Distance: approximately 600 miles
Time: approximately 12 hours (including breaks)
The drive from Missoula to Vancouver was pretty brutal. While we still appeared to be in the middle of nowhere (mile maker 97), we hit some serious congestion. It was worse than stop-and-go during rush hour in northern Virginia, and it persisted until the interstate permanently widened to 3 or more lanes close to the Seattle area (around mile marker 30 or so). I suspect, based on the variable message signs along the highway and overheard comments at the rest stop, that such congestion is, to some extent, normal weekend traffic. Frightening thought.
We broke the tedium by stopping at Lake Easton State Park in Washington and taking a short, easy hike partway around the lake. Despite being short and easy, it was actually one of the more satisfying hikes we’ve been on, because finally we had a real trail. If only we hadn’t reached the park so close to sundown, I would’ve loved to stay longer. Also, it cost $10 to enter (the daily pass rate for all Washington state parks), so I felt it was relatively expensive for the amount of time we were there.
Prior to the terrible traffic situation in western Washington, the drive was actually pretty enjoyable. Going through the mountain pass (western Montana through Idaho) was challenging and fun, and then going through the scrubby plains of eastern Washington was interesting (I had no idea there was such an arid, flat region in Washington), especially since we managed to somehow thread our way between some scary-looking storms.
We were so traumatized by the traffic, that by the time we got to Seattle, we simply blew right through it. Ignoring our very-soon-to-be future home (except for a brief comment about how built up Bellevue was), I instead focused my attention on the “Vancouver BC” signs and the impending border crossing.
The border crossing was actually surprisingly painless. The wait was not too long, about half an hour (in the future, Hide and I will probably apply for the Nexus program so that the wait will be even shorter), we didn’t get any hassle about being in between addresses, having lots of stuff in our car, or having a dog with us. I was very relieved and excited to be driving into the greater Vancouver area. I had never driven in Canada before, so everything was a first for me.
The streets quickly became familiar, and it was no time at all before I was home sweet home. My mom had prepared for me, as she always does, a simmering pot of bone marrow soup, and it was the most delicious, comforting thing I could remember eating since moving out of our apartment. She had also made tomato and egg, which is the next most comforting thing I could’ve eaten. I was so tired, and yet so content. It’s good to be home.