On Wednesday, on my mission to retrieve our recently purchased car, I flew from Whitehorse to Vancouver. Then, I hopped onto a bus (with wireless Internet!) that took me across the border to Bellingham, Washington.
The border crossing was a fairly uneventful experience. I guess the border guards were more interested in the guys from Korea than they were in me. What confused me about the border crossing, though, was that they ran our bags through an x-ray machine. Why, when tens of thousands of cars and trucks pass through the border every day, do they x-ray the bags of bus riders and let so many cars and trucks through without inspection?
The bus took me to the Bellingham Airport where I hopped into a cab that was so dilapidated, you could park it beside one of Dawson City's more neglected historic structures and it would blend right in.
After the cab dropped me off at the dealership, with mixed feelings of nervousness and relief, I picked up the car (nervousness because I don't want there to be anything wrong with it, and relief because it's nice to have a car again).
Generally, I despise dealerships - I hate 'em with a passion. I have stormed off dealership lots before, simply because I didn't like the sales person's approach - which typically involved the salesperson trying to sell me a style of vehicle I already told them I didn't want (sports cars and SUVs).
This time, it was different. I already knew what model I wanted, now it was just a matter of choosing one out of the half-dozen-or-so on the lot. I was prepared to walk, but the sales guy, Mark Simon, was laid-back and easy going. A retired school teacher and rancher, I got the feeling that Mark was more interested in talking about the Yukon than he was in selling cars. That worked for me. After a brief but low-pressure negotiation, I bought a car.
And now that I had it, I wanted to make sure everything was OK with it. My friend, Norris, wanted some things from IKEA, and I had a couple of nights to kill before I could catch the ferry to Skagway, so I decided to drive down to Seattle. It would give me a chance to put the car through its paces.
The highway was busy and wet. After making a couple of stops to find out where the IKEA was, I got there, had a $2.50 dinner of hot dogs and chips, and managed to collect Norris' items before the store closed. I was now faced with a decision; do I waste a bunch of money on a motel, or do I find a good spot to pull-over and sleep in the car?I opted for the latter.
I drove around Seattle, listening to the radio and looking for the Space Needle. I found the radio stations to be strange and interesting. They were, in some ways, similar to Canadian radio but, in others, so very, very, very different. I can't honestly say that I ever thought of buying someone a handgun for Christmas (the perfect stocking stuffer, apparently). Nor did I ever think of volunteering for medical testing, but the option was there on one of the many, many advertisements crammed between the other advertisements for guaranteed credit even if you already have bad credit. One thing I didn't hear, though, was the Fraser Crane show. That was a little disappointing.
But I did find the space needle. What I couldn't find, was a place to park for less than $12. So I didn't, even though downtown Seattle looked pretty interesting. Instead, I decided to head back up the highway towards Bellingham.
When I got tired, I pulled off the I-5 and into a Mallwart parking lot. There were RVs and trailers parked there, so I assumed that the "spend the night in our scenic parking lot" policy applied.
That's one of the nice things about owning a station wagon - you can stretch out in the back. I put the back seats down, unrolled my sleeping bag, and watched part of a movie on my laptop before falling to sleep.
It was a restless sleep, though. The car was quite comfortable, but the high-intensity parking lot lights were beaming into the car like a thousand suns made it a little difficult to sleep. There was something else that made it a little difficult to sleep, too.
I had to pee. Really badly.
There was nowhere to go in the parking lot and the Mallwart was too far away. Fortunately, I had an empty plastic bottle of water and an empty glass bottle of juice. I reached out of my sleeping bag and opted for the empty bottle of juice because it had a bigger opening in the top and would be easier to use. Hunched on all fours, I got everything into position and started to fill the bottle, being careful not to miss. The glass was cold!
As it filled, I could feel the bottle start to warm and I realised that I was nearing the top. I pinched and held, desperately screwing the cap on and then reaching for the plastic bottle with the smaller opening. There have been few moments in my life as agonizing and stressful.
If you had told me that I could pee more than a litre in the course of a night, I wouldn't have believed you. Next time, I'll remember to bring a 2L bottle.
Relieved at last, I fell back asleep and didn't wake until 10:00am.
I bought some groceries for the ferry ride and drove back to Bellingham to find a hotel. It's not that I wasn't comfortable in the car, it's just that I wanted to take a shower before spending the next three days on the Alaska Marine Highway System ferry to Skagway.
That's where I am now - the ferry terminal. I'm in the car, using the wireless Internet connection, waiting for them to load the vehicles. They've just started. There are a few police officers and a drug-sniffing dog walking around, inspecting the vehicles.
And so, this entry must come to a close. I'll add a few pictures when I've had a chance.