Day 1


Day 1 started out leisurely, as we wrote our Day 1/2 trip report and got on-line seamlessly. The phone in our room even had a data port and America On-Line works in Canada, too!

For breakfast, Robert decided to try some Canadian cuisine and ordered "Eggs Benny," which is Canadian for "Eggs Benedict Only With More Fat." Unfortunately, Canadians eat watermelon with their breakfasts, which dismayed Robert, who is violently allergic to watermelon (the word itself is derived from the German "waterrishmeshnegalen" or "Devil's Food"). Fortunately we managed to conduct an on-the-spot decontamination procedure, thus avoiding (for now) finding out more about the Canadian health system.

During breakfast, Laura "Trailblazer" Gregg took out the map and carefully marked our intended route in blue. As long as we follow the blue road ("Follow the highlighter blue, 'cause we're off to see the lizards!") we're okay.

Laura works on the trip report

On the parkway again

Mile 216; 10:20 AM
We head out! But first...we stop for gas. At first glance, gas seems cheap here--the signs say 61.9. Oops, that's per liter. So, let's see, there's four liters to the gallon, and 6 gallons to a peck, minus 32 times 5/9, adjusting for the latitude means it's about $4,320.00 per gallon.


The flea market capital of Laidlaw

Mile 285; 12:15 PM
We decided to stop in Robert Laidlaw Gidley's namesake town of Laidlaw (it's unclear whether the town was named for Robert or vice-versa). The town consists entirely of: The Laidlaw Flea Market, which is actually a pretty cool store.

Among (many) other things they had:

  • An 8 mm movie projector
  • Manual typewriters
  • Bowling balls!
  • 8-track tapes (including "The 12 Hits of Neil Diamond"!)

They also had a Radio Shack TRS 80 (Color!) for only $15.00. Complete with the TRS 80 guide to BASIC programming. It also came with a box of 5.25" disks, which had been double-cut so you could use both sides! It was very tempting, especially since it also came with two joysticks, but we passed on it.

Robert did snag a Chemistry Set ("We don't have any test tubes at home!"), and Laura got a Mary Queen of Scots doll (the head keeps wobbling and falling off) and a tiny chair for the doll house.

Back on the road again, we seem to be in some foothills that are about 1000 liters high. The scenery is a lot like Washington--evergreens, rain, hills, fog, gray skies and drizzle. Perhaps this is why we don't ever hear much from Canada--everyone is too depressed to do anything like have a war or a riot or anything. Plus, if you had a riot, you'd get wet.

After some agonized debate, we decide to bypass Hope (one of the leading centers for Chain Saw Art), leap on the toll highway and head for Merritt.

Laura visits the flea market

A lunch break with Merritt

Mile 372 (2,356 liters); 2:06 PM
If anyone ever asks you what's in British Columbia, your first answer should not be "places to eat." About 1:00 PM we decided to stop at the next place and get something to eat. Well, Merritt was the next place. Just in time, too, as we were ready to start gnawing on each other's ankles.

Merritt is a quaint town, consisting of several stores, a lot of Sikhs (1/3 of the population is Sikh), and large lots full of huge stacks of dead trees (which at least is a change in scenery from looking at vertical trees).

We stop at Dixie Lee's Canadian Fast Food for lunch, where we discover the "Merritt Morning Mirror,"-- a single-sheet newspaper published by Gordon Cockle (, who puts in it pretty much whatever he wants to. There's a story about Fran at the Chicken Shack getting kissed (by an "emmonent [sic] non-smoking, local insurance guy" at 8:15 on Wednesday morning), an urban legend, and the following gem, which gives you a pretty good feel for the rest of the paper:

"Now You Sea-doo Now You Don't

"Details sketchy on this one, but here's what we have. A routine RCMP patrol, late Wednesday night (early Thurs. morn) spotted a truck loaded up with Sea-Doos. The Constable-on-Patrol (cop) gets one of those tingling sensations in the medullah [sic] oblongata (special police issue) that speeds up his breathing, slows down circulation and punches the Alert button just back of the frontal lobes. He decides to pull over the truck. But, upon taking up the pursuit, he notes the truck drawing away, picking up speed, shutting down the lights just before careening around a corner. Hang on! The cop-car slides around the corner in a 4-wheel drift, spilling a whole bag of cheezies on the dash, does another Indianapolis controlled skid around another corner, and comes hood ornament-to-tail gate up against the fleeing truck, now stopped, now empty of any human content. A quick computer check shows the truck stolen from one place, the Sea-doos from another. Near the scene, a lone pedestrian (known to police from prior encounters) answers their questions with "What truck? What Sea-doos? Ya gotta light?"

Laura outside the Merritt Dixie Lee

More funnel than a barrel of monkeys

Fair times in Kamloops

Mile 437; 4:00 PM
We had stopped at a Tourist Information Centre back in Abbotsford, and found a pamphlet advertising the "Kamloops Winter Fair" as the big event in Kamloops, and it was happening today! So naturally, we decide to make an overnight stop in Kamloops to see this major Provincial fair.

The folks are the Kamloops Information Centre are a little surprised:

Where's the Winter Fair at?

"You folks from around here?"

Nope, from Seattle. (We've found that if we say we're from Bellevue, we get into a discussion about whether we mean the city or the mental hospital. Besides, everybody knows about Seattle. In Greece, we met a shop-keeper who, when he learned we were from Seattle, shared two of the five English words he knew--SuperSonics! Microsoft!)

"How did you hear about the Winter Fair?!?"

Oh, everybody in Seattle's talking about it.


Scenic view

We find a quaint motel overlooking the Thompson river, and mount up our bikes to ride over to the Winter Fair. Once we found the fairgrounds, it took us a while to find the fair--because we were thinking "Scaled Down Puyallup Fair," and we should have been thinking, "Scaled Up Uncle Bob's Barn."

Laura enjoys our Kamloops kitchen

Robert got to do some actual off-road mountain biking through the horse stalls (which is the first, and probably only, time that Robert has ridden his bike on something other than asphalt).


They had horses and cows and rabbits and llamas, and for a while, we watched the steer judging competition. This is where teenaged kids try to get huge, unruly steers to stand in one place, with their feet together. One poor kid, about 11 years old (or, in metric, 15 hectares), kept getting dragged around the ring by his steer, who could tell he was a wimp. The last thing we heard from him, as he disappeared into the sawdust, was "I don't like this steer! This steer doesn't like me! How much does this damn steer weigh?"

Laura at the Kamloops Winter Fair

There were also a row of displays from the local 4-H clubs, including "Follow Farmer Fred as he Farms 'Friendly'," featuring Farmer Fred, a vaguely raspberry-shaped (we couldn't figure that out either) character as he goes through his daily chores in an environmentally conscious manner, which includes burying dead animals in their own little graves.

The really good events (carcass judging, home-made beer contest) aren't till tomorrow, but this has been plenty of excitement for us, so we head back to the hotel, where Robert discovers the disadvantages of wearing sandals to tour livestock stalls.

Brains are soft

Watch those animals!

Cockeyed Robert

Whatever Kamloops might lack in slick fairs, it makes up for in cool restaurants. We had dinner at Avanti, which is a training facility for unemployed youth between the ages of 17 and 24. The organizers asked restaurant owners which non-fast-food-delivery skills they needed most, and then set up this place to teach cooking, serving, and restaurant management. The food and service were outstanding! Avanti is at 290 Lansdowne St., (604) 851-0909. Check it out if you're ever up this way.

As we are finishing our dinner, about 300 women stream in. At first we thought, "Wow, what a popular place!" But once they started chanting the usual 30-year-old protest slogans, we figured out that it was the concluding gathering of a "Take Back the Night" march. There's a job opportunity here for someone who wants to come up with some new slogans for protest groups.

Our waitress was a little freaked out (they probably all asked for separate checks), but we found it kind of fun. They sang some songs, shouted about how they had really changed something by marching around, exchanged black power salutes, and generally milled about.

Blowing the bull

Robert is tired


Today's French lesson

"N'est pas deranger" is an elegant, easily understood phrase--do not derange--which is the French equivalent of "Do not Disturb." It probably sounds even better when muttered with a French accent and a cigarette dangling out of your mouth.


Canadian signs

Actually, there's two general types of Canadian signs--road signs and notices.

The Road Signs will drive you crazy! You'll see a right arrow surrounded by a green circle. This means "It's OK to turn right, eh?" In the U.S., this would be a "Do Not Enter!" along with a "No Left Turn" sign, probably backed up with a "Right Turn Only!" sign.

The Canadians seem much more interested in telling you what's a good thing to do ("It's good to turn right, eh?"), but in our stubborn American way, we want to know what we're ALLOWED to do ("Well, yeah, right is good, but can we go straight?").

So far, we haven't whapped into anything, but it's probably just a matter of time.

The Notices are unfailingly polite. Instead of "No Compression Brakes!" the sign says, "Please avoid use of engine brakes in urban areas." If they had the room, they would probably have added "if you don't mind too terribly much."

Even the parking sign outside the 7-11 says, "Polite Notice, 15 min customer parking."

We figure that the idea is to ask you nicely, and that way you'll feel guilty if you don't obey the sign. Robert thinks that if you get pulled over on the road, the local constabulary would probably ask "What seems to be the problem, sir?" because he wouldn't believe you'd break the law on purpose.


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