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WHAT was I thinking?! Arriving 4pm at SEATAC to head to BC

WHAT was I thinking?! Arriving 4pm at SEATAC to head to BC

Old May 12th, 2007, 07:05 PM
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WHAT was I thinking?! Arriving 4pm at SEATAC to head to BC

OK, let me just say this first off: My brain must've gone on vacation already. There is another couple who started traveling with us last year, and whom we wanted to show British Columbia and the Canadian Rockies. I got caught up in a fare sale, and booked us all to fly from Orlando to Seattle on Friday, 9/7 (after Labor Day that same week). Okay, but our normally preferred flight wasn't available, so I chose a good connection (or so I thought at the time) later in the day. Now, we arrive at 4pm. Which means we'll probably be leaving SEATAC around 5pm during Friday rush hour, thinking we only have a few hours drive to Hope, BC.

Are you done laughing yet? Probably not. I am throwing myself on all of your tender mercies, in the hopes that this can be salvaged.

Here's the deal: Our friends have never traveled until last fall, when we took them to Tahoe. They are really excited to see British Columbia. I really want to show them some great mountains, and also fit in Vancouver, Butchart Gardens, and a quick Okanagan trip (more for us, we love the wine). We had 11 nights/10 days (not counting airplane travel); I just pushed it out to 12 nights/11 days. Oh, no -- laughing again, I see.

We have 5 nights in our timeshare in Canmore checking in on Sunday 9/9. I can move it around a bit if need be.

I was planning on spending the last day in Buchart, taking either Tsawwassen or Horseshoe bay, returning to Anacortes or Tsawwassen and spending the night in a SEATAC hotel (Priceline) before leaving in the morning.

So here is the question: On Friday when we arrive, is it possible to make Vancouver or Hope without dragging in late at night, or is it better to head east for some place like Wenatchee, and routing up through there? And is it feasible to work in a ferry crossing somewhere along the way/way back?

Also, DH would really like to stop at some Okanagan wineries on the way back (he thinks the extra space will be less of a problem then, okay....) to pick up some wine.

I know this is a lot of driving, and would prefer that a full day driving include several stops for exploration, meals, etc. It's too pretty, and I'm too tired of long days spent just driving.

I've been going round in circles, so any suggestions would really make my day. Thanks, Sandy
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Old May 12th, 2007, 07:11 PM
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I don't really see a problem. I would either get an airport hotel at SeaTac upon arrival, get a good night's sleep and head north early Saturday AM. Or get your car and drive to Vancouver when you arrive. It's only 3 hours or so straight up the freeway. No, I wouldn't go to Wenatchee instead.
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Old May 12th, 2007, 07:46 PM
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Or, you could stay in Seattle on Friday and drive to Vancouver the next day.

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Old May 12th, 2007, 08:13 PM
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With respect to the other poster, I would budget five hours on a Friday evening to Vancouver to account for traffic. I haven't driven up to Canada through the Wenatchee route, traffic will certainly be lighter, the 90 will not be bad, but going north all roads are small and twisty. It will be slow going as well.

I agree that Saturday morning will take about three hours to Vancouver - maybe you could spend the night in Seattle, SEA to VAN on Saturday morning, enjoy VAN for a couple of days, and move your Canmore check in back?

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Old May 12th, 2007, 08:22 PM
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It's really not the traffic that made me suggest staying over night in Seattle one way or the other. Although I'll agree minimum 3 to possibly 5 hours would be a better estimate for the drive north.

My reasoning for getting a hotel in Seattle is that after a cross-country flight with one connection... no way would I want to immediately do a long drive at night in an area I am not familiar with.
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Old May 12th, 2007, 09:07 PM
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I actually would agree with heading over the mountains and making your way to Canmore via the east side. Maybe stop in Wenatchee (or Leavenworth if you can stand it) on Friday, then maybe Nelson BC on Saturday. Try heading to Nelson via Washington SR 20 and SR 31 through Metalline Falls - gorgeous country that time of year. (Rent a copy of Roxanne with Steve Martin before - filmed in Nelson.) Then the first ferry you take can be the one of the cool free ferries across Kootenay Lake or Upper Arrow Lake (aka Columbia River) on your way up to TC1 and Banff.

Heading northwest to Vancouver is out of the way if you want to be in Canmore on Sunday; this way you can see some excellent old west scenery before you hit the mountains.
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Old May 12th, 2007, 09:18 PM
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No one's mentioned this, but I think I would drive from Seatac to Bellingham on Friday and overnight there. It's only a couple of hours (maybe a little more if traffic is bad) but you can get there at a relatively early hour, get a good night's sleep and do the border crossing early on Saturday. Besides, Bellingham is a nice town. Another side note - crossing the border at Lynden or Sumas is generally easier than at Blaine.
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Old May 12th, 2007, 09:28 PM
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OK I like everyone's other ideas better than mine
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Old May 13th, 2007, 03:41 AM
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If you decide on the Bellingham route, consider stopping at Fairhaven. Stay at the Fairhaven Inn and spending part of your evening walking around that most delightful area. Visit the Village Bookstore and Colophon Cafe.
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Old May 13th, 2007, 07:54 AM
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If you're going to drive to Bellingham on Friday, you may as well continue to Vancouver. It's the first 30-35 miles north of Seattle on I-5 that become a parking lot during evening rush hour.
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Old May 13th, 2007, 08:39 AM
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If I recall, the traffic doesn't start to thin out until past Everett? I had initially thought to swing east at Bellingham and cross over at Aldergrove or Abbottsford. But, that doesn't help the traffic out of Seattle.

We did a similar thing a couple of years ago, arriving in Seattle around noon and going all the way to Victoria via Tsawwwssen. Actually, it wouldn't have been too bad if we had been able to eat a decent dinner along the way. As it was, we dragged into Victoria about 8pm tired and hungry.

We've also driven from Seattle airport to Osoyoos. Pretty scenic (at least as far as Cashmere, then it get a bit dry), but I don't think we'd get anything out of the drive if it's dark. I think the sun may not set until around 7:30p in early September??

Our friends are excited to get into Canada, and the view at Hope is such a great intro to the mountains. From Wenatchee, we could either go up into the Okanagan, or over through Spokane -- although I have not ever gone that way. How's the scenery? Arid?
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Old May 13th, 2007, 09:04 AM
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Our friends are excited to get into Canada, and the view at Hope is such a great intro to the mountains. From Wenatchee, we could either go up into the Okanagan, or over through Spokane -- although I have not ever gone that way. How's the scenery? Arid?

The route I suggested would go from Wenatchee up along US 97 initially along the Columbia (red rocks, orchards, a bit arid) to SR 20, which cuts across the Ponderosa Pine (WA Okanogan - spelled differently from Canada's) country to Colville, then through the drop-dead gorgeous Pend Oreille country up to the border. Alternatively, you can continue east on US 2 to SR 25 then north along the side of the Columbia R. and Lake Roosevelt (dry red rock country) all the way up to the border near Trail BC.

Going east, once you leave the orchard country around Wenatchee it's quite arid for a bit, then you enter wheat farming country and eventually dry Pine country until you get up to the potholes around Pend Oreille Co. - beautiful little rock-surrounded lakes with White Pine, Ponderosas, etc. along the fringes.

By the time you get to Nelson and into the Kootenays it definitely feels like the Rockies.

It's really a gorgeous and interesting route from Seattle to Banff/Jasper, apparently not well known.

As far as daylight leaving Seattle, sunset is around 7:30 PM, so if you're away from the airport by 5 or so you ought to be able to make Wenatchee (via I-405 to I-90 to US 97) by 7:30 or 8 at the latest; you can use the carpool lanes to avoid most stop-and-go leaving the metro areas. Or if you're tired and want to make it a shorter day (given you're starting on the east coast) stop for the night in Cle Elum or Roslyn, maybe have an early breakfast (after all you'll be on east coast time) at the Roslyn Cafe, made famous by the TV series "Northern Exposure," for a hearty and interesting start to the day.

Heading up I-90 from the airport into the Cascades will get your friends into mountain scenery like bingo. No need to wait for Hope.
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Old May 13th, 2007, 09:05 AM
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Yes, the traffic going north on I-5 will be very heavy all the way through Marysville.

We have taken the route through Wenatchee up through the Okanagon and really enjoyed it.
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