The hardest part of a road trip is somewhere between hour #2 and hour #3 of driving. The first hour is grand. I’m excited to start the adventure. I usually have a cup of coffee next to me. And, most importantly, I don’t have to pee yet. Life is amazing! Then it starts to sink in just how long I’m going to be driving for the day, and I’ve likely finished my coffee, which means I’m probably starting to feel the urge to pee. This also means I’m about to hit a stretch with limited stops for a bathroom, because that’s how those things work. :P And yet, that painful space between hour #2 & #3 is completely worth it.
Driving to Canada was no different. Day #1 was pretty straightforward – go north to Idaho. But note to self for Day #2: don’t get so caught up in the beauty of the landscape that you miss your next turn again!
Day #2 I forgot my note to self. It was just too beautiful! New note to self: review your entire route before leaving and bring paper maps – you WILL lose cell reception!
About two miles into Canada I realized I hadn’t set up an international phone plan – whoops! About this same time, a massive downpour began. Despite the intense rain that made driving a headache, the storm delivered an epic lightning show and several intense thunder booms. Canada is definitely going to be a wild ride!
We made out of the storm just in time to arrive at our first campsite – Redstreak Campground in Kootenay National Park. I figured I had about 15 minutes to assess our site and get the tent set up – the storm gave me 10. The tent was soaked before I could even set up the rainfly. Ugh. Major downer. Not how I wanted to start this portion of the trip. We still had 6 more nights of camping ahead of us. I had gotten the dogs rain jackets for such weather, but I was not prepared for this rough start. I was tired and frustrated, and the dogs were already cold and wet, so I considered getting a hotel for the night.
Thankfully the campground was just a few minutes up the mountain from town, so we were able to drive down to see if we could secure a motel and then drive back up to grab the tent…while it was STILL raining heavily! I felt like I was giving in too easily, but as soon as I opened the door to our motel, I didn’t care! Motel Bavaria wound up being one of the best hotels on our trip. Great price, friendly front desk, spacious and clean room (with a fireplace!), free wi-fi, dog-friendly, what more can you ask for?!
I strung up the tent in the bathroom, leaving a nice muddy mess with a dusting of pine needles – but we were inside and able to dry out! Definitely had to make time in the morning though to clean up the mess. This little kink in my plans gave me a few moments of panic as to what the rest of the trip would be like, but once I was able to take my time in the morning and prep better for the new day, I was quite optimistic. If we can survive that mess, we can handle anything.
Is there anything I wish I would have done differently?
Are there things I’ll do differently next time?
Wait, there’s a next time?!
Double wait -- what happened the first time?!
We had an adventure in Canada!
Next time I plan to:
• Plan more backup routes
• Only bring one book for leisure
• Set up my international phone plan BEFORE I enter Canada
• Practice setting up my tent in the rain
So I’m guessing you can now guess some of the things that went not quite as planned. Thankfully none of them caused massive issues, which simply made them opportunities for learning and growth. And I’m not trying to be overly optimistic here – I’ll be sure to tell you when I had moments of panic and thought about packing up to home!
Now let's rewind a bit...
The planning for this trip started in 2015. And back then I had no idea I was planning to go to Canada to camp in the woods. I usually spend a week back home in Minnesota every summer and at least a few days during Christmas. In 2015 I skipped my summer trip to instead visit other cities and states and I skipped the Christmas visit to avoid the classic Minnesota winter weather of snow, ice, and cold. Now I HAD to visit in 2016.
If you give a mouse a cookie…
So what do I do with the dogs when I head to Minnesota?
But driving that same old route taking I-40 across New Mexico and up I-35 to home is boring.
Well, now I’m going to be driving for a week straight, may as well stay in one spot for a bit to explore.
Suddenly I was taking two days to drive up to Canada, spending five days exploring and camping in Banff National Park, driving across Canada for a day to camp at Riding Mountain National Park, driving down to MN to spend five days at home, then taking three days to drive back to Arizona so I could fit in a pit stop to see my best friend run a half ironman. NBD. :D