Vancouver, city of rainbows

Friday morning, we helped Jaime and Eric set up their boot at the market in 100 Mile House. They asked us if we could stay some days longer because there was a big fair for several days until Monday and they could use our help. However, we had to continue our trip because our temporary insurance for the car would expire soon. And if it would prove too much trouble to get a new one in British Columbia (BC) we would have to drive all the way back to Winnipeg to get a new one (it sounds crazy but, be sure we tried to figure out other options). So we said goodbye to the whole family and had some last laughs with Echo before we left.

So off we went, in the direction of Vancouver! Once again we enjoyed the endless countryside of Canada. We saw climates change again, from wet to dry and later wet again… Somewhere in the middle of our trip we took a brake at Lytton, a little town besides the big Fraser river. Some forest fires were in progress at the other side of the river and we had some spectacular views on the fires and the many helicopters trying to fight them by dropping tons of river water on top of them. However, the life in the little town did not seem to be affected at all, it appeared to be business as usual. After a brake and some lunch, we continued our way to Vancouver.

When we approached Vancouver we had to cross the Port Mann bridge to enter the city. Some signs warned us this was a toll bridge so we had our wallet ready to pay. However, we did not come across any boot or place to pay the toll. The system works with scanners that read the license plates of cars so you can pay online (before or after crossing the bridge). This caused an issue as we didn’t have a license plate. We did some research later and came to the conclusion the system could not track us at all and even when we tried to pay online later it was impossible for us as a valid license plate was needed to fill out the form. Long story short, we crossed the bridge twice without paying any penny.

We had planned to stay with a friend of Jane and Rod, however it turned out he was ill so it was not really possible to stay with him. Since our budget didn’t allow expensive Canadian hotel prices for several nights we decided to try to sleep in our car on the street. After the weekend we could stay with Kerry and her family, who are friends of our friends in Belgium (thanks Evy and Stef!). So we found a good spot in a quiet neighborhood to park our car and spent the night. It was a bit strange feeling, but besides that it was pretty fine.

The first two days we visited Vancouver and had some walks around the city. We met our first racoons in the park and overall liked the relaxed atmosphere in the city.

We also searched an insurance broker and asked them what the procedure would be to get an insurance for our car. The answer was very detailed and clear, but the result would be pretty expensive. We made some calculations and in the end we had a choice between two options: have a BC insurance for 3 months (even though we would only need one for maximum 1,5 month) with license plates, or drive back to Winnipeg and have another temporary insurance for a month, without license plates. However, the last option would save us more than 400 dollars even if we calculated the extra money we would spend on gas to drive back to Winnipeg. Also we would not have to go through a hurried procedure of getting the car reregistered in BC, of course we would have to spend 2 days of driving back to Manitoba instead. We talked about it for a bit and finally decided to go back to Winnipeg.

We were glad the decision was made, even though it did not feel good to cross the half of Canada once again. The thought we would see the Lastra family again was very nice though. And we were looking forward to it!

Anyway, with the car troubles out of our mind we could relax a bit better. And that’s what we did on Monday! We thought we deserved it after all this walking around and sightseeing during the weekend. We went to a cozy coffee shop and started relaxing, editing pictures, facetiming with family, and so on. Even better, somewhere around noon we got message from Eric, the friend of Jane and Rod that he found us a place to stay for 2 days. An apartment in down town Vancouver, in the oldest skyscraper of the city. We are not sure how he arranged it, but according to Jane, the owner (who has the place for rent on Airbnb) owed Eric some favors. Anyway, in the afternoon we packed our stuff and went to the place. In comparison to our car it was like heaven! The apartment was small but really, really nice, with an amazing view over the city. We made ourselves a very good dinner with all kinds of fresh stuff and got all happy with a big bottle of cheap (but delicious!) cider. We spent the whole evening on the couch watching series on television instead of going into the city, and we didn’t even feel bad about it for one tiny bit.

Alright, after our relaxing day it was business again! Colleagues of Nina gave us a whale watching tour as a present (thanks again Els, Evy and Stef!!). We got up reasonable early next morning and headed out to the harbor to go and meet some Orca’s. It turned out to be quite a long trip, the Killer Whales were not really close by, so we had to travel several hours to find them. We didn’t really mind and enjoyed the trip. When we finally came close to a group of 4 Orca’s we were amazed by the beauty of these animals. Even though you only see them from a distance popping up for air it is still a very nice feeling to see these beautiful mammals roaming around the big ocean. On the way back to Vancouver we also enjoyed some funny Sea Lions on the rocks!

Next day we moved to the house of Kerry and her family to stay for one more night before we would leave to Winnipeg again. When we got back to our car, which was still parked in the quiet neighborhood where we slept the first nights, we found out we got a ticket for parking our car unlicensed on the street. Apparently the officer who gave us the ticket didn’t notice our sticker on the windshield. When we got to Kerry’s place we made some phone calls and luckily everything was sorted out very quickly. To avoid this situation in the future we converted our hitchhiking sign to our own “license plate” with the text: “Temporary insurance, sticker on windshield”.

The afternoon at Kerry and Paul’s place was very nice. We had some interesting talks with Kerry and Paul and played games with their two boys Lucas and Jaime. We could sleep in a very nice room with king size bed (you start appreciating such things when you sleep most of your time in a tent or a car).

With this visit our stay in Vancouver came to an end. Next morning, we left early to drive back to Calgary where we would stay with Yev and Veronica once more. Unfortunately, Yev was on a business trip so we did not meet him again, but Veronica took very good care of us and welcomed us heartily in their house. Another long day of driving brought us all the way back to Winnipeg and the Lastra family.

We were welcomed as long time members of the family and were very glad to have them on our path once again. The long days of traveling had a bit of a wary effect on us and during the next days we got both a bit ill and had a general dip in our state of mind. The love and advice of the Lastra’s were very helpful and a big support. Probably we were also a bit nervous about leaving this amazing country we got so used to during the 1,5 month we spent there.

But finally the day came to say goodbye and to leave Canada by crossing the border to the USA!