My Trip to the Pacific from start to finish

 THE DEPARTURE OF THE TORONTO COACH TERMINAL

On the morning of the departure to the west coastline of Canada, more specifically the Pacific Ocean that I intended to seek, I was both petrified and anxious.  Traveling alone was not my concern as I have always been such a brave sort and love challenging my limits… within reason of course! I don’t think a climb to the mountaintops of Vancouver ever entered my mind, not once! So, maybe not so brave, but curious.  Yes, that was it: I have always been a curious sort. 
That morning, my boyfriend had entered 3 famous quotations into my journal about travels.  He had written them in his own handwriting and had asked me to read them
before we set out for my departure. 
They read as follows:

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” --Mark Twain
“All that is gold does not glitter; not all those that wander are lost.  The old that is strong does not wither, Deep roots are not reached by the frost.” -- J.R.R. Tolkien

"Traveling is a brutality.  It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that is familiar comfort of home and friends.  You are continually off balance.  Nothing is yours except the essential things - air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky-all things moving towards the eternal, or what we imagine of it"
--Cesare Pavese

Nice, but not awe-inspiring enough for me to not reconsider what I was doing.  I swear if I could have gotten a refund on my ticket, I should have right there and then! But pursuing to endeavor I still managed to muster enough courage to check, double-check and triple-check everything I needed for my trip.  Organizing what to leave under the coach in a small suitcase, and keeping what I need to carry onboard.  Pills? I have a thyroid condition so I need them every day or I will die sooner than I should expect to. Ready, set, go! Out the door at last.  My computer!! No… cannot check emails, make postings, watch videos. It’s all behind me now.  It’s a cold morning and about 9:30 am in Toronto time.  Board the subway, off at Dundas, walk through the tunnel and I am at the Toronto Coach Terminal at Bay and Dundas West.  No! He’s leaving me. He drops off my suitcase by my side.  I have all my printed tickets for every destination I will go to.  I have everything, except my confidence.  I tell him to leave me alone because I need to depend on myself.  I can see his reflection in the window, he hesitantly walks away and turns around a few times expecting me to change my mind.  No! Go! He still comes back 10 minutes later, with an umbrella for me that he bought.  He kisses me again goodbye and says, “You may need this in Vancouver”…and then he’s gone. I stand in line with several others, as alone and as unsure as a kindergarten child on her first day of school.  But I’ve raised my own children and I know how they felt and still I am a child.  I know this all sounds all so melodramatic and I must admit I am being just a tad over the top here, but as I say I want you to experience as much as my trip as I did.  In the end you will understand… I hope. I was to board at 12:15 pm. the first coach to go to Sudbury with several stops in between.  The lineup of us is confused by 11:15 am.  Some are heading for Ottawa and others are going on my bus.  Although we are all lined up behind GATE 5 buses run in and out of there all day, and they drive within a yard of where you are standing.  Suitcases were not tagged.  Must do that in order for the baggage handlers to properly take your cargo from one bus to another to another to another… if all goes well and these handlers have had enough Christmas turkey and fixings and are alert my luggage will be at the end of the line waiting for me.  Time will tell. Departure of the Toronto Coach Terminal happens at last… at 12:35 pm.

DAY 1

NORTHBOUND TO SUDBURY


Just before slipping in my ear buds to listen to some jazz music .. the driver makes his first announcement .. "welcome passengers, our next destination is Sudbury.  Expected time of arrival will be about 5:30pm ... we will be making one rest stop along the way and a few more to pick up some more passengers -- just a reminder, please no smoking or alcohol on the bus and that includes the washroom..."  (wait! wasn't that a Greyhound bus where that horrific beheading occurred ? no matter, too late to get off now..)...a baby squeals in the back, returning me to my ear buds and some more jazz music.  I’m happy at the moment and just enjoying the sights for now... 

The bus makes a quick stop at Yorkdale Terminal to pick up a few more passengers before heading onto the 400 hwy northbound.  

Home made Rink in Bradford


Barrie
Barrie
While passing through Bradford, I took a picture of a small house by the highway which had an adjacent home-made ice rink.  A father and son were playing and I thought ..isn't this the same town Gretzy grew up? Guess the son’s dreams become the father’s legacy or is it the other way around? 

Barrie, known as "the Snowbelt" always seems to snow  -- even in the summertime… 





Georgian Bay Timmys and Gift Shop


A few hours on the road and we have our first rest stop in port Severn and Georgian Bay.  While inside, I had my first chance to get to know a few of the people I’ll be taking the trip with.  I wasn’t hungry yet, so just picked up a Timmy's coffee with the gift card I received as a Christmas gift.
"Inukshuks"


Parry Sound Rock Formations


Traveling further north towards  Parry Sound, I start noticing rock formations becoming higher and higher along the sides of the highway where dynamite was used to plow through many years ago to make way for transport.  Another peculiar sighting are stones that are piled on top of one another depicting human-like figures.  At this point, I’m not sure if it’s my imagination because I’ve never seen this sort of thing before. I figure though it must be some Native symbol of some sort… Ancient Native symbols used to ward off or welcome visitors? I'll have to check that out later…

Up North Country
Pickeral Lake


French River


Ice Huts
Town of McDougall and the bus is flying along the highway, I kind of muse at a passing OPP sign that reads, "Speed Kills"  . The sun begins to sneak below the horizon at 4:30 p.m., while passing Grundy Bay, Key River and Pickerel Lake.  French River is up ahead and I notice a few ice huts on the water! I hope those fishermen are well prepared for any mishaps! It's too soon, isn't it? I have an illogical fear of ice bergs, but not ice huts!

Arriving in Sudbury
As promised, we are now at the Sudbury Greyhound terminal about 5:30pm.  I ask a local if there’s a drug store around, and she just laughs at me saying, "Hun, this is Sunday night in Sudbury!  Not even a gas station is open now!"  The terminal is crowded and there’s a tiny room with a big man in it behind the cash.  He’s just ringing in an order and I quickly notice that there is nothing in that little room behind him that looks at all appetizing enough for me to eat, so I buy a pack of gum and chance the coffee.  I then plug my cell into the wall outlet to charge up for the distance ahead.  No connectivity !! I’m still in Ontario too! I am not happy with “WIND”! Should have went with Koodo..I never listen…

We’re here for an hour before we are called back to our bus …I am still a little confused at this point as to the procedures, but I am sure I'll get the hang of it. Already starting to attach myself to a few familiar faces :) ...just like in school!

Sudbury Terminal
Sudbury Terminal
A young man behind the ticket counter helps me with my cell by resetting my SIM card. It works! Two messages from my boyfriend pop up.  He’s worried already! How sweet I think.  I make a quick call to him to let him know where I am and in the following days to come he is my lifeline to my friends and family as he has all the important numbers to call locally.

FURTHER NORTH TO SAULT STE MARIE

Espanola, Blind River

Found my seat near the back.  Our bus had been gone for servicing which means refueling and cleaning.  A handsome man with gorgeous green eyes and 3 piercings on his lower lip sits beside me.  We talk for the next three hours.  Passing through Espanola, he talks about family there and of his three year old daughter whose changed his life.  He mentions his ex girlfriend had hurt him taking everything.  The only thing he wanted after the breakup was his dog, and she wouldn’t give him that much.  We stop in Blind River for a short break in Tims.  He buys me a coffee and I notice under his coat he looks very thin and sickly.  When we return to the bus, he says he wants to tell me something but is afraid it will upset me. I told him it wouldn’t.  He says he has AIDS and got it sharing needles.  I tried not to act alarmed so that my fear wouldn't hurt him.  He told me he is sure that he saw a tear appear but I am sure it didn’t show.  I will remember the last thing he said to me as he moved his way off the bus, “remember Michelle, if you ever get to a point where you just don’t feel like doing something—do it.” And with that I knew going to Vancouver was the right thing to do. 

NORTHWEST TO THUNDER BAY

Wawa, White River, Marathon

Slipping off my ear buds, I drift on and off for an unsettled sleep for about 3 hours when I heard an announcement from the driver. “Folks, we are in WAWA now for a 10 minute break so if anyone wants to get something here, there’s a Macs Milk store. ”  I look at my watch and it shows 2:20 am. 

3:30 am. An hour later, a driver change happens in White River ..can’t take photos at night.. I am still trying to sleep on two seats on a bus. I use my sweater as a pillow and my large down-filled coat as a blanket.  My head is on the arm rest and I am curled into a fetal position as best as I can do.  Very undignified, for a lady to be sleeping like this, I know, but you get what you pay for.  I think at one time I have my feet up on the window.  Lovely.  My last thoughts are tomorrow I will wake up in Thunder Bay..

DAY 2

WESTBOUND TO WINNIPEG, MANITOBA

Upsula, Dryden, Kenora

Thunder Bay Railway
Thunder Bay Terminal


Early Morning in Thunder Bay




He must be freezing!  The Great Canadian Oil Change?
9:00 a.m. – Thunder Bay for an hour.   My body feels like it's  been spending the last 5 hours in a suitcase! HA!  Its about -28 *C!  I can see the Timmy’s sign up ahead about a mile into the distance and I don’t want to go!   ..”if ever you don’t feel like doing something—do it!” Ok ok.. so with my long black down-filled coat, hat, gloves and scarf --I’m off.  A couple of guys from the bus catch up to me! We look like the only 3 in town and I'm starting to feel like an extra in a Stephen King novel. We eat in silence and take our coffees back with us.  I depart from them make a call ..

10:15 am. Back on board the bus.  Joe sits next to me and he can’t wait to see my reaction when we get to Vancouver.  He lives there so he seems to know how I'll react.  He tells me I’ll be peeling off layers of clothing by the time we get passed the Rockies! Ha! Right now I find that hard to believe.


Train spotting in Upsula
 
12:30 pm.- Passing through Upsula – Ontario is huge! A never ending display of evergreens that go on and on for miles.  Everything looks like a continuous mural of a Thomas Kincade Christmas card.

Dryden View
A & W in Dryden..yum!
1:30 p.m. – Dryden – Bonny Bay- 1 hr lunch break…A & W is the only choice we have.  I get a burger and poutine!  I’m already planning ahead for the night so I can sleep in my suitcase again..

We are now in Central Time



Kenora
3:45 p.m. – Entering Kenora! Lake Louise.  Oh my Gosh this place is stunning.  I hope someday I can come back here in the summertime.  It’s so beautiful here ! This almost makes everything worth while up to this point.  My spirits are lifted.
Kenora views

6:00 p.m -Ingolf- 30 min dinner break

Layover in Winnipeg for 5 hours!
9:00 p.m.  Winnipeg Manitoba- A Layover for 2 1/2 hours! Bus change.  A "layover" is an interruption in schedule.  Most travelers hate them.  I can learn to hate them :)  This is also when most mix ups occur with your luggage..

11:30 p.m. Aboard now.. will wake in Alberta...I hope 

 DAY 3

WESTBOUND TO CALGARY

Jeez am I still on a bus??

Early morning in Brandon, Manitoba
Travelled all night long and woke up at  7:40a.m. in Brandon, Manitoba for Breakfast

Someone near the front of the bus was talking loud making conversation that it was Brandon Manitoba where a man got on the bus (Vince Li) and brutally decapitated and dismembered Tim McLean on a greyhound bus. I felt sick to stomach.  

Early Morning Regina
8:00 am. Regina, Saskatchewan- I have slept 4 hours in 44 and I all the sounds around me seem irritating.  If I close my eyes for a second, I feel dizzy.  Is this all worth it?

Regina morning
9:30 am. Moose Jaw.  The flatlands.  Boy they aren't kidding.  There is nothing but one long horizontal line for miles and miles, with the occasional vertical line from a distance.  A flat blanket of dirty snow and I am drifting off into sleep…

11:00 am. Swift Current
Approaching Alberta
I am almost running out of roadside cash.  

1:30 p.m. Maple Creek-  94 clicks to Medicine Hat!

"Inukshuks" as collectibles
Heart attack to go!
ENTERING ALBERA! 2:00 p.m. A lot of the snow is gone- Medicine Hat and I’m starting to see some rolling hills.  Gift shop has a collection of those shapes I saw in Parry Sound! Turns out they are called “Inukshuks” and they are very popular land markings by the Natives to mark off territory.  I ordered a poutine with gravy! 

"Cactus" dessert plant in the snow!
5:40 Pm. Arrive in Calgary! Return at 10:00 p.m. Gate 10 for final bus to Vancouver!!
more hills developing now








A woman in the back of the bus as we are leaving starts an argument and I intervene to stick up for the underdog…

Calgary
7:00 p.m. Calgary Bus Terminal We are all lining up for the final bus to Vancouver.  A female guard gives me a hard time because I questioned her instructions.  I stick up for myself and she tells me to get in the back of the line.  I tell her I’m not moving and she says if I don’t move she will divert me to another bus in the morning :/ I moved.  Everyone on the bus were on my side..and apparently security in Calgary are well..you know.  I figured I didn’t travel this far to let some high on her horse security guard center me out in front of dozens of people, so I stayed quiet. 


Stopped documenting journal – too upset and exhausted- traveled through Golden, Revelstoke, Sicamous, Salmon Arm

MORNING OF DAY 4- VANCOUVER

Vancouver terminal-first glimpse of a mountain!
6:00 am. Bus finally arrives in Vancouver British Columbia. 

Guess what?  My luggage is not on the bus and it wasn't just me -10 of us

Customer service in hiding! :)
Joe is fuming..together we walk to customer service.  They go out onto the bus platform looking for our luggage.  Comes back with an empty cart and tells us that there are 3 more buses coming in and we are just going to have to wait.

8:00am. Friend from Holland is on the payphone, the couple with the complaining woman mope on a bench, the Korean guy has his usual permanent smile on his face, the young cute couple are sleeping and me? I am on my 3rd coffee running around taking pictures inside and outside the Vancouver depot and you guessed it…with no coat on!  I leave my coat and things with Joe and cannot believe how warm it is here in Vancouver! 


My first site of a mountain near East Hasting street.  I am energized! Forget sleep, I’ll do that later!

11:00 am. Luggage arrives! We all exchanged phone numbers and I promised to call Joe (who lives in Vancouver) He begged me, literally not to take up the room at the Patricia Hotel.  Turns out there is a reason why I got this room so cheap..it is considered in Vancouver to be located in the “Devil’s Heart”! Directly one block away from Pills Corner.  Crack heads, prostitutes, drug dealers, the whole bit.  Its just me, Mary Tyler Moore turning the World on with her smile! I was told not to go out at night and I didn’t.  Joe also wanted me to call him, but I was uncomfortable with that since I really didn’t know him, so I was happy enough just being me against the world.

Never judge a book by its cover!! 
Check check out that view? The sink is beside the tv! lol
11:30 am. Quick cab ride to the Patricia Hotel in Vancouver.  The lobby is adorable with pictures of Santas and lights and trees everywhere. A cool piano that I got to play on (I have a secret love for pianos!) and a cute male desk clerk that was helpful and gave me maps and outlined different bus routes and places for me to go! It was like a diamond in the ruff. My room was very small with no view, but that’s ok because I was planning on just sleeping there anyways.  There was a double bed, stand up shower and a toilet that was so close to each other, I could have probably went to the bathroom and showered at the same time! There was a sink by the front door and a t.v. with a remote control, and other than putting playing the weather channel quietly until I drifted to sleep I never watched it anyways.  It wasn’t perfect for everyone, but for me it was.

Now for the pictures of Vancouver..well no journal entries…I will let the pictures speak for themselves!
Burard Street and Docks by Stanley Park
Art Gallery and Edgewater Casino






Streets of Vancouver!


Garage for expensive cars..check out how clean the floor is!

















Awesome Aerials!














Places to call home-nothing less than $500,000!


















Places to shop!
Here I am back on the subway!

































































There are so many other photographs I have, but I think these are my favorites.  British Columbia is every bit as beautiful as I was told, and I did in fact take off layers of clothing just like Joe said :)















DAY 1- HOMEWARD BOUND



Coquitlam to change bus
Gate 19 in Vancouver Terminal
Departure at 5:30 from Hotel.  Was able to get a few more pics on the way back home of the Rockies, due to the fact we passed them in the daylight hours.


Greyhound did a few screw ups on the buses and we changed buses 3 times in the morning.

11:30am, Kamloops! Gorgeous city!  
Heading East (still in B.C.)


The Rockies


Gorgeous scenery!


More breathtaking views!




My favorite photograph I took!


Imagine living here?

2PM- town of Chase just below the mountains, an IGA still exists here!

The green of British Columbia is leaving me now and I’m starting to see more snow coming back again. 

3:00pm – 3:30- Entering Salmon Arm and Sycamus- I want to come back here some day.

Revelstoke...
Swift current, Moose Jaw, Regina…

Haven’t been recording much in my journal..just anxious to get back! Brandon, Wolsely, Winnipeg we have an hour and a half layover ..Broadview..

DAY 2- THUNDER BAY..STILL HOMEBOUND!

Sat in the terminal from 9:15 am. – 10:45 in a ridiculous lineup..the driver never showed up and that screwed things up for 3 routes!

12:35 pm. Traveling through Rainbow Falls (*WOW*), Marathon and Georgian Bay!
My camera died on me!! 
3:30pm.-In Ontario at last! An hour later we are in White River at another A&W …

Its now about 7:00 pm and I am counting the hours until I am back home when the driver makes an announcement that apparently WaWa road is closed but he’ll know more when we get closer..

8:20pm- In Wawa now and apparently the highway is closed and they will not let us go through until the Police give us the go ahead.  We are all now in a strange party mood and are sitting in a quaint restaurant having some burgers and fries like this is just a slight delay….

9:45 pm – Finally the bus moves to Bristol Hotel in Wawa..where we are told we will just have to sit and wait…and wait and wait..until further notice..

The driver abandons us, turns off the heat, takes the keys and goes inside rents a room with the bus driver from the bus next to us, and they both sleep the night, while all of us passengers are sitting there wondering …what just happened?

DAY 3- HOMEBOUND


For 14 long, grueling hours we sit and wait for a word from someone ..the next morning an officer shows up and tells us the road is now clear..with no explanation as to why we were left stuck there. Oh they did say that someone had complained about the noise on the bus in the night while she was trying to sleep! I know exactly who it was too that complained but I kept my mouth shut.  A few minutes before departure at 9:45 am. An OPP comes onboard asking for someone by the name, “Cameron” no one speaks…then he says, “alright all men take out your I.D.”…then Cameron holds up his hand to indicate he is in fact, “Cameron”…great…we all sat all night unsupervised on an abandoned vehicle with a wanted man..he gets escorted off and we are all in shock.  In call fairness to “Cameron” though, he seemed like a good guy.

Well there is one consolation in all this madness, due to last night’s ordeal, they put us on an express bus, no stop-overs- just one bus directly homebound.  Here’s an article I found about the overnight bus adventure:

I had met some great people, and saw some amazing things from the moment I started this dream to see the ocean.  Like some before, I took in a deep breath and cried.  Alone but elated.  The memory sticks with me like so many memories.  Some of them hurt and some are pleasant.  But it's all part of the experience of living and in that experience, we learn.  We can't run from pain or problems and in the end we aren't supposed to anyways.  Because it didn't matter how long I traveled, those memories didn't fade.  They aren't meant to fade.  Days have past since I was standing there by the Ocean, the same Ocean I brought myself to without guidance but sheer determination.  Even if I never get the chance to return, I will know that I am able to accomplish what I set out to do, like so many of us.  Our destiny is our own choice and we are the captains of our own ship and for this I am grateful.


I had entered the final famous quotation in my own handwriting about travel.

It read like this:

 “No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.” –  Lin Yutang