A Very Canadian Day

It stopped snowing and actually warmed up quite a bit today so I decided to venture out and maybe grab a coffee. Just bevause streets are clear and plowed, doesn’t mean the sidewalks are. So, today I trekked through about 1 foot (no joke) of unplowed snow, wearing my Canadian Olympic jacket and my furry mukluks for about 20 minutes just to get some Tim Hortons coffee and a doughnut. It’s roll up the rim time. DON’T JUDGE ME!
I have to be the most Canadian Canadian who ever Canadianed.
In other less ridiculous news, the landlord of the house we looked at got back to us and want to sign the lease! Woo!!

Advertisements

What is KD?

It certainly isn’t what we have been eating. First off, it’s not called KD, but Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. Second, theres about half in the box than normal and the noodles are teeny tiny. Third, the taste. It’s…wrong.  It comes out in a fine powder and isn’t as strong a flavour.
The fact we are cooking KD, though, means we have moved into our corporate suites. Its nice being able to cook dinner and eat what we usually do. We found an asian grocery so we have rice and soy sauce and the other important basics. The regular grocery we like is just down the street from us. We like it because it is just a grovery store. All the others we went into are super stores that sell clothes and housewares and stuff like that. Those are far too overwhelming to shop in so we were very happy to find just groceries. We were expecting to spend about $150 on our first shopping trip but only spent about $80. Perks of living in the US!
Everyone we have encountered here have been very nice and most people say hello and are really quite polite. When we go into stores or something, everyone is nice and wants to give their opinion on where to go, what to do and what to eat in Kalamazoo.  We appreciate this a lot.
We met with our Kalamazoo minion again to look at rentals. She showed us a house, a couple apartments and a couple townhouses. The house she showed us was one that Tyler also found and had contacted the landlord for a viewing independently from our minion, which I though was funny. The bouse is really adorable and seems pretty perfect for us.  The landlord sent us an email today to tell us he’ll make his decision and contact us tomorrow. He sounded kike he likes us, but who knows. We’ll know tomorrow.
Other than the day of looking at places, we have been shopping and exploring the area and watching a lot of Olympics. There is some Canadian coverage mixes in there so we’ve been a ble to watch hockey and curling and a lot of skiing.
Tyler starts work tomorrow and I start my time doing nothing at all. There is a Kholes down the street and a target as well so I might have to do some unsupervised shopping. Mwahaha.

Weekend Update

We have settled into our hotel nicely. Every day we have a new person cleaning our room, and every day they are cleaned differently.  We both think that Nikki was the best, but she was a little over zealous with the note she left to us (because we always leave a thank you note to the cleaning person with our tip).  Nikki informed us that she had the pleasure of cleaning our room. Bullshit. she just liked the tip. The rest of them have been very honest with their notes they leave back (I actually appreciate them leaving a note. I have no idea why but it is oddly satisfying), saying, mostly, thanks for the tip.  HOWEVER the fact that they don’t line our shoes up in a neat little line like Nikki makes me think that maybe she DOES take please in cleaning up after us. I had something explode in my bag of hair etc products and had to wash them and leave them to try on a towel.  I laid them down in no particular order but Nikki arranged them on the towel biggest to smallest. Who does that?!
Nikki set the bar for quality of care in Kalamazoo.
On our first full day in Kalamazoo, we went wandering around looking for a grocery store or really, any store that would sell us water (the water here has a lot of iron in it and has been a little difficult to get used to). Apparently downtown Kalamazoo doesn’t actually have grocery stores, or any store really that isn’t a restaurant or boutique. We went walking around and around and then crossed over some train tracks. As soon as we crossed those tracks, we were in a totally different town.  We had heard of ‘the wrong side of the tracks’ but never really experienced it. Until now. 
We went into a grocery store to have a look around and see if they had bottled water or something that wasn’t in a huge jug. We got distracted by the delicious deli foods and decided to look around to see what foods they had in the store and how the prices compared. We eventually made it to the drinks section but neither of us wanted to carry 6 litres back to the hotel so we decided we would look elsewhere or go out another day with the car.  We headed to the exit and were stopped by security but a very giant security guy. He asked us if he could help us find anything. We said “No, sorry, we were just looking around”. He gave us a look that said that wasn’t the kind of answer he was looking for so we quickly added “We just moved here and were looking for a grocery store” He said” Uh huh” in a very unconvinced tone. The he added “where did you move from?” Tyler told him “Victoria, British Columbia”. There was no recognition whatsoever so Tyler quickly followed that up with “Canada.” Well! Saying we were from Canada totally changed his view on us. He called to the customer service guy (whom I suspect was the one to alerted security to us) that we were from Canada. Customer service guy’s demeanor changed and seemed OK with the fact that 2 Canadians were in his shop. He even asked us how we liked the town. We very quickly said we thought it was a great place to be. He then told us to come back again and security guy wished us a happy day. We quickly left and told each other that we did not want to go back to that particular store. Later, while talking to our Kalamazoo minion, we found out that we had ventured into the north and that we should never go into the north. Oops!
After that fun adventure, we stayed in the south of Kalamazoo.  We met with our minion and she took us to a coffee shop that sold really good coffee, told us that Timmies isn’t the same as it is in Canada and gave us a map of where we want to go/live an where we never ever want to venture into, which of course, is the north.  She is helping us look for rentals right now and since she knows the area, we keep sending her houses we think are interesting and she sends back “I would live in that area” or ” you really don’t want to live there”. Her reasons aren’t always because of safety. Mostly it’s because it’s in the student “Ghetto” (not a ghetto at all, just cheap housing where a lot of students live because it’s right near the university). We definitely appreciate her input, and because she is Canadian as well, she has a great perspective on the differences between how things work here as opposed to Canada and what we should expect with certain things. That was totally vague, I know, but I can’t think of any specific examples of what she said so you all can just deal with it.
Today we went to look at cell phones. Pre-paid is a lot cheaper than term plans and AT&T was the cheapest by far.  They also have an employee discount with Tyler’s work so when we do go to a term and get internet and cable and stuff like that, we’ll save a bit of money. Woo!
For lunch today we went to Chipotle. They sell burritos that are really quite delicious for fast food and they are HUGE. So big that Tyler couldn’t finish his. Pretty sure the two of them together weighed about 5 Lbs. So big and so good!
Next week we leave the hotel and move into the corporate suites (Wednesday) and then on the following day we are trying to set up some viewings of houses and apartments. We may or may not have some pictures to post then.

Tollinois

We left Clinton, Iowa at a fairly reasonable hour this morning because we wanted to wait for as much of the storm to pass as possible.  We weren’t exactly sure how disastrous the roads would be because the weather channel was pretty alarmist. Looking at the Canadian weather network online told us that there would be no snowfall where we were headed. We took that information as being more correct and headed off to Kalamazoo.

Fairly soon after leaving Clinton, we crossed the Mississippi river and headed into Illinois.

Image

Neither Tyler nor I knew that the Mississippi river went that far north and decided we needed to learn even more American geography than previously thought.

The countryside of Illinois is very similar to Iowa and we got to see quite a lot of it due to the rout the GPS took us.  If was fun going through the farms and through a sleepy little town. We did learn that Illinois is a very windy state. Pretty much the entire way through you could feel the wind pushing our little car around and could see the snow blowing across the road. That’s something we don’t see in Victoria!

Image

The way to Chicago was pretty uneventful until we got onto the interstate surrounding the city. Holy tolls batman! They started out far apart then started getting closer and closer together. at one point, we were at a toll every 5 minutes.  We figure we spent about $20 within about 40 minutes with constant stopping to pay at them. Yeesh! It has now been absolutely decided that when we go to Chicago, we will be taking the train.

Finally, after what felt like hours and hours of tolls (which was only about an hour) we dipped down into Indiana for maybe an hour or so.

Image

Indiana had not much to offer us in the way of scenery  but it was ok because our stay was short. In what felt like no time at all, we were entering Michigan and the last leg of our journey.

Image

We started seeing trees again, which was nice but the trees were blocking our view of Lake Michigan. Oh well, I’m sure we’ll see it at some point. It didn’t take long for us to start seeing signs for Kalamazoo and then all of a sudden we were at the turn off for it!

ImageImageImageImage

We’ve arrived!!

The hotel people from Tyler’s work stay at in Kalamazoo is the Radisson. It is a fantastic hotel! Because we are staying for a week here and Tyler dropped his company’s name, we got upgraded to a suite. Oh man is it nice!ImageImageImage

Also, we got a plantable seed card that you can apparently grow in your house.

Image

I will plant it and see if I can get anything to grow. I doubt it, but I have a lot of time to turn my plant poison thumb into a green one.

Tomorrow we will wandering around town and I am sure we will have more pictures and stories to post.

Iowa-nna Leave This State

Lincoln was (from what we saw) a very nice city that both of us said we would be happy ending up here at some point. The architecture felt a lot like Victoria and the people were very nice.  I did notice a big variation in the accent here. Some people sounded very southern and others sounded just like us.

ImageImage

On our way out of the city we saw the Corn Huskers stadium, which belongs to the Nebraska University and drove by the Corn Huskers highway.

ImageImage

We had a more leisurely morning, waking up around 7:30 and having breakfast in the hotel. We were on the road by 8:30, excited that today would only be about 5 1/2 hours of driving. Well, 5 1/2 hours of driving ended up being closer to 7 because it started to snow and the interstate in Iowa is pretty terrible. We were one of only a few cars and trucks on the road when the snow started so they hadn’t been plowed or salted or sanded yet so it was fairly slow going for quite a while.

Image

The landscape of Iowa was pretty much the same as Nebraska. We didn’t take any pictures because 1) nothing was interesting and 2) we could hardly see anything but snow and clouds. There was a sign promising a Danish Windmill but I think it was an empty promise because we didn’t see any Danish windmill. The Danish and I are no longer friends.  One thing we discovered about Iowa is there is a HUGE difference in quality of rest stop and you don’t know what you will get until you get inside. It was a game I wasn’t happy playing. Another reason not to go to Iowa.

We had planned on staying in Davenport Iowa for the night but didn’t want to drive into another city so we are currently in a small town called Clinton. It’s about 20 miles north east of Davenport and has…nothing near our hotel except a casino. We may or may not spend another night here depending on the weather. A huge snowstorm is blowing its way through our area and into Illinois and then onto Michigan. Where we are driving is only supposed to get 1-3 inches but who knows what will really happen. We’ll make our decision tomorrow morning.

It’s hard to believe that our trip is almost over already. Feels like we just left Vancouver yesterday. It’s gone by fast, which is good. We were both a little worried that 8+ hours of driving would be horrible, but it hasn’t been bad at all  except for the last hour.

No matter what we do in regards to weather tomorrow we will update with our status.

Too buzzed to think up a witty title

This morning we happily left Laramie to complete out final long day of driving through the rest of Wyoming and most of the way through Nebraska.IMG_0007

Laramie was quaint.

The last rest area in Wyoming had a tourist attraction we decided to stop at. It was the head of Abraham Lincoln carved out of stone atop a tall rock.  There really wasn’t much else to say about it except it was cold outside but that isn’t really the rock’s fault.

IMG_0009

We continued on through Wyoming, passing through the capitol, Cheyenne.  Cheyenne was another small sad town going along with the theme of a sad boring state.

IMG_0020

Upon entering Nebraska we were disappointed that the scenery hadn’t changed that much from Wyoming. We had gotten used to big changes with every new state and assumed this trend would continue.  At least with Nebraska, we noticed, the empty fields were being used for farms, instead of…nothing. So as we  drove in the straight line of the interstate, we at least got to see cows, the occasional antelope and an alpaca or two.  there was still a whole lot of nothing for a while but eventually we was corn and wheat fields, and the closer to Lincoln we got, the closer together the towns got.  We were fianlly seeing civilisation again! Woo!

IMG_0021 IMG_0026 IMG_0031 IMG_0037

For lunch, we pulled into the first big town we had seen in a long time called North Platte.  We say it’s a big town because it had a Starbucks. It was the first Starbucks we had seen since Portland. No joke. So we pulled into a Sonic but saw that it was an old fashioned pull-in and eat in your car. Well, the last thing we wanted to do after a few hours of driving was sit in our car to eat so we went elsewhere.  We ended up at a place called Runza. There is no place like it in Canada and we think it’s Nebraska only but it was pretty good. The burger that I, Stef, had tasted like a ball park burger and Tyler had some sort of beef sandwich thing that was encased in a bun. It looked like a sausage roll, kinda.

After lunch, we drove the rest of the way to Lincoln, Nebraska.  We stayed here because a co-worker of Tyler’s was from there and gave us a couple recommendations of where to stay and what to have for dinner.  We stayed at her hotel recommendation which is the Embassy Suites, which is a part of the Hilton hotel group.  We’ve stayed at the Hilton Garden hotels in Idaho and Wyoming and they were nice.  There’s nothing special to report about this hotel. We had to pay for WiFi in our room which is totally lame but they have free alcoholic drinks (i might be a little buzzed as I write this) and free breakfast so we got our WiFi fee back in a beer and gin and tonic each so it’s equaled out.

For dinner tonight we went to the restaurant that was recommended.  Tyler’s co-worker told him that Nebraska beef was better than Alberta beef so, of course, we had to see for ourselves.  I had the prime rib which they are famous for and Tyler had the New York Strip.  We both agree that Nebraska beef (that’s served at this place at least) is better than Alberta beef. An this has nothing to do with the 2 free drinks we had about 5 minutes before we had another drink with dinner. If anyone, for whatever reason, goes to Nebraska, you have to try the steak.

Tomorrow we’ve got a much shorter day at about 5 1/2 hours (compared to 8+) so we are going to get up at around 7, go for a walk about around town, the head off to Devonport, Iowa

IMG_0040

Welcome to Lincoln!

Wyo-Why-Wyoming

Today we started out fairly early from Twin Falls Idaho intending an 8 hour drive to Laramie, Wyoming. It occured to us that neither of us knew anything about Wyoming aside from being the home of Old faithful (which is nowhere near our route). The first thing we needed to do was fill up our first nearly full tank of gas (we had previously filled up at 1/2 a tank). We pre-authorized for the usual $50 it takes to fill the tank, but were pleasantly suprised when the total came to $28… We’ll need to readjust our preauth amount.
We spend an hour or so in the morning driving out of Idaho before entering Utah.IMG_0259

Utah was a nice change from the flat plains of Idaho. The Hills adjacent to the highway had been heavily blasted to make room for the interstate. Entering the hills from the endless plains of Idaho looked like driving up to the gates of Mordor.

IMG_0264

We half expected to be stopped by a throng of orcs.

Our stay in Utah was short but sweet. We stayed on the interstate the whole time and bypassed Salt Lake city. And then we hit Wyoming.

Wyoming sucks. I mean, the landscape is pretty, for a while. And it’s neat to
see it change so much from grassland to desert to badlands to kinda mountains to Wile E Coyote’s playground. IMG_0276

But holy Hell is there a lot of nothing out there. We have been writing down things to say in in the blog so we don’t forget anything. All Wyoming had was desert and fireworks. The laws regarding fireworks must be really relaxed, or maybe the government knows there is nothing else to do here so they don’t care, but the very first thing we saw when crossing state line was a billboard for fireworks. The ‘Welcome to Wyoming’ sign was hidden behind the fireworks billboard. Then, a little further down the road we was a store selling said fireworks. Then, a little further down the road was a store selling fireworks and booze! A one stop shop to blowing yourself up!. We made it to our hotel in Laramie at about 5:30 pm. So after driving about 85% of the way through Wyoming we now know 3 things about it. Old Faithful, fireworks and boring.
We did take some pictures of the changing landscape that we will upload a bit later once they’ve all transferred from the camera.

Which is now.

CIMG2239 CIMG2255 CIMG2258 CIMG2263