AARoads Forum

Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length

Author Topic: Kent, WA to Enderby BC, round trip, March 1999  (Read 1567 times)


  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 1032
  • Age: 54
  • Location: Renton, Washington
  • Last Login: October 05, 2022, 05:51:22 PM
Kent, WA to Enderby BC, round trip, March 1999
« on: December 23, 2018, 07:20:58 PM »

I posted on a thread in the Canada board about a 120 km/h speed limit still available on a road in British Columbia, which inspired me to write up a report on the trip where I encountered that speed limit.

On this newfangled Internet thing, I noticed a reformed version of the Vancouver group Doug and the Slugs was on a tour of Western Canada.  A few weeks later I noticed with alarm that the group was heading further and further east, so if I wanted to see them I had to act.  Of course, a month later they were back in Abbotsford, the city on the southward dip that the Trans Canada takes almost to the border.

I got my first car, a 1996 Ford Escort back in 1998 when I was 32.  I'm a late bloomer, what can I say?  I was hoping to take it to more specific events a ways out of town but I only ever went to this concert, and an appearance of Michael Feldman's Whad'ya Know in Walla Walla.

I left on the last Friday of March 1999.  I know this because the next weekend my beloved Pat Cashman morning show would be canceled, almost as if it were a cruel April Fool's joke.  Other fans of the show collected around a fan-made Ultimate Bulletin Board created just before the show ended, and we experienced something similar to social media with face-to-face meetings some years before Facebook came around.  I listened to the show as long as I could on the way up.  Someone on the show mentioned observing geology in the United States and how easy and fun it is with rock layers exposed next to freeway cuts.  I was passing by one such example outside of Chilliwack  right before the signal cut out.

Back at the border crossing, the guard asked what I was coming into Canada for.  I said I was going to see Doug and the Slugs.  He said, "Geeze, they're still around?"  I knew I had arrived in a different country because I already found someone who knew about Doug and the Slugs.  They were a popular band on the early years of MTV, and actually they were in a mini-revival right now.  The very short-lived Norm Macdonald Show had just premiered last week, and he used the band's hit "Too Bad" as the theme to his show.  Actually, only lead singer Doug Bennett was still in the group, the rest of the members now were substitute Slugs.

I had planned to take the new toll expressway to Kamloops, figuring a few bucks was worth it for the safety of a divided highway.  Approaching Hope were three overhead variable message signs on gantries of various ages. They announced the road conditions of the passes ahead.  The message said the toll road was snowy, while the Trans Canada was bare and dry, so I exited the expressway and took that.  Immediately I noticed something I haven't seen in the US for decades: hitchhikers.  Watching Canadian TV on cable seemed like looking back in a time warp, and now I was seeing it in real life.

Driving Highway 1 got so boring that I would occasionally have to pull over and read a book.  Most of the way the road was okay.  It was usually three lanes, with two in the uphill direction.  As long as everyone sticks to the right lane, it's almost like a freeway.  Soon things got so rural that the lanes dropped to two, and the speed limit went up to 120 110 km/h.  This is the fastest speed limit I had ever seen and driven, as it comes out to 72 mph, and I've only previously seen 70.

Soon I reached Kamloops, and I figured it was time to pull over and call my temp agency to see if they had a job for me.  I found my existing long distance card does not work in Canada.  When I first tried it, it took a second to reach the recorded message, but on further attempts on different phones, the message started instantly.  Oh no, they're on to me!  I bought a new card to call the temp agency.  My sister was in Las Vegas that weekend.  If I knew her hotel and room number, I could have called from one vacation to the other.

To unwind from the trip, I found an antique store to stroll around in.  Separated by a thin wall of merchandise, I heard another group of customers speaking.  They were blaming Bill Clinton for the recent NATO bombing of Yugoslavia.  I felt like an outsider being a fly on the wall for that conversation.  I really must have traveled far today.

On the way to Enderby, I turned on the radio to hear an interview of Chilliwack founding member Bill Henderson talk about a concert he was giving in a city a bit to the southeast of Enderby.  What are the chances that two 80s Vancouver rock figures were giving concerts out here?  I had options in case the Slugs show was sold out, though I had already seen Chilliwack back in Expo '86.

I took a room in the first motel I saw on the way in to town.  The Slugs show might have been in a hotel too, I don't know.  This motel has a sprawling ramp to lead to the upper floor, in the place that motels further south might might have had a swimming pool.  This is handy for guests in wheel chairs, though further into town was a reminder that the ADA has not reached Canada, as Enderby's City Hall was up a flight of stairs.  The motel actually offered suites, which means that the TV was in a different room from the bed.  No big loss, because this was my first chance to watch MuchMusic, the Canadian music video channel, but they were only showing a boring live event where they robotically cut between the same three camera angles of people dancing outside the studios on the street.

I walked the few blocks into town to buy my ticket and enter the show at a bar.  I don't drink and don't attend bars, so I didn't know how this worked.  A waitress tried to take my drink order, but didn't bother me again all night.  Eventually the opening act started, probably the backing band, performing original songs.  Then Doug Bennett came out.  Wow, it was amazing gazing on his face in person after seeing him on TV for all these years.  They played all their hits, so I got to see exactly what I came here for.  I could hear an Australian accent among the other people in the crowd.  Quite the collection of travelers from around the world.  When Doug left, he left out the same door that the patrons leave out of.  One customer who had had a few tried to follow him out, but the bouncer kept him in the bar, for a change.  Around midnight, the backing band came out again.  I didn't think Doug would perform again, so I left.  Later I read a description of the concert and found out he did perform again.  Oops.  I don't think I could have stayed up much longer anyway.

I drove out in the dark, cloudy morning.  I was following a truck that was dropping bits of snow at regular intervals.  Very hypnotic.  I saw another hitchhiker, one wearing light blue jeans and a matching jean jacket.  Then I saw the same hitchhiker again.  Wha?!  Oh, I forgot, I had just stopped to buy gas, and he must have passed me then.  I could still see the same snow droppings from the truck, but now a little more melted.

On the way back, I followed 97 to cross into Washington State sooner.  Here I drove through The Okanagen, billed as Canada's only desert.  I regularly saw tumbleweed cross the road.  They were thinking of filming the third Terminator movie here, and I could believe it.  Here I saw a photo radar installation.  The regular sites of temporary photo radar stakeouts are signed with a symbol of an old-fashioned camera on a yellow diamond warning sign.  I saw the sign, and I saw the installation.  I knew what the speed was in killometers, and I was going a few km/h above it.  I saw the flash, but never got the ticket.  I wondered if they would deliver international tickets, and almost 20 years later I haven't received mine.

I wanted to go through here on Saturday morning because there's an outpost of Northwest Public Radio with a low-powered transmitter in Tonasket that reaches from the border to Omak.  If I timed it right I would get there just in time to hear the show Whad'ya Know.  I remember it from its glory years back when I lived in Pullman.  It was since picked up and canceled in Seattle.  I could still hear it on dial-up Internet, glued to my computer.  If I wanted to hear it while walking or driving, I had to be in Oregon or Eastern Washington.  Because I didn't find a Tim Horton's to stop at, I arrived at the border right at the start of the show.  And then because I would overshoot the station's range, I stopped at Omak to walk around (with an FM Walkman) and look at the Suicide Hill, where cowboys run horses down to the river in an event once a year.  It's a pretty controversial deal, but here in person I noticed the base of the hill had a prominent Pepsi sponsorship.

The next diversion was the Rocky Reach Dam.  There wouldn't be any fish in the ladder today, but I figured there would be other attractions.  First was a display of art by local students.  What struck me about this place was that the room was a perfectly preserved 1950s office interior.  They aren't going to make many alterations to a dam, so here it stays.  Next I went on to an exhibit about electricity.  Attendees were supposed to follow a weaving path around the displays, but the lighted arrows had burnt out.  Something else seemed odd about the exhibit.  It seemed to be stuck in a 1970s stylization, with, for instance, light bulbs glued to the back wall of a display case in an arc.  But the glue had long-since dried out, and the bulbs were sitting at the bottom of the case.  Someone must be dusting and vacuuming the place, but otherwise it seems like no one had set foot in here for decades.  Between the exhibit areas, you are walking on a path above an open area of the dam, with warning signs about very loud relays that might strike without warning, so I didn't linger.  I didn't see anyone else the whole time I was there, neither a guard nor another tourist.  Things would change in a few years, after 9/11, as I found out when I tried to visit the Grand Coulee Dam off season and it was closed.

I took 97 to I-90, and then Highway 18 home to Kent East Hill.  After dodging the bad weather in BC, my luck ran out on Tiger Summit.  This was a complete whiteout situation, where cars were inching along not making much progress at all.  I noticed conditions were so bad that the driver tailgating behind me had turned off his headlights, and the driver behind him had turned out his headlights.  Well, now I can't turn off my headlights with two cars  drafting on my lights.  I finally made it through and home, but wow.  Most of the time I use my car for a boring daily commute.  I need to get out more often.

Edit: the speed limit I saw in British Columbia was 110 km/h, not 120, which still converts to 72 mph.  No wonder the posters on a thread in the Canada forum insisted BC never posted a speed limit that high.  My memory is fine, it just acts a little spotty.
« Last Edit: January 27, 2019, 09:13:03 PM by ErmineNotyours »


  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 2276
  • Age: 67
  • Location: Coos Bay OR
  • Last Login: Today at 10:51:56 AM
Re: Kent, WA to Enderby BC, round trip, March 1999
« Reply #1 on: December 24, 2018, 10:24:06 AM »

That was a great story of a road trip!  How you accommodated the FM reception to get a desired broadcast sounds like something I would do...LOL!  Thanks for adding a description of the Okanogan desert area.  I always wondered what a Canadian desert would look like?

US 101 is THE backbone of the Pacific coast from Bandon OR to Willets CA.  Industry, tourism and local traffic would be gone or severely crippled without it being in functioning condition in BOTH states.


Opinions expressed here on belong solely to the poster and do not represent or reflect the opinions or beliefs of AARoads, its creators and/or associates.