The Great Green North

I title it this way because even though Canada (Canadia) is known as the Great White North, it’s not snowy at all, so everything is just green instead.

Saturday 12/13:

I decided yesterday that I was going to drive to Vancouver and spend a couple of days so I could maintain my goal of making it to every country before I die. This goal means I have to roughly travel to 2-3 countries per year. This year I went to the Bahamas with my family during July and Canada was just a quick 5 hour trip north. Or should have been.

Departure time: 10:30 a.m.

First of all I got stopped by a police officer in South Bend. Ticket, though with a reduced speed from what was clocked…allegedly. Moving on. I take a different route to I-5 than I did last time, which wasn’t on purpose per say, I just went farther north and then cut over. Went through a cool town, though, with giant oar statues on the side of the road.

Olympia to Everett = traffic. Heavy, stop and go traffic. At one in the afternoon. Because there is a plague on the West Coast known as “Which lane is for passing? None of them.”

Finally I get to Mount Vernon which is GORGEOUS. And then Bellingham, which also seems super nice. Then, the highlight of the drive:

THE CANADIAN BORDER.

This went very routinely, the man asked some questions and I drove INTO CANADA. And then realized that my mental conversion from mph to kph are not really that strong. Is it roughly 2/3? I think so? I’ll just drive about the speed of everyone else.

Here’s the part where in the Aaron Carter song “Aaron’s Party” you hear the rando guy say “now the real trouble starts.”

I’m looking for my motel. There is a Travelodge near the airport, which I see from the highway and think “I don’t think that one’s mine.” Then I see the name of the street that I’m looking for with a SE and a SW in front of it, and realize that my address has neither of those. So I begin to panic slightly, and exit. I decide I’ll go down one way and probably see it. But then I don’t. So I pull into a Starbucks and ask for directions. I get some. They are inaccurate. So I try to wing it. Not successful. Roughly an hour has passed.

So I go the opposite direction. Surely I will see it. Oh, what’s that? Part of the road I’m trying to traverse is being re-routed? GREAT. I’ll just ask this kindly police officer where the f I’m going. More bad directions. So I’m going around all of these “Road Closed” barricades like it’s nobody’s business with a huge pickup right on my tail and panicking more and more. Then I see a whole bunch of police officers in front of me. Time for more directions. I get out of the car so Brynley isn’t barking in their faces.

The conversation begins like this:
Me: Hi (distressed)
Police officer lady: You do know you just drove down a closed road, correct? We could give you multiple citations for that.
Me: Yes, and normally I would not do that sort of thing, except I’m very, extremely lost. And the last police officer kind of told me to.
POL: Another police officer told you to?
Me: Sort of. He gave me directions, but they didn’t make any sense, and so I was trying to follow them, and then I was just trying to get more help.
POL: Okay, but you drove through 3 barriers.
Me: (frantic, tears welling) Probably more, but I’m really very lost and I’ve been driving for 2 hours now trying to find my hotel which is supposed to be on Marine, but I swear I’ve driven the whole street now and I can’t find it. (definitely crying by now)
—other police officers join in—
POs: Can you get us the exact address?
Me: It’s 2060 Marine Drive.
POs: That would be (points) that way.
Me: I looked, it’s not.
POs: Do you have the whole address on a reservation or anything?
Me: On my phone (gets from car) 2060 Marine Drive, North Vancouver…
POs: NORTH VAN?!?!?! You really ARE lost.

So then they all very kindly team up to get me very detailed directions to my location. What they say about Canadians is true, folks. I told them all I could hug them and was on my way. Their directions, FINALLY, were accurate. I arrived at my hotel (motel? The doors are on the outside, technically) safe and sound, though frazzled and with bloodshot eyes.

Arrival time: 8 p.m.

Check in, get everything out of the car, get in my room. I’m starving, I’ve consumed nothing but espresso all day long. There is a Vietnamese place right next to the hotel, so I go there. Pho sounds good right now. Anything sounds good right now.

I put Brynley in the motel room bathroom and pray he doesn’t bark up a storm (he did). I come back, 9 p.m., exhausted. We snuggle down for the night.

Sunday 12/14:

Brynley basically barked off and on through the night. He hears people outside, so he barks. It doesn’t make for restful sleep. So I slept till 10 a.m. and got up, ready to take on Van, North/South/East/West whatever. I’m really craving doughnuts, but forget to look up where to go to satisfy my craving.

Brynley and I get ready for the day, jump in the car, and park. We check out a cool statue garden and some cute mistletoe hung by the city and start wandering.

We wander to Stanley park, where we get a full walk in and work on our “not trying to kill bicyclers and runners” skills. He got better with the bicyclers, and the runners were probably just terrified. To all quick moving people in Vancouver, I’m sorry.

I return to my car about half an hour past the meter’s expiry, but with no ticket. Success. I’m trying to figure out roughly how much I’ve spent in American dollars and how much my credit card is going to charge for the conversion. Here’s to hoping the exchange rate is currently good.

We head back to the hotel room so we can rest off some of that walking, and so I can get a time-teller (phone) which I left in the room. Because I can’t use it here. I did that for about 2 minutes last night, and definitely racked up some overages I’ll pay for later…for directions that didn’t even get me where I needed to be. Luckily, the Travelodge Lion’s Den has free wi-fi, so I just need a home base.

The second half of the day I go and grab a burger from Moo-Yah (like Five Guys) which is good, and the lady is really nice and brings me my tray. Normally they call your number and you go get your stuff. Point 2 for Canadians.

I go back, grab a couple of doggy bags for Brynley and he eats dinner and we head to the Capilano Suspension Bridge. My mother would hate it. As far as socialization goes, it was awesome for him. He was being friendly, letting people pet him, HE WALKED ACROSS A FREAKING SUSPENSION BRIDGE. All props to him. Then probably 5/6 of the way through the whole park, we round a corner (mind you, it’s dark) and he sees these two people facing each other very close. He kinda lost it. Poor Brynley’s nerves were shot and we had to go back over the bridge. He growled at a few individuals as they passed us. I cooed to him as much as possible trying to get him to feel as comfortable as a dog can on a bridge hanging incredibly high in the air. People aren’t supposed to intentionally shake the bridge, but you can tell there are people who walk on it in a way that does that. I can’t say minus one for the Canadians though because the attraction is pretty touristy. I know it was probably lowest in percentage of Maple Leaf’ers.

Now we’re back at the Travelodge, about to crash for the night. Tomorrow we’ll do something in the AM and then head back in the southerly direction to be home in time for split pea and ham soup with our favorite neighbors!

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One thought on “The Great Green North

  1. Ally, This is a really good blog. Loved your description of all that went on. I kept looking for the trip back south but failed to find anything. Love, Gpa

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