I looked out the clean, rental car window for the hundredth time, and for the hundredth time all I saw were tall trees, grey skies, and a long road in front of us.

For an impatient eleven-year old, a half-day car ride from Seattle to Vancouver, Canada felt like years.

My family and I had been staying with my uncle and aunt in Seattle, but we left them in the morning to drive to Canada. While in the car, I did everything I could to pass the time, from counting gas stations, playing tic-tac-toe to napping. Eventually, I saw a change in scenery and the tall trees became small hills and shrubs, and I knew we were getting close. When we finally arrived at the border, I was overjoyed as I had never left the U.S. before.

However, my excitement slowly went downhill when I realised that it would take another hour until we reached Vancouver. The hills once again became tall trees, and the sky was still grey. Welcome to the home of the maple leaf, beavers, and Justin Beiber. Welcome to Canada.

After an hour, we finally hit the city. The first thing I noticed was the mess of telephone wires above me. I felt like a fish in a net as we drove throughout the city. We checked into our hotel and our room was perfect because it had a nice, homey feeling. Looking out the hotel window, I saw the hustle and bustle of the city below me. And across the street was the biggest Safeway I had ever seen in my life. It had bright LED lights, huge glass panes, and a big red S on the facade of the building. For some reason, the enormous size, fanciness of the building, and the fact that there was a Safeway in Canada made it the most interesting thing on the block. I was beyond excited to make a trip there.

[one_third]Welcome to the home of the maple leaf, beavers, and Justin Beiber. Welcome to Canada.[/one_third]

It was a blur shopping at Safeway, but one of the most vivid memories I have of Canada was buying a Kinder Surprise at Safeway. Just hearing the name still brings a rush of excitement and joy to me. A Kinder Surprise is a candy in the form of chocolate egg shell. When you crack it open, a capsule with a small toy can be found inside. I love the Kinder Surprise because you can’t get it in Hawaii, and it has chocolate and a mystery toy in it. My sister, brother and I each got one, and we waited until after dinner to open it.

It was the moment of truth; I carefully unwrapped the foil off the chocolate egg and marveled at how perfectly shaped the smooth brown chocolate shell was. I shook the egg, and my mystery toy rattled inside. I could wait no more. I cracked the egg open, reached for the yellow capsule inside and opened it to find a plastic jelly fish. The instructions said that if sunlight hit the jellyfish, his plastic tentacles would change into a different color. Amazing! As it was already dark outside, I waited till the next morning to put the jellyfish by my hotel window. And as promised, the light blue plastic tentacles turned into a lavender purple and I thought that was the coolest thing it the world at the time. For the rest of my time in Canada, I took the little jellyfish everywhere with me, just to see it change color.

Another highlight of our time in Canada was visiting the Capilano Suspension Bridge. When we got there, I was intimidated by the length of the bridge. I wasn’t scared, but there was no way I was going to be the first one in my family to step on the bridge. After five minutes of taking pictures and arguing who was going to take the first step onto the bridge, my family and I eventually began to make our way across together. I could hear the faint rushing of water against the rocks as I watched it go past us underneath. The end of the bridge led us into a forest full of towering trees and connected by suspension bridges. It was like a big tree city, where you could start at one tree and walk across to all of them. Mostly made out of wood and chains, the rustic bridges looked like they belonged in the forest. It was amazing.

Another memorable stop in Canada was when we went to eat at Costco. We were the only ones there eating dinner at eight o’clock at night. The menu seemed to offer the usual items — hot dogs, salads, pizza — but then we came across Poutine Fries. The picture showed a plate of fries with brown gravy and cheese curds. Strange. According to the cashier, it was a popular Canadian classic, so we decided to try it. What we got looked exactly like the picture. It was accurately bland-looking. However, the taste wasn’t as bad as it looked. The salty, crunchy texture of the fries with warm gravy, combined with the strangeness of cheese curds somehow tasted pretty OK together. I was pleasantly surprised.

Canada ended up being one of the best vacations I’ve had and I was sad to leave great playgrounds, Kinder Surprise Chocolates and that huge Safeway. We had such a good time together that had we hardly fought with each other, which is hard to do. The non-stop touristing, massive tree forests, great food and a new culture definitely added up to a great family vacation.