What follows is an account of what I can recall from my recent trip to Victoria/Vancouver... pictures to follow when I get around to getting them developed.
Colin and I left Calgary on Wednesday eve (Aug 21), driving through the night... well, I mostly slept, but did drive for a couple of hours in there.
We drove through Vancouver, and took the ferry over to Nanaimo. I wasn't sure if Colin would want to stop in Vancouver for a bit or not, but apparently that was not part of the plan anymore. He harassed me a bit about having driven most of the way there, but I'd gotten up at 6am and worked all day, and he'd been able to have an afternoon nap - bite me.
We stopped at a "sorta" beach on the way - I found a cool shell for Collette... rainbow colouring on the inside - moreso than the other ones. (I'm not sure where that is now, though... the shell, not the colouring. Well, I guess the colouring too.) When we finally reached L's place, she was already walking out to the car by the time we'd parked. She'd been rather nervous about the whole thing, and had already had a couple of drinks to settle her nerves. Taking that as a clue, we went and picked up some beer and whiskey for later... in the meantime, we went to a real beach - well, as real as it gets with imported sand... it was soooo awesome tho! Warm and "squishy" through my toes!
After a while, we went back to L's for a couple of drinks, then out for dinner overlooking the bay. Some chips with spinach dip was brought to the table; Colin wouldn't even try it... just as we were telling him that it wasn't spinach, the waiter walked up - "how's the spinach dip?" The timing on that couldn't have been more comical! The waiter gave us a strange look - I don't think he found it nearly as amusing as we did.
After dinner, we headed over to Evolution (one of the nightclubs), and found that there was a live band. Crappy deal - it was far too loud, even for a club. We stuck around for one drink, and then headed 'home' to get some proper shut-eye.
Seeing as how we hadn't been out too late the previous night, we got up early enough to actually get out and enjoy some of the day (not that I'm a huge fan of the sun, mind you...). We went to the potholes - a series of natural waterholes with really cold water!! I hadn't thought of changing before we arrived, so I found myself a wilderness change room - a little space between a couple of trees and behind a bush. We'd stopped at a grocery store on the way to pick up a few things for lunch - juice, crackers, mussels, potato and pasta salads; a welcome change from my regular fare.
After a small lunch, we decided that we should face the music as to why we'd come here... it was time for a swim (yes, yes... I know about not swimming after eating, but we really hadn't had all that much, and were just gonna be paddling around anyway... thank you, mother.) . I waded in up to my thighs, and dared go no further... body parts were already retracting in fear. Perhaps splashing myself with some of this glacial water would help... after quickly slipping in�to simply get the 'pain' over with, it took a few minutes of shivering and chattering to adjust to the temperature. If I remember correctly, it went something like, "OH HOLY CHRIST!! *gasp* *gasp*" Breathing was not an option for a few seconds as my entire body recoiled in horror! The rest of the afternoon was fairly normal - swimming around, hanging off of rocks, Colin jumped in from a 30' cliff, and a little more swimming around...
That evening, we went back to Evolution - it was much better than the previous night, but there was still a limited variety of music (ie mainstream). I did learn something interesting tho - the BC liquor laws require that pricing remain consistent throughout the evening; if a bar has drink specials, they have to have those specials all night! In retrospect, I'm not sure that was a good thing for me to learn - I had far too many Candy Apples... going 'home' was vague at best, and I barely remember being somehow entertained by pedestrian-crossing lights.
L had to work, so Colin and I were on our own to find things to do. Onward to downtown! We went to rent a couple of mopeds, only to discover that Colin's license had expired back in April! We immediately thought of the possible consequences once we reached the US border, but Colin had brought his passport and could use that as identification. Colin was thoroughly disappointed, but it gave us the chance to go kayaking instead. We were out for a couple of hours on a self-guided tour of the bay. That was totally awesome! I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed kayaking... thanks go out to kaosqueen for having rekindled that memory before I'd left on this trip!
We picked up L after work, and went for her family gathering and Chinese food... I love buffets!! (No, that doesn't mean that we ginger-fried her relatives...) Around this time, Colin made known to me a theory he'd come up with about women; specifically, about women and me, but with a focus on women. As with all good theories, though, it seemed to be lacking proof... shortly after telling me this, the situation that prompted the theory changed, and not in a supportive way. Ah well, such is the way of science... heheh
�Time to head for the 'States! Colin and I took the ferry to Vancouver, then immediately headed for Seattle. Naturally, when we got to the border, we had to go inside to explain why Colin was going to be there for three weeks. Of course, they also run a few other checks... the result? Denied! It would seem that there was a warrant out for Colin's arrest in Georgia! They're really picky down there - apparently assault with intent is a big no-no... jus' kidding! It was for a speeding ticket! Back to Canada we go, until the warrant has been cleared... We wandered Vancouver in an attempt to correct the situation, but not much could be done until morning. During our meandering, a dirty, smelly, unshaven, smiling man said to me, "nice shirt" (well, it was Squee after all!), but then threatened to kill us! I'm not sure if we looked at him oddly, or if he just really, really liked the shirt... we had to find a place to stay the night - quickly - lest Squee got stolen and I'd be forced to wander around topless - and no one wants that!
Today was to be errand-day. Today we would do whatever it took to get money down to Georgia to get that pesky warrant cleared. We got up extra early, and headed for the only section of the city we knew - Broadway and Oak. After finding a suitable bank and getting a money order made up ($438US!!!), we were now faced with the relatively simple matter of finding a Fedex outlet. Twenty-seven dollars and a few alterations on the form, and the money order was on its way overnight to the speed-nazis.
...well, there it was, barely 9:30am, and our critical mission had already been accomplished. What to do now?
We took the Skytrain downtown and wandered for a bit - mostly by the docks where there were a few huge cruiseships. It didn't take long to get hungry, though, and I hadn't had any sushi yet! We quickly found a food court, despite Colin's grumblings about "too much walking", "no destination or goal", and "being tired". Sushi yummy! Colin was falling asleep at the table...
<hyperjump> Look! We're back at the car! </hyperjump>
On the way to White Rock to get a motel, Colin was suddenly filled with a desire to stop at MetroTown! So much for being tired, I guess... We toured the mall for a while, and stopped in at Playdium. It wasn't quite what I'd expected - not as grandiose.
After finding a motel and signing in, Colin decided that it would be a good idea to call his course instructor in Seattle to let him know what was going on. It was then that he found out that someone from the border patrol had called his instructor, informing him that Colin was cleared to cross the border... despite that the warrant would not have been cleared yet! Whut th'....?? Do these people know what they're doing? This delay has already cost me a day and a half in addition to screwing up a few plans, and now it would seem that it was all for nothing. I'd be willing to bet my left nut, though, that if I mentioned anything at the border, we'd get nothing but attitude. Good thing it's not a customer service job...
With Colin being as serene as he is, we left immediately for the border. The clerk at the motel gave only the $10 deposit back for the key, despite our having been in the room for only about a half hour. I guess that's the price of impatience.
Colin gave his story at the border, along with the phone number of a supervisor if there were any problems. The agent took our information to the back area ( we could still see him though) and talked things over with a couple of buddies for what seemed to be about ten minutes. When he came back, he nonchalantly dropped our stuff on the desk and muttered something incoherent. "Pardon me," Colin asked. "Go on! Get outta here!" came the reply. D'ya think these people have to take a course on how to be a prick, or is that a prerequisite before they're even hired?
We stopped at the next port town to get another motel, and so that I could catch a ferry back to Victoria in the morning. I couldn't help but notice that the desk clerk, an elderly gentleman, had rather weathered skin... in fact, he had a crease that went all the way around the back of his neck, and disappeared under his housecoat as it approached the front on either side. Was this a mask, I wondered? What kind of creature was living under this false skin?? Quickly, I tried to find any other evidence of his fictitious identity, but his robe, pajama pants and slippers concealed everything but his head and hands from view! I suddenly noticed that he was giving me a strange look. A wave of goosebumps and a terrible fear crept over me as I contemplated our decision to sleep at this establishment...
After checking our room for alien probes and bed straps, I tried to think of a way to meet up with kaosqueen in Seattle. I would have had to spend the day by myself, wandering a city I'd never been to, in hopes that she was available after work - that she'd even feel like meeting up. That was too much to ask someone I'd never even met before, let alone someone who'd been working all day and was prob'ly not feeling all that well.. It was simply not feasible.
There I was, waiting for the ferry back to Victoria, reading posters and signs and watching some of the other passengers-to-be. I couldn't help but notice something strange about a few of those people�- a couple of the old men actually seemed to have been shrinking into their clothing! Their collars came up almost to their ears, and their cuffs reached halfway down their hands. Undoubtedly, the desk clerk from the motel had warned the other podlings of my suspicions, and now they were trying to hide their creases!
I have to admit, the podlings - indeed, everyone around - did seem to project a calm lethargy which was most relaxing and welcome. I also noticed that there was hardly anyone young on this trip. Ah! The creatures were smart; they emulated our elders in an effort to avoid suspicion and placate the masses! Having discovered the truth, I put my senses on alert and kept a watchful eye out for anyone who may have been harbouring Scotch Mints or smelled like BenGay...
Looking over the edge of the ferry, I couldn't help but notice patches of calm water, usually with bits of debris collected throughout parts of it... what causes that? There seemed to be no rhyme nor reason to it - it wasn't from a ship's passing, and there was nothing I could see under the water's surface.
I forgot my map of Vancouver in the car, which was now surely in Seattle! Oh well, it was the only forgotten thing on the trip so far.
I called L when I reached port to let her know I'd be back in Victoria soon, and she said she'd come to pick me up... yay for me! While I waited, I did the usual things one does when bored - paced back and forth, watched cars go by hoping each time that it was my ride, picked dandelions and popped the flower heads off and stuck the top end of the stem into the bottom... it was then that it dawned on me that I was essentially stuffing its neck up its ass. I quit picking dandelions.
That evening, I watched Planet of the Apes; part-way through, L got home from work and was with D, a guy she'd been on-and-off with for a while. I'd met him once before, and still wasn't sure what to make of him. I wouldn't imagine it to be an easy situation for him though. Let's face it - there I was, an ex- from an almost-two-year-long live-in relationship, staying over and hangin' out for an entire week... what was he to think?
Ah, what a lazy day... got outta bed by about 2pm... had some awesome late-morning dreams, but, of course, I can't remember what they were.
Well, the highlights of this day included my very first Philly steak sandwich, and my very first IMAX movie - Space Station.
I think I managed to drag my sorry ass outta bed by about 1ish. 'Tis so nice to be able to sleep in for as long as I want!
Didn't do anything too exciting today... wandered downtown for a while, and had Taco Bell for lunch! (Yep, I ate the whole restaurant!) It had been a long time since I'd had any of their crappy little tacos... but they had no Fire sauce! It's apparently been discontinued... what's up with that??
During my wanderings, I happened past a shoe-repair shop. My Docs did have a couple of stitches coming loose, but I wasn't sure I really wanted to bother getting them fixed. As I passed by, I noticed one of the hand-drawn signs read, "I FIX DOCS" It was obviously a sign! Less than ten minutes later, I marched outta there with freshly sewn-up boots!
Oh, and I just have to ask... is it really necessary to put growth hormones in our food? Sure, the food grows faster, but do these people not know what it does to adolescents?? I swear, we didn't have girls like that when I was in high school, or even jr high, for that matter! It seems to be getting harder to tell... I'm already starting to feel like a perverted old man...
...and wouldn't you know it? A couple of guys in the group they were in started making comments about my shirt: "Happy Noodle Boy rules!" "Happy Noodle Boy RAWKS!" This, of course, was followed by glances, smiles, giggles, and me turning into a puddle of goo...... apparently, I need to find myself a girlfriend.
It would seem that I hadn't teased myself enough, though, cuz I met up with L after she got off work, and we went to the strippers for a while! They allow physical contact there! The strippers are allowed to touch patrons! We lost that here at home years ago... drinks, however, were just as costly. It didn't take long for us to leave Monty's and head over to Evolution for drink specials.
My final day in Victoria, I had to get ready to head over to Vancouver. It didn't take very long getting what little I had packed up and ready to go. It was a little hard to leave - I'd had such a good time, and L and I seemed to find a piece of the friendship we had years ago. We said our good-byes, and she went off to work.
While waiting at the bus stop on my way to the ferry terminal, I was almost witness to a baseball bat beating! A young man had lit up a cigarette, and another guy (prob'ly in his 30s) got up from his seat in the shelter and took a spot on some nearby steps - I'm not sure if he'd muttered something on his way out... the next thing I knew, the young guy had gotten up and was mouthing off the other guy! They got in each other's faces for a bit, acting tough and threatening to kick the other's ass. The young guy seemed to be backing down and coming back to his seat, but instead he reached behind it and took out an aluminum bat! The other guy came right up to him, saying "you gonna hit me with that? It's gonna take more than that to stop me, boy!" *sigh* They finally went back to their corners, but not until I found a can and a stick: "ding ding"
When I got on the bus, I asked about where I transfer to catch the next bus to the ferry terminal... from then on, the bus driver referred to me as "hey, Swartz Bay guy"...
Once in Vancouver, the only place I really knew was Broadway (West Side?), so there I went. I found myself a hotel, changed, then wandered the downtown area for a few hours... I found a few clubs here and there, but didn't really feel like going in to any of them.
A bit of history is prob'ly required here: due to work obligations, the people I was to stay with could no longer offer me a place to stay; other people I was to meet up with had a cellphone with them that I was to call them on, but they were always unavailable, or out of range/service area, or some such thing; yet another couple I was to meet up with I was unable to get a hold of before I left, and had no way of reaching them once I started out on my trip. Mix with this the events at the US border, and you have the makings for a somber disposition.
I was just in the mood to walk around, see things, watch the nightlife go by... I did get a fair number of offers of "company", and many inquiries as to whether I was interested in buying any pot.
I arranged a flight back for the afternoon; at last report, there were some problems at home with the new apartment, and the expense of staying another night at a hotel would have been more than I was counting on. Check-out time would have been at noon anyway - what would I have done until my flight-time - wander around toting my luggage?
This was to be my first flight in a large aircraft! I'd been in a Cessna once before, and had been in an airliner when I was a baby... I actually do have vague memories of that! Anyway, after boarding the plane, we were given the wonderful safety lecture... I couldn't help but think of George Carlin! If you're not sure what I'm talking about, I highly recommend finding some of his work to listen to. That guy's words seem to find a reflection in reality on a daily basis.
As soon as I stepped off of the plane, I felt at home... the air was lighter, easier to breathe. I knew it was a short time until I'd be walking into my new apartment. I decided to take the bus then the train home - it was actually quite quick; far faster than I'd been expecting.
That eve, I just had to go to the Warehouse (of course)! I hadn't been gone all that long, but was so happy to be back! That place really is like a second home...
The rest of the week was spent working, unpacking, sorting, placing, rearranging, stacking, and trying to find things. Oh! and I almost killed off all of my plants, as I'd left them outside over a chilly night - oops! Fortunately, they've all come out of the withered look fairly well.