Saturday, 17 December 2016

The Road Trip North - Day 16. Anacortes WA to Parksville, BC CANADA via a galaxy far far away.

It is yet another freezing morning and another very early start. We have to be at the ferry terminal an hour before the sailing, and so are driving out of the motel carpark before dawn. Our passports are checked and our boarding pass issued, and then we sit in the car — which is rapidly losing heat — for the best part of an hour before we are directed onto the ferry. We are funnelled down the left hand side of the boat and up against the side wall, and we end up so closely packed in that the driver door won’t open enough to let Michael out, so I wait in the howling wind as Michael manoeuvres himself over the central console and falls out of the passenger side, and then we hurriedly rush upstairs to the warmth of the saloon. The boat is fairly empty, so we find a seat by the windows ready to try and spot some whales on the crossing. We are soon edging our way out of the harbour, the rough seas that we are warned about don’t really materialise, but nevertheless I am soon feeling a little queasy — possibly due to my empty stomach — so Michael is dispatched to the galley for supplies.  We share an unusual breakfast of cheese and crisp bagels with tater tots followed by skittles. The whales never show themselves and we pass the rest of the time loading our photos onto the laptop.

We disembark at Sidney onto Canadian soil and answer the questions of the customs officer, who wants to know how long we have known each other and how long we have owned the car. Then we are on our way and I am disappointed not to find a new stamp in my passport. It is a half hour drive south to Victoria to meet one of Michael’s cousins and her young son for a peppermint hot chocolate (Michael) and a peppermint tea (me). A few childhood stories and some catching up before we head north on Vancouver Island. It is Michael’s birthday and his one birthday wish is to see Star Wars: Rouge One — which was released today — so while Michael drives I use Google to to help me find a theatre along the route with a showtime that fits into our plans. Just north of Nanaimo we fight our way through the Christmas shoppers and grab some seats in the surprisingly empty theatre, popcorn in hand and anticipation high. Michael is not disappointed and is grinning from ear to ear when the lights come up, declaring it the almost perfect Star Wars movie.

It is only a short drive to our home for the night, and while the first part of the journey is filled with excited chatter about the film but we are soon more concerned with navigating the icy roads in the dark, after avoiding driving in the dark for most of the trip. We are warmly welcomed into Michael’s Uncle Bob’s home in Parksville, and are soon eating warm vegetable soup followed by chocolate birthday cake. We are staying here two nights, so for the first time since we left we do not have to worry about packing up and moving on in the morning.