end of the pier.
Thankfully, the place had more…. poutine. At this point I was getting a little sick of poutine. We ate it twice a day, every day, for the whole time we spent in Canada. But since we were heading to Victoria and getting on the ferry back to the U.S., we knew this would be the last time we’d get poutine in Canada for at least a year, when we launch the 2020 WVO Roadtrip.
While I was destroying the pier’s bathroom, some dock fisherman caught a sea creature and tossed it in the dock basin. It was writhing and slithering about until it succumbed to suffocation. I caught the end of the show.
Even though we had a few hours, we decided to make our way down to Victoria, just in case we run into excessive traffic. If we get there early, then we can meander around the town to kill time. If we get there late, then we miss our ferry. Can’t let that happen.
I’m straining to figure out why we went to see the World’s Largest Burl. Maybe someone suggested it or maybe we saw a billboard for it. IDK. Regardless, we turned off the main drag to visit the town of Port McNeill.
Off to the left of the main street of town, was a small park and creek, and underneath some crude canopy sat the World’s Largest Burl.
Uh. OK. A burl. Burl? hmmm.
Well, that was interesting. Turns out these things are kind of valuable. The owner of this burl apparently turned down a pretty penny for this thing so that he could showcase it in a canopy in the middle of nowhere.
While we were chilling and pissing behind the burl, a chopper landed right next to us. A dude hopped off and told us there was an even larger burl down the road. This is surreal. I never knew the locals here were such burl aficionados.
I guess if there is an even larger burl, we might as well check it out. We followed the guys directions and headed west on the back road. After a few miles, we passed some sort of union strike, because there were men standing around a bonfire and holding signs. It had this whole end of “The Day After” vibe, like in that scene where the farmer’s family headed back to the farmhouse after the town hall meeting, and the were met by a bunch of cannibals.
I figured seeing the world’s second largest burl was good enough, and we didn’t have to risk our kidneys driving any further.
After meandering around Point Hardy in the dark, we tried to find a hotel room that wasn’t a bajillion Canadian dollars. We stopped at the Kwa’lilas Hotel and it was something like $5,670,000 per night. Hard pass.
The more affordable hotel was the parking lot in front of the Sacred Wolf Friendship Center. We crashed out there because when we were wandering around Port Hardy the night before, there were a bunch of sketchy people casing out cars parked on the main drag. One truck sat by our van for a few minutes waiting for us to turn the corner. Weirdos. We thought it was better to just find a different spot that was better lit and nearer to people.
The next morning, we found a million blackberries growing just fifteen feet from our van. We picked a bunch and ate some fruits for the first time this year.
After choking down wild berries, we needed to stuff down some poutine and burgers down our gullets ASAP. Lucky for us, there was a Dubbies in the same building as that Wolf Breeding Center or whatever.
Even though we had already visited this place the night before, we decided to come back to the Cenotaph and beach in downtown. Daytime was a bit nicer.
You can see the cruise ships on the horizon. They apparently dock here on their way to the Alaska Marine Highway.
Hanging out on the beach.
The tide was out so we got to go out into the bay. It looked cool. Glenn had this homeless man vibe.
The ground was covered in kelp and weird lichen-like stuff.
Totem Poles, yo.
This was one of the major destinations for the 2019 WVO Roadtrip.
We hung out for a bit, but we had to leave to make the 500-km drive back to Victoria. We had to make the last ferry ride to the U.S. before the end of the day, otherwise we’d have to find a hotel in that tourist town.
Back on the road again.
It’s over 230 kilometers from CR to Port Hardy on their only road going north. We are pushing it. If Glenn doesn’t pull off a miracle, we’ll end up in the hamlet of Port Hardy in the dark like total losers.
The light was waning early, because of the clouds. Typical Vancouver Northwest weather.
Even though this area is pretty remote, every once in a while you’d see a prairie or farm.
And surprisingly, there were lots of mountains. I wasn’t expecting that on this island.
As we were going pretty darn fast, some locals passed us at 10-15 miles per hour faster than we were driving. Sweet! Now we have some runners and we won’t have to worry about smoking a deer or moose.
Wow. Just as the light was nearly gone, we pulled into Port Hardy. God smiled down upon us, and said we are his greatest creation.
We were last to roll off the ferry (typical), and got a late start on our speedy drive up to Port Hardy. It’s a 5-hour drive to the north point, and we need to get there in less than four hours to be there before dusk. Glenn elected to drive because I drive for shit, and he can piss like a racehorse. Before we knew it, we were out of Nanaimo and passing through Nanoose Bay.
Drove through Parksville so fast that we didn’t have time to “live,” “work,” or “play.”
Glenn was drinking up grease fast from all his speeding, so we had to stop at Comox Valley Shake & Shingle and fill up. If you don’t buy Comox shingles, you are a fart rapist.
The turn off for Campbell River is kind of the last stop for civilization until Port Hardy. We had to hammer down. On to Port Hardy bitches!
Vancouver Island is really long. A lot longer than people expect. It’s 500 kilometers from tip to tip.
After wolfing down some poutine from downtown Horseshoe Bay, we rushed back to see the line starting to move on the ferry. Glenn parked the minivan in the cargo bay and we headed upstairs. We are getting pretty used to ferry rides after all these WVO Roadtrips, so this is getting kind of routine.
Heading out on Howe Sound. I can’t recall if I’ve ever been on a Sound.
One life preserver for a thousand people. Ridiculous.
The mountains surrounding Howe Sound is pretty amazing. Eventually we got out into the Straight of Georgia which is the water body between the mainland and Vancouver Island.
Straight of Georgia.
Seeing Vancouver Island in the distance.
Pulling into the “Departure Bay” near Nanaimo.
We ended up chatting with a local dude about what to see on Vancouver Island, and he kept rambling on about some surfer haven called Tofino. Glenn and I had originally planned on going to Point Hardy, because it was at the end of the road and the northernmost point of the island, but we listened to this man’s passionate suggestions. He said since it was late in the afternoon, there would be no way we could make it up to Point Hardy before sunset, and he said Point Hardy was a shithole.
As we disembarked the ferry, we agreed to disregard all his recommendations, because surfers are losers and probably do dumb stuff in Tofino, and we are all about the miles.
On to Point Hardy.
Through a strange twist of fate, while we were in Cache Creek waiting in line to see if our motel had vacancy, we ran into a guy who was from Vancouver Island. Since we had zero experience taking the Vancouver ferries, we asked him about how bad it would be to just show up without a reservation. He said not to worry and it’ll be fine on a weekday.
So thanks Mr Stranger, we’ll just go with his advice.
As we cruised north of Vancouver to Horseshoe Bay, the rain started to die off.
Our particular ferry is going to the Nanaimo port on Vancouver Island, and it’s considered “part” of the THC.
Horseshoe Bay is situated on the base of the mountains north of town.
Glenn and I had taken this road in 2008 on the WVO Roadtrip with the Jetta, but we came down from the north from Whistler. I kind of remember this stretch of road, because it follows the Howe Sound along Hwy 99.
Well, sheeeet. There were a lot of people heading to the island.
They directed us to Lane #5. All of the other lanes were for different ferries along the coast of BC and up to the Alaska Marine Highway.
After about an hour, we finally got our ticket. Ready to get on board!
Crap. Another line. Apparently, we missed the 1pm ferry, and there were so many in front of us, we’ll be in line when the 2pm ferry takes off.
Knowing that we had an hour to kill, we decided to walk the strenuous 5-minute distance from the ferry dock to the town of Horseshoe Bay. I know we are fat as hell, but apparently everyone else is even lazier than us, cuz we were the only dudes to take a shot at getting more poutine.
We found a place called “Olive and Anchor” that served poutine and fish & chips from a window. We ordered up a couple boxes and waited for them to cook them up. While we hung out, some woman on a bike ordered some food and flipped her shit over not getting a bag. I guess Vancouver has some plastic bag ordinance prohibiting disposable bags, so the server didn’t abide. She let’s out a “I’m on a bike for FUCKS SAKE.”
I personally thought it was a bit harsh language for the lack of a plastic bag, but I guess this is how the Vancouverites do. Maybe they like the extreme vulgarity over banal things. So, when in Rome, do as the Romans do. Glenn walked up to the server and said, “Give me those fucking poutines or I’ll fuck you up, for fucks sake.”
The server looked at us and just left the window. After a long time, he emerged with poutine covered in saliva and semen. It was enough evidence to make a compelling Law And Order SVU episode.
We walked back through town and took our protein poutine back to the minivan. We ate up the delicious poutine on the hood of the van while the line started to move toward the ferry.
Heading out on the open sea!
Pretty much a typical day in Vancouver. Rain.
Rain on the bridge.
Water above us, water below us.
Rain and traffic.
Time to get on a ferry to avoid the rain.
Zipping through Abbotsford. We have to get to the ferry in Horseshoe Bay before the end of the day otherwise we’ll be staying a night in north Vancouver. And that ain’t cheap.
Hammer down Nick! I was driving up until we got into a bunch of traffic near Burnaby. I pulled off because the way this transmission works, it makes it really hard to drive in stop-and-go traffic. Glenn had more experience than I, so I let him handle the rest of the drive to the ferry dock.
Passing by Fort Langley
Well it finally rained. At least now all the grime will be washed off from that mud road in the Northern Angle.
Ha, jokes on us. It just made the van muddier.
Now that we arrived in Hope, then that concluded the second-to-last portion of the THC that we hadn’t driven yet. The last segment is on Vancouver Island, which we’ll hit up later on this WVO Roadtrip.
Totem Pole in Hope BC:
Back on the main drag to Vancouver…
Mountains on the way to Vancouver.
As we get closer to Vancouver, we approach the coast. That means the mountains get bigger and better. That means the road starts to wind around a lot, and that inevitably means tunnels.
Glenn was thrilled cuz he thought the boy from Twilight lived around here.
Once again, this segment of the TCH really shines. There was nearly no one on the road and it was really picturesque.
Around every corner is a Bob Ross painting.
The Thompson River runs parallel to the roadway and cascades throughout the mountains.
It would be a really nice trip if both of us didn’t smell like homeless cadaver.
So we stayed at the Riverside Motel because we got in really late and vacancy across the town was drying up. There were only a moderate amount of cockroaches at this hotel, so we felt kind ok about it.
After catching some z’s, we shook off all the cockroaches and spiders and bedbugs, and headed to the nearest convenience store for supplies.
Canada has the weirdest potato chips. Gravy flavored, ketchup flavored, even some kind of pizza flavoring. Not sure what chemical tastes like pizza, but they nailed it. Yay, flavor engineers!
The segment of the THC that is west of Kamloops is AMAZING. I suspect that 99% of people traveling to Vancouver on their “only road” tend to skip this longer scenic route for Hwy 5 going southbound. Well, they are missing out. There are some desert mountains up here that are astonishing.
Kamloops Lake sprawls out north of the highway for miles and miles. It’s rather lengthy and gorgeous.
It’s an odd microclimate. It’s almost like a desert, like in California or Nevada, but there are lot of trees and evergreens everywhere like in the arctic. It’s similar to high elevation New Mexico, but this area of BC is not much of a high altitude.
Keep on to Cache Creek. We got into Cache Creek around 10 pm and tried to get a room at the Sunset Motel which had good reviews, but the place only had single-bed rooms. As much as I like Glenn, I’m never sharing a bed with him. He likes to spoon and he sweats like a warthog.
So we ended up at the Riverside Motel, which only had a moderate amount of cockroaches.
Stopped off at a random abandoned building and lot to fill up on grease. They boarded up all the windows, and it probably was an old gas station or convenience store.
Even though we were at some kind of dumpy building, there was a nice creek flowing at the base of the valley. This is pretty typical of British Columbia; almost every nook and cranny looks like a Bob Ross painting.
Glenn checked over the engine to make sure his exhaust fix was still holding.
We were hoping to hit some rain on the middle of this trip to wash off all that mud from our drive on the dirt road near the Northern Angle. This was the first roadtrip in Canada where it wasn’t constantly raining all the time.
Sun setting on the mountains near Savona BC.
Trying to get to Cache Creek before dark. We didn’t have a hotel reservation, but I looked up their amenities prior to losing cell reception this remote part of the THC. They have a bunch of old motels in that area, and being a weekday, we figured there would be some vacancy.
Time was slipping away from us. We left Lethbridge at sunrise to put on some major miles today (because we lost a day from hitting that deer near Moose Jaw) and it was taking a lot longer than expected to get to our hotel in Cache Creek. We could have saved ourselves some hours by taking the THC all the way through Calgary, but we wanted to take a different route across the Rockies than the previous years. That’s why we were on the Crowsnest Hwy for so long. But now that we approach Kamloops, we are returning to the THC.
We’ve been to Kamloops twice before, but don’t have any photos of this place. I’m not sure why. It must be somewhat unmemorable.
On all of our previous trips across the THC or Yellowhead, we somehow missed this stretch of the THC between Kamloops and Cache Creek and Hope. Part of the point of the 2019 WVO Roadtrip is to make up for this missed segment.
Off to Cache Creek.
We’ve taken the bigger highway to Vancouver in the past and never really realized that the TCH is actually the smaller highway on the right. Kind of odd. Why don’t they just make Hwy 5 the TCH?
Kamloops Lake at sunset!
Kind of surreal. The lakes up here are amazing, yet there are no lake houses or cabins up here. Canada is weird. If this was America, there would be 1000 starbucks and mcdonalds up here ruining the splendid view.
We are running out of grease and need to fill up before it gets dark. You don’t want to be stuck in the dark in deer country or bear country.
Continuing north on Hwy 33, we came up on the town of Kelowna and the area surrounding Okanagan Lake.
There weren’t many cars and trucks on this road, so it was an easy ride. We were kind of hoping for some rain to wash off all the caked on dirt from the mud road near the Northern Angle, but so far, no dice.
We get into town and start feeling something wrong from the engine bay. A shuddering of some kind. I immediately thought Glenn left his vibrator on in the back of the van, but then I realize he forgot all his batteries in Wisconsin.
We pulled off at a closed school parking lot and inspected the vehicle. Well, by “inspect,” I basically watched as Glenn slid under the van and reached his arms into a hot running engine bay.
Glenn found the problem. Turns out a exhaust hanger started wiggling as loose as Glenn’s bowels. He tightened her up harder than a hetero sphinter around Prince. Back on the road again. Gotta get to Kamloops.
Cruising through Lake Country. Ritzy
Woods Lake and …
You can tell this has some glacially-fed water, because the water color is turquoise.
Rock Creek resides on the Kettle River right next to the U.S. Canadian Border.
Normally I wouldn’t say much about this town because we mainly just drove passed, but it should be noted that we turned off of the Hwy 3 here to head north. This is Hwy 33, aka the Kelowna-Rock Creek Hwy.
We decided to diverge from the Crowsnest Hwy because if we continued to Osoyoos and Penticton, we’d be duplicating a path that we took in 2010 or 2012. Also, there is a stretch of the THC that we still haven’t driven yet, which spans from Kamloops to Cache Creek to Hope.
Highway 33 is pretty interesting. They must have had a massive fire because many of the forests were destroyed.
Kind of has this Fort McMurray vibe. Not many people were driving on this road, so the fires might not have threatened a lot of people like the FM fire did.
On to Kelowna.
We really didn’t hang around Christina Lake much.
We needed to get some supplies, but we thought Grand Forks would be a better spot.
On the way, we passed several bicyclists riding through the mountains.
Closer to Grand Forks. The terrain changed to more of a desert landscape, with pines.
Grand Forks has this Portlandia vibe.
Need to get some supplies.
Stopped off at the local grocery store.
Nothing special to report. Pretty much a couple southern BC towns.
Passing through Castlegar. We didn’t have much time to hang around, because of all the road construction delaying our arrival in western BC.
Passing over the Kootenay River again. It’s like a broken record.
Mountains near Salmo
While we were crossing the pass near Salmo, we saw a chopper airlift people out of the area. I know we smelled bad, but flying people out in front of us was insulting.
All we saw was logging trucks and RV’s. Usually side-by-side. Slow going.
After bypassing the Cranbrook museum, we headed down the highway to the neighboring town to see their museum instead.
This is the tiny mountain town of Creston BC.
They have their own little museum where they collected all the scattered junk and artifacts from this town’s 70-year history and called the heap a “museum.”
I’m not denigrating this. We live for these museums and practically been to all the museums in all of Canada. I’m just pissed cuz the staff wouldn’t respect the fact that we wanted to identify as one person, and therefore pay for just one ticket.
Old timey stuff. I guess back in the old days, dogs were really addicted to their electronics.
Lots of meds. Back in the day, Dodd’s Kidney Pills were the bees knees. Which was the style at the time.
A “Wisconsin” mini tractor.
After dinking around for a few hours, we destroyed their bathroom and headed back into the mountains. If we rush, we could possibly make it to the far end of British Columbia before dark.
Well, crud. More construction. This is getting ridiculous.
It took a lot of convincing by the staff at this gas station to persuade Glenn that no one was going to fellate him.
He was furious for days.
We cruised through this area during August, so there wasn’t a snowflake in sight. But the signs displaying the local ski areas are everywhere.
Also, we saw a bunch of billboards talking about the “largest truck of all time.” C’mon. We saw bigger trucks up by Fort McMurray at the tar sands a while back.
The mountains get bigger and bigger the further we drive. BC is amazing.
Lots of campers and hippies around here.
Can’t tell if this a real or fake derrick.
Ooh fun. Tunnels.
Passing over the Kootenay River (this will happen a lot)
After passing by Mt Tecumseh, we headed toward the BC border. Glenn was thrilled to get some BC BUD!
Once we hit the border sign, we knew we were only 2 miles away from a random pothead hitchhiker.
Once you hit the Crowsnest Pass, it’s all downhill from here.
On to Vancouver…
Heading up the Crowsnest Highway…
Saw Mt Tecumseh on the right of the road.
After a long morning drive, I was getting hungry and we needed to add some grease to the tank. We pulled off at the Blairmore Tim Hortons for some grub.
Glenn reluctantly woke up. I don’t think he slept very well either. We went into the Tim Hortons to find something to eat. I had been all across Canada this year (in Toronto twice, Winnipeg, and all across Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta) and wanted to eat this infamous Belgian Waffle sandwich that everyone was raving about. However, every time I went to the Tim Hortons, they were “out” of waffles. To paraphrase Glenn Wienke, “GAWD DAMNIT!”
But like the time he pushed a small fawn in front of our minivan for our benefit, God wielded his divine hand and decided to bestow us the honor of indulging in the consumption of a Waffle sandwich.
It was actually pretty good. Many Americans don’t know what a real Belgian Waffle tastes like. You think you do, but until you go to Brussels and eat some of their amazing authentic waffles, you probably think they taste like those tall, dry, bland, brown waffles they serve up to drunk people at Denny’s.
Thankfully, Tim Hortons tried their best to make them taste like real Belgian Waffles, and the sandwich wasn’t too bad. It wasn’t awesome either, but beggars can’t be choosers. If you have to drive 2500 miles for a waffle, you have to take what you can get.
I cleaned up the windshield while doing my best rendition of Bub Bubs Bounce.
One the road, we saw a buttload of more deer in town. The little bastards probably destroy everyone’s home gardens.
They are looking at us like that van smells like splattered fawn guts.
People don’t realize how expansive the plains provinces of Canada are. It seems like ages to drive across them. Americans think driving across Texas or Nebraska is a PITA, but until you drive from eastern Manitoba to western Alberta, you don’t know farmland.
The reward for the long drive is getting to see the Rockies on the horizon after Pincher Creek. It’s really cool.
We’ve driven into the Canadian Rockies through the THC, Yellowhead Hwy, and Alcan Hwy, and it’s always a treat. This time we’re driving Hwy 3, which is called the Crowsnest Hwy.
I couldn’t sleep much in Lethbridge, so I woke up at sunrise and got on the road. I let Glenn sleep in the back because he tends to do the toughest drives at night and in the city. I just wanted to put on some major miles before he gets up and yells at me for being too awesome.
We’ve been to Lethbridge a bunch of times. We passed through in 2013 on the way up to Prudhoe Bay and in 2018 on the way back from Tuktoyaktuk.
In 2019, we were heading west for Vancouver Island and it was getting late in the evening. Since we are a few hours early of sunrise, we decided to eat and find a place to park until sunrise, then attempt to cross the mountains.
It was a long day, after repairing the van and making a lot of ground on the road, so we needed a restaurant that was open late. Boston Pizza to the rescue.
Boston Pizza is kind of like BJ’s Restaurant in the U.S. It’s not that awful, but not that great either. Every Boston Pizza tastes exactly the same, and ever Boston Pizza has the same atmosphere. At least you know what you are getting into.
After wolfing down some pizza, we found a quiet spot of the College Centre Mall parking lot, and tried to rest for a few hours before driving into the Rockies.
The sun was setting on the THC, and thankfully we didn’t hit another deer.
We approached Medicine Hat looking for some food.
They have the world’s largest teepee here.
Didn’t find anything we liked at the moment, so we hammered down to Lethbridge.
We’ve driven passed this wayside on previous trips. IIRC, I think we hit this in 2012 but didn’t stop. I wanted to get out and defecate, but the bathroom was in such shabby condition, I figured it would be safer to risk peritonitis than sit on that bowl.
While I was contemplating the “ifs,” Glenn filled up the tank.
He decided to risk his health and safety by using the can. Now he has some kind of rash that doesn’t wash off.
Was kind of hoping to stop off and get some grub, but we didn’t want to drive across Alberta in the dark and smoke another deer. There were some restaurants in Maple Creek.
Couldn’t eat at Caroline’s because Glenn was sleeping.
Maple Creek is kind of nice. I drove through town and zigzagged passed downtown.
Glenn begged me to get some burgers cuz he was starving. I said no way. Gotta hammer down to Ass Hat and then Lethbridge to crash out in the van.
We made it up to the THC and kept on kepting on.
Left the T-Rex Discovery Center just as the shadows started getting long. We could have taken a gravel shortcut up to Maple Creek, but we calculated it wouldn’t be much of a shortcut. Instead, we stayed on Hwy 13 and turned north after Robsart on Hwy 21.
Along the way, we kept seeing billboards for the Cyprus Hill concert.
We must have arrived early cuz no one was here yet.
But it certainly smelled like dank though.
The road to the TRex Center is gravel and rough, but short.
The museum pops up in the middle of the plains. Kind of hard to believe a classy museum is just sitting out here in the middle of nowhere.
Lots of fossils and whatnot. We didn’t have a lot of time to peruse the artifacts. We got there 20 minutes before they closed.
Herbivores, not just the T-rex.
To lengthen our visit and anger the staff, Glenn started a 2-hour lecture on the new method of excavation that he pioneered from the years 1992 to 2001. Never forget.
The T-rex was such a formidable predator, that he was commemorated with a stamp in the Canada Post. Never has an animal killed so efficiently until the election of Rob Ford.
The staff grew tired of our loitering, so they kicked us out. There was a 3-K hiking trail around the grounds. And they have placards. Glenn can’t resist placards, and we had been driving all day, so walking around and burning off the fat we ate at Dubbies seemed prudent.
That concluded our sites for the day. Since we smoked a deer and lost a lot of time, we needed to get to Lethbridge and the foothills of the Rockies before sunrise if we wanted to get back on schedule.
Cruising through the tiny town of Eastend on Hwy 13.
Nice town, but we didn’t have much time to dilly dally.
Nor could we stop off at the Eastend Historical Museum. I bet they have some sweet old artifacts of toasters or ledgers.
Hammer down to the Dino museum! They close in 20 minutes!
The town of Assiniboia (pronounced Ass-in-a-boy) is a special place. Most of central Canada has rivers, regions, counties, and other parts named Ass-in-a-boy. Glenn loves it. So when I told him we were going to the actual town of Ass-in-a-boy, he was elated. I told him there was a Dubbies on our trip, and he insisted we get some food.
I wanted to find Ass-in-a-boy on the GPS, but it turns out our GPS is a huge loser. Can’t even find ASS.
Heading southbound on the highway. At least this road was paved.
We stopped off at the Dubbies to get some burgers. And since there is poutine on every A&W menu, we had to get two boxes STAT. And while we were getting fat, might as well swill down a rootbeer float, but the dude didn’t even put it in a mug! Rip off.
No time to waste. Gotta head out if we want to see dinosaur boners before they close. On to Hwy 13.
When we first planned the 2019 WVO Roadtrip, the plan was to take Old Hwy 13 all the way across Canada, from the Peg to the west side of the Rockies. However, due to our need to get to the Moose Jaw Expansion Museum, we skipped the roads in Manitoba. Also, we were willing to forgo Hwy 13 the night prior to crank out some miles to get to the foothills of the Rockies.
But through a weird cruel twist of fate, we smoked a deer just a few miles from Moose Jaw, forcing us to repair the Frankenvan in town and get back on track. Since it took us a few hours to fix things, it made no sense to try and cruise to the Rockies. We’d end up getting there around sunset and I’m not too keen on driving up and down crazy Canadian mountain passes in the dark.
So, we decided to head south and get back on the Hwy 13 Plan. We took Hwy 2 south towards Glenn’s favorite town, Ass-in-a-boy and hammered down.
Then, like God was smiling down upon us, he guided us with a divine hand to the coolest museum in all of Saskatchewan. It was divine intervention. Don’t fucking blow this shit off. This shit doesn’t just happen. What happened here was a miracle and I want you to fucking acknowledge it.
We whip a U-ey and head over. Turns out this was the Sukanen Ship Pioneer Village and Museum and it has everything. Forget the Western Development Museum. This place is amazing. 6 stars and 7 nipples up.
They basically have all the old buildings from the area. Old pharmacies, barber shops, grain elevators, etc.
Here’s a showcase of small motors. Why not.
If you haven’t entered a restored grain elevator, you haven’t lived.
Unlike all the other museums, this place lets you up into the top of the caboose.
Old cars and wrecks.
Old cars and beauts.
Some crazy tiny car.
This place was wild. They had a bunch of retired Canadian men just restoring everything. They were building a replica International Harvester Parts Store, which is really crazy cuz they actually had real NOS I.H. boxes on the shelves. I was even looking for my VRV part that I make from my shop, but the man said they didn’t have parts “that new.” LOL.
They had a blacksmith and belt-driven shop.
Damn I look good.
I took 7 years of German, but don’t recognize this dialect.
Thousands and thousands of ancient kitchenware.
Old timey gas pump and various local churches moved to the site.
Buildings full of old camera and video gear.
The place was massive and expansive. And it was cheaper than the Western Development Museum. And the dudes running the place were more knowledgeable and more deaf. Very authentic.
Sadly, we had to leave after only a few hours of roaming around. We still needed to get to the Dinosaur Center in Eastend and get some food in Ass-in-a-boy. Time was slipping away.
As we limped the van back to Moose Jaw, we lost more electrical systems on the way. The dash and instrument lights died and so did the gauges. Also, we didn’t have blinkers or fog lights. We stayed at the Super 8 which was next door to a parts store that opened at 8am.
Glenn spent the evening researching junkyards and parts store across down looking for a new bumper cover and fog lights. I spent my evening dumping files to the hard drives. He found a junkyard in Oregon (on our path) that had a gold T&C with all our parts. Woo hoo. In the morning, he called to secure the parts and put them on hold for a week.
We got carbs-breaky at the hotel. Not their best breakfast.
After a short walk to the auto parts store, we got some gorilla tape, light bulbs, and other supplies.
Since we had a tub, Glenn used the shower to wash off all the brains, guts, blood, and hair slathered all over the bits of bumper cover. I advised him, “What I need you to do…is to take those cleaning products and clean the broken bumper of the car. I’m talking fast, fast, fast. You need to go in and scoop up all those little pieces of brain and skull–get it out of there…wipe down the bumper cover. Now, when it comes to the inner fender…it don’t need to be spic-and-span. You don’t need to eat off it. Just give it a good once-over. What you need to take care of… are the really messy parts. The pools of blood that have collected, you gotta soak that shit up. We’re going to line the inner fender and the bumper cover with duct tape or gorilla tape, so if a cop stops us, and starts sticking his big snout around the car, the subterfuge won’t last, but at a glance the car will appear to be normal. Glenny, lead the way. Boys, get to work.”
Glenn had the audacity to ask me for a “please.”
After the requisite “pretty please with sugar on top, clean the fucking car,” we took all the cleaned busted parts of the bumper cover and inner fender, and started taping. I worked on the exterior parts because I have an eye for detail and aesthetics, and Glenn worked on the inner fender pieces because he can make sure it won’t fall apart and rub on the tire.
With the parts reassembled, we reinstalled them back on the minivan.
We had a fun idea. Since our blink light was F’ed, we just rigged up the broken fog light hole with an orange light bulb, and wired it up to the old blinker wiring.
Sweet. Now we are street legal and ready to hit the road.
On the way to the Rockies.
After eating and checking out those Tunnels of Moose Jaw, we headed west down the THC. We have to drive through the night to get to the Rockies before sunrise. Canada is so full of bugs.
The sun was setting directly on the roadway horizon. It was like staring directly into a solar flare.
Then all of a sudden, a deer jumped out of the long grass in the median. We had no time to react. This is me yelling “Shit!” just as it sprung out in front of us.
This is Glenn trying to avoid the deer, but it took a weird bounce and crouched down at the passenger side lights. It was struck instantaneously and basically exploded. Parts of deer and parts of the front of the van flew everywhere.
You can see the carcass sliding down the gravel shoulder on the image below.
Well crap. The sun was setting, and most of our light system looked destroyed. We tested the vehicle and thankfully our headlights still worked.
It didn’t suffer. The deer died before it even stopped flying.
We gathered up all the pieces of the van as best as we could and put them in a bag.
I immediately got on the phone to see if we could book a hotel room near an auto parts store. We had to abruptly change our plans, in the hopes of finding a way to get this van back to street legal while finding a place to rest. Even though it would mean backtracking on our WVO roadtrip, going back to Moose Jaw to stay at their Super 8 was the safest course of action.
As we walked in to the lobby, there was a woman chatting with the staff. When they found out we hit a deer, the woman asked, “Was it near Caronport?” Apparently they have a deer problem nearby.
After getting a bite to eat at Rosie’s, we strolled around the downtown area. Moose Jaw is kind of in the middle of nowhere, so the bypass didn’t kill off the city.
Holy cow! An actual pay phone. And it worked! And it wasn’t cover in graffiti or urine! Woo hoo.
Just south of our restaurant was this place claiming to be the tunnels Al Capone used while he was in Moose Jaw.
We went in and asked if they were open. They said they were closing in a few minutes. We asked about their “tours.” They said there was one tour left for the day. At closing time…. Weird. Well, whatever. We’ll take their tour that is one hour long but starts when their place closes…
While we waited the last ten minutes before they closed, we walked around to check out their artifacts and evidence of Al Capone’s stay here. Not that believable.
We got to meet our tour guide who walked us down the street to an neighboring building. As we chatted with this kid, I detailed how the mere suggestion of Al Capone hanging out here was preposterous.
Glenn and I are from Wisconsin. We have actual ties to the history of Al Capone, who regularly visited northern Wisconsin to get away from Chicago. We was one of the Original FIB’s.
Also, Al was notoriously paranoid about everything. When we were at the Expansion Museum, we learned that there wasn’t a road to Moose Jaw until like the 1940’s because some dude bought a car in Minneapolis and had to drive it back to Moose Jaw himself. And there wasn’t enough roads so he had to drive across several prairies.
So, back to Al Capone, that means he had to take the train to Moose Jaw from Chicago. And there is no way Al Capone, Mr. Millionaire, is riding a slow ass train to central Canada. The moment someone recognizes him, they’ll just call the next stop’s police, and they’ll arrest or shoot him. No way out on a train.
And I’m not digging on Moose Jaw, but it’s kind of tiny and in the middle of nowhere. I find it hard for someone of Capone’s lifestyle finding his way up to this one-horse town.
As we explain our case, the tour guide directs us to the start of the tunnels.
Turns out this is some kind of reenactment tour, where they have actors put us in the times of Al Capone. It was pretty entertaining. If I had known it was all theatrical, I would have played along more.
At the end of the tour, they killed some woman. We were guided back to the Tunnels of Moose Jaw storefront and out the door.
After visiting the Western Development Museum, we got some recommendations to get food in town. We ended at Rosie’s, which has typical American Canadian food. I was hoping to get a bison burger or some kind of exotic First Nation thing, but instead, we settled for normal food.
The inside was full of hipsters that smelled like B.O. and urinal cakes, so we went outside. It was pleasant out. Maybe we should be doing more trips in August, because in July, we usually have a lot of heat and humidity.
I got the fish and chips and it was pretty decent. I can’t remember what Glenn got. Probably something huge. He can really put down a huge dark sausage.
We had a few minutes to walk around town before it got dark and we drive to the Rockies through the night.
So we’ve been to the Western Expansion Museums in North Battleford, Yorkton, and Saskatoon, but not the one in Moose Jaw. This is the last of the infamous Western Museums in Saskatchewan, and the most overlooked. We’ve been looking forward to this museum for over ten years and we would spend hours each day studying up on the best way to see all the artifacts in the most efficient way possible.
On the way into town, there is a huge moose statue.
So if you have never been to any of these Western Development Museums in Saskatchewan, basically, all the people put all their stuff from the last 100 years in a building or yard. Anything goes.
Old trucks, cars, trolleys, trains, cabooses, anything.
They even went far enough back to find a few horse carriages. That’s a real treat, because most of these Canadian towns didn’t go back even for a 100 or even 50 years. I remember at the Saskatoon museum, they showed the first television station was made in the 1970’s.
Old combustion engines.
Also, they have oddball stuff as well. This is some mechanical horse that a local dude made from scrap metal and he would actually ride it in parades and such.
We found this thing (not sure what it was) in a transported train depot building. (we later found out from one of the older staff that it was a cream separator. My guess was right)
They shipped in all sorts of buildings from the history of the town into this warehouse.
What a find! We even found a placard in front of a huge snow plow. Turns out there was a Wausau-based plow manufacturer. I tried to look them up, but they must have gone out of business a half century ago.
Aircraft as well.
After meandering around until they closed, we filled up the tank for the big drive across the province. If we can put on some major miles, then we could be by the Rockies by sunrise.
Time to get some food in town. The museum staff recommended some diners and bars on the south end. We wanted some crazy food, but unfortunately, they just have normal stuff in this neck of the woods.
Cruising passed Whitewood.
Running out of time. If we don’t hammer down, we’ll miss the Expansion Museum in Moose Jaw.
While Glenn filled up the veg tank, I sauntered into the local McDonald’s for some fries.
I took a leak and some random dude took a crap. Then as I washed up, he finished up and left the bathroom without washing. Ish. Then the dumbdumb went to the touchscreen kiosk to swipe his shitty hand on public order screen.
I went to the other screen and started ordering something fatty. We have a rule that if poutine is on the menu, Glenn and I MUST order it. What to our surprise, but Canadian McD’s have poutine now. So I ordered two boxes.
It was hard for Glenn to eat poutine with while driving, but he made due. If he can’t eat poutine while driving a dangerous vehicle, then why even bother living at all.
I drove most of the way from Braintree to the Peg. I couldn’t figure out how to put the van in reverse, so I had to make sure I didn’t end up stuck down some cul de sac.
So we’ve stayed at this Super 8 twice now. It’s perfectly situated on the west side of town (which is good because 99% of the time we are leaving the next morning in that direction) and they have the best service. They even had a slushie machine. Woot woot. Time to get fat.
We rest up after a long drive. We had been on the road for a long time and didn’t get much rest the night before either. I was still jetlagged from a trip to Italy only 2 days prior.
The next morning we got on the THC and put on some miles. Nearby was an overpass that had completely collapsed. Typical socialists.
Gotta make it to Moose Jaw before the Western Expansion Museum closes at 5pm. Not a lot of time.
Hwy 308 is basically a mud road with occasional gravel roads scattered by a blind man. The last thing you want to encounter is mud, especially in a low-riding 2wd minivan. But with Glenn along, we always get the worst luck.
Eventually we made it to East Braintree, a tiny town near the THC.
Time to head west! ON to the PEG!
The Northwest Angle has a really odd way of border protection. Basically, anyone can just drive in and out of the Angle without stopping. They just rely on the honor system for people to report when they arrive by car or boat.
At the corner of Hwy 330 and Hwy 331, there is a bunch of signs telling you how to get to the Angle Inlet or Youngs Bay areas. But also, they have the Canadian Border Station.
On the northeastern corner, there is the Canadian phone station.
They have a bulletin board with all sorts of fun stuff that we didn’t see. They even have a birdhouse for anyone wanting some complementary salmonella.
This is how it works. When you get ready to leave the Inlet, you just go to this kiosk and call the border station. They ask for your passport number and some standard questions. Then if you get the approval, you get a receipt number and they let you reenter into the Canada.
If you don’t get the approval, you have to stay here forever.
So while we were waiting for our burgers to cook at Jerry’s, we walked over to the big marker designating the furthest point north on the continental United States.
The waitress later told us that technically this ain’t the northernmost point. It’s further up the river near Harrison Creek. She said we could charter a boat to see the dilapidated post marking the actual spot, but so few people wanted to undertake that trip that the state decided to move the marker down here by the rest of society.
So actually, this is more the “Northernmost Point of the Contiguous United States Accessible By Road.”
There is a small marina for all the fishermen. Pretty neato. We ate our burgers and got the heck out of dodge. We hadn’t slept in 24 hours and we still had several hours of driving on gravel to make it to the THC and then more driving to the Peg.
So we headed back on the road, drove passed the border station (again), and got to the Youngs Bay area.
Jerry’s Bar is the only restaurant around here.
There were probably a few hundred trucks and boat trailers here.
A Juicy Lucy burger. Not bad, but they cooked it too long and all the cheese dripped out.
Probably not the best thing to eat after driving all through the night and still several hundred miles to the Peg. Kind of tired.
On to the Northernmost U.S. Point Marker…
As we drove into the Northwest Angle, there were lots of signs telling us to sign in. We didn’t give a crap because there were hundreds of signs, so we never really paid attention. But as we approached the resort, we figured it would be prudent to check in with US border patrol before we get arrested and our 6-day trip to Canada isn’t going to be a 70-day confinement by the NSA.
We pulled into Jake’s Resort, which coincidentally was one of the places where we could “sign in.”
They had a kiosk for punching in our passport information. Since Glenn can’t read, I had to recite the instructions to him.
There was some maps and old pictures. The woman behind the desk arrived and told us that the only place to eat around here was on the other side of the Angle.
Great. Our plan to wrap up this trip to the Angle quickly and get back on the road to Winnipeg is busted.
There were lots of campers and trailers and cabins all around Angle Inlet. No one was around, so they must’ve been fishing.
Back on the road again, to get to the Youngs Bay area.
Passing through the Northwest Angle State Forest on to the hamlet of Angle Inlet.
We made it! To the Post Office.
It was basically a PO Box with a desk, but it wasn’t open. I think their hours were something like 3-3:15pm every blue moon and 1pm-1:10pm on fifth Wednesday of the month.
Next door was a spiffy golf course. No one was on it. I guess they were fishing.
On to the “city.”
There were signs for local events everywhere. We were running out of time, so we didn’t have a chance to hang out for any of this stuff.
We didn’t film the border. After the infamous border incident of 2012, we never film the border. We didn’t want to get droned by some menopausal ornery middle manager who wanted to flaunt her minuscule power.
So we shut down all the equipment and made the crossing.
Red Lake Nation!
The Northwest Angle has two “settlements” if you can call them that. The Angle Inlet is on the west side of the county, and Youngs Bay is on the east end. We decided to head over to the west end, because we were lazy and just wanted to get to the closest place asap.
The drive from the border to the Inlet isn’t short. You have to drive several miles in the woods northeast on Hwy 308.
After a while, it changes to gravel. Kind of funny because we took the minivan on this trip because we knew we wouldn’t need to drive on miles and miles of gravel, like on all our previous WVO roadtrips to the arctic.
Lots of wildlife up here. We almost smoked a deer on the gravel road.
There is only one gravel road to the Angle and it’s slow going. Kind of amazing that the high school students get up early every day to take a bus from the angle to a high school in the continental US.
Our border crossing went nice and quick. Finally. The last few years have been a bear trying to cross, because we would get stopped and searched a lot. Maybe after 13 straight years of crossing into Canada without any drugs, guns, or other stuff, they finally gave us the benefit of the doubt.
Passing through the tiny town of Sprague on the way to the Northwest Angle.
Lots of Canadian flags. We usually see these when it’s closer to Canada Day, but this trip was atypical: this was our first WVO roadtrip in August instead of June or July.
Also this trip had some odd border crossings. Even though we are in Canada, we are trying to get to the Northwest Angle, which is the northernmost part of the continental U.S. and also only accessible from Canada or boat.
We gobbled down our food as we approached Warroad and the border crossing.
After a quick right turn through this small town, we were on the way to Canada, and ultimately the “Northwest Angle.”
We pulled into Baudette Minnesota before lunch and needed to get some supplies. Both of us took turns driving all the way from central Wisconsin up to this border town, and we both needed things that we forgot on the way. I wanted to by a door stop to help keep my foot at a better angle on the accelerator. The custom pedal in this minivan is very touchy, and you can’t put a lot of force on the pedal. Maybe a wedge would make things easier.
We stopped off at the ol’ Hardware Hank for jerky, chips, and parts.
What a coincidence. They had a farmer’s market in the parking lot. Just in time for some lunch snacks. We wanted to buy some fruit, but we knew the border agents would flip their shit if we showed up with an apple. So instead we got some homemade c’min’nins.
Back on the road. Even though we got an early start, we had to get a move on. Heading west of Baudette to Warroad, I called ahead to The Peg to get a reservation at our favorite hotel. In a few miles, we’d be out of cell range, and after over 24 hours on the road, I wanted to make sure we had a hotel before they all booked up on that Saturday night.
On to Warroad Border Checkpoint.
We left around midnight on August 16th to kick off the 2019 WVO Roadtrip. This was the first roadtrip where we used the infamous “Frankenvan” minivan, one of the very few Chrysler Town & Country vans to have a TDI engine in it. As far as we know, it’s the only biofuel powered T&C on the planet.
We drove through the night to get to northern Minnesota by the morning. As we cruised through Superior, Duluth, and the typical Minnesota northern towns on the way to Canada, instead of taking our favorite path up through Thunder Bay to get some Hoito pancakes, we decided to take a new way. This trip, we crossed at Warroad, on the way to the Northern Inlet.
We had never been through this part of Minnesota before, and we ended up passing through a town called Kelliher, which had this place called Big Dick. Nice. We didn’t have time to stop at this gay bar, but maybe next time. Ciao!
We visited Cranbrook in 2010 and in 2019.
In 2010, while in the town of Cranbrook BC, we visited their expansive train museum. They let you tour the old railway cars. It’s not bad.
Then we drove south to the border. Before crossing into the U.S., we saw a farmers market and bought a huge bag of BC cherries. They are delicious, and only a few miles from the border station, did we realize we couldn’t bring this into the country! So we ate probably 5 lbs of cherries in about ten minutes. My poop was violet!
In 2019, we passed through on the Crowsnest Highway on the way to Vancouver Island.
The train museum we visited over 9 years earlier. Cray cray
It would have been nice to stop in and see what enhancements and inclusions they have added to their collection, but we had to move on. There was a different museum we had our eyes on down the road.
Hammer down. Quantity not quality peeps. MILES!