Tuesday, July 02, 2013

West Coast Vacation - Part 2 - The drive to Vancouver

We set out on June 15 with me behind the wheel with a destination of Hinton, AB.  It is about an eight hour drive from Saskatoon, not including stops along the way.  It rained the better part of the way, but I appreciated that we had a divided highway all the way to Hinton.  It was a positive experience for Jay as a passenger, as it was mainly flat, straight roads, so he was able to enjoy surfing the net and posting pics on Instagram while we traveled.  There were no major excitement during the trip.  Except for one deer that ran across the road a good distance ahead of us, the drive was uneventful.  I think the anticipation of the next two weeks of activities helped the boring day of travel pass and it didn't feel too bad.  I have never driven that far before, and other than a little stiffness, I felt pretty good.


Our hotel in Hinton was not spectacular, but thankfully we were only spending one night there.  The bed was comfortable enough, and the room was clean.  The hotel was not terribly accessible, but I did write a review on Trip Advisor to hopefully help others avoid this hotel who might be looking for accessible hotels.  We ordered pizza in to the hotel from Gus's Pizza, and it was a really loaded pizza that was tasty, but maybe a bit heavy for our first restaurant meal of the trip.

We set out at around 7:45 the next morning as we knew it was a longer drive to Vancouver than it had been to Hinton.  The nice thing about this day of driving, though, was as soon as you pass Hinton you are into Jasper National Park with some amazingly beautiful scenery.  Even though we spent about 11.5 hours on the road this day, the scenery and the need to pay close attention helped the time to feel like it passed quickly.


  I had heard people talk about the Coquihalla Highway before.  All they really said is how the traffic moves quickly through that stretch of highway.  No one prepared me for the insane slopes and the heavy, fast paced traffic (three lanes going each way, 110km/hr speed limit, but most people probably going 120+).  There were a few moments when my heart felt like it was in my throat.  I knew that this was a seriously crazy highway when every so often you see a runaway lane.  And most of the runaway lanes were gravel and had tire tracks in them....which means people have had to use them.  Crazy!

video

(I took this video after we had driven the steepest part of the highway and through the tunnel.  This might not seem too bad, but it was steep!  Also, apparently by this point we were down to two lanes, and didn't have cars on all sides like we did earlier)

Once we made it through the craziness of the Coquihalla, it seemed like smooth sailing. Even though by this point we had been on the road for probably at least 10 hours, we were still feeling pretty good. Once we got to Abbotsford the traffic slowed to a standstill and we crawled a couple of kilometers in 40 minutes. I was not feeling very happy about that.


According to the sign we still had about 65km to go to Vancouver and by this point we had been in the van for about 11 hours. However, after 40 minutes the traffic started moving and we were wondering what had held us up. The crazy thing about traffic in big centers is there is often no sign of what caused the holdup. No accident, no car broken down blocking a lane. No, just no traffic movement. We were baffled, but happy to be moving again. It was a quick little jaunt after this to our hotel in North Vancouver and we were happy to arrive.

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