Road home from Saskatoon

After a relaxing week in Saskatoon, it was time to head home. It was an uneventful trip across highways 7 and 9, through Drumheller, into Calgary.

I love the colors of the prairies.

On Sunday morning, we set out from Calgary.
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It was all good, until I decided we should stop to see Lake Louise…when the timing belt snapped.

Fortunately I’d charged the cell phone for emergencies and there was cell reception so we could call CAA for a tow. While we waited, we watched the sun move across the sky. Just as it was about to disappear behind the trees (90 minutes later), the tow truck arrived. We got a tow down to the Petro Can in Banff, then set off on foot with the bird stuffed inside my down jacket, to find a place to stay. The chap at the Information Center got us a deal at one of the hotels ($119 instead of the regular rate of $169). I noticed in their pamphlet that pets are not allowed. “Shhh Carlos!”

The next morning, Monday, we found on Booking.com that the hotel across the street was pet-friendly and considerably cheaper. The woman behind the desk was VERY sympathetic and checked us in right away, so we had a warm dry place to hang out while we figured out what to do next.

Plan A: First off, we considered renting a Uhaul truck and dolly to tow the car back to BC. But we couldn’t find a truck or dolly nearby, and one of the UHaul people told us we’d be crazy to try to tow a car across the Rockies using an empty truck.

Plan B: Next, we considered renting a car and leaving the Subaru in Banff, and sorting out the repairs from home. But I was really reluctant to abandon the car, and renting a car was going to cost as much as getting a tow back to Calgary.

Plan C: Our third option was to find a mechanic in Calgary and get a tow back there, and that is what we ended up doing. Patrick found a mechanic in the local Yellow Pages and I phoned the CAA to arrange another tow.

Here we are outside All Makes in Calgary. We couldn’t have found a better mechanic. He and the crew started working on our car on Monday afternoon, and had us back on the road by lunch time Wednesday. Amazing, considering they had the engine out, replaced the cylinder heads, gaskets, timing belt, clutch, and all sorts of other things. If you ever need a mechanic in Calgary, I would definitely recommend these guys!

On Wednesday, we left Calgary for the second time. It was +12 degrees C, but not for long.

Once we hit the Rockies, the rest of the trip was dark and wet.

And we were glad of our winter tires.

Until we got to the gulf islands!

The hero of the day was definitely the mechanic in Calgary. Those guys rock!

But I also have to give kudos to the bird, who put up with being stuffed inside my jacket more than once, smuggled into hotels, shushed over and over, bumped and rattled in two different tow trucks, dragged out to the supermarket when we got cabin fever in Calgary (which also meant being stuffed under my fleece and held onto tightly when we had to cross the road), and fed the most meager of rations (more apple Carlos?).

And cheers to Patrick who drove the entire way back from Saskatoon while I nursed a sinus infection.

Lessons learned? Upgrade my CAA membership so that it covers more than the first 5km of a tow.

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Seattle – the rest of our trip

Like all the best best-laid-plans, my plan to blog about our trip fell through pretty quickly, didn’t it? Sorry!

Here’s a quick peek of what we got up to:

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Bike ride out to Redmond. We got caught in the rain, but found this useful tree outside Microsoft to shelter under!


Two days in Leavenworth reading books and wandering around town. We ate at the best place, a restaurant called South – highly recommend their Burrito in a Bowl with Carne Asada! Just wish we’d got a photo of our hotel. It had a deck with the most comfortable outdoor furniture – the perfect spot for a late afternoon glass of wine.

More bike riding, this time along the edge of Lake Washington. On our way back, we stopped at Juanita Bay Park and saw these ducklings. They were so small they could walk across the lilypads, while Mum had to swim through them.

Lunch at the fabulous Melrose Market. This picture shows the cool foodie restaurant in the back, but we had a sandwich (yes, a non-paleo meal!) from the sandwich bar in the front – delicious!

A quick stop in Port Townsend (on our way to catch the ferry from Port Angeles) for boat pictures to give me ideas for my current WIP.

That was our week –  over all too soon!

Museum of Flight

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On Sunday we went to the Museum of Flight. Every time we’ve driven down the 5 freeway past the Boeing airfield Patrick has pointed at the sign and said we must go there some time.

It was bigger than we imagined, and three hours was barely enough time to see everything. Planes ranged from a replica of the Wright Flyer, World War I and II machines, modern stealth bombers, an Air Force One from Kennedy and Nixon’s era, and a Concorde.

I enjoyed sitting in the mocked up control tower with views of the runways, listening to the radio feed from the actual control tower at Boeing field and watching the biplanes and new 787 landing and taking off. Patrick was fascinated by the Gossamer Albatross, a pedal powered plane that was flown across the English Channel.

Not in Kansas (Victoria) anymore

After much umming and ahhing about what to do with our week of summer holidays – road trip or not – we decided to spend our time in Seattle. Even though we’ve been here a bunch of times before, there are things we’ve never had time to do, like visit the Museum of Flight, take the underground tour, and ride the ducks.

Yesterday was our first day here. We started our day, focused on food (what’s new? you say), with a visit to Whole Foods. We had guacamole, chicken, coleslaw, and fresh raspberries for lunch, sitting outside, watching the world, and a Ferrari go by.

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Next up was a visit to the Center for Wooden Boats where they were having Home Built Boats weekend.

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A stop for our first iced americano.

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Then Gasworks Park, where we sat and did nothing but watch the kites for a couple of hours.

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Then back to Whole Foods for dinner.

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Crazy parking

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The first time we were in France, sitting outside a bar in a little town across the river from Avignon in Provence, we watched in amazement as a chap in a delivery van pulled up outside the building next door, put his flashers on, and strode inside.

Not so different than here, you think. But this was on a one way street and there was absolutely no room to pass.

A minute later a car pulled up behind him, cut his engine and sat patiently waiting. We couldn’t believe it – no honking of horns, no waving of arms, no swearing in a loud voice. We waited to see what would happen. Surely there would be a confrontation?

Twenty minutes passed, and finally the first chap reappeared, jauntily circled round to the driver’s door, waved at the chap behind, hopped in, and drove away. The second chap started his car and drove off.

Honestly, the French confound me. In some respects, they take their social rules very seriously – remember the Mon Dieu incident. But parking on street corners and blocking traffic – these rules, not so rigid.

Yes – all those cars in the photo above are parked!

See more parking photos on Flickr.