Friday, October 5, 2007

October 05, 2007 - Vancouver Canada

So this week I spent in Vancouver Canada! It was kind of weird to start your day at 85 degrees Fahrenheit and end your day at 45! Ask me in a month or so and I'll be sick of it, but it felt GREAT to be cold for a change! I got there early and got ready to go shopping and got to the mall at about 640PM. The bad news is that the shopping mall closed at 7PM!
So I sat there tossing the idea around - find someplace for dinner dressed, or go back to the hotel and change? It's really hard to put my finger on exactly what my thought process was, but I ultimately decided to just go back to drab.

I kept remembering a sign that was over the door of our barracks in Ft Sill Oklahoma where I spent my first three years in the Army. While not verbatim, it was something along the lines of "When you pass beyond this door, remember that YOU represent the United States of America". Most of the guys laughed at that but it meant something to me. Suddenly I felt concerned that perhaps I was not representing my country well here, so I went back to the hotel and washed my makeup off and put my boy clothes back on. Two hours of time and effort wasted . . . sigh . . .

The following night, I met Hiro for dinner! For a number of reasons, Hiro and I met drab and had quite a nice dinner. He is a very easy person to talk to, very friendly, and it turns out that we have a number of things in common. All in all, a very pleasant dinner.

Vancouver Canada was hard to describe. So much like home but little things here and there that are different and leave you feeling like things are just a touch off. It seemed like people were not in as big a hurry there. In most US Cities, if you don't drive 20 MPH over the speed limit you're going to get rear ended. Here it seemed most every one was quite willing to drive the speed limit and I had to keep reminding myself to slow down. Soccer on the TV in the pub didn't surprise me - this I had expected.

Well, the trip home was NOT the picture perfect trip where everything goes smoothly. Fortunately for me, I have always been "anal retentive" and insist on getting to airports two hours before my flights, because I needed every minute here. To start off, when I selected the airport rental location as my destination, the GPS unit took me to some industrial area.
"Arriving at Avis on the left," it said - it was wrong!
Nothing remotely like a rental car location was anywhere in sight.
"All right, I can figure this out!" I thought to myself.
This time I used the menu to select the Airport itself and this time succeeded in finding the rental location, but now I'm down to about an hour and a half before my flight leaves. Turn the car in and get to the terminal and discover that this airport is freaking huge and I can't find the International terminal. Eventually I stopped and asked someone and discovered that I had a long walk to get there. At last I get to the international terminal and find every Airline except Alaskan Airlines. There's Continental, Delta, United, Etc, but no Alaskan. With only an hour left before my flight I go up to the Quantis Airlines counter.
"Excuse me, but I am apparently lost and clueless - would you please, please, please tell me how to find Alaskan Airlines?"
She smiled from ear to ear and said "Right here, we take care of their ticketing".
My itinerary had said nothing about Quantis, the Quantis counter had nothing indicating they took care of Alaskan Airlines - it was just pure luck that I had asked at their counter.
So I get my tickets and then the lady explains that US Customs and immigration are done here - before I board the flight. Now I have less than an hour to stand in the customs and immigration lines, get through security, and find my gate. AARRRGGGGHHHH!!!!
Oh, did I mention that in order to save a buck, my company booked me on a flight that went all the way from Vancouver to LA, and then East out to Austin? Talk about taking the scenic route! Needless to say, I did make it, but was pretty well exhausted by the time I got home.

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