Sun Peaks doesn’t get up early in the morning. None of the restaurants seemed keen to serve breakfast before 8:00 or 8:30am and, as it is a another long drive day today, we felt we could be long a way down the road before all that palaver was dealt with. So we checked out of the hotel and headed for breakfast in Kamloops, which is ‘just down the road’. Once again I underestimated Canadian distances, and just down the road turned out to be closer to an hour’s drive, so we were starving by the time we got to Kamloops just after 9am. I had already chosen Cora’s for breakfast, both because it got an decent review on Tripadvisor but mostly because it was close to the highway without having to navigate through the town itself. This turned out to be actually quite a nice choice, despite the fact that it was a large, chain restaurant, with a scary infatuation for primary colours, a relentlessly upbeat menu, located on the edge of an industrial estate. The staff were charming and efficient and the breakfast was plentiful and tasty. Apart from a few families, we shared the place with a couple of RCMP ‘Mounties’, which was nice.
Leaving the restaurant and back on Highway 5 South, Kamloops itself looked to be very much an industrial town. The railway yards were massive and there seemed to be a lot of places for trucks to come and load/unload their cargoes. Despite the detour, the deserted streets and the general weirdness, I am glad we overnighted in Sun Peaks rather than here. It was an experience in itself.
We were now pushing on for 10:30am and wanted to get to Vancouver, so we ran though down the highway (and a lot of it really did feel like it was downhill) until nature called and we stopped at Britton Creek Rest Area. It was actually rather a nice spot, situated by the river (or creek!), just far enough from the highway for the noise not to be intrusive. It was also another brilliantly warm and sunny spring day. Rather than get drinks or snacks at the coffee truck, we elected to keep going for another 30 minutes or so and try and find somewhere for a late lunch in the next town of Hope. By chance and by random driving we hit Rolly’s Restaurant, which was busy, usually a sign of a decent place.
And indeed that’s how it turned out to be. Amongst the highlights were a large table of octogenarian ladies, maybe a W.I. or a Rotary Club or something similar, having a riot of a time and obviously fussed over by the waitresses (who were no spring chickens themselves). In fact everyone in the place seemed to be ‘of an age’ shall we say. We weren’t really that hungry, having had such a massive breakfast not much more than two and a half hours ago, but it was still a long way to Vancouver and we wanted to arrive there before the rush hour traffic. The waitresses doggie bagged the other halves of our toasted sandwiches and we returned to the road.
The next couple of hours of the trip I don’t recall so well because it was very samey. The mountains had gradually fallen away and the land appeared largely flat and arable. At some point round Hope we had merged on to Highway 1, the Trans-Canada Highway running from the Atlantic to the Pacific. It was both monotonous from the scenery point of view and increasingly nerve-wracking as we got closer to Vancouver and the traffic volume ramped up. I am sure if we’d been driving in Vancouver for a while it wouldn’t have been as bad, but when you arrive from the quiet roads of the interior it’s a little bit of a culture shock. Entering the city we managed to cross the Frazer River via a toll bridge and I am still not sure how we paid for it. The car rental lady back in Calgary had explained something about tolls, but I was so frazzled by the long flights at that point I hadn’t taken it in at all. Later that night I read the rental agreement, which had several scattered paragraphs about tolls, but it still made no sense to me. Suffice to say, I don’t think I was ever charged directly and I never got the chance to mention it when I returned the car. Maybe it was deducted automatically; to this day I do not know. But river crossed, the traffic continued to get heavier. Luckily our hotel was just few blocks from the highway, so we didn’t have too far to drive on the city streets proper. We were staying the next couple of nights at Rosedale on Robson Hotel Apartments (bit of a mouthful) and it would be best to say that we approached it by stealth. It wasn’t obvious where the front entrance was in relation to the car park entrance, so we had to leave the car on the street for a short while whilst we reconnoitred and checked in.
The apartment itself was really great, with a kitchenette/sitting area as well as the bedroom. Floor to ceiling windows looked out on the city and we were very high up. Sadly the two interconnected areas were the wrong way round, with the kitchen/sitting area at the back of the apartment in the gloom and the bedroom having the huge windows.
It was way too early to be giving up on the day, so after a brief rest I went out for a walk in the direction of the harbour. It wasn’t long before it began to look a little familiar and I was in the Gastown Area. There was the steam powered clock, there were the ‘quirky’ shops and bars I recalled from my previous visit.
When I tell you that my previous visit was something like 30 years ago, it’s amazing that in some ways so little had changed. I had an enjoyable hour watching the local ‘lads’ gunning their hot cars up and down Water Street in front of the clock, and eventually then wandered closer to the harbour at Granville Plaza. I had chosen to come back here because I had a photograph of myself taken at this exact spot 30 years previously. I should have asked someone to take another, but instead contented myself with taking the panorama of the harbour you see at the top of the page.