Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Canada 2013!!

Our recent trip into Canada was a great adventure! To me, the best part of traveling is being immersed with new cultures and customs, meeting people, and seeing new things. I knew Canada wouldn't be the culture shock that Japan was for me, but I still didn't know what to expect. We were very amused by kilometers per hour rather than miles per hour for some reason, we're driving 120 kph, OMG!, we learned to quickly convert Celsius to Fahrenheit (temperature in C x 2, + 30 = ~temperature in F), and fell seriously in love with loonies and toonies. We used the hotel's washing machine one time and the sign said it only took toonies, and I died. All of these things endeared me so much, and it's hard to completely pinpoint why. I do know that Canada has become very dear to me because of this trip.

As soon as I knew we were going to Canada, I made a list of things (with help from Instagram friends) that I wanted to see/experience/eat that are completely, in my mind, Canadian. It became a scavenger hunt:

  • Tim Hortons ✔  (I was SO psyched for this!!!)
  • David's Tea
  • Poutine
  • Mars Bars
  • Smarties
  • Crispy Crunch
  • Coffee Crisp
  • Kinder Surprise
  • Ketchup Chips
  • Canadian Tire Store
(I did pretty good, huh?)

Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver, BC
a Toonie and a Loonie

Of course I was psyched to have so much time to knit. I brought three knitting projects plus yarn caked up...just in case. I ended up mainly knitting on my Blueberry Waffle socks:

socks #iloveagoodwip

Top Left: knitting at a hotel. Top Right: waiting to cross into Canada!!! Bottom Left: at the first camping site: Squamish Valley, BC. Bottom Right: camping at Nairn Falls...very cozy! and large bottom photo: knitting while Scott drives, woo hoo!

The first part of our adventure in Canada began in Surrey, B.C. It is very close to Vancouver, which was the real aim. Scott found a hotel right next to a sky train and I can't tell you how cool that was! We were able to ride the sky train into Vancouver, walk around, visit places, eat, and ride back without having to worry about driving (whenever we travel, the most stressful thing for us is driving in big cities, so this really was such a huge relief). We never actually drove in Vancouver ourselves.

One day we visited Science World at TELUS World of Science:

Canadian vacation - August 2013

We spent a good three or four hours in Science World and still didn't come close to seeing everything...it was HUGE!

science world
bwaha I love that little girl looking over at Scott, like, what are you doing here?!

There was one room entirely filled with puzzles (like top left and bottom right photos), a room of optical illusions, a room to learn about the body and how it works, an exhibit of the Science of Sexuality, and a room filled with one artist's creations that were animate "people" built from odds and ends. 

Another day we visited the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia:


This was another place that we weren't able to fully discover because of its size. We had a guided tour of the outside exhibit which was comprised of many poles and Haida houses (the Haida are indigenous people of British Columbia). Some of the poles we saw were recreations or inspired by real poles that the artist saw. But many of the things we saw in the Museum were real, and very old. Age is something that really trips me up, to see an artifact that existed in the 16th century, right now, blows me away. 

There were many indoor galleries that we went through too: totem poles and carved figures by different Northwest Coast nations, items from many cultures, European ceramics on display, just to name a few. 

Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver, BC
The Raven and the First Men by Bill Reid

plexi glass at MOA

These designs are carved into plexiglass boxes... aren't they so cool? There were a few hanging from the ceiling and some sitting on tables, but at first glance, I thought they were glass!

And our last day in the Vancouver area was spent at a yarn shop, and meeting an internet friend! I met Kim on Instagram awhile back and when I said I would be in the area, we planned a meet up!! It was definitely the highlight of the trip!!

Squamish Valley Campground, BC
haul from Valley Yarns in Surrey, B.C.

Richmond Night Market!!!!!!!!!!!

We met Kim and her boyfriend, and they took us the Richmond Night Market! It was INSANE! The market itself was ginormous, and there were so many people! There were food vendors and stalls selling everything you can think of. Scott and I each bought a shirt, and all four of us ate so much.

Night Market

me with takoyaki (yay!!) and Scott and his Rotato


Richmond Night Market food
TL: rotatoes, TR: takoyaki, BL: poutine!!!, BR: (ice cream) Dips

Dericious in Whistler!!! (Our new shirts from Richmond Night Market)
the shirts we bought
After the Night Market (I think we spent about four hours there!!) Kim and Donnie drove us around Vancouver! It was the coolest thing to be shown around the city by locals and I am so grateful they gave us so much of their time.

They dropped us off at our hotel, only there was an ambulance blocking the entrance. We still aren't sure what happened, but the next day we heard about a hit and run that happened a few streets over. I'll mention that Surrey, B.C. is really big. It has a population over 468,000 and is the second largest city in B.C. I should have realized it may not have been the nicest of neighborhoods when, while we walked around in search of an ATM, all the stores had bars over their windows... that's my big city naivete :) but nothing happened to us and we stayed safe.

One thing we didn't realize before going into Canada is alcohol isn't sold in grocery stores! We went to a gas station and then a Safeway, and walked around and around and around. Finally I asked where the beer was, and he said, "Non-alcoholic?" !! We are not heavy drinkers but do enjoy wine on weekends and a few beers during the week...so yeah, we buy beer regularly :) In Canada, you have to go to a liquor store for all types of alcohol. Beer sold in the liquor store was about double what we pay here for the same beer. I think a 24-pack of Budweiser was over $40! We decided that if we lived in Canada, we would not drink as much. (I didn't mean to write so much about alcohol!! You guys probably think I'm an alchy).


We did buy three different kinds: Deep 6 Lager (for the record, it was just under $9 for a six-pack...), Angry Scotch Ale (we really liked this!) and a wine called Inniskillin (which was also really good!). I really wanted to try more Canadian beers, but I just couldn't swallow those prices.

After Surrey, we drove north towards Whistler. We camped at Squamish Valley Campground:

Squamish Valley Campground, BC

I liked camping right on the river but the campground itself wasn't great. The overnight fee was the most we've ever paid and despite being under construction (they were paving roads and forming new sites), the campground didn't look well taken care of. Many of the empty sites were dirty; we ended up cleaning this site up a lot. Lots of garbage. (I don't recommend this one)

the mist over the river was really nice

At Whistler: 

Whistler, BC
Whistler, site of the 2010 Winter Olympics

Scott did not want to take this picture with me!  he's a good boy

there was a huge bicycle event happening while we were there; bicyclists were everywhere!! Whistler was the coldest place we experienced in Canada, I even wore a winter hat for a little bit! It was windy, cloudy (though not so much in this photo!) and rained intermittently. I did go to David's Tea! But dang it, about one week too early for Pumpkin Chai tea!! ugh! Overall, Whistler is a cute place and I wish we had more time to wander around.

From Whistler, we drove about ten miles north to Nairn Falls and camped there:

Nairn Falls Provincial Park campsite, BC

and then walked to Nairn Falls:

Nairn Falls Provincial Park, BC

It was really hard to capture the falls!! Maybe not a picturesque waterfall, but definitely a very powerful one.

Nairn Falls Provincial Park, BC

The bedrock here has been eroded away by swirling waters, the depressions are called potholes. The bridge is formed when several potholes become connected.

From there we drove to Revelstoke, B.C. and stayed the night in a hotel (dried out our camping gear because it had rained on us!), and then to Banff:

Welcome to Banff, AB
I am the best tourist

Banff has the most beautiful mountains:

Banff, AB


We camped at Two Jack Lake:

Two Jack Lake camping, Banff, AB

Apparently there are two Two Jack Lake campgrounds, and we stopped at the wrong one. We meant to stay at the one that had sites right next to the lake. Don't ask me about this place... I completely lost patience with the campground attendant - even after all this time, I am still mad at him (he was not good at his job if you ask me). Anyway.


The day we were to leave Banff for Calgary, we decided to take a short hike and see the Hoodoos. The short hike turned into about five hours of up and down the mountain on a BMX trail!! And then we weren't even close to the Hoodoos! I was so mad!

We walked through some gorgeous areas though:

Hood Trail, Banff, AB

Hood Trail, Banff, AB

Hood Trail, Banff, AB
we walked alongside that river in the beginning

Hood Trail, Banff, AB
the Hoodoos is the teeny, vertical structure in the middle of the photo, see it?


Calgary was basically just a stopover before driving down to Glacier National Park, which made me sad because I wanted to explore it. We stayed at a very nice Days Inn, our room was beautiful... and I may have watched a marathon of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo (my guilty pleasure. Don't worry, it's ok. I don't have cable at home).

We woke up early the next day because we had to be at the hotel in Kalispell, Montana by 6:30 pm to meet Scott's grandpa and family. It was a good thing we had an early start because it took an hour to cross the border back into the United States!! There was only one attendant and a loooong line of cars. Did I mention how hot and sunny it was? When we finally got to the window, she asked a bunch of questions (just like when we entered Canada) like, Where are you from? Where do you work? How long were you in Canada? What did you do up there? I thought it was going very well, until she asked us if we brought any alcohol back. I said yes, we had a few cans of beer, and she was like, O-oook, drive over there and those men will search your car. Oh man, me and my honesty!!! But they searched it very quickly and didn't seem suspicious of us at all.

We drove into Montana through Glacier National Park, down the Going to the Sun Road. We were both very hot and very short-tempered by this point, and we were running out of time to meet Scott's grandpa. Lake McDonald is an expansive lake and the road hugged it for a long time. On impulse, I pulled over and we cooled off. It was the best idea.

Lake McDonald, Glacier Nat'l Park, MT

Lake McDonald, Glacier Nat'l Park, MT

Lake McDonald, Glacier Nat'l Park, MT

Lake McDonald, Glacier Nat'l Park, MT

the water was cool but not cold. We came back the next day and swam :)

Lake McDonald, Glacier Nat'l Park, MT

and we made it in time for dinner!

Scott and his grandpa
Scott and grandpa Everett

Scott's grandpa lives in Kansas and every year or so, takes a bus tour that takes him all around the U.S. Since he doesn't make it up to Montana often, we try to meet him when he's here; one year it was in Yellowstone National Park. He's a very sweet man and the closest thing to a grandpa I've ever known, so he's very dear to me. We stayed in the same hotel as grandpa Everett and Scott's family, so we were able to have a lot of meals together.

One of the last things we did in Glacier was hike to Hornet Lookout. It's labeled as an "easy" hike, which is such a lie!! It's a very steep incline the entire way with lots of switchbacks. Although, it took just thirty minutes to hike up, and the whole trail was lined with huckleberry bushes!! It was insane how many huckleberry bushes there were. If I got ahead of anyone, I'd stop and eat a few :)


The area had been burned by the Wedge fire in 2003, but you can see new growth.

Hornet Lookout, MT
Hornet Lookout

on the drive home we did cross paths with a black bear! I am so thankful it was the only bear of the journey, and that we were safe in a car.

If you made it through this entire post, well done!! Thank you for indulging me while I share photos and stories of our vacation. I can't wait to revisit Canada, there were so many places we didn't have time to see!!

I hope everyone enjoys their week :)