Saturday, October 25, 2008

Washington State

The Canadian Dollar has taken its first hit in a year - down by 20 cents - ouch, but we went down through beautiful Washington Sate anyways. Through Whatcom, Skagit and Snohomish Counties, our first stop of the car was the quaint town of Lynden. It's an idyllic little place where almost every home places a flag at their front porch. Oh yes, and mournfully, a McCain/Palin sign. Perhaps I wouldn't survive in Lynden.

The weather more than cooperated and late October is the best time to visit the States for me because all of those cliches are truly a reality. The pumpkins on the porch, the trees are lit with yellow and orange foliage and fallen leaves begin to pile around them, flags are flying, craft fairs and farmers markets are plentiful. American Thanksgiving is an event I truly envy. I love Thanksgiving but in Canada it's just not the fuss as it is down there. In America Thanksgiving is the hallmark of all their treasured values. It's family, hearth and home stuff that Canadians just cannot pull off the same way. Why? Because of our multi-cultural society ramming down everyone else's values instead of bolstering our own. Why is that considered racist? In the United States they welcome everyone but they don't ransack their own values or disassemble their intrinsic culture. That's why when I cross the border and drive into Washington State, I know I'm not on the moon. We can safely say that North Vancouver is transforming into little Iran. Bad thing? Why yes. That's not what my Granddad Kiernan had in mind when he served in the first World War and made Western Canada his home. In the 1950s he worked in the North Van Shipyards and there's little doubt he wouldn't recognize Lonsdale Avenue today.

Although the shopping was a bit painful with our dollar taking it's dive, we mustered some courage and took out our credit cards at the Outlets and a few Ross stores. When we were in Fred Meyer and asked about their exchange rate, the young clerk amusingly said "You guys were counting us out but we're back". I responded "Aw I'd never count you guys out!". He was a cutie and said it in a comedic manner but I could sense his pride. Good for them. I did however, make some great purchases including a Nine West bag for $23. Hello - the same one in Whistler was $143!

But really, this is what you go to America for:

This last photo I took in Anacortes.  It was Wednesday morning - the place was practically deserted.  Garvey would love this little town.  My dad's sister Moira met her husband here in the late 1940's.  He was a Swabbie. I've always wanted to visit Anacortes because of the history with my auntie.  Anacortes is located on Fidalgo Island, surrounded by San Juan and Whidbey Islands, where shipbuilding and State Ferry docks brand the edge of downtown.  Mom and I went into a boutique and as I was paying reverberating sound of jets began to crescendo.   I looked at the shop girl with my eyes bugged open - I hadn't heard that noise before - and she looked back at me to reply "The sownd ah freedom".  I'd hazard to guess she's a McCain/Palin kind of gal.  Actually, the gal didn't make that up.  Although she sincerely believes it, it's on a sign outside of NAS Whidbey Island Base - "Pardon our noise. It's the sound of freedom".  After we left there, I stepped outside to catch another pair of jets soaring across the sky and thought to myself with all that this war in Iraq has caused, was that really the "sound of freedom"?  It's a strange thing I suppose, being a relative of many Americans, with a retired American General in my family from Spokane, I have to step back from the imprint that the military has on the American consciousness.  With a 700-billion dollar bale-out, sound of freedom is wiling down.  The sound of those fighter jets aren't the sound of freedom to many other people in the world today. That sound is a very expensive one.  In more ways than one.  

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