Oh Canada

We have had some notoriously bad vacations.

Really only one...specifically the Mexico trip where I puked on myself on the plane....

That was bad.

But Canada was bad in a whole different way.

Maybe foreign countries are just not our thing.

As all vacations do, it sounded like a great idea when we came up with it.

We had decided to sneak away to Vancouver BC for one night with some friends of ours and we were both leaving our respective kids at home.  Woo Hoo, a kid free night in a fun town- what could go wrong????

Since we had different schedules that day Chris and I decided to head out early that morning and we planned to meet our friends for dinner in Vancouver.

We hit the road at 10:30am, leaving Hunter and Ketch in the capable hands of our nanny- who then transitioned them to my parents for the overnight- gosh I love grandparents & nannies!

We decided to take a quick detour  to check out two different waterfront properties on Camano Island that were for sale- we are always looking for a good piece of vacation property.

There was an adorable studio cabin that we loved online, but in real life, it was on a much smaller piece of land than we wanted (Chris wants to build our own cabin), so we passed on it- but it was adorable.
Then we popped into another cabin that looked promising, but it was way up on the cliff, with some very precarious stairs leading down to the beach that wouldn't be safe for Hunter or Ketchum, so we passed on that one too.
So, after our disappointing hour detour of cabin hunting, we got back on the freeway and started planning where we would eat lunch when we got into Canada (in about an hour).

It was about 12:15 and we happened to hit some pretty bad traffic from the Skagit River Bridge collapse a few weeks ago.
The freeway was completely shut down and all the traffic got detoured around the broken section.  Unfortunately, we hit the detour at the exactly wrong time, and it took over an hour to go 3.5 miles.

When we finally hit the freeway again, we were cruising and only about an hour from the border. We were hungry and tired but decided to just get into Canada and then have a late lunch.

When we pulled up to the border, I dug in our bag to grab our passports and I had to laugh at the pictures of us.  We were so young when we got our passports-it was for our first trip to Mexico sophomore year of college.
 That is when I realized that our passports were EXPIRED.

Holy crap.

Yeah, both of our passports had expired back in February.  Which, wasn't THAT long ago, and we decided that if the border patrol noticed, we would plead ignorance (since that was the truth) and hope they let us in, because after almost 5 hours in the car, we were NOT turning around.

Oh life, you are funny sometimes.  THIS was our sign (but we didn't know it yet) to turn around and go home.

But, at that point, we were convinced that luck was on our side because the boarder guard let us in without any mention of our passport expiration dates.

We did a secret high five after we were well passed the cameras at the border.

We had made it. We would worry about getting back into America later....

Now, we needed to go about 40 more miles to get into downtown Vancouver, where we could check into the hotel and go grab a much needed drink and food while we waited for our friends to get there.

Apparently we picked the WORST time to get into Canada, because traffic was at a dead stop. We sat in traffic for nearly 2 hours before it started moving.

The back up was caused by funneling 6 lanes into one.  Great idea Canada.  It was now 5:30- we had been on the road for 7 hours.

We were so done with traffic, and so happy to be moving.

That is until traffic came to a screeching halt (due to a fatality accident in front of us), everyone slammed on their brakes, but we didn't brake fast enough, and we slammed into the car in front of us.

Car accidents are always scary, but on the freeway in a foreign country- scary turns into terrifying.

It ended up being a 3 car pileup; we were at the back end.
Chris' car's front end was toast.

No one was seriously hurt, so that was the good news, but the cars were not in such great shape. 

We had the nicest Canadian Mountie come to the scene and help us out. I should note she drove a car, not a horse (which was kind of a bummer).

She assessed the damage and we were not able to move either of our cars.  Chris' car had a puncture through something that seemed like it was important (do you like my car knowledge there) so she wouldn't let us drive it, and the girl's car in front of us had wheel damage.

We both had to get towed from the scene.

Something to note when you get in a wreck in a forgein country, is that you have NO IDEA what do to next.  It's a paralyzing unknown and you will literally turn to anyone for answers.

The Mountie suggested we tow the car to the local Audi dealership.

So we did.

By time we arrived it was nearly 6:30 and of course the shop was closed- and it was a Friday night.

We happened to catch a service desk guy going to his car and he was nice enough to help us out.  He informed us that they couldn't fix our car, but he knew who could- but they were closed too.

We were hitting dead ends all over the place and I was nearly in tears.  I'm not much of a crier, but the compounded incidents of the day were starting to get to me, and when I finally got a hold of my sister on the phone, I had to choke back tears (I didn't want the tow truck driver to see me crying).

We ended up towing the car to Richmond Chrysler, who were the nicest people I have ever met.  They were closed, but opened up for us, got us water, and even DROVE US TO OUR HOTEL.

I could have cried again.

But I didn't...I was too busy yelling at the woman from the insurance company on the phone (at $0.59 per minute).  Apparently when you get in a wreck in a foreign country, you are ON YOUR OWN.  Seriously? I just paid $19 in long distance roaming fees for you to tell me that I have to pay for everything up front and then you will review the receipts and determine if you will pay me back?

In my rage, I apparently said something to the effect of (Chris tells me), "So let me get this straight, I pay you premiums every month and now you are telling me you can't help me?" I could have reached through the phone and strangled the woman on the other end.

We did end up salvaging the rest of the trip with some amazing meals, great drinks, a secret bar within a bar, the Granville Market and good times with old friends.
Granville Island Public Market
Olympic torch
Sara & I doing the "Olympic man" stance
On our way back to the US, we stopped to clean out Chris' car of all his "valuables" in the event that they totaled it and we never got it back.  We found some awesome things- including a pencil box full of Chris' childhood baseball cards.  Excited did not quite describe his feelings.
We also took some photos with the car as our potential last goodbye. We are still unsure of the fate of our car, but we are thinking that it is fixable- so I guess we will have to take another one of these pics in the future.
We ended up making it back to the US just fine (thanks to our friends who drove us back), the border patrol agent didn't question our passports at all (apparently those expiration dates are not very important to either the US or Canada).

We did have a very successful stop at duty free on our way back which almost made us forget that we were abandoning our car in a foreign land. 

From here on out, we are doing domestic vacations. America for the win!