Canada

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April 2 - 29, 1998

So I take the bus from Seattle to Vancouver. When we get to the border, we have to get off the bus to go through customs. When it's my turn, the custom guy asks me, "What was the purpose of your travel?"

"Uh, vacation?"

"Vacation? But your card says you've been gone for a year."

"Yeah."

"How can you vacation for a year?"

"I worked for the same company for twelve and a half years, and saved up my money."

"What company was that?"

"Newstar."

"Up Markham way?"

"Yeah." I have no idea how he knew Newstar was in Markham.

He looks at the card. You have to fill in the last three countries you were in, which were Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam. He says, "You know these are drug countries?"

"Yeah."

Then he made me sit in a waiting area, while he processed the rest of the passengers. I figure I'm going to get my pack torn apart again. But I guess he decided it was too much trouble, because when he was finished, he just let me get back on the bus.

My plan had been, when I arrived in Vancouver, to find a bank that was open, to cash travelers cheques, or to find a Scotiabank ATM, get some money, and then call my cousin Brent to find out how to get to his place, and, if he wasn't in, to hang out in a restaurant until he was.

However, the bus dropped us at the Sandman Hotel, on Georgia, and since Brent and Kristina lived on Georgia, and since I figured they'd still be at work, I decided to walk to their place, and find a bank along the way.

I walked across this bridge, and on the other side you're no longer on Georgia; you have to jog over. Georgia lasts a block, and then there's a development you have to get around. It lasts a couple more blocks, and then there are train tracks. It ended a couple more times before I finally got to Brent and Kristina's. There weren't any banks, open or closed, and there weren't any ATMs, Scotiabank or otherwise, along the route.

When I got there, they weren't home, so I wandered around the neighbourhood, looking for an ATM, so I could go to a restaurant to wait, but there weren't any. So I sat at the front door and waited. After an hour and a half, I was just about to go searching again for an ATM, when Kristina arrived home, followed shortly by Brent. I met their three cats, the black furry one, the orange furry one, and the tailless one.

Spent my time in Vancouver wandering around downtown. The next day I found a Scotiabank, and cashed some travelers cheques. They didn't fingerprint me. It was Friday, which is donut day, but I spent all day wandering around town without finding a donut shop. One place listed donuts on their window, but they didn't have any. It was like being back in New Zealand.

We drove out to Squamish, and hiked up a mountain. That was fun. There were stairs and ladders and chains in points. Great view from the top. Brent phoned his mom in Prince Albert from the top of the mountain.

Went with Len to see a movie for free. It was pretty good. Later did Thai food with Len. He left a message on pukka's machine, but I guess he's not too good at checking for messages.

Got a hold of Hugh Bitz, the guy from Regina, who I met in Kuala Lumpur. He was just about to catch a plane to Regina.

On Good Friday we spent the day trying to get Kristina's cousin's computer upgraded, but, like I told them, the computer stores weren't open.

That Saturday we went to Kristina's parents place on Bowen Island for Kristina's sister Syl's boyfriend Bob's birthday, and Syl's surprise baby shower. We arrived in the ferry line up right behind Syl's car. She was shocked. Brent and Kristina are never that early.

It was a great meal, and a lovely day. We walked down to the beach, and chased crabs with Rob's nephew.

The next day Brent and Kristina decided it was recycling day. We gathered up all the stuff to be recycled, and Brent and I went to take it in. We left at 11:30 in the morning. We went to the recycling place close to them, but Brent decided it didn't take enough stuff. So we went to the Burnaby Recycling Depot, which was near where they used to live. Being Easter Sunday, it was closed. We went to a place that paid money for pop and beer cans and bottles, and made $3. We stopped at a Scotiabank so I could get some money. We went to Syl and Rob's, and left the metal stuff in their blue box. We went to Tim Hortons for donuts. Brent phoned Kristina to get her to find the address of the Vancouver Recycling Depot. We went to the pet store to buy kitty litter. We went to the Vancouver Recycling Depot, and dumped off the rest of the stuff. Then we went to the SPCA Thrift Store, because Brent had seen an 8mm projector that looked just like my parents', but it had been sold. We got cinnamon buns and returned home at 5:45. Kristina wondered why the hell it had taken us all day to do the recycling.

We went to the Everest Omnimax film. Everest was just how I remembered it.

Met up with Hugh. Reminisced about Malaysia and Regina.

Met up with Jacquie. It was great seeing her again. Talked about my trip, and about the old days at Minicom. Met her daughter and her boyfriend.

I discovered it's cheaper to fly in this country than to take the train or the bus. Ended up flying to Regina for $134. The bus is $162.

I arrived in Regina, and was disappointed to discover that the dinosaur is no longer in the middle of the luggage carousel. It's been replaced by some stupid mountie. I was met at the airport by Mom and Dad and Aunt Marna. I was nice to see my family again.

Spent a couple of weeks hanging out in Regina. I was shocked to discover that The Flintstones weren't on at noon any more.

Saw Michele and Dave and Gerald and Margaret and Spyro and Minoah and Belinda, and regaled them with stories of my journey. Aunt Olga and Uncle Fred came down from Prince Albert. Aunt Olga dragged us to the casino, where I lost $1.25. Saw the Silzers and Nevills.

Flying is cheap in Canada - unless you're stuck in Regina. Whereas it's $258 to fly from Vancouver to Toronto, it's $374 to fly from Regina to Toronto. So I ended up taking the train for $188.32.

However, the train doesn't go to Regina, so I had to get my parents to drive me to Melville. For 6:25 am.

The train was okay. I had two seats, so I could lie down. There was a dome car. The train was running ahead of schedule all the way, until the last stretch. We ended up being an hour and a half late.

Caught the subway, and went to Brian and Tobi's place, which I had helped them move into the day before I left on my trip.

THE END


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