Our first day on the road was an exciting experience for more reasons than one. We didn’t have a chance to give the car a good shakedown, and didn’t have a feel for it. We also learned an important lesson about booking hotels ahead of time as well. Read on…
We arose very early last Thursday morning, somewhere in the order of 5:30 or so. We stopped in at a McDonalds, for a McCoffee and McMuffin, and set out on our way. The night before, I had made reservations at the High Country Inn in Banff, so that was our target for the day. We had also visited Canadian Tire, picking up a socket set, and some odds and ends. In retrospect, one was a good idea, the other – not so good. I think you can guess which is which.
We set out towards Hope, where the Trans Canada and Coquihalla head roughly north, and the Crowsnest heads east. The travelling was very easy – divided highway with a 100 KM/H limit, in good condition. It appeared to be farming country, rich soil, fertile. After a bit, we arrived at Hope. There, we stopped to take in the scenery, and have a good breakfast for the day ahead. Hope is very beautiful – the mountains, the trees, it was hard for us to get our heads around it.
We had decided to head east on Highway 3, and travel up the Okanagan Valley. The Crowsnest was a good highway – lots of passing lanes, good asphalt, easy turns. We travelled eastbound, taking in the mountain vistas as we went. We descended into the Similkameen Valley, where there were many signs of mining operations long gone by. The change in scenery so far that day was astounding – fertile farmlands, forested mountain views, and arid vistas in the Similkameen.
We arrived at Keremeos – a neat little town that reminded us of towns in Westerns. There were lots of fruit orchards in the area. It would have been nice to been there when the fruit stands were in operation. It was getting late in the morning, so we decided to head up highway 3A towards Penticton. We headed up over the hills, when something caught my attention on the dash.
The orange one I don’t mind, but the red one, not so much…
Part way to Penticton, the charge light came on. The car seemed to be working OK, but just in case, we shut off all the extra things that were on – the A/C, radio, we even unplugged the GPS. We arrived in Penticton, and made a beeline for NAPA. The parts guy said he had an alternator. I went out and used the new socket set, pulled it off and took it in. It was different. His had a D-shaped plug on it, with an accessible regulator, mine had an oval plug with the regulator inside it. Luckily, it only takes less than 10 minutes to remove and install it – so I stuck it back on, and tried Canadian Tire. No luck there, either. Third time was the charm – Lordco had one. I installed it, and the light went out. All was well.
The Okanagan area was simply stunning – the highway along the lake, the mountains, water, everything. Driving for a while and coming through Penticton, Kelowna, Vernon – like nothing we ever saw before. It must be a wonderful place to live – beautiful, clean, and the people we met were nice.
We continued on to Sicamous and the Trans-Canada. We probably should have stopped at that point and found a room, but I had booked and paid for a night in Banff, so we continued on. We travelled through Rogers Pass and the snow sheds, which protect the highway from avalanches in likely areas. I’d never driven through a tunnel before.
We ended stopping in Revelstoke for a bite to eat, then continuing on past Golden on some of the scariest 2-lane highway I have ever driven on. The road was very twisty, carved right out of the side of the mountain. There was a lot of truck traffic on this section of highway. By this time it was dark, and we were unable to get any pictures of it. We had made it to Banff in one piece, and had a good sleep.
The first day, we:
Travelled 949 KM (590 miles), and burned 102 L of fuel, giving 10.7 L/100KM, or 22 MPG. I burned Chevron Premium. The computer was slightly more optimistic, reporting 24 MPG. Excellent, given the size of the car and the conditions for travelling!