Canada

the passport streaker

I gasped and nearly jumped out of the shower buck naked this morning when I remembered my passport expires in a few weeks. I had asked the postal clerk when I was in Ketchikan, Alaska in August about current passport renewal policies knowing that mine was coming up on expiration, but I had simply forgotten about it since then. Considering I think it’s near tragic when I hear about anyone I know not having one, I’ll go without food before I’ll let my mini book of freedom and exposure kick the bucket. Not having a passport is like going without health insurance: It’s just not smart. I wrote about this here nearly 2 years ago . After Googling “Number of Americans with passports” again today, I am shocked to learn that the miniscule number of my fellow Americans who even have the power to cross the U.S border hasn’t changed.

Birthdays, Anniversaries, Graduations- (That’d be the perfect time for one!), Secretaries Day, Bastille Day- whatever, give the gift of life. (Yes, like child birth or blood donation: The gift that keeps on giving.)

Trust me, your kids will thank you down the road for saying no to the latest iPhone and yes to a family vacation hiking around South America, going on an African Safari, or heck- simply crossing the Canadian border in your minivan to see some gorgeous mountains and their first ever sea plane. Here’s the first one I had ever seen. I screeched with delight when I turned the corner driving through Canada this summer and saw it. I am 32 years old and I still screeched over a sea plane:

Sea plane on the Alaska Highway

Think it looks cool from a simple photo on my blog? Live in person and taking off for flight while standing right beside it was a hundred times cooler. There will never be an “app for that.

Me? Hugely passionate about how travel can open eyes and change lives? Just a teeny bit..

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on the move

Sorry for the disappearing act! I’ve crossed the border back into Canada. Lots more driving and a stop in Vancouver.

I’ll be checking out some west coast spots for possible living, figuring out how I’m going to pay my bills next month, and working on some possible sponsorships (Honda, I am really coming after you now!) So excited about all the possibilities and next adventure! I’ve uploaded photos of my hike at Mendenhall Glacier, me “crabbing”, a couple ferry stops I made, and some video of the most hilarious fisherman I’ve ever met. Lots more of my Alaska trip to share this week.

I’ve got a bunch of logistical stuff to take care of, but Blue Lollipop Road is not going anywhere (there’s no way I’m giving up now!)- so please hang tight with me and get ready for the next ride, it’s coming!.

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it’s official

1.) Canada has the most strapping gentleman per capita on the planet. (I mean what do they do here, suck every man up in a tube, give him J Crew catalog training, make them hit the gym for 3 months them drop them back to land?)

2.) The countryside/terrain/scenery/land/mountainside/whatever you want to call it, is THE most consistently gorgeous nature I have ever seen.

I’ve now officially been to 13 countries and 50 states. I’ve also driven now about 4,000 miles (not kilometers) in Canuck Country too. I think this might give me the authority to appoint myself as a credible resource to state these 2 points. I’ll elaborate on stories later, just a quick stop off the highway. I’ve kept thinking of these things over and over and wondering why there aren’t masses of single women and nature lovers from the U.S knocking down the border to get up here. (Anyone ???) I think we have somehow not even considered our close-by neighbors to have all this deliciousness. One name ladies; Ryan Reynolds.

I mean my lord!

***This advertisement has been brought to you by the Canadian Tourism Foundation.
(I wish, then that would mean I was getting paid for this. Then again, the views are payment enough.).

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saturday breakfast variety

For someone like me that gets excited by the tiniest of things (especially when traveling) it’s killing me that I can’t stop every 20 minutes and share the next funny, ridiculous or crazy story or photo from Canada. Then again, I’d never get to my destination if I did that and I can’t exactly power up in a bail of hay or a tree. I can however power up in a local diner and look like such a fish out of water you may as well paint my face with; “I’M NOT FROM HERE IN CASE THAT WASN’T PAINFULLY OBVIOUS FROM WHAT I’M WEARING AND THE FACT THAT MY VEHICLE IS THE ONLY ONE PARKED IN THE LOT THAT’S NOT COVERED IN DIRT AND A HUGE TRUCK!!!”

Bfast at the beginning of the great Alaska highway

The waitress at the place I’m at definitely used a half bottle of Aqua Net before she came to work this morning. She gave me the twice over like who the hell do you think you are? when I first walked in, but after camping out looking like a complete idiot with my camera and laptop chords all over I think she’s starting to warm up. (I think she feels sorry for me. HA!) She looks like she wants to say something like; Hey sweetie, put that stuff away. We don’t do that around here. Instead she keeps filling my white ceramic coffee cup with that bitter but somehow delicious coffee you get in these places on the road. I am listening to a table of 4 gents behind me gobbling their breakfast. They’re all wearing work jeans with hats, and talking about guns, grizzly bears, loggers, safety hazards and what “they” are doing to the highway these days. Perfect. I’d expect nothing less. There a special place in my heart for people and places like this that are just like the movies and the whatchya see is whatcha get. It’s exactly like where I grew up and will never lose it’s charm or special place in my heart.

Although this quite different from my last Saturday breakfast of fancy-schmancy brioche french toast with fresh berry compote. at Marigold Kitchen in Madison…

Marigold Kitchen brioche french toast

…I love it just the same. And I wonder why I can’t figure out what I want to be when I grow up:)

Now three days have passed with no shower and I am so good at rigging my car for sleeping privacy I’m like the firefighters who teach new moms how to strap in the baby seats. After my initial, OUCH- how the heck did I sleep in that position for the last few hours? feeling when I woke up this morning, I had my first thought of Ok Diane, you might be getting a little offensive. That was quickly followed by a, meh- who cares. I don’t really smell that bad, even if I did I really wouldn’t care right now, and besides, this is becoming a game for me. I did think I might get a hotel one night between WI and AK but now? Hell no- I’m fully testing patience and creating the makings of my second longest run with no shower. (My finest record to date is 8 days.) Also, I might be able to charge Honda a huge consulting fee someday when they beg me to help them design the BLR inspired super road-tripping-pimped out convertible sleeper car. My current Honda is like a test lad.

Ooh! A few other gringos just walked in. More out of place travelers like me. Time to order some eggs or something that will not have words like brioche or compote involved , chow down and hit the pavement. (At least I hope it’s paved.).

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oh canada!

I have so many photos in my camera and stories from the miles I have cranked out the past couple days I am in sensory overload!

I woke up yesterday in the parking lot of a grocery store in Minot, ND. Talk about need coffee on 2 hrs. of sleep freezing my butt off. I used the browser on my cell phone to see if there was a Starbucks laughing at myself because I actually thought there might be one there. When a Starbucks location popped up I almost fell out of my car seat. (I know Tom, tragic I had your beans in my car but I had to go elsewhere because I hadn’t ground enough for the road on my last stop to use the french press. DOH! The lightweight road coffee of a fast food joint was just not going to cut it either, so Starbucks it was.)

I called the location for directions from my parking lot spot as I am GPS-less. The Barista answered immediately, giving me directions but correcting my pronunciation of the town, telling me “It’s MY-KNOT ma’am. Keep going straight past Kmart. We are right there at the bottom of the hill.

Ahhh, coffee. I met a nice man there as I worked and gave him my business card when he asked what I was doing. If you are reading this now- Hi! Sorry I never got your name…) I worked a bit and on my way. Got to Portal, ND and had to snap a photo of the post office:

Portal, ND post office

I was SO excited to hit the border thinking that bells and whistles would go off and I’d be in Disneyland or something. I had fantasies of the border patrol interrogating me and searching my car. Well? Nothing. Sigh. It was so easy breezy and uneventful I was almost bummed. The saving grace was that the border patrolman was a good looking guy. Whew. (I wonder why the heck he’s hiding in Portal, ND?) Here are the signs and such going through the inspection station. (I took them through my bug-stained windshield as I figured they might shoot me if they saw me taking photos here. I think that might be illegal or something…

At the border

Border patrol station

So nope. No big WELCOME TO CANADA! sign. (Admittedly my heart broke a little. If there isn’t like the biggest sign I have ever seen when I get to the Alaska border I swear I’ll draw one in my own blood just so I can jump and scream in front of it and take photos.) I had to settle for this:

Welcome to Saskatchewan!

I have started talking out loud more and more to myself lately, so when I saw this sign I said aloud sarcastically. “Sheesh, thanks Canada. Do you know how far I’ve driven?”

I jumped back in my car and the first thing I saw out of the inspections station was this, which made me happy again:

Should I but it?

I considered for a few seconds leaving my car as a trade and taking that beast instead of the Honda, but on I went. Almost 800 miles and some of the flatest and most repetitive country I have ever driven in my life. About 800 more miles yesterday. It felt as if I went to the border of Kansas and decided I was going to drive across and back 5 times. I mean holy Central Canada flatness! Insert Jack Palance’s scene here from the movie City Slickers (My favorite movie ever by the way.) singing; “Tumblin’ tumbleweeds” (I’m laughing out loud in a Tim Horton’s watching the trailer for the 5th time…) .At one point in the day I found myself stuck in the middle of nowhere at a gas station run by a couple of teens because Wachovia put a freeze on my bank account. Even though I informed them of my travels, the nice smiley teens swiped my card and DECLINED! Photos of that to come.

More car sleeping and still no shower, but must run for now. Laptop is out of juice and no outlets here in no mans land. Lets just say I have covered a lot of ground in maple leaf country and I’m finally seeing green again instead of brown. The final frontier is getting closer and closer!.

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