We started to plan this trip around the Pacific North West over a year ago, when, frankly, it didn’t seem entirely certain that travel as we knew it before 2020 would ever resume again. It was a sort of act of faith… a peg in the ground that we would, and could, return to a level of normality, regain our lives back again in some respect as they had been before. Frankly at this point, at our age, it’s more critical than for younger people. We haven’t got a lot of time to waste…. life is ticking…
So…. off and on over the last year, I’ve been putting little bits and pieces of the plan in place. By the end of last year travel to the USA opened up again and we put our toes in the water (literally) and spent the winter months in Florida. That gave us confidence and we took the plunge and booked our flights using an American Express Companion Voucher we’ve been spending toward over lockdown. If you’re not familiar with this, basically a feature of the Amex BA credit card is that if you spend £12000 in a year on it, which you earn Avios BA points on, you get a free companion ticket for any flight you spend those Avios on. It used to be a better deal than it is now. Like all things BA, they’ve been chipping away at it ……
We fly out on BA on 3rd August to Seattle, and back with them on 6th October, also from Seattle. I wish it was anyone else just about… they are shockers… but maybe they’ll have improved by then. Or not…..
Our car has been booked with turo.com We had such a great experience with turo touring Florida over this past winter that it was a no-brainer to book them again for this long road trip. We have found a Toyota Prius hybrid which is pleasing as it will allow us to save on petrol costs too.
All the accommodation is now booked. The national park accommodations we booked last year, having to take the risk on that, and the rest in the early spring of this year. Apart from when we are in the NP lodges, it is a mix of Marriott hotels on points, Airbnb and then a selection of motels and hotels through booking.com and direct. I got loads of help from the forums on Tripadvisor and from reading, reading, reading guidebooks and maps. Nearer the time I need to book ferries in British Columbia, theatre tickets and some other excursions. We have already booked white water rafting through Hell’s Canyon and also a trip to see Grizzly bears feasting on spawning salmon in the rivers of British Columbia, guided by the local First Nation tribe. Those are the two big highlights in a way of the whole trip, although there are so many more.
We explore large areas of Oregon and Washington and we dip into northern California for some giant redwoods, into western Idaho, and several areas of British Columbia, Canada. We are driving a loop there called the Selkirk Loop which takes us up into the Kootenay Rockies and some of the Canadian national parks and then head west to Vancouver Island and explore the remote far north and west of that island. In the USA states we pick up the tracks of Lewis and Clark and also the Oregon Trail, both of which we followed in our trip through the Rockies in 2019. We also visit Mt. Rainier, Mt Hood, Mt. St Helens and Crater Lake National Parks.
As always, we are on a budget and will be mostly self catering, so as far as possible we have booked accommodation where we have some sort of kitchenette. Sometimes it’s just a microwave and a fridge. Other times it’s a full kitchen. Occasionally – the national parks for instance – there is no possibility of self catering a hot meal. So, we will use our portable cooler for a cold breakfast and a packed lunch and we’ll go out for dinner. Yes, we’ll be visiting Walmart on day one to pick up another Igloo on Wheels.
The next few months will see the last of the arrangements being put in place and also we have to get a fair bit of walking in, to prepare ourselves for an active holiday with frequent hiking, albeit short, flattish hikes. We (or rather, I) have to know our limits and the lockdowns of covid hasn’t helped my personal fitness….
We are really excited for this long trip. The road trip through the Rockies was exceptional and we hope this one will be equally as good.