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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Day 9–Off Island, and my very smart Wife.

hehe. you didn’t think I was going to finish our vacation story did you? Well I am. Are you happy about that?

Ok, so in the interest of not worrying certain readers, we didn’t let on to anyone that the free van was not running that great. You see the van we drive was given to us, not running, by a friend back in December. I nursed it back to life and it’s been a workhorse for us. I have replaced or repaired:

  1. starter
  2. Front right wheel hub
  3. front right axle
  4. rear springs (man does make a loud bang when they break, woo!)
  5. rear shocks
  6. flushed and serviced the entire brake system
  7. the pre and post catalytic O2 sensors
  8. flushed and serviced the transmissions system

All these items I did myself. I can’t imagine the costs to have this done. I am more than certain this trip wouldn’t have gone ahead if I had a shop look after all these items. So there was truly a balancing act. Kind of nurse the van and all it’s little tendencies across BC, or don’t go on the trip. What we decided was, if the van conked out on us, farther than 100kms from a Canadian Tire, we would phone Enterprise Car Rental (they pick you up), and try do hide the fact that we took the license plate off the van when we left it on the side of the road. You were a good van, bye bye now.

Thankfully that plan didn’t come to fruition, and the van performed admirably for what we asked of it on this trip. I don’t think there is a harder trip to subject a vehicle too anywhere else in Canada. Mountain pass after mountain pass, windy roads, steep drops, tons of traffic and extreme temperatures.

Up to now we hadn’t gotten into the temperature extremes. The forecast was for near 40c/ 102f at our destination in Princeton. I was worried about this trip. The van had been heating up on the inclines and when parked in traffic (that was part of the reason I was so upset in Vancouver), so with the very high temps and my knowledge of the challenging Hope-Princeton highway, I was concerned.

Sorry about all that. I digress. back to the story.

We woke up in Victoria, after having changed our ferry reservation from 3pm back to noon. We just wanted to get going. We knew this trip part of the trip out of the lower mainland would be a bit stressful, so lets boogie! We did the complimentary continental creakfast (sorry, I love alliteration), and packed up for the trip to Schwartz bay. We did get to see the big blue bridge open, just as we were heading out, so Andrew I was very stoked.


We beelined it up to the ferry terminal from there and got there in time to catch the 11am crossing! So good! 15 minutes in line and we were loaded up and on our way. The trip across is cool as you are close to America (actually in American waters part of the time), image

as well as navigating a really narrow passage called Active Pass. It’s pretty active alright. A very strong tidal current is noticeable as we make our way through.


Seeing Mt Baker was a highlight for me.

An Island Provincial Park. I think this was Galiano Island. It was a long weekend too!

Here is the entrance into Active Pass. You can really see the currents moving!

We met another ferry in the channel, so again, a highlight for me.

As we enter the Juan De Fuca Straight Straight of Georgia (thanks Elle) Mt Baker is clearer and more impressive.

I did see a seal that almost got whacked by the ferry. He looked like “HEY, I’M Swimming Here!!”


Another one of Mt Baker as we exited the Pass.


Before we knew it we were getting the 15 minute warning as Vancouver appeared through the haze. Man was it hot. probably 30-32c at this point.


We got off the ferry and didn’t look back. We found the Alex Fraser Highway and headed east. The highway skirts the international border so there is a lot of traffic. There is a lot of traffic anyway.


It was a relief to get back on the Trans Canada Freeway at Abbotsford as I was tired of lights. The temps were high and the van was running hot. The trip from Abbotsford to Hope was uneventful. We did stop for gas in Langley, picked up a Jugo Juice and a gallon of engine coolant. Oh, one of the reasons I was ok with taking the van was the fuel economy is unbelievable for a large 1999 vehicle. We filled up 3 times on the entire trip. Didn’t have to at all on the Island. With economy like that, any issues that the van has would be outside the engine block, therefore easy to repair if necessary.

We made the turn onto the Crowsnest Highway and started to climb. I spent a good amount of time watching the heat gauge. The trip up isn’t really that scenic compared to other highways, but nice nonetheless, but I was trying to manage the engine heat. It was about then Traci asked me if we should open the windows.

I was like: WTF? why on earth would we open the windows? What are you, stupid? Why would that help? Like seriously, that makes no sense. Again, WTF?

She looks at me in disgust and says: we could turn the Air Conditioning off and drive with the windows open.

I was like: OMG. I am so sorry, you are so effing smart.

So I turned off the AC and whoop, down went the temps. You know, deep down I knew that, but if it were up to me that day, we probably would have been on the side of the road waiting for Enterprise to come pick us up. I love my wife! We spent the rest of the trip playing the AC/Windows Down game as we drove up and down the mountain roads. That little piece of Wifery advice was the moment I quit worrying about the van, knowing we’d be fine. On day 9. Ah well, better than day 11.

Once we crested the pass, then the road gets just silly. I’m not sure what made it so important to get over the mountains at this exact spot, but whatever it was, it cost nothing but money. This road is crazy at times.

See the other road below the 30k sign? Same road.



That’s only about a km shown there… And 8-9% grades. In a past life I may have enjoyed that kind of road a lot, but as I age gracefully , I seem to be enjoying less of a challenge.


So we got to our destination in Princeton. It is about 35c. So hot. The hottest I have experienced in years. I decide I don’t mind it and to just enjoy it to the fullest. windows down, doing airplane arm out the window! Yeah!

Oh, yeah, we passed about 2 dozen cars on the last 100kms with their hoods up pouring steam. They obviously don’t have wives as smart as mine.

We checked in, got into our Cabin and headed over to the little lake for a swim. Andrew played on the slide for an hour! We stayed at Princeton Castle Resort, the same place we stayed at 15 years earlier for a night on our honeymoon. It has turned totally weird now. We found it to be nice, with really strange parts to it. Traci said it was haunted…


Like this. So weird.

Not much else to tell except the resort is built around this old castle ruins as shown above. More on that in the next episode… 

Thanks for reading!


  1. Lovely pictures... just a little correction for you.

    That is Georgia Strait that you came out of Active Pass into.

    The Strait of Juan de Fuca is South of Victoria and separates Canada from the U.S.

    This ferry ride is in Canadian waters the whole way.

    I have been enjoying your story....

    1. Updated! Thanks. I posted my reason for saying the ferry is in American waters part of the time...

  2. Beautiful photos and awesome trip! Thanks a lot for these. I love seeing all the places and experiences. Everything in this post is so different to what we have here in SA.