Sat, Sept 17, 2005
10: 12 a.m.
We are packed, and more or less ready to go as we stand here in our house thinking of last-minute things we can jam into our luggage.
The cats are, as usual, indifferent to our departure. Mooch requests that we bring back a fish as a souvenir.
We'll be gone long enough that it's cheaper to hire a guy to drive us to the airport than to park the car at a cheap lot and pay for parking. And it's WAY more convenient.
Like last time, our driver used to work for the KGB, which we think is keen, except when he starts using Russian Driving Techniques on American drivers, at which point we cower in the back seat.
One of the cool things about the car is that it has a display that says "Oil life 2%. Change oil soon."
Robert thinks this is pretty keen because the car tells you what kind of maintenance it needs. Laura wonders, though, if you really need to have your car nag at you.
"It's been 5,000 miles since you changed my spark plugs. You need to check the distributor cap. And I've been meaning to speak to you about the quality of the gasoline you've been using."
We are finally through the ticketing line and are ready to go stand in the security line.
Part of the problem is that there were five foreigners (Ethiopians?) who didn't speak English as a native language and they were dealing with a clerk who didn't speak English as a native language. Leading to many international hilarity mixups.
However, now we are ready to go stand in line and deal with security agents who don't speak English as a native language.
The security line is insanely long, partly because a couple of huge Alaskan cruise ships unloaded 5000 passengers in Seattle, and we all know how well the Federal Government deals with unexpected events...
We finally have reached the end of the security line. Laura, of course, has on her foot boot (to support her broken ankle), which requires extra attention because she could be hiding a terrorist or a machine gun in there.
After ten minutes of wanding all around the boot, but never actually asking her to remove it, they finally decide that we are, in fact, upstanding American citizens.
Although Laura's boot excited quite a bit of consternation, her autoharp case did not.
Apparently, they don't realizae that all those autoharp strings could be unstrung and knitted into an RPG. Boy, will they be surprised.
Robert was wondering what Air Canada would put on the tail of their airplanes. Alaska Airlines has an Alaskan native on their tail. He thought that Air Canada might put a beer on the tail of their airplanes.
It turns out that they do not put either a native or a beer on the tail on their airplanes. They put a maple leaf, because all they have in Canada, besides rocks, is maple trees.
We are in the air in what we suppose would be considered a "medium size" airplane, but we consider it to be a VERY SMALL TEENY plane.
The engine sounds like a rubber band, and we're hoping, very sincerely, that they wound it all the way up before we took off.
We're not actually traveling on Air Canada, we're traveling on "Air Canada Jazz," which is presumably, some sort of free-form airline, where they don't really need to follow the conventional rules or structure of airplane flying.
We're hoping that they will, at least, follow the airline convention of landing at the city they claim to be landing at.
We're also puzzled over the designations for the seats on the airplane.
Because this is Canada, everything is given in both English and French. For labeling the airplane windows, in English, it's given as "Window" in French, it's given as "Hublot."
Both of us have studied French and we're pretty sure that the French word for "window" was "fenetre," so we're now trying to figure out how you go from "fenetre" to "hublot" to describe a window seat.
Vancouver, British Columbia
Apparently, they have a lot of room in Canada. Because they put where the airplane lands in a different province from the airport.
We've been marching for the last half hour, and we believe we're approaching the terminal in the distance.
We've caught a little golf cart because it was beginning to be a loooong walk for Laura and her foot.
So now we're zooming past all the mundane little people on our way to the gate.
We see paramedics on bicycles working their way around the airport, responding to emergency stuff.
We're in our business class seats on the airplane (you would not believe how much whining Robert did to convince Laura that we DESERVED to fly business class).
And Business Class is really cool!
There's two seats in the space where they usually put three so there's actually room for your butt.
And there's electrical seat controls, like in a fancy car, so you can move your seat back and forth. And you have lumbar adjustment!
Lumbar adjustments! You can adjust the lumbar support on your seat. Electronically. So you are comfortable.
These may even be heated, there's some sort of magical--ooh! These are massage seats! You can push a button and get a massage while you're sitting in your little seat.
Before we even leave the ground, our stewardess is catering to our every need. She comes around wtih newspapers. "Would you like a free newspaper?" she says, offering us a choice of three different newspapers.
Robert, of course, asks which newspaper has the best comics, and is handed the "Vancouver Sun" immediately.
He likes that the stewardess for the first class passengers knows which newspaper has the best comics.
And, when you get a newspaper, you also get a FREE towlette to wash the newspaper ink off your hands.
3:45 pm (switching to) 6:45 pm Eastern time
The stewardess came by and offered us a choice of dinner! We could choose "Asian Chicken," "Beef Pot Roast," or "Atlantic Salmon."
Not only are our drinks served in real glasses, but we've also just received hot towels.
Hot towels. With which to wipe our hands and our weary, travel stained faces.
Our appetizer arrives!
It consists of smoked salmon, shrimp, a cucumber slice filled with dressing, a cute little salt and pepper shaker, real (REAL) silverware, made of actual metal, not plastic. On real china plates.
We had a choice of two different types of white wine, and two different types of bordeaux from France.
The elves in the galley are busy making us cookies!
Robert vows never to fly coach class again.
Laura is happily dozing in her nice comfortable seat. In her nice, comfortable first class seat, with her nice, comfortable first class air and first class movie (which we've seen before, it's "The Upside of Anger").
The elves have come by not only with fresh baked cookies, but also with ice cream. Actually "gelato fresco," which is a fancy way of saying "ice cream that's vaguely healthy." And fresh baked cookies.
We have landed on the ground in Ottawa in one piece. After having consulted a number of maps, we have established that Goose Bay is approximately at the North Pole.
One thing that we think will be very tedious by the end of this trip is that every announcement is made twice. The first time in English. and then again in French.
In a stunning display of Canadian ingenuity, they have placed the baggage claim right next to where you get off the airplane.
That means that you walk about 50 feet and there you are, ready to claim your baggage. WE think this is a very good thing and we wish all the other airports would do it, too.
We check into our hotel in Ottawa (Canada). Apparently, "a hotel near the airport" translates into Canadian as "a hotel in downtown Ottawa."
The nice thing is that there's not much traffic, so our cab is able to cover the 20 miles fairly briskly.
The not-nice thing is that we have to get up at 6:00 am to stagger back to the airport. Ah, the joys of traveling, eh?
Robert and Laura