Sunday, July 15, 2007

Lost in Translation

Today was supposed to be a nice, easy, and not particulary controversial day. It's all of ninety miles to Vancouver, and then we take the ferry across to Vancouver Island.

You've got to love those happy, Canadian cows!

And as short rides into the city go, its actually a pretty one.

The plan is simple. Jill is flying back to San Diego today, so when we get to the city Paul will veer off to the airport. He'll drop Jill off and the rest of us will head to the ferry. When Jill is safely away, Paul will head to the ferry landing to meet us. Simple enough?

We get to the city, wave at Jill, and they are off. Now Rick and I are following Jim.

It's not easy to lead a group of motorcyclists. Paul is really good at making sure no one gets lost, and telegraphing all his moves so that everyone knows where he is going.

Like most of us, Jim hates getting stuck in traffic, doesn't like getting stuck at a red light, and if he sees a gap in traffic that he can dive into, he takes it. Unfortunately, this makes it really hard to keep up with him.

As we get into the city, Jim changes lanes, dives through lights at the last second, and gets way past the point we can see him. Fortunately, the first three or four times this happens, we catch up.

Unfortunately, we don't get so lucky this last time. We get to this spot, and we have no idea where he is. Rick, Ann and I pull over and consider our options. Of course, to Ann and I, the most important option is a trip to Starbucks!

So Rick sets his GPS for West Vancouver and we're across the bridge. I don't know how well you can see it in this picture, but you may notice that each lane has either a red neon "X" or a green neon arrow hanging above it. If the lane has a green arrow, its safe for you to drive in. If its red, the lane is for oncoming traffic. I've seen this in places like Australia, and they make it so that they can change amount of traffic going in each direction. It's very cool in concept, but a bit disconcerting in implementation. You find yourself swerving into the empty lane to your left, only to find that traffic is heading straight at you!

We get to West Vancouver and violate rule one of the Guy Code. We stop for directions. Hey, it's a foreign country! Besides, I'm trying to function without caffeine. Along with the directions, we find a local Starbucks as well.

Ironically, this is only the fourth Starbucks I've had on this trip, as they are not as ubiquitous outside of California as I would like to believe. As I order my latte, I get a text message from Paul. He arrived at the ferry early, and they put him on an earlier boat. He's going to arrive a full two hours before we do.

Fully caffeinated, Rick, Ann and I head through some very expensive neighborhoods on our way to the ferry. When we do arrive we're directed to the head of the line (It pays to be a motorcyclist) and we wait.

While we wait, a motorcyling den mother of sorts chats us up. "Oh yeah, this gentleman here is from Nanaimo, don't-cha-know. And this young man has driven all over North America!" She was quite the maven!

As we sail across the Strait of Georgia, I enjoy my last couple of hours with Rick and Ann. I've grown quite fond of them over the last week, so they will be missed.

I text Paul to see if he's heard from Jim and Suzanne. Like Paul, they ended up on the earlier ferry as well.

We finally land on Vancouver Island and make our way to the Buccaneer Inn. Everyone says their goodbyes to Rick and Ann, then we take some time to crash.

Jim and Suzanne invite Paul and I downstairs to the patio to drink some wine and bask in the sun. While we chat, we notice that the flowers on the patio are swarming with bees!

The bees seem to be completely oblivious of us, so I take the opportunity to take a few pictures. They're actually facinating little beasties, once you get past that whole, "Please don't sting me!" part.

Just to prove that we're actually in Canada, here is the parking space outside of our hotel.

To end our day, we walk past the harbor. Reminds me of my sailing trip with Edwin, around the Straits of Juan de Fuca.

Fortunately, tomorrow is a really short day. We drive seventy miles to Victoria on the South side the island. Then the next day we sail back to the United States. I get to sleep in tomorrow. Yay!!!

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