After a pretty tiring journey through slippy snowy conditions I made it to the Canadian border, where I was questioned at length about where I was going and what I was planning to do. I think the fact that I had an Australian passport, a vehicle registered in Illinois, and only US$30 in my wallet raised a few suspicions!
Things went from bad to worse when I was asked if I knew anyone in Canada, and where I would be staying. “Yes,” I answered confidently, sure that I was on safe ground now. “I know a couple of people in Vancouver, and am staying with one of them.”
“And their names are….?” the border guard asked, pen poised to add more notes to his already lengthy jottings.
“Well, one is called Christina, I can’t remember her surname. And I am staying with Denise, or maybe it’s Debbie, I’d have to look on the computer.”
“And how do you know these people?”
Oh dear! “Erm… from the internet.”
“You haven’t met them?”
“No, no. They contacted me through my website.” The safe ground was crumbling under me quickly now.
“And the name of the website is…?”, he asked, pen poised again.
“www.100goals100weeks.com,” I answered proudly, trying not to laugh at the absurdity of the situation.
“Riiiight…! And you have 100 goals, do you?”
“Yes, yes I do.”
“And what are you intending to do in Canada?”
“Well, on Christmas Day I am going to work in a soup kitchen, and…”
“Do you have a work visa?”
Eventually I convinced them that I wasn’t Public Enemy #1 and made it through, and pressed on in darkness to Vancouver. I finally made it to Denise and Duncan’s house with the assistance of the ever helpful “Maggie” Magellan. Their road hadn’t been ploughed, and as I approached their house I spotted an unused parking spot covered in snow, and somehow managed to slide the RV neatly through the snowbank into place.
Denise and Duncan live in a lovely quiet street by the river, and have a fantastic little apartment beneath their house, which they have very kindly offered to me for my stay here in Vancouver.
The next morning the sun was up, and the view of the mountains across the water was magnificent.
I took the bus into the city and had a look around, and went up to the lookout deck in the Harbour Centre Tower. Vancouver is a beautiful city, and the mountains to the north, just across the river have three ski resorts, only about 15 minutes drive away. As the sun set, the ski runs lit up for night skiing, and looked very inviting.
I had a few jobs to do in the city, and walked into East Vancouver to look for one of the homeless shelters where I was hoping to volunteer for Christmas Day. I was absolutely amazed at how many homeless people there were in the area. Apparently they come to live in Vancouver because of the warm climate! It was freezing out there! It appears to be a pretty big problem here.
That evening I met up with Jason and his wife Merryn, who had contacted me to offer to help out with my goal of snowboarding at Whistler, to the north of Vancouver. We wandered around Trinity Road, which is only two blocks from where I am staying, and looked at the Christmas lights on the houses there. The whole street holds a competition each year, and people come from all over the city to vote on the displays.
Afterwards they took me for a drive around the north shore, and up to one of the ski resorts in the mountains. The view of the city at night is beautiful. We drove back down and across Lions Gate Bridge and through Stanley Park.
The next day I unpacked most of my gear from the RV, in order to prepare for my trip up to Whitehorse, where I suspect I am going to need every bit of clothing I have, and more. Average temperatures there in January are in the minus twenties Centigrade.
I wanted to go and meet Christina, who had offered space for me to store the RV at her workplace while I am away up north, and so I managed to get the RV out of it’s parking spot, and headed off to find Christina. Her and workmate Amy were keen to head into town for a drink or two, and before settling in a lovely Irish pub where we met Christina’s boyfriend Jamie, we had a quick look at a gingerbread castle competition in the Hyatt Hotel! Very entertaining.
I woke this morning and it has snowed again. It is definitely going to be a white Christmas this year in Vancouver.