Summary:::NW USA & BA Canada – 13th August to 5th September 2013


Both British Columbia and the NW states of USA are well worth a visit. People are friendly and helpful, and the scenery is spectacular. Seems safe and it was easy to get around, particularly with the GPS. We had been warned about the police and how hard they were on speeding, but on the whole 5000km trip we saw less than six police cars on the road, so unless they had a whole lot of hidden speed cameras, the trip was uneventful. Accommodation was not difficult to find and we booked in advance only for Portland, Vancouver and Spokane. Everywhere else it was relatively easy to find a motel when driving through a town.

See map at the bottom of the page. 1 is Auckland, 2 Hawaii, 3 Hawaii etc


  •  Tipping is confusing if not used to it. 15% is expected in restaurants and bars regardless of service quality. Hotel porters and taxi drivers also expect tips. It is common to leave a tip in the hotel room.
  • Final price of purchases are unknown as variable tax and service charges are added on top of listed prices.
  • Information centres are in most towns and often in the local museum. These were all run by very helpful and friendly people, who were often volunteers. They were helpful in providing comment, brochures and maps about where to go and what to see in the area. Also provided information on suitable accommodation.
  • Motorways/highways have wide verges and pull off/picnic areas with toilets.
  • Speed limits vary across the States. It is was very helpful and sensible that the changes to speed limits were signed posted prior to the actual speed limit change, giving ample time to reduce speed.
  • Most supermarkets have a public toilet.
  • Canada parks are well maintained, used and respected. There was no sign of damage or graffiti.   They have toilets even if some are long-drops.
  • Forests are quiet. There were not many birds.
  • Canada had large amount of RV, 5th  wheelers and motor homes been driven around on extended holidays.
  • US had information signs on the side of the road, in picnic areas and road pull off areas, giving the history of a site.
  • Road workers did not have over the top safety provision eg no safety trucks metres prior to workers. Large “top hat”style road cones are used more than the simple cones we have.
  •  There were huge numbers of RV and 5th wheelers for sale in yards everywhere.
  • Caravan parks were everywhere. Often on the outskirts of towns and cities.
  • A lot towns and cities had a mobile home area, where transportable houses were located. Residents had a small home, garden, car parking and shared communal services eg driveways, roads and entry. This seems a sensible and cost effective method of housing people who are happy with a small house eg up to 120 sq metres in size.


  • At most traffic lights, you can stop and then turn right on the red light if the way is clear – also look for pedestrians and cyclists crossing on your right.
  • At cross roads where all roads have “Stop”signs, the first car to stop has right of way.


  • Drivers are courteous; less stressed, wait and are not rushed. They give way to cyclists.
  • Most buses have bike racks on the front and can carry about 4 bikes at a time.
  • Trains have a section where cyclist can put their bikes
  • Cycling is encouraged
  • Victoria has numerous bike lanes and trails- most shared with pedestrians.At intersections, cars give way to cyclists.
  • Bike lanes over bridges [even those longer and higher than the Auckland Harbour Bridge] were shared with pedestrians and had wire fences about 8 foot [2.5m] high on the water side and 4 foot [1.5m] on the road side.


Helpful hints

  • Purchase a cheap chilly bin from the supermarket – $3-$4
  • Keep it filled with ice from the ice dispenser that most hotels and motels have. It’s free.
  • Take your own breakfast. There are microwaves and fridges in almost all hotels and motels.
  • All motels and hotels have coffee machines – these can be used to boil water for tea or hot chocolate.
  • Purchase or take with you; knifes, spoons, plates and cups
  • Supermarkets have lots of choices of microwavable meals.
  • Apply for supermarket customer card from SaveMart. This will save you $ on purchases at the SaveMart supermarkets in Canada and USA. Just fill in a form at the checkout when you first go into the store.