Shopping Malls and Frustration in Kamloops

✍️ 🕑 May 18-19, 2022 • Series: Towards the Beautiful Islands • Tags: riversautomotive foiblessunsetsparksborder crossingsAirbnbproselytizing • Places: Abbotsford Riverside Park, Kamloops, BC

In this post, I start my journey to Haida Gwaii. I travel from Seattle to Kamloops, and find myself not quite feelin' it, until I inevitably do. At which point, I immediately leave. I guess that's my MO.

(Though most of the actual feelin' it is reserved for the next Kamloops post. This is the frustration post.)

How did Steve end up taking a janky webcam selfie to show off this sick mall basement workspace to colleagues?

Guess ya got to read further!
How did Steve end up taking a janky webcam selfie to show off this sick mall basement workspace to colleagues?

Guess ya got to read further!
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A Frustrating Start

As y'all know I had been planning roughly a month-long trip to Canada. I planned with a few contingencies in mind. I wanted the start and end, and all days next to long ferry rides to have a bit of wiggle room in case of the unexpected. Let me tell you, I needed the flexibility when it was time to start my journey.

From my past adventures, I wound up with a full-size spare tire without a rim. One would think that getting a rim wouldn't be too difficult. But, I procrastinated and soon thereafter realized I that I shouldn't have. Nevertheless, I continued procrastinating. But I had the good sense to order a rim before my trip.

The first place I tried ordering from called me to let me know they definitely didn't actually have the part.

The second place, a Volkswagen dealership in Seattle, scheduled an appointment with me to balance the rim on the tire, but when I arrived, it turned out that they had failed to even order the part. By this point, it was now Monday, and I intended to disembark on Tuesday. The voucher for a free carwash did not convince me of the sincerity of their apology.

Another dealership was able to order the rim for me and install it that Wednesday, and that was fine. It just pushed my departure back and meant that I couldn't pack my car; the spare tire is rather inaccessible when the trunk is full of junk.

By the time everything was taken care of, and my car was loaded it was close to rush hour. So I kept working from home until the traffic died down.

My original first place to stay would have been Kamloops. It seemed like about as much as I would want to drive in one sitting, akin to my nearly nonstop drive out to Crescent City, California in January.

With the delays, I instead cancelled the first night of my Kamloops reservation ("no late checkins") and booked a night at an Airbnb in Abbotsford instead.

I drove only two-ish hours from Seattle, taking the across the Easternmost border crossing West of the Cascades. The drive was enchanting, particularly once I got off the interstate, and onto some backroads. I stared in awe of rolling green hills, as the golden sun sunk deeper and deeper towards the horizon.

I gassed up in the border town of Sumas. $4.79 per gallon. The best price I would see for a while.

The Canadian Border Patrol had one booth open when I crossed. They did not ask to see my ArriveCAN QR code, and the inspection was swift. I crossed the border, got to my dwelling, and fell into a deep sleep shortly thereafter.


I awoke in Abbortsford and immediately started work, enjoying my host's continental breakfast, as well as french press of my own coffee.

It's rather hilarious that this was also the morning that I gave an overview of a complicated algorithm as part of handing off ownership of a pipeline I wrote to a team in a different country, but everything went smoothly, much to my relief.

After that, I hit the road. I had three hours until I'd get to the outskirts of Kamloops, B.C., a place I felt sure I'd have cell service. I also had three hours until my next meeting, and hopping onto it from the car seemed like a good idea. If only things went that smoothly.

When I left Abbotsford, I gave a friend a call. Shortly thereafter, my phone dropped off the network -- never to return. It was "emergency calling" or nothing. At least I had a nearly 2.5 hour long playlist of Charli XCX tunes to bop to.

The truth is, I didn't need companionship. The drive was beautiful and memorable. I was glad I was doing it in the daylight, and even a little miffed I hadn't decided to stop and sightsee in the areas I passed through. I was twisting up and down mountains and hitting elevations of around 4,000 ft. My ears were popping, and flurries were falling. Yes, in May.

Traffic was surprisingly heavy, up until BC-1 & BC-5 split. At that point, I said goodbye to a constant stream of cars, trucks, and construction zones as the road opened up. I wouldn't see such levels of congestion again until the very end of my trip.


Arriving in Kamloops

I chose a Canadian Tire as my destination. It looked like was in a strip mall, not far from my Airbnb. Surely I could get a cell signal there, right?

When I got there, I entered a landscape dominated by strip malls perched on bluffs, crisscrossed by divided highways. I stopped, but I could not get my cellphone to connect to a tower for the life of me.

Plan B was to find a coffee shop.

I spied a bookstore with an in-house Starbucks. But when I reached the top of the hill upon which it was perched, it turned out that the Starbucks was long gone. I was able to pick up a book that I wanted, but I was now running late as I searched for cafes on my phone's offline map.

My phone said that a cafe existed in my third shopping center, but I could see no signs of it. However, I still had hope. It looked like I was at a mall instead of a strip mall.

Maybe it had a food court? Maybe it had WiFi, and I could join my 3PM work call..


Let's Go To The Mall

(This is probably the best song about unbridled '90s shopping mall vibes, so give it a listen if you want.)


Image On Where-Is-Steve
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I joined my meeting 22 minutes late while sipping an iced green tea. Not my most professional moment.

After the meeting, I had a gap in my schedule, so I figured I'd go to my Airbnb. It was past check-in time now, but my host was nowhere to be seen.

The door seemed like it might be unlocked, but there was also a dog, who eventually started barking.

I'm not really a big fan of just wandering into strangers' homes, certainly not under those circumstances. So, I drove back to the mall and plopped myself back down in the food court for my next call as I awaited a message from my host.

Hell, I even brought my drink back in from earlier cause I hadn't finished it yet!

(See earlier selfie.)


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Thankfully, the second time was the charm for the Airbnb check in, and I managed to meet my host, get keys, a wifi password, and situated. A little bit of clunking, typing, and work later, I left to go get some Indian food and explore downtown Kamloops before sunset.


Downtown & Riverside

An unmistakable example of the ugly condo style of architecture
An unmistakable example of the ugly condo style of architecture open_in_full   info

Tim Hortons and train tracks. 

Can you scream Canadian town with trains any louder?
Tim Hortons and train tracks.

Can you scream Canadian town with trains any louder?
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In case you were worried my frustrations were over, my visit to Kamloops' Riverside Park was frustrating too.

The beaches? Under construction.

The river views? Fenced off.


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I even managed to cross paths with the same pair of friendly Mormon missionaries twice!

Fortunately, they didn't try too hard with their pitch.

But even with those caveats, there was still lovely sunshine, car art, and lawn-bowling to be seen.

Lawn ball seemed to be a popular sport!
Lawn ball seemed to be a popular sport! open_in_full   info
Nothing like seeing the Japanese garden through the other side of a chain-link fence!
Nothing like seeing the Japanese garden through the other side of a chain-link fence! open_in_full   info

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When I returned home and laid in bed later in the evening, I can't say that I felt great about my decision to spend a few days in Kamloops, and roughly a month in Canada. The last few days had been stressful and annoying. It was only natural that I felt a bit stressed and annoyed.

Sometimes, sleep does wonders.

Hopefully, this was one of those nights...

Thanks for reading!

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