Road Trip to Canada, Days 3 & 4

Our third and fourth days in Canada were pretty low-key. The third day we wanted as a rest day to just enjoy life and freedom from our usual responsibilities and the fourth day we headed back to Oregon. It was good to have a slower day to rest up before heading back to real life.

While I say the third day was slow and low-key, we did get up super early to do a temple session. It’s a religious service for our church that we both wanted to do. I’ve been to the temple in Australia, but Holly has never been to the temple outside the US. It’s the same everywhere you go, but it’s still neat to be able to say you’ve been to a temple session outside the US. So, we made plans to go. We got up at 5am to get there for the 7am session and had a great time. It was so peaceful and relaxing there with such a beautiful building and grounds. The inside was just gorgeous. I wish they allowed photos. Poor Holly had taken a benadryl when she got up, so she dozed a couple times during the service, which was pretty amusing for both of us. She leaned over at one point to tell me she was having trouble staying awake and I told her I was going to poke her periodically to help her. I didn’t, because I was worried if I startled her she’d make a loud noise, so we just whispered quietly from time to time.

After the session, Holly was pretty tired from the benadryl and the lack of sleep over the last few days, so she napped after our quick lunch of sandwiches. I’d been feeling a lot of anxiety that day, even with taking my xanax, so I did what usually helps me move away from the anxiety: I cleaned and organized. We were leaving the next morning, so it made sense to clean the AirBnb. I tidied up everything, gathered up all of our stuff, repacked my bag, organized and repacked all the candy we bought, washed the dishes, cleaned the fridge, organized some things in my car, took some photos of the AirBnb, and pretty much just tried to make everything nice and orderly. It helped and I felt better.

Holly woke up about the time I finished and after chilling for a little while, we headed off for a movie. We both really wanted to see the live-action Aladdin and there was a theater just a few streets away from where we were staying. It ended up being pretty great. I loved the music, the cinematography, the set, and the acting. They all did a really good job. Aladdin was cute, Genie was funny, and Jasmine was both strong and beautiful. Good movie. I’m glad we saw it.

After the movie, we went to check out the Vancouver Flea Market. We’d both heard good things about it, so we decided to go wander for a bit and see what was there. We initially drove past it and had to go around the block. We ended up down some alley with a huge pothole (thanks GPS), so we backed out and went down another street. A guy sitting against the back of the building told us to just go down to the next street and we could find our way around, which was helpful. We found the back of the flea market place and decided to just park since neither of us minded walking. It was a little bit of a rundown area, but not too bad. And there was a police car parked a little ways down the street. It was broad daylight and a fairly open area, so neither of us felt super concerned about parking there. Ended up being a good thing we chose that spot because we didn’t have to pay for parking there while the parking area in front of the flea market was paid parking. Hooray for the little things!

The flea market was pretty much what you’d expect: a bunch of tables with yard sale type stuff in a warehouse. It was fun wandering around looking at all the stuff and I feel like we got some awesome deals on the few little things we bought. Holly got a set of 20+ Wonderful World of Knowledge educational Disney books for around $75 USD and I found some beautiful wooden boxes that I was able to get for about $13.50 USD total. One was $15 Canadian, one was $1 Canadian, and another was $2 Canadian. I love wooden boxes and these were beautiful. The one from Poland was originally $20 Canadian, but they reduced it to $15 Canadian. The long one was originally $10 Canadian, but when I put it back down, the guy asked me to make an offer. I jokingly said a dollar and he said “sold!” I was surprised and told him I was just kidding, but he said he would totally take a dollar for it. Yay! The last one was on a discount table for $2 Canadian. Not bad at all. I was super happy with my cute little finds.

After the flea market, we headed back out to Sweet Obsession for some more dessert. We decided not to go every day because of the sugar overload and cost, but we wanted to go one more time before heading back to the US. Holly got a lemon mousse dome cake and I got creme brulee with a little cheese bread thingy. It was all super good. Creme brulee is seriously my favorite dessert ever and this one did not disappoint. It was very tasty.

We were both tired and didn’t really want to do much after our dessert for dinner, so we relaxed on the grass outside Sweet Obsession for a bit and just enjoyed how nice the day was before grabbing some stuff from the shop next door and heading to Gastown for a bit.

Gastown is a historic district in Vancouver. It is actually the oldest part of the city and was first settled back in 1867 after a saloon was opened and people began to settle nearby. Unfortunately, most of the area burned down during the Great Vancouver Fire of 1886, so the original saloon and other buildings are long gone. We still saw a few neat things while we were there. The only one we went in was the train station, which was super pretty.

Getting to Gastown was easy, but getting around that area was a little stressful. Man, I do have to admit that I had a hard time driving around that district. The streets are tiny, several are one-way, people kept walking out into the road in front of us, and it was hard to find somewhere to park. I almost hit someone trying to get into a parking garage because they just kept walking while I was turning and that was right after almost hitting a car that abruptly changed lanes in front of me. As soon as I got into the garage and was away from the street, I had to stop for a minute and have a little anxiety moment. It was so ridiculously stressful driving in that area. We had to do a few circles before getting into the parking garage and we were fortunate enough to get the only available spot there. Holly was so incredibly patient with me and letting me have a few moments to calm down. I did cry for a few seconds, but thankfully it wasn’t more than that. We kinda chilled for a little bit and then took off to explore the area.

The main reason we went to Gastown is because of the steam-powered clocktower. It was built in 1977, so it’s not super old, but it’s pretty neat. The clock was built to cover a steam grate from Vancouver’s distributed steam heating system as a way to harness the steam and to prevent street people from sleeping there during cold weather. The original clock broke and had to be powered by electricity until the steam mechanism was restored by local businesses. The clock had become a major tourist attraction and the business owners wanted to keep tapping into that draw in order to secure customers as tourist wandered the area after visiting the clock. Holly and I definitely fell into that category. We checked out the clock and then made our way through a few shops as we meandered back to the car. It’s a fun area.

After visiting the clock, we wandered through a few shops in the area. There was a high-end shop right next to the clock that we had fun looking through. Lots of expensive clothes and designer products. It was fun to wander around and just check stuff out before making our way back to the car. We stopped at a few souvenir shops along the way, trying to find fun little things to commemorate our trip. I really wanted a stuffed polar bear we’d seen in a window on our way to the clock, but we never did find that shop again. I settled for a little tiny one that is now hanging from my rearview mirror. It’s still super cute. Holly and I also bought some matching bracelets to go along with our matching temporary tattoos. I like the sentiment of ‘believe.’ Sometimes I forget to believe in myself, so it’s good to have little reminders.

After wandering through some shops, we headed back to the AirBnb. We were pretty tired and had a long drive coming up, so we wanted to get to bed early. We missed our 9:30 bedtime, but not by too much. We were in bed a little after 11:00 and crashed out pretty fast.

Day 4 was pretty relaxed, too. We had a long drive ahead of us, so we just decided to do one thing before heading back to Oregon. That thing was Queen Elizabeth Park.

Queen Elizabeth Park is a 130-acre nature park in Vancouver. It used to be a rock quarry where the stone from Vancouver’s first roadways originated, but in 1939 it was dedicated as a park by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. It took about 30 years for the park to become most of what it is today, thanks to donations from different benefactors. It’s actually a really pretty place that Holly and I really enjoyed walking around.

We didn’t get to see the entire park due to time constraints, but we got to spend a couple hours there before eating a quick lunch and driving home. Our visit started at the plaza. There was a fun fountain that people were playing in and we joked about jumping in, too. It was a pretty warm day and it would have been nice to play in the water, but we didn’t. We just walked on by and checked out the nice view before heading down a path into the park.

The first area we visited was the Big Quarry Gardens. They were super pretty. I really like the overlook that shows the entire garden and the wide variety of plants in each area. It was so peaceful and pretty. I wish we’d had time to lay on a blanket and just chill. I suppose we could have, but then we wouldn’t have seen much of the park.

And, of course, we took some photos of ourselves in the park.

While wandering the Big Quarry section, we saw a sign for a love lock sculpture, so we went off in search of it. It was pretty and really quite intricate. I loved all the hearts and how well it conveyed the idea of love. Kinda wish I’d had a someone special at that time so I could have left a lock for us, but that will have to wait until next time. I was actually really surprised by how neat some of the locks were. Not sure I would have left some of those behind. If I ever leave a lock, it will probably be a simple lock with something engraved on it. I’m kinda boring like that. lol.

When we finished at the Big Quarry Garden, we stopped by the conservatory for a few minutes. Neither of us felt it was worth the entrance price, so we just peeked at the gift shop and looked at the plants from the entrance.

We both wanted to wander around the Small Quarry Garden, but we were pretty close to when we needed to leave and we still needed to have lunch, so we just went over to the overlook to see the garden and check out the sculpture at the overlook. It would have been fun to wander that garden, too. Next time. Seeing more of Queen Elizabeth Park is definitely on my list for next time I’m in Vancouver.

After a quick lunch of sandwiches and chips by the fountain, we headed back home. We were both glad we built in a couple hours of buffer time because it took a lot longer to cross the border getting back into the US than it took to get into Canada. Of course, it was Sunday afternoon, so a lot of people were probably heading back home. We left the park around 2pm and didn’t get back to Oregon until shortly before midnight. Of course, part of that was because of a little detour we didn’t mean to take. lol.

So, gas in Canada is way more expensive than in the US. We got gas just before crossing the border and had been hoping we’d be able to use that tank until we returned to the US. Well, things mostly went according to plan. Except for the part where the ‘get gas now’ light came on as we were nearing the border. Part of me wanted to risk it since the gas station was within the 30-40 miles my car can go once the light comes on, but at the same time, we didn’t know how much time we’d spend sitting at the border crossing. After some debate, we decided to go get gas. Only problem was that my GPS didn’t work with destinations I hadn’t looked up while on wifi since we didn’t have service up there. So, we just started driving aimlessly. lol. After a lot of random turns and “there should be a gas station this way” while out in the middle of nowhere, we finally found one. It was a little stressful because we both started to wonder if we would have been better off just risking it, but it ended up being a good thing that we got a couple gallons of gas to get us to the Costco over the border.

Once we got to the border crossing, we ended up sitting in traffic for over an hour. It was crazy. At one point, it took us 20 minutes to go maybe 5-6 car lengths. I took a couple photos of the traffic while we were waiting.

After we crossed the border, we realized there was a park people can hang out in. I had no idea. It’s called Peace Arch Memorial Park and it straddles both the US and Canada. The park commemorates a treaty from the War of 1812 that established an undefended border between the US and Canada.

After getting through the border, the rest of the trip was mostly just driving back to Oregon. We stopped for gas and then for food and to walk around a bit, but other than that we just drove. I needed to get out of the car in the evening, so we stopped at a fast food place just off the freeway to uncramp my legs and walk for a bit. We didn’t stay long because we both just wanted to get home and sleep, so we headed back out pretty quickly. I dropped Holly off just before midnight and was home and in bed about 15-20 minutes after that.

Overall, we had a really good trip. I’m so glad we had the opportunity to go to Canada together and enjoy a weekend away from life. We learned a lot about each other and became better friends because of it. I’m also super glad I got to be part of Holly’s first international trip. We had a great time and I really hope we can repeat the adventure soon.

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