Day 1/2


It starts

Mile 0; 3:34 PM
Robert boldly leaps into The Brick and speeds off down the road, ready for an exciting, illuminating, and maybe restful vacation.

But first...

Mile 0.2; 3:42 PM
Robert stops to buy yet another flashlight. He's already got two flashlights in his pack, and another one in his suitcase, but he's worried that if we break down somewhere in the middle of Canada and have to use the cell phone to call for help that he won't be able to read while waiting for rescue. Also, he points out, we could use the flashlights to signal the space shuttle.


And then...

Mile 0.3 3:48 PM
A quick stop to pick up some important Federal Express packages that just came in. What could they be? Robert gets to continue wondering for a while, because nobody at the mail place can seem to find them. Robert ponders whether Vanishing Fedex Packages are a good omen or not. Eventually the Ghostly Fedex Packages reappear and--it's airbills from Fedex to send Fedex packages!


Let's not forget Laura

Mile 25; 4:31 PM
Since it wouldn't be much of a vacation for Laura if she spent it sitting in the airport, Robert stops and plucks her from the baggage carousel, packs her into The Brick and now, we're really off.


Crossing into another country

Mile 140; 7:40 PM
We reach the US-Canadian border. As we pull up to chat with the Canadian Customs folks, Robert digs out his passport--which he paid $60 (US) for and hardly ever gets to use. The Canadian Customs Lady takes it and makes sure that he looks like his picture, and then asks us lots of questions.

"Where are you going?"

Well, there's this dinosaur museum in Drumheller, Alberta that we want to see.

"You're going all the way to Drumheller for a dinosaur museum?"

Well, yeah! What's your point?

Robert decides that he wants to get a visa stamp in his passport and asks the "Dame du Customes Canadien" about this. She very politely points him towards an office, and he can see her shake her head as we drive away.

So we park and Robert walks into the Immigration Office.

Here it is on a Thursday night at the Immigration office, where they are busy helping a Somali woman try to find somebody who's gotten lost, and in walks this American. He's dressed in a loud Hawaiian shirt with some kind of chocolate stain on the front (Robert's Chocolate Mr. Frosty leaped down his shirt front) and sandals, he's got long hair and an earring. He walks up to the counter and says, "Hi! The lady back at the border said I could get a visa stamp here!" as he hands the Immigration Guy his passport.

Immigration Guy looks at the passport, which is an American passport (since Robert is an American, no other country having any interest in him), and doesn't really NEED a visa to visit Canada.

"Did Customs send you here for a reason?"

No. I just want to get a stamp to document my visit. The Immigration Guy considers this for a while and looks through the passport at EVERY page (most of which are blank).

"You want a Canadian visa stamp?"


"You don't need one to visit Canada, you know."

I know. But I hardly ever get to use my passport, and so I want a stamp in it.

Immigration Guy makes sure that Robert looks like his picture as he studies the passport. You can see the gears turning in his head. 'What is this guy trying to pull?'

"Are you traveling alone?"

Nope. I'm with my wife.

"Does she have her passport?"

Sure. I guess.

"And does she want her passport stamped?"


Now he's convinced we're trying to pull something, but he can't figure out what it might be. Or maybe Robert finally convinced him that it was a very cool thing to have a Canadian visa stamp in your passport, and the guy can't figure out why everyone doesn't ask for one.

Finally, he stamps the passport, so Robert's passport now has visa stamps for both New York and Canada.

As we drive away from the border, we feel we've done our part for international relations. More and more people in Canada are coming to the conclusion that Americans are nuts.


Lost in Vancouver

Mile 181; 8:30 PM
Whoops! We were supposed to end up in Langley before we got to Vancouver. We're pretty much in downtown Vancouver, and there's no sign of Langley. We pull over and stop, and just for fun Laura looks at a map.

It turns out we've been going the wrong way for 20 miles! But it's okay, now, because now we have a map!


Well, that's an improvement

Mile 191; 8:54 PM
The map has helped a lot. We're not any closer to where we want to be, but by golly we know where we are (parked in a propane storage warehouse across the street from a used car lot) and where we want to be (not here).

Robert begins to worry when Laura gazes bemusedly at the map, muttering, "We can't get there from here."

As we drive down a dirt path dodging goats, Robert is inclined to agree.


There is a Langley!

Mile 205; 9:30 PM
Hurray! We found Langley, and what's more, we found our Motel (with the guaranteed reservations, which meant that even though we drove past eight other Motels with vacancies, we can't stop because we're paying for this room anyway).

Fortunately, Canada has beds, which we quickly use.


Canadian stuff

  • We're stumped. Some of the traffic lights here flash green. They just constantly flash green. We can't figure out what this means. Is it French for green? (Bilingual traffic lights?) Does it mean "Go ahead, but don't be too sure." We finally decide that this is an energy conservation measure. The lights are only on half the time, so just think of all the electricity they are saving.

  • One of the fringe benefits of visiting Canada is the opportunity to find out what the French words for things are. Our favorites so far: "Repair" is "reparations" in French, as in "I would like reparations for my TV." "On" is "marche," which is completely appropriate in relation to coffee makers. It's very satisfying to holler "marche" at a coffee maker. Robert is still trying to find the "double marche" button on the coffee maker.

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