Saturday, October 31, 2009


Since the Apple store in Vancouver is 45 miles north, and the only other one is 65 miles to the south, we decided to take my sick iMac to the one in Vancouver. This of course means we need to cross the Canadian/US Border, just 20 miles north of home. As we neared the border, we saw this sign, which tells us how much time we will probably need to get across based on traffic. We, of course, smiled at this because we are proud owners of NEXUS passes, which means we use a special lane that considerably shortens the sometimes intolerable wait times. (Before NEXUS, we waited sometimes close to an hour to get across.)

Once we cross into Canada, there's a Visitor Centre that I've not visited yet, but it looks quite nice. The main difference you notice right away is that the signs to tell you distances are now in kilometers and not miles. Speed limits are also posted in kilometers, so if it says the speed limit is 100, I halve it and add 10% (i.e., 60mph). It was my Spousal Unit who taught me this trick.

You could be in the US, considering all the Starbucks, IHOPs, and other stores that are so totally familiar to us here. The only thing is you can't hand them a buck: they want a loonie (Canadian money) instead. Fortunately credit cards are easy ways around the money problem.

Lots of high rise buildings as we approach Vancouver. The Apple store is located in the Pacific Centre Mall, so we are going right into the heart of downtown. The buses are electric, with wires above them. People seem to use these at a greater volume than we do in the States.

(I have mentioned this before, but you can click any picture to enlarge. I download my pictures in large size and then use the clever sizer to decide how to display them.) We parked in an underground garage that unfortunately didn't have any signs to tell you where you left the car. We carefully checked the few landmarks so we could find our car again. This is our destination, where I went to the Genius Bar. For those who are not Mac owners, this store could be anywhere. Lots of people wandering around in blue or orange t-shirts are the ones who direct you to your destination or sell you some gadget you can't live without, if only you knew.

After finding a coffee shop nearby so I could fortify myself, we waited a few minutes before my name was called for the Genius Bar. We explained the sound my iMac is making, our Genius plugged it in and in the incredible noise of the environment was able to diagnose a defective fan. We already knew this, but we had to leave my baby behind for 3-5 days. We headed back to our car, miraculously located it, and headed home. This next picture is taken at the corner of 11th and Granville in downtown Vancouver. It was the purple and the chocolate that attracted me, I guess.

It is still a fair distance to the US Border crossing, but we headed back south, having made only a few little errors in judgment. Husband had driven virtually all around the building with google maps and knew where to go to find the correct streets. We approached the border with this sign:

The wait times are always longer going across to the States, because they must hire more cranky and suspicious border guards. I don't know what the difference is, but instead of the 25 minutes stated here, we only had to wait maybe two minutes in our special NEXUS lane. We never fail to feel smug as we pass by all the cars waiting forever to get across. I well remember when I would look with envy at those people going so quickly through, which is why we got them in the first place. We had to send them a densely packed four pages of background material, go into their office for a personal interview, be fingerprinted and mug-shotted and then in a few weeks we received our passes in the mail.

They will call us when the fan has been replaced, but until then I am happily using my trusty laptop to keep up with my coffee klatch people and make sure I don't get too far behind! Happy Halloween, everyone! I'm taking my camera everywhere I go today, hoping for some cool pictures to share.


  1. I've only been to Canada once... at Niagara Falls. We drove right in, but coming back was something else! The US border guard asked us if we had bought anything. We said some T-shirts for the grandkids. Then he suspiciously asked us where the kids where, as he searched the backseat...

    Duh... at home with Mom and Dad!

  2. Canada is interesing to read about sometimes I have the false impression that everyone there works as fir trappers and lives in igloos ... I know that is not true but it is my first thought and my second thought is that the word "eh" is said constantly. Your blog is a fun read I like the way you tell the stories. This is my first visit to your blog and I like the kind nature the blog entries have.

  3. D-Jan,You had to go to another country to have your iMac looked into...
    Well,it's a lovely place and your helping us see it.

    I love your new header!

  4. Hi there,
    I'm a Canadian, living just outside Vancouver, who stumbled upon your blog. Glad you feel comfortable travelling across the border to the "Great White North"! It's always interesting, and sometimes funny, to hear people's impressions of Canada. It will be fun to have to world's eyes on us during the 2010 Winter Olympics in February. I guess you'll be back soon to pick up your Mac. Wishing you a safe and speedy border crossing!

  5. Great blog..we have not been to Canada for a few I believe you need a passport, or one of those Id cards.. Electric busses..those canadians are sure smart. Thanks for the trip! :)

  6. Lovely ride...thanks for letting me tag along ;-) Hope your Mac will better soon...I love the NEXUS pass idea!!! Didn't know about that! Have fun photographing!!! Can't wait to see what you capture...Love the new header, btw...Very spiffy! Have a wonderful weekend!!! ~Janine XO

  7. Phew! Thank goodness you have a backup laptop! where would we be without your treks, jumps and travels to amuse us?

  8. I traveled to Ottawa a few years back. I got stopped at customs for a search. It was nerve wracking even though I knew I had done nothing wrong. It is beautiful there though. The architecture is so old world. I witnessed the changing of the guards - So interesting. The worst part was the snobby French speakers. They hated American tourists.

  9. Hmm that's hitting two birds in one stone! Having your iMac repaired and photo shooting Vancouver. My relatives lives in Canada, and we're thinking of migrating but we prefer to stay here amidst the bad weather condition. I think I can't bear the cold climate there. Thanks for touring me around Vancouver. DJ, thanks a lot for your concern about us here during the typhoon. We are okay and life is back to normal.

    PS I like the new header, you look good in white shirt, and looked very happy. Happy Halloween.


  10. Crikey they should have been able to install a new fan there and then. It takes minutes to do! I took my desktop apart about six months ago, insalled extra memory boards - it was running like a dog - cleaned the inside with a vacuum cleaner to remove years of dust that was making the fan go into overdrive and make the most annoying noise. Then I put it back together and hey presto, a faster quieter machine! But I am an old IT. person so don't mind getting in there to muck around! I can't believe they couldn't just replace your fan at the time.

    Your pics are great as usual and nice to get a small tour of Vancouver!

  11. Nice photos. I liked this post a lot.

  12. I have been to Canada once back in my twenties and stayed a week loved it so pretty but pricey to shop there.Our computor tower went out this Summer had to use the laptop till recently.We had to replace everything needed an all new tower.I hope yours is a simple inexspensive fix:)I love the pictures and thankyou for sharing the story drinking my starbucks while reading it we bought a bag of the anniversary blend beans and grind it for a fresh pot in the mornings:)Hugs Darcy

  13. Upper Michigan is on the border at Sault Ste. Marie so we have gone in and out of Canada alot before 9-11. Now we haven't gone back yet.
    I used to live in Ontario, Canada...when my Dad was in the Air Force there was a U.S. base there.
    Canada reminds me so much of where we live.

  14. I really like the new header!
    Thanks for all the photos. I did wonder what it was like to do the whole border crossing these days. I imagine that the work you did for the passes was worth it, especially considering how close you are!
    I hate that you had to leave your computer behind; I know it's not as easy to turn around and go back in a weeks time. Still, at least it's an easily fixable problem!

  15. Always sad to leave your baby behind somewhere! I hope you get it back soon. Please tell me what a NEXUS lane is? I've never heard of it. If only you had roundabouts in America, you wouldn't have all those hold-ups, would you. They keep the traffic moving beautifully over here. I'm glad your computer only had a small problem. Wlll it cost a lot to fix it or is it under guarantee?
    Blessings, Star

  16. Vancouver is a great city, I haven't been there in awhile but it is always so friendly. I have heard about the NEXUS passes but since we needed passports to fly into Mexico it isn't something we looked into.

    I am a little horrified that it is going to take 3-5 days to replace a fan. I can do that myself in about five minutes, the time frame seems awfully long.


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