If you’re caught up with my other blog posts from Canada already, then you probably easily picked up this sentiment, but the Canadian leg of my road trip has been my favorite segment so far. Pretty much everything Canada has been a stellar experience, but I decided to highlight some of the things that left a lasting impression on me. (Note that these are in no particular order, and they’re not my favorite things—they just happen to be things that stuck in my memory.)
British Columbia Highway 5 (also known as the Southern Yellowhead Highway) and the Trans-Canada Highway, starting from Hope and ending in Calgary, is my favorite location of all time. The quality of scenery on this stretch of highway exceeds what you would see in even some of the best National Parks in the United States, and this scenery is literally just hugging the road on all sides, everywhere.
I’ve noticed that Canadian people are noticeably nicer and have a strong sense of community—sort of like my experience in Montana, but to an even greater degree. People I’ve spoken with through random encounter on the street or while hiking will greet me as if we had already known each other for a long time, and opt for some more meaningful, relevant conversation as opposed to filler small talk.
On average, I’ve noticed that Canadian people are more physically attractive. It seems like Canadians care more about maintaining their health and appearance. There are still obviously some plump people in Canada, but I don’t recall seeing a single person throughout my entire stay in Canada who I would consider as obese… which is a dramatic difference from when I visited the southeastern United States, where literally over half the people I encountered appeared to me as unmanageably obese.
I am a huge fan of Diet Coca-Cola and would say it is my favorite beverage (along with Coca-Cola Zero) if you exclude just plain water. A lot of people claim they are cola enthusiasts, but when they do blind taste tests, they can’t tell the difference among different kinds of cola. Well, I have done blind taste tests, and have been so accurate as to even be able to point out when my friends were trying to trick me and mixed half Coca-Cola and half Pepsi into a single cup. With that claim of “expertise” having been said, I think Canadian Diet Coca-Cola tastes significantly better than that of the United States. I am not really sure exactly why that is, but it just leaves a cleaner, crisper aftertaste. I think that it’s because the sweetener might be different, but I’m not certain; all I know is that I definitely like it better.
Throughout my travels, I’ve managed to earn Ambassador Elite status in Marriott’s Bonvoy loyalty program, which entitles me to free upgrades and a lot of special treatment. However, because I am specially eligible (unrelated to the standard loyalty program) for a pretty substantial discount off regular rates, I generally don’t mind if I don’t always get the best upgrades or the best perks in the United States—I’m already very thankful that Marriott allows me to travel full-time at an affordable rate. However, in Canada, every single hotel I stayed at honored the full benefits of my Ambassador Elite status, gave me the maximum available upgrades, provided me with over-the-top welcome gifts, and overall just had stellar service that dwarfed what I came to expect from United States hotels.
The absence of firearms in Canada was a bit strange at first. I obviously left my gun in the United States, as I did not have the credentials to carry it with me into Canada, and I kept doing double-takes for the first week or so while I was still accustomed to not having a firearm with me. However, people in Canada just don’t really act suspiciously in general, and I never really felt that I was ever in a situation where I would even potentially need a firearm. Eventually, it felt a lot more peaceful after getting getting used to it.
Compared to the United States, Canadian drivers are a lot more reasonable and drive in a much more predictable manner. I’m used to driving in a very wide variety of conditions, from bustling, aggressive cities all the way to quite literally the middle of nowhere surrounded by wild grasses, and I’d say that the median driver in Canada is about the equivalent to the median driver in Utah, a state which I’ve spoken highly about in the past about how great their drivers are. On a related note, there is an overall lower travel speed on Canadian highways, so I actually ended up getting better fuel economy by not having to keep up with the flow of traffic at 85+ MPH (137+ KPH) like in the United States.
With those general thoughts and impressions out of the way, here are some leftover photos I had from Canada that didn’t fit in with any of my previous blog posts.
The first is the Canada Border Services Agency checkpoint in Abbotsford, British Columbia, across from Sumas, Washington. I had to drive quite a bit through what felt like local roads in order to get here. I decided to enter through Abbotsford instead of Surrey because I skipped Vancouver, as a stay in Vancouver was a bit too expensive due to tourism picking up for the summer.
My first overnight stop was in Kamloops, British Columbia. I got a nice, upgraded corner suite on the top floor of the Fairfield Inn and Suites by Marriott Kamloops, which had a nice view of the mountains.
My next overnight stop was at the Fairfield Inn and Suites by Marriott Revelstoke, where again, I got a nice upgraded suite on the top floor, and again, with an amazing view of the mountains.
My longest stop was in Calgary, where I selected the Element by Westin Calgary Airport. I got a great rate, and it had a convenient central location in Calgary. I got upgraded to a corner studio on the highest floor with a great view of both downtown and the suburbs, and their hot breakfast service had recently been reinstated, so I was able to get a different fresh dish every morning. There was plenty of space, there was a wired Internet connection available, and the sink even had a water filter built into it. I don’t think I could’ve asked for a better place to call my temporary home during my stay in Calgary.
After spending a night at the Fairfield Inn and Suites by Marriott Lethbridge, I continued my way down south back home to the United States. I made my final Tim Hortons stop in Cranbrook, British Columbia, where I enjoyed a few Timbits with iced coffee and enjoyed the clear skies and mountain views.
I ended up running into some construction traffic during my final stretch southbound on British Columbia Highway 95, but the scenery was so nice that even traffic somehow became enjoyable.
As if acting like a harsh reality check, when I arrived at the United States Customs and Border Protection’s Eastport Port of Entry in Bonners Ferry, Idaho, the officer basically acted as if I was committing a crime by attempting to re-enter the United States—a polar opposite experience from when I entered Canada for tourism.
Having formerly been in law enforcement, his “angry for no reason” demeanor made me disappointed, as he was a great example of officers who leave a bad impression of law enforcement on the community and make it more difficult for everyone else in the field. It was particularly upsetting because I had spent the last few weeks being showered with kindness by Canadians, and it felt very unjust to have an officer with a bad attitude greeting these kind Canadians at the border.
Hopefully this port has a refresher course on community policing and public relations coming up soon.
If Canada was part of the United States and relocation logistics were easy, I 100% would move there… though I guess it wouldn’t be how it is today if it was part of the United States. I guess the next best alternative would be to move to Montana, which I may consider at some point. Or, another option could be to maintain United States citizenship and spend 51% of my time in the US and 49% of my time in Canada on visitor visas… though I imagine that’s a decision I would only make after I settle down with a wife.
Regardless, the point is, visiting Canada has opened my eyes up to many new possibilities. I was never really that curious about Europe, but after making this trip to Canada and traveling internationally for the very first time, I’m more interested in visiting other countries, in hopes of seeing things that I would have never imagined was possible just from my limited scope and understanding of the United States.
Considering that a majority of Tempo‘s new employees are in the Seattle Metropolitan Area and I’ve been spending more time here, I’m thinking I will seize any future opportunities to make more trips to Canada, considering how close it is.