Last leg of the journey

Trip Start Sep 23, 2010
Trip End Jul 13, 2012

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Where I stayed
Dogwood Campground & RV Park

Flag of Canada  , British Columbia,
Monday, June 25, 2012

Mon 25th June.

Got up at 8am, had breakfast then headed up the interstate and got off at Mount Vernon to find a post office and a Walmart for a last minute US purchase. Then we got on Hwy 9, which was a nice quiet winding road with beautiful mountain views to the Canadian border. After a small queue of cars we got through the border without any problems and carried on to the campsite. On arrival we thought for a minute we didn't have a site as they couldn't find our booking, (typical the first time we book it goes wrong) but they had room for us so that was soon sorted. Once we'd settled in our spot we had lunch and made a plan for the afternoon. After lunch we drove down to Guildford centre to get a mobile sim card and some meat and veg for dinner. Mobile sorted, we headed back but we got on the wrong road and ended up going the wrong side of the river across the bridge, so we had to do several loops, on and off ramps to get back. We finally got back around 4pm, hooked up the van and headed up to the office to use the wifi hotspot to get Brian on Craigslist. Whilst there Cat got chatting to the receptionist about TVs and she made a call to the maintainance man who had a few spare he could lend us. So while we surfed, he sorted us a TV and after we made some dinner we had a TV up and running in time for the evening. So after a shower we settled in to some TV and then got off to bed.

Tues 26th June

Woke up around 8am but got up around 8.30am, enjoying the peace and quiet of our new home for a month. Had pancakes for breakfast and then headed back to the office to use the wifi again. After skyping Cat's parents we headed back to the van for lunch. After lunch we went for a walk to the local shops to have a look around and enjoyed a waffle and ice cream with almonds and chocolate chips sprinkled on top. On the way back we took a different route down some alleys and came across a park with some swings, so we had to have a go. Once we'd swung enough, we carried on through a nice wooded area and back to the campsite in time to cook dinner. After dinner we settled in for the night watching some TV and got off to bed around 11pm.

Weds 27th June.

Got up around 8am, had breakfast and checked email outside the laundry. Whilst there, we had our first sighting of a live raccoon happily drinking water from a nearby puddle. Then we drove into Vancouver to put up some for sale signs in some of the hostels and we got a few people ask and take details whilst we were there. After that we planned on stopping at Stanley Park for lunch and a few hours relaxing, but all the car parks in the park charged $3 an hour. They must be coining it in here! So we crossed the Lion Gate Bridge to North Vancouver and parked up in Ambleside Park, right on the beach and near some lovely green areas with a duck pond in the middle. After eating lunch, we had a wander and sat and watched some dogs running around after stones being thrown in the water. When we got back to the van, we set a towel out on the grass, read our books and fell asleep for a while. At 4pm we headed back but thought we'd go via Hwy 1 to avoid the city, it was rather busy but kept moving so it wasn't too bad. On the way back we got some more shopping for dinner and milk for breakfast, we still can't get over the price difference in Canada for milk so we bought a 4 litre for a dollar more than a 2 litre. Back at the site, we cooked dinner and enjoyed a lovely sunset whilst watching our new friend, cable TV. Just before heading off for a shower, we did get a call about the van which was a friend of the guy who jumped out in front of us to take a photo with his phone for the details, so we'll see how that pans out. We then got off to bed around midnight after watching 2 and a Half Men, that we haven't seen for ages.

Thurs 28th June.

Got up around 9am, had breakfast and started a bit of tinkering with the van to get him sorted to sell. After lunch, we gave him a wash and then called it a day. We then did a bit of catching up on the internet before making cottage pie for dinner. By now you may have guessed our routine. Yes, we settled in to watch some TV and then got off to bed around midnight.

Fri 29th June.

Had a nice lie in until around 9.30am and whilst having breakfast  a man came over and took details of the van for his friend. We then did a bit more tinkering and around 12pm, we headed off to Guildford to check out offers at Safeway and find the nearest sky train station. A few bargains later we drove down to King George station and decided that would be the best one to meet people at as there was a park and a store car park near by. Whilst we were there, we decided to have lunch at Holland Park and have a wander round. Whilst wandering around the phone rang and it was someone wanting to view the van this afternoon. So we suggested the place we'd selected for later in the afternoon. As we had a few hours we decided to head back to the campsite and sort a few things and go back later. On the way back to the van, the phone rang again with someone else wanting to view the van. So we arranged to meet him tomorrow and drove back via the gas station. Back at the campsite, we checked email and tidied up the van a bit more. At 4.30pm we headed back to King George station and met up with an Irish couple (his name is Brian would you believe) who had a good look round and after a quick test drive said they'd think about it. We're not sure it's for them but we'll see, also while they were there another lady came over and took some details so there seems to be plenty of interest. We then headed back to cook dinner and settled in for the evening. People often say things happen in threes and whilst we were enjoying an episode of Bones on TV, the phone rang again and a German lady wants to come and see Brian too. So we arranged a time for tomorrow and settled back in for the night.

Sat 30th June.

Woke up around 8am to the sound of rain so went back to sleep for another hour. Around 9am we thought we'd better get up, have breakfast and do some laundry. While the laundry was on we Skyped our parents and caught up with things from home. After sorting the laundry we had lunch and got ourselves ready for the afternoon. At 3pm we headed off to King George station to meet the 2 German girls that were interested in the van. They arrived bang on time at 3.30pm, had a good look around, asked a few questions and had a test drive. It was quite a good viewing and they seem very positive so fingers crossed that they make a good offer. We were going to hang around Guildford Town Centre for our next appointment, but as it was getting late, we called them just to confirm. Lucky we did, as they cancelled, although they have said they will come over Monday, but we'll see. We then headed back to the campsite to make dinner and settle in for the evening in front of the TV until bedtime.

Sun 1st July. Happy Canada day.

We got up around 9am, had breakfast and got chatting to a neighbour. We then headed to the office to check emails and also get directions to Cloverdale where we're planning to celebrate Canada Day. We then returned to the van and headed off to Cloverdale. After finding a parking spot in the free Canada Day parking area, we heated up some soup for lunch. We then left Brian with his 'For Sale' signs angled for all to see and followed the crowds to where it all was happening. We spent a muddy couple of hours wondering around looking at the stalls, munching on mini doughnuts and staring at the fairground rides thanking our lucky stars we didn't do that anymore! We returned to the van for quiet time, relaxing & reading and returned later to listen to the bands. Around 7pm we tucked into fish & chips (canadian style) enjoying the atmosphere and music, sitting in our chairs on the grass with everyone else. There was a little extra excitement when one of the ladies in front of us fell over and we think, hit her head. The paramedics and police were on the scene within minutes (6 in total) and she recovered quickly. The fireworks were due around 10.15pm but the last band were still playing at 10.30pm. To get ahead of the crowd, we thought we would head back to the van and watch from there. Good plan! The fireworks were really good, but as soon as they finished we headed out, only to get 100yrds and not move. We decided to pull off the road, park up and have a cup of tea/milk and watch an episode of The Mentalist while all around us tried in vain to get out of the car park! An hour later, we left the car park with no problem and not many other vehicles around and returned to the campsite, plugged in and got ready for bed. Before going to bed, we checked email and discovered that the two german girls had made an offer. We'll sleep on it.

Mon 2nd July

Up around 9am, had breakfast and showered. Feeling refreshed we replied to the girls offer. The asking price was $2,500 and they had offered $2,300. A good offer, but we declined this as we wanted $2,400 at this point in time (we'd only had the van up for sale for a couple of days). The girls responded with $2,400. We then decided it was lunch time. After lunch we accepted their offer and now it was just when the deal would be done. After all the excitement, we relaxed in the van reading until we cooked dinner, then settled in for evening watching some TV until bedtime.

Tues 3rd July.

Got up around 9am, had breakfast then headed off to the Aircare centre to get Brian up to date. In the Lower Frazer Valley area, you need to have an annual emissions test called Aircare. As we had Brian registered on Vancouver Island, we didn't need it. But as the girls that are buying him have an address in the Aircare area it is easier all round to get it done now so that the hand over goes more smoothly. It's a bit like the MOT in the UK but without the mechanical check. So we drove down, waited in line, paid our $23 and crossed our fingers! 10 minutes later and we're all clear, he passed with flying colours and is running better now than before we owned him. With that, we drove back via Walmart, got some supplies and had lunch. We then spent the afternoon relaxing, catching up on emails and looking up alternative flights home. We soon found out that it was cheaper to get new flights than to change the ones we had, so we got on the phone and booked flights for the 12th for $400 (250) as it would have cost $716 (448) nearly double otherwise. After some dinner we settled in with the usual entertainment until time for bed.

Weds 4th July.

Got up a bit early around 8am, had breakfast then headed off to the border. Today we were planning to spend the day state side to join in on the 4th of July celebrations. Half an hour down the road and we were back at the border being grilled by the "friendly" border guard. Once he let us on our way, we drove 2 minutes into Blaine to join in the fun. We found a parking spot and wandered in to find out what was happening where, set our chairs out by the closed road and waited until the parade started. At midday the flag bearers came by followed by various floats and banners of service men and women that lost their lives in some of the many wars. So after sitting watching and waving our flag for an hour, we went back to the van for lunch when the parade had finished. After lunch we had a wander round town and the market stalls selling their wares. Then we walked round the classic cars, some of which were in the parade and in pretty good nick. We then took a wander along Marine Park Drive all the way to the end of the dock where some kids were jumping off into the water. Whilst there we got chatting to a couple (Dusty and Bev) that had a boat in the marina and they invited us for a beer. So we went to their boat and sat enjoying there company for an hour or two. Around 6.30pm, we thought it best to move the van into a nice spot by the bay for dinner and watch the fireworks later. After dinner we enjoyed a lovely sunset over the bay, followed by a beautiful orange full moon rising over the marina surrounded by distant fireworks. Blaine City's fireworks were due to start between 10.15pm and half past and it seemed like we were waiting forever for them whilst others had been going off around us since sunset. Finally at 10.30pm they went off and were well worth the wait as they seemed bigger and better and went on for a good half an hour. As soon as they finished, we thought about heading off but just like Canada Day the traffic jammed to a halt and didn't move. So we parked up, watched an episode of The Mentalist and headed off around midnight once the crowd had gone. Within 10 minutes we were sitting in another queue on the highway waiting to cross the border back into Canada. 20 minutes and a good grilling later and we were on our way back arriving at the campsite around 1.30am and got to bed.

Thurs 5th July

Up around 9am, had breakfast and made a couple of phone calls. While we were celebrating 4th of July in Blaine, we received a call regarding Brian. As there was so much going on around us, we suggested we would call them back next morning. So we did. As Brian isn't strictly speaking sold until the transfer papers are signed, we decided to keep advertising him, just in case. We will of course, not sell him until after Monday. This is just to make sure, if the girls change their minds, we might have a back up buyer. Anyway, we have another viewing this afternoon. We spent the morning relaxing and checking email, then around 3.30pm we headed off to Guildford Town Centre. Whilst we were in Walmart, our phone rang and it was Chris who was coming to view Brian, he was a bit early. So we finished our shopping and met him and his girlfriend in the carpark. First lost in translation - we'd asked if they had their own transport and were told they were hiring a car. They arrived by bus. If we'd known we'd have met them at the Skytrain station. We gave them a quick tour of the van and they were keen to have a test drive, so we drove to a quiet spot in another carpark to swap over but they wanted to look under the hood first. We popped the hood and they had a look for about 2 minutes and then straight away said we'll give you $1900 for your van. A little shocked that they had offered so soon as they hadn't driven him or looked at half of what you'd normally check. Also as it was lower than the girls, we declinded saying we had someone else coming at the weekend. Man these Germans are keen as they blind sided us with a full asking price if we didn't let anyone else look at it! OMG what do you say to that! Being a little suspicious (as they were also German and could be spies for the girls, but we could be being paranoid) we said no for now as (we made this bit up) the people coming at the weekend are coming a long way and could they wait until after the weekend. They said ok to that but (sounding desperate in our opinion) they really hoped that they could beat their offer and were really keen on buying the van. Alarm bells were ringing in our heads as it seemed far to easy and we had made an agreement with the girls which we plan to honour as we don't want karma biting us on the ass. It's good to have a back up though. Still in shock, we dropped off Chris and his girlfriend and drove back to the campsite. We then spent the rest of the evening analysing the day and reasuring ourselves that we made the right decision, having a chat with our neighbours and settling in after dinner in front of the TV until bedtime.

Fri 6th July.

Got up around 8.30am, had breakfast, surfed the net and chilled out. After lunch we finally, as it was a beautiful sunny day, got in the pool. Nice! We then spent the rest of the day relaxing until it was time for dinner. We then showered and relaxed in front of the TV, watched a couple of episodes of The Mentalist on the laptop (nothing on TV) and then hit the hay.

Sat 7th July.

Around 9am we were up having breakfast with another quiet day ahead of us. Received a text from another perspective buyer. Called them back to arrange a visit, possibly for later today. We'll see. Nice to know that Brian is still raising some interest. Around 11am we headed off to Surrey Lake Park for a nice spot of lunch and a wander round the lake and wetlands. After that we headed back via McDonalds for a hot fudge sundae and were reminded how expensive Canada is at $2.23 which is double the US price. We decided to head back to the campsite, as the guy who was to view the van this afternoon cancelled and re-arranged for tomorrow. So we relaxed for the rest of the afternoon, had a swim and then cooked dinner. After dinner, we had a wander to walk off dinner and then settled in for the night as usual.

Sun 8th July.

Got up around 8am as we couldn't sleep in any longer, had breakfast, then had a lazy morning and caught up with a few things on-line. After some lunch, we headed off to Bear Creek Park, spent a few hours enjoying a walk through the trees to the creek and spent some time in the gardens. After that we headed back, had a swim and then relaxed until our next viewing arrived around 6pm. Taylor, his girlfriend and dog turned up, had a look round and said they'd think about it as they had another van to look at. Still keeping our options open. Once they'd gone, we cooked dinner and got chatting to the neighbours. Around 8pm, we thought we'd better get packing ready for the girls to pick up the van tomorrow. We finally got off to bed around midnight feeling this was going to be the last night in Brian.

Mon 9th July.

Got up around 9am, had breakfast and did some final packing. Around 11am we headed off to the recyclers to drop off our empty bottles and cans and then to meet the girls near the skytrain. They rang to say they were running late, but arrived just before 1pm. Once we had "done the deed" (got our money!) we then drove them to the ICBC office to transfer Brian to them, sort their insurance, cancel ours and get a refund. Marerike then drove us to the campsite so that we could arrange our Airbnb stay and show the girls how the camping side of the van works (electrics and water etc). Around 4pm, we were all ready to head off, so we checked out of the campsite, arranged to meet Jesse later and Nicole drove us to the Airbnb we were staying at. As the girls were staying in their hostel downtown for the night, they decided that they needed to park Brian somewhere quiet but near pulic transport. So Cat suggested they asked the owner of the Airbnb if they could use our parking spot. He said it would be fine for them to leave him on the drive until tomorrow. Damn, had we known that before, we could have had another night at the campsite and they could have collected him there! Oh well, we'll just have to settle with staying in our luxury suite for one more day, it's tough sometimes but you've gotta roll with it! So the girls headed off and we settled in, showered and then Jesse came over to pick us up for a BBQ at his. He had also picked up his mum and drove us past a crashed car, (he hit a lamp post doing 100mph and took it clean off) ambulance, fire engine and police from an earlier accident that Jesse and his mum just missed being in on the their way to us. Back at the campsite we settled into Jesse's garden chairs with a few beers and a rack of BBQ ribs. Around 11.30pm, we said our goodbyes to Kim and her daughters and a few other residents and Jesse drove us back to the Airbnb where we said a thankful goodbye to him. We then climbed into bed and fell asleep with a book in our hands.

Tues 10th July.

We got up around 9am and walked down to the corner store for some milk and then had breakfast back at the house. We then called to cancel our Good Sam recovery insurance and the auto pay on our phone. Then we Skyped Cat's parents and caught up on a few more things on-line. The girls turned up just before 1pm with a guy they'd met in the hostel that was going along with them for the ride to Calgary. Once they'd loaded up, they anounced that they were off to pick up one more person who was also going with them, so we think that it's going to be a bit cramped for a while and they're going to need a tent. We wished them luck with their journey and we waved them (mainly Brian) a teary fairwell round the corner to the gas station. A few minutes later, there was a knock on the door and it was Nicole checking what gas to put in the van, so we told her and she was on her way. It's good to know that they are starting off right. We then made ourselves macoroni cheese & tuna for lunch and then put some washing on. After that we walked down to Safeways to get a few things and check out how far the Skytrain was on the way back. We returned to our suite and relaxed until dinner time. After dinner we settled in to watch X-Men First Class on Netflix. Our hosts don't have cable in the suite but it did say on the Airbnb page that they did, so when we mentioned this, they apologised and gave us their Netflix account so we could watch movies, etc online. However, as yet, Netflix are not compatible with Linux so it wouldn't work on our laptop. The kind hosts lent us an old windows laptop so that we could watch the movie. Yeah! Finally, after getting their laptop connected, we watched the movie and then went to bed.

Wed 11th July

Woke up around 8am as there are no curtains, only blinds that allow in quite a bit of light. Got up just before 9am had breakfast and tried to decide what to do with our last day in Surrey. We decided on a walk to a nearby park, Royal Kwantlen, just a couple of blocks away. We packed our lunch and headed out. We arrived at the park to find a couple of baseball diamonds, children's play area, a closed swimming pool and a small section of woodland with paths running through it. After a quick swing in the play area we headed to the woodland and spent a few minutes wandering around in the cool shade. As there wasn't much else to do there we headed off in search of the nearest recycle centre, to see if we would have time to get our deposit refunds for the bottles and cans we had before we flew home. While searching, we came across a Ukranian church and a practice session of the BC Lions American Football team, so we sat and watched for a while. As it was getting warm, we decided to head back and have lunch in the cool of our suite. There we watched the animated film Rio and also Transformers - Dark of the Moon after dinner. While packing ready for our flight, our host knocked on the door and confirmed that he would drive us to the airport which he had offered to do earlier today. We then showered, watched another episode of Bones and then went to bed.

Thurs 12th July.

Up just before 8am, had breakfast and got ourselves ready to leave. At 9am our host knocked on the door then we loaded the car and set off to the airport. We arrived just before 10am, sorted our bags and checked in. As we had a few hours, we found a spot to sit before going through security and read our books whilst we finished off the water we had. Around 11.30am, we headed through security and into the central waiting area that has a water feature in the middle and a huge fish tank at one end.As it was a nice place to sit, we stayed there for another hour and ate our lunch.  Vancouver airport is quite an experence and has plenty of modern art, water features and wooden statues to look at while you wait. Just after 12.30pm we headed to our gate and waited to board the plane. Once on board we realised why the tickets were so cheap as the plane was so old it had huge CRT TV's down the centre of the plane and none on the back of the seats. Also any little movement from the person in front or a bump and the food tray kept falling down as it was broken! Still even though it was a little cramped for the lengh of flight, it wasn't the worst we've flown in and the flight was pretty smooth. As we left just after 1.30pm local time, we watched the first movie, Dolphin Tale, and then tried to get some sleep in between meals which was hard as it was too early.

Fri 13th July.

We arrived into Gatwick just before 7am local time (23.00 in Canada) and went straight through the new passport control machines that have just been installed. Then we had to wait half an hour for our bags to arrive as usual. So around 8am we met Dean's dad at arrivals and he drove us back to Cat's parents where we are staying.
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Steve Mecrow on

Looks fantastic - I would love to do what you're doing .....!

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