After a road trip around BC, at the end of April 2012 I headed back to Fernie from Calgary on a Greyhound bus (please listen whilst reading LOL). The greyhound is about CA$90 and an easy journey. I joined friends ready for a road trip in Lyn’s Buick, named Hank. I had lived with these friends in Fernie for three brilliant months, mainly snowboarding (ok and partying).
The four of us were heading across the border, toward Seattle via Spokane to eventually reach Portland, Oregon. Click here to see the route to Seattle.
I would be travelling with the guys for just under 2 weeks and splitting from them in Portland. They were to head back up North, I was to head South, eventually travelling down to Nevada.
It was still pretty cold, but the sun was (just about) out as we excitedly packed the trunk with our four pretty small lives.
Crossing the border, US to Canada
This was my first time going across the border by vehicle from Canada to the US. Grab some US money before you cross if you can. It’s easier if you have cash to pay the border crossing fee, which is around US$6, but they do take cards. You pay US to get into the US, and Canadian when you enter Canada.
Spending Canadian money in the US
Generally you cannot spend Canadian money in the US, apart from a few places close to the border (I once got caught on a toll outside of Chicago with no cash apart from some Canadian coinage; they begrudingly took that). However, I’ve discovered most places in Canada are happy to take US coins. I can’t confirm notes (bills).
If you are in the US, take your ID with you
We stopped over for one night in Spokane. We did not get to know Spokane terribly well. We stayed in a cheap motel and ate cheap food. I suppose I have to add (as I have kindly been reminded) that I did not take my ID out with me. Take your ID with you EVERYWHERE in America. How the guys laughed as I was refused a beer at 31 (oldest of the group).
In Washington State, whilst you can sell alcohol in a grocery or a convenience store at 18 (if supervised), the legal age to consume, sell, transport, or serve alcohol is 21. Servers are really strict, as state law says they can go to jail or be fined (as an individual) for selling alcohol to a minor.
There is no actual law in the United States requiring citizens to carry identification of any kind. But you will not get served. Just looking 72 with grey hair is not enough. Carry your government issued ID – a drivers licence or a passport.
Seattle, Washington, US
It was pretty exciting hitting Seattle. My first big American city. All of us with limited money. Four of us sharing a room. The only food we could afford was McDonalds. A haven for the poor. Of course, we were all saving money to go out on my birthday in a few days. Waaaaaay more important that eating.
What to do in Seattle, Washington, US
We each bought a Seattle City Pass. At time of writing it is $74 for 5 amusements, which would cost you $129 to go to all of them individually. We did the Space Needle, the Seattle Aquarium, EMP Museum, Woodland Park Zoo and a Harbour Tour by Argosy Cruises, on which you are bound to see seals (yey). All of the attractions were pretty cool.
Travelling means I am pretty tight on money, but in my first US city I am so glad I bought the Seattle City Pass.
I loved the EMP Museum. If you like music do this, it is worth every penny. Buying tickets for the EMP museum online is $5 cheaper than on the door. EMP stands for “Experience Music Project” in case you were wondering.
Pike Place Market, Seattle
We had beautiful weather in Seattle: hot, hot sun. The shorts were on, white legs out, as we wondered around the infamous Pike Place Market, (1st & Pike in Downtown Seattle). If Seattle is the only city you visit on the coast try Chowder, a thick creamy seafood stew served inside a large bread roll. NOM! Chowder is readily available in Pike Place Market.
Far too much fun to be had spending money in the Magic Shop, with coin operated fortune teller and Elvis.
We bought a picnic and sat, with the rest of Seattle, on the grass overlooking Elliot Bay. When the sun comes out the entertainment comes out – hugs on sale for JUST A DOLLAR (Lyn got one of those), preachers, sellers, buskers, dancers and painters all bustled in and out of our day.
Downtown Seattle is also really nice and easy to walk around. There are some lovely shops… we will avoid those seeing as we are travellers
Drinks out in Seattle
The 23rd, my Birthday, was the day we did the Aquarium and then spoilt ourselves with dinner at a sea food restaurant at the waterfront. All of us dressed in shorts and flip flops, after a couple of happy hour beers in Red Robin… classy!
Then we rolled into a bar called The Central Saloon – claiming to be the oldest saloon in Seattle. This bar was full of character, had great staff and a few fun loving locals. Good times.