Of course, after all the minor panics, I got to the airport and there was no one there, I arrived around 12:15 for my 3:15 flight, and was checked in, baggage whisked off to the bowels of the airport and me at a loose end (no services beyond the security gate except washrooms and a coffee counter) with three hours to kill. I luckily packed a slew of books, so I found a quiet place, behind a stairwell and looking out a window, and settled in to wait for a good time to go through security. Oddly enough I noticed a pair walking outside L->R without baggage, and then R->L burdened down with packs and suitcases, not quite sure what led them to that state. It turned out that the plane taking me up to Montreal was pretty tiny, two by two, and I was in a very odd aisle seat, the middle seat in the back row which was five across. No seat in front of me, and my ski helmet and my backpack, even separated, wouldn't fit in one of the overhead bins, so the flight attendant stuck the latter under the seat of the guy next to me (he seemed pretty nice, a bit cynical about the whole deal, but in a funny way), and I was able to stuff my helmet under my seat, along with my purse, on top of some sort of fabric. No idea. Settled in and enjoyed my leg room, and the flight wasn't too bumpy.
I went through immigration without my bags, I think, following the signs for connecting flights, and feeling vaguely guilty that there was no one in front of me and a 30 person line for people arriving in Montreal. The officer seemed to almost be chiding me for staying so short a time, as well as for not having gifts over the duty free limit. Bah. But he let me in, and an unnoticed tension dissipated as I stepped on Canadian soil. :) Had a bit of a wait for my ski bag, and it appeared where I wasn't expecting it - near the belt my suitcase came on, rather than in the oversize baggage area. Grabbed a cart to navigate through customs and to where I had to drop off the bags again (skiis I had to take upstairs and put them through the regular oversized baggage check). Good thing I had 3 hours, by the time I went through security again, I'd used up almost 2 of them. I had time to grab a quick meal at Tim Hortons, soup and a water, and read some more before it was time to head to my gate. Thankfully, the plane to Vancouver was bigger, though the ride was bumpier. I think I napped a bit, but mostly read and listened to my music.
Landed right on time in Vancouver, and was able to find Marc easily (though had a bit of a shock at how much thinner he is now). We had a bit of a wait for my bags, but I managed to describe my suitcase to him well enough for him to grab it while I waited for my skiis. Cat was waiting outside, she'd found a parking spot near the arrivals, and we loaded my stuff up into the car and Marc drove us into Vancouver proper, to their apartment. It was up on the second floor, but I felt comfortable enough leaving my skiis in the car overnight since we'd just have to transfer them to Sue's car in the morning. Cat went to bed soon after, but I was able to chat with Marc for a bit, and assemble their presents into the gift bags that I'd brought. I took my shower that night, glad to rinse off the grime of too many airports and too many planes. I was on a futon in their office and sent a quick email to Cris letting him know that I was safe in Vancouver, as my cell phone had zero signal, and wouldn't for the rest of the trip. It was after 1am when I got to sleep, we got out of the airport past 11pm, and I was almost incoherently tired.
We arrived in Squamish, with a bit more snow on the ground than in Vancouver, at around 1pm, just time for me to unpack my stuff into their office/guest room before our parents arrived. I wasn't too happy to see that the dog Misha arrived with them, as the townhouse was mostly carpeted and Misha is a shedding machine. Luckily, since I'd run out of allergy pills and put them on my wish list, Dad had some to give me and I didn't get too miserable. Sue made salmon for us for dinner, and a huge salad that surprisingly almost got finished. Jake poured us all big glasses of a syrah. After dinner I wrapped up some of the gifts I had brought and put them under the tree - Sue was trying to enforce a more green wrapping strategy, so she had fabric to make bags from and gift bags that could be reused. I did a fairly poor job of hand stitching a cylindrical bag for Sue's gift, and threw Jake's into a gift bag. Got an early night, setting the tone for the trip, in bed at 10:30.
Jake had been calling Sue at work throughout the day to taunt her with the perfect conditions on the mountain, but she forgave him, and so did Dad for the mirror. I had grilled chicken for supper, with lime juice as an interesting touch, and I made a martinet cocktail since Sue had stocked up her liquor cabinet for us.
I had to wrap Mom and Dad's gifts still, so I looked up a link on how to do Japanese wraps using fabric, furoshiki and used that on their presents. They came out okay, though it would have helped with the second one to have a bigger piece of fabric to start from. I had an early night again, tired out from a full day in the fresh mountain air.
I made myself and Jake a pair of Periodista cocktails to help use up the bar supplies, and we were all tortured with the scent of the huge turkey roasting. Jake made an awesome stuffing, and redid the colourful potatoes from a couple of days ago. I was happy to sip my cocktail, read, and watch the others cooking. :) Another early night in anticipation of a slightly earlier start to skiing the next day.
Sue stuck with me and Dad this time, heading over to 7th Heaven to ski the wide open blues there. It was utterly fucking gorgeous up there, the sun was shining, the sky was bright blue, the snow was pure white, with the conifers sticking up through the drifts. There was one point where, looking toward Whistler, the line of sun and shadow was running down the slopes, and I really wished I'd brought a camera with me. I only did one blue with them before splitting off to do a green and meet them at the bottom. I was slow, and thought they'd left without me, not realising that the pair in red and black on the black run under the lift was Sue and Dad. I got on the lift to see if they were at the top, and recognised them as I went over. I called down to see if Dad was okay, he said "I am now" and I said I'd wait at the top, as the lift was supposed to close at 2:30. Dad had a cut on his nose, he'd caught an edge while following Sue down the mogul littered run and even was going down backwards for a bit. His calf was also sore, and I think he wanted a break then, but Sue and I skiied another run and then we headed down toward the gondola for a download instead of skiing all the way ourselves - that last run was really hard for me, my knee was getting really weak, the snow was heavy and there were bad icy patches where other skiiers had scraped everything off. The flat light and heavy cloud enclosing the run made it really hard to see as well, and even with the download, we were the last to arrive at the Irish pub that was our meeting place. Dad and Jake had pints of beer, Sue had a hot chocolate, while I just revelled in sitting still. :) We were under a heat lamp on the outside patio, watching the crowds funnelling down the mountain as the lifts closed.
The drive back was quick, more in the dark though, as we left the mountain later this time. Lots of turkey leftovers for dinner, very yummy still. I got to inaugarate their bathtub for a bath that evening, soaking out aches and pains from the day. I'd fallen a couple of times, catching my edges on the deep snow, but only had one unexplainable scratch beyond boot caused bruises. After that I dried off my skiis and repacked my ski jacket, pants, and accessories around them in the bag for padding. Dried off the boots and packed fragile things in them, and put them in the bottom of the suitcase, and packed the clothes in the top compartment. Said my goodbyes and read until it was time to drift off, again early, as we were going to leave at 5:30am the next day.
I was on the aisle, with only one person between me and the window, a
young woman who was silent the whole way. I took some Emergen-C with my
second glass of water, and purchased food for lunch on board. I watched
the movie this time, Ratatouille,
and enjoyed it but for the swarming
rat scenes. I had two hours to navigate through Pearson to my flight to
Boston, and was a bit nervous following the connecting flight signs again.
Bit of a wait for my skiis, but they showed up eventually. I had to carry
them for sure through the customs and immigration line, and they checked
my tags against the bags before I could leave the belt area. I didn't have
cash for a cart this time, so hauled things myself. I ended up in the
very short immigration line that was on the other side of the partition
from the one
that snaked on and on the last time I visited Toronto. The
immigration agent really confused me, as he insisted that I wasn't a
resident of the USA and that the purpose of my trip was business - but he
didn't make me fill out a visitor visa form, so I'm not sure what was
going on in his head. I just smiled and nodded, and scurried through when
he let me go. I had to drop my bags at two different places again, and
then go through security yet again, but made it to my gate in time to turn
around and find a place to eat. The Starbucks was charging $3 for a
nanaimo bar, but the woman in front asked and was direct to a Tim Horton's
so I followed her and got my nanaimo bar for 99c. :) I also grabbed a scone
and some tea on the justification that it was about supper time, in some
time zone I was either going to or coming from. The flight to Boston was
quiet, not full at all, and I had a row to myself, which was lucky as my
mp3 player was dead and my in seat entertainment system was kaput, so I
plugged my headphones into the one next to me and was fine. Didn't sleep
the whole way from Squamish, just read and was alert. Had yet another wait
for my bags in Boston, and my skiis came out on the regular luggage belt.
I was interested to see that they could negotiate the turns okay, but
grabbed them. I dug out my xmas money and got a cab home, again a nice
guy, who actually lives in Belmont as well, and we chatted a bit. I think
I was home by 10, just time enough to unpack a bit and get things ready to
head to work the next day. I came back to a bit of a heat wave, apparently
they'd had two rain storms since the two snow storms, and most of the ice
and some of the snow was gone.