Saturday, 23 May 2009

Goin' State-Side

It was a perfect day for a ride - brilliant sunshine, warm temperatures and I had a little time to blow. So I decided to go state-side.

I went the usual way, taking the Albion Ferry and chatted with this guy who had an amazing looking bike. He built it himself with a little help from friends. It's hard to see but the drive belt is on the outside just behind is left foot. That would be a disaster for me. He has a 1700 cc engine and incorporates shell casings for a lot of the end pieces (like the handlebars and the shifter).

I eventually got onto 216th, thinking it was a small quiet road. It was small but not quiet. Oh well.

I've always enjoyed going into the US. I find that when you cross a border or take a ferry, even if you're not going that far, the simple passage through something official like a border crossing makes it feel that you're really away from home. And there are differences, most of them subtle, but they are there.

For example, in the US:
- the roads are better
-there's way more flags (still can't get used to that)
-the food portions are bigger
-every thing's way cheaper - especially with the Canadian dollar at almost 90¢
-there's different candy bars like Payday (you can find Pay Day bars in Canada if you look hard but they're always stale - I can go to any gas station in Washington state and they are always fresh) and Milk Duds and a whole bunch of brands we don't have
-you can't get Smarties in the US (not those wafer rolls, but really Smarties that are like MandMs but way better)
-you can get rainbow goldfish crackers - what my girls call Gay Pride Goldfish
-wine is dirt cheap - a bottle of the same wine can easily be twice as much in Canada
-people have a slight accent (which I find incredibly weird - a person from Prince George (way up north in BC) has the same accent as me but a person 90 minutes south of me definitely has an accent

I could ramble on for days as there are so many differences but there are even more similarities making a visit to the US very comfortable.

Except for the border crossing. It always feels like I'm being grilled about something. This time it was on my scoot asking how fast it went and could it go on "the Guide" and what did I mean, I took the smaller roads. I must have passed, however, and was soon on my way.

In Lynden, I went by the back of this small airfield. I loved how it was right beside the road - although a plane was taxiing, I would have loved to see some plane take off right over my head! I was going to stop in Lynden for breakfast but, by the time I got there, it was 11 and I thought I'd

Taking Hannegan Avenue from Lynden, I rode the 16 miles or so to Bellingham, or Bellis Fair Mall, to be exact. I had last been there about a year ago and found the mall quiet but beginning to recover. This time, thanks to the strong Canadian buck, the mall was pretty busy. There were a few empty stores and the Daiso store that I enjoyed so much last time was vacant. I had a lunch of clam strips and clam chowder and then shopped a bit at Target.

Although I didn't take any photos at the mall, I did take this one a few black away from the mall. It was a bit incongruous, having a field of flowers so close to a megamall.

The ride back to the border was uneventful although extremely pleasant. At the border, I declared some socks, a pair of shorts and a $6 bottle of wine. The customs officer, like big sister, said, "That $6 bottle of wine will cost you $8 in taxes if I send you inside. Remember that for next time." Yes, Ma'am, I thought. I love Canada.

Going back to what I said earlier, I love going away somewhere because it's exciting but I also love the coming home part. Whether it's crossing the border, arriving on the ferry, or landing at the airport, coming home is just wonderful!

Back in Canada, I took 264th most of the way - the road I thought would be busy - and found it to be a relaxing ride with very little traffic. A relaxing end to a very nice ride!


Baron's Life said...

An absolutely superb posting, funny, witty and well written. Just remember that 90 minutes South of the guy with an accent there is another guy with an accent different from the guy 90 minutes North of him...and so it goes.
I loved your experience with Big Sista at Canada Customs... This could only happen in Canada. In the States they would have taken your 50cc Scoot apart looking for the undeclared moonshine you were
Always gives me a sense of well being when crossing the border back home.

John McClane said...

I've lived in England most of my life so abroad always meant a journey by boat or plane. Then I lived in France and Germany for a bit, and now out here, but there's still something a bit weird about being able to get a bus or drive down the road and find a completely different culture. I envy you a little bit, though. At least when you go abroad they still speak the same language!

Baron's Life said...

John... not really sure what Dave here would say...but going to the US is not really going abroad for me...

bobskoot said...

John & Baron:
Not to put words in Dave's mouth, but going abroad to me, means leaving the continent

and Dave:

I was just down in Bellingham recently too but I usually go south on Portal Way from the Peace Arch. The road is usually deserted and south of Ferndale you head into farmland and eventually you come out at the Bellingham harbour. Looks like you had an enjoyable sunny day. Too bad about the $8. customs duty.

bobskoot: wet coast scootin

Dave Dixon said...

BaronThanks for the positive feedback! Good point about the accents, especially in the US. I do like coming home but it's also great to visit away as well.

JohnI lived in Scotland for a year - although driving took a while to see a new culture, flying was something else! Two hours on a plane opened up such a diverse number of cultures!

bobskootHmm - maybe I'll have to try your route this summer. So many possibilities.

Don't worry, I didn't have to pay the $8, she just gave me some stern advice!