This will serve double-duty of recapping my past weekend, and promoting the widespread use of the newest $1 coin. The connection will be made clear shortly.
I had a long, yet exciting weekend this past weekend as I went up to Victoria, BC for a curling bonspiel. Though I had to get up at about 4:30am to get out on the road and head up to Canada, at least I didn't have to drive, so it was a much more relaxing trip. We got on the road at about 6:00am and made it to the border by about 7:30am. There was only one lane open at the border crossing, but fortunately since it was so early even at that there were only 2 cars in front of us in line. I went up with three other guys, one of whom is actually Italian and a student doing his graduate research at the UW. As a result, we were stopped at the border and had to go inside so Canadian immigration could check out his paperwork and US Visa. I don't think they were particularly concerned with letting him in, as much as they wanted to make sure the US would let him back in when we came home. All went smoothly, and we made our way up to take the ferry across from Tsawwassen to Vancouver Island.
Curling went well, we managed to win our first game which was nice, but ultimately ended up 2-3 for the weekend. All close matches though, so we were pretty pleased, especially since the Canadian locals were far more adjusted to the ice than we were. (The differences in the ice make a huge impact on the game.) Our hotel was only about 3 blocks from the curling club, so we could walk back and forth as needed. We had a few spare hours one day that we used to walk down to the inner harbor, er, harbour, which was fun. All in all, a good weekend. We had about an hour wait at the border coming home, despite our best efforts to avoid it. We came across the truck crossing instead of the main I-5 Peace Arch crossing, which apparently had about a 2.5 hour wait. Lots of people trying to come down to the US on Sunday afternoon.
As always happens when I go to Canada, I am reminded how great the $1 and $2 coins are. The US is the only major country in the world to still have small-demonination bills in circulation, but oddly enough, most people seem fine with that. Even with the recently improved Presidential $1 coin that is now available, people still aren't using it. Some frequently-cited polls report that something like 75% of the US population prefer the $1 bill to a $1 coin, but I don't buy it. I think it's just we're stubborn and hate change... in every sense of the word. :) I for one rarely carry any change around whatsoever... but in just two days in Canada I adapted and was carrying change with me because I had to, and you know what, it wasn't that bad. Who really needs their grungy $1 bills anyway? Use the coin! I'd use the coin more, but nobody gives them as change ever, and cashiers look at you funny when you give one to them. Really, I think it's just a vocal minority opposed to eliminating the $1 bill (the same minority who are opposed to eliminating the penny, though I don't mind the penny). I say let's get rid of the $50 bill and 50-cent piece while we're at it... talk about a superfluous piece of money.