On this day, three years ago, we awoke in Bellingham, WA and took a deep breath! We knew that by the end of the day we would be landed immigrants in Canada and arriving in our new home on Vancouver Island. After a short drive to the border, and negotiating some construction on the US side, we were in the office at Canadian Customs going over our paperwork. The process, for us, took an hour but that was mostly due to our agent also handling another window and doing double duty. All the while we were inside we kept wondering how the dog and cat were faring in the car out in the parking lot. After our paperwork was completed and we were approved for entry we returned to the car to find the dog asleep on the back seat, no worse for the wear. Oddly enough we were never asked about the pets and their up-to-date vaccinations, which we were ready for. Nor did anyone ever go out and inspect the cars or ask to look at the contents of the U-haul. If I would have known that I would have packed that truck to the rafters and not left so much stuff behind at our house in the US! Oh well, live and learn.
After clearing Customs and Immigration it was a short drive to the car ferry. At the ferry dock I learned that the truck I had been driving, with my car on a trailer, was 56 feet long! I was worried about getting it onto the car ferry when the time came but the woman at the booth assured me that it was quite easy and that there were people on hand to help out, if needed. After a couple of hours wait time we boarded the ferry and she was right - so easy to drive on and park the beast. Dixon was able to park with me on the truck level of the car ferry so we were all in the same location. For the entire 1.5 hour sailing we just stayed in the car with the dog and cat, too anxious to arrive at our new home that we had no desire to go up on deck to enjoy the scenery as we sailed to Vancouver Island.
After we arrived on Vancouver Island we called our real estate agent and met him in Victoria, not only to pick up the house keys but to also drop off my car for the night so we could take the trailer to the local U-haul center instead of dragging it all the way out to the house, which was an hour away. After we were free of the trailer we made a quick stop at Wal-Mart (sorry, no other option) for pillows and blankets, then were off to the house. We arrived at our new house around 9pm. I can't begin to explain the level of excitement we both had when we got here, then, to top it off, were greeted with a Rogers Chocolates gift basket in the kitchen from our real estate agent! Even though I was thrilled with the chocolates I could not wait for daylight the next day to explore the yard and gardens.
In three years we have gotten used to the ride to and from the house, with all the twists and turns. We have had no problems, and actually quite like, the medical system. Finding a Dr. was a bit of a chore, as they are in short supply here, but we persevered and found a really good one. We did a lot of research before the move so there were not too many 'surprises'. Food can be pricier but you have to watch the sales every week and stock up when you can. Gasoline is quite a bit more and the cars get worse mileage due to all the twisty and hilly roads - no straight as an arrow freeways in our area any more. Electricity is about 2/3 the cost as back in WI but living out in the country we find that we are prone to occasional power outages, which we were prepared for. We find that our diet is much better here, we enjoy a lot of local seafood and have even gotten the pets onto an all natural food that is made in Canada.
After three years we still have conversations about what if we had done this or that differently. We don't dwell on that, just more like reminiscing. Would we have done a few things differently? Sure. Do we regret having made the move? Not on your life! Coming from the US there are some things that are done differently here but the culture shock was not extreme at all. We love our new life, have made some great new friends, deeply miss friends and family back in the US and are still thinking of ways we can reinvent ourselves in our new country.
Happy Canadian Thanksgiving weekend!