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Canada Adventure Days 1-3

Day 1 – Awake at 3am to catch an 8 o’clock flight in San Francisco. Security check was easy as none of us had to get searched extensively. The flight to Vancouver (YVR) was very calm. We arrived on time and taxied to the gate, which took forever. When we went through customs, each agent asked us about a million questions such as “Why are you here?, Why Mount Washington instead of Whistler?, Why go to Vancouver?, How long are you staying here?” After the airport, we got on the public transportation autobus to get to downtown Vancouver. While on the 98, we met Star, a University of British Columbia (UBC) student who told us which bus stop to get off and how to get to our hotel. We got to our hotel, the Blue Horizon and asked for an early check-in, in which they gladly obliged. They also upgraded us to a room with a balcony. After we checked in and dropped all of our bags off, we went to explore the downtown area. At the time, it was about 2pm and we decided to go eat lunch at Steamworks Brewery in the Gaslamp district. The food there was superb and the ketchup was the best I’ve ever had. It was their own label of ketchup. I had the Fish & Chips (“Best in town” and it was), and Chris had the Deluxe Burger (double smoked bacon, aged cheddar cheese, top quality meat, all for $10.95 CAD). After that, we checked out the Gaslamp district. We must have seen 20 homeless people, minimum. I don’t know how those guys survive the cold weather. Homeless people and beggars are such a common occurrence. Also, it seemed like almost on every other block, somebody was smoking marijuana. Everybody smoked cigarettes, even though they were $10 per pack! We walked to the Tim Horton’s and got some Timbits, which are doughnut holes, but way better. On the way back to the hotel, we went to the Pacific Centre, which is a mall that was partly underground. There was this one fancy store that we accidentally went into. It was like a Bloomingales or Nordstroms. After the mall, we went back to the hotel to watch some Canadian TV and relax after five hours of walking up and down hills. By the time we were finished, we went to the Vancouver Public Library. The first time we went to the library, there was a movie crew there filming a motion picture. This time, we went there to check out the free Internet. This library was huge; it had five usable stories, but it was six or seven stories total. We should have planned better because we were walking back to the hotel many times. Our room was on the 20th floor, so we had to take the elevator, which took a long time. Immediately after the library, we went to the hotel for a quick stop and then to the BC Liquor store. All the alcoholic beverages were controlled by the government and there were heavy levies for each beverage purchased. The sales tax in Vancouver was 16%. While inside the liquor store, we asked the clerk if there were any “forties”. She said she hasn’t seen any “forties” go through the “cash” (cashier/checkout). We ended up getting some good beers. I got Stella Atrois and Chris got something with 7.0% alcohol. We went out for pizza-by-the-slice after going to a regular pizza restaurant. All of the good pizza places were on Granville & Davie streets which were about 6-8 blocks away. While eating pizza, we drank our beers and charted out our plans for the night. We left the hotel room at about 10:15pm, and realized that it was way too early. Nobody was in any of the pubs. Instead of waiting around, we walked all the way down to Yaletown, which looked like the theatre district in Petaluma. It was pretty nice there, but again, nothing to do because it was too early. By the time we got back to Granville Street, we decided to go to The Roxy. At the door, you have to get wanded by the bouncer and some places required two pieces of photo identification. The cover was only $5 and there was a very good live band. When we got in, there were only a few dozen people there. As the night progressed, many more people entered and it was packed but not overcrowded. Inside, we met people from all over. We met Enrique from Guadalajara who said it took him 38 hours to get to San Diego. Chris met these guys from Colorado and one of them invited him to his house. There were also many Australians and New Zealanders. Though the place closed at 3am, we left at 2:30am after our ears were blasted. We danced for three straight hours with all the people in the club. I’ve never experienced a club with such great people and atmosphere. Chris truly loves the Canadians. On the way back to the hotel, we almost got accosted for money by some homeless guy who we saw at least four times earlier in the day. He was following us so we decided to run from him. We got back to the hotel and it was time to go to bed. I had been up for 24 hours.

Day 2 – Woke up and had grilled breakfast paninis at the IGA supermarket. We even ate them before we had paid for them! We caught the bus to Horseshoe Bay and took the ferry to Departure Bay in Nanaimo. From there, Aunt Sue drove us back to her house where we relaxed for the rest of the night. For dinner, we had homemade, delicious local sausage and pepperoni pizza. We filled up our “hay miles”.

Day 3 – We woke up and filled up our breakfast “hay mile” with thick buttermilk pancakes from scratch, local sausage links, farm-fresh eggs, Mennonite (Amish) strawberry jam, and genuine Canadian maple syrup. It kept us nourished for our long day on the slopes. The drive to get to Mount Washington took only 30 minutes. We got our rentals and hit the bunny slopes at around 11:30am. The snow up there was awesome. Chris went down the slopes in an almost straight line. He reached terminal velocity and then started zig-zagging. One time, he went down a trail that was actually a terrain park and he got like 3 feet of air. Most of the day was spent on the green trails and by the end of the day, it was getting extremely dark and cold. There was almost no contrast on the ground late in the afternoon. The sun sets at around 4:15pm. When we left the resort, it was starting to snow. We hitched a ride from two different people to get back into town. In general, the people are very nice and hitching a ride is much safer and more common, especially at a ski resort.

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