Tuesday, May 26, 2009

O, Canada

I went to Canada over the weekend! I went, specifically, to attend Anime North 2009 and to visit with "Piper" and "Psyche".

This was the first time that I had ever been to Canada. Upon arriving at the border for the immigration checkpoint, the agent was surprised ... well, shocked, really ... that me being as old as I am and living in Ohio had never been to Canada.

The trip up and back was rather uneventful, other than the ubiquitous construction. Driving through Michigan was an awful chore, numerous construction zones, potholes on the interstate that could swallow a car. The roads in Canada, however, were nicely maintained.

Driving through Canada was no different than in the US. Highways worked the same, signs were similar enough, drivers were no different than I experience in Ohio.

The weather was great throughout the whole weekend. I drove much of the way with the windows down when the temperature wasn't oppressively hot. Upon entering Michigan, I noticed a peculiar odor of sewage that persisted until the Ambassador Bridge. I don't know what that was all about, but it was nasty.

Before I left, I washed my car. When I got home, it looked as if I had driven through a plague of locusts! The windshield is splotched with the remains of bugs like I've never seen. The front bumper is even worse. I guess I will have to wash it again!

The trip was a little over 912 miles (or, nearly 1 kilomile in metric) there and back. It took about 8 hours one-way straight driving. Surprisingly I averaged 25.4 miles per gallon on the entire trip. That's pretty good for a car with a V8 engine. I usually average 17.1 mpg in daily driving. Of course, daily driving is a stop-and-go affair. It also proves how nicely the 'Active Fuel Management' of my engine works. When cruising at highway speeds, it only uses four of the eight cylinders to save fuel.

Fig. 1: The view from my hotel room.

I stayed at the Toronto Airport Marriott which was a very nice hotel. The bed was probably the most comfortable bed I had ever slept in. The hotel was very clean. I did have trouble with the pay-to-use internet service. I had to jerry-rig the settings on my laptop to get it to work, but it was speedy and served me well. The television service was being worked on while I was there, and some stations were absent or had lots of interference. Other than that, the room was great and I would definitely stay there again.

Something, though, caused me to break out on my hands and face. I speculate that it was some kind of fabric softener on the sheets and pillow cases. However, one of the medications that I am on does have the side-effect of sensitivity to sunlight, so that could be it as well.

Some random observations:
  • Michigan smells bad.
  • Michigan roads suck.
  • Michigan drivers suck.
  • Everything in Canada is metric. Speeds, lengths, people. Everything.
  • Not all Canadians say 'Eh?' or 'Aboot'.
  • Nearly all signs are in English and French.
  • 'Reduced Speed' is translated as 'Reduit Vitesse'. It just sounds cool.
  • Canadians drive on the right side of the road.
  • Milk in Canada comes in bags.
  • Canadians look like regular people.
  • Trips are shorter in Canada because they use kilometers.
  • Canadian money is in colour, and the $5 has an image of people playing hockey on the back!
I will be posting an entry on my blog account on LiveJournal about my experiences at Anime North 09, meeting my terrific Canadian friends and observations of the people at the convention. I'll post a link here to that when I get it written, so stay tuned!

Anyone from the US that may be thinking about going to Canada just to check it out, I highly recommend it. Be sure, though, that you are aware that starting June 1 border crossings by land and sea will require a passport or passport card. Birth Certificates and other proof-of-citizenship documents will no longer be accepted. Travel by air will continue to require a passport book, with no exceptions.

1 comment:

Orchid64 said...

I drove to Canada twice when I was living in Pennsylvania. It took about 6 hours, I think. Both times I went there and returned on the same day so it was a lot of driving. I also visited Niagra Falls both times. It was gorgeous and the Canadian side was clean and beautiful while the American side was nasty and rundown. Of course, I think that the Falls and tourist areas were pretty much all on the Canadian side.

The first time I went, I went with a friend who had a bunch of binders for the non-profit agency she worked at in the back seat of her car and the border guard really grilled her about what they were. It was pretty peculiar, and it was 22 years ago (I think), when security wasn't as big a deal as it is today.