We left the Belltown Inn in Seattle at about 7:30am and at the recommendation of the front desk staff went down the street to a little cafe for some coffee and a breakfast to hit the road with.
The map below explains everything. The weather had gotten significantly worse in the 2 days we had been in Seattle. Before there was dry ground, clear roads and bright sunshine. Now this had all be replaced with the desolate snow that we had thought we had left behind (although to be fair we haven’t seen much this year). Snoqualmie Pass was worse than before and we saw numerous vehicles (small cars in fact) putting on chains. Again we drove it line normal sane people and had no problems.
The Canada boarder crossing at Eastport / Kingsgate (just north of Boners Ferry or south of Fernie) is under construction dn we went single file thought the maze of ATCO trailers.
The rest of the drive from about 1 hour before Fernie until highway 2 was mostly a whiteout blizzard that involved us following snowplows at about 65 KM/h.
All together it took us 13 hours to get home and see our cats who were very excited to see us and got showered with petting and love.
We started our day (Brandi’s 30th birthday) by leaving our hotel and going to pick up our friend Chris from the bus station. He’d taken the bus down from Vancouver for the day, to hang out with us. He knows Seattle a little better than we do, so he was able to point us to some fun places.
Chris took us to a random little place called 13 Coins for an amazing breakfast of the house specialty — Dungeness Crab Eggs Benedict’s and a round or two of Mimosas to celebrate Brandi’s birthday.
This place was fun as its role had been reinvented and it is now a 24 hour diner, but used to be one of those steakhouses from the 70’s with big wood and leather furniture — lots of brass rivets, and though we didn’t see red velvet, we fully expected it around every corner. And each table had 13 coins inlaid into it.
Even the waiters dress formally in long aprons and bow ties and are very formal but still approachable.
After breakfast we headed back downtown and parked the car and walked over to the famous Pike Place Market to check it out and see if there was anything we wanted to buy.
While we were there we had to stop by the Starbucks. Wonderfully, it’s the location of the 1st Starbucks (started in 1971). Obviously we had to go in, get some of coffee roast that is only available at that location.
After the market we walked around the downtown area checking out the local architecture including the Seattle monorail. Not without a plan Chris steered us toward Top Pot Donughts. This is the same place that Barack Obama made one of his campaign stops. If it was good enough for the president of the United States then its obviously going to be good enough for us (and a lot less secret service needed).
To get a different perspective on the city we went to the observation desk on the Smith Tower to check out some great vies of Seattle. It was Seattles original skyscraper in Pioneer Square completed in 1914. The 38 storey, 149 m (489 ft) tower is the oldest skyscraper in the city and was the tallest office building west of the Mississippi River until 1931. It remained the tallest building on the West Coast until the Space Needle overtook it in 1962.
The Chinese Room is on the 35th floor, which also has a wraparound public observation deck. The furniture and the hand-carved ceiling were gifts from the Empress of China,Cixi. They include the famous Wishing Chair. It is said that a single woman who sits in the chair will marry within a year. The legend came true for Smith’s daughter, who married in the Chinese Room itself.
Before heading out to dinner at Lecosho we took the monorail over to the Space Needle and the EMP (formerly known as Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame or EMP|SFM)
Friday was a day of driving. We left Missoula around 10 am and set forth on our 8 hours drive across 2 and a bit states.
Not much to say except to describe the different landscapes and weather patterns we encountered. We left the foothills of Montana and crossed the mountain pass into Idaho and washington state.
We travelled through Idaho after about 40 minutes passing through Coeur d’Alene before crossing into Washington state and stopping in Spokane for some lunch (we had breakfast) at a quaint local place called the Kalico Kitchen. (Which was a finalist in the Best Breakfast award for 2011)
The Kalico Kitchen is set up like your normal normal American diner, booths around the perimeter and long shared tables in the middle. The menu is your basic American diner food. They do lunch and breakfast, but we are breakfast people, which looked more right in line with what they would probably do best. We had some eggs (Benedict or Brandi, scrambled for me) relaxed from the drive and then got ready for the next leg of the trip.
Leaving Spokane we entered the rolling foot hills and prairies (I would have sworn we were in Saskatchewan)
We passed into the snoqualmie pass area and were created with a ton of horrible weather and bad driving at the sum met. Being from Canada and knowing how to drive cars in bad snowstorms as well as having experience traveling the Rogers Pass in winter. Unlike Rogers Pass, the trip over the top one only was maybe maybe 15–20 minutes of blizzard, but had a large amount of traffic (same amount of volume as Highway 99 in Vancouver or the Deerfoot in Calgary). Fortunately, we were able to clear the area safely and quickly; entering the Pacific NorthWest and the wonderful rain of Seattle.
We got into Seattle around 5:30 pm in the middle of a heavy rainstorm and in the middle of rush hour — set the GPS for our hotel and promptly missed 3 of our turns. The GPS was good at getting us rerouted and finally we arrived at “The Belltown Inn” in the trendy Belltown area of downtown — about 5–10 minute walk from the Space Needle.
It was about 7:30 when we had gotten settled into our room and set out in search of food.
We strolled down the road to a nice local place called Local 360. Their food and concept is brilliant! Eat local and sustainable. 90% of the ingredients are sourced within 360 miles of Seattle and the remaining 10% of ingredients, that can’t be found locally, are still from the closest Certified Organic resources.
Wikipedia calls Missoula “the cultural centre of Montana”, which we kinda snickered at when we first read that about a week ago. But having spent even a few hours here, we understand it. We have really enjoyed our very short stay here — it’s a actually a very interesting little city! Artsy and laid-back, from what we have seen — and kinda wish we had a bit more time to explore it!
But let’s pick up where we left off: Fernie. We had breakfast at Cincott The Organic Market Cafe… Cute little place in an old house. We each had an omelette and coffee, and bought a muffin for the road. Then we headed on south.
The border crossing was pretty uneventful. The guard seemed like an all-around unhappy guy. But I guess they’re not really paid to be cheerful. He asked lots of questions, and eventually let us in. A few hours later, we arrived in Missoula. We’re staying at the Holiday Inn, which is MUCH nicer than last night’s accommodations!
We showered, wandered around town a bit, and then wound up at the “The Bus” pre-screening party. Had some food and some wine, checked out a couple VW vans, and then went to see the show.
Being that this is part of The Big Sky Film Festival, The Bus was coupled with another documentary film — Black Rock Horse. This film was about a Trojan horse art project at Burning Man 2011 — which of course is another topic very near and dear to our hearts! The film in short — A team of artists at Burning Man ask volunteers to pull a 50 foot high Trojan Horse across a dry lake bed. The procession becomes a stampede when 600 “Greek Slaves” revolt. Black Rock Horse reveals the inner workings of a complex art project and the epic struggle to create. Black Rock Horse was great — but it made us ache for the desert! It may very well have convinced us to go back this year, if my sister’s wedding wasn’t coinciding with it!
The Bus (our whole reason for being here in the first place) was fantastic. Of course the audience is full of VW fans and owners, so there was a very enthusiastic response throughout. Admittedly watching this movie, knowing we left Ziggy at home, made us feel as though we were somehow cheating on her. I mean, she KNOWS about the Mazda. She understands that we don’t love the Mazda the way we love her. The Mazda is just more convenient sometimes… But I just can’t shake the mental image of her, shivering and covered in snow in our back yard…
We’re sorry, Ziggy –we’ll be home in a few days. Spring will come soon, and we’ll have adventures with you again.
After the shows there was a Q&A with the creators of the films. Before leaving the theatre, we tracked down The Bus creator just to say thanks for making such a great movie, and that it was worth the international travel to see it! He gave us hugs and thanked us over and over for being Kickstarter supporters, and invited us to the filmmaker’s party right afterwards — Gave us a couple passes, and told us it’s a member’s only club, a fun and swanky place and that we should come by for a bit. We went back to the hotel to drop off Brian’s camera bag, and headed out again — but in the end, it turns out the place was SO private, we couldn’t even find it. Ha!
What other passenger vehicle has sold to more than six million people and elicits these sorts of descriptions from owners? Heaven on wheels. A Swiss Army knife. Freedom. Human qualities. Cultural icon. Imprint on cortex of brain. Open road. Adventure. Romantic. A song. Big movie screen.
These are but a few nouns and adjectives used to describe the iconic Volkswagen bus. This documentary film premieres Thursday, Feb. 23 at 7:30 p.m. in the Wilma 1 Theatre.
We debated bringing Ziggy, but with the distance, (we are planning on going all the way to Seattle and back) the short time-frame and the fact that Ziggy has been parked since November, we decided the car was the better vehicle for this trip. It will make us sad to see all the other VW busses converging on Missoula. Apparently, there will be a caravan of VWs heading over from the Seattle area on Weds the 22nd!.
For our trip, we managed to leave work a bit earlier than normal, around 4; washed the car, got some food for the road (Coco Brooks pizza), and hit the road heading for Fernie. We have updated our map page to have our real-time satellite tracker map. (It uploads our position every 10 minutes and has an emergency SOS assist button if we run into trouble. We got it as a safety net for our Ziggy travels where we are out of cell range.)
The roads were good, clear and dry until we hit highway 3 (Crowsnest highway) and found out where all the snow has been hiding. A few active snow plows, sanders and a slower 20–30 km below the posted limit. We got through the storm and arrived into Fernie looking for a place to sleep for the night.
We tried the Best Western Plus which looked nice, but was totally full! On a Wednesday night! (Yes, we know — ski town, ski season). We wound up at the Travelodge. The Aussie girl at the front counter was sweet, but other than that, I’m afraid we will avoid this stop in the future. Our room was dirty (like stained face cloths, a small pile of garbage in one corner and grimy bathroom floors — we did our best not to look too closely at our bed, short of the bedbug check) and there was NOHOTWATER this morning! We even tried a couple of times, but no luck.
We are now heading off to find some breakfast, and then on to Missoula!