Canada to America to Canada and Back to America Again

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September 2nd 2018
Published: September 4th 2018
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Vancouver SunriseVancouver SunriseVancouver Sunrise

The early morning final view of Vancouver Harbour.
I woke-up to see our fantastic view for the last time and what was shaping-up to be a stunning sunrise, so I jumped out of bed and went out to try and get a picture of it.

My wife and I had also decided that we would have one last trip to Stanley Park so we got out early, whilst there were still some bikes available. It was again, a very peaceful and pleasant time, with just a few other riders and early morning runners out as well.

We had thought about going to Victoria on Vancouver Island, however after looking into it, we decided that it would be too long a journey to do in one day, with an hour drive to the ferry terminal (there are no ferries from Vancouver itself), a two hour ferry trip and then an hour drive again the other end. Then reversing it all again to get back. We had looked into accommodation, but that was extremely expensive. We had also looked into getting the ferry from there back to Seattle, but that was also massively expensive. We didn’t go, which meant that we spent more time in Vancouver, which isn’t exactly
Point Roberts LighthousePoint Roberts LighthousePoint Roberts Lighthouse

Sorry, but this is the least photographic lighthouse.

We did find a little adventure that we could do on the way back to Seattle, however, by going to a place called Point Roberts. This is a little piece of America, which only about four square miles and can only be accessed (by land at least) from Canada. It is an anomaly from the way that the border was agreed as a straight line. This was all down to the British apparently.

The border was no problem as the only question from America’s most miserable border-guard, was “What are you doing here?”. It did not take very long to have a look around, have a quick walk along the beach and get a photo of the world's least photogenic lighthouse.

We went to a shop, which was stacked from floor to ceiling with crates of alcohol. Point Roberts has obviously become some sort of tax free area. Oh and on that note the second biggest thing that winds us up most about America and Canada (behind all the constant tipping) is the taxes. It is great that they are visible, but it is annoying that the prices you see advertised are never the prices that
Peace ArchPeace ArchPeace Arch

The border between Canada and the USA.
you actually end-up paying (except in Point Roberts and a few zero tax states).

And I don’t know what the hell is the situation with hotel rooms in Canada, but all the additional charges and taxes that were added on to our bill bought tears to our eyes. GST, PST, destination marketing fee, MRDT and translink tax.

We wondered what would happen at the border back to Canada, given that if they said “No” anyone would be destined to spend the rest of their lives in a place four miles square. At least the alcohol would be cheap.

They are obviously used to people just transiting through back to America, so once we established that that is what we were now doing, the border-guard just waved us through.

The border into mainland America was a lot busier and the queue must have taken about 30 minutes. Between the two customs areas was a no-man’s-land, which had been made into a bit of a park, with a large structure in the middle, known as the Peace Arch. This seems to be a shrine to the close relationship between Canada and America, at least until the Donald ruins
Seattle SkylineSeattle SkylineSeattle Skyline

All the smog had gone.
it. At the respective ends of the park were the flags of Canada and America made out of flowers. I have to say that the Canadian one looked far better cared for than the American one. In fact, if it had not been for the Canadian flag, we would never have realised that the patch of flowers actually was the American flag.

Once the border guard heard that we had been to Point Roberts, most of his questions were about why we had gone there, what we had bought whilst we were there and how much alcohol we were carrying. It sounds like this whole tax free thing is not completely above-board.

Once we were back in Washington State we had to turn our air-conditioning to recycle the air in the car as it was only a matter of minutes before the smell of the weed from the cars in front started to come through again.

We got back to Seattle and the smog had completely gone, so we went to Kerry Park to see the view over Seattle in the daylight. It was completely clear and completely different to the smog-filled view previously. Mount Rainier had also appeared from no where. Given how quiet it had been when I had been there early in the morning, I was surprised to see how busy it was in the day. It must really wind-up the people who live there, as there were cars everywhere.

We went into Downtown Seattle for something to eat. We got bit stuck however as there we arrived at a level crossing as a freight train was going through. I am not sure however everyone else had been waiting (there was quite a long queue) but it took a further eight minutes before it had past.

Seattle was busier than we had previously seen it, despite it being a Sunday evening. We soon found out why as our favourite place, the Cheesecake Factory, was opposite a Convention Centre that was hosting something called PAX West - the largest gaming convention in the Western USA. There was also an hour wait to eat, but it was fascinating to watch everyone dressed-up in all their various costumes.

We actually saw some police this evening, for literally the first time this holiday. I really don’t think it was to keep an eye on all the computer games fans, unless it was actually to keep them safe.

The Cheesecake Factory seems to find it necessary to put all the calorie figures on everything on their menu or in the cheesecake display. It really is depressing when we like the look of a slice of cheesecake but can see that it is 1,720 calories. Clearly, if you’ve gone to the Cheesecake Factory, you’re having an evening out where you are not worrying about that sort of thing.

Our son had to get used to not being able to drink alcohol again.

We said our final farewell to Seattle and drive to our hotel for the night, which was in Tacoma near the airport. It was basic, but it had free wifi, which, when travelling with two millennials is by far the most important thing.


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