Comox, 2005

Back to BC to visit the family for the holidays, Cris had gone home to SF on the Friday before, but we were both coming home on boxing day.

Wed Dec 21

I'd spent way too long dithering over packing the night before, deciding at the last minute to bring my roll-aboard suitcase, and transferring some of the stuffing from my backpack into there. I think I got to sleep by 11pm, and then the first alarm went off at 4am. I turned it and the other two off, jumped in the shower, and had a quick drink of OJ. As I was finishing up, the taxi honked and the dispatcher called, they came at 4:15 instead of 4:30 as I'd asked (they did this the last time I had a 6am flight). I was half expecting it, hence finishing packing the night before, and was out the door in five minutes. Oldies xmas carols were on the radio, but he turned it off when I complained that the violins in one song were piercing through my head. He took the pike toward the airport and we ended up detouring around south Boston as it was closed off at the start of the Big Dig. Lucky we were early, and I got to the airport with about an hour and a half to go before my flight. The check-in line at United was insane, but I ducked around it to check the sign on the short executive check in line and scored - Star Alliance silver members were still allowed to check in there. Sweet. Security wasn't quite so long a line, they split it just as I got there, too, so I had a quick pass through there. I was at my gate about half an hour before boarding, so I settled in with my first book. Boarding took a while, the was a delay getting everyone through the check-in and security lines, and I think a baggage delay as well. I ended up staying up for the first part of the flight, eating the continental breakfast that they offered, and watching Polar Express w/o sound, and finishing my first book. I nodded off and caught only 5 mins of Curse of the Wererabbit.

In SFO, I checked the monitor and saw that my (by then, less than) 50 minute connection time had ballooned into 140 minutes, as my outbound flight was delayed. I still rushed to the outbound gate just to be sure, and it was true. The airport was quite warm, so I got myself a smoothie mostly made of ice and mango juice and tried to get in touch with Cris, but his phone was off for a movie. The flight was even later than advertised, landing as we were supposed to board. I grabbed a subway 6 inch (long slow line), and some tea from Peet's (they gave me two bags, so I saved one for the road). We were two hours late, but luckily my next connection in Vancouver was really long. I read through this flight, going back to finishing Storm of Swords before I get my hands on a Feast for Crows. They didn't offer snack boxes on this flight, so the sub was a good idea. The sun was going down as we landed, but the pacific rainforest walk through was still nice and soothing. The immigration line was non existent, in fact I was fumbling for my passport still when I got up to the gate. The guard asked me about what I do in the states, first time I've been quizzed on the way out. :/ The bags took a while to show up, but mine was second off the belt. I hoofed it to the Central Mountain Air check-in, and had a bit of a wait in line as people got rebooked and liesurly checked in. By the time I went through security again (seemed very lax in comparison to the US requirements, no one but me took off their shoes) and found my gate, I only had half an hour or so to wait, which was good, because it was in the older part of the terminal where I have uncomfortable memories about napping on the brown pleather benches through 4 and 5 hour layovers before heading to the island. I was glad that I'd splurged a bit on a flight to Comox, I'd have missed my planned ferry for sure.

We went over to Vancouver Island in the pouring rain, in a plane with max 12 seats (single row on each side of the aisle), and I could see into the cockpit from where I was. The small wipers were going crazy trying to keep the windshield clean, and I couldn't see *anything* out the side, and the turbulence was pretty bad. I gave up reading as I was getting motion sick. As we descended to land, I could finally see some lights, and I watched the runway outline sway back and forth as the pilot tried to line us up. I was worried we would have to circle again, but as we came close to the ground, the wind died out and we touched down lightly. Dad was there waiting for me, we got my bags and headed home. As I got out of the truck and walked toward the house, the wind was blowing through the evergreens and it was a very comforting and familiar sound, I miss it. Marc and Katherine were there, and Mum served up honey mustard chicken for dinner. I read for a while after, but headed to bed after about 8pm. I was mostly incoherent when Cris called and woke me at 9:30, and promised to call again in the morning.

Thur Dec 22

I woke up at 9am, much later than I thought I would, but I felt almost ill I was so tired the night before. I tried to call Cris but got voicemail, and my minutes are running out fast on roaming. Katherine took off to catch the noon ferry, and then Dad drove Marc and me to Courtney to do some last minute shopping, in the new travel van. It's like a living room on wheels, kinda scary how comfortable it is. He left the generator running as we parked to run into the stores, it was odd to hear the van still making noise as we walked away from it, like auto off lights, but not. I got sucked into a luggage store and got a roll aboard on sale, but am regretting it, as it doesn't have the side handle that the one for $20 more did. I think the Air Canada branding upped the price, as nice as the tons of pockets are, I wanted a side handle for carrying it up and down stairs. We browsed a bit through Future Shop, I almost got a cheap dvd of Edward Scissorhands, but resisted. Home, chicken noodle soup from scratch for lunch, and Dad brought in the tree. Lots more reading, and then updating this. He wants to take me out to Comox to see something, better find out what it is.

We dropped into the Credit Union, where the ATM gave me money despite Dad's card not showing the Cirrus sign. Then to the bike store where we weighed the relative merits of the various bike locks with an eye to him possibly getting me a cable lock. We stopped into the liquor store so that he could get some rum, and I asked the clerk if they had any Cedar Creek - none on the Island, again. It's the hardest stuff to find, I need to see if the vineyard will ship to me - doesn't look like it, but I may be able to call up a shop and ask about shipment, assuming MA's wine laws will allow it. Dad toured me by a couple of new houses going up, one done and on the market at 500K, and a new one that has a three car garage, an arched entry way and sits right on the water. We skipped the tea house, and headed home. Supper was cod with tomato and spinach, and then Marc and Dad and I went out to the Rialto cinema in Courtney to catch King Kong. The lineup was insane, it took us most of our early arrival buffer to get to the front, and two other movies sold out before we got there (Narnia and Potter). Cris had warned me when to not watch to avoid the bugs in the ravine, and I shared that info with Marc. I liked it, Kong was very well done, and Naomi Watts was quite good as well, but Jack Black still makes my teeth itch. I could almost see what makes people swoon over Adrian Brody, but only in certain scenes. They didn't quite build up that part of the love triangle enough, though. Home, and read and fell asleep before Jake and Sue arrived from the ferry, around 11:30.

Fri Dec 23

I woke at 8:30 this morning, but dozed in a half dream about the last bits of Storm of Swords I'd read before falling asleep. I finished the book before lunch, and started in on Children of Wonder. Sue and Jake and Dad put the lights up around the front of the house. Will probably work out this afternoon at the rec centre, as it's four dollars for a drop in. Also want to go back to Courtney to exchange the suitcase for one with a side handle.

After lunch, at about 2, Jake and Sue packed me and Marc into their car and we went down to the Driftwood mall. The rain was quite heavy, but I'd left Dad's umbrella at home. We got a close by parking space (same one has yesterday I think), and the luggage store was willing to let me return the suitcase with a few water drops on it. I ended up not getting the other one as I didn't want to struggle with two suitcases on the ferry back to Vancouver. They needed a lot of information from me to process the credit card return, but I'd offered the woman behind me in line a pass and she'd refused. I went into the drug store and grabbed a bottle of OJ to hydrate me, and allergy pills and shampoo that I can't get in the USA. I wandered down to Zellers and tried on some suede a line skirts, but they didn't fit well, and by the time I returned them to the racks, it was past time to meet. Half an hour is nothing when you have to stand in checkout lines. Marc passed me going the other way, saying he'd be back in a minute, and then Sue and Jake took off too when I got to the meeting point. Eventually we were all back together, and went back to the car for the short drive to Future Shop. I went over to the shoe store to try and find some house shoes, but was thwarted by the lack of a 7.5 in my preferred shoe. Back to FS and we eventually got the guys back into the car, and we drove over to 5th St. to try and find Sound Station. We stopped for Marc to use the bank machine, and I got money for Sue as well. Then into the coffee shop to warm up a bit from the chilly rain, where I mistook what the clerk was talking about when I asked for a chai, and she offered me a chai latte. Sue got the latter and it looked right, but ah well. The guy in line between our two pairs let Marc and me in front of him, he was in no rush to dive into xmas shopping, he said. I resisted the cheesecake brownies valiantly, and walked out w/o spending any money. Sound station was gone, it turned out, though Sue and Marc tried to find another music store while Jake and I browsed in a book store. I flipped through a 100 best wines for under 20 dollars guide, and took note of the Grey Monk Pinot Gris, and looked for it when we were stopped in the liquor store. The rain had started coming down insanely hard, so I borrowed the umbrella that Sue had in the car, and made my way into the store. They had some Cedar Creek, but not the bottle I'm searching for, and they were also missing the Grey Monk Gerwurtz. as well as the Pinot Gris, but I picked up a bottle of the Pinot Blanc anyway. Stopped for gas and then home, where I passed time online. Dinner was honey mustard chicken, and Sue, Marc and I finished off my botle of wine, and Sue and I had a good long chat at the table as everyone cleared out. I drank a bit too much, and fell asleep while trying to read for a bit, then woke again at 1am to change into PJs, brush my teeth, and get a drink of water - no hangover the next day, score.

Sat Dec 24

I woke up around 9am again, the dark circles under my eyes may be gone by the time I leave, if I keep sleeping this much. I had a quick breakfast, and called the rec centre to see if they were open. They were, until 2 for sure, 3 if they had enough people. I walked over, umbrella in hand to stave off the rain, and had a hard workout. The elliptical machine I was on only went from 1-10 instead of the 1-20 that I'm used to, and I was bathed in sweat by the time I finished. The calorie counter seemed way off as well, only registering 130 or so when a similar workout would top me over 300 at home. I finally noticed the class room with the stability balls, and did most of my regular routine. Walked back, with the wind picking up, and saw a bald eagle flying over the houses toward the water. I was feeling a bit light headed, so I made a bagel and cheese and had more water and sorted myself out. Had a nice long bath, and then read for a bit. Need to wrap presents at some point today as well. Left a message for Cris at noon, but I think I missed him. It would be nice to hit the beach at some point as well for a walk.

I did my wrapping concurrent with Sue, grabbing a spare set of scissors and tape and closing myself into the bedroom. I paid her for Cris' present from Le Chateau in Vancouver before I started though, but I didn't wrap that, as it had to go back through Customs to Boston. Jake made up a bunch of toasted french bread pieces with chevre and capers and smoked salmon, and made us all Champagne cocktails (the bitters and sugar and bradny overrode the champers for me, so I liked it). We were going to play Trivial Pursuit, but us kids were all reading while the 'rents went out to church, and it never happened.

Sun Dec 25

I woke up around 9, and had a bowl of cereal for breakfast. Everyone trickled upstairs and once we were all in the living room, the stockings were breached. I won $6 on the scratch and win lottery tickets, but sold them to Sue so that I didn't have to worry about cashing them in on my way to the airport the next day. I got a nice pile of books, another nice pile of striped socks, a scarf, lots of chocolate, a CD, and more. Dad liked his top, and Mom used the silicon oven mitts as she was preparing the turkey for dinner that night. Sue liked the gift cert and Marc was happy to hear that I'd pre-approved his book for him. Jake was fine with the trade paperback version of the bio I got him, the hardcover was out of print.

I asked Dad if he wanted to go for a walk after everyone had their pancakes, and he agreed. I changed out of my pjs, brushed my teeth and put on my hiking boots. The rain had stopped, so I was able to leave the umbrella behind. I told Dad that I could crack the window in the truck and Misha could come along. She got her leash and Dad put it on her, and then we were out to pile into the truck. She was pretty good in the back of the extended cab, only occasionally sticking her nose between the seats. We went around the Base and through the woods to Airforce Beach, parking at the top and walking down the grassy hill. It was a bit muddy due to the recent heavy rains, but not slippery. There were quite a few families out walking, most with dogs, but all were really well behaved, but Dad put Misha on the leash as we passed them anyway. The wind was pretty high, and whitecaps were dotting the inlet, and lots of gulls were diving for their dinners. No eagles were in evidence this time, though. We walked fairly far, but the tide was in and the strip of beach kept getting narrower and rockier, so we turned back. My foot was aching a bit as well, from walking in the loose sand. As we came back to the old boat ramp, we saw a group of people putting up a long driftwood log as a vertical pole. No idea why. I tried to get a movie on my camera with the waves, but it turned out that the wind overpowered the shushing of the water. I resisted picking up any shells or rocks, despite seeing some pretty ones. A flock of small birds were picking at some floating seaweed and chirping as we climbed back up the hill. We were gone about two hours, all told, by the time we got back.

I read a bit before dinner, and kept myself to a half glass of the pinot blanc, and then a quarter glass of the N'kmp (?) which was also good. I spent some time packing up everything that I wouldn't need the next day, keeping out only two books to read on the road, then joined Sue and Jake and Dad for a game of Trivial Pursuit. They were using the '81+ version, so there were a lot of stumpers, but I got all my pie pieces first. I made three tries at the centre, but it was after 10 by the third one so I retired from the lists and went to bed, saying bye to everyone but Dad, as I'd be leaving the house at 6:30 in the morning. Marc and Mum were playing Scrabble in the room next to me but I was able to get to sleep fairly quickly.

Mon Dec 26/05

My phone alarm woke me up at 6, and I took a quick shower before scarfing down a bowl of cereal. I said bye to Mum again, and then Dad and I hopped in the truck for the rainy drive to Nanaimo, just past 6:30am. We got there just before 8, the rain slacking off, and the sun slowly lightening the black skies to grey. There was a pretty long line of cars, as well as people in the building to buy walk on tickets. I was able to get a ticket, and by the time I got up to the boarding ramp, winding up stairs and ramps to the side of the ferry, I walked right on. The desk for buying bus tickets was right there, but empty, so I grabbed a seat nearby and popped over to buy a ticket once the bus driver appeared. The woman in front of me was also going to the airport, and we agreed to met up on the bus and share a taxi. I went back to my seat, reading as we plowed across the Strait of Georgia. With 20 mins left in the hour fifteen sailing, I went up on the sun deck with my suitcase and got a breath of fresh air. The announcement came while I was up there to go back to the cars and board the bus, so I went down again, and ran into my taxi partner. We took the elevator down with our suitcases and ended up sitting next to each other as the bus was over half full. Soon after I got on, a guy came on blustering about not being allowed to buy a ticket before at the desk, but he quieted down as he took his seat. The guys behind us, however, talked non stop to downtown, sharing stories of being in prison and having a sister on the streets, and divorces.

The bus driver called Hotel Vancouver and a lot of us piled off and claimed our bags from under the bus. We picked up another woman heading to the airport and scurried through the lobby of the hotel to the taxi stand on the other side. The new comer's skis fit okay down the middle, and we had a pretty quiet ride to the airport. She was going to Castlegar for skiing, and the original one was heading to Washington state. We passed an Airporter bus that we would have missed if we'd waited at the hotel for the shuttle to the airport. Ms. Skier was running latest so we had the taxi drop us at the domestic terminal section. The rest of us hiked it back to the US section of the terminal, with me taking a wrong turn into International check-in, and being redirected further along. I filled in my customs form and backtracked to the United check-in line, which ceased to move, so I bailed out into the self serve kiosks that weren't clearly labelled for economy check-in. Immigration was moving fast, and the friendly customs guy waved me through. I had lots of time to grab a bagel and trail mix and a water - in fact, I got to my gate as the previous flight was boarding. I settled in to read and eat, and saw a bird fly down the hallway - seems to be a problem at YVR, I saw a few in the trees last year. I got to board early, taking advantage of my Silver card, and settled into my window seat. Only a snack of pretzles was offered with the drinks, it was a pretty short flight. There was a bit of a delay with the bags, so I was fretting a bit that I'd not make my short connection in Denver.

When we landed, I convinced the two people blocking me in to let me out, and the outer woman got my pack down. I was then stuck for a bit, but soon was dashing down the concourse. I had thought they'd moved my Boston flight to gate 30,, but it was at 38, and I had less than 10 minutes to get there from 19. I ran/jogged/fast walked the whole way, and made it before they closed the doors. Another guy from my flight from Vancouver came in behind me, in fact. The plane wasn't very full, but I was inside a row with two people already seated. They moved to another empty row as soon as we were in the air. I grabbed a buy on board pack to make do for supper, and managed to spill the fruit cup juice all over me. I luckily had a pair of pants in my backpack, so I ducked back into the washroom to change- no wait on it on this flight. Curse of the Wererabbit was the first movie, but I'm reading instead.

Cris picked me up, I ran out to put my pack in the car and then back to put in a lost luggage report. I just called from a designated phone and the woman on the other end printed out the claim receipt from the printer next to it. Home at around 1am, and Cris opened his present from me, and he gave me the Last Exile Al doll that he'd found in SF.


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