Seth’s original plan had been to go to Seattle, but C persuaded him that he needed to go to Vancouver first. He was interested in tagging along, but there was a small hitch. He didn’t have his passport with him. When we were enjoying our rest day in Riverside he had called his mum and got her to Fedex it up to Blaine, the border town where we would enter Canada. If all went to plan it would arrive a couple of hours before we crossed over.
We had about 70 miles ahead of us to get to Vancouver and we would need to add in time to cross the border and ride across Vancouver so it’d be a long day. I was up and could have left early, but since her early rises during the heat wave in Minnesota C’s reverted to getting up later. She and Seth both also had to work on their bikes and so it was that it got past 10am and we were nowhere near leaving. Chris offered to drive us to the border and, as it looked like we wouldn’t get where we were going until late, we gratefully accepted.
We left around 11:15 and Chris took us on the scenic route up to the border. At Seth’s request we stopped off in Bellingham, a town that he is considering wintering in, and got some doughnuts. Being in a car we made up for our late start and by the time we got to Blaine, and Seth grabbed his passport from FedEx, we were about on track. We said goodbye and thank you to Chris and headed to the border via a grocery store for lunch.
After lunching in the park by the border, I went to speak to an immigration official. The remaining time on my visa was running down and I had maybe 7 weeks. It would be enough to make it down the coast to Mexico, but it would probably mean cutting out Utah and the Grand Canyon. I was hoping to get an extension, but reading online the official application to extend a visa would cost $290. I wanted to get it sorted out as soon as possible as it would determine how much free time we had to stay in Vancouver, Seattle and Portland. The official I spoke to told me that it wasn’t something that I could deal with until I came back in to the country. He said that I should just explain myself and that the time left wouldn’t be sufficient for what I was hoping to do and that I might get fortunate. There wasn’t much we could do other than head to the border and leave any concerns about the visa until we got back.
We took some pictures at the Peace Arch park and then headed up to the Canadian border. We remembered how the crossing back over at Niagara went and were hoping to get a nicer guy. We were in luck! He spoke to all 3 of us at once and had a smile on his face. He barely asked us any questions and within 2-3 minutes of getting to the border, we were over.
Not long after crossing the border, I went past several people walking down the street smoking weed. Pedestrians themselves are an odd sight in most of the parts of the US that I have cycled through, but the weed sealed the deal. I knew we were in Canada.
The ride up to Vancouver isn’t something I’d like to repeat. The lady at tourist information had given us information about a route, but I knew her claims about certain bridges and roads being not possible to use as a cyclist were erroneous. I had used Google Maps briefly and had a fair idea of where to go and had my GPS as backup although it was getting confused by bridges that we could cross on the pavement of.
We headed along King George Boulevard until where I knew we were supposed to turn off. I was ahead and moved through the traffic to the left hand lane. C & Seth both saw me pull over and I figured they’d not crossed due to there being too much traffic. I have the GPS on my bike and I’m always the navigator so you can imagine my surprise when I was making the turn after a truck passed in front of me I saw a white figure looking remarkably like C riding straight up the road we had been on. I tried ringing my bell and shouting, but there was a decent amount of traffic and I got no response.
I lost about a minute before I could get back on to the road I had seen C ride up and rode against traffic up it for a couple of miles. I saw no sign of either C or Seth, but did see a McDonalds. I pulled in there and tried to call and text them both but to no avail. In my text I told them where I was and so sat round at McDonalds for 20+ minutes waiting, expecting to see them turn up, but nothing. I grew tired of waiting and figured that they had the address and that if they’d decided to go it alone they could make it over without me.
I kept riding along and, after some immense confusion caused by signs that seemed to repeatedly contradict each other, made it across the three brides I needed to get over. I was on Marine Highway and on the part of Vancouver I needed to be on. I was riding along and then suddenly had C & Seth ride up behind me. It was incredibly bizarre. Seth told me that he had lost us both at the corner and then after asking for directions sprinted up the road we were on for about 5-6 miles to catch C. C’s excuse for not following me was that the woman at the tourist information office had told us to go that way. I pointed out that I had used Google after her advice and drawn that line on C’s map and we were following it, but that didn’t seem to matter to her. I was annoyed. It would have been nice to have been told that she was going to break tradition with the whole trip and not follow me, as I’d have not waited around at McDonalds for so long or tried to ride after her when we got split up.
Our host for the following few days was Mary, a lady who was originally from North Carolina but had moved up to Vancouver for work. She was a passionate tennis fan and our stay coincided with the US Open. The two of us talked about it a fair amount. She wasn’t a big Rafa or Djoko fan, but couldn’t really see Murray doing well. To be honest, neither could I. He’s definitely the 4th best player in the world, but for whatever reason he seems to have the same curse as Tiger Tim. While he’s good enough to beat the best players outside of the slams, he just loses it during the biggest matches as proved with Tim’s Wimbledon semifinal record and Murray’s constant defeats in the latter stages of the slams.