Just for Beth, I'm FINALLY reporting on our trip & sharing a few pics. I say to Beth, "Get your ass on Facebook!" :o)
So the week of Spring Break/Dustins Birthday we drove up to Seattle to visit his sister Chelsea & see a new part of the country. It ended up being a REALLY great vacation, aside from the Canada portion (which happened to fall ON Dustins birthday).
We drove the whole way there & back. It was really fun, but I don't think I'd do it again, especially since I've now driven even further almost all the way across the country! :o) It was a fun little road trip though & the time in the car wasn't bad at all. Idaho is NOT pretty in the southern part, it was the worst part of our drive. I wished that it was later in the year because it was still VERY cold & not as green as I'd hoped it would be. I wanted the green, mossy, & lush from Twilight. I know, I'm a dork.
Anyhow. We left on Friday & drove to Spanish Fork & stayed the night with Nick & Tamsin. After my FAVORITE breakfast at Magleby's Fresh we hit the road & drove all the way to Seattle. It was something like 15 hours...I don't remember. Right before you get into Seattle the way that we came you have to go through the final mountain pass (the last of several throughout the journey). It started to snow (I'd been sleeping). Dustin pulled over, got gas, commented on our 'not good' tires & got back on the road, hesitantly, telling me that they were talking about closing the pass in about a half hour. We were exactly that far from the mile marker in question, but we went ahead anyway...another hotel in BFE was out of the question.
I can't even tell you what a freakin SUPERSTAR driver Dustin was!! I was TERRIFIED the whole time! I could barely breathe & it was probably a good thing because if I opened my mouth it would have only added to my poor baby's stress! White knuckled the whole way through the pass, sliding on the way up & literally skidding from one side of the road to the other many times on the way down we FINALLY dropped into Seattle! I can't tell you how deeply my gratitude was for our safe arrival.
Seattle is a gorgeous city, even driving into it at night we just fell in love! We got to our hotel, nearly killing the GPS on the way (it was a screwy 'one-way road' situation). Dustin yelled at it like it was a person, which offered some of the funniest profanities he's ever used!
Our hotel was really pretty much a dump. It was about a 10 minute drive from downtown, so it was cheaper but honestly next time we go we'll stay closer to town probably & just walk everywhere. Most of the days we took our car out very little, if at all (after this city I realized this is a standard in big cities).
The next day in Seattle we just hung out on our own (Sunday). We walked around downtown a lot. I got some good feedback from my legs & body about how out of shape I am & we froze our bums off, seriously SO COLD!! I'd like to remind my readers that I'm from Southern Utah & don't own a real coat! Bless Chelsea's little heart for lending me one! I lived in it, along with 3 other layers for the remainder of our trip & survived. We also bought scarves & gloves, and actually learned to tie a scarf. :o)
Monday we caught up with Chelsea & just hung out. We went to the fish market, a must see in Seattle. Drove through an Arboretum (tree sanctuary). I had never heard of these before this one. It was really pretty cool & I'd like to visit them in other cities - I'm outdoorsy like that I guess.
We ate a lot of great food while we were in town, none as notable as our experience in San Fran at Nopa, but good nonetheless. Chelsea directed us to lots of restaurants 'off the grid' that were fantastic.
The rest of the time we were there Chelsea & Travis were pretty tied up (we knew they would be & didn't expect to be toured around at all!). We took ourselves around & took me to the doctor on Tuesday (stupid infection I should have had treated BEFORE I left St. George!! I'll never make that mistake again!). Tuesday we went on this 'Underground Tour'. Seattle has some REALLY interesting history that we learned about. It was totally worth the money, we had a great time.
Apparently Seattle had a 'great fire', I forget the year. The whole city burned down & needed to be rebuilt. The politicians of the time dragged their feet so the merchants & businessmen just rebuilt on top of the wreckage that hadn't been cleaned up. As a result what is now 'street level' in Seattle used to be the 2nd story. You can go underground & walk the 'original streets' on this tour & see a lot of really cool stuff. There is also some great stories they tell about over the years what the underground was used for (brothels, anti-prohibition activity, etc).
Dustin & I also got some pretty crazy insight into the homeless problem/situation (call it what you will) while we were in Seattle. There are two types of homeless people we decided. There are the 'actual homeless' (the disabled, displaced, etc) & then there are these other homeless people that we dubbed 'street kids'. They literally are kids (14-18) that just live on the streets for kicks we figure. They didn't seem to be on drugs (not to the 'I'm so spun or strung out that I'm homeless' point anyway), just living the grunge life they'd always dreamed of. LOL It was crazy to see.
We also learned about the policies & political aspect of the homeless in large cities. There is an independent newspaper there that is geared towards the homeless problem & is sold by homeless people (they pay $.35 & sell for $1 - very cool concept to give them some source of income). The newspaper, like the rest of Seattle & Washington was VERY left wing, but interesting still. It talked about what are called 'sweeps' where police go through the city at night & arrest or displace the homeless from their various shelters, often take all of their belongings, etc. Obviously the sweeps were seriously degraded by the newspaper, but I can even see how it would only increase the problem to a degree (it told a story of a victim of a sweep who lost everything that they possessed - blankets, clothing, even ID). *So there's a little homelessness education for you. :)Wednesday was Dustin's birthday so we headed up to Canada. Based on our Google Maps phone app (our favorite thing about our phones - Dustin has Treo like mine that he got for his birthday before the trip) we decided to go to Vancouver. It was about a 4 hour drive but seemed like the best 'big city' to go to.
The drive up was nice, when we got the border we got the 'standard questions':
-Passports -Do you have drugs, foods, weapons, etc? -Have you been to Canada before?
We were given a piece of paper & told to pull over, random search...or NOT! We get out of the car with our passports & head inside. What followed was one of the most shocking experiences I've been through! We go up to the counter & they ask us about our trip, what's in our car, what we're doing. They couldn't understand why we were traveling on Spring Break & why we wanted to come to Canada (like tourism is unheard of or something). We were baffled at the line of questioning! They treated us from the gate like terrorists & they just had to figure out our scary plot!
They separated us after finding out that we were gun owners & questioned us about where the guns were in our house, why we weren't traveling with them, pulled full background checks, took our phones from us, & basically detained us until they determined 'what to do'.
I stayed pretty calm throughout the whole situation but near the end realized that I was outright being 'detained' & had NO IDEA what my rights were as a foreigner on their soil. When this realization hit me I was TERRIFIED! It was such an eye opener. I had made so many assumptions about traveling into another country (mostly based on Mexico) and they were completely wrong.
Eventually they turned us away based on Dustins background (what they consider felonies that were too recent - NOT felonies in the US). We had to drive back across the border to the US. Dustin can apply for what is call 'criminal rehabilitation' with their embassy if he wants to go in. If he tries to enter again without paying the $200 & undergoing this evaluation then he will be detained for 48 HOURS!!
We got back to the US & the moment we did I felt SO relaxed & at ease. Our border patrol cracked jokes with us & gave us no problems at all. We ate some Mexican food in Blaine & headed back to Seattle. It was kind of sad really. Dustins birthday was wasted on that crappy experience!
In Blaine I took this pic of him flipping off Canada while he's on the phone with some of the family.
On the way back home we figured out SOMETHING fun to do to make his birthday not a total bust & ended up going to a club called Seven for a local rap show. It was a really different concert experience than we are used to, we had a total blast!
Walking to the show I took this pic of our visit to the Space Needle. LOL We thought it was totally hilarious! We went to the Space Needle park (about 2 blocks from our hotel) but it was $16 per person to go up & we said, SCREW your high prices & left. :)
The next day we drove to San Fran. We were sad to leave Seattle! We absolutely LOVED the city, the people, the experience & most of all hangin with Chelsea & Travis. I'm thinking they don't read this, but everyone else can know how much we thank them for the awesome trip & that we love them to pieces!! :)