We Made it!

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This post is extremely late, however it always bugged me that we never had 1 final “we made it” post, to wrap things up. Well, we did it! 20 days of driving, 11,071 kilometers, and countless cups of coffee later (hot, iced, frozen, since we experienced ALL weather), we made it home safely in Ottawa. Although I think the word “home” now has a different connotation. Exploring new places, meeting friendly strangers, has opened our eyes to a much bigger world out there.

“You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart always will be elsewhere.”

Thanks to everyone who followed our journey!

You can now follow me (Laura) on my next adventure, where I will teaching English in South Korea. Simply click here 🙂

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Over 2 Weeks In!

Day 7- Downtown Seattle

Oh, Seattle. A busy place (didn’t help that it was a Saturday and the day before Mother’s day), however we did visit visit some pretty cool spots. We started our day by touring Pikes Public Market, and of course had to stop by the famous Pikes Place Fish Market. Lot’s of fresh produce and seafood to be seen! We also took a trip to the Space Needle via monorail, which were both neat ways to see the city. As we we’re in the founding city of Starbucks, of course we had to grab a couple cups of java (which we would have done anyways). Also took a trip inside the first EVER Starbucks- which had a huge line outside of it the entire day!

Highlights: Gum wall and people watching. I think Seattle may be the best city for people watching. Made me want to become a photographer like Humans of New York.

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Pikes Place, Seattle


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 Gum Wall, Seattle


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 Starbucks & Space Needle


 Day 8- Back to the Homeland (Canada)

After spending a little over a week in the States, it was time to head to the west west coast- Vancouver Island. (Ahhh- my audible sigh as we entered Canada. Felt good to be back)The unexpected hour and a half long ferry ride was a nice way to start our journey on the Island, which ended up being our favourite place of our trip (so far- but will most likely remain so). We then drove to our first city stop on the Island- Victoria. After checking into our hotel, we headed downtown to indulge in our craving for pizza (Brickyard Pizza-phenomenal). Within 10 minutes of walking around downtown Victoria, myself (Laura), and my Dad, had both fallen in love with the city. Not too big, not too small. Close to the water, huge mountains within eyesight. It was perfect. Once we got back to the hotel, we realized we needed more time in this beautiful city, and went ahead and booked our second night at the hotel.

Highlights: Brickyard Pizza & Falling in love with a new city (cheesy? just like the pizza).


Day 9- Downtown Victoria

Today was spent touring the city by foot and by bike. On foot, we toured the Marina and various shops. Stopped by Red Fish Blue Fish for lunch- a Seafood Foodtruck by the Marina. We both had fish taco’s (or as they call them- Tacones), and they were DELICIOUS. So far on this trip, I’ve indulged in 3 fish taco meals (in a competition with myself), and this one definitely takes the cake. By bicycle, we explored some of the Galloping Goose Trail, and then headed to Fisherman’s Wharf, which was occupied by gorgeous float homes and adorable seals (after this trip- my new favourite animal). To end our day, we grabbed some pints of beer at Local’s.

Highlights: Touring the city biker style, Fisherman’s Wharf, Red Fish Blue Fish.

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 Outside Red Fish Blue Fish- line of people enjoying their food on their lunch breaks!


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 Fisherman’s Wharf


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 Fisherman’s Wharf


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 Seal, Fisherman’s Wharf


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Makin’ wishes


 Day 10- Driving, Camping, Impromptu Pitstops

Had a heartbreaking goodbye with Victoria, but hopefully will be back again there someday very soon. We then decided to drive Parksville to camp at Rathtrevor Provincial Park. We were unable to camp in the States because of the weather, but we’re finally able to set up our tents and cook a campfire meal! Well, more like a stove-top meal with my Dad’s new Coleman grill. Along the way, we made a worthwhile pitstop at Sooke River Pot Holes Provincial Park. One area of the park has a little sand beach, surrounded by huge rocks that are perfect for climbing or diving off of (if you’re brave enough to face the cold waters at the bottom). I swear, the only reason we didn’t do this is cause we didn’t have our bathing suits on……….Another area of the park has a huge waterfall, which I proudly climbed to the top of while eating an apple.

Highlights: Sooke’s Pot Holes, rock & seashell collecting at Rathtrevor Beach

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Climbing rocks, Sooke Pot Holes


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Climbing the waterfall at Sooke’s Pot Holes


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Rathtrevor Beach- best spot for looking for rocks!


 Day 11- Destination: Tofino

Woke up to the sound of seals barking at the Rathtrevor Beach, just steps away from our campsite. What a way to start our day! Packed up our camping gear and hit the road for Tofino. Along the way, we stopped by MacMillan Provincial Park to explore Cathedral Grove, a forest full of old Douglas firs’ and red woods. During the drive on highway 4 (in between Parksville and Tofino), we were lucky enough to be surrounded by beautiful mountains, lakes, and extremely winding and steep roads. Many of our best memories throughout this trip, have been simply seeing something interesting off the highway, and stopping to explore. This drive was no exception. Just off the highway, giant rock formations and a gorgeous turquoise lake caught our eye, the giant mountains visible in the distance. We spent almost an hour climbing the rocks, dangling our feet in the water, and trying to snap some photos that would do this place justice. After arriving in Tofino, we unpacked our campsite at Bella Pacifica, and then headed for Wildside Grill- a delicious food truck in the Live to Surf Plaza, that was actually featured on the Food Network. Of course, I opted for the fish taco’s, to keep my streak and competition with myself going. My dad, opted for the fish n’ chips. Back at our campsite, we explored MacKenzie Beach and came across some starfish, sea urchins, and other sea creatures. We were fortunate enough to get an ocean-view campsite, which took our already beautiful surroundings to the next level.

Highlights: HWY 4, Wildside Grill

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Hangin in a tree, Cathedral Grove


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 More climbing of rocks, Pitstop at Lake Kennedy off Hwy 4


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Wildside Grill, Tofino


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Starfishies, Exploring MacKenzie Beach, Tofino


Day 12: Tofino, Uclulet, Port Alberni

Woke up from an amazing sleep in the great outdoors, and made ourselves some eggs, sausage and toast on our grill. Yesterday with our meal at Wildside we were given a 10% off coupon for Chocolate Tofino, however we were unable to use it at the time since they were closed. So, naturally we went to grab some gelato at 10 AM after our breakfast, to use this coupon. (But I think we just like to use coupons to justify eating gelato. At least we can admit it, right?). The post-breakfast dessert was delicious, with or without a coupon. We then headed to Ucluelet, the other town just south of Tofino. Unlike Tofino, which we were ultimately disappointed by in relation to our expectations (probably due to all the hype surrounding the surfing community), Ucluelet did not disaapoint; it far exceeded our expectations. We both felt the town itself was much nicer than Tofino, and it’s natural beauty was just as nice, if not nicer. We hiked the Wild Pacific Trail, and of course had to go off the beaten path to explore the rugged rocks down below. We went into a great shop, called the Crow’s Nest to pick up some postcards and other souvenirs. All of the employees were super friendly and helpful, and the store itself had many unique items from a wide variety on interests. It was definitely not your average tourist gift shop! After walking out of the store, we immediately saw two or three bald eagles swooping down in the parking lot right in front of us. This was the moment my Dad had been waiting for! He ran to the car to grab his “super zoom” lens, while I kept an eye on where the birds went. A total of seven or eight bald eagles ended up showing up, which made it even easier to snag some pictures! It seems as if the birds (and a few seals) were gathered there to try and get some fish that had just arrived on the boat. After the lengthy bird photo shoot, our stomachs guided us to the nearest lunch spot, a spot called Solidarity Snacks. We purchased two big containers of quinoa and pasta salad, as well as two sticky buns to enjoy for later! This spot definitely did not disappoint, and all the employees were very welcoming and helpful (as it appears everyone in Ucluelet is!). After our adventures in Ucluelet, we headed to Port Alberni to check in and call it a night.

Highlights: Wild Pacific Trail

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Off the beaten track, Wild Pacific Trail


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Crow’s Nest, Ucluelet


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Seal, Ucluelet


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One of our prized bald eagles, Ucluelet


 Day 13- Goodye Island, Hello Whistler

As it was the beginning of the May long weekend, we rushed to catch the ferry, and were lucky enough to get onto the earlier one (close call- 2nd to last ones let on to the boat!). We then took the scenic (or should I say seanic?) Sea to Sky Highway to Whistler! Along the way, we used the Wi-Fi at McDonald’s to book our room for the night, which was standard routine by this point in the trip. We booked our hotel through HotWire, which for those who are unfamiliar with the website, does not show you the name of the hotel you book with. So, kinda risky, but can be worth it for the low prices. In this case, it was definitely worth the risk. We lucked out and got placed in a hotel right in the village of Whistler, called The Listel Hotel. Great location, great room overlooking the driving range. After bringing our stuff up to our room for the night, we explored the village and grabbed a beer and some pizza at Brewhouse. The night we arrived was also the start of the Great Outdoors Festival, so we were able to enjoy The Sheepdogs play a free concert in the village square.

Highlight: Exploring Whistler Village

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Whistler Olympic Village


 Day 14: Destination, Jasper

The weather forecast called for rain in Whistler, so instead of staying and not being able to do the activities we wanted to do, we thought it was a great opportunity to log some miles on the car. We headed up to Jasper to start our adventure in Alberta, and right before entering the park, we were greeted by the sight of a beautiful grizzly bear. Finally! We were disappointed when we did not see one in Yellowstone, so this was the moment we had anxiously been waiting for. Of course, my dad put his new “super zoom” lens on, and fired away lot of pictures. All the hotels were full in Jasper because of the long weekend, so we drove up to Hinton for a place to stay.

Highlight: Mrs. Grizzly

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Day 15: Jasper

Weather started out rainy, but ended up clearing up (except for clouds) the rest of the day! Started out exploring Lake Annette, Lake Edith, as well as Maligne Canyon. Enjoyed the beautiful turquoise lakes, exploring the town of Jasper, and taking many photos as usual.

Highlight: Maligne Canyon

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Maligne Canyon, Jasper


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Lake Annette, Jasper


Day 16: Banff

*Cue Dad’s turn at writing*

We first went to the Visitor Centre, hoping to find some helpful direction for affordable accommodations in Banff. We were directed to the self serve terminal for locating our overnight stay (not nearly as helpful as the staff in the Visitor Centre in Jasper). Fortunately, we found a nice place at The Inns of Banff with a newly renovated room. Very helpful front desk staff too. Now that we had our place to stay and it was still only mid-afternoon, we headed out to explore…..

We thought about going on the gondola to the top of Sulphur Mtn, but found the parking lot just too busy. Off to the parking lot at the base of Bow Falls for some scenic photos and a drive by of the Banff Springs Hotel. We then drove up the access road for the Mt Norquay ski resort. After a few switchbacks on the drive up, we found a place to park and hiked through an open meadow to find a spectacular view of the town of Banff and surrounding mountains.

Back to the Inns of Banff for a soak in the outdoor hot tub/pool with a stunning view of the mountains!

Oh ya, and everything was still frozen in Banff (but not Jasper!) This included Lake Louise and Peyto Lake. Even the parking lot of Peyto Lake was closed with 8-10 feet of snow, so naturally we tried to create our own path to view the lake. But, after sinking and falling in the snow for about 45 minutes, we realized even if we made it to the top, we would not be able to see the beautiful blue of Peyto Lake, as it was still frozen.

Highlights: Mt Norquay, Attempting to hike to Peyto Lake

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Peyto Lake….??!!


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Lake Louise, is that you?!


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Mt Norquay, Banff


Day 17: Leaving the mountains, heading East

Sad, very sad to be leaving the mountains. Drove to the pretty village of Canmore for our breakfast stop and Starbuck’s for the road……

On the Trans Canada Hwy heading East from Canmore, we were not at all interested in seeing any busy, congested cities, so we followed the ring road around Calgary and continued East on the Trans Canada #1 Hwy.

Realizing we were not going to take out our cameras for photo ops, we just drove and stopped when necessary. Regina was the original destination for this day, but with two wide awake travellers, we kept driving until we ended up in Brandon Manitoba……almost 1,300 km’s after starting our day!

This was the longest distance covered in one day……and the first day our cameras didn’t leave their bags…..

Next Stop: ????

Day 6- Time Flies!

Oh boy, I don’t even know where to begin since our last post! Even though we are on a road trip and therefore driving a good chunk of the time, the past couple days we have been able to step out of the vehicle and explore our beautiful surroundings.

Day 4- Red Lodge, MT 

Red Lodge is a quaint little city that sits at the bottom of a mountain range in Montana. It features many tourist-y type shops, and as the weather was not cooperating with our plans on this today, we figured it would be the perfect opportunity to tour around. Unfortunately due to the abundance of snow this day, I did not capture any pictures of the main strip of the town, but enjoy the couple I was able to take from the car!

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Ranch Doors


 

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Gobble Gobble!


 

Day 5- Yellowstone National Park

On Day 4 we stayed overnight in Cody, Wyoming, and then headed to Yellowstone through the East Entrance in the morning. Before heading up to the park, we experienced a delicious breakfast at Mojoe’s, right beside our hotel! The staff was very friendly, and we bought some scones to take with us on the road.

Now, onto the main attraction. All I have to say is WOW. Pictures do not do this beautiful place justice. I feel so lucky and thankful to have experienced it! Even before entering the park, we had to stop and pull the car over multiple times to take in the beautiful scenery and snap some pictures. Almost all the roads were open (except one section that was still snowed in) so we were able to pretty much drive through the whole park!

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Buffalo crossing!


 

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Lower Falls


 

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Lower Falls- Dad & Daughter with matching Buffs!


 

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Hot Spring


 

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Mammoth Hot Springs


 

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Town outside of Yellowstone


 

Day 6- Destination: Seattle

We made it to Seattle! After a long day of driving, we checked into the Marina Inn. And as hungry travellers, the fellow working at the hotel recommended Wally’s Chowder House, only two blocks away from our hotel. He let us know there may be a long line, as it is a popular spot. But a long line filled with locals only means one thing- delicious food! We were greeted by some awesome and friendly locals who gave us plenty of tourist suggestions, and this somehow ended up with me taking a shot of tequila?! This was one heck of a warm welcome to the State of Washington! After getting seated, I ordered some Fresh Ling Cod Fish Taco’s with Clam Chowder, and my Dad ordered the Combination Platter, that included scallops, giant prawns, halibut, razor clams and cod.

Ho-ly. Mo-ly.

This was my first clam chowder, and it definitely wont be the last. But oh my goodness, after experiencing this clam chowder, my standards are set pretty high! The Fish Taco’s were also to-die-for. Fresh fish, cilantro and chipotle….I would go on, but then I might just have to eat my leftovers that are currently sitting in the fridge! (I am still stuffed).

What a perfect way to celebrate making it to the West Coast- delicious Seafood!Image

The outside of Wally’s Chowder House- right near the Marina and Pacific Ocean.

Plan for Day 7- touring downtown Seattle!

Three Days In!

Three days ago we began our cross country road trip at 5AM starting in Ottawa. 3283 kilometres of driving later, and here we are in Billings, Montana! So far the days have been filled with lots of rain, a little bit of snow, copious amount of liquids (especially caffeinated), and lots of pitstops and picnics.

Day 1

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 Travelling the old fashion way! Map, compass, and of course, a fanny pack!

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Greeted with a beautiful view of Lake Superior from our hotel on our first night!

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Exploring Munising- lake still frozen!

Day 2

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 Woke up to this gorgeous sunrise! 

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Oops!

Travelled through 4 states on Day 2- Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota and North Dakota! Stayed overnight in Fargo, had dinner at Apple Bee’s (first time) and explored our first American Costco!

Day 3

Definitely our most eventful and scenic drive thus far. Made it to beautiful Montana, and staying overnight in Billings. Hopefully the weather will clear up so we can start to do some camping and less hotel-staying!

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Painted Canyon- where we ate lunch!

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A buffalo roaming free by our car 🙂

The plan was to explore Yellowstone National Park tomorrow, however the whether might not hold up. Here’s to hoping!

Let the adventure continue!

35 Days- Time to Start Planning!

As our trip is a little over a month away, the planning process for our pit stops & sites to see has begun!

The road trippers website has served as useful in providing us with a wide array of attractions (hiking, scenic points, offbeat attractions) that are X miles away from our intended route. One downfall of this website: it has to be a road trip in the U.S. This website will be useful for making our way to the West coast through the U.S, however not on the way back to Ottawa through Canada.

So far, these are the attractions we plan on visiting:

Grand Prismatic Spring, WY

Pike Place Fish Market, WA

Capilano Suspension Bridge, BC

If anyone has any must-see attractions, whether it be a hole-in-the-wall restaurant, photo op, or a hiking trail, please share! Suggestions are appreciated 🙂

You can check out our route here.

Safe Travels, Friends!

-Dad & Daughter Duo