So here's the scoop on David, JoJo and my 3,079 mile (4,954 km) cross-continent trip to Vancouver:
We left on Tuesday, June 3rd having Volvo SUV loaded with ourselves and various road items such as snacks, drinks, suitcases, doggie beds, etc. On top of the SUV were two bikes on racks. Behind we were towing a 5' x 8' U-Haul trailer with various "treasures" from the Florida house for placement in the tiny Vancouver strata (condo). Have you got the visual of Jed, Granny, Ellie Mae and Jethro leaving the hills of Tennessee for Beverly Hills, a la, "The Beverly Hillbillies" ? ! ? ! If so, you are very astute in your analysis . . . .
At any rate, we became very familiar with various and assorted Motel 6 locations (as they all accept four-footed children) across the continent. We can advise you to under no circumstances spend a night in the choice (NOT) operation in Mt. Vernon, IL. Slammed right up next to the interstate which was under construction all night long, pool loaded with youngsters screaming their heads off, vehicles with trailers having to park a block away, etc., etc., etc. The next night in Sioux Falls, SD was a much better location, and we were given a handicapped access room that actually had a shower you could use without hitting the walls as you wash your hair. Not to be outdone by Mt. Vernon, however, the third night in Billings, MT was located next door to an adult ""toys" establishment with no available trailer parking - great. Night four was in Spokane, WA which actually was a nice operation, but we were awoken at 10:30 pm to move our car as it was in a fire lane - never mind that it was exactly where the Motel 6 check-in lady earlier in the evening had advised us to park. The last evening in Bellingham, WA was another crappy place and our vehicle decided to begin acting up by setting it's alarm off at various times. (More on this later.)
We spent very little time on seeing the sites during the drive. Actually, until we got to South Dakota and Montana, there was not a whole lot to see. We enjoyed travelling through Tennessee and Kentucky which we had seen previously. Iowa, Illinois and Missouri were all very boring, though. Iowa was especially crappy: Bad roads, lack of any kind of scenery, aroma of meat-packing plants and a dearth of gas stations all added up to a "we'll never be back through this hell-hole." Once we got into South Dakota, we did take a scenic tour off the interstate to view The Badlands which was pretty cool. Montana, however was our favourite. Beautiful scenery from plains to spectacular mountain vistas - really impressive. Also particularly incredible was the Columbia River Gorge in west/central Washington. Amazing drop and then incline through the gorge with severe cross-winds all the way.
So, VERY early on Sunday, June 8, we arose to venture out on our last leg which included a border crossing into Canada with our "treasures" for Vancouver. (As you may recall, due to the wonderful real estate market in the US, and especially Florida, we are having to maintain a home there for quite some time. "Thank you, george bush!")
Note to those following us across the border: When we actually "Landed" in February at the Vancouver airport CBSA office, we were advised that our List of Imported Goods and Goods to Follow was not necessary at that point. They assured us - multiple times upon our "queeries" - that when we actually arrived with our goods that the land border crossing agents would handle the paperwork.
Well . . . .
That is not standard operating procedure according to the land crossing agents - Big surprise, eh? The gentleman was initially quite taken aback we did not have the paperwork completed earlier. Had to check with his supervisor, etc. I - profusely apologizing for not having the forms properly signed in February - was beginning to get a bit nervous. Meanwhile, David and JoJo are in the car awaiting my arrival. Agent informs me that by the airport agents not following correct procedure, they had put me in a bad situation as potentially all of our goods could be subject to duties and taxes. Great - did not give me a warm and fuzzy feeling. After a bit more back and forth between agents, they agreed to check our paperwork, and thank goodness (Melissa, Mary & Diane - BIG hugs to you for the advice!) we had everything neatly completed in a document format with each page individually totalled. Once the agent saw how organized we were, his comment was: "Why didn't they take this at the airport? It would have taken them maybe 5 minutes to complete everything!" That said, he promptly totalled up everything, signed, stamped, gave me my copy and sent me on my way. Never even came outside to check our trailer, the dog, David's rabies certificate - Nothing! (That's a joke, re: David's rabies certificate, BTW.) Even with the initial confusion, I was back out to the car within 25 minutes. Yippeee!!
(As a sidelight to this saga, the whole time I was inside with the agent trying to get things processed, another rather hippy-looking gentleman was getting thoroughly chastised by another agent for not having proper documentation, paperwork, etc., proving he had "established ties to the US" in order to regain entry to Canada. That was, I believe, the situation at any rate. The guy kept telling the agent that he had paid for advice by an immigration attorney. The border agent sternly(and quite loudly) told him that he had wasted his money on the attorney as the advice was worthless. Just prior to me coming out of the office all smiles David and JoJo got to see the gentlemen leave looking very dejected through the exit that read "Back to the USA". Kinda sad, eh?)
Continuing on then:
We arrived at the condo in downtown Vancouver at around 7:00 am to unload in order to get the trailer back across the border into Washington. This to avoid an additional charge of about $400 for dropping it off in Canada - what a rip, eh? Oh, it just so happens that Vancouver was hosting an all-weekend Triathlon and most of the streets in our 'hood were closed - just to add excitement to the mix. Having navigated the streets, backed the trailer (Whew!!) into the loading zone we began unloading. Soon thereafter, the aforementioned alarm on the Volvo commences to go off sporadically - remember this is 7:00 am on a Sunday morning. Bob is freaking, as the typical disarming procedure of insert key, turning key, etc., is not doing any damn good. Cool, logical David is perusing the owner's manual to find the fuse box location. Bob thinks he knows where it is, but NO, there are more than one fuse box locations in the damn vehicle. Bob starts trying to disconnect the battery 'til he reads that this will set off the alarm - Great! Irritated gentleman in the building next to ours is screaming at the top of his lungs "SHUT THAT FUCKING THING OFF!!!) I'm thinking: Thank goodness we're not in the US as he would probably have an Uzi or AK47 available to shoot us and the blaring alarm. To end this drama, David does, in fact, locate the offending fuse which I promptly pulled out, and it will not be replaced for a very long time. We then completed our unloading procedure and delivered the U-Haul back to Washington. It was quite nice to be rid of the thing after 6 days of dragging it around. Plus the gas mileage promptly improved by about 50%. As of right now, we have 90% of our goods in place - still have the pictures to hang, and a few bike things to store, etc., but that's about it.
For those of you with pet concerns: Our four-footed child was adopted as a pup from a local rescue operation in Florida and raised her entire life in a rather rural, uninhabited area of the panhandle. After about 3 days here in a big city with lots of activity she is adapting exceedingly well. At this point, her only issue is the elevator ride up and down in our building. We've got confidence that she will conquer that, too. Her determination to become Canadian is nearly as strong as ours!
That brings you all up to date on The Clampett's tour of the country. Again, if you need any recommendations of where and where not to stay - Motel 6-wise - let us know. We'll tell you which ones to have them leave the lights on for ya' . . . .