Montana road trip – day 7

Although I wouldn’t say that the best was saved until last, driving through the Cascades was certainly a fitting end to a pretty amazing week away.

Having booked in to another small motel in Omak, Washington, it was time to leave Bonners Ferry. Our new best friend YELP wasn’t to enamoured by our prospective inn for the night, but it was the only place available and had a “you get what you pay for” ring to it. Turns out that we wouldn’t be paying anything as a drive around the outside was enough to make the decision that this was indeed a place to pass over.

So, next stop, Winthrop. We left the somewhat desert like Okanogan County and stared to get back to more forest like terrain. Winthrop is know for being a ‘wild west’ town, a kind of cowboy equivalent to Bavarian Leavenworth. This provided a neat second bookend to our introduction to strange town USA. Not strange weird, just strange, in an out of place sort of way. As it turned out, Winthrop was full and although we’ll certainly head back there to investigate, the homing instinct led us to carry on westwards.

The revised plan was to drive through the Cascades and grab a room around Burlington overnight. Naturally the last minute room didn’t happen, but the Cascades did. Although I wouldn’t say that the best was saved until last, driving through the Cascades was certainly a fitting end to a pretty amazing week away.

Utterly stunning would probably be an understatement. Where Glacier National Park and the Logan Pass was majestic in it’s scale, the Cascades felt close up and personal.

Maybe that closeness made for a more memorable experience, maybe it was making the journey near sundown, whatever it was, it was superb.

Note to self. Revisit on a bike!

Feeling suitably overawed for the umpteenth time in a week, it was back to civilization. The overnight stop around Burlington was essentially to visit the outlets. A out of place end to a week of splendid scenery and wilderness was to be immersed back in to consumerism. However, as with a number of things on this road trip, plan ‘b’ had to be adopted as once again we couldn’t find a vacant room. Another night in the car was not on the agenda, particularly being back in a built up area, so despite it being late, BC it was to be.

A sprint up I5, across the border and back home for around 1.30am.

The roadtrip was over. Some 2600 Km had been covered and more memories were filed and locked away, ready for recall and replaying on the personal Super 8 screen of the mind.

Comment of the trip, made to a guy whilst sailing on Flathead Lake in Montana. “This is the furthest east we’ve driven since arriving in North America”  The proposition of Montana somehow being mentioned in the same sentence as ‘east’ was met with a confused look. Montana is real cowboy country. Montana is west.

The wonderlust will continue and 2012 will hopefully add a new twist to the roadtrip; scootouring, or 2 go mad on Vespa’s. I can’t wait.

Four years

On August 28th 2007 BC Brit and family set sail for shores anew. A new life beckoned in Canada. That was four years ago. We’re still here. We’re working, socializing, exploring and enjoying our new home. The adventure continues.

Three Years

It’s the morning of the flight to Canada and everyone’s up early. A new life beckons.

Running out of space. A dash to Maidstone for another case.

The taxi is late, the M25 is stationary, there’s a fire alarm at Gatwick, but we’re on our way.

Forms stamped by immigration, “Welcome to Canada”. A new beginning.

Week 1. Hotels, motels, apartments, bank accounts, Social Insurance Numbers, cell phones, schools and a house sale that fails.

Months go by. Kids in school, a move from Vancouver to Burnaby, networking, letters, doorstepping, discovering that being an Apple Tech is not for me.

3 weeks money left and the UK house sale finally completes. Sigh of relief.

Five former Essex schoolkids share a beach on the Shuswap. Surreal.

Invest in a house. Burnaby to PoCo. No income, but once again mortgaged.

Full time work so close yet passed over for a local despite the verbal assurance. Frustration.

Level 1 insurance agent. Relentless pace, long days. Short lived.

The big break, back in to the green world, someone’s taken a gamble on me.

And suddenly it’s 3 years.

Time to contemplate citizenship.

Rip off Canada

We recently had an issue with a door mirror on the car which led to a perfect example of how “rip off Britain” can be equalled by “rip off Canada”.

Unfortunately, whilst backing out of the garage, a door mirror was snapped from it’s mounting by someone other than myself. The car, a Ford Focus, has exceptionally cheap door mirrors in the North American market. Whereas the Euro models come with a hinged fitting, locally, the door mirrors are just mounted in a single moulded piece of plastic, which of course makes them very vulnerable to any impact.

So, what would be the cost of a replacement fitting? It was time to trawl the web. Surprisingly, most of the on-line sources were from south of the border. However, with a price of $40 US, I wasn’t complaining, even after the exchange rate adjustments.

I then thought that I may as well try a local scrap yard as the prices for used parts must be even better. Imagine the shock of being told that a used door mirror would set me back the princely sum of $125 Canadian. The guy at Ralph’s wasn’t bothered that I could source them on line for around a third of the price – take it or leave it.

Having recovered from the shock I wondered what the price of a new part would be so I phoned my local Ford dealer. A brand new item would be around $175 including taxes. The used fitting from Ralph’s was obviously a bargain!

Time to head back to the virtual world. Things became a little more awkward at this point. A number of suppliers south of the border would not ship international, so no delivery to Canada. I did find a couple of places that had a work around that doubled the price, however, it would still be less than buying used from a scrap yard.

How about Canadian on-line suppliers? Having got fed up being on hold for ages and only getting through to voice mail I finally spoke to a person at one supplier who advised that the mirror would have to come from their US warehouse and would be $111 US. So, that would be $111 for the $40 part then. Great.

Hmm, back to the drawing board. I then thought about checking out UK suppliers as the replacement fitting would be hinged, but I then remembered that the concave/convex issue would mean the mirrors would be the wrong way around. Ah, we have friends in Germany, maybe that would be the way to resolve the problem – right mirrors and hinged. Prices were certainly higher than the US part, but still not as expensive as Canada.

In the end and despite thinking it wouldn’t work the damaged fitting was super-glued back together and amazingly enough it’s holding out. Should I need to replace the part, I’ll probably head south for the day as I can probably still save money even after fuel, food etc.

So, Canadian consumers, why are you letting yourselves be ripped off like this?

HNIC theme under threat

I’m most likely the last person in Canada to post something about the Hockey Night in Canada (HNIC) theme being under threat [gam]. To be honest I wondered what all the fuss was about, it’s only the theme music to a sports show after all. I didn’t think Canadians got particularly agitated about anything, but this seemed to touch an exposed nerve (check out Miss604. You can count on Rebecca to have the nations pulse firmly under her thumb). So, lighten up Canada was my first thought.

And then I started to think a bit more. As a relative newbie, having only just lived through my first full NHL season I really didn’t get in to the national sport that much. The matches were so frequent that to be honest I simply lost interest, I became saturated in NHL games. The Canucks games were not a special event to me, just another game, and when there’s 2 or 3 a week at times it becomes a so what experience.

However, this is Canada and hockey is the national sport (not Ice Hockey, it’s hockey, the other hockey is Field Hockey, not Hockey, if you follow me). This led me to thinking about football (not ‘chuckball’, real football). What if the English national sport lost it’s most recognisable theme tune? What would happen if Match of the Day lost it’s tune because the guy who owned the copyright upped the fees.

How would the English feel? I guess that’s when I suddenly understood how a Canadian that’s in to hockey feels. Certain aspects of our popular culture get embedded in to our consciousness. It’s not a theme tune, it’s part of being Canadian or English in MotD’s case. Even though the BBC have been in a situation in the past where the broadcast rights were lost, when MotD returned, so did the theme tune. No makeover, just the classic. The HNIC theme seems to be very much the MotD equivalent

I then remembered the debate at Charlton when it was decided to replace the song the team runs out to (Red Red Robin). Absolute outrage, it’s part of the clubs history, okay since the 50’s, but that’s still a pretty good run, and supporters didn’t want it consigned to the history books. The song remains the same.

So, I’m now treating this whole furore as an educational experience. I’m finding out a bit more about being Canadian.