(7:00 A.M., somewhere near Vancouver, British Columbia: * tap tap tap*)
“Chris, was that you?” I ask, muffled by the t-shirt I had slung over my face to shield the morning sun.
(Chris pretends he doesn’t hear me)
“There’s someone knocking on your window,” I tell him, peeking out from my “sleeping” position, configured by my head lodged between the passenger seat and the car door, my feet pressed against the windshield, and my torso coiled like a busted slinky around the center console.
(Chris opens the door)
“Oh hai-there, g’mornin!” trumpets an unfamiliar voice…
24 Hours Earlier…
After our drive through the Canadian Icefields, we set off for Vancouver, British Columbia. Our plan was to stop somewhere along our route that corresponded to big, bold letters on the atlas. After 6+ hours of driving (by Chris, because he is a superhuman) we arrived in Canada’s Tournament Capital, the city of Kamloops.
I wish that I had more to say about Kamloops apart from its famous title and how the word “Kamloops” has since crept into our daily vocabulary. But I don’t. We literally drove around the city for fun, in the dark, and shouted at people on the street, demanding they point us in the direction of “VANCOOTER”, all while listening to Drake and the Biebs on repeat because we are grown-ups and also because Canadian radio reps hard.
I remember telling Chris, “We just passed a lawn sign that said we are in the tournament capital of the world!” We had no idea what that meant, but boy were we pumped about it. After future research I found out it was only the tournament capital of BC (soft), and it means exactly what you think it means. But driving into the huge, brightly lit city after 1/4 of a day pummeling through the Canadian countryside was cause enough for celebration. Small victories.
Chris decided to take his super human powers into overdrive (#puns) and steer us all the way to Vancouver that same night. I think it rounded out to be like 12 hours of strictly driving with a few leg stretches in between when donuts were calling/shouting/SCREAMING my name. There is no way what he did was legal.
Chris welcomed me to Vancouver around 3AM. I had just woken up from a car nap, and he was fighting to keep his crusty contacts moist. Moist. MOIST. As mentioned in previous posts, we had zero cell service in Canada, which meant we had to figure shit out on our own, without the interweb (Millennials these days, am i rite?).
Canada seemed to be most challenging when it came to directions. Seriously, the road signs are wet dogshit. America holds your hand when it comes to showing you which exit to get off. They give you 19 warnings. Canada gives you one and it’s behind like a maple tree or something. But I love Canada so much that I don’t even consider it a flaw. I trust they have their reasons.
The decision to drive downtown Vancouver was a TERRIBLE GODFORSAKEN DECISION. It was a Saturday night (technically Sunday morning) and the bars were just closing. Vancouver is a very large, vibrant city, and thus people were galloping through the streets with drunken smirks and shouting words that could not be understood, while we sought out local hookers for directions. I fell in love (with the city). I had a raging neighborly urge to party with my Canadian friends. However, 3AM became 5AM, Chris became a zombie, and suddenly our need to escape downtown Vancooter was dire.
Every last hostel and hotel was booked. We found some free WiFi at a local food joint and mapped out two camping spots. We drove #allthewayup to a spot between Squamish and Whistler, in the dark — a.k.a. Terrible mistake #2, because these places are BEAUTIFUL and we couldn’t see squat.
The first campground we checked out was full. The second campground was our last hope. As we pulled in, four letters pinned across a bulletin board brought us to tears: F-U-L-L. We looked at each other. No words necessary. We parked the car, pulled our seats back as far as they’d go, and shut our eyes. Nearly sunrise but finally asleep.
*7:00 A.M.: *tap tap tap*
(Chris opens the door)
“Oh hai-there, g’mornin’! I’m a Canadian park lady and I was just here checkin’ if you folks have been here all night because we here at Porteau Cove charge $35 dollars for any overnight parking here in my Canadian parking lot, eh.”
(Chris replies with nothing but groans and drool)
Translation: We arrived to your parking lot an hour ago, the campground was full, do you see our Minnesota license plates, NEIGHBOUR?
Maple syrup lady speaks again: “Alrighty, well normally here in my Canadian Park I would charge ya the full $35 but I’ll let it slide this time because I have here this park ranger hat that I like to wear because it allows me to make decisions and such.”
Chris shuts the door. We telepathically agree that we both hate Ranger Alarm Clock and will continue our first car sleep of Bop that was so rudely interrupted by such a polite Canadian.
A few hours go by and we wake up to find our peaceful parking resort had converted into Sunday-Funday headquarters. Attendees included Boy Scouts, too many families, and every scuba diver in B.C., maybe even Canada. It was like the second biggest crowd in the history of the world behind Trump’s inauguration. All of whom saw us gracelessly passed out in the car with our mouths hanging open, lying under blankets of pop-tart wrappers and dirty laundry.
Gooooood morning! Where the F is Tom Horton’s?
A Day in Vancouver
This park is to Canada what Central Park is to the U.S. It’s a few hundred acres larger than Central Park, but has millions fewer people visiting each year — a good combination in my book . We didn’t get around to seeing all the park had to offer (shoutout to Vancouver traffic!), so we checked our priorities and headed straight to where the park met the ocean at English Bay.
“May this sculpture inspire laughter, playfulness, and joy in all who experience it.”
Yue Minjun is the master behind A-maze-ing Laughter – a sculpture consisting of 14 expressive statues in which Minjun is depicting himself “in a state of hysterical laughter.” How cool is that? He’s like, “Yo I like the way I look when I smile and laugh and stuff. Let’s throw a bunch of me all over the globe.” Can we technically say we met him?
“It’s obvious as heck why they call this Sunset Beach”
We were taking pictures of these impressive cairns in the ocean when the guy who stacked them told us to tag him in our photos, using the hashtag #VancouverRockStacker. While trolling through Insta, I found we are currently the only people who have publicly used that hashtag. Where are you, Mr. Rockstacker..?
We watched the ships roll in at sunset. It was breathtaking. It’s obvious as heck why they call this Sunset Beach. I wish we had better photos of this evening. The sun setting with the ships on the ocean were a photographer’s dream.
Related: We will now be taking donations for a very nice camera. We accept Venmo and Paypal accepted among any other form of payment. Canadian or American. Thank you.
Downtown Vancouver from the other side. The best city photo I could capture with an iPhone6. When I say “otherside” I mean West Vancouver. See photo below for further details if you’re into that sort of thing.
After a day of exploring, we drove to our camping destination: Stawamus Chief Provincial Park – Squamish, BC. This site happened to be the first place we tried to camp the night before. Luckily when we arrived this time there were a few open spots. Thanks for lookin’ out God (aka Justin).
Once we declared the small area of site #20 ours, we drove to the entrance of the campground and put some Canadian money into a box that probably no one checks. We got back to our spot only to find that some guy with California license plates had set up his tent. So what did we do, you ask?
We drove around in circles because we are awkward, passive aggressive Minnesotans. After we ran some lines and built up the courage to ask him in the nicest way possible to un-steak his tent and move it to a new location, we kept him up all night slap boxing. We’re sorry, and we love you.
We woke up Monday morning with the sun beaming on top of these mountains in front of us. There were times when I didn’t look forward to looking for somewhere to camp at night. There was something about being in a different place, in the dark, and not quite out of bear country yet that gave me a little rush. But it was mornings like this that made me so happy to wake up with this person, this sunrise, these mountains, in this insanely beautiful country.
Next stop: Vancouver Island