Monday, October 21, 2013

Friday, October 18, 2013

Lori and I have a system wherein we alternate the writing up of the journal days.  She wrote Thursday for her blog, and I edited it for the official journal, and now it’s time for me to write up Friday…but I am very late.  I’m late! I’m late! For a very important date!  Right now it is Sunday night, and I have not yet even begun to write Friday’s journal. Lori has already finished Saturday, the showoff.  I have vowed that I will write succinctly and efficiently and not be so wordy (really, Kath?  is that even possible for you??  :-))  I think I’m really making a good start! Aren’t I?
On Friday we awakened at about 7:30am. to the awesome realization that Girls Weekend had truly begun.  That first morning is always really great.  We started a pot of coffee and settled down to our morning routine: making some breakfast, (more scrumptious baked bacon, yum!!) getting online, planning our day.  We decided we would indeed go to Vancouver, Canada.  Looking out the window, we wondered about the weather – the forecast continued to promise sun in the afternoon, but by the time we got into the car at about noon to drive to Canada the fog was still firmly in place, and didn’t look like it was going anywhere.

Vancouver is a 45-60 minute drive north from Birch Bay / Blaine.  It was a nice drive up to the very northwestern tippy-top of the US.  We breezed through the border with no trouble, although we were fascinated by the questions the customs officers asked us at the border. “Where do you live?” Ok, that one was pretty normal, but then they asked, “ Why are you coming to Canada?” and “How long will you be staying?” and “How do you know each other?”  The temptation to answer that we had met in terrorist school and couldn’t really say why we were visiting Canada but we shouldn’t be here very long at all, was very tempting, but cooler heads prevailed, and we answered simply and truthfully.
Once we arrived in Vancouver we parked on Robson street in the city center, in an area known for shops and restaurants, and took off walking.  It was quite chilly! Lori and I thought we had dressed fairly intelligently – we each had a couple of layers with long sleeves and jackets.  The Vancouver city dwellers, however, obviously understood the situation better than we, and were almost all wearing really thick jackets or coats.  They had scarves and hats, and strolled around as if they had been wearing such attire for at least the last few weeks, which they probably had.  The temperature was in the 40s, but the fog and damp really increased the chill we felt.
We walked some and shopped some, cutting through a posh mall to get warm at one point, and had a great day.  The great day part goes without saying, because Lori and I always have a great day.  We really enjoyed people-watching in this cosmopolitan city – actually that’s the perfect word.  These people are cosmopolitan; there is a slightly different flavor to their dress than either Lori or I see in our home cities.  Vancouver has a European feel; there were tons of people on the streets even though it was early afternoon on a weekday.  Even heavily clothed as the people were, we could see that they were dressed in a more upscale manner than we were used to.  It has some of the hustle of New York or Chicago without the congestion.  We saw lots ethnic diversity – OK make that Asian diversity. There are primarily Caucasians and Asians here. I have started my annual Girls Weekend black people count. I rarely need more than the digits on my two hands whenever I’m in the Pacific Northwest – or apparently, Canada.
Vancouver is expensive. We wanted to buy a map and stopped in a Safeway.  We found no map, but I bought a mid-sized size bag of Baked Lays. They cost $5.00. As it turned out, everything was more expensive.  Gas, food, clothes…street parking was completely nuts.  A quarter bought only 3 minutes of time. Want to know what else we noticed about the city? In the interest of promised succinctness, I will now switch to one line descriptions: 
The traffic lights are weird.  They would turn green, and then almost immediately start blinking.  We didn’t really know what a blinking green light meant, and it freaked Lori out a bit.  Lori is not, shall we say, a brazen driver.  She never really was, and now she is just…well…let’s call it “a bit timid” (ok, I MUST speak up in defense of myself here!!  What Kathi describes as "a bit timid", I would describe as cautious and safe and what she would label "brazen", which is more the way she drives, I would describe as aggressive with a hint of recklessness.  Just saying').
            After driving through a couple of neighborhoods, and passing many houses on the long stretch of road leading back to the highway, we noticed that the Canadians do not seem to favor having fences.  Instead, they grow huge, dense stretches of tall hedges.  Even if they do have a fence (I did catch a glimpse of a few) there is most often a row of hedges in front of the fence, on the street side. The hedges are beautiful, many of them  more like really dense trees, and there are several varieties, not just the typical garden hedge we tend to see in Indiana.  Also, it does not seem that there is any height restriction on these hedges – they towered 8 and 10 feet into the air, affording total privacy to the homeowner.  If I were to put an 8” fence along the front of my property line to help block the sights and sounds of the busy street on which I live, I’d have the city ordinance people on me in no time.
            Those weren’t really one-line descriptions were they? I’ll try again tomorrow.
We began the journey back to Washington State at 5:00pm, but did not arrive back at the condo until almost 7.  The border was quite a bit busier coming out than it had been earlier getting in to Canada.  At one point we were stopped by a red light for quite a while.  The area surrounding the border was a national park, and next to us were a couple of shelters which housed bathrooms. Two Asian women in the car just ahead of us got out and carefully crossed the road to go to the bathroom.  As soon as they were in the building, the light turned green, and our line of cars started moving forward toward the border crossing.  Lori and I were somewhat anxious about the women being left behind, but their driver moved confidently forward. We needn’t have worried, we didn’t really get very far, and a few minutes later the ladies came hurrying up the road and were able to easily get back into their vehicle before it was their turn to go through customs.

About 45 minutes into our wait at the border, Lori mentioned that she had seen something online, where a man who was stuck in a traffic jam decided that rather than sitting there and fretting about something he couldn’t control and getting more and more frustrated, he would try to enjoy himself.  He turned up his music, got out of the car and started to dance, to the delight of everyone around him.  We decided this would be an awesome thing to try.  We did not get out of the car – customs may have frowned on that, but we did begin an attitude change and attacked our frustration by first dancing to "Pompeii by Bastille, a song with a great beat introduced to me by Lori. I highly recommend it if you need a lift.  After that we went all out; we  rolled down the windows, cranked up Christina Aguilera’s “Ain’t No Other Man” and danced in our seats like crazed fools. The rest of the time in line flew by, and we were apparently quite entertaining to the people in the cars around us. It is so awesome to throw away your cares and just act silly sometimes!
We arrived back at the condo surrounded by the same fog and chill which had followed us all day. Whoever said it was going to burn off was a LIAR!! Lori made a delicious dinner of chicken, pasta, and broccoli, and after eating and writing a bit we watched two episodes of the new show “Blacklist” which Lori and I both enjoy.  Deciding that scrapbooking was way too much work for today, we went to bed, totally forgetting to toss the states!

I just had to throw this in.  They had a series of these funny signs at the border crossing.  This one was our favorite!

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