Sunday, August 8, 2010

Exactly Like America (Except Not Quite)

So up here in Canada, they have a whole country of their own, with roads and money and everything. Instead of Dollars, they have Canadian Dollars (which are worth almost as much). Instead of miles, they have kilometers (which are about half as much). And instead of Outback Steakhouse, they have Turtle Jack’s. But there are a few differences, which I sort here into those that I like and those I do not:

The good:
-Cars are generally more polite around bikes. While they are willing to pass you, they usually do so in a safer way.
-The baked goods (breads, mainly) at grocery stores are of much higher quality. I attribute this to the French influence in Canada.
-Stores no longer ask “Credit or Debit”, since they apparently don’t have a distinction on the retailer side in Canada. I like this mainly because I have never understood why there is a distinction made on the retail end and the question has always annoyed me.
The bad:
-Campsites in Canada seem to be generally so high-class (which also means $$$) that you are forbidden to put up clotheslines. You guys need to rein that in a bit.
-The town/city system is absolutely baffling. We frequently are welcomed into towns/cities that are several miles (sometimes dozens of miles) away, on the other side of 2 closer towns. Or welcomed into a city, then into a second city, then the first city again. What is up with this?
-The junk food distribution system is second-class. They don’t seem to have adopted the super-sized gas station model of the US (at which you can find everything from breakfast cereal to donuts). Also, their McDonald’s are lacking some of our favorite things: fruit smoothies and sweet tea.

In the end, the Canadian bit has provided us with some of the most fun and interesting parts of the trip, as well as some challenging biking. Overall, I give the country an “A-“. Work on the roads a bit, get me better access to junk food, and that will come up a bit.


mdornbrook said...

What grade does the US get?

eric said...

Good question - I'm not sure exactly. I think that the US is basically the standard in this case, so perhaps I should have used a system more akin to IQ.

Also, I was sort of measuring Canada against my expectation (which doesn't really work for the US). The grade of A- means, to me, that it was quite nice but has room for improvement.

If I was giving the grade based only on how nice it is to bike through, the US would get a slightly lower grade than Canada, probably a B, which Canada's grade would probably rise to an A.

Kim said...

A few notes:

Re: Credit v. Debit. In the US, your 'check card' can function either as a debit card or a credit card (though without an associated line of credit in some cases, which is odd...). In Canada, credit and debit cards are separate things. The downside is having to carry two cards around with you.

Re: Junk food. Nobody can rival the American junk food machine. That said, I'd take the higher-grade and increased variety of chocolate bars over more junk food any day of the week. A life without Aero and Smarties is second class.

eric said...

Kim, maybe you could explain the Canadian meaning of City/town? In the US, I am "welcomed" (by a sign) into a city/town at the city limits, which usually correspond roughly to the functional limits of the city. Also, in the US, a particular spot can only be in one city/town. It seemed to me that, in Canada, cities would include several towns in their limits, or else the city land would completely surround several towns.

Or maybe another explanation for the odd city/town welcome signs?