Once Upon A Midnight Dreary
Dave and Carrie's Excellent Adventures
Part 5: Carrie and Dave go to Canada, eh (All that and a half a bag of chips)
I wrote this all out on a MySpace blog. No pictures as of yet, since they were on Dave's Camera. Mebbee later....
K, so Dave and I just got home from Canadia. The 12th Night event for the SCA was just barely over the border, and what an adventure.
See, Dave's got some skeletons way in his past, none of which the US currently gives two rips about -- they're all taken care of. It turns out, however, that Canada cares very much indeed. Or at least that's what my computer tells me. About a week before we left, the computer said that people who'd been getting in and out of Canada without so much as a hiccup for years and years were suddenly being denied access because of past infractions. Their shining example was the 20 year old DUI in some man's past. Uhhh -- ooo. OK.
So, Dave e-mails the Queen that he's concerned about getting across the border. He says he's going to try, but he wanted her to know. She misunderstood and thought he'd known all along, and didn't realize it was over weird new thingees that are happening. Sooooo, she arranges for other heralds to take care of court at the event. It seemed rather short and sudden, so Dave pressed a little bit, trying to help, and it eventually comes out that Her Majesty thought he'd known all along, and was only now giving her notice. Well, that got cleared up and we assumed all was well, and moved on.
We got on the road more or less on time, but then dinked around in Renton enough to be about 45 minutes behind the schedule he gave me. Turns out, that was the "my girlfriend is perpetually late" leaving deadline, and we were right on time. *wan grin*
We drove a couple hours to the border, and waited in a relatively short line. When we got up to the Canadian Customs officer, he asked us what country we were from, where we were going, who we were going to see, how long we were going to stay, and whether or not we planned on leaving anything behind. The man didn't even look at our ID. He was really nice, too. That was it -- we were off! Woo hoo!
Naturally, we assumed that if he did make it, he'd be included in court some how. After all, it was their last court and he'd been their personal herald for 6 months. Of course, it would have been unfair to give the whole thing to someone else in a pinch and then take it away, but it seemed like something could have been arranged. So, as soon as we were across, Dave called the Queen to let her know we'd made it. While he was on the phone, we missed our exit, and I never had a chance to ask him what she said, because by the time we figured out where we were and how to get back, my phone rang. It was my lovely wife, Courtney.
Courtney, Goddess that she is, had graciously offered to hellhound-sit over the weekend so that we could go. She was calling to say that the key I gave her wasn't opening the screen. Yeah, that'd be the BRAND NEW key I had Home Depot make for just this trip. Yep, had 'em make it and then, like a complete dumbass, totally failed to try it in the door. *straps on glitter he'met*
OK, for those of you who don't know, I don't travel. I don't travel because somehow something usually goes hideously wrong when I do. So, yeah, I went into overwhelm. I spent a little time in disbelief trying to instruct Courtney on the proper use of a key. Turns out, she'd used one before, and didn't need any help there. *sigh*
OK. Damn. Clearly the problem is with the key.
So then I called Julie. And I called Julie. And I called Julie. Then I called Julie again. Yay -- she picked up!!! I'm pretty sure in one sentence, without drawing air, I said something like:
Any guesses? Yeah, I'd pulled Julie out of the shower. I had to speak up because she was wearing a towel. So, just for fun, Courtney went to see Julie to get the key. She got in, the mud monsters declined to eat her and made friends instead, and all was well. I nearly burst into tears.
Meanwhile, back in the jungle, I'm pretty sure the hotel was supposed to be in a jungle. It was bright salmon pink, inside and out, with loud floral accents. All the meeting rooms had South American names, and the whole place was focused on the pool in the center, with the plants and the waterfall and etc. and the quadruple high glass ceiling over it. It should have been quite stunning, but the colors were too unfortunate, to be overcome by the intent and the design. Also, as you looked around, it started to become pretty clear the entire hotel had been ridden hard and put away wet. Several times. Poor thing. But who cared -- WE WERE IN CANADA!!!
So we check in, and the first surprise is that they want me to sign something that says there's a $500 minimum charge for smoking in the rooms. OK..... Dave ordered a smoking room. Turns out they don't have any of those. Hmmm. OK, well, not the end of anything. Then one of the elevators is broken, and there's a whole convention of SCAdians tyring to get upstairs all at once in the remaining, Tim-Conway-slow elevator. 20 minutes later we're on the 3rd floor going through, I kid you not, 4 closed hallway doors to get to our room. Then we get up there, and there's only the one bed. There's a chance we're going to be having a room mate, unless the guy got another room, so we really need the one they confirmed to Dave the day before that he'd be getting -- the one with two beds.
So we drop everything and go back downstairs, and get a different room, grab another load, brave the elevator again, switch rooms, finish unloading the van, and both of us has to pee (go figure). The bathroom smelled like a load of laundry that had been left in the washing machine too long. Hmmm. Oh well. WE WERE IN CANADA!!!!!!!!
So we unpacked and got settled, and then we checked. Oh well, our potential roomie doesn't need a room, so it's just us, two beds, and the bathroom that smelled like a basement storage unit. Oh well. WE WERE IN CANADA!!!!!!!
We were also hungry enough to gnaw off a limb, and, since we were told not to import a bunch of stuff into Canada, very nearly out of pop. We went to a convenience store down the road for pop and ice and chips, and then drove back and sat down for dinner in the hotel restaurant. And then the wait began. Eventually, the poor girl who was all alone there, except for the two people who kept wandering past like they had nothing to do, finally she got our order. Then the wait began. There were so many of us at once that by the time we got our food, it was cold. All well and good for Dave -- he had the foresight to order a salad. Mine was less well-chosen. But, the food was good, if a little cool, and besides -- WE WERE IN CANADA!!!!!
OK, so back upstairs to put on garb and Dave starts checking with folks and it seems that court is totally and completly handled, and all they really need is his folios with the court script in them. Hmmm. We briefly visited with folks and made a cameo appearance at the tacky tropical tunic party. We checked in at a couple vigils, browsed merchant's row, and chatted with Krystine and a few others for a bit.
Then I started to loose it. I don't know what it was, but it was definitely lost. We went back up to the room so I could shower and we went to bed at 9:30. Up the next morning, and I really wasn't much better. Nothing to be done for it, though.
We went downstairs for breakfast. The hotel's answer to the whole "too many people" thing was to have a buffet for Breakfast and lunch. That way, they figured, the food was handled and they'd need fewer people. *sigh* I hate to complain, but I'm sure going to. The food was cold and rubbery, it was wildly overpriced for the whole cold and rubbery thing, and you'd think with the food totally handled they could have provided silverware and beverages, but they still only had the one girl, and all she could do was handle the cash register. It was bad.
Dave had a herald's meeting after that, and I went and hid out in the room. I still don't know what the hell was the matter with me, but it was break-down like. Anyway, after some time napping, and on the internet, we got up and went to court. Ugh. By this time, Dave's anxiety is through the roof. Not only do they not need him in court, but he's not even going up with the rest of their Majesties' retinue. Not only that, but with everyone up their, their Majesties gave some sort of acknowledgement to pretty much the whole retinue except Dave, which was just weird. 3.5 hours of court, folks. I gotta share, I pretty much have no interest in court, at all, so this was grueling, but I think it was worse for Dave. We went through the whole thing, and it was kind of surreal. We finally left when their Highnesses were crowned the new King and Queen. All in all, it was a long and disappointing day.
We changed out of garb at that point and went to a local restaurant to meet with some friends of Dave's, who live in Canada. I can't tell you how glad I am we did that. It completely turned the trip around. We had an excellent time and stayed so late talking that the staff forgot we were there, turned up the lights, and some were starting to leave when we finally walked out the door. We're going to have to figure out how to spend more time with those two. Truly, what a fabulous evening. Totally worth the trip to Canada!
Our mood improved, we hit a local liquor store to get some Absinth for one of Dave's coworkers, and a small bottle a piece for us of our usual poison. It was really expensive, but we got small bottles, and we were only going to have some. We went back to our room, got in our PJs and stayed up until 3AM chatting and drinking and munching on our chips. Actually, it was a really nice evening.
The next morning, Sunday, we had to make a decision. The trip had actually been kind of nice, despite the marginal hotel and the weird SCA stuff, but check out time was 11AM and the event didn't end until 5PM. So, do we put on garb and then drive back to the states in it, or do we just load up the car, wear our regular clothes, and just leave. Rather than to deal with all the weird when we were in a good place, we just left. We managed to score one of those little wheelie carts, got everything on it, got it out to the elevator and half in the elevator, whereupon it fell apart. We shoved it back out, reassembled it, and then waited another 20 minutes for the elevator to come back, and this time -- success!
We lost things three times on the way outside with the cart, nearly taking out the now former Queen with a flying camera case in the process. (NOT Freudian, I swear!!) We got the car loaded up and just couldn't go back to the rubber buffet. We had breakfast outside the hotel at a local restaurant, and it was pretty good. They waited on us and got us silverware and beverages and everything. Then it was off to the border.
Now the line was somewhat longer this time, but we were going home. It's really more about how much hassle and time its going to be than whether or not you'll get through. Well, assuming you're not a drug dealer. Or a terrorist. Anyway, so we sit in this line making inappropriate jokes about drugs and weapons and bags of fertilizer for so long, that we start to worry that's what's going to come out of our mouths. So we switch to "where ya from?" and end out making this really stupid attempt at explaining where we're from. Seattle, is the normal answer, but a border patrol would want to know where you're REALLY from, right? I guess, so then Renton. Except Dave's from Tacoma. Well, he lives there now, anyway. But the dogs are in Renton. With the cat, at my house. Except of course that's my cat, 'cause his cat is in Tacoma. But we're headed to Renton first, so we're going there even though Dave's currently residing in Tacoma.
Finally we get to the front of the line. We hand the man our paperwork and he asks where we're going. "HOME!" we say in unison. Where's that. *sigh* Yeah, Dave started the monologue. After about the third Tacoma/Renton switch up, he just quit talking and let him look at our paper and his computer screen some more. Then he wants to know what Dave does for a living. Well, he sells cars. What kind? Used cars. What's a good used car? Well how the hell should he know? He's supposed to sell them pretty much either way. So he kinda says that. The guy pushes, and Dave launches into his spiel about how they help people with bad credit, and each car comes with a warranty and etc. Shortly before the test drive, the man asks if we've got anything with us that we bought in Canada. Dave looked so excited -- he knew the answer to that question. "Yes! We have 4 cans of soda, 3 bottles of alcohol, and a half-a-bag of chips!" I swear, the border guard never missed a beat. He just handed the paper back and said in the most condescending voice, "Have a nice day, sir".
OK, meanwhile, I'm over in the passenger's seat in agony. DAVE HAD FORGOTTEN TO MENTION THE HANDFULL OF BEEF JERKY!!! What if we'd been pulled over and searched?! So he's all elated and freaked out, and I'm feeling guilty like we lied, and we compare notes. He reminds me that the beef jerky was bought on the US side. Oh, yeah. About that time, it hits me, "4 cans of soda, 3 bottles of alcohol, and a half a bag of chips". We drove the rest of the way home laughing our asses off over that one. I'm the invisible woman, and the guy acted like Dave was wearing his glitter he'met.
Of course, we had to pee really badly, and so pulled off the highway and visited a restroom, and then drove the rest of the way home, laughing about the half a bag of chips. We were all the way through Bellevue, and headed for Crossroads, and Dave was still saying, "But he asked! And besides, it's your fault -- you assembled the inventory!" OK, yeah, but somehow I really didn't envision it coming out quite like that!
Well, and anyway, we're home, we're unpacked, and my laundry is laundering. The kids are happy to see us, and look no worse for my having been gone. My cell battery just finished charging after going dead on the road, so I can call Courtney and thank her (Thank you, Courtney! You rock!!!) and Fawn and let her know I'm back, and call Julie and thank her and her towel for the help (I still can't believe I rang her out of the shower in a panic!).
Oh! One brief observation. Did you know that as soon as you cross the Canadian border, none of the bathrooms have those little paper ass protectors in them anymore? It's true. Weird. I had to sit on a toilet seat. Oh, those crazy Canadians!!!
To all this, Dave would add:
"Yeah...that's pretty much how it went...you
only forgot a couple of things. When we missed our exit in Canadia, we
realized that we had to go to the next exit so we could turn around...8
miles away...and I kept having trouble with speeding. Apparently, in
Canadia, 50 is only 32 miles per hour....for some reason I couldn't get
that whole metric thing through my thick skull...
Where would you like to go from here?
Heed ye flower bush and tree.
By the Lady, Blessed Be
Copyright © Carrie McGinnis. All rights reserved.