Sunday, August 14, 2016

Vacation - The Trip

My son didn't want to be left behind looking for turtles.
My family and I have just gotten back from a trip to the American South. We were there primarily visiting my husband's family. It's been nine years since we made this trip; post-marriage, but pre-children. Driving 14 hours to his uncle's house is a lot different with two little ones than it is when you're young and childless. I could talk about the long drive and the visits and the swims, but one of things that has really stuck in my mind is all the differences between here (Canada) and there. I didn't expect there to be a lot. I watch American television and movies. I have American friends and family. It's not as though I had never been there, but it had been a while. My Hubby and I made a few comments regarding the differences, and I think this is the first time I really noticed them and took note. I thought I would share some of the differences I found.

Family swim time.
Tires - Hubby told me something I didn't know as I took the wheel for the first time in the States. The "tire regulations" were different. Apparently, you can dig deeper treads into tires, once they start to flatten, so he wanted me to be careful while driving next to big trucks.. While I didn't see any tire blowouts myself, I saw bits, pieces, chunks and almost entire tires lying at the side of the interstates. Sometimes not just on the shoulders, but in the middle of lanes. It was a little freaky.

Wobbly Tires on Trucks - Which was something else freaky. Nothing like driving behind that transport truck and the tires just don't look stable.

Speed Limits - 70 mph is unusual for me. Our major highways have a maximum speed of 100 km/h, approximately 62 mph. 70 mph converts to about 112 km/h. So, driving 70 felt like speeding, but fine. However, there were SO MANY people driving faster than 70. I was on parts of the interstate where 70 was basically slow.

Cars At The Side Of The Road - Why? Why are people pulling over at the side of the highway? A lot. There were just so many. The exits, whether for gas stations or Rest Areas, weren't far. You couldn't make it a couple more miles? Stopping where people are zooming by at 80+ mph just seemed extremely unsafe.

Tim Hortons - I know it's a very Canadian thing to notice, but I missed Tim Hortons. There were some near the border, when we crossed into Buffalo. On the way back in Ohio, we could tell we were getting closer because there was Tim's, and we had to stop at one. 

Starbucks - Does not have lactose free milk, at least not in the ones that we stopped at. After 2, we stopped trying. It's not for me, but for Hubby. I felt bad going to Starbucks when he couldn't get what he wanted. Soy milk just doesn't taste the same.

Our favourite pool.
Wine in Walmart - We picked up some wine in Walmart. It was where we were suggested to go. Which is great, I think. We can get wine in our grocery stores here, and recently beer, but not Walmart. Walmart seems super convenient.

The Heat - I know people complain about Canadian winters, but how about Southern summers. Too hot to be outside? There are ceiling fans on porches! Every other person has to have a pool. I sweat without moving, in areas where I don't usually sweat. I felt like I was on fire, like I might actually get a sunburn (I had one once.) Also, the air conditioning is always cranked. Yes, I would not be able to survive down south without the AC, but I'm also Canadian; if I want to put a sweater on, maybe it's too cold inside. I think it might just be where you grow up too. I'm used to our winters; everyone down there is probably used to their summers.

Olympic Coverage - This is probably one of the things I missed the most. What I didn't know is that Olympic events aren't always aired live in the States. A neighbour of Hubby's uncle explained that because a network laid down a whole lot of money, they make these stories about the athlete, then air them with the competition. What? I have 4 to 6 stations airing the games as they happen. One major network and then the rest are the sports channels. Sometimes a station will stop Olympic coverage to air the Blue Jays game or another sporting event, then go back to the Olympics. Was it just the station that was chosen (not by me)? Are there stations in the US that air all of the Olympics? Please let me know if I'm wrong. Though, I did have to experience the opening ceremonies in the US. I missed CBC when that happened.

I found the TARDIS!!
I have to say though, everyone was nice to me. I was a little nervous, being non-white, going to the American South with their current political climate. I don't talk politics here very often, if at all. But I have to say that to one of his aunts, my husband pointed out that if a certain candidate won their up-coming election, I might not be allowed to visit again for a while. I don't know if that made a difference to her or to his uncle, but he wanted to show them real life versus abstract consequences. Besides that one short conversation, it never came up. Everyone we interacted with was kind. I didn't feel terribly out of place and I was treated like everyone else. I don't know if that's because we were staying in nice areas, as both families we stayed with are well-off. We went to science centres, indoor play parks, and shopping malls and I didn't have any problems. I hope that I'm able to go back soon and continue to always have positive experiences.

I am glad to be home though. I missed this country. Though the trip was a lot of fun and I hope we can do it again sometime, but I'm happy to be back in Canada.

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