ONE DAY IN CANADA
3:28 p.m. on July 27, 2006


I had an odd day yesterday. I semi-spontaneously drove to Vancouver, BC and back. I had the day off, because I knew my Aunt (my Momís sister) was going to be in the vicinity to leave on an Alaskan cruise and I wanted to see her, but I did not realize she was leaving from a port over 3 hours away. It was sort of a long shot, because we were not totally sure I would get to see her. She knew she had to go through Canadian customs first and would check on to the ship, but we were not sure if they would let her off for a few hours before it set sail. My cousin who lives in Kansas was also going to be there, but instead of flying in and going directly to the port at the hands of the Carnival Cruise people, he and his family came in a day early to see some sites and arrive independently, so I would probably get to see them.

With this little bit of reassurance, I jumped in the car and got on the freeway, but instead of heading South to go to work, I headed North to go to Canada. There are not a lot of commuters that head in this direction, so the lack of traffic congestion was heavenly. I lead footed it all the way; if there is no traffic, speeding just feels right. I only saw one cop, but that was luckily at a moment when all traffic ahead of me slowed down that gave me a tip off to do the same.

I brought with me every single Elliott Smith CD he ever released and listened to him the whole way there and back; singing along at the top of my lungs. I had not listened to him since the day he died in 2003, but felt he was the perfect cathartic voice I needed for the drive (the date was significant: my mothersí birthday).

I wanted to get there by noon as that was the time we thought my aunt would arrive at port. I left at 9:00 am and arrived at the Canada Place Pier by 12:19 pm. I would have gotten there right at noon had I not had to stop to pee THREE different times. I think the excitement of the drive and the slight anxiety that accompanied the day had my juices working overtime.

Then I waited.

I finally got a hold of my Aunt and she was still 40 minutes away. My cousin was site-seeing, so I told him I would just wait there. I stood out in the direct sun where all the shuttle busses were passing by in hopes they would see me as they drove into the lot, but nothing. I then decided to head down in to the parking area the shuttle busses were taking cruise passengers to check in, but I did not see them. After almost an hour, they called saying they were there, but still had to check in and go through customs and it would be another 45 minutes. They seemed fairly certain that once they were checked in they could come off the ship and hang out until 4:00 pm.

So I waited.

I finally got a call from my cousin that he was returning the rental car, but that his wife and two teenage daughters were probably within 100 yards of me in a waiting area. I was able to find them and it was a good moment of seeing family that I never get to see.

Then we waited.

Finally, after 3 hours of driving and two hours of waiting, my aunt emerged, hooting and hollering, from the bowels of the ship. We let my cousin and his family check-in, while she took me out to a nice lunch. She gave me money to cover the cost of my parking and gas and we got to spend about 2 hours together, so the whole thing was totally worth it.

After walking her back so she could leave on her fancy Alaskan cruise, I then high-tailed it out of there. I did not go shopping or do any site seeing; it was time to go home. I was not sure how to get back to the freeway, but I accidentally found it with no trouble. I drove like a speeding banshee with a foot made out of a log and flew like the wind. It was a nice drive with gorgeous scenery and even the U.S. border was a breeze. When I got home, I could have just told Sasha I went to work and he would have never been the wiser.





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