luckycanuck: (Kokoda tractor)
I am steadily building up large amount of flex time that will enable me to go to the Bingham Cup.  I usually get to work around 7am and leave when I feel it's time to go (or in time to make other appointments like trivia or training.)  To some degree I wonder if I am actually all that productive, but I don't dwell on that question too much.

Flights are booked.  I am going on frequent flyer points, and will have 12 hours in Shanghai on the way back which will allow me to add one more country to the list of places I have been (provided that I do pushups there.)  I've also arranged a place to stay when I arrive.  I'll be staying in the east end (far from Ealing where I lived while I was there) at a place I found on AirBnb.  It's a site where people advertise rooms in their homes.  I'll be staying with a local family with a room to myself in a fairly central location for a lot less than I would pay otherwise.

Also the vicar I worked for back in 2004 has offered to put me up for a couple nights which may be very suitable after the tournament when I do my pushups.  I'm still planning on doing it, though the charity I chose and e-mail nearly two weeks ago hasn't responded even though I contacted them again a few days ago through every e-mail I could find on their site.  So today I contacted another one, which looks even better, and might not give the the runaround.

I may have picked up a few more training clients at a party last night.  It's going pretty well with a few blips here and there, in part because I am not letting it be a big deal to me.

I did get an odd feeling when starting my Anzac Day workout.  It may have been because I had been up since 4am, but I got a couple minutes in and I realised that I just didn't feel like working out.  It was an odd feeling.  I was doing things that I normally like, but that day I just felt like quitting.  The next day I was back to doing intense workouts involving burpees and kettlebell swings, and today I did a workout named for a marine officer killed in action five years ago today.

Oh yes, and I am now a fully qualified bush firefighter.  I attended a hazard reduction burn yesterday and demonstrated I can handle drip torches, rake hoes, and I can put out fires.  I wish I had brought may camera, because at one point there was a bush with red berries that were such a brilliant red against the black ash beneath them.
luckycanuck: (Kokoda tractor)
Today's workout was adapted from a Crossfit workout named after an American Paratrooper who was killed in Afghanistan in 2009.

TW: 3 rounds - row 1km, 50 burpees, 40 situps, 30 hand release pushups, 20 kettlebell swings, 10 ring pushups, run 800m. My time: 51:37. I tried to do the 50 burpees in one set without rest, and in the first round I made it.

I was having tea with Cupcake Goddess and she had some advice.

She advised me to quit my job and travel around the world. A month here. A month there. I could live in Canada for a while, I could live in America for a while, I could pop back to the UK, I could travel to some places that I've still not been and go back to work when I'm ready.

I can't say the thought hasn't crossed my mind. I've saved up plenty over the years and I've got plenty of investments that could potentially provide some income. She even suggested I should use trading as a source of income using the rationale that once your investment income equals your living expenses, working becomes an option.

To be honest, I don't think I could not work. I would need to do something. I could do temporary or voluntary work here and there and develop some of the contacts I currently have. On my last trip I was pretty much always doing something. Becoming that awful self centred woman from Eat Pray Love would be a terrible fate for me. I'm not interested in laying about and "relaxing". The idea of roaming around the world "finding myself" sounds, on some levels, to be hideously indulgent and wasteful.

I can afford to do this, and as I pointed out, I can make more money but I can't make more time. As CG pointed out, I'll only be young once and in a few years I will be 40 which is "less hot that 30."

This is an idea that I am not just going to leap into. It has some definite benefits though, and I am going to give it serious consideration.
luckycanuck: (Kokoda tractor)
I'm still waking up early and having a hard time getting back to sleep.  I hope I've got it sorted now because being back on Australian time would be a plus.  The cold is leaving me too, but it's not gone yet.

I left work mid afternoon yesterday to fly to Dubbo.  It's not quite as cosmopolitan as most of the places I've been recently, but it's where I am now.  I did pushups in front of the Old Dubbo Gaol and in front of the Village Bakery Cafe, the first bakery ever to win the Great Australian Meat Pie competition twice.  My cheese and bacon pie for breakfast was very satisfying.

Today I gave a presentation on my demographic work which everyone loved and the whole thing went very well.  I think I may send it to my American contact so he knows the kind of work I do.

I ran into a former Deputy Prime Minister in Sydney Airport yesterday.  I knew him from when I first came down to Canberra and he asked what I was doing now, we chatted about how Julia Gillard and her party are really struggling, and he also asked where I was worshipping now in Canberra.

This guy was know for be quite openly religious and I had discussed the prospect of the priesthood with him.  He is a lot more conservative and a lot more happy clappy than I am.  I never told him about the rugby team I play on or about being in the Mardi Gras parade because I feel it would be an odd conversation.

And I realised that through Lent I scarcely set foot in a church.  That's a record for me.  But I think I am needing some space away at the moment.

In the airport I also spoke to a high ranking officer in the NSW Fire Brigade.  He's been at it for 28 years and loves it, and says apparently there are firefighter exchanges to overseas countries which would be nice.  I'll be doing more looking into things next week.

Off to Sydney now!  Tomorrow I may be modelling for a Convicts poster.  We will see how it goes.
luckycanuck: (Kokoda tractor)
I managed to sleep five hours straight aided by nighttime cold medication and then a couple more hours after watching Black Swan (which was awesome) so I arrived back in Australia more rested than I normally would be after a flight across the Pacific.

Cupcake Goddess picked me up from Canberra Airport and we had plans to meet up for afternoon tea, but I dozed off on the sofa just after noon and missed it.  We will have to reschedule.  I was delighted to see that someone had left a chocolate bunny on my bed and a number of chocolate eggs hidden around Chez Canuck.  Nobody was home when I got back and I had to take care not to eat all that I found.

I managed to stay up until 11, a reasonable going to bed time, but couldn't sleep past 4am.  So I figured the best thing I could do would be to get back to the gym with a vengence.

TW: 15-14...1, half clean and press, kettlebell swings, pullups.  My time was about 35 minutes which was longer than I would have liked.  There were more pauses than I wanted to have, I guess on account of not having been to the gym for a while, still being fatigued (though unable to sleep) and being a bit hungry.  Still, it was good to get back to serious crossfitty workouts again.

The day at work was not bad.  There are plenty of letters to write and I will get through that, and it looks like I will be flying to Dubbo tomorrow (exotic after I've been to New York perhaps?) and spending the weekend in Sydney.  I've been devoid of work stabulence today, though perhaps the leftover happy from holidays is keeping my spirits up.  There may yet be time for me to get back to being my bitter and jaded self soon.

Overall, I'm feeling better than I did after my last trip last year.  Maybe I feel like I have more on the horizon now.
luckycanuck: (Kokoda tractor)

Last year when I was out with my fellow Australians to observe the American elections, we went out on the Saturday before Halloween and in the process I met MCat who was dressed up as Lady Gaga.  We spoke for a little while and became Facebook friends.

For the past few days, I stayed with MCat and her cats (who reluctantly got used to me.)

I suppose in theory it's an odd thing to do for both of us.  She opened her home to a guy from overseas (and had to reassure skeptical friends that she would be ok) and it was a long way for me to go, though given that I was in America anyway, Orlando isn't all that hard to get to.

We had gotten to know each other pretty well though, in fact better than most people I interact with on a daily basis.  She knew about my frailties and quirks and accepted them all.  For both of us it just felt right.

So when my bags were delayed (again) coming in from Washington, I didn't mind much even though it meant waiting around the airport a bit because my bags came in on the next flight right at the same time as MCat finished her class and came by to pick me up.

On Thursday little aside from resting was done.  I've been fighting a cold since last week (probably punishment for lack of sleep in New York) and medicated myself to a point where I felt much more human.  (Though I think I passed some of my symptoms on to MCat.)

On Friday she hauled me across the state to her native Tampa (which is, I was assured, much better than Orlando) and we went to Sand Key so that I could swim in another body of water, this time the extraordinarily warm Gulf of Mexico and do pushups on the shore.  An onlooker asked if we were visiting on our honeymoon, and we said no, but for some reason I was inspired to spin a bit of a tale.  I told the guy I was a rugby player when he asked what I did.  Now technically that's true.  I am a rugby player.  I never said I played rugby for a living, I just let him conclude that.  He said he was going to look out for me when he watched ESPN.  I told him I played for the Sydney Convicts, and I'm pretty sure he forgot the name of the team by the time he left.

People in the south are really very friendly.

On Saturday we went to the other coast and visited Kennedy Space Centre, which was expensive, but worth it.  A space shuttle was on the platform in preparation for launch and we got a pretty good view.  We also met with an active space shuttle astronaut and, of course, I did pushups with her.  I'm not a full on science nerd, but I do have some tendencies in that area and the opportunity to get that close to space was too good to pass up.  The whole production was quite impressive and was aimed at promoting the idea of space travel amongst people who might lobby their Senators and Congressmen to increase NASA's funding.  I know there are a lot of demands on taxpayer funds and the US Government is going deeper and deeper in debt everyda, and I couldn't actually explain in simple terms what NASA is doing with all those expensive missions, but it was hard to come away from the place without wanting to send a man to Mars.

This morning MCat took me to the airport and saw me off.  (I made it through security in time to catch most of Easter Sunday Mass.)  Now is an odd part of the holiday.  I am currently in LAX on an 11 hour stopover (luckily I have a guest pass to the Qantas Club which was accepted which is good because as much as I like adventure, I think I've had enough of it for now and I would rather have some quiet time.)

The problem with quiet time is that sometimes it gives me time to stew, and stewing at the moment would likely be on the subject of feeling alone now that I am leaving all my American friends behind.

But you know, this has been a pretty good trip and I have had some very good friends to share it with.  From starting my holiday visiting JAQ in San Francisco to visiting my family, to getting in touch with some old friends in Ottawa and Washington, to getting in touch with newer friends in New York, to meeting blog friends in Baltimore, to ending my trip with MCat, I have been fairly well surrounded by people who know me and care what happens to me.

There were a few lonely and teary moments on the flight in to LA, but they are behind me now.

I am, indeed, a Luckycanuck.
luckycanuck: (Kokoda tractor)
And then there was Washington.  On my first night I went for a walk up to the Adams Morgan area which was quite a walk but it was worth it for the excellent slice of blueberry pie and then a visit to a pub.  People in both the cafe and in the pub were very friendly and I found myself happily involved in a number of unsolicited conversations.

On Tuesday I made a trip around the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum and the American History Museum and did pushups in front of the Wright Brothers plane, the Apollo 11 Lunar Module, the Spirit of St Louis (where I must have done 100 friggin pushups waiting for the guy to figure out how to use my camera.)  Then it was Archie Bunker's chair, Fonzie's jacket, Catwoman's costume, and Dorothy's Ruby slippers.

In the afternoon I put my suit on and made my way out to Alexandria to have a work meeting.  I was meeting with a guy who does microtargeting similar to one of the projects I work on and he and I discussed what he does and what I do and how I might improve it.  He was of the opinion that my work was quite impressive given the budget and resources I have.  I've considered a change of scenery and a move back to North America (considered it, not planning it) and this is the kind of place I might end up working if I did.  It would be an awfully big step though.  Still, given all the career angst I've been having, I liked hearing that someone thought very highly of the work I do.  We will be in touch.

I spent the evening having beers with a lawyer with whom I went to university and whom I hadn't seen in 10 years.  There was plenty of career talk and poltical talk and comments were made that I was far better dressed than most people on holiday.  It was a good reminder that plenty of people who appear to be master's of the universe are jaded and pissed off about their career choices like a lot of the lawyers he knows.

Right now there are a bunch of American girls on a church trip who are strangely fascinated by my stories.

Today it's on to Orlando to stay with someone I met last year.
luckycanuck: (Kokoda tractor)

I left New York on Sunday morning for Philadelphia where I planned to spend a short time getting pushup photos before heading on to Baltimore.

Unfortunately, there were traffic delays so it looked like I would only have time to get to the art museum that was made famous in Rocky.  I collected my gear, got into a taxi, and said I wanted to go to my next destination via "the Rocky museum."  The driver said I could have one stop.  He refused to do both, and as my window was closing, I opted to give the museum a miss.  I thought it was petty in general, but the sheer surliness about they guy kind of pissed me off.  In the end I gave him a really small tip and came away with a negative view of Philadelphia taxi drivers.

Getting my next bus was worse.  I was booked on the 3:15 and got there to collect my ticket at 2:50 where I waited (though I did get photos on a Philadelphia street while I waited.)  No bus turned up at 3:15, and no announcement was made.  A group of us waited patiently only to find out that apparently the 3:15 had left on time from another gate without them telling us.  I was tring to find out when I could get going only to discover that the next one was at 5:15.  I could have gone to the Rocky museum and back having done some cool pushups in the meantime, but I found this out too late for this information to be any good.  I left Philadelphia in a bad mood with a universally bad impression of the place.

Additionally the bus itself stalled more than once and I considered the prospect that I might have to get out and push.

I made it to Baltimore about three hours late and quickly made arrangements to meet up with [ profile] back_track  who showed me a couple of bars in Baltimore. in what is apparently a very bar oriented city.  One place had about 100 beers on tap and another served us some National Bohemian, which is apparently Baltimore's cheap hipster beer.

I was feeling a bit down about leaving New York and didn't feel like making chit chat with strangers, but I did feel better after heading out into the world to adventure a bit more.  I made it to Fort McHenry where the American National Anthem was inspired during the War of 1812.  Of course, I would have been on the British side in that war, but there were no hard feelings.  The Brits bombarded the fort for 24 hours in September 1814.  I just walked in and did pushups.

I also did pushups on Federal Hill and in front of Babe Ruth's birthplace before packing off for Washington.

Apparently Baltimore is a poor city according to back_track but I liked it.  The people in bars were friendly, the taxi driver was the first taxi driver I've met in America who didn't seem consumed by annoyance, and the whole place seemed nicer.

Of the two cities, I preferred Baltimore... by far.

luckycanuck: (Mr Lazy)

A lot of my general sightseeing and pushups were done last November when I was around, so my visit was less centreed around sightseeing and more oriented towards socialising with people I already knew.

On the Wednesday I came down from Boston on a Megabus which had free wi-fi on board.  Wonderful.  Every place I have stayed on this trip came with free wi-fi and now buses were providing it.  It's as if in five years wireless internet will be literally everywhere.

Upon arrival I checked into The Jane and after putting together a short list of things I wanted to do, decided to try to cross one of them off immediately, and ventured out in search of Yankees tickets.  There was a place on 42nd street inside a sports store that apparently sells discounted tickets on game day and I went to find nobody was there.  A guy in the shop who didn't work there asked if I was looking for tickets and offered me his.  It sounds like a scalper, but this was a guy in a suit and he didn't look the type.  Still, I was a little bit uneasy taking one of his two tickets but was adequately satisfied that this was sufficiently legit.  I was a little worried that I would get all the way up to the stadium only to be turned away or arrested for breaching Yankee laws, but aside from a pat down and being asked to lift up my shirt (to show I had no weapons I guess) I was let in and watched the game next to the catcher and left fielder from the Yeshiva University baseball team.  The Yankees won 7-4 against the Orioles in a game that was rained on but not rained out.  Luckily, in my terrible seats four rows from the very back behind the first base line, I didn't get rained on at all.  Hooray for the cheap seats.

Also, apparently if you catch a home run ball hit by the opposing team, the Yankee fans will boo you until you throw the ball back on to the field.  Odd.

Wednesday night after the game led me to McKenna's which is my local in New York in as much as I can be said to have a local.  During Happy Hour they give out poker chips with your drinks which can be redeemed whenever you like for a free drink.  That's how they do 2 for 1 deals.  I also dropped into possibly the darkest bar I've ever seen.  Dracula would have been happy to drink there.  They had no liquor there.  If you want something other than beer or wine, go elsewhere.

Thursday meant sleeping in a bit after getting home arond 4:00am and some wandering around seeing a convoy of about 30 caravans driving up 6th avenue as part of a hasidic preparation for Passover.

There were a number of people that I met the last time I was in NYC whom I saw again.  Minou's friend (and now my friend) K, and a group of others who were attending a party until late Thursday (again, I got home after 4:00am) and set up another party for me to attend the following night.

On Friday I caught up with MYC whom I have not seen since high school.  Almost half of my life has passed since we last met.  I gave her a beyondblue wristband in recognition of her support of my 12 hour run, and our chat went on for about three hours, far longer than we had planned.  I guess we had a lot to say.  We were both full of surprises.

I also made a minor pilgrimage to JAQ's old neighbourhood and took some photos to feed her sense of nostalgia for her old hood.  Then it was off to the Upper West Side where for the second time ever I set foot inside a New Yorker's home.  They are cramped to say the least, but they did plenty with the space.  We drove out to Brooklyn for a party held in a basement and again I got home after 4:00am.

Also, an Israeli woman on the subway who asked me for directions also said that I was a dead ringer for a friend of hers who is an Israeli Paratrooper.  That is about the coolest doppleganger I have ever been presented with.

Saturday was largely a rest day as my nights out were catching up with me, but I did wind up attending a friend's birthday in a surf themed bar where I opted against my usual selection of beers and chose surfesque cocktails instead.

And on Sunday I left.

It was an exhausting time and I think it may have left me with a cold, but I loved it and I am sure I will be back.  I am now acquiring a circle of New York friends with whom I get along very well.  I wonder at times how my life would have been different if I had moved to New York instead of London in my mid 20s.  God only knows who I would have met and where I would have gone.

Coming down from the high was tough though as it was last time.  I know I live a long way from this environment and I never know when the next time I will come by will be.  Here's hoping it's not too long.  Will I ever become tired of visiting New York?  Maybe.  Or other destinations may become more appealing, but at the moment it always seems to be the place I want to get back to.
luckycanuck: (Mr Lazy)
I had a great time in New York.  I wanted to tell you all about it but I am really coming down and not feeling myself at the moment.  COming down from the high (not literally) of New York and the stresses of travelling are making me feel all up in the air.  The other night I considered moving back to Canada or finding some pretext to live in America.  It's not practical, but I've been having such a good time here it would be good to be closer to it.

I suppose I can either win the lottery or invent a way of travelling between continents that is faster and cheaper than flying.

Today there is this strange combination of fatigue and angst and loneliness.  It will go away, but there is not much I can do about it at the moment.

Also, it looks like I have hurt a friend of mine, so there is that to feel bad about too.
luckycanuck: (Default)

The trip to Boston was pretty uneventful aside from a group of brotards who wanted to get on in Burlington, Vermont.  They had been drinking and their 2:00am attempts to join us on the bus south were denied.

We arrived on schedule and I got more rest than I expected (and did pushups in two states along the way.)  Before long I was out on the street to take on Boston.

My first stop was the Samuel Adams Brewery.  It's tough for me to pass up a brewery tour and this was quite good, though the visit to the tasting room meant I wound up drunk by noon.

Then it was back into town where pushups were done at the exterior location where Cheers was filmed.  Then Boston Common, then Paul Revere's House where I also had a wonderful (and huge) cannoli in what is now Boston's Italian neighbourhood.

A highlight of the day was my trip to the USS Constitution.  For one thing, I did marine pushups on the oldest active commissioned warship in the world, and the tour of the ship was given by a Navy Petty Officer who presented the whole thing very well with plenty of gusto and theatrics.

I wound up walking further, all the way to Harvard.  They say "yah kahnt pahk yah kah in Harvahd yahd" and they are right, though you can do pushups.  Alas, they didn't set me up to do a PhD on a pushup scholarship.

Finally I made it across to Fenway Park where the Red Sox were playing.  I briefly considered buying tickets from a scalper but felt uneasy with the idea.  At any rater, I was knackered from getting limited sleep the night before and walking what I now estimate to be about 11 miles across Boston fuelled by New England Clam Chowdah and a couple of local beers.

I slept well last night.
luckycanuck: (Maccabi)

I can't show you all the pics I've taken or tell you everything that happened in Montreal and Boston because I don't trust Livejournal not to freak out on me, but here is what I've been up to.

Cut for pics )

I really liked Montreal.  The environment was a lot of fun.  I seem to like visiting places where French is spoken, and fairly quickly my mind switched over into French mode.  Ottawa and Montreal are both bilingual cities, but in Ottawa I was always a bit surprised and momentarily confused when I heard French.  In Montreal, I felt similarly when I heard English.  I think the French switch went off in my brain.

luckycanuck: (Kokoda tractor)
It was a busy day and I will be on a bus in 90 minutes heading to Boston. I spent the day popping into various spots around Montreal eating and drinking and occasionally doing pushups. I haven't got time to do a full report or post pics now, but I will when I get the chance.

You never get to do everything you wanted, but I came pretty close.

I think I'll clean myself up for the trip now. It's probably best if I look like my passport photo.
luckycanuck: (Kokoda tractor)
I had breafast out this morning and the eggs and bacon and blueberry pancakes with real maple syrup took me through most of the day. After a walk around some more Ottawa sights and a crossover to the Quebec side of the river, I went down to the Greyhound station and just got on a bus that got me à La Belle Province by about 16h30.

I tried getting a ticket for the Métro but wound up getting one that wasn't vailid until 18h00 and had to get another one. It worked out well though, as I put the evening ticket to extensive use for the rest of the night.

Dinner was had along with a brief trip to Mile End as suggested by a girl a l'auberge where I came across Montréal's first bagel bakery. The nice Jewish girl there blushed when I told her I was using her bagels to measure against New York's bagels.

Ottawa is a city that is almost 50/50 on language use. There is plenty of French spoken there but somehow it always surprised me to hear it. Montreal is more Francophone but there is still plenty of English spoken. Here, however, I instinctively want to parle Francais. Hearing English somehow sounds odd. This really is a bilingual city and I'm never quite sure which language to lead in with.

So far Montréal has a bit of a Melbourney feel, that is if Melbourne spoke French.

I went with a group of people from the hostel to a tour of microbreweries tonight, but after we got to the first pub I realised that I really didn't care to spend a night with the others. Nothing personal, I just didn't really care if I spent an evening with them when I could go off on my own. So I did just that and had a drink at a place suggested by my old friend in Ottawa before returning home to plan for tomorrow.

Maybe I will run to the top of Mont Royal before checking out in the morning.
luckycanuck: (Kokoda tractor)

I felt a tiny bit odd yesterday while being dropped off at the backpackers where I stayed.  Nothing was implied, but part of me wondered if I could be seen as too old to be staying at a backpackers.  At any rate, I moved to new digs today.  It's another backpackers and it's located in the old Ottawa Jail.  I am staying in a cell.Cut for pics )
No political work was done today.  I'm not sure if I will get into the central campaign HQ.  Obviously people have bigger priorities than me.  It would be great to get in and there is stil a chance, but I'm not sure if PP will come through with this networking opportunity.  On the other hand, if I can even meet some of these people socially outside of their workplace it would still be useful.  I'll probably do a bit of work tomorrow afternoon.  I'm on holiday, sure, but this is a key reason I came to Ottawa specifically and I would like to see it through.

I had dinner tonight with a friend of mine from university who now works for the Department of Foreign Affairs and has had her share of postings overseas.  It was good catching up but I do kind of wish her brother hadn't come along.  He's a nice guy, but I don't know him and it complicated social interaction and meant I couldn't be as frank and comfortable as I would have liked to have been.  Also I had bubble tea for the first time ever.  I'm not sure what the big deal is.  The place was crowded with quite a few annoying hipsters and I'm pretty sure the guy making the tea was high.
luckycanuck: (Default)

I was up very early this morning and mum and dad took me to the airport.  It will be a while before I see them again.

My flight to Ottawa stopped in Winnipeg, a city that I changed planes in once in 1994 and the airport doesn't seem to have changed a bit in that time.  Naturally I did pushups there but they weren't really worth showing here.  On Facebook maybe.

Upon arriving in Ottawa I took a taxi straight to campaign HQ and in short order I found myself out doorknocking with the candidate.  It was good to get out and do something.  This is a guy I went to university with.  At the time I also wanted to go into politics myself but decided against it.  PP is really cut out for it though and was very diligent in his campaigning.  Much more so than most candidates I've worked with.  There was very little time wasting on his part.  The campaign was very focussed and disciplined and had plenty of volunteers.  It struck me as being a model campaign in a lot of ways.  No backbiting or pettiness (or at least none that I could see and none that got in the way of the whole point of the campaign.)

Cut for pics )

So between knocking on doors and putting up signs, it was a productive afternoon.  Dinner meant a brief break in the campaign and was follwed by more evening doorknocking until the sun went down.  Then PP gave me a lift to my night's accommodation.  I'm in a backpackers tonight and it looks perfectly nice.

Also, a potential visit to the national campaign HQ may be in the works while I'm here.  PP is going to contact them and see what can be done.

it's a good thing that I had a lot to do today to keep me occupied.  I was starting to get a bit stir crazy.  There is often a bit of a let down after a very good time filled with new experiences, and spending a few days playing it very safe with the family after my adventures with JAQ last weekend was very much a shock to the system.  Being with the family felt a bit like playing it safe mixed with being far from home.  Corresponding with friends like JAQ and others has kept the happiness levels up these past few days, and I think I will be up for some new adventures over the next few days.

Also, I am looking at getting involved in Skype to be able to keep in touch with far away friends better, but I'm not tech savvy enough to know my way around it.
luckycanuck: (Kokoda tractor)
The soundtrack to this post is "Boots or Hearts" by The Tragically Hip, a song I hadn't heard in years until I heard it on the radio during my drive to the mountains yesterday.

Cut for pics )
luckycanuck: (Mr Happy)

Ok enough complaining about lost bags and delays.  (Even though everything in the bag was slightly damp when it finally arrived late Monday night.)  I promised a review of my activities in San Francisco.

JAQ came to town around lunchtime on Friday and we popped her things off at the hotel before heading out to get something to eat.  We went to a very kitchy looking deli that she loved from way back in her time living in the neighbourhood.  She told me I tip too much.  We shopped a bit and wound up at a party later that night.  We left around 1am but weren't too tired yet so she took me for a walk to a bar she knew where we exchanged stories about growing up and first kisses, and for a tour of the places that had meant so much to her.  She showed me the flat where she once worked as a nanny, the hostel she lived in when she first moved to the city at the age of 18, the pizza place next door where she ate her first meal as what she called "a free woman."

Her enthusiasm for the place was infectious.  She loved the city, and I loved that she loved it.  I like San Francisco, but to see it with someone to whom it so evidently meant so much made it way better.

I first encountered JAQ quite by accident online about two and a half years ago, and we became friends.  Real friends.  It got to the point that when we first met in person in her flat in Queens late last year, we both remarked that it was like meeting an old friend rather than meeting someone for the first time.  We both knew about each other's vulnerabilities and hopes and fears and struggles, and there was a wonderful feeling of familiarity that time and throughout the whole weekend that just passed.

Cut for pics )

Saturday was considerably quieter but we spent the whole day going at our own pace around a city that really lends itself to being visited as I did, with a close friend whom you love.

JAQ said it was the best time she'd had in a long time given some of the frustrations she has been faced with recently.  She told me she chose to see the weekend as her showing a visiting friend around town as if she lived there.  So often she would point out little shops or restaurants or bars or streets that meant something to her.  With all the difficulties in her life she was just lit up the whole time she was there, and so was I.  It was the perfect way to start my own holiday given that I've had my own frustrations over the past few months.

Now she has decided that she will be moving back to San Francisco, so it looks like I will have another excuse to visit again.
luckycanuck: (Kokoda tractor)
Rejoice (and cease preparing molotov cocktails to throw at Air Canada HQ) for the bag that was lost has been found.

I ended up making it back to Calgary after a sprint across the terminal to get on a flight that had space for me.  If I didn't have a business class ticket, I probably would have been spending the night.  The problem is that my bag didn't make it.  I guess making an odd connection threw their system into disarray, because when I arrived in Calgary my bag didn't come out at the baggage claim.  I suppose it must have been on another flight, possibly the one that was cancelled.  Nobody at the airline could tell me where my bag was and I contemplated the prospect that it might not arrive in time for me to leave for Ottawa on Thursday.

Well now the bag has turned up in Calgary and delivery was initiated at 2:03pm.  The bag should be arriving tonight sometime.  That's good, because every pair of underpants I own are either in that bag, in Australia, or on me, except for a pair that I found in my old room that haven't been worn for about ten years until today.

Still, it makes me feel stabby to have things so up in the air and out of my control.  I am sure that everything was perfectly routine, but all the same, with nobody able to tell me anything, I wasn't especially confident that anyone at the airline had the slightest idea where my bag could be.


Apr. 3rd, 2011 03:33 pm
luckycanuck: (SPARTA!!!!!!!!)
There will be a post about my wonderful time in San Francisco soon.  But for now I need to vent.

The good news is that apparently my flights from SFO to Vancouver and Calgary were both business class.  I don't know how that happened, and I don't recall paying for it, but I got into the lounge and sat at the front of the plane.

I was the first one off the plane in Vancouver and the first through Canadian immigration.  Then I waited.  Along with everyone else on the flight I waited about half an hour for our bags to come out.  By the time they did and I made it through customs and across to my connection, it was too late.  I would have to get a later flight.  They put me on standby for the next flight, and I went to the lounge to have a gin and tonic and a snack and wait.

When I got to the gate for boarding, my standby flight was delayed for an hour due to mechanical problems with the prospect of being cancelled entirely.  There were a lot of grumpy people, as apparently every flight from Vancouver to Calgary for the rest of the day is full.

I eventually got myself on standby for the next two flights.  The fact that I have a business class ticket means that I am at the top of the list when it comes to getting on any available seat so things look good, but  it's all up in the air.  I should have landed in Calgary ten minutes ago, and I'm not sure when that will actually happen.

Now I am waiting to find out what happens with AC 8230.  If it is cancelled, I am at the top of the list for AC 220, but I will have to sprint across the terminal to get from one gate to the other.  If I don't get on that, then it's back to the customer service desk to get on another list and wait a while longer.

Overall, Air Canada has handled things well.  It was either United Airlines or the baggage handlers who dropped the ball in waiting so long to get my bags out of the plane so I could make my original flight.

I'm trying to remain calm, but if I get stuck in Vancouver and have to keep my family on notice to pick me up, patrons of Vancouver airport may witness an aspie meltdown.
luckycanuck: (Kokoda tractor)
I got an exit row seat for the cross Pacific flight which meant as much legroom as I could possibIy want in exchange for fulfilling the role of the responsible exit row guy who can rip the door open in an emergency and then be the first one down the slide.  WHEEEEEEEEEE!!!

I was so pleased with that that I didn't notice until five hours into the flight from Brisbane to LA that I wasn't in economy.  Somehow, without paying for it, I was in premium economy.  There was more elbow room with only seven seats instead of ten in a row and more ability to recline.  To be honest, the difference between that and business class was negligible.

I also managed to get on an earlier flight to San Fran which meant a five hour wait instead of a 7.5 hour wait.  I'm not sure why I had to wait even five hours, but I did find a patch of grass to lie on for a bit and then did some pushups in LA for the first time in my life.

I'm staying in the Hotel Bijou which has a distinctly cinematic feel.  All the rooms are named after films set in San Francisco.  I am in the "Play It Again Sam" room.  The travel money card I arranged before leaving seems to work just fine.

Tomorrow Jewish Astoria Queen (formerly of Astoria, Queens but now moved back to the west coast) will be coming to town to visit.  She knows and loves San Francisco and will be showing me around a bit.

Jetlag is not too bad at this point, but getting to bed now will probably improve things further.


luckycanuck: (Default)

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