I am so tired; it feels like I have a railroad spike in my scull and a very fine dust in my eyes and frontal lobe. The trip to Vancouver was a success.
I decided to rent a car for going to BC as a treat to myself. I drive a 1983 Beemer that has been my lifesaver since my other car bit the dust, but the windows are in a constant state of foggy, it has no CD player and it smells like petrol. I just felt like some comfort for the road was a must, as was a CD player, because every road trip needs a sound track.
The rental car people gave me an electric-white Toyota Corolla. The guy said it was just like a Lexus. OK, whatever you say. The windows de-fogged in an instant and I was on my way. The plan was for my friend Jacki to fly in that morning from San Francisco, I would pick her up at the airport and we would immediately start our trip. The purpose of going to Vancouver in the middle of winter was to see our other friend from High school, Jenny, who is living out there and 8 month pregnant. We wanted to see her in all her glory. We collected some gifts from some of our other friends and were a traveling baby shower.
Since we were leaving the country on the day of the inauguration, we tried not to spend any money in the States, but we had to stop for lunch before reaching the border. We stopped in an odd little Washington town and found a Dutch Bakery that had a sign up for serving lunch. It was called something like Ootzwaaienn. When we walked through the door it was like walking into 1952; everyone inside turned to stare at us. All the people behind the counter were older ladies wearing pink smocks. There was one younger girl working the register, but even she looked like she was from another time. Jacki & I were the only patrons under 50 years old. We both ordered turkey sandwiches with cranberry & avocado, but for some reason they put some sort of sweet crème spread on mine, so when it mixed with the cranberry, it was like eating a sandwich and pie simultaneously.
It was raining off and on as we drove. I had seen a hawk on a light post earlier and told Jacki to look out for birds. Sure enough, another hawk was perched in a tree by the road and another was flying above, hunting for prey. Then we saw a bald eagle sitting in a tree and we cheered for this omen of good luck. The we realized it was less of an omen and more of a fact that we were driving through some sort of bird commune, because then we saw another bald eagle and another and two more off to the side and a Juvenile eagle drying is wings with an awkward tilt of his head. The most spectacular was when 3 bald eagles were playing chase and flying in and out of traffic. All in all we must have seen about 2 dozen eagles and hawks and we think even a peregrine falcon or two.
We talked non-stop and were caught up in an intense conversation as we began to approach the border. Jacki was driving and did not notice the signs to slow down, so we approached the peace arch at full speed and leapt over the first of the speed bumps. This increased our border crossing paranoia, but it went off without a hitch. There was no line on that Thursday afternoon and the Canadian border patrol lady was pleasant. We handed over State I.D. and passports and birth certificates and I threw in my certificate of baptism and my youth hostel pass from ’91 for good measure.
We got a wee bit lost on our way into Vancouver, but eventually found our way to our hotel. We did some power shopping and then searched for the perfect place for dinner. My main concern was finding a place with the perfect froofy cocktail and we were highly successful. We drank super sized lava lamps, which were margaritas with lemon slush with red and blue liquors thrown in in patches of colors that really did look like a lava lamp. I was so full after dinner, I thought I was going to pass out, but that did not stop us from stopping at one of the dozens of chocolate shops for a midnight snack.
We were so tired from our travels (plus Jacki woke up at 4:30 am that morning), but all the sugar kept us up talking half the night. I woke up with a thudding headache and a general feeling of illness. When I realized what was the matter, I shouted out in sad disgust: “Oh my gosh, Jacki, I have a chocolate hangover!!”
We were able to pull it together and we were off to see Jenny and her husband Chris. On our way there, a guerrilla window washer attacked us. We were stopped at a stoplight and I had my head turned towards Jacki when out of nowhere this man jumps out and began washing our windshield. We screamed in terror and Jacki tried to honk the horn. He finished just as the light turned green and I said a thousand sorry’s as we drove off that I had no money to give him.
We got to Jenny’s with only one small driving snafu. I had not seen them since their wedding in June ’03 so seeing Jenny in a state of pre-motherhood was so special. She is the youngest of our group of friends from High school and only the second one of us to start a family. They fed us a lovely breakfast and Jenny seemed quite touched by our surprise baby shower. Jenny was still experiencing a lot of nausea, and the only thing to make her feel better was to eat. She needed to have a small meal every hour, so it was fun watching her eat pretty much constantly. It was a miserable chore for her, but she was a real trooper.
At one point us ladies went on a walk through the neighborhood and then we sat on the swings in the park. We talked about the state of the world, reminisced about the past days in our small town, got caught up on our present situations, shared information on mutual friends and passed the time with constant conversation.
Once back at her place, Jenny showed us some cartoon books she had made; they were so good, I know she can publish them some day. This was cool, because it was art that had brought us all together in the first place. Our group of friends all had art class with each other at one time and we would hang out in the art classroom instead of going to pep rallies, etc. We ate lunch together in the grass in front of the art room almost everyday and art is still a part of our lives in one way or another. Even if we do not see each other for a year or more, whenever we are together, it is like old times with that perfect familiar comfort.
Jenny & I recalled this one time when we were about 16 years old, my Dad was going to drive the 2 of us to a bigger town about an hour away from where we lived, so we could check out some life outside our little town. The two of us sat in the backseat as my Dad drove, and on our way to the freeway onramp, my Dad spontaneously stopped to pick up a hitchhiker. The hitchhiker was a beautiful German lady on her way home to Berkeley. The 3 of us instantly fell in love with her and we chatted the entire drive. Without a second thought, my Dad decided to drive her all the way to her home. This added an extra 3 hours to our trip, but we did not care. I am pretty sure her name was Angel or a derivative of that name. Once we got to her home, she invited us in and made us lunch. We probably hung out for an hour more, before she hugged us all goodbye and we had to return to our old existence.
Anyway, Jenny & Chris took us out to Ethiopian food and then we bid them farewell, wishing them a ton of luck with the adventures that await them as a growing family.
As we drove back to our hotel, it began to rain and did not stop. We got back to our touristy neighborhood just before the shops closed, so we got in a wee more shopping and bought a TON more candy. It poured all night long and continued pouring all morning, so we decided to forego any more shopping in Vancouver and would save our shopping energy for the Peace Arch Outlet Center.
On our way through the border to get back into the U.S., we got the 3rd degree. The U.S. Border guy was drilling questions at us left and right, barely letting us finish answering one question before he hit us with another. When asked what we were bringing back into the country from Canada, we answered nothing but a bunch of candy. This must have seemed suspicious to him because he asked us to pop the trunk. As we heard him unzip our suitcases, we began to hysterically giggle partly from nerves and partly from the fact that he just uncovered bags of chocolates and candy and not much more. After a few more panic inducing questions, he finally let us on our way.
We had a great trip and I was sad to see Jacki go. I returned the rental car this morning and when I got back into my smelly, old clunky car to head in to work, I cried a little bit.
This is a picture of Jacki and me a few years ago, the hard-core partiers that we are: