Canada? Why there?
I'm glad you asked. You see, I wanted to visit Canada before it completely ceases to exist. Canada, my friends, is on the brink of collapse.
How do I know this? There are two important signs: Canada has both publicly provided universal health care AND same sex marriage.
There you go. There are not two more certain signs of apocalypse than these.
We raced up the PA Turnpike to New York, got on Route 81 (argh, #@$#%. #$%$, ^&;*^@!!!), hooked a left onto Route 90, and there we were (eight hours later), crossing the Rainbow Bridge (really pushing that gay marriage stuff, eh?) and entering Canada.
I was a nervous wreck as we approached customs. I was entering a foreign country with weapons in my car. As we approached the booth I took off my sunglasses and forced a smile.
"Bonjour," said the woman in the booth.
I froze. What the hell does "bonjoor" mean? She was speaking Foreign (which I had been warned some Canadians speak).
"I don't have any weapons!" I screamed. "At least not real ones, like bombs and machine guns!"
"Please pull over to the fortified concrete enclosure," she said.
Six hours later we were on or way again. As it turns out is it totally legal to bring bows and arrows into Canada for target shooting purposes.
A short drive and we arrived at the Niagra Kampground of America. Notice the spelling? Canadians spell Campground with a "K". Just plain silly. Otherwise their English is pretty good. I don't know what was up with the woman at the border.
We got out of the car and a horde of mosquitoes swarmed my daughter and attempted to carry her off. As I later came to understand it, being carried off by mosquitoes is one of the first signs that you are in Canada.
After dousing ourselves with DEET and setting up our tent we made our way into town. Once there we immediately donned the national costume of Canada in an effort to blend in. We didn't want to be too conspicuous as foreigners.
Thinking we could see some of the country by boat, we hopped a ride on the Maid of the Mist XVIII (I won't kid you, I was a little concerned about what happened to the other eleven Maids). This was the shortest, dumbest tour ride I have ever been on. We went about 200 yards (they call yards "meters" in Canada) and ran into this:
For about fifteen freaking minutes the captain tried to find his way around the waterfall before he finally figured out there wasn't one. (Duh). In the meantime we all got soaked, but Helen and Amelia thought it was fun.
I know it is pretty much the same picture from before, but in the first one they are dry, and in the second one they are wet. And their smiles are bigger. And I made the picture bigger.
We got on a local bus and made our way back to our kampground. While on the bus Helen attempted to eat Amelia and I realized we hadn't eaten anything since arriving in Canada.
It was then that we made the most wonderful discovery we made during our entire trip:
We proceeded to eat every single meal we ate (while traveling) in Canada at a Tim Hortons restaurant. For my American (US variety) readers, imagine a Dunkin Donuts. Well, that's about it. Canadian Dunkin Donuts.
I had an odd interaction with the young lady behind the counter at Tim Hortons. After ordering I attempted to pay with my credit card.
"Your card isn't chipped," she said.
"Um, yeah," I said, "How would it get chipped if I keep it in my wallet?"
"No, it doesn't have a chip in it," she said, staring at me as if I was a complete idiot.
"I know. I take good care of it." Her expression didn't change. Apparently she still thought me an idiot. "How about I pay in cash?" I suggested before she could mention the perfect condition of my credit card again. I handed her a Canadian $20.
She looked at it and frowned. "This thing is ancient."
"I got it a long time ago. It is still good?" I had a sudden fear that all of my Canadian money had lost all of its value since coming into my possession fifteen years ago.
She laughed at me. "Yes, it is still good. Just old."
The above exchange really happened. Really.
Having had enough of getting soaked under giant waterfalls and mocked for having a perfectly intact credit card, we decided to continue deeper into the Great White North.
It was about this time that I received a text message from my phone company saying that since I was in a foreign country, they were going to charge me $30 per megabyte of data I used. What the hell? I now it is a foreign country, but it is CANADA! We're attached, for goodness sake.
No problem. I turned off my cellular data, saving me from an absurd phone bill.
Following the instructions on my phone's Google Maps program, we proceeded towards Toronto on the Queen Elizabeth highway. I thought it was pretty cool that Canada has a Queen Elizabeth, because England has a Queen Elizabeth as well. What are the odds?
Part of the highway was a toll road, which had me a little worried, as I only had a few of my antique Canadian dollars left and I didn't know if Canadian toll booth operators would accept my flawless credit card.
It turned out not to be a problem as Canada cannot afford actual toll booths. What they do is set up a bunch of Cameras that take your picture. If your car's license plate is from Ontario, you don't pay anything. If you are from outside Ontario they hunt you down and take your money.
But I'm a foreigner, I thought. What will they do about me? Probably pull me over and beat the snot out of me. I decided to get off the toll road as fast as possible.
Then I saw that you can go 100 miles per hour on Canadian highways. Of course they spell miles with a "K" (as in 100 kph), but I was used to their strange spelling at this point. So anyway, I'm hauling ass down the highway and I see another sign. It says that if you do over 150 kph they will pull you over immediately, take your driver's license, and impound your car.
But it didn't say anything about 149 kph. I floored it. You wouldn't think a 2004 Subaru Forester could do 149 miles per hour, but hell-yeah it can! You can cover a lot of ground when you are going almost a buck fifty.
Things were going great until we hit Toronto. Otherwise known as The Slowest City in the World. Two days of traffic jams later we were clear of the city and heading east along the northern shores of Lake Ontario.
Our destination was a campground on a private property in the Province of Waupoos. We were told that food would be provided and also that conditions might be "primitive". We decided that it might be best to pick up some food before arriving. We stopped in Belleville (The Whitest Town In Canada) at a uniquely Canadian shopping center called Wal-Mart. It was amazing. They sold everything there. I mean everything. And it was all made in the western Canadian province of China. It was also cool because all of the labels were in English and Foreign.
In case you ever want to see the Belleville Wal-Mart I have put in this useful Google satellite map:
Don't believe your GPS when it says the Wal-Mart is in the river. What a pain. It is actually just to the left of the river.
While leaving the Wal-Mart I happened to glance up and see the entire Canadian Air Force doing a fly-by. For those of you who don't know, the Canadian Air Force consists of a single twenty-five year old US surplus F-15.
Why they would put their entire air force in Belleville makes no sense as the only nation they could possibly be defending themselves against would be the United States. And the United States would never invade Cana... oh, wait, never mind.
We drove down to the camping area where we were met by this guy:
Which was really, REALLY weird as up to this point in time we hadn't seen a single black person in Canada. Anyway, Jevon was really nice and showed us to the camping area.
Apparently Canadian camping technology is well behind US camping technology as the campground looked like this:
Rich Canadians get tents like these:
Again, not wanting to appear out of place, my family changed out of our Candadian casual wear:
And into traditional Canadian camping outfits:
Here's a pic of Amelia, a blond Canadian, and a bearded Canadian:
I made some friends:
And got to do some archery:
I missed most of my shots. I think it is because Canada's latitude is higher and the atmosphere is thinner up there.
As most people know, the national sport of Canada is hockey. Seeing as it was late summer and there was no ice on the lake, they chose to play "summer rules". The equipment is a little different, but otherwise it is pretty much the same as any other hockey game I have ever seen.
Canadian "summer rules" hockey gear on display:
They also played some four on four:
You might be able to watch a video of the four on four here (if I did this right):
Four on Four Canadian Summer Rules Hockey
See... exactly like winter hockey.
After all the hockey and archery we had a really big feast:
It was really awesome. The food and company were great. They even let people they call French-Canadians eat at the table with them. (This along with the gay marriage thing and free health care is viewed by many as another sign of impending apocalypse, but I thought it was pretty nice.) The French-Canadians, besides speaking both English and Foreign, were really good at summer hockey and were overall really great folks.
Overall our Canadian adventure was a great success. I suggest you visit soon (before it completely falls apart). We met a lot of new friends, including both types of Canadians, as well as some Kansas Americans and some New York Americans, and some people from other places. I want to thank them all for showing us a wonderful time.
By the way, when I crossed the border into the United States I got a message from my phone company saying that I owed them $250.