For the record, I had a ball in Canada. The hotel was nice, the mall was amazing, and the food was great! I got to catch up with friends I only see 3-4 days each year. I learned new things to bring back to work and improve my policies and procedures. I went to the indoor mini-golf course, the Asian supermarket, the dinner theater (where I was roped into dancing on stage, thanks to the aforementioned friends), and the indoor water park. I even managed to find a karaoke night and go out with my friends, who are the ones who got me hooked in the first place.
Things in Canada are a bit different than here. Everyone was dressed nicely, and the mall was chock full of high end clothing stores. The money's different, but the exchange rate isn't hard to figure out, and most places would accept US currency (for a fee). Everyone was quite nice and helpful, and the boys were PRETTY!!! Yum. Alcohol was pretty pricey, as there are several extra taxes. I'll get some of the GST (Goods and Services Tax) back, as Canada lets you send in receipts and get a refund if you don't live there. These taxes are what help pay for socialized medicine. Yup....every single person in Canada has medical care, so everyone is pretty healthy. Even the homeless (though I admittedly didn't see any hanging around the mall).
Just like my trip to Holland/Germany, it made me realize that there is a better way to do so many things. Since I'm gay, I could have claimed asylum and stayed there. The whole "I'd need a job and income" thing seemed to be a barrier to me, though. ;) I could live with higher taxes to ensure every person in the nation can see a doctor when they're sick. Besides...there are all those cute Mounties running around. *waggles eyebrows*
The trip back was long, and the weather wasn't great. I stopped in Seattle long enough to exit one plane, walk to the next concourse, and get in line for the next flight. 10 minutes from plane to plane, tops. During that time, I even managed to call NerdyGirl! I figured I couldn't very well be in her town and not call her, even if I was on the ground no more than 30 minutes. If I didn't, she'd send the Panda Army to beat me up. (Go read her blog and that comment will make more sense.)
If nothing else, it reaffirmed my belief that I learn so much when I step outside the familiar. When I embrace a new experience or a new way of looking at things. Today's homework: go somewhere new. See something different. Be adventurous. Try something you haven't before!