Wednesday April 15, 2009: A day that will go down in the books as the best, most random, and emotional day that I have had for a long time.
Tuesday night marked my last class of this stressful and emotional semester at school. I was very happy to go to class that night because I knew that the end was here. All there is left are two exams and I'm home free (for a week at least). Before class started Tuesday night, I decided to check my email and facebook.
My giddy-ness was abruptly interrupted as I was reminded via two facebook messages, that it would have been Maija-Liisa's big 20th birthday on Wednesday.
One friend wrote:
"Tommorow would have been Maija-Liisa's 20th birthday. I hope we all take a moment to think about her tommorow, and maybe find a way to celebrate for her. I know her family will be struggling with this and I hope our thoughts can be with them as well."
While Maija-Liisa's sister wrote:
"Try to put things into perspective, and maybe those "big problems" won't seem quite as huge anymore. Try to do at least one thing in her memory. Laugh and smile, because she always did. Make a sarcastic comment, because she was the queen of sarcasm. If you're feeling sad, allow yourself to feel that way, because she never hid how she was feeling. Have a moment or two of immaturity, because although most of the time she was very mature, she certainly had her moments of just being a kid again. Cheer someone up, because she was amazing at that. Basically, just do something in her memory."
Thus, I called my good friend Richard and said "tomorrow, we are going on an adventure. I don't know where we are going or what we are doing, but I have to go on an adventure!"
We agreed to meet up at his place at 9am and that we would drive east and then maybe north until 2pm and see where we end up. At about 2pm we could turn around and go home.
And so began the Ultimate One Day Road Trip!
So for those of you who know me, I have a habit of taking long drives with friends and usually we end up in Hope, BC. This was our first stop on our One Day Road Trip.
P.S. This totem pole is new...They placed it on top of the rotary circle thingy that was on the ground. It's very unfortunate when you know that something small like this has changed in a town that is 119 kilometers away.
I love this spot in Hope! Although the Fraser River is murky brown the view is absolutely amazing. I spent quite a bit of time standing there, reminiscing about the significance of this day for me, before this picture was taken. But Richard soon reminded me that the day was still young, and we had a lot of road to cover before 2pm.
One quick picture together, and off we went!
Before entering the Fraser Canyon, I decided that we would pull over at almost every new town sign that we passed, so long as it was safe to stop of course!
I was very excited to drive the Fraser Canyon! My parents and I always used to take it on our way up to Prince George, but I had never actually driven it by myself or in my car! The Fraser Canyon is a beautiful stretch of highway along the cliffs beside the Fraser River. It winds and twists and turns quite a bit. It's a really fun road to drive!
Next Stop, the historic little town of Yale. We really didn't stop long in Yale at all... mostly just long enough to take some pictures and get back into the car. Yale basically consists of a diner maybe two, some historic churches and museums and has about 200 residents... not much to see!
Nestled in the mountains, the Fraser Canyon also consists of 7 tunnels. This is just one of the tunnels.
I stood there for so long because Richard wanted to take a picture as a vehicle was just coming out of the tunnel (you can't really tell, but he just so happened to catch a police cruiser coming out of the tunnel). It's amazing how loud it is standing beside a tunnel as vehicles are going through it!
I of course preferred not to wait for a car to come out of the tunnel, so I took the picture while a van was going into the tunnel. Richard of course wanted to be standing in the middle of the tunnel, or trying to climb up to the top of it, while I was taking a picture to which I gracefully called him an idiot! Humans don't look to nice when they've been hit by a vehicle (worse if it was by a semi truck) going over 110 kilometers/hour.
Our next stop was Hell! (quite literally!)
Ah yes, the wonderful little tourist trap called Hells Gate! ...and yes, we decided to fall into the trap!
It's really an awesome little place called Hell/Hell's Gate. You first take the airtram down and then there's a little gift shop, restaurant, photographic area, and of course a fudge factory!
"No surprise Hell would have a Fudge Factory!"
Going across the Fraser River to get to Hell.
Haha, I saw this and thought it was the cutest thing in the world! The pup pub!
The joys of the 10 second timer on digital cameras! This is Richard and I in the Hell's Gate Air Tram... ok so it's just a cut out but...
...This is an awesomely HUGE wooden chair!
Woot woot! Hell's Gate is sooo cool! I love it there!
After we rode the airtram back up to civilization (if you could call the little towns dotting the road along the Fraser Canyon civilization) it was back into the car in search for our next stop.
Hahaha, I always laugh when I think of these little towns between Hope and Cache Creek, such as Yale and Boston Bar, because I always think of them in terms of where the Greyhound Bus stops. In Boston Bar the Greyhound bus stops at this little shack-like structure that is probably just big enough for five people to stand in with their baggage!
Of course, because of the lack of population, Richard was hailed the coolest man in Boston Bar... the close second was the third longhaired construction flagger.
Lytton is another winner of a small town. Of course they had to have the biggest town sign though... can we say overcompensation??? I think we can!!!
This is Lytton! Haha, ok so really this isn't all of Lytton, but a major part of it!
At this point in the trip I was really starting to think about Maija-Liisa and how much this road trip actually meant to me. It became more apparent that I started to feel as though driving further north and closer to the tops of the mountains would bring me closer to wherever she is. I started to cry a bit while listening to Steve Earle's song "Waiting on You". The following is just a sampling of the song, at which point I was tearing up...
I can't let go, I wait for you
Till hell goes cold, I'll wait for you
You're all I know and I wait for you
Breathing out, breathing in
Holding out, giving in
Doing with or without waiting on you
Don't show it all, walk on, walk tall
Behind this wall I'm still waiting on you
We thought that my car parked like that made it look sort of like an advertisement picture.
Hehe!!! The Long Horned Sheep of Ashcroft!!! I refused to go any closer as I could see that the sheep were starting to stare me down! Of course Richard wanted to run towards the sheep and see if they would bunt him in the head. As entertaining as that sounds, I again called him an idiot and got back into the car!
Once we got to Ashcroft (sorry no town sign picture, I was driving too fast to stop), it was already a little bit after 2pm but I knew that there were scarce choices for food places and gas stations, so I suggested to Richard that we drive the extra 40 or so kilometers to Cache Creek as our final destination. There is this Diner in Cache Creek called Herbies that makes the best burgers around! Thus, that was our final stop!
After a couple of bites Richard agreed that it was the best burger he had had in a long time... It was so worth the 5-ish hour drive!
By the time we got to Cache Creek it was just about 3pm. We were both super exhausted!
Once we finished our food, we set out for the trip back home. In total, the drive up took around 5-ish hours because we made stops in Hope and Hell's Gate that were both at least half hour stops, and our drive home was only about 3 and a half-ish hours long. We did stop again in Hope to take a well needed break.
Looking back on this day and thinking about the two messages I recieved on facebook the night before, I truely feel that I fulfilled the wishes of my friends by commemorating my friend's birthday in the Ultimate One Day Road Trip. I really feel that this road trip can be significant and almost symbollic of the road that each of us has been driving down since the end of August.
At first we had Hope that we would all survive this long journey of healing ahead of us, that is full of twists and turns and tunnels through which we must pass in order to see the light, but every now and then we stop at Hell's Gate and hurt and yearn for everything to have been a dream. When we realize it is not a dream, we pick ourselves up and rise from the depths of Hell, to continue our journey. Once we have reached as close to whatever or wherever heaven may be we can take a break, perhaps a snack, and we are filled with such warmth as though we are actually in her prescence. This warmth fills us up for the rest of the way home. Speeding past Hell, on our way back to Hope! All while the glorious sun is shining!
I hope eveybody was able to enjoy this beautiful day as much as I did!