Still waiting to regain control of my time- really must speak to the Universe about scheduling three months worth of important events in a 10-day period- but I found a little space to continue the Canada Saga.
I have to say that in the 6 years or so that I’ve had regular internet access & began booking all travel arrangements online, I’ve been quite fortunate- you are essentially “buying a pig in a poke”, so you need to trust in the honesty & integrity of the vendors. I haven’t been bitten by the small print, been charged more than the quoted price, or ended up with questionable lodgings; that is until this trip.
After leaving the Chinese banquet & my family, I drove down to the motel I was staying at that night. A steady rain is falling; I’m driving along a dark, fairly deserted city street at 11:00 pm, looking for the address. At last, I see a neon sign, hanging crookedly on the post, three letters missing, & randomly blinking; I’m thinking “Please, Lord- not that one!”, but of course, that is my destination. I pull into the dimly lit parking lot, past rows of little cottages & a huddled group standing by one door passing a bottle around, & stop in front of the office. As I sit in my car, still dressed in my party finery & keeping my eye on the silent drinkers, a mist starts to rise from the ground; I begin having doubts about staying here. I stayed there for nearly 5 minutes, carrying on a spirited mental debate:
“This place is creepy”
“You read too many novels”
“No, it really is sinister”
“It’s just the rain & the mist- in daylight, I’m sure it’s perfectly respectable”
“Pfft! Look at the winos”
“Well, they are minding their own business”
“Yeah, until you get out of the car”
“This is silly- it’s 11:30 & I need some sleep”
“It’s the flipping ‘Bate’s Motel’ without the gothic mansion”
“I’ve already paid for it & I’m not looking for another place this time of night!”
“Who cares? I can sleep in the car”
At this point, I see the shadowed outline on a man, looking out the office window at my car; it is time to (pardon the expression) “piss or get off the pot”, so I screw up my courage & go inside. I have to admit I nearly bolted when a rather tall, thin, effeminate looking man, with a crew cut, came out of the back room, calling back across his shoulder “I’ll be right back, Mother- we have a customer”; but Scot’s stinginess won out over too many late-night “Creature Features” & I checked in. Norman- uh, I mean, Mason gave me a $10 discount because Expedia had booked me for a double instead of a single bed, & offered to carry my bags into my cottage since I was “all alone”- I politely declined & practically ran out of the office. I’m not proud of it, but once I got my stuff in the room, I triple locked the door, moved a table in front of it, propped a chair & my suitcase up against the closet, & slept with the light on.
I had to get up very early in the morning, as I needed to be at the ferry by 8:30 & I wasn’t certain what the traffic would be like driving through Vancouver. After taking the quickest shower of my life, with the shower curtain drawn all the way open, I threw my things back into the car & virtually peeled out of the parking after leaving the key in the drop box. It is a good thing I allowed an hour to travel 15 miles- the traffic wasn’t heavy on the surface streets, but the 3 bridges I had to cross were all one-lane in the direction I was headed & had horrible bottlenecks. I also took one of my rare wrong turns of the trip- I was headed the wrong direction on a road with no exits or turn arounds- I had to drive nearly 7 miles before I could get off the highway & backtrack, all the time hearing my internal clock ticking away the minutes. Oh, did I mention it was still raining buckets? I made it to the ferry landing right at 8:30 to claim my reserved spot & was the Very…Last… Car loaded, all the time needing to find a restroom in the worst way.
As soon as my car was secured, I scurried off to find relief, some breakfast, & a seat inside. The first two were easily remedied; the last was a no go, except one seat next a man smelling strongly of onions or another in front of a family with 4 small, screaming children. I decided to take my chances on deck & headed outside; I found a sheltered area on the sixth level, pulled up the hood of my raincoat & drank my tea. As soon as the boat started moving, the rain began to ease & sky became lighter; by the time we were three miles out, little patches of blue sky were peeking through & the rain had ceased. I stood alone at the aft railing & watched Vancouver disappear into the mist, then went inside to make myself comfortable before starting the next part of my adventure.
Next time: Houses, Gardens, and, Oh, my aching feet!