I did it! I finally got out of the Okanagan Valley! Since February 7th I have not ventured further than Penticton, and that only three times.
My four daughters have all been holed up in their covid “bubble”, all very careful. However my eldest daughter decided it was time to get me outside of Oliver, for a bit of a break, so she drove from the Island for a short visit and took me back home with her.
As we headed out over highway #3 and into the Similkameen valley, we enjoyed the changing scenery, stopping in Princeton only for a bathroom break and then over the highway towards the coast. It seemed strange to see that all the overhead signs, that normally showed road conditions, were flashing Covid warnings and advising people to stay apart. We ran into the usual cloud as we headed down into Hope and decided to pick up a coffee in Chilliwack.
First we stopped for gas then into the little shop for a coffee refill and restrooms. Coffee happily served but “Closed due to Covid 19.” Posted on washroom doors. Dicing with death we crossed the road to a Burger King, their washrooms also posted closed signs. The McDonald’s also had the same signs in effect. By this time we were getting somewhat desperate so drove to the mall which, very thankfully, had toilets available to uses. How come food places are allowed to serve you food and drink but do not have to provide washroom facilities? It seems wrong. This is a well used area and the first stop for many people coming off the freeway for a quick meal, a coffee and a restroom break, so even if they posted a use at your own risk sign, and a bottle of hand sanitizer available, it would be enough to get the patron comfortable.
A long but uneventful drive to the ferry for Nanaimo, arriving in lots of time for our reservation, so we sat and drank our homemade soup, in the car. Unfortunately, we were not on a deck with windows so it was a very dark ride over the water. Enough light coming in from the front of the ship and the emergency lighting on the ferry walls, but too dim to read.
However, we were entertained by the family in the vehicle in front of us. Having three young children must have been cause for frequent bathroom trips, with the youngest child putting up a fuss at the facemask rule. Every time daddy took one kid upstairs, mommy decided to tidy the car, which involved blankets, pillows and toys being dragged out, shook and folded, before being returned.
On one return journey one kid decided to throw up, very generously, over the other kids and assorted blankets. The child himself was covered with some green goo, maybe a mint ice cream. Poor mom doing clean-up with tissues and spit was obviously getting to the end of a very tiring day. Each of the kids was changed into clean clothing while the stinky clothes and all the blankets were stuffed into a garbage bag. Having endured many similar journeys with a car sick kid, I empathised with mom, doing her best to make the best of a bad situation, while dad stood by pretending he was not part of the group.
I remember, many years ago, travelling from Port Coquitlam to visit my cousin in Washington. Dave was really into eclipses of the sun and the viewing was going to be better down there. We piled the kids and an overnight bag, for our short trip and set off. At the time our four daughters were all under twelve and always fought for window space in the car. We had invested in a huge, older station wagon with three rows of seats, so everyone had a window. End of problem, I thought!!!! However the very back seat had nice big windows but they didn’t open, so were always a cause for a fight. The rule was whoever has an opening window on the outward journey, trades for a closed window on the return.
This was accepted but still grumbled about. One of the younger girls was not a good traveller, but still had to take her turn in the back seat, with her large coffee can, at the ready. I’m not sure why but as we were barrelling down Highway 5, she decided to ignore the coffee can and threw up into the hoodie of the child sitting in front of her. As you can imagine, complete pande!monium broke out. Pulling into the next rest area, the poor victim of the projectile vomit was hauled into the rest room, helped out of the pink hoodie and I proceeded to wash out the nasty stuff, in the sink. I then had to try to dry the garment under a hand dryer, which was very ineffective.
Having very few items with us the child finished up wearing my sweater while I wore my coat. Needless to say, the sickly kid was never, ever denied the window seat again. This same child got us out of many border inquisitions as I would roll the window down and the stink of the contents of the coffee can, floating through the window, would overcome the guard as he leaned I towards us. The pale little face announcing “I’m sick” would ensure that we were waved on our way with minimum fuss. I guess everything has a bright side, if you decide to see it!
Anyway, here I sit being pampered by my eldest daughter who thinks I am well past my prime and need to be waited on hand and foot. Who am I to destroy her illusion of her poor old mother, who cannot fend for herself. I wonder how long I can get away with this life style before she decides it’s time I was packed back off to Oliver.
Meanwhile, I will enjoy it while it lasts.