But the saving grace for the entire trip was that I was in Canada. You know what else is in Canada?
I swear, they are the nicest people you will ever meet.
They go out of their way to make you feel welcome and comfortable. It’s quite refreshing.
After my terrible first day, things started looking up.
My baggage showed up in the middle of the night…
And even though I had asked them to, the front desk people didn’t call me at 1 am to tell me it was here. And you know what? I’m glad they made that decision – what was I going to do with that information at 1 am? Run down and get my bag? No, I would have said ok, great. I’ll pick it up in the morning. So why call and wake me up about it? Better to just let me sleep and figure it out later. They are so nice.
I found out that my rental car wasn’t going to be ready until 10 am. I notified the people I was in town to see, and instead of waiting around all day for me to show up, they offered to pick me up at my hotel and take me to the property. Nice warm truck being driven by someone who knew where they were going? I’m in.
And when I was done for the day, he dropped me off at the rental car place. And this was my rental car…
They said that because I was so nice and patient with them since they had run out of cars the day before, they were only charging me for an economy car, but gave me an All Wheel Drive Kia Sorrento.
And a free GPS Rental.
See! When you are nice, nice things happen!
However, I didn’t have time to go see the polar bears.
It was an hour drive and they close early in the winter, so instead I drove to nearby Hersey Lake and took some photos, adding 4 new species to my bird list in the meantime!
And I also got to see something completely new and foreign to me…
First time in my life I had seen a lake frozen solid. It kind of scared me, I’m not going to lie. I was sure if I ventured too close to the edge I would fall through, even though those are snow-mobile tracks going across the middle of it!
I met up with John again in the hotel bar that evening. The hotel staff were all having their staff Christmas Party, so it was me and him watching hockey in the bar and showing each other pictures of our dogs.
I had told him the night before after he so kindly paid for my dinner, that I would pay him back the next night. I’m sure he thought I had forgotten, but I always try to keep my word so I made sure to meet up with him again. Since the hotel staff were having their Christmas party and the restaurant was closed, we went to The Restaurant (I’m not making that up).
It was a dive restaurant (my favorite!) that was attached to a gas station.
I told John that I had to have the traditional Canadian dish of french fried and gravy, what the Canadians call Poutine. He said that The Restaurant was the best place in town for that, so that’s where I wanted him to take me.
We didn’t realize that they were close to closing when we walked in, but we ordered our Poutine (Quebec style, with cheese curds) and a couple sodas and sat and talked for a good while. There aren’t many people that I can just sit and talk to as if I have known them for years, so it was nice to be able to do that after I had had such a crappy trip.
After dinner the waitress came and got our plates with her purse in her hand, ready to go. We didn’t even notice that she was waiting on us! We got out as fast as we could and apologized over and over for making her wait. I paid for dinner like I told him I would, and then he asked if I had ever been to Tim Horton’s.
I had never heard of Tim Horton’s.
But apparently it’s another Canadian thing to do.
We ordered our coffee (decaf since it was like 9 pm by this time) and John had me pick out a Christmas ornament. He refused to let me pay for the coffee and ornament, saying, “it’s Christmas!”
Then he gave me a “toonie” which is the Canadian $2 coin, because he wanted to make sure I had actually seen a Polar Bear on my trip.
Again, we sat and talked like old friends, and enjoyed our coffee. He talked about once when he thought his eye was about to pop out of his head and I talked about when both my eardrums blew out in grad school. Then we discussed the differences of healthcare in Canada and in The US. It was great. John said that he had been trying really hard to NOT say “ahe?” the whole time (he apparently wasn’t doing a very good job of it because it was like every sentence) because “it’s so typically Canadian,” but all I did was laugh and say something along the lines of “I think it’s fine – you are Canadian afterall….”
The second day of my three day trip was spectacular.
John was a welcome new friend, and I hope we keep in touch.
Everyone else I met was so nice and made me wish I lived in Canada, simply because everyone in the country is automatically your friend.
However, seeing as how this was the temperature the entire time I was there…
…I don’t plan on making the move any time soon.