Comox, 2014

My parents bought a smaller house during the last part of 2013 and wanted all of us kids to come and sort out/get rid of the stuff that we'd been storing with them, piled up in moving boxes in their new garage. I'd moved out when I was 17, coming back at 41 to sort through my elementary and high school papers was an interesting jaunt down memory lane. I put it off a bit, trying to find a non bank breaking flight from Boston, and ended up with a red eye on the way home. Armed with melatonin pills, an eye shade and ear plugs for the trip back, as well as lots of extra space in my suitcase (along with an empty duffle bag), I headed West and North...

Wednesday March 12, 2014

I also had a cheapo option 9am flight heading out of Boston, and planned to take the 6:15 bus heading to the Green line. Luckily I'd checked NextBus when I woke up and saw that that bus wasn't scheduled. I hustled and was able to make it onto the 5:50am one just as it pulled up to the stop light. The Government Center T stop is scheduled to close for two years, this trip just squeaked by before that event, which was good since I had to transfer there from the Green line to the Blue to the Airport stop. Not too busy in the B terminal, though I quickly realised that I was flying out of the tiny 3-4 gate security section at one end of the terminal. I delayed going through security until I couldn't stand it, registering my Nexus card with the airline to try and speed things up on my transfers, and verifying that I had to get my boarding pass and seat assignment for the Comox leg in Vancouver. I had remembered to bring some leftover foreign currency and changed some Euros to Canadian dollars that I could use on this trip (they wouldn't exchange the Jamaican dollars). I had to pay $7 since I wasn't exchanging more than $500 (now I remember why Adam and I pooled our money once), but it was worth it to get it sorted out (no European trips planned for a while). Grabbed a large tea from Starbucks to make up for the one that I didn't get to drink at home and sat in the hidden seats and watched the window washers working from two storeys down. Eventually went through the metal detector and then sat around the gate area waiting to board the flight to Toronto. There was some concern because some flights were delayed or cancelled due to winter weather, but mine got out and landed okay even with the snow storm. I had an empty seat next to me on the plane, the ride was a bit bumpy, but I got a cookie. :-)

In Toronto, the snow outside the airport windows was worrying me, but I had to navigate through the airport and get past customs and immigration first before worrying about my outbound flight. The Nexus machines were down, so they waved me through the crew lane, rubber stamping me through. It still took me an hour to go from wheels down, through C&I, back through security to the Canadian departure gates to getting lunch at an Italian place near my gate. There were lots of cancelled flights up on the departure boards. I had gluten free spring pasta, a nice contrast with the snow outside, then popped into David's tea for a cream of earl grey. I still had an hour and 45mins to go before my departure, and used some of it to get some trail mix to sustain me over the longish flight to BC.

The flight was mostly on time, but there was no hot water for coffee or tea, and there were only wipes in bathroom, no water for washing hands wither. The flight attendants spread that we would either leave on time with the missing amenities, or switch to a new plane. I watched "The Hunger Games 2" after reading for a bit - at one point I jumped and set the arm rest table (I was at the bulkhead, but thankfully was able to put stuff under the seat in front - the wall didn't come all the way down) flying up and my empty glass bouncing to the floor. The guy in the aisle was amused. :-) I was so glad for my noise cancelling headphones, there was a very phlegmy guy behind me. I put my window shade up as we approached the Rockies, they took my breath away. I loved seeing the scooped how hollows hidden between peaks (cirques?). We went over Penticton, I waved toward my brother's house. We also went over Abbotsford - I couldn't control a shudder at skydiving memories, though I didn't see all that much of the geography from having my eyes squeezed tightly shut on the way down. There was sunlight sparkling on the water and late sunlight gilding the peaks as we came in to land. I was a bit disoriented, we didn't land over water as usual. A guy with a very tight connection (to NZ I think) moved to the empty middle seat since we were fairly close to the exit door.

I paused to sit on a bench during the long trek to the under renovation part of YVR where Central Mountain Air had their gates, I could see their tiny planes as I jotted down notes from my flight. I checked with the people at my gate about my seat assignment, and was asked if I wanted to go on the earlier flight, that was boarding right then. I was just able to get an email off to Dad warning him that I was going to be early. The plane had two columns of seats, one down each side of the plane, with the oxygen masks built into the walls since the ceiling was ... minimal. I enjoyed the nice views of the Georgia Strait, it was a nice smooth flight. I kept my nerves at being in such a small plane under control, even when I could see down the runway at landing (no door to the cockpit). I checked out the terminal to check for familiar faces waiting for me, and then had a bit of a struggle to figure out the coin op pay phone (I think in the end it was that you had to put in the area code but no 1 to avoid long distance charges and make a local call (my cell phone doesn't work outside the USA)). I talked to Mom, she said Dad was on his way, and he soon arrived to get me. I'd plotted out a run route along Knight Road and we drove along half of it, it will be long enough!

Mischa, the collie/shepherd mix, was a bit uncertain about me when I walked in the door of the new house, but soon enough she was following me around - I'm allergic to her. *sigh* Mom made me up some quick microwave rice and boiled veggies for dinner, though I had a bagel while waiting so I wouldn't fall over - I'd planned to eat dinner at YVR, but the earlier flight nixed those plans. Dad got us Radical Reels tickets via the computer once I confirmed that I'd be up for the movie night, and then we went out to Rexall for Reactine (mmm, Canadian allergy pills), and I hit up the grocery for granola and yoghurt so I'd have stuff for breakfast. I zoned out in front of the TV for a while and watched "CSI: Miami " - wow, it's been so long since I watched network TV, production values seemed really low compared to movies. But then as I continued watching, I got used to it, weird. I took a shower to get the travel off and was in bed by 9:30. Dad's still looking for the wifi password, written down "somewhere", but I've got boxes ear marked for tomorrow so I've got a place to start.

Thursday March 13, 2014

First order of business was to sort out the mess with my Scotiabank account. I hadn't received my replacement debit card, and they couldn't send me a new one. After talking to the clerk at the Comox branch, I found out that the address on file was from Belmont. :-( She was able to issue me a new card, though I had to answer some "new account" type questions. The one that amused me was why I had the account: historical reasons, since I've had it since the 80's.

Back to the house and I got all but 2 boxes done, generating so much paper to recycle. I found my Sir Isaac Newton essay, kept that for the memory pile. The winter beach painting was still not framed, thinking about shipping it home since it's just too big for carry on and wouldn't work in the suitcase. I had rice and veggie leftovers for lunch. Facebook has been all about throwback Thursdays, so I posted some nostalgia pictures to join in the fun, arranging old elementary school notebooks in nice fans before chucking most of them in the recycling pile. I also took a picture of my old bookcase to sell (5ft wide, 18" deep, 6ft tall), still sad that there's no practical way to keep it. Dad says that he can find a use for the smaller book case that they'd had in their old computer room.

Then I hit up the gym at the Rec Centre, their $6 drop in fee is wonderful. Their baby kettlebells were cute, I did a lot of exercises I can't do with my heavier ones. Back in time for dinner, Mom made honey mustard chicken breasts, with rice and peas. After eating I was still feeling a bit restless, so I decided to take a walk, aiming for the Comox Mall, learning the new neighbourhood. I took Elm to Pritchard, followed it as it turned into Comox Ave, then went right on Augusta/Balmoral and back to Pritchard, taking just under an hour. I was in bed at 9:15 to escape the dog fur (washed my face again) since she's not allowed in the bedroom. Will take my next allergy pill in the morning, trying to reset the 24 hour schedule.

Friday March 14, 2014

A bit of jet lag plus the early bed time meant that I woke up early. I regretted falling asleep so fast the night before, I'd meant to stay up and read for a bit. I finally got up at about 7:30, to a very quiet house, but at least the dog wasn't across my door this time. The early sun was glinting off dew/rain from last night (though the angle meant I had to turn on a light to read). The weather's clear so far, may get my run in. I had muesli and strawberries and yoghhurt for breakfast again, and two big mugs of tea. I love the skylights in the new place, especially the bathroom one, but not enough light gets to the dining table from the kitchen one.

Once Dad was up and breakfasted, we loaded up the truck with the boxes of recycling and drove them to behind the CanEx to empty them into the community recycling bins. I'd found the box filled with trophies in my pile to go through, Dad said that he could take the bowling trophies to the lanes, they can strip off the name plates and reuse them. Since we were so close, I convinced him to stop at Air Force Beach and we walked a fair ways down the cove. I think I just had my trail shoes on, not very waterproof for jumping over the streams. Lots and lots of tiny white feathers everywhere, but only gulls and some crows in evidence (though I looked for the beach eagles I'd seen there before).

After our walk, I convinced Dad to join me for lunch at Twisted Dishes on Port Augusta: I had a London fog, thai wrap, and mushroom & roasted sage soup, it was delicious. After lunch, it was time to hit the gym again, for bench presses and deadlifts. The only place to do pull ups needed me to jump for them, so did lat pulldowns instead. When I got back, Dad had the truck pulled up to the open garage, so I helped him put the old recliner in and my boxes of donations.

They were supposed to have a guy come do an air tightness test on the house after replacing windows etc, and it was scheduled for that evening. We'd only had that night for a dinner at a restaurant, and had already shifted the reservation back to have enough time for the test. I didn't want to be in the house with forced air blowing around the dog fur, so decided that I'd walk to Tulio's and meet them there. It was in Courtney, about 8 Km away and I gave myself 2 hours to get there with picture taking. Turned into 2h 20mins, oops. The estary between Comox and Courteny was a bit tense, the sun was setting adn the light dying, and cyclists were riding along the shoulder where I was walking (and often there wasn't much of a shoulder). I saw eagles, ducks, a heron, and trumpeter swans far away in a green field. The sawmill is totally gone, just a field of concrete lined with moss. I passed an incredibly good smelling salmon smoke shack, lucky for them that it was locked up tight. :-) I'd agreed to check in via email once I got to Courtney to see if M&D had an update for me, but I couldn't get a good wifi signal from the Starbucks patio. I was supposed to go to a cafe to spend any extra time, but was cutting it close, and saw Dad walking in the restaurant as I approached. The air check dude never came, so Mom and Dad went to the restaurant early - they must have passed me while I was trying to get a wifi signal just out of view of the road. I had an iceberg salad, the lobster option was just the tail (there was a mix up, I don't actually like crab all that much, but Mom had just verified that they had king crab legs on offer). The veggies were under cooked and definitely under spiced, but the tea was nice and hot and I was glad of the drive home after my long walk.

Saturday March 15, 2014

I hit the gym on the early side today, just before lunch. I did squats and over head presses and some jumping pullups. I did some more kettlebell stuff again, and as I was waiting for dad to pick me up (it was raining a bit) a lady who had been stretching near me with her personal trainer stopped as and said that my workout inspired her!

After lunch, Dad and I went to Fabricland to get a curtain rod and hem tape, heading back in to get the rod after all since I hadn't realised that he got 50% off pretty much everything with his membership! Then we went to Safeway so that I could get groceries to cook dinner for them, a low spice jerk chicken, with Mom's warmed up rice and peas. I made the jerk sauce from memory, I've made it often enough, though using the blender instead of a food processor was an interesting change. I thought I'd put too much sugar in, but checking the recipe when I got home, it was right. I made sure to take out all the seeds from the habanero, Dad doesn't like spicy things. Mom baked a potato and made a salad, I'm not used to providing sides with dinner any more. Mischa really wanted to be in the kitchen with me while I was cooking.

After dinner, Dad drove us to Courtney for the Radical Reels showing. We were early enough they weren't letting people in, so we nabbed a table in the lobby, and I had a Nanaimo bar. Dad put in for a 50/50 draw but we forgot to check the numbers when we left. It was a nice theatre, with assigned seating, so we were off to the side a bit. The presenter got booed when she said something about spring coming, Mount Washington had *just* opened for skiing after a low snow winter. Back home, where I tried to fix the sound driver on the computer. I eventually gave up, Dad must have done something that worked eventually, as I was able to use his computer for skype/google hangout the next day.

Sunday March 16, 2014

The time shift meant that I had to be online starting at 11am, so I was finished up breakfast and ready to roll by 10:30. Skype was dropping out a bit, so after a few false starts we got a Google Hangout going. It was neat being the disembodied voice in the computer with B. there in person with the other guys. Our DND game went well, a good fight, and the dice rolling app I'd installed on my phone (Dice Bag) worked well enough. V. had scanned my character sheet and I printed it out on the color printer in Comox, it was eerily like having a clone of the sheet. :-) I don't think my parents had quite realised how long I'd be online, but Dad was willing to use his laptop while I monopolised his computer. He'd also found the wifi password for me, after I tried a few random things written on note paper, so my phone was back in the game as well.

After game wrapped up, I did my laundry - I'd brough minimal clothes with me to leave room to bring things home with me, and adding in the workouts and the dog fur, and it was past time to clean up. Mom made salmon for dinner, adn I got sucked into watchign Tangled on TV - ah Sunday night Disney, more nostalgia for me there. I was having problems getting checked in for my flight the next day, I think there was some confusion over the CMA leg, I was waiting until the Air Canada flight was less than 24 hours away and Dad clicked me through. He put me in a middle seat near the front, but I logged back in and switched to an edge seat further back. Did some preliminary packing to maximise suitcase weight and minimise duffle weight, since I knew I'd be carrying the latter all over YVR and YYZ.

Monday March 17, 2014

After breakfast, it was time to get the last of my sorted boxes to the donation loccation. Dad and I took the truck to Value Village. They didn't take the recliner, but were nice enough to help me push when the truck needed a roll to get started again. Afterward we stopped at the Post Office where I paid way too much to buy a cardboard tube and packing tape to mail a deconstructed painting to myself (took it off the frame, took the frame apart). I'm pretty sure we went to the drug store afterward, I remember looking for parking spaces that started off downhill. I picked up more allergy pills and was looking for small gifts for friends, still kicking myself for not buying a not local but cool looking soap set. But then we did a cruise down the main shopping drag in Courtney and I spotted a SoapWerx sign and grabbed a few things - so hard to choose!

Later on, Dad dug out his binoculars and I grabbed my camera to go look at eagle nests. His former business led him to ear mark quite a few nests, and we ran into his realtor while scoping one out. Lots of luck, there was one nest with a bird sitting on the eggs and another higher up keeping watch. At least one other nest had a guard eagle. My newish camera has really good zoom, and pretty decent image stabilisation, I was able to get some good shots even at 64x zoom. Then it was home to have a quick meal and finalise my packing (shifted some things around so more heavy photo albums were in my suitcase). Dad dropped me off at the airport at around 7:30 for my 8:30 flight on his way to a bowling team practice, so I could go through security at my own time. :-) I waited for the big WestJet flight to Calgary to board and then went through. The lounge is for both gates, you sit under dino skeletons and can watch the sun set over the trees and mountains. There was no fee to check my suitcase (after all my worrying, CMA checked it through for free). I hand carried a bag stuffed with books, and had my tote bag with fragile stuff in it.

The CMA flight was in a 1x1 plane again, but it was nice and smooth, though dark by then. In Vancouver I just had time to grab a smoothie and then finished it as I was boarding. I was in the first group since we were boarding by rows and I was way back in 60. I had a silent arm rest negotiation with my seat mate, we were in a pair of seats just where three seat wide side rows changed to two. I was cold on the plane, and couldn't find my sleep mask. I put in ear plugs and took melatonin and think I managed to sleep most of the way through the night. There was a big group of tween girls and scattered screamy babies to ignore as well.

Tuesday March 18, 2014

I was faced with confusing changes at Pearson for travellers in transit to the USA, an on what felt like very little sleep. I didn't pick up my suitcase at 1-2-3 stage where I had to sign in and wait for my name to appear on a monitor. It took me 3 tries to get through global entry - the permanent residence card has to go on the scanner so that the back side code lines up with how a passport would go in to be scanned (the officer had to come out and help me *sigh*). I did too much at security since I was in the Nexus line, my sweater could probably have stayed on, and liquids in my tote bag, but I saw the steel shank in my boots on the x-ray screen so they'll always have to come off. So tired. Refilled water, had breakfast muffin and zombie walked to my flight to Boston.

I'd taken the day off work to recover from the red eye, and took the day to do laundry, unpacking, hit the library and generally not nap despite half planning on it.


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