How the Cookie Crumbles

Life and scribbles on the far side of SIXTY-FIVE


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North to Alaska: Bye-bye Vancouver

I took one last look around before we left the Lookout Tower. So much to see here. Magnificent Mount Seymour hovers over the city, regal and imposing.

On a clear day, Mount Baker exchanges salutations with Seymour though miles and miles away.

Vancouver is widely known for Chinatown, its history, food, and people.

I love Granville Island Public Market open seven days a week.  The food markets and smells, the custom crafts, artsy shops, and live music make it a fun destination on shopping day, or any day, I haven’t been there for years but it’s a definite must-visit destination while in Vancouver.

Time to kill before Jean picked us up at the Lookout, Mary and I took our time and browsed some of the shops. Even she wasn’t tempted to shop seriously. We did have the upcoming cruise and who knew what temptations might overpower our good intentions.

Spotting a jewelry store, Mary beelined toward it. I picked up my pace to catch up. She had questions about precious stones. Our timing couldn’t have been better. No customers clambering for his attention, she had the jeweler’s full attention. The impression we were a welcome distraction on this slow business morning was unmistakable. We were impressed with his in-depth and animated answers, but he soon began name-dropping: whom he skied with, sold to and with whom he’d rubbed elbows. Mary had her information and the jeweler had been entertained out of his stupor, it was time to skedaddle. Now we were bored. Time had slipped away; it was time to leave to meet Jean.

She had gone around the huge block a couple of times and had to park almost a block away. We waited on the appointed corner. She saw us and honked but we did not see her. Finally, she ran up the street to get us and we headed to the harbor, luggage already in the car trunk. Traffic slow and congested, time for boarding loomed.

No sooner had we arrived at the Port of Vancouver, our bags were tagged and carted. Port personnel indicated our way toward the building for processing. I could not believe the mindboggling long lines. One line for this ship, another for that one. Though we were nervous about getting into the wrong line, agents were plentiful and pleasant, the process was clear and well manned. Finally, inside the building, an employee directed us toward the next available seat in order of entry. The first people seated got up and approached the bank of clerks with passports and boarding information in hand. The lines moved quickly. Green cards were given to Canadian and U.S. visitors. The majority of visitors did not have them so we worried what they were for. Did they have anything to do with the two bottles of wine I had in my luggage? Allowed only one each, I had two stashed in my bag since Mary had no room for even a Kleenex in hers.

Asking a directing agent what they were, she said, “You are pre-approved.” No other explanation. We moseyed along as directed.

“Approved for what?” Mary and I eyeballed each other, following a smattering of visitors. Where had the processed masses gone? We had no time to wonder as we exited the building and gaped at the huge floating hotel we were about to board.

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Next on March 16th – North to Alaska: All Aboard!

© 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?

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

© 2018 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles