Diary of a Mad Expat…Entry 1

I guess I’ll start at the beginning. On Saturday, 28 March of this year, our closest friends picked us up at our home in Eugene, Oregon, and drove us to a Super 8 across I-5 in Springfield, about 10 miles away from the Eugene Airport. Eugene, Oregon, for those of you not familiar with this quiet little town of about 150,000 people, is the home of the University of Oregon. You probably know them better as the Oregon Ducks, the college football team that is perennially disappointing its fans by making them think they can win the national title, only to choke at or near the end of the season; part of the reason I stopped watching them 4 years ago. But I digress…Eugene is one of few cities I know of where there are NO decent hotels within 7 miles of the airport. There are hotels within 5 miles of the airport, but you wouldn’t want to stay in them because they have nightly and HOURLY rates. I personally wouldn’t come near one of them without a black-light and a giant tub of bleach. So we stayed at a Super 8, and a pretty nice one, by Super 8 standards. We got comfy, ordered Track Town Pizza for the last time, and went to bed.

Sunday, 29 March:

Our friends came back to pick us up at 8am. To be honest, I wasn’t entirely sure they’d show up. They had kept most of our luggage, except for our laptop bags, in their car overnight, so they had all our stuff. They could’ve kept us there and not let us leave, and I wouldn’t have put it past them! I could picture them conspiring in bed overnight. But being our best friends, they supported our dreams, arrived on time, and took us to the airport…to rent a car. Hell no, we weren’t FLYING out of Eugene! That would’ve cost $400 more per person. Instead, we went to Avis, and rented a car to drive to Vancouver, BC. We were supposed to get a standard full-size, but they didn’t have any that were ready. Instead, the agent at the desk offered to upgrade us for free to a 2014 Mustang!!! Reluctantly, I agreed. After saying some tearful and heartfelt goodbyes, especially between my wife and them, we set off…to Dari Mart to pick up some goodies for the drive, some cigarettes (I’m hearing all my friends back home yelling at me simultaneously), and just sat in the parking lot for about 15-20 minutes, while I figured out all the features in this car. After that, we headed north, driving through Portland, around Seattle, with me white-knuckling it through all the traffic, which I’m not used to back home. At every rest area, which are nicer looking in Washington by the way, someone would invariably comment on the car. Of course, I told them the truth: yes, it’s my car! North of Seattle (surprise), it started raining. I know! Raining. In northern Washington. In March. Wonders never cease. So I was white-knuckling it again as we approached the Canadian border. It took awhile to get through; apparently, some stupid American was trying to sneak a goat across the border…I don’t want to know why. After about 20 minutes, we were in Canada, and I was desperately trying to convert kilometers to miles accurately. We got to our hotel in Richmond, a suburb of Vancouver, just 2 miles from the airport. You see that, Eugene?!?!?! That’s how it’s done!

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We stayed at the Hampton Inn in Richmond for the next 2 nights. It was nice, not great, but nice. Their breakfast buffet was the best one so far, I thought. But that first night, we ordered in, and called it a night. It had been a long day.

Monday, March 30:

Woke up with my right forearm hurting bad. Apparently, gripping a steering wheel really hard for 8 hours can cause muscle strain for people like me who are in crappy shape!

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We explored the Richmond area on Monday. This town is mall-crazy! In just a two mile stretch along No. 3 Road, I counted 7 malls! I’m not talking about little strip mall shopping centers, no; I’m talking HUGE fucking indoor malls. With high-end stores in them. Gap, Gucci, Hugo Boss, Michael Kors, Aeropostale, Tommy Hilfiger, you name it. Richmond is basically Chinatown for Vancouver…how does anyone afford these places? My wife got a coat at one of the malls, and we tried some more authentic Chinese food. It was really good, but the portions were HUGE! We figured the portions would be smaller, but they weren’t…this would be a regular occurrence everywhere we went. Other than that, we spent a lot of the day online; my wife’s Facebook friends will know what I’m talking about. Watched Canadian TV, which is a lot like American TV, but with better news and more hockey and curling.

In the next entry we’ll be heading to the airport for my wife’s favorite part: FLYING!

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