Driving home from Kelowna

It’s been a very long time since I’ve been on a roadtrip. And although it was only one-way, I didn’t mind it at all.

I flew into Kelowna, but I drove back with Andrea, Tamara, and Dan. Andrea had driven the three of them out on Saturday, and I got the distinct feeling she wasn’t looking forward to the drive back. Understandably so — it’s an eight-hour drive. Unless you’re in a really comfortable vehicle (such as a RoadTrek), long-distance driving can be excrutiating. And nowhere more frustrating than the Trans Canada Highway between Kamloops and Banff.

Why there? Most of the highway is two-lane — one in either direction. Aside from the odd passing lane, you have to wait until there’s a break in the traffic to get around all people staring at the scenery, driving at a snail’s pace. At least the highway from Banff to Calgary is divided four-lane. Much easier to handle.

Anyway, we started off this morning at the IHOP, having failed to get breakfast at it yesterday. Bellies packed with food, we loaded up with snacks and beverages, and headed north on Highway 97 to the Trans Canada. It had been nearly four years since I was last in the Okanagan, and my memory of driving in and out was either via Merritt or back in 1997, when I drove to Kelowna with my friend Gerry. I didn’t remember much of the trip with Critical Mass, having watched movies most of the way there and back.

Driving is an excellent way of seeing the valley, though I imagine the Okanagan Wine Train (now sadly defunct) would be even more spectacular, going places the roads do not. I looked around periodically, or peered at my copy of “The Hobbit”, which I’m finally reading. (Yes, I’m 31 and have never read any J.R.R. Tolkien. So sue me.)

When we got to Revelstoke, we stopped for gas, a pee break, and a chance to stretch. At that point, I offered to give Andrea a break from driving. She was quite willing to give up the wheel for a while, since she was getting sore from having to keep pace (or pass) traffic. Something I would soon learn myself…

Andrea’s car, a VW Jetta, is manual. This is why I had to offer to drive, and not Tamara or Dan. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t mind, but the manual is a little different than mine. Took me a little bit to get used to it. But soon, I was handling it like my Mini. Which was actually a problem. My Mini handles corners a little better than the Jetta. I took a corner or two a tad wide, and a bit too fast. We were trying to get home in good time (I didn’t go any faster than Andrea already had, so I didn’t feel particularly guilty about it), and being stuck behind some yahoo motorhome with a passenger handing out the window during the run through the Kicking Horse canyon east of Golden — that’s right, moron, you know who you are!! — wasn’t our piece of cheese.

I found myself succumbing to highway hypnosis after a while. It wasn’t until we hit the divided four lane of highway east of Lake Louise that I relinquished the wheel back to Andrea. I fell asleep in the front passenger seat until we were inside Calgary city limits. I was that tired.

Home was a bit cool, though it was 18 degrees outside. Miao-yin was happy to see us, only because it meant someone was actually going to feed her. Lots of mail, a couple voicemail messages, but otherwise, the house was the same as it had been when I’d left almost three weeks ago. Tomorrow, I go back to work.

Sigh. I’m already wishing I were back in Japan.