The journey home: a blow-by-blow account

Getting to Whistler was a 13 hour trek even without any delays or mishaps. The trip home was a bit more adventuresome (and, honestly, a hell of a lot more fun). The rockslide on Route 99 between Whistler and Vancouver really screwed things up.

Friday

Pictures from Friday’s adventures are over on Flickr: Escaping Whistler.

  • 7:30a Pacific – Wake up, shower, pack.
  • 8:30a – Hotel restaurant for a buffet breakfast. I’ve long since learned that traveling is a lot more pleasant if you have a full stomach. Schlepping luggage through airports does actually require calories.
  • 9:30a – Meet fellow hooligans in hotel lobby. Floatplane dispatcher is contacted because weather is looking…questionable. He says, “Yeah, so the weather is looking questionable, but we’ll try.” Taxis are called.
  • 9:45a – Our taxis arrive and promptly get poached by other hotel guests (wtf?). More taxis are called. We pile in.
  • 10:00a or so – Get to floatplane dock at Green Lake. The weather is looking increasingly iffy. We wait. We wait some more.
  • 10:30a or so – It begins to rain. More phonecalls. Travel plans are looking dire.
  • 11:00a or so – Whistler Air guy says “I have a plane leaving at 1:00p, but it’s in Squamish. You want to take that?” We confer. We agree to do that if first floatplane can’t make it.
  • 11:15a or so (standing on a dock in the rain, your sense of time sort of goes weird) – Floatplane guy calls back. Pilot tried to make it in to Green Lake but waved off due to weather. The floatplane is not coming. Travel plans are looking dire, indeed. We book and pay for Whistler Air flights, then continue standing around in the rain on the dock at Green Lake waiting for a bus to Squamish at noon. Air Canada is called many, many times. Travel arrangements are rescheduled since we’re now missing all our original flights. I rearrange my flight to be for Saturday since there’s no possible way to make the final connection from Toronto to Moncton at this point.
  • 12:00p – Whistler Air-provided shuttle bus to Squamish arrives. Huzzah. We pile in with our luggage and sundries and several other passengers.
  • 12:45p – We arrive in Squamish. Whistler Air guy there says, “Erm, planes are late,” (or something to that effect) “You have an hour to kill.” Already-rearranged travel plans for many are already beginning to look dire-ish. Awesome bus driver guy says, “I’ll take you all back into town to use the facilities and get lunch.” There is great rejoicing.
  • 1:15p – Back on bus heading back to the Greater Squamish Floatplane Airport after using facilities and wolfing down Wendy burgers, coffees, and donuts.
  • 1:45p or so – Group splits up. We can’t all fit on one plane. Big plane is ready to take folks who have earlier flights to catch today or who otherwise just want to get the hell to Vancouver. Mconnor, Lucy, Robcee and I valiantly stay behind.
  • 2:15p or so – Small plane arrives but fills up with a family of 6. No big deal, we have time to spare.
  • 2:45p or so – Finally get a plane. Pile on in, get the shortest and most to the point airplane security briefing ever, which is roughly: “If you need to open the door, pull the handle towards you then up. Buckle up.” Vroom. Flight is scheduled to last a whole 12 mins, but possibly slightly longer since they have to route around blasting (at the rockslide site). Many pictures are taken. Best flight ever. I seriously want a floatplane.
  • 3:15p or so – We arrive in downtown Vancouver at the floatplane dock. I’m giddy and take a million pictures of floatplanes because it turns out they’re frakking awesome.
  • 3:45p or so – Standing on a corner in Vancouver with Mconnor, Lucy, and Robcee trying to find cabs. Mconnor and Lucy get the first. Robcee and I get the second and head to the Radisson near YVR since both of our flights are on Saturday.
  • 7:30p or so – Dinner is obtained (and is surprisingly awesome). Darkness falls. Time passes. Two episodes of Weeds are watched. Exhaustion sets in.
  • 11:30p – Sleep.

Saturday

  • 8:00a Pacific – Wake up, shower, pack. Use the internet while it’s available.
  • 9:45a – Head downstairs for a buffet breakfast. See above re: traveling on a full stomach.
  • 10:15a – Check out. Get on shuttle to airport.
  • 10:45a – I get off shuttle at Domestic terminal. Robcee heads on to International.
  • 11:00a – Find myself at the end of a ridiculously long line of people checking in. I’m checked in but still have to print boarding passes and check luggage. Apparently Saturday is Cruise Day at YVR. There are eighty billion people.
  • 11:30a or so – Checked luggage, have boarding passes. Flight is scheduled for 1:45p so I make my leisurely way to my gate.
  • 12:00p – At gate, clinging to the outer fringes of the free wifi at YVR. Tired, but content.
  • 12:35p – Notice sign at my gate now says “Departure: 13:45. DELAYED: 15:45”. No longer content. 2 hour delay means I miss the last connection from Toronto to Moncton. Despair sets in. I suddenly stop having fun.
  • 12:50p – Gate agents are dealing with people who are going to miss their connections as best they can. Some non-connection-requiring passengers are being…jerks. I finally get to speak to an agent who informs me that an earlier flight has available seats. He prints me a boarding pass and says, “Um, you better hustle.” It’s already boarding and is a fair hike away. I hustle.
  • 1:00p or so – I arrive at the gate and am immediately able to board. Huzzah. Better still, I have seat 12H (bulkhead row, tons of legroom). Better still, 12K (window seat) is empty. When the doors close I shift over. Window seat, bulkhead row. I am no longer despairing.
  • 8:20p Eastern time – Land at YYZ. Connection doesn’t board for an hour so I take the time to get dinner (chicken ceasar salad + a smirnoff ice). Pay $6 for an hour’s worth of wifi so I can update folks on my whereabouts. It is at this precise moment that I realize I may actually need a cell phone. May have to look into blackberries again.
  • 9:00p – At gate using up the last of my wifi hour downloading free stuff on my iPod from the Apps Store. Turns out free stuff mostly sucks except the Sodoku.
  • 9:20p – Board. End up in wrong seat. Move to correct seat. No one’s beside me, yay. Attendant asks me if I would be so kind as to move to the Exit row since there are currently kids in it. I oblige and get extra leg room again. Pwn.
  • 12:50a Atlantic – Land at YQM.
  • 1:00a – Luggage obtained.
  • 1:10a – In cab on way home. Chat with driver about the Eagles concert (which was tonight), the upcoming Elton John concert, and the Casino. Find out his niece is in her fourth year at Acadia and the names of a few of the other folks who live on our street. Further chat about kids these days and whatnot. I’m definitely back in the Maritimes.
  • 1:30a or so – Home. Finally.
  • Total door-to-door (Whistler-Moncton) travel time: 40 hours.
  • Vehicles involved: Taxi, Bus, Floatplane, Taxi, Shuttle, Airplane, Airplane, Taxi.
  • Meals eaten: Breakfast (Whistler), Lunch (Squamish), Dinner (Vancouver), Breakfast (Vancouver), Dinner (Toronto), journey-ending beverage (Moncton).
  • Cats who met me at the door: Two.
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