Anthony on , , , , , , , , 22 Jul 2008 09:14 pm

On Sunday, we woke the live-in teenager up early and headed south to Seattle.

Happily enough, we were out of the house on time, and the drive to the Peace Arch was uneventful.  The wait at the border was about a half hour, but getting through was one of the easiest crossings I’ve ever had.  I think I said that last time I crossed the border too.  There must be something about my demographic that is appealing to the border guards.  We had a letter of permission for Kayla, but it proved unnecessary and that was a good thing too, because the letter indicated that we were the aunt/uncle of Kayla but I told the border guard Kayla was Gwen’s cousin (which is correct).  It might have been awkward if he asked to see the letter.

We raced down to the Seattle Premium Outlets in Tulalip where Gwen and Kayla shopped while I entertained Aidan with the motorized ride-on toys (which he’s happy to play on without putting any money in) and pushed him around in a car-shaped ‘stroller’.  We were there for about 3 hours, and between the two of them they only bought $180 of clothing.

From there we drove down to Seattle proper.  The plan was to go to the Space Needle and then hit the Pacific Science Center and follow it up with a visit to the Pike Place Market.  Well, when we got to Seattle Center (eventually … the traffic on I-5 was heavy and slow; it took us an hour) wow was it crowded.  We had no idea it was such a popular summertime place.  We went to the Space Needle with the logic that we had to do it at least once.  It was a long wait, expensive, and somewhat underwhelming.  But, we’ve been up the Space Needle.  It was the only place we took pictures.

After the Space Needle, we were all rather tired and it was around 4pm, so we gave the Pacific Science Center a miss.  We headed down to the Pike Place Market and gave it a quick run-through.

Heading north again, we had supper in what has become our traditional suppertime venue in coming back from Seattle: The Flying Pig in Everett.

After a more eventful supper than I’d have liked (Aidan knocked over a full glass of root beer on the table) we headed up I-5 again.  About 30 miles south of the border, we tuned into News 1130 (traffic on the 1’s!) and heard that there was a 1:30 wait at the Peace Arch (that’s 90 minutes!) and a two hour wait at the Truck Crossing.  And no wait at the other border crossings.  We immediately took the next exit off the highway, pulled out the Eee and fired up the GPS and Streets and Trips.  It didn’t take too long for us to get a route to the Aldergrove border crossing (which is the next one east from the Truck Crossing) and then we were off on a back-road-of-Washington tour.

And the Aldergrove border crossing?  *AWESOME*  A total of *5* cars ahead of us.  And once again, no interference from Canada Customs.  Even having to drive back up the Valley meant that we got home at least an hour before we would have had we come up the Pacific Highway.

How tired were we on Monday, though?

Anthony on , , 30 Sep 2007 10:38 pm

loonie.jpgWhen Aidan woke up this morning, at 5:30am, I bet he didn’t think that we’d get him up, fed, dressed, and stuffed in the truck.

As a matter of fact, neither did I.

But, hey, that’s how things go. We were intending to head down to Seattle today to do some cross-border shopping with our recently superior Loonie, and we intended to head down early, but I was thinking somewhere between 8am and 9am. By 9am today, we were almost in Bellingham with four caches under our belt. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The boy woke up at 5:30am, and didn’t go back to sleep. After some discussion, we decided to get up and get moving. Of course, Aidan calling “Change the bed!” helped getting us moving too. Note to selves, no-name diapers really don’t do well for overnight. We were actually on the road by 6:30am, much to my shock. Both Gwen and Aidan were awake — and happy?!?

The reason we wanted to be away early was because of The Border. On a good day, Seattle’s about 2 1/2 hours away. A “good day” means spending 5 minutes at the border. Last weekend at the peak rush, simply crossing The Border meant waiting 2-3 hours in itself. Clearly this is untenable with a toddler, so we aimed to avoid the rush. Not that we knew when the rush actually was, but a good rule of thumb seems like “earlier is better”. And then there’s the decision: Which crossing? Peace Arch? Pacific Highway (aka the Truck Crossing)? As it turns out, at 7:15am today the wait was only 30 minutes at the Truck Crossing.

Of course, that meant we were in Blaine before 8am. Less than 2 hours to Seattle … and it’s a Sunday … and the Seattle Premium Outlets don’t open until 10am. What to do?!?

Geocaching of course! We had loaded the GPS up with a bunch of close-to-I-5 caches, and before we knew it we had four in hand and it wasn’t 9am yet. Woot!

We continued south, with ongoing success with the caches. Now, what I haven’t mentioned so far is the rain. Pouring yesterday, pouring today. In fact, today was quite a bit worse than yesterday. I was fighting with the car, the wind, and the rain the whole day. It also makes for damp caching, so by the time we reached Bellingham, we let up on the caching and drove south.

I’ll spare you the details about shopping, but we did pick up sneakers and lots of clothes. It’s like Christmas time! Clothes (and cars, apparently) are some of the few things that actually cost significantly less in the States.

Coming back up I-5 meant picking up caches on the other side of the road! :)

Of course crossing The Border in a northerly direction causes some trepidation too … when’s the rush back into Canada? Which crossing (again)? How much tax/duty will we have to pay? We debated eating supper before making the trek back home, but one thing lead to another, and we ended up queued at the Truck Crossing again without having eaten supper. Actually, the crossing north wasn’t too bad, something like 40 minutes. The actual exchange with the CBS agent went something like: CBSA: Where do you live? A: Vancouver, CBSA: Where’d ya go? A: Seattle, CBSA: Value? A: About $600, CBSA: Good day.

That’s it. No passports, no receipts, not even complete questions or sentences!!! Ah well. Happy to be home.

Gwen will have more to say about the trip. I think she has some funny anecdotes to share.

PS: 8 cache finds today, 1 TB dropped off, 4 picked up. Nothing compared to the 26 that EastCoastTwo picked up today on Easy Street! That brings them to 110, just slightly fewer than our 175. They should eclipse us by the end of October! Congrats M&D!