Saturday, October 26, 2013


If you are walking about and discover you are lost, do not run around like a crazy person and lose yourself any further.  Stop and gather your wits.  Just sit.  If you have lost somebody, return to where you last saw them.  Always go back to the start.

This was our first trip out of the country.  One of us was on business and the other was along for the ride.  We had never left Cate for so many days, but she was in the competent care of her grandparents.  Going on about three hours of sleep, I had been up since 5 a.m. because I don't go to bed until I'm packed.  If making all the preparations for our travel, plus getting our home ready for our seven day absence while anticipating Cate's needs during that time wasn't enough, we had a shindig the night before, a not-to-be missed formal affair for the grand opening of a newly completed project. 

It was dark thirty and the car was packed.  The six of us drove to the airport.  The new wills were signed and filed, food was in the fridge and lunch items figured out, and a long list of helpful friends, necessary phone numbers and a few ground rules were completed.  Bye bye.  Tears welled up in my eyes when I turned my back to get on the plane.  For some reason, planes can make me cry.

We lucked out the entire trip to Seattle, never having to share our three seats, making the trip very comfortable.  According to the route map, we flew over Kansas.  The agricultural quilt was beautifully laid out with squares with circles inside them and also plain squares.  The huge territory seemed empty of towns.  Later, I saw a little town I recognized by the Air Force Chapel which I had visited a long time before.  Knowing it was Colorado Springs but without perspective, we still couldn't find Pike’s Peak.  And then the magnificent Rockies just popped.  Being in the air and seeing those awesome peaks rising up towards me was one of the most beautiful sights in my life.  My nose was glued to the window.  I realized I was singing to myself.  My heart just automatically turned to prayerful song – For the Beauty of the Earth and The Majesty and Glory – so well displayed before me.  I said a prayer of Thanksgiving.  I love flat Texas, I love the beach and I love those mountains.

We broke through clouds just before landing at Seattle.  I realized Fall was in full session, the vibrant yellow, green and red set against the abundant dark green spruce, prettier than any fall I could remember at home.  Driving out of Seattle and passing the Boeing Plant, I thought Burt would wreck the rental car trying to see the planes and drive at the same time.  

As we headed for Vancouver, the drive north grew more beautiful as the sun came out.  I remember thinking of  the t.v. show, "Here Come the Brides" which was popular in my house because Sister had a crush on Bobby Sherman.  One of the main characters, Joan Blondell, was my art teacher's sister-in-law.  I had never seen waterways jammed with logs until we got out of Seattle.  It looked like a person could walk across to the other side.  
We stopped in Mount Vernon, Washington for a snack at the Burger King.  Once inside, we whispered to each other, very quietly.  We couldn't help but notice that the majority of customers standing in line in front of us were wearing those black wraparound glasses used after eye surgery.  When we placed our order, we asked our server about the glasses.  She replied that many people, including her husband, had very sensitive eyes because of the lack of sunshine.  When the sun did shine, they needed the extra dark glasses.  She was serious.  We almost thought we were in "The Twilight Zone."    True Southerners, Burt and I didn’t feel the need for shades.

A lovely park surrounded the border crossing in Surrey.  While waiting, we watched dog enthusiasts going through their paces with their dogs.  The border patrol didn't wave us through (2000).  She did ask us where we were from and then was a little miffed as to why we had New Jersey plates.  After asking our destination and our reason for being in Canada, she let us pass, never once asking for the birth certificates we thought were required and had spent time in procuring.                                          
Near Vancouver, we finally got on a poorly marked Route which headed us into town on a 4-6 lane road that went right through the middle of town, complete with stop lights, buses, bicycles, car wrecks and any other road hazard that could generally have been avoided with a nice interstate or bypass.  

Actually arriving at our Hotel was no small feat.  There were a lot of one way and no turn signs and it seemed we went in a circle for thirty minutes.  The Hotel drive was the width of the Hotel, completely sheltered like it's own special room.  Large potted trees twinkling with white lights and gleaming brass accoutrements reflected in the windows.  The valets and bellmen were outfitted in full wool uniforms and hats.  They were helpful and cute.  Later in my visit, I took a picture (several cameras) of the blonde valet and a group of young Japanese girls who must have been around thirteen because they giggled the whole time!
This was before airlines charged a fee on every little bag.  With all seventy-eight pieces of luggage streaming behind us on the brass cart, we followed the bellman down a long hall and turned down two more short halls.  The last hall was a foyer with three doors.  I knew this was a good sign!  And it was!  Our room was quite comfortable.  The walnut walls were paneled on the diagonal which cast a golden glow on the room.  At the top of the walnut walls, a twelve inch border of beautiful art deco plasterwork melted into the curved ceiling.  The furniture was old in a good way and fit the room.  The bedding was plush - a red, green and taupe floral linen duvet, the first duvet I had actually seen.   
Two very large nightstands, one upholstered bench, a chair and an ottoman, a round side table, a large desk and a chair.  An elegant armoire filled most of another wall with some drawers, the minibar, a big TV and a counter top.  The washroom was down a short hall with a large closet, terry cloth robes, and real hangers!   I told Burt this surely wasn’t the Econo Lodge.  The washroom was entirely done in various colors of marble, except for necessary porcelain items.  It was well sized and every feature was perfect, obviously well thought-out to make you feel splendid. 
We definitely felt like we were in high cotton.  Burt later found out that our room had once been a private dining room in a large suite, dating back to the original 1928 completion.  He thought we got this room because he called close to our arrival date to request a king size bed.  Our room was on the business floor and most of the rooms were doubles, which we didn’t know ahead of time.  A re quest for a good night's sleep had been our good fortune.      
At this point, I was dog-tired and parched.  Before going to register, Burt had found the ice machine but had not located a drink machine.  I was functioning on three hours sleep minus a full day of plane travels and layovers, a rental car routine, a few hours in the car and the hustle and bustle to get registered and finally collapse in the privacy of a strange room, albeit a luxurious room in this beautiful Hotel.  When the tough need to get going, don't hand me a glass of juice or an amber bottle bubbling with beer.  Just pour me a tall one, with plenty of ice and fizzy carbonation, brown sugared elixir of life - miracle of the South, a Coca Cola. 
I called room service.  They knew who I was, very formal, British attention I could get used to.  I asked if they had canned cokes.  They did, so I ordered two.  Lickety split, the cokes arrived on a doily covered, silver platter with two water goblets full of ice.  I gladly tipped the man generously in American currency (this was my first international trip).  I could've tipped him just because I was glad to be there, finally.  He left. I opened the can and poured one up and drank and drank, proclaiming it was one of the best cokes I’ve ever had.  And maybe it was because it was one of the most expensive canned cokes I've ever had, to date.  Everything up to that point was leading up to an excellent adventure.  This was the only room service I ordered.  I've always wondered if it could have been the water or maybe just a real "Mountain Coke!"

an American in Vancouver just getting started

Yesterday, when I decided to finally sit down and post about this trip, I discovered the adventure began thirteen years ago that very day.  Wow. 

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