Thursday, July 11, 2013

West Coast Vacation - Crossing the Border and Our First Experiences in the USA

On Friday the 21st of June we got up early and headed for the border.  It was a quicker drive than we expected to the border crossing.  As we approached the border, the signs indicated that there would be a 20 minute wait.  I am not sure it was even that long, but as we waited I was quite nervous.  I knew that we had nothing to hide, and we are honest people, so I did not forsee us having problems.  I just hadn't crossed the border since 1998, and a lot has changed since 9/11.  The crossing guard that we dealt with was...abrupt/cranky/unfriendly? Very to the point, but after seeming incredulous about how far we had driven ("You drove all the way from Saskatchewan to here?!"), he let us go with very little delay.

The drive was fairly uneventful (it is about 2 1/2 hours from Vancouver to Seattle).  We had been reading about the bridge collapse on the I5 before we went on holidays, but thankfully had heard a day or two before we headed down to the States that they had completed a temporary span, so there were no more detours necessary.  We weren't entirely sure that we had crossed the collapsed bridge, until we had already crossed.  It looked like a more permanent fix than I had expected from the term 'temporary span'.

We stopped about 40 minutes north of Seattle at an outlet mall, Seattle Premium Outlets, to do some shopping.  In my reading it sounded like a good place to do some shopping, and we didn't see ourselves heading that far to the north of Seattle again, and thought it would make for a nice afternoon activity before we could check in at our hotel.

It was a neat place.  The mall consisted of rows of stores that were all accessed from outside.  However, instead of being a big box mall, it had outdoor hallways between the rows of stores for walking outside.  There was lots of parking all around the outside of the mall.  It was just really pleasant to walk outside.  There were plenty of canopies, so if you were there on a rainy day, you wouldn't get wet.

The only thing that I was shopping for in the States was a dress for a wedding later this summer.  I think it was the second store I went into, called Max Studio, where I found it!  It was a neat store, with lots of nice dresses/skirts/tops and they had a great sale on.  It turned out they had just opened the day before we went there!  I tried on a few dresses and settled on one that I thought was pretty, comfortable, and flattering.  I didn't end up buying any thing else that day (though I tried on a faux leather jacket that Jay said made me look like a badass, haha....but I know that I am not, so I left it).

(Modeling my new dress at home)

When we were done shopping we drove to our hotel.  I had chosen a hotel for us that is in Kirkland.  It is just across Lake Washington from Seattle.  (Sidenote:  Kirkland is home to the first Costco, and is the namesake of their brand, Kirkland Signature!)  Once we checked in we went to the Cheesecake Factory for supper then planned to wander the mall that it is in.  I made the mistake of ordering a hamburger.  I had forgotten the craziness in the States that allows you to eat undercooked ground beef.  Ugh!  I was asked how I wanted my burger cooked, I said well done!  When it came I took a few bites and thought that maybe it was a little pink.  I ate a bit more than realized that it was quite undercooked in the middle.  I started to feel sick, but mostly because I was nervous about having eaten undercooked ground beef.  I sent it back and they cooked it to well done, and in the end they didn't end up charging us for my meal.  I had really been looking forward to sharing a piece of cheesecake, but I felt nauseous, so we passed.  We looked around the mall a little bit then headed to our hotel for the night.  (Thankfully I did not end up getting sick from the hamburger!)

(At the Cheesecake Factory, smiling, before I ate part of an undercooked hamburger :P)

Our hotel, the La Quinta Inn Kirkland/Bellevue, was okay.  When we arrived, the bed was too high for Jay to transfer into, so we figured by removing the bed frame, Jay would at least be able to get in and out of bed.  When he tried to get into bed, we realized that without the bed frame it was too low.  He was able to get into bed, but needed a lot of help from me (which is not ideal).  Because the bed was so low, there was no getting into the shower chair, so from this point on, it was sink baths for the rest of our holiday :(  Also the roll-in shower at that hotel was very poorly set up, and I don't even think the shower chair would have fit into it.  After some frustration the first night, with such difficulty getting into bed, and not being able to shower, we did contemplate canceling the rest of our trip and heading home.  However, the next day we decided we would suck it up, and deal with it, and try to enjoy the rest of our trip.

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