We woke up in Hope, BC once again, this time for the leg home. It is raining here again. I think it rains most of the winter here. There is snow at higher elevations, so we know what we can look forward to on the drive home.
Our first stop was Our Lady of Hope Catholic Church in Hope. It was literally 5 houses from the hotel, but we drove anyway since we will be leaving for home once Mass is done. Mass was lovely, father even gave us a special travelling blessing before Mass was over. This was an awesome way to start our day and our final push to home.
We grabbed breakfast at Tim Horton’s and got Tim Horton’s tea. Tim Horton’s, how we have missed you! We also changed from our church clothes into our travelling clothes. You want to be prepared for travelling in the mountains and dresses just wouldn’t cut it!
Go big or go home! Our first challenge of the day was the Coquihalla, or as we know it from the show on Discovery Channel – “Highway Through Hell”. The rain in Hope quickly turned to snow as we gained elevation. About 15 minutes into our drive we saw a huge line of trucks stopped in the chain up zone, putting chains on their truck tires. Three police cars were there as well making sure they did it right and checking their paperwork. Foreshadowing things to come!
The first summit we reached was Coquihalla summit. It was high, very snow covered and slippery. Our range estimate dropped to -5% remaining at our destination, which was still over an hour away. Mike tested our traction and brakes…an important step to understanding the handling of the car in snow, I know, but nerve wracking to say the least!
I probably should have slept through this part of the drive, it probably would have been easier on Mike and me! Dropping back to a lower elevation from the first summit helped regain some energy from regeneration, but then up another summit! Trucks were going very slow (I would have been perfectly happy to go the same speed they were going ;-). Some cars were going very fast and we were in between which, as a passenger, felt like we were flying, even though we were not.
Much of this road was slushy and icy underneath. Plows had got to some of it, but not all so some spots were very snow covered. We hydroplaned on the slush a few times which was scary. We slowed down even more, which helped with this as well as with our energy consumption. By the time we got to Merrit, I thought we were out of the worst of it, but then you see another chain up location and you know that “here we go again”.
The second leg of the highway past Merrit was the same as the first. At altitude it was slippery and slushy. We saw one SUV spun around and beat up in between the two highways. The vehicle looked beat up, but just on the outside. Plows had not yet made it here, they were still working on the West side of the road.
By the time we got to the last descent into Kamloops, we had recouped enough energy to be at 3% at destination. I have never been so happy to see a Salmon – the Salmon statue at the Kamloops Super Charger. Ever since I saw the weather forecast for today, I had been dreading that leg of the journey, and I was glad when it was over. Thank you St. Christopher!
We charged to full (about 1 hour and 15 minutes) at Kamloops since our next leg was another long one to Revelstoke. Mike and Samantha walked to the mall to go to the bathroom and came back with Orange Julius’. Awesome sauce! The snow had turned to rain at this altitude and the cloud cover was so thick it looked like dusk, even though it was only noon.
Our next leg was through the rain to Revelstoke, although it was nice to be able to see the scenery, as it was dark last time we travelled this road. The kids worked on their homework and reading as we drove today. They have been fabulous! Forty hours of time in the car is a lot! They have been so patient and easy going through all of it. It was funny, as we drove by Skytrek and Enchanted Forest, Amelia remarked that the drive to the Enchanted Forest will never seem long again after this trip! Funny how your perspective can change!
Still raining when we hit Revelstoke and now it was dark as well. We stopped at the Best Western Super Charger here to charge. As we were waiting, three pickup trucks stopped to stay at the hotel. They were carrying two snowmobiles each. All I could think is “where would they be doing that now?” It has been raining on the drive since the Coquihalla, we haven’t seen snow.
On our drive, to Golden, we found snow. In Glacier National Park it started snowing and by the looks of the sides of the road, there has been a lot of snow here! The lines on the road here are not well defined and with the show and slush, Mike said it was the hardest driving of the trip so far (besides the Coquihalla). I guess this is where they were probably snowmobiling!
Down from the summit in Golden it was only rain again. Mike dropped off at Boston Pizza for dinner and then went to the Super Charger to plug in. We ate at Boston Pizza, which was a nice last meal for the trip. The food was good, but they sat us on the empty part of the restaurant and kept forgetting we were there, so the service wasn’t the greatest.
Fed, we decided to walk back to the charger with Mike, but Amelia forgot her coat so Mike gave her his coat. It wasn’t very far, but it was a brisk walk for sure! The temperature here was 3C, but it felt more like -3C! What a nice dad Amelia has <3!
Off to our last Super Charger in Canmore! Hopefully the roads are as clear as they are here in Golden! We have made pretty good time today and did really good on energy consumption considering the weather, so far anyway!
Yoho was our next adventure! As we increased in altitude, the rain turned into heavier snow. The drifts here were the largest so far in our trip! We saw a semi on it’s side in the ditch. The snow started coming down harder and the sign at the summit told the truckers to chain up. As we rounded the corner there were dozens of trucks chaining up. Then as we descended more, we came across more trucks, but these ones were not stopped to chain up…the highway was a parking lot! We got stopped in time, but now we are stopped and we don’t know why. Now we wait on the highway between Golden and Canmore…so close to home and stopped. It is snowing and cold. Thankfully we filled up in Golden, so that isn’t an issue, but we have so many things riding on getting home tonight…but ultimately, safe is more important!
After waiting in the parking lot on Highway 1 between Golden and Canmore we got some news from a trucker that was also stuck with us. Apparently two semis spun out at the top of the summit where it is very icy and they are waiting to clear it up and investigate it. He also told us to be careful exiting the car as it was even getting icy here.
Shortly after he told us what was going on, a highway patrol truck drove by on the wrong side of the road to go check things out. About 10 minutes afterwards, we started moving in a huge convoy at about 10 km/hr. At least that will be good on energy consumption! We passed a huge construction site on the road as we drove in our convoy. I am sure having the road down to only two lanes also doesn’t help with the slowdown!
As we reached the summit, we saw that they are only letting traffic through one way at a time at the construction site. Behind the traffic waiting on the other side of the road was the plow stuck behind them all. He should be at the front! We never did see the two spun out trucks, but maybe with all the construction equipment they got them cleaned up. Whether it was an accident or the construction, we are thankful to be on the move again!
Descending the mountain we continued in our convoy. I am thankful for going so slow in these conditions, ice scares me as I really don’t want to become a curling rock on the highway! As we descended, our speed in the convoy increased to 30 km. Slow but steady wins the race.
Most of the trucks have stopped to take off their chains as we cross the continental divide. Now it is mostly cars and trucks in the convoy. Hopefully as we get down to lower elevations the temperature will increase and it won’t be icy. I thought all my friends said it was warm in Alberta today. Apparently Yoho National Park didn’t get the memo!
It is super icy now and the roads are snow covered. Everyone is taking it really easy, which is a blessing. Now I remember what winter is like! Where are the sanding trucks when you need them? Palm trees were much nicer, is it too late to turn around?!
At the Lake Louise turn off, the road appeared to clear up slightly. It didn’t seem as icy anymore and traffic started moving at a rate of about 90 km/hr. The snow has stopped now too. Hopefully that is the end of the excitement for tonight!
Nope! It is still icy, and the more flat road can be deceiving. At one spot we lost traction and started to enter into a skid. Thankfully we were going slow, have winter tires and have all wheel drive. The car compensated and corrected. Mike said it happened faster than it would have in a rear wheel drive car. This is our first all wheel drive vehicle…good to know, but let’s not do that again!
Breathing again, we slowed and continued down the icy road. About 15 minutes later we encountered pink signs along the road. “Emergency situation in progress, please slow down”. What now?!
Up the road, there was the truck that they had said spun out. His load was spread around the road and the truck was pretty beat up! The clean up crew was there with trucks and cherry pickers. We said a prayer for the driver as we drove by that he was okay.
Finally – Banff! We were hoping to be home by 9 pm, but this delay has slowed us down considerably! It is now 11:33 pm and we still have a stop in Canmore. At least here the roads are clear. It is still snowing, but barely. I am afraid to say I hope that is the end of the excitement, because every time I do, something else comes up…but I do hope that is it!
Canmore! Yay! Last stop! Everyone is sleeping now, which is a good thing because there is school tomorrow! This will be a quick stop for charging and then home. It stopped snowing now and raining. On the bright side, we did really well on power consumption this leg because of the speeds we were doing.
Today was the longest that Mike has gone without using auto steer and he said he definitely noticed the difference in fatigue and stress (I am sure the road conditions didn’t help with that one ;-). The road conditions weren’t right and the lines on the road in many places were hard for the car to delineate. He is getting a really good feel for when it is good to use and when it is not as well as how it will behave based on the road contours. It has been an indispensable tool on this trip for Mike, especially since he has done all the driving – over 6,000 km!
It is nice to be somewhere familiar! Feels like we are home already! I wish I could just wiggle my nose and we were there! The hardest part of any trip is the last part of the drive home!
The drive from Canmore seemed long. Mike has driven the whole time, but asked me to drive the last part so he could sleep. He was so tired and he had to catch a flight at 7:20 am to Phoenix, so he had to be at the airport very early! At least the roads were finally dry and the snow was almost all gone from the ground. What a difference a few hundred kms makes!
We arrived home at 1:30 am. It will be a long hard day for everyone tomorrow, but we made it! We made it to Disneyland and back in an Electric Car! We made it through snow and wind and rain. We made it together as a family. We had fun, we made memories and we laughed lots!
I love my family and I love our life! What an adventure! Here is to the next one! Go Alpha Team Bravo!