I found a way to get around the long lines and chaos at Passport Canada offices and took a road trip for a Canada passport.

Yup, standing in line for days and not getting an appointment at any of the Service Canada offices was not a task I wanted to do. There were no online appointments available which is why people are camping and standing in line hoping to get inside the building to get a Canadian passport.

I expanded my search to other parts of British Columbia and found several appointments available in Salmon Arm, about a 5 hour drive. And I booked an appointment for May 31, 2022! I’d already requested that week off work so I could try to renew my passport, so now I’m planning a mini-vacay.

Road trip!

Passport Chaos in British Columbia

Stuck

Before I go back to the road trip, this is the post that has me stuck. I have spent months literally stopping and stopping. I can’t move on until I complete this sucker.

It’s almost like I need a therapist to help me figure this one out!

Onward. The road trip to somewhere and nowhere at the same time!

I think I just don’t want to deal with the Osoyoos part of this journey. Oh, nothing bad happened. My trip was uneventful. Every few years I go to Osoyoos to make sure I don’t like it.

It’s the lake. I’ve always found it spooky.

Booking hotels

I booked my appointment to renew my passport on Tuesday so I could drive up to Salmon Arm on Monday, and avoid the weekend traffic on the Coquihalla Highway.

I’ve never stayed in Salmon Arm before, and traveling with a dog means fewer options available. I found a decent looking hotel called the Hilltop Inn that included a continental breakfast. They had a special if I booked a week in advance, but if I cancelled I’d kiss the money goodbye. No refunds. 😢

I was determined to get my passport application going. I wasn’t going to cancel the hotel room. A little pricey at $170 for the night including tax and the dog fee.

My plan was extended to include a road trip across the Okanagan and spend the next night in Osoyoos. When I was a kid we spent all our summers in Osoyoos and I hated it. Every now and then I go to Osoyoos to make sure I still hate it.

I’d stayed in an Osoyoos hotel with a dog many years ago and tried to remember the name of the hotel. I decided it was the Sahara Courtyard Inn and booked one night for May 31. The cost including dog and tax came to $150.

A wasted detour in Chilliwack

I loaded up the car with everything I needed for my passport application, everything my dog, Shadow, needs for a couple of days, and clothing and toiletries I’ll need.

Trust me on this. The dog had more stuff than I did.

My plan was to take the Coquihalla Highway and stop in Kamloops for lunch in three hours.

My first stop was in Chilliwack, after about 45 minutes of driving, a last minute decision for me. There’s a bakery I wanted to try called Sinamen Bunco. They make cinnamon buns with all kinds of toppings that change weekly. One of these fad bakeries.

I was nearing Chilliwack and I remembered that’s where Sinamen Bun Co is. I exited the highway where there’s a lot of businesses and shopping, figuring it would be in that general area. They don’t have a webpage, but they’re on Instagram.

And horrors! They are closed on Mondays? WTF!!!

Oh well, I really don’t need a cinnamon bun with a million calories.

But what I do need is a donut. I’ll look around for a Tim Hortons and pick up a Boston cream donut, running about 220 calories. I didn’t see a Timmy’s on my way back to Highway 1.

What a waste of time stopping in Chilliwack!

Not to despair, I stopped 30 minutes later in Hope where I knew exactly where the Tim Hortons is located and picked up my snack.

Kamloops pit stop on the road trip for a Canada Passport

I have very good memories of Kamloops. I lived just outside of town in a community called Cherry Creek for two years when I was 24 to 26. My second cousin and her husband had 20 acres and a basement suite for rent. My horse, Mark, and I lived there very happily.

However, it was very difficult finding work and I moved back to the coast.

Today Kamloops is a much larger town presumably with more available jobs. Housing prices have increased as people move away from the Greater Vancouver Area to find a lower cost of living. That’s pretty hard to find anywhere in British Columbia anymore.

Kamloops was the place where I dated a hillbilly. Ha ha! Check out my video describing that experience.

I stopped at Señor Froggy for lunch, a Mexican restaurant, that is sort of fast food, and ordered the fish tacos – that was two tacos. I didn’t realize they came with a side of tortilla chips so I ordered Mexican fries as well. They’re basically tater tots. Too much food! But it was the only choice I could have if I wanted a fish taco – which I did. I just didn’t need two. Plus the Mexi fries/tater tots.

Afterwards I went to Lammle’s. This is a Western wear shop and I buy online from them frequently. They have two locations in British Columbia in Kamloops and Kelowna, so not at all convenient for me. Depending on which location, that will be a three or four hour drive. Anyway, I managed to pick up two summer dresses that were on sale. One I like and is suitable to wear to work. The other I realized two late shows too much cleavage, but wearing a white T-shirt underneath turns it modest.

Hilltop Inn at Salmon Arm

Sight unseen, especially since I know nothing about amenities in Salmon Arm, I booked the Hilltop Inn.

As you can probably guess, it’s located on top of a hill, off Highway 1, if you’re heading east out of Salmon Arm, heading towards Alberta. By this point I’d already traveled through Salmon Arm and seen a variety of places to eat and shop, and a couple of grocery stores.

I had a nice, ground floor room, with a patio next to the pool.

Mostly I sat on the patio with Shadow reading my book. Fortunately it’s fully fenced in so my old girl can’t just wander off and socialize.

The room was very nice with two queen beds, a TV, microwave, mini fridge, and coffee machine.

The hotel also included a light continental breakfast, with some cooked items like a hard boiled egg, hash browns, and I think there might have been sausage or bacon. I’m a vegetarian so the meat choices didn’t interest me. Plus muffins, cereal, juice, coffee, tea, and toast.

Check out time is 11:00 am so I stayed there pretty much to the end before heading off to my appointment with Service Canada.

Passport renewal at Salmon Arm’s Service Canada

It was very easy to find the Service Canada office in Salmon Arm, thanks to my latest Garmin GPS, the Drive 52. It’s a step up from my last GPS and includes lifetime maps for Canada and America. It does traffic, and surprised me with a warning of a red light camera. Not that I was planning on running the red light, I just got an advance heads up.

I recommend this GPS for anyone like myself who drives an older car with a navigation system, or who doesn’t like to fiddle with Google maps on the cell phone. I’ve been using a Garmin friction mount for years. It’s like a little beanbag thing so the GPS sits on the dashboard instead of attached to the window. I can easily move it around to different cars. (Disclosure: I’m an Amazon association. If you click the link and buy this GPS, I’ll receive a small commission for the referral.)

OK, back to renewing my passport. The Service Canada office in Salmon Arm is quite small compared to Surrey. There’s a reception area to check in and a couple of customer service staff. There were two people sitting in the waiting room, but I was brought over to the desk for my appointment.

All my information was checked, I paid and received a receipt that said my passport would be mailed out on June 28, but I was told to disregard that. They’re running about 10 weeks behind, and I should expect my passport sometime in August.

Circuit route of the Okanagan to Osoyoos

The Okanagan district is British Columbia’s orchard. There are many fruit tree farmers in the towns that surround Lake Okanagan , which is about 135 km long and 5km at its widest point. The towns surrounding the lake are popular summer destinations. The Okanagan Valley is hot and tourists cool off in the lake.

Lake Okanagan is the home to the mythical Ogopogo, possibly the same breed of sea serpent that inhabits Loch Ness in Scotland. Folklore has it that there is or was an underground passage between the two lakes so that Nessie and Ogopogo can swim back and forth. For more information, check out the website Does Ogopogo Exist.

I spotted Tickleberry’s, famous for gourmet popcorn, and did a two wheel last minute turn into the parking lot.

Cute looking store.

Unfortunately since the pandemic, they no longer sell gourmet popcorn. Not sure what Covid 19 had to do with that. They had a big line up at the ice cream counter that I passed on. I did pick up some fudge.

The fudge I purchased was OK. Looked better than it tasted.

Osoyoos

I decided that part of my road trip for a Canada Passport should include a night in Osoyoos, making this a circuit trip through the Okanagan.

When I was a kid we spent every summer at Shady Lagoon Campsite in Osoyoos.

I hated camping.

We didn’t spend all summer there, but I do recall spending an extraordinarily long time there, maybe a month or so. My father was working during the week and drove up to Osoyoos on weekends.

Osoyoos is a small town and the name means twin lakes. It is a very popular summer destination. There are older hotels that have been there for 60 years or longer and there are new condominiums as people decide to retire in this community. Osoyoos is part of the Sonoran desert that runs north from Mexico, and generally has a pretty good climate.

I booked a room at a hotel I’d stayed at before, the Sahara Courtyard Inn – $150 for the night. When I arrived I realized it wasn’t the hotel I’d thought I’d booked. Oh well. At least they take dogs.

It was a short walk, about half a block, to the beach.

Hope-Princeton Highway

One night is all I need in Osoyoos, and it’s time to head home to the Lower Mainland, about a five or six hour drive.

The drive is along Highway 3, a route I’ve travelled many times.

I always make a couple of stops. The first one in Keremeos, about a half hour drive from Osoyoos. Keremeos is known for many produce stores. I randomly chose one and bought a 10 pound bag of apples for $5. I also bought a ridiculously overpriced bottle of non-alcoholic raspberry-apple cider.

Unfortunately, Frosty’s is no longer in Princeton. It was a drive-in restaurant that had a huge billboard shaped like an ice cream cone that could be seen from the highway. Frosty’s served soft serve ice cream cones that were rolled in chocolate sprinkles. Ah man! Happy memory!

The other place I stop at is the Hope Slide Area.

In 1965, a tragic incident occurred when the mountain gave way and tons of mud and boulders were swept downhill and across the highway, covering three cars and killing four people. Two bodies were never recovered. So tragic.

I was young and still remember the highway crews building a new section to bypass the slide area. Traffic would be halted or single lane traffic.

I always stop and spend a few minutes here, walking around and looking at the site. A remembrance for the victims.

From here it’s less than two hours to drive home.

And that’s my road trip for a Canada Passport.

The never-ending tale

So let’s get back to the reason why I took this road trip for a Canada Passport.

It was to fast track getting my passport.

My receipt says my passport would be mailed on June 28, but the clerk said it would be closer to two months. That’s good, because I’m planning to take two weeks off the last half of September and drive down to Oregon.

I have plenty of time! I went out of my way – literally – to apply in person and my passport should arrive in August. No need to pay any extra fees for faster service, right?

August arrives and I start getting nervous. My passport receipt has a website to check on the status. I go there, fill out all the details, and submit. I’m supposed to get a response in 2 to 3 business days. Over two months later, I’m still waiting for a response.

Tax dollars at work on my road trip for a Canada Passport

Good old Canadian government with our tax dollars hard at work! How wonderful to live in a country where services for the citizens are speedy and efficient. Dripping sarcasm here.

After a week without a response to my email, I try the phone number on my receipt to check on the passport status. The first two times I listened to a recorded message saying they were overloaded with callers and to try another time.

Third time lucky. I get a recording saying there are 147 callers in front of me. Every minute or so this number gets updated. 45 minutes later my call gets picked up and I gave my details to the clerk. She told me that my passport is still “under review”. I asked her if she could give me an estimate because I’m planning to travel in September, but she has no idea. Or at least none that she’s willing to share with me. She’s somewhat sympathetic and asks if I can get a refund on my plane tickets.

Seeing as how I’m taking a driving holiday, and haven’t booked a flight, she loses interest. Damnit! Maybe I should have lied?

She tells me Passport Canada is just now starting to process passports for applications made in person in March and April.

Five months later, as of October 27, 2022 I am still waiting for my passport.

It appears that my road trip for a Canada Passport was a waste of time. Applying in person didn’t help get my passport processed any quicker.

Published by Cheryl @ The Lifestyle Digs on October 27, 2022.

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Passport Chaos in British Columbia

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