Highway Thru Hell

Hubby and I are on the road again in the first part of our adventure in moving to the west coast.  It’s been, um… eventful.  (And I’m writing this very late on Tuesday night, so please forgive any mistakes.)

Our property purchase closes this week, so we decided to come and spend some time wandering our new place and deciding where the house will go.  And some brilliant person who shall remain nameless… (Hint: She has long red hair) …said, “Hey, this is a perfect opportunity to put my ’53 Chevy on the car-hauler trailer and pull it out to the Island before the roads get bad in winter!”

Seemed like a good idea at the time.

So we loaded the Chevy onto the car hauler and packed the truck with the oddments the moving companies wouldn’t take (including our giant houseplants) and set out to drive the whole shebang over multiple mountain passes to the coast, where we’d catch the ferry to Vancouver Island.

Easy-peasy, right?

Naively, we considered:  Should we drive it in one day, or break it into two?  Well, let’s break it into two, just to be on the safe side.


We immediately discovered, much to our chagrin, that our car-hauler is an old long-necked U-Haul type for which stabilizer bars were never made.  If we exceeded 90 km/hr (55 mph), it developed an oscillation that required an instant slow-down or it threatened to fling us off the road.

Okay, fine.  Two days.  Not exceeding 90 km/hr.  We could do this.

The first day it took us 9 hours to get to Kamloops.  The second day it took us 15 hours to get from Kamloops to Qualicum Bay where we’re staying.  It’s supposed to be a 13-hour trip in total from Calgary.

I took the first shift as driver.  Let me just say, navigating an unstable 41-foot truck-and-trailer down hairpin curves on an 8% grade is not something I’d care to do on a regular basis.  (Read NEVER AGAIN.)  Particularly with a 5-foot-tall flowering hibiscus tickling the back of my neck.

After the first 3½ hours (at Golden, BC), Hubby took his turn.  Of course, the road immediately became wider and flatter, and the next day even the infamous Coquihalla Highway (the location of the reality show Highway Thru Hell) only offered a few short stretches of 8.5% downgrade on nice wide sweeping turns.  But it didn’t matter – by that time we were so anxious about the possibility of more hairpin turns and steep grades that we were both vibrating by the time we made it to flat ground at Hope, BC.

Then we thought we’d make the 3:10 ferry over to Vancouver Island.

And we would have, except for the traffic accident that kept us parked on the TransCanada Highway for 30 minutes… allowing THE ENTIRE MIDWAY CREW OF THE PACIFIC NATIONAL EXHIBITION to get in front of us.  Which used up all the deck space not only on the 3:10 ferry, but also on the 5:20 ferry.  We finally got aboard the 7:30 ferry, which, after loading, unloading, and some more driving, got us to our destination around 11 PM.

Gee, maybe next time we’ll try to do it in one day.  Ya think?

But we’re finally safe and sound on the Island and looking forward to our bed tonight.  Thank God we’re flying back instead of driving.

And at least I got some pretty pictures:


A train tunnel near Salmon Arm, BC, from our truck window

A train tunnel near Salmon Arm, BC, from our truck window

Mara Lake

Mara Lake

Coming up on the Port Mann Bridge, Vancouver BC

Coming up on the Port Mann Bridge, Vancouver BC

On the Port Mann Bridge

On the Port Mann Bridge

The 5:20 ferry leaving... without us

The 5:20 ferry leaving… without us

On the ferry at last!

On the ferry at last!


Filed under Humour, Life

36 responses to “Highway Thru Hell

  1. Pingback: Crazy Plant Lady | Diane Henders

  2. very cool photos, great country, eh?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Julie Hyland

    Such beautiful country!!!! It would be easy to let the stress go just looking at all that beauty! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I was almost glad of the 5-hour delay for the ferry. We sat in a little rooftop restaurant looking out over the ocean and just… breathed. And our new place is only 15 minutes from the ocean so anytime I go to town to get groceries and mail, I can zip down to the shore and enjoy. I’m so looking forward to living here! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You will love it. If we could afford to live in Canada, the Island is certainly where we would go. Having to take the Ferry is a pain though. Even flying you sometimes have to go via Vancouver. But it is well worth it. Tanya and I love the Island. She would work at Buchart Gardens for free almost (free and all the flowers she could steal).

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree with Tanya – Butchart Gardens is one of my favourite places! And I know what you mean – BC is going to cost more than Alberta in terms of basic living expenses like groceries, insurance and health care. But at least we’re unlikely to freeze to death if the power goes out! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Seems the move’s going well, all things considered, Diane. One should never rush these things after all! Especially with a large flowering hibiscus on a tickling mission!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. moondance4me

    Just a quick P.S. to my previous post. Our surgeon called, unusual for the actual surgeon to do that, but he did, to say that the scans showed some “worrisome” areas. He still says surgery would be best but that the odds might be not quite the 60-40. He wants to see hubby and I early next week to go over the tricky areas. sheesh. I had posted this story on my blog earlier and went to revisit it. I really need some focus time it seems. Think I’ll take some new candles and sit outside perhaps.
    In case anyone wants to see it, there is the link. Probably will have to cut and paste.

    Liked by 1 person

    • moondance4me

      Well, for cryin’ out loud. I forgot to say, it’s the last story on the page, the one about craving solitude. Dumb me, I thought the link would go right to that part. duh!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for the link – I’m off to read it now! You’re right, it can be tricky to jump right where you to go on a page. You can fix that in a couple of ways: The first way is to designate the page as your Posts page. (That’s what I’ve done for my main Blog page). To do that, click Customize in your dashboard. That will show you a sidebar, and one of the menu options in the sidebar will let you designate one of your pages as your Posts page. Then instead of editing that page when you want to add content, you’ll just click New Post and each of your new posts will show up as a separate heading with its own link the same as mine do.

      But WordPress only allows you to set one page as your Posts page. If you want to be able to create links to a specific headings on non-Posts pages, you need to edit the Text version of the page and place an anchor where you want the link. It’s not quite as complicated as it sounds, and if you’re interested I can write out the instructions – just let me know.

      Again, I hope everything works out for your Hubby – sending good thoughts your way!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I love the adventure! LOL Felt like I was right there with you. We’ve moved so many times over the years, I did as a child too since my father was in construction, felt like a Gypsy most of my life. The scenery is awesome. I’ve been on a few ferry trips over the years, loved them. With all our moves I know what you mean when describing the steep, winding, hairpin turns etc. Had nightmares of going over the sides at times.
    I missed last week’s post so I need to go back and read it. Hectic here again with hubby’s health. Finally got the CAT scans done today, got home and logged in to the laptop and all my bookmarked pages had gone into cyberspace somewhere, I just now got onto your blog, I kept getting “blips” that knocked me off line. We’ll know in a couple days if he’s going to have heart surgery. The surgeon said he thinks it’s necessary, IF, he’s well enough to go through it. Dr. says his overall health will improve and he certainly would feel better so we will see what happens soo, I hope.
    We are beginning to get hints of Fall! I am SO ready for it. This has been a hot Summer, too many consistently hot days. We used to get a break every few days, but not this year. The older I get the less I can tolerate the heat.
    I’m loving the progress on the new book. Hopefully I’ll get more uninterrupted time so I can look at the other pages here.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Diane, next time avoid most of Hwy 1 and the tolled Port Mann by taking the Duke Point Ferry, It’s usually not very busy and drops you off just south of Nanaimo and you have the Nanaimo bypass all the way. We avoid Hwy 1 and Horseshoe Bay Ferry terminal like the plague. We’ll have to share our first move story sometime. Similar disaster.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. el Tea

    I can’t believe you already know what the movers won’t move. You do plan ahead. Me, I wouldn’t give it thought until the land was purchased, the house built, and the old house had a purchase agreement signed. It’s not a superstition, just an inability to plan that far ahead.

    The longest road trip I took in recent years was a round trip to the San Diego area from MInnesota. We drove a Subarru station wagon. I was surprised to find the deep trenches cut into the Interstate Freeway surfaces by the commercial trucks. The hump in the center of each lane didn’t align well with our compact car wheelbase. Every now and then the grooves meshed poorly and we were thrown to one side or another. I can’t imagine driving those freeways while pulling a trailer. Mountain roads? I could barely manage them under perfect weather conditions. You two are brave to have tackled it even in good weather.

    I’m so glad you made it safely. Curious minds want to know how you plan to keep Hibiscus and friends safe and well watered when you are back in Calgary packing up your stuff and selling the house. Do you just plant them -pots and all into your land and hope they get enough rain and they don’t get disturbed during the building process? Will you also sell your garden land, camping trailer, and magnificent outhouse? Will you be moving closer to either family?

    Liked by 1 person

    • The hibiscus and five-foot-diameter peace lily and three-foot-diameter Christmas cactuses have found a good temporary home with a friend in Comox who has a sunroom. She professes not to be a ‘plant person’ so I have to leave specific watering instructions, but I hope the plants will be tough enough to survive the change in schedule at least until we make our final move out here.

      We’ll be selling our garden land including the magnificent outhouse, and we’ve already sold our camping trailer. We were sad to see it go, but it was ten feet longer than the car-hauler trailer, so I’m kinda glad we didn’t have to haul it out!

      We’ll be farther away from both our families here on the Island, but we weren’t geographically close to them in Calgary, either, so it won’t really make much difference. Hubby has an aunt and uncle and cousin here, and we have a lot of mutual friends here, too, so in many ways it feels like we’re coming home. And all our family members are eager for an excuse to come to the Island for a visit in the winter, so I think it’ll work out well!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. jenny_o

    Ah, yes, ferry stories … when I was a kid we made at least one trip a summer to PEI on the ferry (the longer distance one) … So many times almost but not quite getting on and needing to wait several hours for the next ferry. And even then, if there were large trucks, it seems to me that we could be pre-empted. It’s the other way around these days; truckers have to wait. Commerce versus tourism … Anyway, it sounds like a hair-raising drive in places, so – good thinking on getting it done while the weather is good. Even with all the issues, though, it must be really exciting! I hope you’re able to stand back and enjoy that part!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, @jenny_o! Yes, this trip we discovered why everyone on the Island seems to have a laissez-faire attitude about punctuality. When you can be delayed by 5 hours for no reason at all, you begin to understand that it’s not the end of the world and nobody’s going to die if you’re not right on time. It’s going to be an adjustment for us coming from high-pressure Calgary, but I’m looking forward to it! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I’ve dealt with that sort of thing a lot. Road-walking trailers are annoying at best and lethal at worst. That’s scary stuff!

    Love the scenery and wish y’all all the very best with your new adventure!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Michele Dunn

    What an adventure! Glad you finally made it there safely. Beautiful photos! I have been to Vancouver and Victoria Island and LOVED them both.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Michele! The Island is so beautiful – I’m thrilled that it’s going to be my new home! I know it’ll be wet and gloomy in the winter, but at least everything stays so green – nothing like the dead browns and whites of Calgary in winter.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I don’t envy you the drive, but the photos are fab. Hope all goes well on the flight back.

    As the others say at least you did the move now for the car.

    Good luck for the closing this week

    Liked by 1 person

  14. My hands were sweating just reading this. Can you imagine doing it with snow?! So thank goodness you undertook all of this now, as white knuckling as it was. The photos are gorgeous. Apparently at these point you stopped shaking long enough to hold steady.
    Have you rented a spot to stay while your house is being built?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, you’ve probably driven those twisty downhills into Golden lots of times, haven’t you? So you know exactly what I’m talking about!

      I’m shocked that my photos actually turned out as well as they did – I was snapping most them through the truck windows with my Blackberry so I figured I’d have nothing but a bunch of blurs. And the 5-hour wait for the ferry was actually quite relaxing – we were ready for some downtime by then.

      We haven’t sold our house in Calgary yet so we don’t know exactly when we’ll make the final move, but we’re planning to camp out at our favourite haunt in Qualicum Beach, the Shorewater Resort until our house is built. We looking into renting houses, but the Shorewater has such good monthly winter rates and it’s all furnished, with fresh linens and cleaning included, so we just decided to stay there instead. Plus it’s right on the ocean – bonus! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  15. I didn’t realize you’re moving! We’re moving this month too, but just downsizing to a condo in the same town, so thankfully we haven’t had to do any painful drives like you. Best of luck with everything. It’s both stressful and exciting. I won’t breathe easy until all the closing papers are signed and the boxes unpacked.

    Liked by 1 person

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