The Married Couple
(16-25 July 2003)

25 July 2003
[from Seattle]

-The Hotel Dufferin in Vancouver ended up being less than stellar.  But Micky's on the bottom floor of the Dufferin is so slow that some of their (good) food is free!
-Greyhound buses are definitely the best way to cross the border for easy customs encounters.
-So much of life is about managing pressure.

24 July 2003
[from Vancouver, British Columbia]

-Sinking feelings stink.
-Stanley Park is a lot more fun than downtown.  Went to the Aquarium which I rank 3rd-best of all I've been to (behind Monterrey Bay & Baltimore) for the first time in more than a decade.  Then we walked all the way back to Gastown, Vancouver's vaguely old-school district.  A long but solid day.

23 July 2003
[from Vancouver, British Columbia]

-Canadian TV is hilarious at times.  Mostly only the commercials are different.  The nation seems obsessed with "processed" cheese & perceives it positively... it's always an asset in these commercials.
-For the second time on this trip, we've made the colossal error of attempting Mexican food in Canada.  About the time we realized the salsa was 33% olives, it was time to go.
-Vancouver seems like it's not a great match with us, at least the downtown area.  The mass transit is good, but the people here appear generally ill at ease.  Maybe we just picked a bad day, given we've seen 3 fire trucks stop & 3 arrests take place within a block of our hotel.
-"Johnny English" is silly.  But moments of Rowan Atkison's cleverness were there.

22 July 2003
[from Victoria, British Columbia]

-Emily has seen a ton of IMAX movies.  I nearly doubled my count today with Whales & T-Rex.  There's a lot of hype about the latter round here, but I can't say I recommend it.  It's long on cheese & short on dinos.  Whales is quite good though.
-Also picked up Craigdarroch Castle as our last sightseeing site on the Island.  Quality woodworking in the interior & a nice castely feel.
-I think I'm going to miss this town.

21 July 2003
[from Victoria, British Columbia]

-Today we took a break from most everything.  The soreness from yesterday's ocean adventure caught up with us at about the same time that we confirmed that Canada doesn't have good Mexican food.

20 July 2003
[from Victoria, British Columbia]

Happy Birthday to Drew Tirrell
-Though we were planning to watch whales tomorrow, the place we wanted to whale watch with had slapped on a guarantee for their 4:30 boat.  & so I embarked on a highly unlikely excursion for me... setting out in a 15-person Zodiac boat for 500-foot-deep ocean waters.  I think only Emily's massive excitement for seeing an orca could've dragged me into this.  Despite a full-body lifejacked & assurances that the boats rarely tip at all, I was pretty sure I'd end up in the drink.  Well I didn't & instead had an amazing afternoon where we saw 3 pods of orcas totalling roughly 85 whales!  The boat's driver admitted that it was one of the best possible days for whale-watching imaginable.  Easy to believe.  Seeing a live orca just a few feet away as it jumps into the air is not an average experience.  We took nearly a roll of pictures, but I doubt any of them captured the height of a jump.  If a couple capture the experience, I'll be happy.
-I think Victoria has the world's cheapest Old Spaghetti Factory.  I have practically done a North American tour of these wonderful restaurants.
-AAA membership is highly recommended to everyone who intends to leave town in any given year.  I think it has paid for itself 4 times during this journey so far.

19 July 2003
[from Victoria, British Columbia]

-My first breakfast in BC in years ends up being a breakfast burrito.  Life is good.
-Not sure the Wax Museum was worth a decade & a half of anticipation, but it was pretty cool.  Above all else, it is the most randomly organized museum ever.
-After touring the Butterfly Gardens & Butchart Gardens, we're rather exhausted.  The fireworks show at Butchart (every Saturday in July & August only) seemed to attract the whole population of British Columbia.  Fireworks were much more akin to a laser light show as they had lots of grounded fireworks on various sets, only periodically shooting them up skyward & blasting what Americans think of as fireworks.  Very well done though.
-Canada will give you back all your sales tax if you're not from Canada & you send in the receipts.  I want to write them a letter instead asking for a week's worth of reasonable health care & equitable social policy.  I think they'd get a kick out of that & may even send me info about moving here!

18 July 2003
[from Victoria, British Columbia]

-Em & I have resolved to never be the big complainers.  It may not be the easiest thing in all circumstances, but hearing so many spoiled people with a sense of entitlement moan about the smallest inconveniences of travel has inspired us to never be "that guy" or "that woman", or worst of all "that couple".  Many obnoxious people go on vacation.
-I now see why they tried to make all the ferries in this area high-speed.  While I really enjoyed the ferry as a child, I seem more prone to seasickness as an adult.  At least when the only place to go outside is a small smoking deck.
-The customs office for entry into Canada was asking fairly normal questions (we had to go with our old professions when he asked about jobs) when he popped this one to me:  "Have you ever been to Texas?"  Which was immediately followed by "Have you ever been arrested in Texas?"  (He had already asked if I'd ever been arrested at all.)  Then he tried hard to pin down the last 2 times I'd visited G.W. Bush's home state, following this up with repeats of the 2 previous questions.  Maybe, like most of Texas' Democratic State Senators, there is a mysterious warrant out for my arrest in Texas.  Than only Canadian officials know about.  But I think the guy may have just been making some twisted joke.
-Victoria is just as beautiful as I remembered it.  & laid-back enough to let us drag rolling luggage across the BC Parliament steps.

17 July 2003
[from Seattle]

-After spending 25 solid hours on the train, it's good to be back on the ground.  Today we played 53 hands of cards, camping out in the Cafe Car, where the snack bar is located.  Breakfast was worth going to the fancy dining car for, but is not terribly cheap or pro-veggie after breakfast.
-Proof that plan-as-you-go travel is the only way!  Rates cheaper than any advanced planning could secure!

16 July 2003
-Heading to points north for roughly ten days.  Updates upon return as usual.  I always said I wanted a honeymoon on a train; at least 2 days of it will be!

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