Flying Home

Yesterday my coworker and I arrived at the airport in Winnipeg over 3 hours before we could board our flight. Needless to say- we were eager to get home.

I sat at the window staring out at the tarmac and our gate, “patiently” waiting for our plane to arrive. At one point I ended up taking a 45 minute nap to help pass the time.

I rebooked my seat the night before so that I could be in the 4th row in order to be one of the first passengers to disembark. WestJet offered some free “inflight entertainment” that we could access from our personal devices over their WiFi network. I watch a movie for the majority of my flight until the last 15 minutes. Then I watched on my phone as our plane approached the Vancouver Airport. From near my home in Langley, the plane landed 8 minutes later.

I think that the plane crew wanted to get out of Winnipeg quickly as well. Since all the passengers were on board early- our flight left fifteen minutes ahead of schedule. Meaning we arrived in Vancouver early.

It is nice to be home back and with my family. I missed their company tremendously. Now to get back into the daily grind…

Soaring Gas Prices

Like many of my friends living in the Vancouver and surrounding areas- we are feeling the pinch of astronomically high gas prices. Current prices are anywhere from $1.55/L to $1.70L. Of course the Long Weekend is here which always sees an increase in pump prices as well. Ugh.

My work week has me driving 110km each day- just to and from work. I also don’t live anywhere that has decent transit. I have now resorted to making a weekly trek across the border to the USA to fill up my car. After exchange rate, today I paid approximately $1.25/L. For me is about $15-$20 of savings every fill. That is a significant amount of money in the long term. After filling up this morning, my car has informed me that I can get almost 600km from this tank of gas. That gets me through the weekend and work week until I have to fill it again. I’m lucky that I only put on 40km round trip from my home to earn those savings.

Looking at going electric in the future is definitely something to consider. Yes, I’d love to own an electric car. But I have two major issues: Nowhere to charge it at work and my home power fails in the winter regularly. That would kind of leave me stranded. So until I can figure out a more permanent resolution- punching pennies at the pump is the way to go.

Or stop driving.

Feel free to complain in the comments section.

Wedgewood Vancouver

A couple of days ago I told my wife we needed a night out. Originally she declined the idea. But advice from my friend saying “You should of told her- too f#%king bad. WE need a night away and will enjoy it“. That sealed the deal and I booked a hotel room. But not just any hotel room.

I booked for my wife and I to stay in the heart of Vancouver at a Five Star Hotel called Wedgewood Hotel and Spa. Very fancy compared to our usual stays in places like the Holiday Inn Express. It’s also a bit more extravagant than our stays in Seattle at The Roosevelt. Once in a while you just have to “Treat yo’ self“.

The navigation in my car had us stopping just outside the hotel. As soon as I stopped, the doorman came out and greeted us within seconds. He grabbed our bags and had us at the front desk introducing us to the concierge by name. He then took my car keys and off he went to park the car.

I booked one of their more spacious rooms with a large tub and king sized bed. Our balcony overlooks Robson Street and Robson Square. Of course because this is a hotel and spa I naturally booked us in for a spa treatment. The hotel had a letter welcoming us as well as a letter confirming our spa appointment. We were encouraged to utilize the robes and slippers provided to attend our appointment. When in Rome…

We arrived early in order to enjoy the complimentary Eucalyptus & Lemongrass Steam Room. When we arrived, they served us tea and we relaxed before our couples massage. My wife and I both requested a deep tissue rub down. Our service lasted an hour. To say we left the spa relaxed is an understatement.

We retreated back to our hotel room and sat on our patio in our hotel robes. A glass of wine before dinner and a realization that we can’t afford to do this all the time has made it special and enjoyable. The staff here are extremely friendly and courteous. My wife and I don’t really want to leave the hotel, so chances are we will remain here and enjoy the restaurant service in the lobby.

This is a well deserved night away.

Night Drive to the Airport

Last night I had to pick up my wife from the airport. Since I was working out in North Vancouver during the day, it didn’t make a whole lot of sense to drive home first. I’d have driven eastward for 45 minutes just to have headed south west and drive for another 50 minutes to the airport. So I decided to kill some time in North Vancouver and had a quiet dinner by myself followed by a drive through Vancouver.

It was a route I don’t normally take. As I’ve mentioned in the past- I rarely travel to Vancouver. So I took my time and drove over the Lions Gate bridge from the North Shore past Stanley Park and into Vancouver. To my surprise, I really enjoyed seeing this part of the city at night. I can see why my wife would like to spend some time living in this area.

There’s something about city lights and a clean part of the city that becomes enticing. My wife may be able to sway me into buying our next place out that way once our kids are adults. I never thought of myself leaving the ‘burbs. But a nice view of city lights seems plausible. Only time will tell.

Taking This City for Granted

I’m always excited to travel to other countries, states, provinces, and visit different cities. I enjoy driving around certain cities such as Los Angeles or Calgary. Some of my favorite cities to walk around are Seattle, Tokyo, and San Jose. As well as the beaches of California and Hawaii. And of course, Disneyland.

Our adventures over the years have taken us to see some beautiful cities and picturesque landscapes. From unique architecture to forests to parks to beaches. But I forget that Vancouver is unique and beautiful in its own way. With many of the things I have experienced elsewhere.

Over the past few weeks I’ve had the opportunity to work downtown Vancouver. It made me want to come down to this city more often. I’ve begun to take the time and just wander around Vancouver as well as take in a Hockey Game with my son. Vancouver has parks and architecture that you can only find here.

The outskirts of Vancouver boast beautiful trails located in many municipalities; and White Rock’s beaches aren’t crowded. This year, we aren’t planning any big trips or vacations. I’m going to plan more daily explorations of our current stomping grounds. Let’s share what the Lower Mainland has to offer.

By all means, give me some ideas of places to visit and things to do. No need to keep secrets about this exquisite locale we call home.

Land, Air, and Sea

Flying home from Los Angeles I chose to sit by the window. I took advantage of this and enjoyed the scenery below.

Flying over California was neat. The change in landscapes was quick paced. Almost immediately leaving Los Angeles there were mountains and farmland. Lots of earthy tones of brown and green.

As we approached the Vancouver airport, the view changed drastically to more lush green and the blue of the water surrounding the outskirts.

Flying over both was surreal to me. In California- I could see below us all of the many roads we have driven in the past to get to Disneyland. Arriving at Vancouver, I could see the many locations that my work services. Rail cars and train tracks that I have been on numerous times. Plus many local roads that I have driven.

Once you’re in the air- flying is neat. The other stuff at airports, check in, paperwork, delays, etc… sucks. I prefer a good old fashioned road trip.

Get Out of Town!

I finished work today in North Vancouver. Being that it was a Saturday, my drive home was pretty good. (Better than it was earlier in the week during Rush Hour.) Seems like my desire to get out of the Vancouver area was different than most other people. Tons of people were heading into Vancouver at 6pm.

The Honda Celebration of Light is happening at 10pm tonight. It’s the 28th year of the fireworks display. In my life I have been 5 times. None of which have been in the past 17 years. Meaning I haven’t taken my kids…

From 1990-2000 it was called the “Benson and Hedges: Symphony Of Fire”. I liked it back then. You could smoke in the bay and wait for the show. A tobacco company sponsoring a fireworks show makes sense to me. In 2000 the Canadian government passed a law forbidding tobacco and liquor companies from sponsoring events. (Vancouver lost the Molson Indy shortly after as well because they couldn’t find sponsorship.)

But these fireworks survived. They were sponsored by a bank for a brief period, now by Honda. With an expected crowd of over 400,000 on a hot summer night, you bet your ass I won’t be there. Crowds and heat don’t make me happy. Driving or skytrain with stinky crowds make me more angry. Especially with the fact that so many ruin it by getting belligerently drunk.

But if it’s your thing- enjoy! I’m going to hang out close to home and cool off with a cold beverage and be belligerent online like a good samaritan.

This Flight Tonight

Holy crap. The day is upon us. Time to hit the skies over the wild blue yonder. My wife’s anxiety and fears have turned to excitement and fun. Now it’s my turn for the stress…

We did online check in yesterday and had an early arrival at the airport today. Our bags were dropped off 3 hours early and our stress level was turned down. I grabbed a candid shot of my wife and son as they waited in line.

We enjoyed a late lunch and we were off to pass through security. We were first at security and my wife got a secondary screening. But it was still quick. We found our departure gate and grabbed a seat by a large chessboard.

Our kids kept themselves occupied without the use of electronic devices (even though we had those with us). Lots of smiles and smack talk as they challenged each other. People watched from the distant sidelines as the games went on.

At one point, I chose to take my shoes came off for a breather before we boarded the plane. No one wants to have smelly feet for ten hours. Only a few minutes remain now until we board. Last chance to use the restroom and wash up. I want the stress feeling to go away.

I’m not worried about the flight- which is good. I’m worried about every other aspect of our trip. Argh! It’s almost time to board! Stress sweats… ugh. No! We can do this. It’ll be fine. It will be fine.

And fun. We have companions. So a bit of silly photo fun is being had. These guys will make a few more appearances during this trip.

Off we go! See you on the other side of the world!

Steam Train

The best trip I ever took on the railroad was being the conductor moving a steam train from Squamish to North Vancouver. This was on December 7th/2010 in the early morning. I briefly mentioned my adventure in Proud of Where I Work. The Royal Hudson was a majestic machine.

Being canvased to take this train in the wee hours of the morning didn’t bother me at all. When the crew caller told me it was as for a steam train- I bolted out of bed like a kid on Christmas morning and accepted the call. I arrived at the yard office an hour early waiting to get on board.

My engineer and I were taken in a taxi to the West Coast Railway Heritage Park where the engine was housed. We were called more as “pilots” to help the crew as they travelled on CN’s tracks. In the coach cars behind us were media and some higher management types. Once we got going, the trip south was smooth. Mostly I was in charge of lining switches and talking on the radio.

We stopped once on the side of the highway. This was to perform a quick inspection to make sure the wheels weren’t running hot. This allowed for a ton of photos as well. My boss had given me permission to use my camera while on duty- otherwise we generally aren’t supposed to. The public also stopped alongside us numerous times to get a quick photo of the famed Royal Hudson locomotive and coach cars.

When we arrived at our destination- we parked next to a diesel locomotive getting fuel in order for our engine to get filled with more water. Even though my journey as conductor ended here only three hours after it began, I stayed longer to ask questions of the volunteers who take care of the engine.

Yes, volunteerstake care of this engine. There is not a lot of money allocated from any railroad in order to preserve these machines. The museum brings in a bit, but it’s the train buffs who volunteer time and effort to keep these things running.

Alas, two days later, the engine returned to Squamish and has not been brought out on the main line since then. When I retire from CN Rail, I think I may put forth some of my time towards keeping these beauties around for future generations.

All In Good Fun

Yesterday I had a pretty great time wandering the show floor at Fan Expo Vancouver. I even got to do it with my wife- which is rare. But now that our children are older and more responsible, they were able to look after our table from time to time.

My wife and I laughed and goofed off. I was in my Obi Wan Kenobi Cosplay and decided to have some fun with it. I used my Jedi Mind tricks on a vendor and got my purchase with no tax added. Never mind that he had a sign out saying “no tax”- he played along.

Later in the afternoon, I wandered around with my daughter to find a quiet place to place some Nintendo 3DS. So I got her to take a picture of my impression of Obi Wan from the end of Episode IV. It got some really good laughs. We made the most of our Convention time while we were there.

I do find it odd that filming is everywhere in the Lower Mainland… Even though you’d think Vancouver would have a tremendous Convention, it kind of lacks a lot of celebrities. It is also rather small compared to some of the other Conventions we attend. Because it was a local con, we had to go. At the end of today, we’ll see how the sales did.

This year felt like an oversized craft fair, but still fairly fun. The price of tickets for attendees are somewhat reasonable compared to other shows. But there really needs to be a bigger draw to the show. Hopefully everyone got to enjoy their convention experience. I know those who I spoke with had fun.

Vancouver needs to set the bar higher and make it not just fun, but mind blowing.