on the road once again (2007-09-15 - 9:30 a.m.)
The journey has begun!
After a crazy, hectic, totally insane and not necessarily efficient few weeks, I am on my way. Between packing up my apartment, sorting things out at work for the next person (a foolish task, I was repeatedly told, but I couldn't help doing it anyway) and trying to tie up loose Canadian ends, I have been totally preoccupied for a very long time now. Not everything got done to the very best standard, but hopefully I can manage the rest of it from overseas. I have declared this brief respite in Victoria a period of rest and am going to leave the worries to deal with in Wales.
My last day of work was Friday September 7th. I had a lovely Thai leaving lunch and then spent the afternoon trying to finish up... er... EVERYTHING. A task made rather more difficult because everyone wanted to have one last conversation. Eventually they had to propel me out of the office trailing bits of paper.
But after THAT - what a feeling of lightness! Without the weight of a steady job to tie me down, I felt like I could float. Getting my holiday time etc. paid out didn't hurt either - like a bonus for sticking it out for so long.
My friend Andrew from Edinburgh was to arrive the same day. His flight got in at 3.30. He called that evening to tell me he'd be on the 7pm Greyhound from Calgary to Edmonton and would call me when he got into the station. Around 10.30pm, I began to get antsy and went to the station. An HOUR later, they announced the late arrival of the 10.44 from Calgary. Andrew staggered off it and told his tale. Apparently, the Greyhound driver got lost multiple times between Edmonton and Calgary. (Despite the fact that it's a straight highway between the two). Andrew was treated to a scenic tour of Leduc and by the time they reached Edmonton, the driver had given up entirely and was asking passengers for directions. This, of course, resulted in "Go straight down this road and turn left." "No, right! Take a right here, quick!" "No no, just go straight on into the city!" Eventually the driver resorted to driving with a map in his lap and calling someone called Ralph for directions. "Hi Ralph, it's me again. Did you say right or left at the bottom of the hill?"
Andrew was very amenable and followed me around for the week. We went down to Rocky to see the fam and the cabin (though sadly, no bison). On Thursday, we departed on the train for Vancouver. Cue tearful goodbyes on the platform and then another hour's wait while the train didn't arrive.
Still, it was a nice journey through the mountains. I spent much of the time in the dome car staring out, and we saw a bear cub by the road as well as some deer and goats.
Amusement was provided in the form of two horrible pushy old ladies (frazzled dyed hair, trowelled-on makeup) in the seat behind us. They were assigned to their seat, and promptly tried to nick a bigger set of seats with four facing. The other passengers told them they couldn't just pick any seat. Then the conductor came by and they said, "Do you mind if we sit here?" "Yes. It's reserved for a family." "Oh, okay," they said, as they continued to sit there.
Then we got off at Jasper, and the family whose seat it properly was got on. So the ladies moved their stuff into the (occupied) seat across the aisle, and moved the baggage of the people who sat there away. Hijinks ensued (the owners of the seat were Quebecois and weren't fluent in English) until eventually the ladies were banished back to their own seats. However, I noticed that night that once again they had taken over two - and proceeded to snore loudly all night, then claim in the morning to not have slept a wink.
Sleeping on the train was interesting, and rather more restful than I expected. They handed out earplugs, which took care of the snorer, and eye masks, which took care of the lights. I slept in snatches of 2 - 3 hours, but ended up getting enough sleep in the end.
And now here I am in Victoria, after a train, a bus and a ferry. Stephen met me at the station for coffee, which was lovely. And Will provided bottles of cheap plonk and bottomless MacGyver episodes once we got here. Hauling our luggage up the hill to his place of work, the extremely imposing Cathedral, was all worth it in the end when his boss let him knock off early and take us home.
Tonight he is killing the fatted calf in my honour (in the form of a lamb roast) to make up for missing Feast. This will be a nice respite before the next, and infinitely more horrible, leg of the journey.
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