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Saturday, August 26, 2017

I wake up at 5:30 this morning with a strange combination of intense anticipation and a splitting headache. Anticipation for the road trip that seems to have snuck up on me all of a sudden despite months of preparation; the headache from a little too much alcohol at last night’s party.

My backpack has been packed for two days and is ready to go – along with those of my fellow travelers, a tent, sleeping bags, and air mattresses – into the roof bag that will clip to the top of our car. Ben arranged camping chairs, a cooler, a flat of water, and other necessities into the trunk three days ago. Dwight and Sarah are bringing down backpacks, sleeping bags and pillows. We’re almost ready to hit the road.

I’m emptying out the dishwasher when my cell phone chimes with a text message. Our friends – who are returning from a road trip of their own with a box of food for us – were waylaid near Medicine hat last night. They’re on their way to us with a box of pre-packaged lunches from GoPicnic, and we have their emergency house keys.

ben reloads the now-empty dishwasher and runs it so we have clean dishes when we get back. Sarah ties up the kitchen garbage bag and puts it out for collection next week. Then Ben and Sarah fill the roof bag, rearrange it, zip it up and situate it on the roof of the car. Ben is frustrated because some of the trim has come loose from the car, and his efforts at gluing it back have not been a resounding success. The roof bag is up, its straps as tight as they can be. Jenny is sitting perfectly at my side, waiting for her next instructions.

We’d planned to leave between 6:00 and 6:30, but the clock is inching past 7:00 and our friends are almost here. They arrive with a 1-foot-square box of food for us, greet Jenny, wish us well, and head home to sleep themselves.

It’s 7:30… and we’re off!


Edmonton, Alberta – Richmond, BC

Distance: 1200 )plus ????) km

Travel Time: 13.5 hours (including stops and Detours)


Ben is driving this leg, with Sarah in the passenger seat (with Ben’s camera bag by her feet). Jenny permits Dwight and I to take over the back seat while she takes the middle. The box of food fits nicely by my feet, a backpack containing a picnic set and miscellaneous food sits on the flor (where Jenny’s feet would be if she were human), and Dwight has taken custody of the “communal jacket” (a leather jacket that Dwight got second-hand, left at my house two years ago so I borrowed it and gave it back to him, and now it seemingly belongs to all of us).

We barely make it to the highway when we hear a very loud hum coming from the roof bag. A subsequent check at a Canadian Tire store (where Ben buys adhesive for the trim), reveals the bag is holding its position nicely, but the ends of the straps are flowing in the wind, causing very loud vibrations.

We all laugh giddily, sing along with songs from Ben’s MP3 player (drowned out by the roof bag’s hum), and take our first selfie in the car near Edson. Snacks are procured in Edson, we stop for fuel in Jasper, then settle in for the long haul to Kamloops. Dwight, Sarah and I catch naps, and I can’t decide whether or not that makes the ride shorter or longer, because I’ve taken that trip before and it’s never ever felt this long.

In Kamloops, we fuel up again and take a break to stretch our legs. It’s hot today and there’s some smoke (though not much) from wildfires burning across the province, so our exposure to outside is minimal. We stop in to a McDonald’s for food, where a woman loudly proclaims that NOW she understands that my dog is a “SERVICE DOG” and then “sssssshhhhhhhhh”es anyone (no one?) who dares to call further attention to us.

Sarah takes over the driving from Kamloops. We’ve been planning to take the Fraser Canyon, since we’ve never taken that route, but due to timing we decide to take the Coquihalla instead (it’s shorter).

Just outside of Hope, Ben looks at Google maps and notices there’s a collision blocking Highway 1 between Chilliwack and Abbotsford. It will delay our trip almost 45 minutes. We make a collective decision to detour around it, driving from Hope to Mission and taking the Mission-Abbotsford Bridge to the highway.

We arrive (exhausted) at my Dad and Stepmother Karen’s house. Their dog, Ayce, greets us noisily, while Jenny runs outside to run and sniff and steal all of Ayce’s toys and taunt him with this fact. Ayce doesn’t care that she has his toys; he DOES care that she’s showing off.

Dad and Karen have set up a Chinese hot pot for us. The food has just started to cook, but it doesn’t take long for six hungry people to crowd around the table, filling their bowls with spicy or savory meat or vegetables or noodles. As soon as the hot pot is empty and we are all eating and laughing, more food is added to the pot. This goes on for over an hour, the tension of the long travel day retreating into the background. We are almost stuffed to bursting, but we can’t say no to little cups of chocolate mousse for dessert.

Ben and Sarah had planned to visit a family friend tonight, but they are all so exhausted that making their way there at 10:00 at night sounds like an unwise decision. They’ve made arrangements to get together with him tomorrow, which is probably better for everyone.

The roof bag is removed from the top of the car and our backpacks are dispersed. We shower, set up beds, and fall into an exhausted happy sleep.