How the Cookie Crumbles

Life and scribbles on the far side of SIXTY-FIVE


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North to Alaska: Art Auction Confusion

I woke at 6:45, anxious to start our day. A dry deck faced us; the ship rocked beneath our feet.

After breakfast, I intended to get the rigmarole of going ashore the next day out of the way. I sorted through the forms and luggage tags. We had a couple options: independent or expedited and chose the latter as we fit all the criteria, the times fit better, and I’d rather pull our own luggage off the ship than leave it outside the door before midnight and have to wait to collect it upon arrival in Vancouver. Mary stopped by the front desk to collect printouts of our accounts. I spent more than I’d anticipated. How easy it is to spend money when all you have is a credit card. I should have disregarded an internet connection as a necessity, considering we had so much downtime.

Mary signed us up to attend an art auction. Not up my alley but the promise of a glass of champagne was a good incentive. Upon registration, a nice woman handed everyone a number and three stickers, which we were to affix to paintings we favoured.

When the fellow responsible to display the next painting for auction, he snapped off the stickers and mashed them. I saw no point in the stickers unless the ones with the most were brought out first or was the exercise to engage would-be buyers?

The champagne must have been a special purchase. Only one glass per customer. My mouth puckered with the first sip, but I managed to work at it until the glass was empty. Swirling the glass gave me something to do while I slid lower in my chair, bored. The auction did not heat up; a few painting sold, but the bidding was low and unexciting.

Tummies rumbling, we scouted out to lunch. Upon our return, lo and behold, the auction still rambled on. Mary did not win anything though she purchased a wad of draw tickets. At the end, as loyal attendees, another woman handed out white 10 by 13-inch envelopes. Mary opened hers right away. She disliked the print of a moose and daring as ever, she asked for an exchange. She made a face at the print of single cottage in a field of wildflowers in her hand and hinted at trading with me, but I liked mine. I decided to love my modern print or would someday and planned to buy a fabulous frame it might deserve. Teasing aside, I did—I DO—like it.

Duet Night (print) by Charles Lee

The rest of the day we wandered the ship, saying goodbye to new friends. For the third and last time, we enjoyed dinner at the Rotterdam with plans to enjoy Elliot Finkel, a piano entertainer in the theatre. The members of the audience loved the fabulous and popular Disney show tunes he played, but the show lasted only 45 minutes. Two guitarists, a drummer, and a female keyboard player accompanied him.

The show over, we had plenty of time to catch the sunset. Announcements earlier mentioned 9:29 and then 9:15 pm as sundown. Thank goodness, we were early, yet we still missed it. The sun slid into the ocean in the split second I blinked. What a disappointment. A fellow passenger caught it and said, “The sun slipped behind the mountains and into the ocean like it had been in a hurry to go to bed.”

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~ * ~

Next on June 29th – North to Alaska: Last Day and New Horizons

© 2018 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

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North to Alaska: Creek Street Shops and a Tram Experience

As we left Dolly’s house by the back stairs, Mary noticed the guide from the tour we latched on to in Juneau. We scrambled to join the group, wondering how much we’d missed. As we joined the people clustered around the guide, Mary talked to a woman in an unobtrusive jacket with an emblem on the breast. She tsked the tour did not belong to the cruise but was an independent. We mentioned there had been no problem in Juneau. “We’re almost finished so I guess you can stay.”

She led us down a path to the shops on Creek Street and the tour was over. At least the drizzle had stopped.

I laughed at the many advertisements for the shops. Mary wanted to take the tram ($2.00 USD) up a high hill for a fantastic view of the town. Whoever had given her information about it said the entrance was up the hill. Which hill? “Are you sure she meant this hill.” I hated wasting my time. On and on we trudged. No tram entrance. The hill levelled out; we accosted a couple coming toward us, who did not give specific directions but pointed down the hill. We stopped at one of the shops, then asked another passerby. Back to the tourist-filled sidewalk, we meandered through the same shops for the third time.

“There it is.” Mary had the look of someone who knew where she was going all along. A family of five joined us. Maybe because the Cape Fox Hill Tram happened to be red, I immediately thought of Dr. Who and his telephone booth. The buttons for operation are the same as you find in an elevator. The over 200-foot incline took about minute before we stopped more than 100 feet above the harbour.

We had no idea what we’d find at the top. Straight ahead double doors enticed us into a lobby, which appeared to be a hotel. Fantastic seating with deep sofas and chairs faced a working gas fireplace and a switched on flat screen. Out the back door were gardens and more totem poles. On the other side of the lobby, magnetic food smells and brewing coffee drew us in. The best seats by the windows overlooking Ketchikan were taken, but though almost noon, the restaurant was not busy. I felt invisible as no server approached our table until Mary lassoed a waitress for the Wi-Fi password. I only wanted a simple coffee. Not Mary, who perused the menu; muffins took her fancy. When a waiter finally stopped by, he said they had none.

“But they’re on the menu. What kind do you have?”

“I’ll check.” He disappeared. We waited and waited. We waited some more and grabbed a waitress, asking after our server. Mary’s blueberry muffin finally arrived. It wasn’t oven-warm so we decided it hadn’t just been baked because service had taken so long and we’d been told they had none.

We caught up on email, ate, drank and left money for the food and left. Who has all day to wait for service?

Traipsing back to Creek Street and the many quaint shops, I no longer found them appealing and voted for a return to the ship for a proper, if late, lunch.

The day finished with an enjoyable viewing of LaLa Land in the ship’s theatre. Prior to seeing the movie, I’d heard there were opposing camps regarding this production: those who love it and those who do not. I loved it. Popcorn arrived late once again, during the latter part of the movie and we were drawn to pinch a bag each on the way to our room. One last look outside confirmed we had missed the sunset again. The skyline appeared bruised in shades of purple, pink, orange, and yellow.

Night, night.

~ * ~

If you’ve never tried it, here’s a chance to see what a tram is like.

Next on June 22nd – North to Alaska: Art Auction Confusion

© 2018 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles


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North to Alaska: Snooping Around

We arrived late for lunch with no idea the buffet would be closing soon. No one blocking the food, I managed to take these pictures of various stations.

The buffet servers work eight months on the ship and return home for the remaining four.

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A boom-boom disturbance overhead disrupted after lunch coffee. No other patrons seemed worried or appeared to pay attention. A couple noticed my bewilderment and the man explained there was a basketball court overhead.

“You’re not pulling my leg?” Mary asked.

“I’ll bet my lunch that’s the sound of a bouncing basketball.”

Mary giggled. “You’ve no lunch to bet.”

The sun struggled to brighten the day but dark clouds had other ideas, thrusting it into the background. Huddled in our jacket collars, we jogged a couple laps around the promenade deck after lunch—three and a half laps = 1 mile. A biting wind forced us back inside. Had the weather cooperated, we would have logged a few miles more. We passed a few pairs of walkers, a meditating woman on a blanket (b-r-r), and another one practicing yoga. Three men in white overalls painted the outside deck walls. Phew. I gagged on the fumes, though we were outside. I wondered why none wore masks against the toxic vapors. Seems Health and Safety rules do not apply to painting with nautical paint. Or is this a non-issue since all the workers are from poor countries and nobody cares? Shame. Shame.

I had my heart set on a generous feed of fish and shrimp, but we were late arriving. The buffet had run out. More arrived after we’d finished a fish dinner and Mary scooped up a half dozen to share. I’ve only had shrimp that huge once when I purchased them for a New Year’s Eve dinner party years ago. Thank goodness, I hadn’t invited the neighborhood.

Tummies happy, we searched for advertised entertainment. The Hudson room offered a piano/violin duo and inviting deep chairs but the music didn’t suit our mood—too sedate.

Next, we discovered the duty-free store. A female employee in the jewelry area talked us into sticking around for a free draw in ten minutes. She tore off matching tickets: one for each of us and the twin for the bin. We figured with only a half-dozen participants, we had an excellent chance of winning something. Soon the employee hooked 50 or 60 male and female shoppers and those waiting for the piano bar to open. Ten minutes turned into a half-hour.

What a setup. The person with the winning number had 30 seconds to open as many boxes as they could manage in an effort to extract one containing a jewelry surprise. Soon, a couple of the ‘winners’ asked if there were indeed prizes as the first handful were not lucky. The employee threw the empty boxes back in the bin to encourage deeper digging. What felt like hours later, we left empty-handed and yawning. Six happy winners dispersed to the bar. The lounge singer behind a ¾ wall crooned for some time to clinking glasses and the murmur and hum of energetic conversation.

It had been a long day fighting bitter winds, moody clouds, and noxious paint fumes. The first full day surrounded by nothing but water and food drew to a close. I wished for my pillow to hasten our time of arrival in Juneau the following day.

~ * ~

Next on April 13th – North to Alaska: Yay!  Juneau Ahead

© 2018 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles


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North to Alaska: First Day on Board

While we had been at dinner our first night, someone emptied the garbage and deposited complimentary black, reusable (Holland America branded) bags on the beds. A basket of mixed fruit awaiting our arrival yesterday included a sheet to tick off new choices. New fruit decorated the small pedestal table by the loveseat.

I woke in the night with a queasy stomach. In the early morning, it was truly upset. I wondered if it had anything to do with the food last night—not the four measly ounces of wine, surely. I managed to rally though, food again on my mind or was it my stomach talking?

                                                     Water, water everywhere

Nervous about strangers going through our things, we hung the privacy sign outside our door before going to breakfast. It appeared everyone on the ship came to eat at the same time, at the same restaurant as if all the others were closed. We squeezed in next to another couple who were from Washington State. A Michigan couple joined us: a stunning, warm, and fun loving Peruvian woman; her American husband was less so.

Talked out and full after eating—three cups of coffee for me—we explored levels four and five. Guess what we found. A lending library. I drooled over the books despite having packed my own and we each took out two. Why? Maybe because we could. When would we have time to read? No matter. Preparedness is my middle name.

After much finagling, we figured out how to plug in Mary’s phone (an ordinary plug over the room’s desk. Sheesh.) Lucky I brought my (plug) converter as the other one would no accommodate the plug for my iPad.

The hair blower hid in the desk drawer not on the shelf in the bathroom as we turned the room upside down looking for it. Success was useless as the too large prongs refused to fit any of the outlets, even the one in the bathroom.

The privacy sign had not deterred the stateroom attendants from knocking after we returned from breakfast. They insisted on doing up the room—protocol and all that—though we suggested we’d look after the room. The incompatibility of plug and hair blower developed into a hot topic with the attendants. Their efforts failed, too. They promised to bring another one and told us to put this one back in the drawer.

“Won’t the next people have the same problem?” I asked.

Mary later solved the mystery by trying the outlets over the desk again and good thing as no one brought another dryer throughout our seven-day cruise. Some things you cannot be shy about. A working hair dryer is a must.

An announcement came over the PA system after lunch:

  • 334 nautical miles from Vancouver
  • 467 remaining to Juno
  • 10:30 tonight, between Canada and U.S. border
  • At 2:00 a.m. the clock will go back an hour.
  • Naturalist talk outside at scheduled times. (Too damp to attend)

I had a salad for lunch and a pizza slice. I should have stopped at the salad. Orange cheese on pizza? Awful. Awful. The dough, black olives, onions, mushrooms etc. were okay—no, they were tasteless. This did not taste like pizza and I can make no comparisons. Mozzarella instead might have helped.

~ * ~

Next on April 6th – North to Alaska: Snooping Around

© 2018 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles


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North to Alaska: Vancouver Lookout

We repacked our bags in readiness to leave for the ship before noon and raced off to downtown Vancouver. Included in our Alaska trip were tickets to visit Harbour Center Lookout Tower. Jean double-parked and we hopped out lickety-split as the impatient traffic was horrendous. An attendant at an information desk gave directions to another elevator as the one across from her was down. Great. A good opportunity to get lost as we also needed to find a Ladies and the street floor teamed with busy, bustling humanity, everyone with an agenda. Mary surprised me by not stopping at the many stores we passed. “Maybe later,” she said, “if there is time.” Was I hearing her right?

The elevator had room for about three more people. We whisked up 28 floors in no time, though I had no idea how many floors there were upon our arrival. This skyscraper of a Lookout Tower opened in 1977 and is the sixth tallest building in Vancouver: 147 meters tall (160.761 yards or 482.283 feet). Good thing I’m not afraid of heights (liar) and only suffer claustrophobia in small spaces.

All I can say is wow! The whole top floor was made of glass from about chest-high. Had the glass been lower, I would have raced to the elevator and hugged the floor on the way down.

I photographed all the plagues below with accompanying pictures. They are not my own but are part of the exhibit at the Lookout. Credit goes to various people and organizations as shown on the plaques.

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Taken from the 28th floor, the harbor is still breathtaking. (Photos two and three below are my own.)

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Quick Facts:

  • British Columbia is larger than any U.S. state except Alaska
  • It is four times bigger than Britain
  • The size of France, Germany and the Netherlands combined
  • 637,699 square miles
  • 2014 Population 647,540
  • Average summer temperatures 72°F; in winter 43°F
  • Snow about 2.4″ per year
  • Ranked best city in the world to live
  • Ranked most expensive city to live
  • University of British Columbia largest in Western Canada (campus and students)
  • UBC created 1908; first lecture 1915
  • Relocated to Point Grey 1925
  • Well-known for medical and engineering programs
  • One of top 40 in the world
  • UBC home to 41,000 undergrads
  • UBC home to 10,000 graduates
  • Hosted Olympic games 2010
  • Last World’s Fair in North America in 1986
  • Della Falls highest in
  • 75% is mountains (3280 feet above sea level)
  • 60% is forested
  • 5% suitable for growing crops
  • The National Geographic tree is in Stanley Park
  • 98 feet in circumference, considered largest of its kind in the world
  • Sitka Spruce, (The Heaven tree) is 800 years old
  • Some cedars in the park considered over 1,000 years old

Included here are just a few of the zillion pictures I took.

~ * ~

Next on March 9th: North to Alaska: Bye-bye Vancouver

© 2018 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles


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North to Alaska: A-Hiking We Will Go

To be fair, I should include what little I know about this Vancouver hiking group. Friends added friends and the group expanded due to similar interests and bonding.  All my family has met them on several occasions during our visits to see sister, Jean. Warmer and more generous people I have never met.

They invited me to what?

A hiking we will go © Jon Nightingale

Towering, impossibly straight trees framed our path and filtered penetrating May sunlight through new leaves and branches. The clean scent of fresh air, cedar, ferns, fir trees, and dry dirt in our path path greeted all comers. Now and again, birds twittered, but quiet reigned except for the odd low-keyed conversation. Other hikers passed in both directions. Heaven.

 

The path began more or less three-people wide on the level gravel-covered ground. At times, we stood aside for other passers-by. A small incline rose up and up till I was breathless and heaving. Was I out of shape or what?

The majority of the seasoned hikers slogged ahead at a brisk pace compared to sisters Jean and Mary, Liz, and me. Jean suggested we slow our pace as we needn’t keep up with the others. The going became rough: stair-like ascent over roots and stones for footholds. Where the trees grew thicker, the roots were wet and the hiking trail muddy and water-soaked. Treacherous doesn’t describe it. Unsteady, I kept my balance—just. Was I up for this?

I can. I can. I can. © Jon Nightingale

I worried how we’d get back to the parking lot though we hadn’t gone half-way, which happened at Jug Island Beach.

Jean and others pulled out snacks and water. Mary ripped off shoes and socks to cool off ankle-deep at water’s edge. The cool temperature discouraged swimmers—still too early in the season. Logs, rocks, and sand offered seating for all who chose to relax or catch their breath. We four arrived much later than the rest of the group.

Though I had a sneaking suspicion, I had to ask. “How do we get back?”

“Same way you came.”

Blast. Back over the wood stairs, rough stairs of dirt and stones, both minus handrails. Going down was easier than going up and I made it. Liz joined the rest of the group as we three sisters stayed together on our return. Whether altitude or lack of sleep, Jean asked permission to help when my legs refused to maneuver a tricky spot while on my hunches. Yes, she pushed me there.

At one point, Mary noticed we were in unfamiliar territory. We’d wandered off the trail. Funny about the timing. Jean and I gazed around, struck with the same thought. Seeing no other hikers for several minutes was daunting.

We shared our misadventure with a couple with an obedient Doberman, with whom we crossed paths. They confirmed we were back on track.

A man from our group passed by, who had made a last minute dash to the facilities following picture-taking. We were gone when he came out. Having no idea which trail we’d chosen first, he struck out on his own. Rotten luck. Alone, he made record time and now passed us on his second trail in.

A parking lot peeked through the trees, but which one was it? Passing hikers pointed to the curve in our path, which snaked to the road across from the lot we needed. Neither of us had a clear recollection of crossing the road at the start of the hike.

Decision made we’d ditch the second hike, we found Ralph had scored the last picnic table for return hikers. The sodden grass squished beneath our runners as we squelched our way toward him. At times, our shoes sank low past the soles. Canadian geese ambled about as if they owned the park, children laughed and hollered and ran. Tense parents kept an eye on them while unpacking picnic lunches.

The sun bright and weather spring-like, a chill breeze ruffled our hair. Grateful for a place to sit, I dropped to the bench. Jean suggested Mary and I snooze in the SUV till the second round of hikers returned. Though tired, closing my gritty and burning eyes was enough. I could not sleep.

I came alive when talk of lunch at a pub surfaced through the half-open SUV window. I’d lost all track of time but my tummy had not.

~ * ~

Next on February 23rd – North to Alaska: The Peoples’ Path and more

© 2018 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles


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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


Packing Up and Homeward Bound

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

Breakfast was a disappointment. Again:  dry buns, squashed croissants, and small stale Danish. I loaded up on cantaloupe, watermelon and pineapple, a piece of toast, and coffee. I decided not to gorge on our last day.

After breakfast, Ernesto and his wife entered an elevator with two Chinese businessmen. It stopped part way to their destination and wouldn’t budge. One of the businessmen began to sweat, his face beet-red. Ernesto’s wife hit the red button and someone answered at once with instructions but nothing worked. After a moment or two—that’s all it took—the elevator stirred to everyone’s relief, especially the Chinese man.

~ * ~

Time to leave for the airport, Sue and I towed our luggage to the elevator at 8:25 a.m. Though it appeared too full, the occupants insisted we get on. We stopped on almost every floor and with much shifting, more people squeezed on. I laughed inwardly because this felt like the Volkswagen commercial where endless lines of people pile in. Nobody thought the elevator was too full to get on and no one considered waiting for the next one. By the time we’d reached the first floor, we had enough Chinese people to start our own small village with a population of a million or two.

~ * ~

After we’d settled at our boarding gate at the airport, Sue and I went in search of bottled water to take on the plane. Before boarding, we passed through another security check, opened our bags and carry-ons, and lost the untouched water. Other passengers had also purchased water but were robbed of their bottles as well. A female passenger argued with the stewardess.

“There should be a sign if we’re not allowed to bring water on board.”

“Madam, we are not allowed to do that in Hong Kong.”

“Well, how was I supposed to know my new water bottle will be confiscated?”

“You will know for next time.”

United_787_800_RR

I tried wifi at the airport without success. The plane before us had been delayed; the passengers moved to another gate after much dithering. Our flight wasn’t announced. Tick. Tock. The clock snuck past our boarding time with no updates offered. Finally, another gate became available. We were 35 minutes late boarding. Thank goodness we didn’t have to run to the other end of the airport, but I worried about the prearranged limo we’d paid for to pick us up in Toronto.

The aircraft was puny: two seats on either side of a narrow aisle, not unlike the one we had taken from Toronto to Chicago at the beginning of our trip. The door closed and—nothing. We waited. The passengers shifted in their seats and looked at each other across the aisle. Coughs and sneezes echoed throughout the cabin. Drat. Disease incubator!

1st announcement:

“We need to fuel up so we have enough gas to get you to To-ron-to.”

2nd announcement after a long spell of twitchy waiting:

“We’re trying to locate the guy who’s supposed to fill us up.”

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

(Is that enough fuel? Are you kidding?)  Credit: Wikimedia Commons

3rd announcement:

“He went to the wrong…”

W-h-a-t?

My heart danced the Nitty Gritty. So close to home—yet would we even make it?  The air in the cabin grew stale and stifling. Susan’s stomach had been queasy while we were still in the airport. I now had a scratchy throat and stuffed sinuses.

Credit:  SOUL of the North : tolpuddleman’s channel

~ * ~

Finally soaring, the flight proceeded without further incidents. My eyes didn’t itch nor burn from lack of sleep though it was the middle of the night. By 1:00 a.m. breakfast arrived, but I wasn’t hungry. I had half the omelet, a taste of the anemic pork sausage and two toonie-sized hash brown coins. The drinks cart came around once. I would have loved more coffee. Finally, a second offer was made.

I watched a lot of movies, and read a complete book I’d borrowed from an avid reader in our group. Touchdown in Chicago didn’t require five or six hours to proceed on a flight home.

We arrived in Toronto ahead of schedule and in one piece but had to trudge forever across the tarmac to the airport. I felt like a rag doll. The airport is huge; it isn’t easy nor forgiving. There are no walkalators nor airport treadmills. Not a washroom in sight for miles and miles.

I noticed something interesting at the baggage carousel. A female police officer and a sniffer dog checked the incoming luggage. I’d have expected a German shepherd, instead, a beagle named Lucy sniffed and wagged.

Credit: Google Images

Credit: Google Images

We waited about five minutes for the limo driver. The deal was if the plane didn’t arrive on time, the driver would only wait for an hour. Phew! Almost home.

Soon we sped towards home-sweet-home, the great adventure over. I couldn’t wait for a hot shower without watching the clock and to snuggle in my own bed again.

The End

Next on February 2nd: North to Alaska

© 2018 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

FYI: This is a re-blog of the best parts of my trip in 2014

~ * ~

I plan to drop in for a visit and a short update Monday.


Hong Kong, What a Throng, Part 4

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

In Aberdeen, the ferry driver burned more stinky gas turning the boat (40 – 49 capacity) out of the parking slot at Tai Pak Marina than the amount it took to get to the floating Cantonese restaurant. I expected the restaurant to rock due to the rolling waves due to boat traffic, but it was rock solid firm. The huge open space hummed like a beehive and didn’t feel like a ship. The male servers wore microphones with coiled phone wire tucked behind their ear like secret servicemen in the movies. We’d heard Cantonese people like to eat out and this being Easter weekend proved it. Every table was filled. I counted 36 tables and each appeared to be set up for 10 guests. We were served on the third floor.

Lunch:

  • Sweet and sour sauce
  • Chili pepper sauce
  • Soy sauce
  • Steamed shrimp in rice paper (rubbery)
  • Shrimp wontons
  • Steamed fish balls
  • Pork balls with cabbage (?) (tasty)
  • Steamed sweet dough wrapped pork (?)
  • Noodles with curry shrimp, green peppers, and egg
  • Fried rice with shrimp peas, corn and green onions on noodles with ginger
  • Jasmine tea
  • Coconut Jello (but not clear like Jello

This was a long affair from 12:55 to 2:10 p.m. When we arrived, we waited longer than usual for the food to arrive. Again, everyone in the restaurant had the same food. I thought I was smart when one of the ladies wanted more tea, but couldn’t catch the server’s attention. I lifted the teapot lid and replaced it at an angle, not snug into the opening. Another of our group waved the waiter down to ask for more tea and he showed her the same thing I had ‘invented’. Am I brilliant or what?! I have no clue how I came by this idea.

After lunch—what a treat—a surprise visit to Dynasty Jewelry Manufacturers in a-last-stab-effort to our lined tourist pockets. We English 8, too few to bother with, the presentation transpired in French only. Right. Though the jewelry was magnificent, who walks around with the kind of money for such purchases without forethought?  Bored and poor, though I’m attracted to sparkly things, I wandered around shadowed by a clerk who didn’t even pretend he wasn’t stalking me. After all that, I’m not sure anyone in the French Group purchased anything.

© Used by permission of RJ, a member of English 8. All Rights Reserved.

  © Used by permission of RJ, a member of English 8. All Rights Reserved.

 

© Used by permission of RJ, a member of English 8. All Rights Reserved.

                       © Used by permission of RJ, a member of English 8. All Rights Reserved.

Next, we climbed a steep, serpentine road to Victoria Peak. I held my breath as another bus passed us traveling in the opposite direction, grateful we were in the inside lane. We passed breathless views for perfect picture-taking, but photo opportunities came and went. There wasn’t room to pull over and we’d likely be killed crossing the busy two-lane road. If we beat traffic, someone might fall over the edge. From the bus, the city gave the impression of a toy city.

Our destination: The Peak for picture taking and The Peak Galleria (the mall for shopping). We had to go inside and up escalators to the third floor, then outside to the extensive viewing platform for spectacular views of the city and Victoria Harbour. Because of the distance, my photos were small. With more time to kill, I checked out the mall. Actors dressed in rabbit costumes put on a show for shoppers’ children, this being Easter Saturday. I wandered into a drugstore and bought nail polish for our last dress-up dinner before heading home. Two tiny bottles (about half the size we usually see at home) cost a grand total of $2.00 total.

Quick Facts

  • 1,800 square foot = luxury apartment
  • Condos at Repulse Bay under $20,000 USD per month
  • Visiting Businessmen are put up in these type condos
  • Usual apartment rent around $1,300 USD
  • If cannot pay, government subsidises at $300 USD per month
  • Long wait to get subsidized apartment: 4 to 5 years
  • A car traveling to Hong Kong has two license plates: one for Hong Kong and one for China
  • No casino allowed in Hong Kong
  • If one travels to Macau, must return home 5:00 p.m. like from work
  • Hong Kong 93% Chinese + Pakistani Indian
  • Has 272 islands
  • West Hong Kong is new
  • Have many temples, mostly Taoist
  • 150,000 immigrants arrive every day

© 2015Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles. All Rights Reserved

Dinner choices made by members of English Eight at an Italian restaurant (paid out of pocket):

  • Risotto
  • Pizza
  • Lamb
  • Fettucine Bolognese
  • Linguine with Clams
  • Octopus Ink sauce (for pasta)
  • Octopus Ink dinner rolls
  • W.i.n.e.

© 2015Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles. All Rights Reserved

                                   © 2015Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles. All Rights Reserved

Additional information about Hong Kong:

Taken by Jacek Zarzycki

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Next on January 26th – Packing Up and Homeward Bound

© 2018 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

FYI: This is a re-blog of the best parts of my trip in 2014

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I am currently on an unplanned sabbatical but hope to visit here before the end of the month. Many, many thanks for your supportive reading, re-blogging, and tweeting. Your continued follows are immensely appreciated.  XX


On to Hong Kong. Ding Dong.

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

We walked and I gaped. I’m sure I stuck out like a greenhorn tourist (not that I’m not). A jewelry store displaying sparkling diamonds drew my attention. I leaned in for a closer look and banged my forehead on the window. Ouch. The glass was solid as a brick wall and felt as thick. The interior lights bright, the glass gave the impression of absence. I felt stupid and hoped no-one had noticed. Why would anyone notice? There were all sorts of more interesting people around with bigger things on their minds. I couldn’t believe how young the fashionably-dressed, Asian women hanging on to boyfriends’ or husbands’ arms were. No shortage of Daddy’s money. Sigh. I don’t know why I assumed they weren’t young marrieds, but who knows?

Posted by:  ConnectedTraveler

One last look: Night Pictures in Macau

Worn out by all the excitement of our new day, a bed and pillow beckoned soon after supper. Before turning in, I noted another bathroom story. While I ran the sink tap, it didn’t sound right. I turned off the water; I turned it on again. The bathtub drain gurgled up water. I could not hear water going down the sink drain. Let me explain the layout. The foot of the tub was tucked lengthwise into the left corner and the sink and cabinet were perpendicular at the foot, like an upside-down L, the tub being the long end. A glass-doored shower shared a wall with the faucet end of the tub. Would you call that fancy plumbing? I can’t figure it out either. The biggest hotel in the world. Hm.

When I asked Sue about it, she hadn’t noticed the situation but wondered why the tub was wet with water, which neither of us had used yet. Nice. What’s the reason North American hotels don’t have a 13th floor? Oh! It’s not because of the plumbing?

 * * *

Wakeup call buzzed at 7:30 a.m., on Saturday, Day 22. Luggage had to be downstairs near the reception area by 8:15. Sue and I weren’t comfortable with this as a zillion people moved in and out around the nearby elevators and the casino. The bellboy assured us he’d stand guard until our suitcases were transferred to the bus.

Steam coming out of the chimneys early morning before leaving for H.K.

Upon arrival at the ferry terminal, we lined up and were given numbered tickets. We had to fill out Hong Kong immigration forms while on board the Cotal Jet Ferry. It was a deep blue fearsome machine and looked like an army tank on water. Walking past, at about a third of its length, I changed my mind. It looked more like a plane. Inside the layout wasn’t unlike an airplane: 3-seat rows x 18 seats long x 5 sections across (270 passengers from my rough count). The ride was smooth as silk; quiet as a hydrofoil, but that’s my guesswork. I’ve never had the experience before.

Our ticket said next departure at 10:30, but it felt like hours before we finally were allowed inside and took off. The trip took about an hour. Water sprayed the ferry as we flew across the black water into the misty weather.

More Images Cotal Jet Ferry

Muted T.V. screens were turned on in front of every row. The seats were supplied with belts no-one used. If there were rules, I saw no signs, nor did anyone come around to suggest the necessity of their use.

Upon arrival, we passed through roped off aisles with a zillion other people. I considered the process would take forever. I was wrong. After the experience in Macau, everything was so Chinese and foreign again. We craned our necks and gawked at expensive wines on display before the exit, but there was no opportunity or invitation to buy any at the duty-free.

Welcome to downtown Hong Kong

© Used by permission of RJ, a member of English 8. All Rights Reserved.

Next on December 29:  Hong Kong. Hang On! (with lots of pictures)

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

FYI: This is a re-blog of the best parts of my trip in 2014

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I am currently on an unplanned sabbatical. I hope to return but when is the question. Thank you for your supportive reading, reblogging, and tweeting. I DO appreciate your kind and continued follows far beyond my inadequate words.