18 July 2007

Giant Potato Men, Giant Axes, Giant...Tides? - Everything in Canada is huge! - Entry Incomplete

Penetrating Canada

After leaving Houlton, Maine (ME), a bordertown, we entered Canada via Interstate 95, where we were immediately stopped at the border and asked to pull over so my trunk could be rummaged through.

What set the Canadian border agents to examining the contents of my car, you may ask?

First: We did not know the exact length of our stay. It all depended upon how many things we could do and see each day, so I uncertainly said something like, "Three or four days." I havd several roadside attractions to see, as well as some tidal bores, and this would take time. So when entering Canada, or any foreign soil for that matter, give them a definite date, even if you don't stick to it. They'll feel confident in your confidence. I think that's all right...

Second: When referring to your relationships to the others you travel with, sound certain when explaining their status in your life, otherwise you may appear suspicious, like you want to steal some good ole health care (Medicare in Canada). The Danny Zuko/Sandy "Summer Nights" thing should probably be clearly stated or avoided in mentioning. I dunno which works.

Third: I only found this out half a year later when flying out of New York's John F. Kennedy airport, make sure your passport is signed. Neither the Canadian or American border agents mentioned my unsigned passport, and apparently the Phoenix Sky Harbor airport security agents didn't notice or didn't care. I had no idea I needed to sign it.

JFK security does not mess around though. They made sure I signed it right before their eyes. I don't recall if they asked for additional ID though. In my passport photo I have the shortest hair ever and no facial hair, and these days my hair is often long and messy, accompanied by a slightly lengthy goatee or beard.

Upon actually entering the country...

The highest speed limit was 110 km/hr (kilometers per hour), which is about 70 mph. I think most cars these days have both metric and standard on the dashboard, so this made it easy. Though this feature on the car still does not help determine how much time a specific distance takes to travel. Before leaving from Long Island, I'd gathered some figures and formulas on the internet.

Figures and formula:
1 mile = 1.6 km
1.00 USD = 1.04 CD (something like that at the time)
0.264 gallon = 1 liter / 3.8 gallon = 4 liters (this may be dry, not liquid measurements)
sales tax = 14% (Maritime Provinces, as opposed to 13% elsewhere)

Unfortunate for me during this trip, the dominance of the American dollar in Canada is presently over. Therefore there would be no great deals on merchandise. Additionally the high tax rate (which pays for many great social services, like Medicare) also made things expensive to purchase.
The price of gas wasn't as bad as people sometimes make out. At an average of $1.06 a liter, it cost a little under $4.00 a gallon, which isn't that ridiculous compared to what was being paid for a gallon in New York at the time. At least that extra money contributes to universal health care and such. An American can only dream...

Visitor Center?

Shortly after entry into the country, we spotted a sign for a visitor information center. One thing about Canada is that they let you know where to find tourist information with very obvious signs of giant question marks (which you'll see later). The visitor center is a very green building, in that it has a roof of grass, helping the building to blend into the natural env

The employees at the visitor center are very friendly and informative, having been to many of the tourist destinations themselves. Also available at many of these centers is free internet, so you can sit down for a spell and conduct some last minute research.

In Canada, the trash cans are known as "pop cans."

The World's Largest Ax (Paul Bunyan style)

The Giant Potato Man

The Giant Potato Man is located in Fredricton, New Brunswick (NB), a little over an hour from Houlton. Luckily the Canadian department of transportation, or whatever it's called up there decided to connect and construct TransCanada 2 just on the other side of the border, as if I-95 goes on until the end of the world, or at least the Atlantic coast.

The "little" Potato Man, who used to reside next to his bigger brother.

Metric. Those silly foreigners.

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