Rainy Day Funny Story

April 11, 2011

VanDusen Botanical Gardens

Rhododendron (No, I couldn't spell without looking it up)

Weeping Tree

Tulips Bloom


Sunday was a day of rain and a funny story. As I said before about twenty-five years ago Donna and I almost immigrated our family to Canada. I mean we just fell in love the Vancouver area and tried to buy a place but when that didn’t workout, human nature can be fickle. I mean not a week later we had bought a place in Del Mar, California without another thought to moving to Canada. I bagged up what little Canadian money I had, about ten bucks, and packed it away.  Out of sight out of mind for 25 years, but with the thought of this trip, I got it out. I had a couple of Canadian dollar bills, a couple of Canadian two-dollar bills and handful of Canadian coins, mostly pennies. I thought this would be a good time to get rid of that old money. I grabbed the money as we headed for the supermarket and put it in my pocket. As we approached the supermarket, I noticed a strange sight I had almost forgotten. Shopping carts chained together. Back when we were here 25 years ago they had introduced the concept of return your shopping cart or pay. The way it worked was that all the carts were chained together with a quarter operated lock. Put in a quarter and the lock opened, bring the cart back, plug in the chain and the quarter was released but today instead of a quarter it takes a dollar coin, which I did not have.

We went inside and I walked over to one of the cashiers and handed her one of the paper Canadian dollars from my pocket and asked her for dollar coin. She looked at the paper dollar, like what is this, as she held it up to the light and examined the bill’s both front and back sides. Finally she handed me a dollar coin while still having that look of distrust on her face. With that Donna handed her one of the Canadian two-dollar bills, at that point the young lady decided to came clean, with “I have never seen these before, I am not sure I can take them,” and she hand the two-dollar bill back to Donna. It seems she was willing to take the risk of the one-dollar bill but the two-dollar bill was just to over the top. I thought for a moment she was going to ask me for the dollar coin back but she didn’t.

I then went outside with my dollar coin to get a shopping cart, but I was having trouble figuring out how the lock worked. I couldn’t get it to accept the dollar coin and release the cart. I must have really looked confused because a lady walked up, Canadian friendliness, and she showed me how it worked. You put in the coin, then push it in with a key that is dangling from a chain. That locks the dangling chain out of the way while releasing the chain from the cart in front of the one you want. It was one of those things that once you see how it works, it is really simple. As I thanked her, she smiled and gave me one of those looks, like any caveman should have been able to figure it out.

She unlocked her cart and we pushed our carts inside together as we approached where Donna was waiting she blurted out, “ I had to show him how to get the cart released.” Then she turned to me and said, “Sorry I had to rat you out, but it was just too funny.”
She continued to giggle and shake her head from left to right as she pushed her cart down the isle and out of sight.

We did our shopping and returned to the motor home where I turned on the all men’s Master’s Golf Tournament to help me forget that I was not as smart as the average housewife.

With a good nights sleep, I put yesterday’s embarrassment behind me. This morning we visited VanDusen’s Botanical Gardens. What is so magical about traveling this time of year is that every day when you get up, the trees, the bushes and the flowers have changed, totally changing the kaleidoscope of colors you saw yesterday. VanDusen’s Botanical Gardens is no exception, what we saw today will be different tomorrow and we plan to revisit the garden again before we leave. If not for the gardens, then for the food, that’s right the food, they have a wonderful restaurant. We had their chicken potpie that was made with a rich with cream sauce that enhanced the flavors of the free-range chicken and vegetables while not overpowering them. The pie was topped with a light golden brown pastry crust, a perfect match for the creamy sauce with just a hint of herbs leaving one’s taste buds wondering what they were.

The VanDusen Botanical Gardens are currently being reconstructed with a green building project like so much of Canada at this time. Everywhere we look construction is booming in Canada… bridges, buildings and roads.  If you are looking for high-rise condo living in the Vancouver area you can expect to pay $250,000 to $2,000,000 according to the local newspaper.  No, we have not looked at any. I just checked the paper for prices. We plan to return to San Marcos this time.

74 Responses to “Rainy Day Funny Story”

  1. knittinghiker Says:

    The gardens are beautiful! Nice to see rhododendron flowers again! I’m sure there are several things in Canada that are different and hard to figure out :)

    Glad ya’ll are having fun!

  2. linaz Says:

    Carlos and Donna,
    Go to a coin shop and see what those Canadian bills and coins might be worth today. Thanks for keeping us all posted on your adventures. It feels like we are there, too.

  3. Jerri Weed Says:

    KS been there…I hope You All got My Very Long Note of All the Great Places to see While in Vancouver.. Sorry So Long..

    Enjoy and Luv the Photos. Makes KS miss it more.

    Oh yea I forgot about the Monies You needed to get the Grocery Cart. If U want the Monies back U have to return the Cart. KS thinks a Great Idea here in the US. (just Saying)

    Keep sending More Photos and Enjoy.


    • Janie Branison Says:

      We have those chained carts here in Missouri at the Aldi stores. I think it saves the store money as they don’t have to pay someone to go collect the carts. Plus you have to bag or box your own groceries. Smart.

  4. Christine Peters Says:

    I love the shopping cart story! I encountered something similar in Ireland, but they just make you pay going in for the cart (2 pounds) and then IF you return it, you get your money back. So I never had to figure out the coin machine and probably would have had the same problem. Very good story!!!

  5. Vee Miller (VeeTX) Says:

    Thanks for the pics of VanDusen’s Botanical Gardens; a friend and I loved to visit Dallas’ Botanical Gardens but my old knees don’t allow me to do that much walking anymore, so I really enjoy the pics of the flora, etc. Growing up in NJ we had weeping trees and called them Weeping Willows. Such graceful trees.

    About those shopping carts, a grocery chain, new to the Dallas/Ft. Worth area uses that same cart principle: put in a quarter to get a cart, return it and get your quarter back. An Aldi Supermarket is about to open less than 2 miles from my home and I’m excited because they’re prices are great.

    That Canadian housewife didn’t know how smart you really are! We saw you work miracles with all sorts of hi-tech stuff. It’s the simple things that confound us.

    You and Donna are living my dream and I thank you for taking me along for the ride; though I must admit once again that I am envious!!!

    Happy Trails!

  6. Lela Anderson Says:

    Carlos…just curious….what is the price of diesel in Canada these days?? Planning on a visit this summer.

  7. Jeri Lynn in NW FL Says:

    I have never heard of paying for your cart! I’m all for people putting them up, however; I always put mine up and always wish others would do the same. Perhaps if they had to pay for it, they would do it! The pictures of the flowers are gorgeous! A trip of a lifetime! Thanks so much for sharing! Jeri Lynn

  8. Marian Gall Says:

    A must see, Buchart Gardens in Victoria. Most everything in Victoria is a must see.

  9. YTQ Says:

    I hope you put this narrative in a book! It’s awesome!

  10. Kathy Copas Says:

    Carlos, your travel stories are always delightful! This one reminded me that I, too, have a jar of some Canadian money on top of the bookcase in my office that has been languishing here for about 15 years now. I guess I just always thought I would take it back and use it if I ever visited Canada again! So glad you all are enjoying the botanical gardens. Sounds wonderful! Travel safely and keep posting!

  11. Janice aka dg1018 Says:

    Loved the shopping cart story—-glad the paper money didn’t land you in jail. Your description of the chicken pot pie made my mouth water—you could write a column critiquing restaurant food….a job for your retirement and all the food you could eat.
    Love the pictures.
    Happy Travels

  12. Heather from Maine Says:

    I so appreciate your detailed and humorous descriptions of your adventures. I can not find the words to express my gratitude for your ongoing communications. Will you be going to Banff? It was where I met my husband almost 36 years ago.

    I, too, have had issues with the “quarter to set it free your” shopping cart. I love Vancouver and like wish I had purchased a home 26 years ago.

  13. Betty Barnett Says:

    Beautiful Carlos! Thank you for the photos and the travel experiences! You need to write a book!!

  14. Cindy Says:

    Isn’t travel fun? Memory makers . . .


  15. andrea Says:

    thank you so much for sharing your trip with us. i’ve seen sights and places i never would have if you didn’t post them. makes me what to go traveling!

  16. Debby Lyons Says:

    Hi Carlos & Donna,
    Loved the shopping cart story!! Thanks for sharing your vacation adventures with us and for the beautiful photos. Take care and have fun!

  17. Ruth West Says:

    I thoroughly enjoy your daily post but when do you have time to vacation?

  18. Lynne Townsend Says:

    Carlos and Donna,

    I am enjoying your “tales of travel” so very much!! Feel like I am there! Everything sounds beautiful and may I say—–Bring on the chicken-pot pie!! Yummmmm. Keep the travelog coming—-have just a wonderful time!


  19. Deb Says:

    Hi Carlos & Donna,

    Loved your story. I was chuckling as I was reading about your shopping cart experience. You need to write a book.

    Here in Ohio we have a food chain called Aldi’s. They have the same concept with the shopping carts. I suppose it helps to prevent people leaving carts in the parking lot and a possibly denting ones vehicle.

    Your pictures are breathtaking. Simply gorgeous.

    Thank you for this blog. Makes me feel like I’m experiencing a little of your vacation with you.

    Enjoy the rest of your time there and can’t wait to hear more.

    Deb in OH

  20. Lynne Morrow Says:

    and we’re glad for your return, too!!! So glad you’re having a good time. You are a sweet couple and your travels bring a lot of joy to those of us who are stuck at home!!

  21. Barbara Miller Says:

    It sure sounds like you 2 are fully enjoying yourself, which is wonderful! I love being kept up-to-date on your travels and pictures! I’ll bet your old Canadian coins and bills are worth something more than face value. Maybe you should stop at a rare coin shop and check them out.

    I’m originally from Brooklyn, NY, but now reside in Richmond, Indiana. At a supermarket called Aldi’s (a chain store around here), there are those coin operated shopping carts that you spoke about, except these are still only a quarter. They can be a little tricky to figure out the first time around, but I think it’s a good idea.

    Enjoy the rest of your travels and be safe!

  22. Jo-Ann Says:

    I love traveling… traveling is such an adventure!!! And yours are so much fun to read!!! That “OLD” Canadian money might be really valuable. Check it out, it may pay for your entire vacation….. I’m a visual person, so I would rather have some one show me instead of having to read instructions… Now you will always know how to retrieve a shopping cart.
    And, besides, you may never see that lady again… Pic’s are wonderful, story great, look forward to hearing more when you can….

    I am just curious…. Has anyone recognized you from your broadcasts? I can’t imagine that someone hasn’t by now.. I know I would jump up and down if I saw you on the road… Of course I have watched you since the first clutch…

  23. Isabelle Nash Says:

    From all the Canadian Molly watchers we are very honoured to have you holiday up here in Canada. We hope you enjoy your trip and in true Canadian style we apologize for the rain in Vancouver.

  24. Becky Says:

    Thanks for today’s posting. Lovely!

  25. Holly Sue Says:

    Dear Carlos and Donna,
    Thank you for another wonderful post about your visit to the beautiful garden. It is so lovely to see flowers and the sights in Canada and to hear about your experiences each day! I noticed that several others have mentioned that the Aldi Supermarkets have the chained shopping carts (25 cents) – that’s where we do most of our shopping here in northern Illinois (great prices too!). Continue to enjoy your vacation – reading about your activities is such fun!
    With love to you both, Holly Sue

  26. Amie Durden Says:

    Thanks for sharing your stories. It’s nice to travel vicariously through you and Donna. Enjoy your summer!

  27. Susan Belloff Says:

    Don’t feel bad about the shopping cart episode. I recently went to do some shopping at an Aldis grocery store where they have the $.25 shopping carts. I was studying the cart situation trying to figure out how it worked when a man brought his cart up and seeing my look of puzzlement, offered me his cart for my quarter. I said, “That works for me!” and with a sigh of relief, went inside with the cart. :)

  28. Carlynne Allbee Says:

    You forgot to tell us where the gardens are – Vancouver as I found out. You are so kind to include us in your travels that I want to pay you back in my own little way by offering the websites for others to visit the gardens
    and this one that takes you to the same site

    On their website they have a heading Heirloom Vegetables. Did they have any seeds you could buy for your San Marcos garden?

    Carlynne aka littleguys

  29. Kim Torkelson Says:

    Carlos, your vacation has been so fun, you telling us about all your experiences, I was laughing so hard, lucky you didn’t end up in jail with your old money. We too have Aldi in Mn and it is a good idea with the carts (25cents) at least they aren’t all over the parking lot. Your pictures are beautiful as usual. You and Donna must sit back at night and laugh at all the happening of the day even if some might be costly on this trip. Be happy that you two can share them with each other. Safe traveling, can’t wait till we hear from you again. KimMN

  30. BJ Says:

    Dear Donna & Carlos,
    I want to Thank You for taking “me” along on your road trip…I am having such a good time. I look forward to reading your emails at every posting. Someday I hope to travel to Canada and the upper northern United States but for now its work and little travel time…but some day. Looking forward to your next posting. Keep on keeping on….you both are such a blessing to me. I appears that Donna is your model for photos…hope you can get someone to take photos of you both to share. Is Donna painting while on the road? BJ

  31. mandozee Says:

    Carlos & Donna: had to laugh at your shopping cart story. They have them here in Wyoming Mich. at Auldies. Good Idea, but it puts all those young kids out of work who run out and gather the carts up and bring them back in any weather.

    Wonder if they have electric carts for the disabled in Canada at stores? Do they have curb cuts. and ramps for getting in to buildings?

    Love your pictures. mandozee

  32. mandozee Says:

    PS many gagets confuse me, and the manuals(if they are included many are online now)are little help to me. and things are getting to small, a friend got a MP3 player holds 2000 songs but the screen and buttons are to small for my big hands and old eyes. and the manual seemed to be written in Greek. LOL Guess the assune the kids today already know how to work them and don’t need instuctions, or they know that old joke about assumeing.

    Had to listen to your post again the potpie slipped past me and didn’t regester. Made my mouth water for sure. mandozee

  33. joly2u Says:

    Well, anyone who wanted to steal a grocery cart wouldn’t hestitate to do so for a mere dollar or so. But the poor person who needs to shop but just spent their last cash on something, is going to be subjected to some hassle or other, for no good reason. Give me the good ol’ US, at least the places still on the genteel systems.

  34. gmarch Says:

    LOL Carlos aren’t the little snafus the ones we remember the most?

  35. Sally aka MollyLoverForever Says:

    Loving my “virtual” road trip. Have never been to Canada before! LOL! Your pictures are great, and the stories are so much fun – I really do feel like I’m on the trip w/you and Donna. I have not missed the fact, however, that Donna is still pretty well bundled up! Never mind – we had our heater on in the daytime this weekend! Keep those stories and pictures a-comin’!!

  36. francie bowers Says:

    Hi Royals! thanks so much for the update, I am beginning to feel I am on vacation with you…and yes, it will be my only vacation this year! Too funny about the Canadian $$ but I am glad you are spreading cheer throughout Canada!! Have a safe and wonderful time, and enjoy the food, sounds heavenly!

  37. Sally in Aus Says:

    Don’t be embarrassed Carlos ..you aren’t the first to get trapped by the coin in the shopping trolley situation.Most supermarkets here have the coin lock and I have had my coin stuck in one before and had to ask for assistance.Our one and two dollar coins are the same colour and I put a two dollar coin in instead of a one dollar coin.LOLYou can now buy key rings with shopping trolley discs on them so you don’t need to have a coin.The VanDusen Botanical garden photos are brilliant! Weren’t you lucky to have some sunshine!

  38. Wildcatwoman Says:

    Carlos, loved your story about the shopping cart. We have these around these parts, too, and you’re right…once you’ve done it it’s so simple. If your Canadian money has been packed away, you might want to stop by a bank to see what it might be worth. You could be getting a free trip, you just never know. Have fun and we miss you both (and Molly, too!)

  39. Kathy Martinez Says:

    What an adventure you two are having, awesome. Please keep us posted daily . I love traveling thru your eyes.

  40. Vic Keller Says:

    Please tell me that you took time to look at the steam powered street clock.

  41. Jane Says:

    I just love the updates on your trip. I am not able to travel right now (I LOVE road trips) so it is great to live vicariously through your adventures.

  42. Camperfamily (Kim) Says:

    Carlos, keep in mind the ‘average’ housewife could not have hooked up all the wiring and computers you did with Molly & McGee!
    Not to mention bring the world together to watch them!!
    Love all your adventures!! Hello to Donna this morning!

  43. vicki Says:

    Such fun! You should get a shot of the carts too. Like someone posted above, get to a bank or coin shop and check out the real value of your Canadian loot. Someone also asked about being recognized. I think I’d realize the voice before the face (that Okie twang still lingers and it’s cute). Of course Donna I’d know by that sweet smile. Glad you are having fun and love being able to travel with you both. Fare well!

  44. Judy Ambrose Says:

    Funny story, Carlos!! Love hearing your antics. Have tons of fun and stay in touch. Hi Donna!!

  45. Madonna Varchetto-Bonner Says:

    Carlos and Donna, love seeing you both having a great time! The pics are beautiful. This is my first time seeing Canada, probably the only time. Thank you for “taking me along with you”. What is the temp there? I see Donna always has a coat on in the pics so must be cool. Continue to have a great time, and I’m glad you are planning to return to San Marcos this time! The US would not be the same without the Royals! As always, warm wishes to you both. Madonna

  46. Nancy Paine Says:

    While Canada is a beautiful place, remember if you had settled there, there probably would be no owl box and no “owl friends” to send all these wonderful trip reports too. I know the both of you are having a wonderful time, we can all tell by the great trip reports. Have fun and drive safely.

  47. PegRod Says:

    A well-written book makes you feel like you have been transported into another world – like on Carlos and Donna’s Royal Retirement Adventures!

    Thank you so much for sharing the photos, the memories and the unforgettable moments.

    When you come back home, you may have some of the same feelings expressed in the Story Time episode which Zorro the mouse reads, “Vobble Asks What is the Meaning of Life?” (fast forward to about 36:00)


    Carlos, did you take your special Molly and the Owl Box Hawaiian shirt with you to Canada, or is it too cold for that?

    Or Donna, you may feel begin to feel like Dorothy in the Wizard of Owls (oh, Oz) saying, “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home!”

  48. Judy Sackson Says:

    You two are wonderful travel companions! We are all having such a good time seeing Canada through your eyes! And the stories are fantastic!
    Thank you for taking all of us with you!
    Stay well, and keep us posted!

  49. Lisa A. Burns Says:

    LOL !! Just laughed out loud at your old Canadian money and the $2. and the shopping cart story!! Grinning from ear to ear…
    Love your updates Carlos and Donna!!!
    Lisa, from NE FL

  50. Helen Starkey Says:

    Our Aldi’s grocery stores have the coin operated carts, for a quarter, they do not bag groceries (you bring your own), but prices are lower. Shame on that lady for “tellin’ on you”!! Love botanical gardens, enjoy.

  51. A Murphy Says:

    Thank you for sharing your vacation with us!I look forward to reading your posts. You have many talents.I am glad you and Donna are enjoying your visit to Canada.

  52. Theresa Atkins Says:

    I remember when I visited Buchart Gardens in Victoria of being overwhelmed by the colors and various scents.

  53. VacaDude Says:

    I’m really enjoying your travel blog, Carlos! It reminds me of the trips with my dad in our various RVs over the years.
    I think I still have some Canadian coins stashed away somewhere–from when I was in Vancouver/Victoria in 1980! I bet those would really blow that cashier’s mind!

    It sounds like you guys are having a great time–you so deserve it! Thanks for giving us updates, and giving us a chance to take a “virtual vacation!”

    Cheers, VacaDude

  54. selena Says:

    Good thing you didn’t pay off the border guard with those dollars :)

  55. Sherry Kelly Says:

    That “old” money may have had some extra value to collectors! You have a talent for writing, Carlos. You should write a novel. All of us MODs would buy it and you would have a best seller! Really, you make things come to life with your descriptions, etc. For example, when you talk about the food you and Donna have eaten, I get really hungry…!!! The photos are lovely!

  56. Sheri Jones Says:

    It’s so much fun following your travels “with” you! Don’t feel badly about your incident with the cart! I remembered the first time I had to get one of those carts unlocked. I put my money in the wrong one and when I released it….it didn’t release the one I needed. I wasted that quarter and had to find another one!! Too funny!!

    Blessings to you,
    Sheri :o)

  57. Deb Van Oflen Says:

    fun going with you on your trip. Jarkorgogo

  58. Lisa Says:

    Thank you so much for taking all of us along on your travels and travails! Really enjoy the photos and travelogue, but I can’t believe you tell those stories on yourself(!) I am so happy for you all that you finally get to get away. You so richly deserve a well earned vacation. Safe travel, and play hard. In Christian love, Lisa

  59. OwlyKats Says:

    You shouldn’t feel bad. You made that cashier’s day. Isn’t that what our lives are about. where you may feel a little silly about the cart. She may have needed a laugh in her life and you were there! Besides I never would have figured out how to do it either!

    Love to you & Donna.
    Kathleen Colorado

  60. FloridaSkye Says:

    Thanks for today’s funny vacation story, Carlos. Don’t let those shopping carts get you down! LOL

  61. Barbara Jacobson Says:

    We were fulltime RV’ers for 8 years and spent time in western Canada…one of the beautiful parts of the world. Your adventures are all so familuar. Enjoy your travels and travel safe. BJ

  62. Paula Says:

    This is just like reading a novel! Can’t wait for the next chapter. Keep on having fun on your trip and please keep writing.

  63. Robin/Bigsis Says:

    ((Carlos and Donna)
    Thanks for the updates. Don’t feel bad about the shopping cart incident..the same thing happened to me at Aldi’s here in Pittsburgh,PA. A very kind older gentleman showed me how to do it….and he didn’t laugh at me(not to my face anyway ;) ) I love the food ctitique….made my mouth water….another job in the offing! Lovely pictures,thanks for sharing.

  64. Oh that was funny Carlos. I can remember going up to Canada for my dad’s fishing trips and thinking how cool it was to get back change for the money I gave for a candy bar!!!! I’m sure that has changed too! When your young, so much is new and cool!!! I loved Canada and always will. If I could move up there now I no doubt would. However, AC is stuck in Indiana whether he’s finding work or not I guess. Have a wonderful safe trip! Sparrow.

  65. Louise Landeta Says:

    Carlos, you are so poetic. Not only a naturalist but a writer too. Bravo.

  66. Dear Caveman –

    Your journal entries are not only educational but hilarious! Your best skills are not with a grocery cart but with a shutter & keyboard.

  67. kit Says:

    love the travel stories! Thanks! i grew up in the Detroit area, close to Canada, crossed the bridge frequently, they are friendly people.


  68. kit Says:

    Hey Donna, Thanks so much for wanting an owl box, without you, and of course Carlos & Molly, we would not be having all these wonderful, vicarious adventures.

  69. didinp Says:

    Really am enjoying your travel log. Vancouver is one of my favorite cities too. So happy you and Donna could get away.

    Molly and McGee must be watching the house in SM – so bring um back a little something from your travel – Candanian Bacon maybe

    Stay Safe


  70. Lois Says:

    Welcome to Canada Carlos !! I hope you enjoy your visit.

    You should have held on to the one and two dollar bills. They have been out of circulation for years and they could be worth something.

    Truth is, you were probably the highlight of that housewife’s day. Think of how often she’ll smile when she thinks of your encounter.

    Enjoy your trip.

  71. Sharon Says:

    May not comment much but want you to know enjoying the blog and the photos!!!!!
    Have a great trip.

  72. Trisha (UK) Says:

    Hi Carlos & Donna
    Still loving your blog and enjoying “travelling” with you, photos are stunning and was amused at your story. Most supermarkets here in the Uk have the lockable trolleys (carts) as many of them ended being stolen or dumped. Some charities here sell tokens which you can attach to your key ring so you don’t have to look for change. I think the only one I’ve been to which hasnt got locks is ASDA which belongs to WalMart.
    Carry on enjoying your trip, we all love to read your stories

  73. Kathleen Says:

    I received a Facebook reminder of your blog post. I had posted it on my FB page back on April 12, 2011 How nice to go down memory lane with you and Donna on your trip to Canada. I hope you two are doing well and have been able to do alot of traveling. Thinking of you both today, have a glorious summer!
    Love from OwlyKats
    Kathleen in Colorado

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