After a week stuck inside the house with the dreaded-lagumba-disease (the flu), a sometimes ornery two year old, and laundry multiplying by the day, I needed a break. My two younger sisters (Amy and Lizzy) had just the ticket – a day trip to Leavenworth. No – not the prison. The quaint Bavarian village nestled in a valley 2-ish hours away.
We attempted inviting the 4th of us sister’s along, but there was no answer to our repeated calls. Sadness. After waiting about an hour for a call back we decided to head to the grocery store for some much needed road trip sustenance and then hit the highway heading for the mountains. We’d been driving about 40 minutes when Amy decided to break out her amazing, oh so delicious looking strawberry fruit gels (looked like fancy gumdrops). She’d purchased them at the specialty fruit and nut section of the Safeway. Lizzy stated they were going to be horrific and disgusting and we were going to hate them. Nevertheless, I accepted one from Amy and then on the count of three we popped them in our mouths and started chewing. Ugh. I looked across at Amy and saw what I’m sure was a mirror of my own expression of utter revulsion. We both rolled down our windows and chucked the gooey masses out of our mouths – Lizzy laughing in the backseat the entire time.
Shortly after the strawberry gels incident – and just before we entered the foothills and lost cell service – our other sister Jessica called to say she’d love to come with us to Leavenworth. Now, normally the general consensus would be “too late” and we would have continued along without her. But, Jessica has been sick for months and hasn’t been out of her house in weeks – and NEEDED the time with her sisters. So, we turned around and headed to her place to pick her up. By the time we arrived we’d decided on a change of destination. Leavenworth basically shuts down around 5pm on Sundays, and since it was nearing 3 o’clock, we decided Canada would be a better option. So, after the Jessica (and passports) pickup, we headed north to the border. According to Amy’s new love – her iPhone – it was only two hours away.
Two hours later, we passed a sign indicating a 50 minute wait at the US/Canadian border. Vegan. During the 50 minute (yup, it was that long) wait at to cross into Canada, I took pictures of 20 different street signs. And one of a man, taking a picture. He saw me do it – so I had to talk to him, which totally embarrassed my sisters. Oh well. We spent our 50 minutes looking at our very lame passport photos, talking about smuggling our apples thru, laughing at Amy’s “No-we-don’t-have-any-fruit” face, and discussing that the people in front of us must think we’re nuts due to all the photo taking out the windows. We also did not allow a rude Canadian woman to oink the line – only to watch her practically run over the mini-car a couple behind us and succeed in cutting the 50 minute long line. (sigh – there’s no justice in the world) Finally, after almost having my camera confiscated by the customs border control lady – she had to make sure no agents were in any of my pictures, we were in Canada. Woo-hoo!
An hour later, we were finally out of the pot growing fields and in a city. Incidentally, we saw a grazing deer and then an orange Lamborghini within about 3 minutes of each other.
After driving up and down the same few blocks a couple times, realizing that Canadian drivers do NOT care if the light is red, pulling a few u-turns, and exclaiming over all the amazing shops, we decided to stop for dinner. We pulled into a place called Earls which had a terrible parking lot where you had to back out the wrong way on a one way to reach the road again. Oh well, the resturant looked nice. As we walked in, we noticed an orange Lamborghini parked near the door. Exactly like the one that whizzed past us on the pot growing fields an hour earlier. Hmmmmm.
Earls was a bit nicer than we were dressed for, and the staff looked like they’d just taken a break from their modeling photo shoot. Seriously. Every single person working there was phenomenally good looking. Hot hot hot. Gorgeous. It was a little sickening. Made me not want to eat…kinda. Lizzy (a waitress back in “the States”) noted that it was nice the waitresses got to wear their hair down – that she’s not allowed to because her restaurant doesn’t want hair in the food. But then agreed with the rest of us that maybe it was better not to serve hair with your dinner. Speaking of food. I had the best chicken sandwich ever created in Canada. Toasted Ciabatta bread with garlic mayo and sweet fig jam with a grilled chicken breast, melted brie and roasted apples – topped with a little baby spinach. Oh my goodness – it was dee-licious! Amy had a chicken club, Jessica had a beef dip of some kind and Lizzy had Pad-Thai…and hair. Tee-hee. Yup, halfway thru her dinner, she found a long blonde hair with her noodles. She’s such a good sport – still finished the rest of her meal. Bleah. In addition to no hair restrictions in Canada, apparently the waitresses are not expected to have any restrictions on their mouths. Once our waitress found out we were from the States, she name dropped a couple famous A-lister movie stars and then dropped something else. The F-bomb. We sat there in shock as she walked away and then were even more shocked when she did it again a few minutes later when refilling our waters. Also there was a B— Sh— thrown in at some point. And this was a NICE place. Really nice. Jeez.
We left Earls in search of some Quality Street to bring back for my mom, and some gasoline. We pulled into a gas station reading 96.7 per on the sign. Now, I’m not good with exchange rates etc – but I figured gas would be roughly the same and didn’t sweat it too much as I started filling the tank. Right. So, did you know that in Canada, gas is sold by the liter? Not by the gallon? Yeah. I drive a Camry – it had a quarter tank still. When the price passed $50 I stopped pumping. Note to self. Do NOT buy gas in Canada ever again.
We visited a couple more stores trying to find my mom’s candy, but to no avail. We finally decided to give up and head home so I hopped back on the highway heading south. Or so I thought. A few minutes later I realized I was seeing signs that looked an awful lot like airport arrival/departure information. Oh crap. I’d somehow managed to get off the freeway and was driving into Vancouver International Airport. Doggone. Jessica assured me I was fine and to just u-turn it at the next light. So, I got into the left turn lane, drove right past a no-u-turn sign and waited at the red light. Here, I blame Amy and Jessica – and give kudos to Lizzy for again being right. Jessica gets blame for telling me to u-turn. Amy gets blame for her comment (just 5 minutes prior) that she hadn’t seen a single cop since arriving in Canada. Lizzy gets kudos for telling me not to do the u-turn, and then pointing out (mid turn) the cop sitting just to the side of the intersection.
For the next 20 minutes I got a good look at the recently constructed, giant Olympic rings, beautifully illuminated against the night sky – as I sat pulled over, waiting for my ticket. The cop (mounty?) was actually very friendly. Seemed perfectly understanding of my explanation of being lost and just trying to find my way back to a Seattle heading freeway. She was surprised to find that we were all sisters and had a big smile the whole conversation. But then she asked for my insurance and ID and said “I’ll just be a few minutes” as she turned back to her car. We hated Canada for those 20 minutes. What kind of cop (mounty?) is that nice but then still goes and writes you a ticket? Stupid Canada. She finally came back with my license and insurance card and with it a little slip of paper. But then she said some amazing words as she handed over my ticket – “I’m just giving you a warning – remember, no u-turns here unless it’s specifically posted, ok?”. So – apparently our neighbors to the north don’t mind wasting their officer’s time making them actually write you a warning. What a nice little souvenir. We love Canada. She even gave us directions back to the correct freeway.
The trip home was pretty uneventful. Except the part where I got stuck in the customs parking lot after doing some duty free shopping. The signs made no sense and I was paranoid about turning down the wrong way or going out the in so I stopped to ask one of the agents how to get out. He probably thought I was an idiot. Who needs directions out of a parking lot? Also, Amy was sure the car pulled up along side us in line had a bomb in it and then thought the customs official was asking her to roll down the window and got a little nervous looking. Which lead to questions about having things to be nervous about – and if we’d been drinking. And we didn’t get any stamps in our passports because we should have received them going into Canada…not coming back. Whoops.
I didn’t get home until after midnight. It was a great day. I love my sisters. And Canada.