Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Canada travel log part 1

Back home from vacation now! And back to work today, boo. Mike asked me if it felt good to get back into my work routine, and I said no.

Here's how our British Columbia vacation ran down.
Started one day later than scheduled because we got turned away from the airport the first day. See, we don't have passports, but the current rule is that to return to the US from Canada, you only have to prove that you have applied for a passport. You don't have to have the actual passport in your hand. So, about a month ago we went to the post office and dutifully applied for passports. They took our original birth certificates and attached them to the application, promising to return them later. I was nervous about traveling with neither a passport nor an original birth certificate. Well, it turns out that you can't. Not to Canada, anyway. You don't need to show your birth certificate to return to the US, but you DO need to show it to enter Canada. Mike was lucky enough to have an extra original. And I am lucky enough to still be living in my county of birth, so our trip was only delayed one day while I went to the clerk's office to get another document. And, thank goodness, we researched the offices on the web beforehand, since due to some circumstances, my birth certificate is NOT found in the Office of Vital Records like everyone else's is. But we figured out the circumstances ahead of time and I woke up early and drove to the Van Nuys clerk's office and got my printout right away. It is surprisingly easy to get a birth certificate. I just had to sign a paper saying that I'm me. They didn't even question why my name now is different from my name on the birth certificate. The Van Nuys office is very efficient. I need to remember to send them a letter of commendation later.

Day one: travel day. We flew into Vancouver, and I read the entire Harry Potter book while on the plane or in the airport. In spite of the fact that Canada does not require passports to enter, you'd be surprised at how many people ask to see it. And their airport police are like storm troopers. Don't ask me how I know this. We spent the night at a hostel in downtown Vancouver, which was very comfortable and clean. I was very relieved to see this after the disaster in Kauai.

Day two: transferred to a different hostel in central Vancouver. It's Hostelling International Vancouver Central. Also very nice. We had a private room with bathroom, so it was really no different from any hotel. Then we spent the day in Stanley Park. Stanley Park is a big giant park like Griffith Park in LA, only next to the ocean. It has a Seawall around it with footpaths and bike paths. It is recommended to walk all the way around the Seawall to enjoy the views. They say it takes a couple of hours to walk the whole thing. However, at this time it is not possible to walk all the way around because a large part of the path is closed for reasons I've now forgotten. It may be due to a windstorm they had on Dec 15th which knocked down many trees. We saw the damage firsthand when we went hiking through the middle of the park. We talked to a man feeding peanuts to squirrels. He said he spends 5 hours a day in the park. He told us all about the hiking trails and all the animals. We met him while I was photographing a squirrel eating a peanut. The man said, "Don't shoot him now, wait til he comes closer." Which I thought was a hilarious joke by an environmentalist, until I realized he was using the word "shoot" to mean "take a picture of." My first confusion with Canadian English. (If you click on the picture to the right, you can better see the little squirrel in the center of the shot.) Then we hiked to the summit in the park and had lunch at the top. We rode a shuttle bus back down to the bottom. Then we went to the aquarium which is in the center of Stanley Park. We were lucky to get into the aquarium. Fellow tourists later told us that the aquarium was closed due to a citywide strike by public employees. In the aquarium we saw otters and beluga whales. And dolphins doing tricks, though I missed all of the tricks. The dolphins swim in 2 different pools, and they kept splashing in the pool I wasn't watching. Then I would run over to the trick pool and they would change pools and do more tricks. This was repeated several times until I got tired of being the dolphins' entertainment and left. I liked the otters the best.

Mike's favorite part of Stanley Park was a big cannon they have, that apparently fires every night at 9PM (we were never near the park at night to be able to see/hear this).

Continue to part 2 of the travel log here.

1 comment:

Vonnie said...

I actually ate lunch by the beluga whales... aren't they awesome? That was my favorite memory from the aquarium.


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