What is so special about the route from Seattle to Vancouver? Besides some of the worst travel memories for me, not really much. For some reason, I guess I like torturing myself because for some reason I really wanted to recapture the hellish trip the family and I took nearly 20 years ago. My parents decided to take a day trip from Seattle to Vancouver and we ended up in the worst line ever both ways at border and each trip took about 4-5 hours. Googlemap it. This is a route that should take 3 hours. Tops.
So I take the Link Light Rail back to the airport to pick up my rental car. In doing research before hand, all rental car companies seemed to be outrageous! Over $500 for less then (but technically) a 5 day rental? What the hell?? After getting that punch in the face, I check to see what kind of discount programs I belong to will get me. I am a member of AAA (yay maps!) and AAMiles. I search around the AAMiles website and find that I can hire a car from Avis for about $230 for the same time period. I swear this is a typo because the price change is so much. But I book it, thinking I can cancel it, if something is wrong. But I try to log into the Avis website to check my reservation and there is it! Hmm..Everything looks okay, whatever! I go to the Avis counter and check in. All the people in front of me the agent tried to upgrade, etc, etc but when I get up there, she is like (to paraphrase), DAMN! You got a good deal. I realize she doesn’t try to upgrade me and I question it and she said because of the price I paid, I can’t upgrade but I can’t downgrade either. I get a little scared at this point. What are they going to give me? I go directly to the car from the counter in the terminal and I see this BOAT sticking out of the parking space. I know immediately this is mine. I throw my stuff in the backseat and play with everything and get the seat set up (I had to ask someone how to fix it), take a walk around the car and everything seems fine before I leave.
I get on the road, making a pit stop to meet up with a friend in Bellingham for lunch. The town is super cute and we had lunch at this great pizza cafe before I get back on the road for a trip across the border. They now have signs that tell you how long the wait time is and with Peace Arch (the main road) being a 15 minute wait and the alt route being 10, I suck it up and take Peace Arch. Ahh memories! The border is a snap. The agent slightly questions all my stamps and stickers, but I am allowed in with no issue.
My phone immediately changes to the Rogers network and I am now out of reach for a few days.
I spin around the radio dial, laugh and sequel at the accent and am just super excited to be in another country! And then the traffic. They are doing some bridge an tunnel construction south of the city and traffic comes to a standstill. And we sit. And sit. And sit. And sit. I turn off my motor a few times. We are not moving. Flashbacks from waiting at the border 20 years ago are coming back. I am enjoying the music on CBC Radio 2 a lot. No commercials! It’s beautiful outside so I roll down all my windows and really, like when I was unemployed and lounging in front of the Sydney Opera house, I think, it could be a lot worse. If anything, the situation was just really annoying. I finally move forward a little and see that there are 3 lanes coming out of the city and only 1 going in. To the American me, this is just unacceptable. Yes, it’s rush hour and more people are going out then coming in, but we were just SITTING there. This would never happen in America. But then I remember that I am not in America anymore.
I nervously drive into the city as it seems the lines on the road have gotten narrow (and it doesn’t help that I am driving the Titanic). I find a covered garage to park the car for the weekend and check into my hotel. Day 1 down!
Moral: There are other ways to get to Vancouver. In doing other research, people also highly recommended taking the train, which would have been nice. But I am a car person and I like having the freedom (plus I wanted to stop in Bellingham) as well as the space to stretch out. I wanted (and went) to Victoria and wanted a car for that. But if I was going just from Seattle to Vancouver and back, I would definitely look into the train. Apparently if you take the bus, they make you get out at the border, get processed and then get back on, while the train goes straight through.