...with a husband and 5 sons, I am truly outnumbered....stories and thoughts on life from a mom in a houseful of little men!

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Our Time at "Mile Zero"

June 1, 2014
It was Canada Day when we woke up at Mile "0" Campground.  We visited a great museum with many well-preserved historic buildings.  The buildings housed oodles of interesting artifacts.  One of my favorite articles was a trunk that had been on the Mayflower.  Had to visit Canada to see that, haha!

It was an excellent display, and we all really enjoyed learning history from another nation's perspective.
The overwhelming favorite of the male-folk of the family was the blacksmith's shop.
My favorite buildings were the Taylor family house, school house, and Anglican church.  However, the most informative was the old fire hall, because an older gentleman volunteer was there, putting on fresh paint.
He descended his ladder when he saw us coming up the walk.  Wow, did he give us an earful--story after fabulous story about the dinosaur footprint up the walk,
history of his two fire engines, how the firefighters cared for the hoses, etc.  He used to be one of those firefighters.  What a treasure of a conversation we had!  He totally brought history to life for us.

Before leaving town, we took another pit stop at the visitor center to pick up a couple goodies.  And since it was Canada Day, they also served us up some delicious homemade cake, Canadian flags, and pins.  It was really fun being in Canada for their national holiday.
Feeling anxious at this point to move on to Grande Prairie, but as it was such a warm day and we are still Alaskans, we really needed some ice cream.  We discovered ice cream isn't as big of a deal to Canadians.  The ladies at the visitor center racked their brains trying to come up with a good place for ice cream.  Dairy Queen, the only logical choice, was closed for the holiday.  They thought maybe there was a gas station across town that had ice cream....but they weren't quite sure.  Then they remembered McDonald's.

Of course.

We headed off to what may be the most swanky McD's ever--automatic door, vaulted ceiling, full glass walls, beautiful seating, and a see-through fireplace.  We made quite an entrance as the boys contrasted this to Wasilla McD's where we are known to pick up a fair amount of 50-cent cones.

Anyway, we decided to buy McFlurries all around.  I told the boys they could choose between Oreo and Rolo as I didn't know what Smarties were.  Finally, I was curious enough to ask a cashier, "What are Smarties?"

She looked at me like my head had just spun around three times before replying, "Serious?"  She incredulously tried to explain to me what they are.  By this time, five employees were gathered around, vexed with this strange family circus of almost all males who didn't know what Smarties are.

I began to catch on to her description and said, "Oh--like M&Ms?"

"YES!!!"  she said with much approval and relief.  I explained we are Americans, and then the light really went on--as all the employees (there were six now) tipped their heads back and yelled "Ohhhh!!!!" in unison. 

Canada is funny that way.  In most ways it's so similar to the U.S. but then there will be something to remind us we're in a foreign country...like....Smarties...or other unfamiliar brands or packaging.  Everything is on the metric system of course, and so I take a little longer to determine distance or volume.  And Canadian signage is just plain awesome.
There is also a certain slower pace in Canada that I really appreciate.  I appreciate businesses, even chain stores, being closed on Sundays and national holidays.  I appreciate the fact there were no mechanics available to work on Canada Day.  Yes, the check-out lanes in Canada, in our experience, take f-o-r-e-v-e-r as the cashiers take their time to chat and look their customers in the eyes.  In turn, the customers take f-o-r-e-v-e-r to settle their bills.  I think, though, that we Americans could stand to learn a little chill factor from our Canadian neighbors, in the name of good ol' fashioned kindness.

On the road that day, we were happy to get a few miles under our belts.  And let's face it--a journey isn't a journey until you've had your picture taken with a giant beaver.
 This day came to a close while we were camped outside a corn field near Grande Prairie, Alberta, but not before we bought a bag of Smarties for the road.

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