Monday, May 21, 2007

Gas, border blunders, and rainbows enroute to Portland

How do you have a border blunder enroute to Portland from Seattle? Well, you have to try really hard. No, Homeland Security hasn't put the smack down on interstate travel. Actually, we were feeling a little cooped up this weekend and needed one of our long-overdue daytrips to Canada. Normally we go a couple times each month, but we've been a bit busy with household projects, then Mother's Day brunch at our place for the extended family, then recovering from brunch ;-), so the day trip kept getting shunted aside.

Also, gas is currently at $3.59/gallon (!) or more for premium here in the Seattle area. I recently put $66 in my tank after driving it until the little gas tank light came on and then the Distance 'Til Empty (DTE) mileage countdown stopped calculating. If my car could talk, it was probably saying:

Red gas light. DTE: 25 miles. You might want to get gas soon.
DTE: 16 miles. Uh, perhaps you didn't hear me earlier, what with the music cranked and all. But we need to get gas. Not now - RIGHT now.
DTE: 9 miles. Okay, you're making me nervous. We just passed a gas station. Ooh! There's another one! How about that one up ahead?
DTE: 4.5 miles. Please, for the love of Pete... I feel lightheaded...
DTE: *. I'm not talking to you anymore.

If my mom or dad is reading this, don't worry, this isn't a common occurrence. I was just trying to get to Costco gas so I could save a few cents/gallon. Which I did, but it just makes me angry to see gas so high when I can think back to college when I drove an '85 Pontiac Bonneville with a huge tank and gas was just a dollar per gallon. Yes, really. Because I loved that when I got my work study check and put $10 in the tank, it meant 10 gallons. These days, putting $10 of gas in the tank is like giving a thimble of water to a person dying of thirst in the desert. It's almost not even worth stopping for.

Despite all that, we opted for a road trip anyway because it's still a relatively cheap getaway. So we got up a little earlier on Sunday intending to go to Vancouver, BC. Until J. realized he'd left his passport and Nexus card in the car we dropped off for service Friday. Aaaargh. I've penned an ode to the joys of Nexus before, so you can understand our insistence on traveling with it.

You can still cross the border with a birth certificate and driver's license until next year I think, but he didn't have his handy and we didn't want to wait in line with, you know, those folks. The ones who are capable of driving up to the Peace Arch border and its GIGANTIC park and arch, passing multiple signs about crossing into Canada and leaving the U.S., who then wait in line for upwards of 10-45 minutes, and get all the way to the front either having buried their passport in the trunk under mounds of clothes and coolers, or having come through all of that WITHOUT THEIR PASSPORT OR DOCUMENTS. I mean COME ON. Were you in a coma for the past six years and just woke up last week and decided to drive to Canada? Does your doctor even know you're out? Isn't your license expired? It happens more often than you'd think. We see those folks and the poor drivers behind them who suffer for it whenever we cruise through the Nexus lane.

So instead of that hassle, we opted to head south to Portland to have lunch on NW 23rd and walk around the Pearl District's funky shops. It was... just okay. Partly because we had our hearts set on Vancouver, BC and partly because it was a chilly, rainy, craptastic drive and walk. I mean, we had a good time as usual spending the 2.5 hours each way chatting, listening to music and the BBC on satellite radio, and discussing news stories from there and from the NYTimes that I read aloud from my Treo. But it was pouring down rain the entire way, which put a bit of pall on things, regardless of the company.

There were several upsides to the trip though. First, we visited some friends from my TV days in Medford, OR who just moved up from San Diego. They're both still in news, so we played the "who of our former co-workers have moved where" game, and we got to see their adorable, precocious four year old daughter and giggly 5 month old son. They also gave us some much appreciated tips on baby gear, kid wrangling, and job juggling with little ones.

The second upside to the otherwise soggy trip came on the way home when we got some sun for about 15 minutes and saw this lovely rainbow. Aaaah. And of course, we spent several lovely hours in each other's hilarious company with nary a TV in sight. See? You can always find positives, even in a sea of rain-drenched dreck.

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