Okay so more on the adventure…

So anyway, I just got back from Canada. I'm at my house now just chillaxin' until bedtime.

We got up in London, ON. Went and had breakfast. They had a breafast buffet at the golden griddle, so I got this huge pile of bacon and eggs. MMMM. ninadiel called me and gave me some info on Toronto.

We shot out from there toward Toronto.

We eventually made our way to the CN tower. This is where I find out it costs a lot of money to go up in the tower, and due to high winds we can only go to the initial observation deck, which is the big part. This turns out to be okay in the end, but it was disappointing. So I drop my visa and off we go into the tower. We get to the entrance and they have us step into these wacky machines called the Ion Scan Sentinel II. They detect bomb material by blasting you all over the place with air for a second. The geeky side of me was really impressed, the privacy side of me was not amused. But it was overall a neat experience being puffed at by a machine that wasn't aiming for my eyeballs.

We go up and take tons of pictures to be posted later. I have video of us going up the elevator too. It's crazy. Becky went out on the freezing ass observation deck and took video in the (24F/-4C) high winds the whole way around. She's nuts. We got our tourist trap pictures (to be mentioned later) for approximately $20. We head back to MI.

On the way, I was going 116km/h in a 100km/h. I was hearing it sort of sporadically from becky that I should avoid violating laws in foreign countries as it's typically a bad idea. I was just going with the flow because I kept trying to do the right thing and ended up pissing people off. Then this one car was really, really riding my ass when I was going 119km/h. I move over when I can to let him by, and it's O.P.P (which I am down with, you know me) flying by me doing at least 125-130. I smiled and looked at her and said "see, they don't really care." πŸ™‚ I was sort of surprised myself but played it cool because that's my style.

Anyhow so we stop at a McDonalds, where they seem to have a wider selection of menu items than I'm accustomed to. Over the payphones I see posted "Dial 911 for emergencies, address xxxxx city yyy highway 401 westbound exit xxx". I get the impression E911, erm, not so much. They definitely don't have wireless E911 yet. (E911 = 911 – E911 is emergency one call number where they can get customer information like address, name, street, etc when you call, 911 is just the one call number, no enhancement). Just thought that interesting.

So we get across the ambassador bridge. I take the wrong lane and find myself in this weird semi truck only section. I pull up to a human and say weakly "I think I made a wrong turn somewhere?". They take my passport and ask me 20 questions about the stuff on my dash, where I went in Canada and why, and whether I bought anything (I replied in the affirmative, a bag of snacks at a gas station). He gave me my stuff back and waved me on through. It was wicked because everything was sized for semis. The department of homeland security guy could have seen scant more than the roof of my van. I paid my bridge toll (again at this oversized tollbooth designed for semi trucks) and went on my way.

PS to those talking about hard searches coming back into the states in my last post: That was the most intensive question and answer session I've ever had at the US border, and it was like maybe 5 or 6 total questions. Last time they just looked at my crap and waved me through, but I got extra scrutiny because I did something wrong and out of place. I've never been tossed at the US border before, and in fact the only time I was ever in a searched car it was at the canadian border.

So I'm pulling into my neighborhood, and I get a call from my credit union. "Have you made a purchase recently on your debit card at a place called 'sharpshooters?'. I'm like "hmm, maybe. Do you have any more information on it?" "well it was for $20.xx, and it was… photography?" "oh! that was the pictures at the CN tower in Toronto. Yea, that was me!". They thanked me for my time and hung up.

I guess if the first time you use a debit card since you got it (I only use the credit union for savings, generally, but have a debit card and a checking account due to technicalities to avoid fees) you do so like 300 miles from your home in a foreign country, and start going crazy (national city was declining pin based transactions in .ca, so I had to use the CU card occasionally when my normal card didn't work) with the transactions, having several transactions in a row all a sudden, all in a foreign country, the bank is less than amused.

Things I learned:

* My car's speedometer is inaccurate in KM/H too (it's almost 5mph under at higher speeds). The GPS however, is not. Yay!

* Using debit cards for the first time in a foreign country is likely to have the bank calling you like "WTF MATE IS THIS FOR REAL?"

* Take the _left_ lane off the ambassador bridge, it's for cars.

* A car full of telecom gear looks suspicious crossing the border.

* The conversion rate has lessened a bit, so it's not *AS* awesome in Canada but it's still pretty cool.

* I need at least 4 hours at a minimum to properly explore Toronto. 3 is insufficient.

* My GPS has mapsource data for Ontario in it. I must have gone crazy when I selected what to upload. Go me on that one!

* My sprint phone costs like $0.60/minute to roam in Canada. Must keep 10 minute phone calls to a minimum going forward while in Canada. (which they let me do without warning, but calling internationally from the US? Nooooooo. Crazy people…..)

* My Blackberry seems to be cool, but hey who knows what all that data usage will be billed at. I didn't tether my laptop to it so I should be okay.

* My work laptop has no internal microphone. If I count on doing sip on it to avoid international calling charges back to the US, I should make sure to actually check that first. Also, Dell, what the hell were you thinking not having a microphone on it? LAME.

23 thoughts on “Okay so more on the adventure…”

  1. We got called repeatedly by 2 of our credit card companies due to purchases on the west side of the US at the beginning of August and again at the end of August.

    Basically anything outside of a "reasonable" radius has a chance of throwing red flags.

    When we accidentally went through the semi-lane on the way *to* canada they made us back up and go to the regular lanes. πŸ™

    1. I've traveled across the country quite a bit, and have only ever been called twice. The first time I was at my desk and used a cash advance to pay off my car loan (the interest rate was much better and there were a ton of reasons besides that), they called me very suspicious about that (thankfully!) and the only other time was mentioned above.

      1. Yeah, one or two of them questioned our expenses in las vegas for defcon (didn't quite get that one) then when we made charges in indiana, next day south dakota, next day montana….they questioned that for some reason πŸ˜›

        (I really need to pay attention to whether I'm logged in or not)

  2. Glad to hear that the border guards didn't hassle you severly. IF I had realized that you were going to Toronto earlier, I would have warned you regarding the CN tower. It hasn't been a good deal, wrt to admission fees since about 1988. Good bets for an awesome time in Toronto are their world-class Science Center, Queens Street West, which is the hipster neighborhood that Bono from U2 likes so much, and Young Street (aka Sin Street) where you can find just about everything.

    I personally found the Now City Guide to Toronto indispensible when I was last there in August, 2000. Also, if you are into art, foreign cultures and all that cool stuff, the Royal Ontario Museum is not to be missed.

  3. whats wierd about fries and gravy? you SHOULDA had poutine. mm.

    crispers? like these things? you dont have those in the states? wierd. the sour cream & onion flavor is good. ya, i spell americanly.

    there USED to be a thing about caffiene in clear pop in canada, but they dropped that. so now, our mountain dew is chock full of caffiene, just how it SHOULD BE. and we can get red bull now. YAY jag-bombs. πŸ™‚

        1. AH, the deli sandwiches. ive never tried them, if im eating at mcdonalds, i want grease. πŸ™‚
          and if you ask them, they'll put as many patties as you want on a big mac. ive seen someone eat 8. im surprised they survived.

          1. I've heard of someone doing 6 patties at Wendy's once. I've never heard of someone doing 8. I wouldn't want to have hung out with that person once that stuff started going through their system though. eeeew. That had to be mighty unpleasant.

    1. yea, those crispers. I haven't seen them in stores here.

      I never said fries and gravy is weird. In my last post I discussed how absolutely awesome it is. I couldn't find anyone willing to sell me poutine.

      yea but don't you have something regarding labeling with caffiene? It's my understanding your "Mountain Dew Energy Drink" is the same caffiene levels as our commercially sold "Mountain Dew", and the non "energy drink" version is lower than ours.

        1. nope, never had fries and gravy in the states. Nobody serves it that way here. πŸ™

          I haven't had poutine but it sounds delicious.

          1. omg, i will mail you some. its seriously the best thing ever, i have it at least once a week from our work cafeteria. i walk in there, and the guy just starts making it, cause he knows its what im getting.
            lots of places dont use cheese "curds", just shredded mozza cheese. its better that way.

    1. bursting everyone that passes through with a blast of air just in case one in a trillion might be carrying explosives is pretty damn intrusive. It does beat xrays and metal detectors though.

      PS: The scanners can also detect drugs, which are none of their damn business.

  4. actually, i've gotten the third degree questioning pretty much every time i have gone over there this year.. even if only for a few hours. lame. previously it used to be maybe one or two simple trivial questions.

  5. * My work laptop has no internal microphone. If I count on doing sip on it to avoid international calling charges back to the US, I should make sure to actually check that first. Also, Dell, what the hell were you thinking not having a microphone on it? LAME.

    Renee's laptop is the same way… But its a compaq…

  6. Dude… You spent THREE HOURS in TO? That's not enough to experience the CN tower, much less TO. I mean, you never even mentioned the Glass Floor. You did know they had a glass floor in the CN Tower, right?

    1. Yes, we experienced the entirety of the CN tower up to and including the glass floor. As the crazy observation deck is on the same level, and it's impossible to get to the down elevators without going where the glass floor is, it's impossible to miss.

      I would have wanted to experience dining on the CN tower but all the restaraunts were closed for a private function.

      1. Based upon the prices that I paid for drinks in the CN tower back in 1994, your credit card would have experienced an acute case of altitude sickness had you dined in the CN tower. Next time, plan to spend more time in the city and get out into its ethnic neighborhoods–lots of good foodings there.

        Recommended trip to Toronto over a long weekend: Take VIA rail into the city from Windsor, stay at the Royal York Hotel (across the street from Union Station, you can reach it–and half of Toronto–via underground pedestrian tunnel.) Bring a copy of the Now City Guide and explore, explore, explore. Toronto has an excellent subway, streetcar and bus-based public transportation system. It's reasonable to ride on too.

  7. So I'm pulling into my neighborhood, and I get a call from my credit union.


    I went to Mexico, and neither bank issuing the cards I used ever called.

    But I recently cleaned off a credit card, and 2 weeks later did a balance transfer from another card *with my name on it* and got a call asking me to verify that I did, in fact, authorize the balance transfer.

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