Wednesday, April 8, 2015

On the Road to Vancouver, Canada

By Cal Orey
This Afternoon Tea was bliss for this tea lover

As I sit cozy amid my three fur kids at Tahoe, a day after it snowed, memories of traveling from Seattle to Vancouver on Sunday March 22 are with me.  Amazingly, I did fall asleep early to arise to a hotel 4:00 A.M. wake up call. I got two calls with a lot of rings and was up. 
Taking a bath, getting dressed without coffee was a task--not like home sweet home. True, the dogs get me up early but treating myself to a big cup of gourmet joe with a great splash of organic milk is my treat. Not in the picture at 4:30 in Seattle...

Canada Bound:...Grabbed a cab and headed to the Amtrak Train Station in downtown Seattle. It was crowded with people who did have coffee or had it. Checking in was a job but the business class lounge awaited. Read: Coffee. By 6:45 A.M. I was on my way to the border of Washington and Canada. I sensed Border Patrol agents would be nicer to me than back during my journey in September when the Immigration Officer asked me: "Do you have pot?" And the grilling went south for an hour at 1:30 A.M. after traveling 3000 miles to be greeted in a French speaking province.
Fond images of train rides to Quebec and B.C. 
Nearing the WA/CA border was exciting

Taking the train is a romantic experience but the food is nondescript. I'd like to say, "Coffee is coffee." But that is not true. Yes, I got a little caffeine fix but it was nothing to write home about. The cold bagel? I longed to be home for a homemade scone or fresh whole grain bagel with European butter. 

On the upside, two passengers befriended me. The woman--an individual who tracked helicopter crashes; the man, a former airline pilot were my age and superb company. The four hour trek went by fast. Lots of stimulating conversation made the time pass. It was fun. Often on trips, like this one, I meet interesting people--exchange intimate feelings and words--and we know we probably will never cross paths again. It's much like when I hitchhiked across America and through Canada.

Hello Vancouver!...  Once near the Canadian border, we filled out a card answering questions about our stay, who we were, why we were visiting. It was a cake walk in contrast to Quebec.  Then, before noon the train arrived at Vancouver. As planned, a cab took me straight to the hotel. Not as planned 400 college students were in the lobby. I was told they were leaving. Looking at the faces of hotel staff it was overkill. Worse, there was a chance I wouldn't get my room until 4:00 P.M. 
I checked my carry-on bags with a man in a room. Also, I checked with the manager on the odds of me getting settled in my room sooner than later. There is a hotel god. I was rescued and the elevator beamed me up to the 24th floor, a corner room with a balcony. It was spacious and boasted the feel of the city--a place I miss. 
My corner room with a view
In my Room and Out:... Unpacked and called concierge.  I was guided where to purchase a new carry-on bag with four wheels--not two (it broke).  Felt in a strange land shopping. People holding designer dogs to aggressive panhandlers (I did this in my twenties, must be karma). I did notice my garb (sweater, skinny jeans, Sorels with faux fur, infinity scarf) fit in with the city women. I felt a sense of fashion belonging. After a compassionate sales girl helped me find a good bag I grabbed a large chocolate bar for that feel-good endorphin high and to beat the lack of sleep.

Feeling like Dorothy once she arrived at Oz was how I felt. Pampered at the spa pool/hot tub and pampered through research. It was an awesome experience that I will savor for later.  Back to the room to live for I admit I was tired from the early train ride. Instead of room service, I actually order a medium vegetarian pizza with whole wheat crust. Settling in with a picturesque view, food, gray skies was my idea of taking a break. Monday promised more adventures.

All mine, a fish from the past life
Swimming Time :... At home I often swim at one of the resort pools. I did call room service and got a carafe of coffee, milk, and a bagel.  We are talking pricey food (fifteen dollars); I could purchase 2 1/2 dozen fresh bagels (all kinds from sea salt to cinnamon raisin) for that and a pot of coffee brewed by moi. I passed on a breakfast for a princess and savored a mocha latte at Starbucks downstairs. Most likely, other hotel guests followed the same game plan.

Hot tub heaven anticipating the
Vancouver Aquarium
Awake it was time to hit the pool and pray that it would be empty and open. It was all mine. I was in heaven. True, it was cold outdoors, but steam was rising from both the pool and hot tub. In and out I went. Extra laps, longer than usual in the tub. I was in heaven in Vancouver and felt like a fish in water.

To be Continued...

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