Comox, 2004


Friday Dec 24/04

I'd managed to snag a flight home for the holidays, but it was on xmas eve. That was the only day I officially had off from work, and I'd been drained by long hours for the past week, and really in need of a break. I repacked three times, trying to decide if I wanted to take my suit case and check it in with some more cold weather gear, but I didn't want to check in any of the gifts I was bringing, and since they were mostly books, my backpack was still heavy anyway. So, one backpack and a purse and I was off to the bus stop. I decided to wear my new fleece pants to keep me warm on the planes, and I had a thick book I'd just barely started. It was a nice day, a bit above freezing, with the sun shining, as I walked over to the bus stop.

Bus to Harvard Square, leaving the house at around 9:45am, and then had to put up with someone caterwauling over an amplified music track by the red line inbound subway they were so out of tune and loud that I ended up standing there with my fingers in my ears, not caring if I offended anyone or looked silly. The train finally came and I got a seat, and gazed out the window as we crossed the Charles for my last land bound look at Boston for a few days.

The green train driver was Jamaican,, and there was a guy playing steel drums on the blue line platform. A guy started smoking right behind me in the crowd waiting for the airport shuttle bus, so I moved down the platform, and ended up positioned just right to grab a seat when the bus pulled up and the back door ended up near me.

Check in was easy, I was able to put in all my passport info at a self check in kiosk and the had only a short wait at the security point. I found a seat at my gate and cracked my book. My co-worker and her boyfriend showed up soon after I sat down, their flight had been cancelled that morning and they were in stand by hell. This was their second try at getting a flight today, and it ended up being over booked anyway, so despite my feeling guilty as I boarded in section 1, they were going to fly out in first class the next day.

United tried to sell me a $10 meal,, but I'd packed a bagel and some trail mix already, so I waved it off and only had water. I ignored Princes Diaries 2 and looked out the window as we flew through fairly clear skies. It was the first time I remembered flying out of Boston in the daytime, I could almost pick out my house. We passed just south of Toronto, I could see the CN tower and skydome, and almost pick out my old apt. building.

I read my book all the way across, got a smoothie in Denver, and read at the near by gate for my next flight. Landing in Denver was neat, the mountains were very dramatic, rising abruptly just past the city, and patchwork fields were carved in circles, raised in foot hills, and some were white and some brown or black with turned earth.

Read all the way to Vancouver, finishing my book as we taxied up to our gate.
I had a bit of a hike to get from my gate to the immigration and customs desks, but breezed through them no problem, then had another hike to find my check in for my next flight. A "funny" Air Canada employee started quizzing me about where I was going when I asked for where the central mountain air check in desk was, and almost reduced me to tears, I was so overwhelmed and over heated - the airport was pretty warm, and my fleece pants and wool top were too much. Once I finally found the desk, the woman there was busy with an incoming flight and had me wait. I finally got to check in and got a hand penciled boarding pass and a wave toward security. Zipped through there, the terminal was pretty deserted at 8:30 at night. Then another hike to my gate. I tried to use my cell to call Cris and my parents, not luck, couldn't connect to anything. Once I used a pay phone, I paid $2.15 for a minute to talk to Cris as he was opening presents. Our cells had kept disconnecting in Toronto as well.. Took off my shoes and sat cross legged in a seat at the gate, reading, and snacking after tracking down a much needed bottle of water and a thing of trail mix. Cris got through to my cell and I talked quietly with him until they were close to boarding us. Down 23 steps, across the damp tarmac, dropped my pack off on the sky check, and climbed up into the tiny plane. As I saw what was going to be carrying me over the Straight to Comox, with a 50-50 chance to go on to Campbell River, an involuntary "oh boy" escaped me. One of the earlier jets had burned off some oil smoke on start up, but this was more worrying. One seat along each side of a very narrow aisle, 7 or 8 seats on each side. Our flight attendant was the co-pilot. Take off was fine, and the trip across was okay, I watched in fascination as the blinking white light on the wing outside my window intermittently illuminated horizontal streaks of rain. It felt very dawn of air flight, the adjustable air vent was stainless steel, and the whole plane had a patina of age to it.

As we started descending, the fog enveloped us. The cockpit was open to the passenger cabin and I could see the wall of white outside the windows, the wiper racing back and forth across it, and the pilot staring at the ranks of illuminated dials. The turbulence hit, and we were descending for a long while through white. Eventually we broke through, a reassuring distance from the lights below, and I was finally able to relax my tight muscles a bit. Until I realised that I could see the double line of lights marking our run way, and that the wind was pushing us way out of alignment with it. The pilot managed to man handle us down with only a bit of a bump and a course correction, and we safely taxied over to the terminal.

Dad was waiting for me, and gave me a lift home in the minivan. I wrapped my presents then, and when Sue and Jake came home, passed off to her the stuff for the parent's stockings.

Got to bed at 11pm, and slept like a log, not moving all night.

Saturday Dec 25

Woke up at around 8am. Made myself a bowl of cereal as Mum was starting on stuffing and rice and peas for supper. Settled to read a bit on my second book and then eventually opened my stocking: Everyone else eventually wandered upstairs and we dove into presents. Mum liked the ornaments that I gave her, Dad was pleased with the books, etc etc.
My haul: Have to exchange a book for Marc, he had Game of Thrones already.
Read for most of the afternoon after snacking through a gift basket for lunch (smoked oysters, brie, crackers, vanilla roasted peanuts). The rest had pancakes, but cereal had held me okay. It rained pretty hard all day. Sue and Jake got Simpson's Clue so they played a few rounds of that, and Jake and Mum played her new Scrabble set. Dinner was good, turkey and fruity stuffing, mixed mashed potato and yams, cranberry sauce, salad, rice and peas, I didn't take much and didn't have room for dessert. Possibly due to great annoyances breathing due to Misha's hair everywhere. Despite keeping up with allergy pills, I'm wheezing.

Sue and I went for a walk after dinner, it was cool and damp out but not raining any more. Plans to go skiing or snowshoe-ing or tubing are pretty much off unless the rain was snow on the mountain. Marc and I watched the bonus Pirates disc, trying downstairs first, but despite 2 tvs and two players, it was still fading in and out, so we came upstairs and fiddled with the volume until we could hear it over the trivial pursuit game i progress. Cris called as we were trying to get it playing, so I got to chat with him for a while, which was good.

It was midnight by the time we finished, so off to bed.

Sun Dec 26/04

Woke at 8am, but dozed off again and got up at 10 or so. Cereal and tea for breakfast, and now onto my Kay book. Hope to do some editing today on previous writing and post. Maybe fiddle with the Win98 computer to see if I can fix it up a bit.

Ended up spending most of the day reading "Last light of the sun".

Went out with dad to the Comox mall to pick up some more allergy pills and to cash in my scratch and win tickets. Took the $2 off the pills and won two more free tickets on the vacation for life one. Ran into Kat there, and Sue and Jake who had walked over and we'd passed on the road. Then dad and I went grocery shopping so I could pick up some stuff for spinach pasta the next day. Mum made us broiled salmon for supper.

After supper, Marc and I watched Finding Nemo upstairs, giving up on getting the downstairs setup to work.

Monday Dec 27/04

I called and cancelled my appointment at the Kingfisher, deciding instead to grab a ride back via the ferry with Sue and Jake instead of having to get a ride to Nanaimo, walk onto the ferry, then get a couple of buses to the airport on Wednesday before noon.

After I finished up brunch, Dad drove me to the bottom of the hill in Courtney and we went upstairs to get my deadly tea ball exchanged (the frayed wire almost bit the clerk, but it turned out that it was the woman who'd helped mum and she remembered it, and my description). They were out of that ball, so I got a different one, with a tea cup attached, very cute. Found the ricotta for that night in the store, and headed home.

Sue, Jake, Misha and I went over to Airforce Beach for a while, bright and sunny, we saw two eagles flying around.

Cooking in someone else's kitchen, is as always, a trial. I think I managed to snap at everyone by the time I was done, and mixed up my mental conversions between my imperial recipe's measurements and the metric amounts on my ingredients. Plus I burned the spinach, the pot I was using to wilt it was thinner than expected. It was edible though.

Hit my head against mum's computer for a while trying to get Scrabble to work (boot in safe as admin for home version of winxp).

I ended up finishing my book in bed that night, turning off the light at midnight and closing the hardcover for the last time and barely getting it onto the nightstand before falling asleep at midnight.

Tues Dec 28/04

I had set my phone alarm and it startled me from across the room when it went off at 8am. I was done breakfast and repacking my backpack when Sue and Jake came upstairs at 9, I'd misheard our leaving time, we weren't going until 9:30. Sue delegated me out side to scrape the car, I borrowed M&D's scraper in lieu of using a credit card. We said our goodbye's, Marc still sleepy in pj's inside, M&D outside, Dad with camera in hand. Got some pictures of the really neat ice crystals that grew on the car after it was washed and left outside all night.

It was really foggy on the Island Highway to Nanaimo, but we made good time, the slipperiness cleared off. We got there at 10:45 and just made it in time for the 11:30am extra sailing. We were right at the end of the top deck, only a couple more cars pulled in behind us as we were getting out.

Jake got food, I hit the head, and Sue found us seats and then disappeared into her book. Jake went back to the car to read, and I found a copy of Harry Potter #5 in the gift store, and alternated reading it and wandering the decks. It had cleared up a lot over the course of the trip, from a lonely patch of sunlit water to full on sparkling by the time we got to Horseshoe Bay. 45 minutes to their place and we had the afternoon to ourselves.

Jake ran out to get a package at the post office, and Sue and I walked over to Granville Island, along part of the trans canada trail that wound along the water of False Bay. We tried to pick out Cris' parents' apartment, but weren't quite sure which one it was. Sue found the tea shoppe I'd gone to before with Cris and I picked up another 100g of the blueberry green, and a very hot chai as a hand warmer. The woman next to me was impressing upon everyone near by how well traveled and tea knowledgeable she was, I didn't have any urge to call her on it. There was a person helping out (a staffer's mother) who had paddled over for a cuppa - only in Vancouver. :)

We poked around in various shops for a while, taking turns holding my chai as we looked at woven metal baskets, blown glass baskets, and wooden baskets, amid hordes of boxing week shoppers. The sun was starting to go down, so we headed back along a slightly different route, through the streets.

Jake came in near us, and Sue took a quick shower before we headed out to walk to dinner. We were going to go to Habibi's but it was closed, Jake didn't want to risk shell fish in the Japanese restaurant's dishes, so we ended up at Earl's. We browsed through a really neat store next door first though, like a cooler and cheaper Pier 1.

Earl's was a large open building, dark wood paneled, with a statue of a hog at the end in front of a painting of one pig jumping to join another one in a forest pool. The booths were upholstered in a nicely dark and silver striped fabric. Jake told us that he interviewed there and came up against a stringent set of physical requirements for the wait staff - all the guys were fairly tall and blonde. Sue and I had cocktails, my chocolate one had a hollow chocolate ball (covered in gold stars) floating in it, she was disappointed that her sour apple one was apple slice less. My planked chinook salmon and roasted winter veggies were great, the dill and yoghurt worked really well.

We skipped dessert there in favour of book browsing. I found Kay's book of poems for half off and snapped it up, but resisted the gorgeous magnetic clasped journals. Then we hit the Black Dog, newly reopened after a gro-op fire, and rented "Way Downtown". Back to their place and watched it - it was quirky. Made me want to be sure that I get outside every few days at least. Jake brewed us all up some chai, and added a splash of rum to mine on request.

I read for a bit and then curled up on the couch under the fleece blanket and slept.

Wed Dec 29/04

Got up as Jake was leaving, and said my goodbyes to him as he headed out to work. Took a shower and then Sue finally got up. We walked over to Tomato for breakfast at around 9:30, getting a corner table near a hot air vent. The open kitchen reminded me of the one at Le Petit Prince in Montreal, same red and chrome colour scheme.

We popped into Choices to get me some snacks for the plane, but they didn't have fruity bagels, so we put that stuff back in her apt, then decided to bring everything down and hit safeway before heading to the airport. Got a blueberry bagel and a multigrain roll there, and then found a cook book for Cris in a kitchen store across the way in the mall. It was raining a bit on and off as we were running around. Back to her car for a quick drive to the airport. It was about 11:30 when she dropped me off, and it didn't take too much time to get through check in, immigration and security. Talked to Cris after he called me back in response to my text message (my cell's 50-50 working meant that I could accept calls but not make them, and only send texts when I was in digital roaming). A small flock of birds came to land in the tree next to my gate and were twittering.

Ended up in a middle seat to Denver, but my seat mates were cool, even through some turbulence. The girl in the window dozed, the guy in the aisle listened to his ipod. I ended up watching "Shark Tale" to draw out my book, it wasn't horrible, pixar has dreamworks beat for facial expressions though.

I deplaned in Denver to go to the bathroom and get a smoothie, and they were re-boarding a couple of mins after I got back to the gate. As I settled in, a guy came up to claim my seat. The flight attendant came back and it turned out that I was supposed to be in 1A the whole flight, so I got bumped up there. I turned down supper but took dessert (ice cream with hot fudge) - apparently it's still free in first class. Hopefully the germs aren't as well, lots of coughy people. Princess Diaries 2 again on the way back, ignoring it again. Left a message for Cris that we'd be late leaving and getting in.

No one else is in the front row with me, it's been kind of nice to not be squished - I'd been vaguely dreading this part of the trip when I saw where my seat was when I checked in in YVR. Cris picked me up in Boston, and I was home at around 1am, as the plane got in a bit late.


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