How the Cookie Crumbles

Life and scribbles on the far side of SIXTY-FIVE


31 Comments

North to Alaska: Where’s the Easy Button?

A garbled voice announced boarding a half-hour later. Flying time expected: four hours and 28 minutes at 40,000 feet with a few bumps along the way. We had three flight attendants for our 113-seat Boeing 737.

Had I glanced back, I’d have been dumbfounded how few passengers followed. Heads bent forward and shoulders raised, Mary and I scuttled across the tarmac. The weather was cold, the sky overcast, and the air damp. The two-level approach to the plane was longer than the distance from the building to the bottom of the walkway.

                                                  Transporting a two-level boarding bridge on the left

Airlines overbook, don’t they? We noted many empty seats, only 37 occupied, which meant seventy-six stood empty. How often does this happen? “If there are only two people on board, we will still fly,” the flight attendant said to Mary’s inquiry. This airline must be making good money ‘cause they’re still in business. This brings to mind a news story of the opposite happening and a man was removed from a flight to accommodate a crewmember. This is not allowed in Canada.

We enjoyed complimentary satellite TV, movies, and drinks, but the water for tea hadn’t been boiled. Yuck. Is it ever? I know the difference and couldn’t finish it. We ordered no bland, over-priced airplane food as I packed fruit and sandwiches from home. Tired, I managed to kill a couple hours dozing but felt I hadn’t closed my eyes at all: they burned, I felt light-headed and punch-drunk. Promising myself I wouldn’t, when nature called I gave in to visiting the loo though I avoid airplane bathrooms with a passion. People have nasty habits. Why do they leave a mess like children in public facilities?

Always a relief to arrive safe, our touch down on Mother Earth was quiet and uneventful, likely due to the absence of passengers. We deplaned fine but baggage claim proved nerve-wracking. No flight and carousel numbers posted for long minutes. After a couple walkarounds to all three carousels, the first one showed our flight. Last one on, first one out. The luggage soon pounced through the chute lickety-split. Let the adventure begin.

 As females will, we found the Ladies and rushed through Arrivals with our bags. Sunglasses-and-light-jackets weather, a cool breeze greeted us outside the airport. A clear view due to few cars parked at the curb, Mary said, “I wonder where Jean is.” Pacing after the cramped sit, Jean and Michael arrived about ten minutes later. Tight hugs and hurried catch-ups, Jean’s hubby loaded the luggage into the van.

As previously arranged, we had other plans and did not head for their house. By prior arrangement, Belcarra Regional Park beckoned instead. The clock read approximately 8:45 a.m. Vancouver time—three hours behind Ontario.

Had we left from Jean and Michael’s house, our destination would have taken less time. If a road or bridge traversed the water, we’d have made it in minutes, but Michael had to arc a long way around from the airport. As he drove, Jean, prepared as ever, surprised us with mouth-watering Greek mini pocketless pita sandwiches. Mary and I grinned. I can’t recall the delectable fillings snuggled between the slices, but I devoured the treats like a little-used Hoover put to work. Michael suggested a coffee stop but we passed. Good thing, too, because we arrived late for the appointed time as had a number of others joining us.

The park covers a vast area with a number of trails and parking areas. It took a couple of misses before we found the right carpark and picnic area. Turned out we weren’t the last to arrive. Someone pronounced everyone present and Jon arranged a digital remembrance of the moment.

                                                                  Belcarra selfie ©Jon Nightingale

One trail, considered moderate, stretched (was not circular) 5.5 kilometer forward and back and another one, an additional 5.2 km. A democratic group. You could do one or both. Hadn’t Mary and I just flown four and a half hours from Ontario? The hike sounded fun a month ago when we planned it. Was joining this group a bizarre idea?

~ * ~

Next on February 16: North to Alaska: A-Hiking We Will Go

© 2018 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

Advertisements


44 Comments

North to Alaska: Will We Make it to the Airport?

When my sister, Mary, and I booked this trip, by way of Vancouver the year before, I’d been gung-ho. The day for departure had arrived, but my heart wasn’t in it.

The afternoon before our flight, I booked a taxi online, then called by evening to check the booking with a human being. Everything was fine. We were set.

When I go away, I use Gravity Pet Feeders (one for each cat with kibble and one full of water for both). That taken care of, Mary and I watched a movie when Dickens waddled to the sofa and sank into the carpet at my feet. His breathing laborious, heavy, and shallow, terrified me. Was he knocking on heaven’s door? What timing for a vet visit so close to our flight. Dollars spun in my head. I picked him up. His eyes were dull and half-mast. What to do? We analyzed the circumstances and an Aha moment struck. Unbeknownst to me, he and Lady Gaga thought they’d arrived at Kibble Heaven and gorged on the mountain of food before it disappeared. Dickens stuffed himself to bursting and had to wait it out. Lady Gaga, ever a lady, pushed away from the tray sooner than he. Just. An hour later Dickens’ breathing better, we toddled off to bed, I wrestling he’d make it through the night; Mary off to sweet dreams. Dickens isn’t her cat.

I never sleep well before a trip. Worried about the scheduled taxi pickup in the dark hours of the morning—more like the middle of the night—I woke up at 2 a.m. sleep gone. My bedside alarm finally jolted me out of a doze two hours later. The travel alarm I’d specifically purchased as a backup had failed. Mary’s phone alarm rang first. Good save.

Forty-five minutes isn’t a lot of time to get ready and out the door but we managed. Dressed, beds made, breakfast choked down, dishes rinsed and deposited into the dishwasher.

As I scrambled, the phone rang with an automated message that our taxi was in transit. Five minutes later, another call: the cab waited in the driveway. Mary gobbled her cereal as did I. My bags were already upstairs by the front door; hers in the trunk of her car.

What is it with taxi drivers with his personal items in the trunk, leaving little room for passengers’ bags? I’ve seen it happen before. He didn’t know how to position them to close the trunk. Exasperated, I leaned in and made them fit. Our carry-ons came into the back seat with us. I had asked for the $35.00 flat rate to the local airport. Agreed. You have to ask for it. Mary and I each kicked in $20 for a five-dollar tip, considering the ride lasted 15 minutes and the storage shortage in the trunk.

An airport attendant, mere feet from the door we entered, approached right away and helped with printing the boarding passes and luggage tags. The agent told us to bring our luggage to the conveyor belt and goodbye bags. They weren’t even weighed. How does that happen? Wow! Mary over-packs coming and going and fussed about paying extra for an overweight bag.

What a difference between Hamilton Airport and Toronto’s Pearson, or are domestic flights less complicated? A previous domestic flight we’d taken from Toronto was nothing like this one. No hassles: no crowds, long lines, miles to walk, and no belt or shoe removal. The Waiting Area was one minute away from—what else?—a Tim Hortons. Mary needed a coffee; I held off a few minutes. Fumble fingers me almost tossed the hot liquid all over myself when I did. How I managed a quick save, I’ll never know.

“What was that?” Mary asked with a smirk. A few minutes later, she up-ended her coffee on the table where her brown overflow carry-all/purse rested wide open with now wet contents. After our boarding passes had printed, the lovely attendant mentioned boarding would be late about an hour. Our Direct flight to Vancouver needed to be refueled and prepared for return there. I wondered why our boarding pass and the electronic posting still say 6:25 a.m. Mary had checked if the plane would be on time the previous night as you’re supposed to. Confirmed. Flight time not changed. By 6:40, the overhead flight information flashed:

Flight 241 departure 6:25 a.m. Delayed. Estimated 7:25 a.m. 

Thank you.

Our waiting area for Gate 3 had a scattered dozen souls. An announcement over the loudspeaker apologized for a minor delay: some valve(s) had to be replaced. Valve(s)? Didn’t sound minor to me. I believe in transparency, but this was scary news. Why were valves mentioned at all? And don’t say they are a minor fix. What’s minor about them? They all feel major to me since we’re to lift off into the sky.

~ * ~

Next on February 9, 2018: Where’s the Easy Button?

© 2018 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles


27 Comments

Recuperation and Shopping

Though tired from the long haul from Thetis today, Mary and I stayed up to watch the Magnificent Marigold Hotel DVD, Part 2. The original is still vivid in my mind, but I cannot remember the second part at all.

The New Year had already slipped into day three. I had lost all track of time. The day overcast, everyone tired and sluggish, we voted to sit around, read and relax. No one thought of television till after dinner when Jean or Michael suggested Sherlock Holmes with Benedict Cumberbatch.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01p6j8z

Another day of drizzle. Monday, Michael returned to work after two weeks’ vacation. The rest of us took our sweet time lollygagging along, finally headed to the village of Deep Cove shopping area. I looked up from the bottom of the inlet to this breathtaking view of the mountains. Straight ahead in the center is Mount Seymour.

Mural on a building in Deep Cove

Mural on a building in Deep Cove

About twelve years ago when I last visited, the area thrived and bustled. Now businesses had moved and premises were empty with slim pickings.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Supper offered a new treat: vegetarian shepherd’s pie. Impressive. A fantastic facsimile in look and taste. You wouldn’t believe the complicated recipe. Know the price of pecans? This is an expensive recipe because you need a cup each of hazelnuts (filberts or pecans, well chopped) and walnuts.

Tuesday, it drizzled. I hate shopping anytime, but I wanted to bring gifts back for the family. We headed to downtown and Commercial Drive following a late breakfast. I hustled up one side of the street and down the other. Neither Mary nor I was interested in classy new stores. Jean showed us fantastic second-hand stores because we find them more fun. By 2.30 p.m., having skimmed every store, I found wonderful earrings for my granddaughters, necklaces for my daughter(one a blue Swarovski crystal) and a new ring for me. In Newfoundland, I saw a ring that called to me, which I wear on my right hand. This time I had bought one for my right (both coasts covered). We stopped for coffee and a sit in a favorite Italian restaurant Jean raved about.

img_2665

Exhausted, we headed back to Jean’s for a snack. The sky opened. Rain sluiced the windshield hard, then slowed to a drizzle again.

After dinner, Jean played jazzy tunes on her baby grand. Wish I’d taped at least one. We’d saved the second half of Downton Abbey from the night before and watched the ending.

L-R: Jean, Mary, me

L-R: Jean, Mary, me

Morning began at 4:00 a.m. Jean drove us to the airport while Michael slept. He had work in the morning. Traffic non-existent, we fast-tracked to WestJet Departures. Kiss-kiss. Hug-hug and it was goodbye.

Mary printed the boarding passes with a transfer in Calgary. Neither of us had brought credit cards in hopes of spending less. We were in Vancouver, after all. No one deals in cash anymore. How were we to pay for our luggage? A friendly attendant took our luggage, tagged the bags, and accepted our debit cards. Yay.

My purse set off an alarm. Did I have any liquids or aerosols in my carry-on? The security employee was polite. “Please open your bag.”

“Oh!”

I’d forgotten stowing a mini bottle of water inside while removing laptop; electronic devices; loading trays; removing shoes; showing boarding pass; dragging my handbag, and carry-on. Whew. How many hands do I have? Not enough.

“Would you like me to pour out the water and return the bottle?”

“If it’s not too much trouble.” I sagged with relief.

“No trouble.”

I’m surprised my bag didn’t need to be x-rayed again. I’d made the same mistake on the way to Vancouver. No bells went off. I walked through with an almost full, regular size bottle of water in my purse. Not thinking, Mary had carried foaming hand soap for sister Jean in her carry on. They confiscated it, of course.

Through security, we had ten minutes to board..

I should have nodded off on the plane but watched the sun come up instead.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In Calgary, our gate changed at the last minute and boarding delayed 16 minutes. Three hours and twenty minutes to Toronto. Homeward bound.

 

Next time on December 16th A surprise

© 2016 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles. All Rights Reserved.

For more related posts, click on Abbreviated Vancouver

 


46 Comments

A New Year’s Day

Her cabin close to ours, Bronwyn again drove us back to the cottage. Jean’s husband stayed behind to sweep and reorganize the Community Center in preparation for another group’s function the next day. Tired after the evening’s excitement, I wasted no time dropping into bed. My sister said when she used the facilities (next door to my room), I was already pulling the sail (snoring like a drunken sailor). Hey, who are you calling a sailor?

In the morning, we scheduled showers, the water steaming and plentiful; towels huge, thick and absorbent. A sheer luxury. Jean rustled up French toast for a leisurely breakfast with the Panattoni she had baked at home. Michael paid our room bills and surprised me by arranging a tour of the secret room. I had seen the owner earlier and inquired about a look-see. The arrangement depended on time. Excited, I floated above ground while we waited for our peek behind the locked door.

Located in the center of the house, between our side of the house and the owner’s, the room’s location was deceiving. I had not noticed the brown stairs leading to a second level, nor the balcony outside. Our rooms were on the left side (behind the tree) and the owners lived on the right, the larger portion of the building.

img_2509

See the outside stairs to the second level and the veranda

At the scheduled time, Michael knocked at the farthest door across the foyer. The owner’s wife swung it open and invited us inside. Whoa. The place was huge. Though built in 1909, the house had been modernized with up-to-date plumbing, heating, lighting, and interior construction. I hung back ogling everything and taking nothing in. I snapped this framed picture behind glass at the entranceway and rushed to follow our group. I had no opportunity to inquire if it held any significance.

img_2628

Wow. I assumed the mystery room stored dusty trunks and ancient discards. The key to the door had gone missing some time ago.

img_2581

This is what awaited: a two-storey Christmas tree in the Great Room. Two, self-contained, two-bedroom apartments took up the second level. Family members stayed here when they came to visit with their teenage children and their friends during summer and other holidays. Even at this age, the third generation felt pride in the family home and its history. I had hoped for an invitation to see the upstairs. No offer made, I stifled my greed.

img_2621

 I heard someone had taken it either on purpose or by accident. Funny, I observed a key in the lock on the owner’s side mocking me. Lost key? What’s with that story?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Was I disappointed our anticipated tour ended? Had our request been an intrusion? No and no. The owner enjoyed sharing. In the past, guests who wondered about the room obtained the special reveal if / when time permitted.

The van loaded to the rafters—after much packing and repacking—we set off to Michael’s family home where his mother invited us for an overnight stay. Why did the van have less room on the return trip than the one on our arrival? The leftover wine, stored at his mother’s for the meet and greet and the birthday party, was returning with us to Vancouver.

Michael stopped at the Recycle Center to drop off 23 empty bottles from the two nights of festivities before proceeding to his mom’s place (60 people served). I would have returned them to the liquor store for cash (total of $2.30). No, probably not as they needed room in the van we could not spare.

* * *

Next on December 3rd – The New Year Advances

© 2016 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles. All Rights Reserved.

For more related posts, click on Abbreviated Vancouver