We stayed three nights on the Washington coast before entering Canada.
This didn’t provide a lot of time in Olympic National Park, but at this point we were both craving to get to Alaska.
At our South Beach State Park campsite, the second night in Washington, we collected driftwood (legally) for a campfire and made more naan bread (below left) to enjoy the foggy evening (below right).
Our third night was spent in the quiet harbor town of Port Townsend, which has been one of my favorite evenings so far. We walked the shipyard and docks (below right) as JB taught me a bit about what makes a sailboat safe to circumnavigate, and biked the town (below left). But the best treat for me was eating locally made ice cream (yes, non-vegan) and it was delicious!
The next morning we took a short ferry ride (below) that allowed us to skip driving through Seattle, and on we drove to the Canadian border. We made it into Canada with no problems, I was even allowed to keep my apple. We also encountered the worst traffic of the road trip in Vancouver, postponing arrival in our highly anticipated destination of Squamish, British Columbia – a rock climbing haven.
The rock climbing culture, based out of a roadside parking lot, was incredibly welcoming. Although some reading this may disagree (dad), I found the lifestyle and community of the climbers living quasi-permanently in their tents or vehicles quite admirable and enticing. After a day of climbing with a few of our new friends, we sat in a circle behind the cars (some of the climbers’ homes) discussing the differences between the various means of climbing. Some of the climbers only boulder (climbing just a few feet off of the ground, this is the only type of climbing we do) while others prefer traditional rope climbing (scaling hundreds, or even thousands of feet of mountain using small mechanical gadgets to prevent the certain death that would accompany a fall). The discussion quickly turned as someone pointed out the white, windowless van in the parking lot (below).
The van belongs to one of climbing’s most famous faces, Alex Honnold. While none of you are likely to know the name, he gained exposure to the general public with a 60 Minutes special and the National Geographic story linked below.
Mr. Honnold became famous a few years ago when he began climbing difficult thousand foot routes without any protection. After an in depth discussion of what the life of a “superstar” climber must be like, I asked the climbers, “Would you leave this lifestyle if you had a job lined up?” I received mixed reviews from the shirtless and shoeless men who sat hunched over their respective meal of choice (a can of beans wrapped in tortilla with unrefrigerated cheese or a pot of sauceless macaroni adorned with ready-to-eat sausage). They love to climb, and climbing is all they do – sounds like a good set up to me, but on I go to my job in Alaska.
At the local coffee shop, we were informed the Squamish Music Festival was occurring that weekend; the pending arrival of Eminem, Bruno Mars and 60,000 people encouraged JB and I to depart after two days of bouldering and spend a night in Whistler, BC. Whistler proved to be quite touristy as well as the host of an extreme downhill mountain biking competition – we left rather quickly with our final destination in mind.
I believe it is now day 3 of driving from Whistler to Anchorage, AK and I have finally found the time to write a blog post in between my busy schedule of backseat driving and eyebrow shaping. Although I am unsure the next time Wi-fi will be accessible to post for viewer enjoyment. Last night’s dinner-stop location was located at this viewpoint on the highway…
We rarely listen to any music, as I had only downloaded Jack Johnson and John Denver to be available offline, of which JB only approves of playing Jack in the van. We pass much of our time speaking in accents to each other, Indian and German are local favorites, but Canadian and French make frequent appearances as well. We often catch ourselves speaking in accents to gas clerks and supermarket cashiers (whose native tongue may or may not be the impetus for our fun), and then we vow to quit speaking in such a manner- but we never do.
Wildlife was nonexistent (apart from wild dogs and ravens) up until last night when I nearly hit a herd of elk. Luckily my cat-like reaction spared everyone’s life and with my heart in my stomach we pulled over to sleep for the night. Today’s cool, cloudy weather provided the perfect wildlife viewing conditions.
We spotted a moose early on…..
Construction on the Alaskan Highway has been quite frequent and time-consuming. We were also informed that the stretch of road between Haines Junction and the Alaskan boarder is unpaved (I don’t remember this being the case when I made the drive last summer, but I cannot be sure). Hopefully Connie proves to as reliable as ever, whatever that means for a craigslist van.
Worse yet than the construction, is the roadside coffee. JB and I were spoiled with the local artisan culture surrounding coffee, root beer and orgainc wholesome food, from California to Washington. I cannot express how delicious the coffee was. Since crossing the border, not even only on the Alaskan Highway, the coffee has been disappointing and there hasn’t been a single local rootbeer brewer. I am quite excited to return to Kaladi Brothers Coffee Co. in Alaska – I’m dreaming of their soy lattes as I type this.
(5 hours later)
We landed in Whitehorse and I sip a Starbucks soy latte as I post this (I’ve never been so thankful for the coffee commercial giant).