Tag Archive | Vancouver

Long Last Day of Vacation in the Pacific Northwest

Mon, July 11, 2016: Vancouver

            Our last day of vacation dawned somewhat drizzly—but this sort of weather is common in Vancouver. Wait ten minutes and the sun pops out—which it did. We had to check out of our room at 9. 30 am and so we hurried with our showers and finished our packing with the idea of stashing our bags back at Margaret’s to which we adjourned for another grand breakfast.

I had a couple of errands to run right after breakfast and Margaret was obliging enough to take us around to the shops to get them done. Before we knew it, it was time for lunch and we were quite delighted to feast on the marvelous leftovers from last night’s bistro dinner which we had carried home in doggie bags. As might be expected, they tasted even better the next day.

Lunch done, Margaret suggested we watch Amal, a very interesting off-beat film made with Canadian-Indian collaboration starring Naseeruddin Shah and Seema Biswas as well as a new British actor of whom I have not heard, Rupinder Singh. The film was heartwarming and thought-provoking and led to a nice post-viewing discussion. It was also a very relaxed way to finish up our hectic vacation, so we were grateful for the quiet time.

It was time then for us to get to the airport for our red eye flight back home. Margaret once again stepped in to offer us a ride and an hour later, we were checking in for the first leg of our Alaskan Airlines flight to Seattle. There we raced off to Wolfgang Puck Express for another Pizza (the Mushroom Special—just as delicious as the meat-laden one with which I had started my vacation) and then we made our connecting flight from Seattle to New York. We traveled first class but despite the extra leg room, we were unable to sleep for more than a couple of hours.

We arrived in New York’s Kennedy airport at 7.00 am from where we quite easily used the Airtrain to get to Budget from where we picked up the rented car that got us home to Connecticut. It was annoyingly long as we fought traffic all the way home and took more than two hours for what is usually a one hour journey. Still, we had a great homecoming and a lovely reunion with my brother and his family who had a Welcome Home poster on the door waiting for us. Although we’d had another one of our top vacations, it was great to be back home in our own bed and baths again and to savor the joy of a home that we truly love.

Thanks for following me on this stretch of my travels. It is always a pleasure to have you by my side as I explore the world and see it through eager eyes. Until I gallivant away again, I wish you happy journeying. May the road rise up to meet you!


Wedding Bells in Vancouver

Saturday, July 9, 201: Vancouver:

            Today was all about the wedding we had come to the West Coast of Canada to attend: that of Andrew Matthias (son of our close friends Kevin and Louella Matthias) with Laura Martin. Nuptials were at 11. 30 am at the Church of Corpus Christi on Nanaimo Road in Vancouver and the reception was at the Riverside Banquet Hall in Surrey, a suburb of Vancouver. We had accommodation arrangements made for us by our friend Margaret Deefholts who lives in a gated complex called Chelsea Gardens in Surrey; but we realized soon enough that we’d have no time to get to Chelsea Gardens from Canada Place in downtown Vancouver where we docked, dress and then race off to the nuptials.

The plan then was to get to the Holiday Inn in Surrey where our friend Susan had a room. We’d get off the boat (hopefully really early) and cab it to the Holiday Inn, dress for the nuptials there and then catch a ride from Susan to the church. By requesting every HAL personnel to “get us to the church on time”, we actually managed to get our bags out and into a cab and although we docked at 7.00 am, but 9.00 am, we were in the lobby of the Holiday Inn at Surrey—record time all around and thank you HAL!

Fifteen minutes later, having changed into formal wedding togs, we were in Susan’s rented car and off to the church. The entire ceremony was lovely, the bride was beautiful and radiant, the groom looked handsome and happy, both sets of parents looked very proud and the congregation was truly thrilled to be there to witness their vows. Llew and I were really happy to have made it on time.

After the service, we piled back into Susan’s car, stopped off at a mall to pick up lunch from a food court (Pad Thai for me, chicken curry for Llew) and were back at Susan’s hotel joining a few of our other friends to eat a delicious meal. An hour later, our friend Margaret arrived to pick us up and take us to Chelsea Gardens and settle us into our lovely quarters—a large en suite room that was bright, airy and spacious. It was all I could do to stop myself from taking a lightning power nap—for exactly 20 minutes, before it was time for us to shower and change for the reception to which Margaret volunteered to drop us off.

The Reception was a hoot—we had a swell time over a lovely reunion with many of our New York Tristate area friends who had trooped in from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Over cocktail hour, we renewed acquaintance with many friends, enjoyed the speeches and the food and drink and danced the night away. It was a lovely evening indeed but by 12 midnight, we were fading and decided to call it a night. Our friends Ian and Jenny who had a rented car, volunteered to drop us back to Chelsea Gardens where we spent a very restful night.

Until tomorrow…

A Birthday Within The Inside Passage, Alaska

Friday, July 8, 2016: A Day Spent Sailing Towards Vancouver:

Being a Lector at my Birthday Mass:

             I awoke on my birthday with a jolt to realize that we needed to race down for 8.00 am Mass. Since I wanted to serve as Lector, it was important to get there early. By 7. 50, I was in the Hudson Room and Fr, Tim was presenting me with the reading for the day. I went through it rapidly, quite thrilled indeed to be able to hear Mass on board on my birthday. It was our last Mass of the cruise and Fr. Tim said a special blessing for us.

Breakfast at the Lido and a Final Lecture:

As usual, the Lido was mobbed by people who wanted a long and leisurely brekkie on their last day on board. I got the Swiss Muesli for a starter followed by waffles with strawberries and cream and OJ. Llew and I found a really nice spot to watch the many islands of the Vancouver Archipelago slide by us—some large, some small, some far away and misty, others really close at hand. When we felt quite sated, I decided to go for a presentation to the Queens Lounge on ‘Alaskan Explorers’ given by naturalist Humberto—and it was very informative indeed. He spoke to us about Vitus Bering, about Dahl (after whom the porpoises are named), about Seward (after whom an Alaskan city is named), about George Vancouver’s role in mapping out the region and finally about the Alaskan Purchase (from Russia).

After an hour, we decided it was time to return to our stateroom to begin our packing as tomorrow by this time, we will have docked at Vancouver. Determined to enjoy every last minute on board, we also wanted to make sure we stayed on track.

Packing Our Cases for Departure:

For the next hour or so, Llew and I focused on getting all our stuff into our suitcases (concealed under our bed) while also keeping aside the things we would need for the rest of the day (including semi-formal dinner wear) and clothes for the next morning’s departure. We are quite amazed by how much we have accumulated even though we kept our buys to the minimum.

Invitation to the Mariner’s Lunch at the Manhattan:

Packing done, Llew and I decided to go for the Mariner’s Lunch at the Manhattan for which we were especially invited. We were ten minutes late but we need not have worried. Sit -down service for a three-course lunch was offered. We both opted for the Crab and Shrimp Cocktail served already dressed in a light mayonnaise with shredded lettuce. For a main course, I chose the halibut with grilled shrimp served with a lime-cilantro sauce and grilled asparagus, while Llew got the beef brisket with mashed potatoes. And for dessert, both of us chose the Mixed Berry Cobbler which was absolutely delicious. Coffee and petits fours were part of the meal and we enjoyed them both before we got back to our staterooms.

Finally, a Session at the Gym:

I was keen not to leave the boat without putting in at least one session at the gym. Having walked around the deck several times for exercise, I decided I ought to go and check out the gym and take in the views of the passing islands which were just a visual treat at every juncture. And indeed, that was where I went after I climbed into a T-shirt, shorts and my sneakers. For the next half hour, both Llew and I were at the elliptical machine gazing at the prow of the ship and the route that lay ahead of us. It was absolutely delightful and I was sorry I had not found the time to get to the gym every single day. But then, that’s the problem with being on a cruise that offers so much. It was essential to me to have tried varied experiences each day and to have immersed myself in the true spirit of cruising which does involve dashing from one end of the ship to the other and from the lowest floors to the topmost.

Playing Bingo for a Free Cruise:

By this time, we discovered that a single game of Bingo was being offered in one of the lounges and that the prize was a 7-day cruise for two to the Caribbean or Mexico. Well, you have to be in it, to win it, right? What a great Birthday Present it would make! So off we raced to the Queen’s Lounge to buy our tickets—a card of six for $35 and to play a form of Bingo which was slightly different from the “Housie” with which we are more familiar. I have to say that it was fun and when we started sweating for just 2 more numbers on one of our cards, we were sorry that someone else won the house, but not so sorry when we discovered that the guy who won the prize was also celebrating his birthday! Oh well, at least one Birthday Person got a really unforgettable present that day!

Time for a quick nap and Cookery Cards:

We did actually find time for a nap—a short one for me, my usual 20 minute shut eye– before I darted off to the Explorer’s Lounge to pick up all the recipe cards that pertained to the many cookery demonstrations that had been carried out on the liner. Several of these demos had been presented when we were sightseeing in the various ports—and so we had missed them. It was good to collect about thirty recipe cards for some of the delicious concoctions we had enjoyed during the cruise. That task accomplished, it was time for us to get back to our staterooms to shower and dress for dinner as we had reservations at the Pinnacle Grill which is one of the specialty restaurants on the ship.

Off for a Birthday Dinner to the Pinnacle Grill:

We would be wearing our glad rags for the last time on the cruise and we were glad that it would be on my birthday. Our 8. 30 pm reservations at the Pinnacle Grill saw us seated at a lovely sea-facing table with an amuse-bouche of stewed mushrooms placed before us in tiny demi-tasse cups. We were sorely disappointed that the Alaskan King Crab Legs were all gone—but in all fairness, it was the last day of the cruise and we had a very late reservation. After we ordered drinks (a Cabernet for Llew, a vodka cocktail for me) we got down to ordering our three-course meal: it was going to be special, we hoped, for it would be nice to save the best for last. Since our friend Tony who had tasted the Lobster Bisque at the Pinnacle Grill on our last cruise had pronounced it the best he had ever had, both Llew and I decided to have that. And it was amazing–just filled with lobster bits and very flavorful indeed. For a main course, I chose fish again with shrimp scampi while Llew had steak and for dessert, the two of us chose the Not—So Classic Baked Alaska with Cherry Garcia Ice-Cream and Bing Cherries Jubilee which is a HAL specialty,  a demo item by Chef Suraj, a few days ago. And just when we thought the meal was done, along came a waiter with a massive slab of Chocolate Mousse Cake to celebrate my birthday. Sadly, he did not sing Sarta Murliya—which is the traditional Indonesian song that is sung almost every night at the Manhattan. He merely sang a quiet Happy Birthday, but there was a candle and he did procure a knife and I did cut the cake—which Llew and I only proceeded to taste (it was awesome) as we were filled to bursting with our celebration meal.

I can only say how blessed I feel that for several years in a row, I have celebrated my birthday in different parts of the world—in the past few years, it has been in Berlin, Kyoto, South Africa and now in Alaska. Outside, our ship was worming its way through what is known as the Seymour Narrows—as the name says, it is a very narrow inlet through which the captain maneuvers the craft. Islands passed us by in the soft shades of a North American dusk as we inched closer home with every nautical mile we covered. It was a lovely birthday and one that was made special by the many email and Twitter messages I received from family members and friends around the world.

Last Night and Birthday Bash at the Piano Bar:

We ended a really terrific day at the Piano Bar in the company of the one and only Jimmy Maddox who, on having been told at the gym, where we had met him earlier this morning, that it was my birthday, decided that he would sing and play for us his funny Birthday Song. Well, it was a funny song indeed and it was great fun to have the entire crowd at the bar (and there were hordes as it was the last night and Jimmy had accumulated a faithful band of fan followers) as we ushered the almost-end of my birthday. It had been a night to remember and I was so thrilled by the way things had turned out. Llew, who was feeling a trifle unwell, had left earlier, but I stayed until midnight, when the bar closed, to see my birthday out in it’s entirely. Since we had put our clocks one hour forward at midnight, my birthday came to a sudden and abrupt end—but it was true fun while it lasted and I had a ball!

Back in my stateroom, I found I had about ten minutes to zip up my case and place it outside our door for removal by the porters. I met the deadline and before long, Llew and I were fast asleep. Our last day on board had been packed to the gills but it had been a fabulous day and an amazing cruise and I have to say I was sorry it ended.

Ahoy There! Let Our Cruise to Alaska Commence

Saturday, July 2, 2016: Setting Sail from Vancouver to Alaska

             As usual I awoke at 6.00 am and while Llew had a lie-in, I managed to get some blogging done. I was also excited to discover that my internet connection on my laptop actually worked and I managed to get and send email (unlike the last time I had traveled to Canada when I could not even find any internet connections). However, it was a good job I did everything I wanted for my joy was short lived. Within 20 minutes, it was gone. A little while later, after I had done some blogging, Llew awoke, showered, shaved, dressed and got ready. I followed swiftly, then went down to get us coffee and Nutella croissants from the local Tim Hortons downstairs and,  not too long after, we were on the airport shuttle to get to the Skytrain that took us back to the Waterfront. The fact that it was a holiday weekend in Canada and a Saturday meant that trains were empty—this made it really easy for us to load and remove our baggage from the train. From there, we easily found our way to the cruise piers in the basement of the Convention Center.

We thought we’d be one of the first to embark as 2.00 pm is given as Embarkation Time; but by 11.30 am, the place was already crawling with people and the Hall was filled. Everything was super organized with European precision and we were soon finding our way to the check-in counter where we were given our boarding cards by Holland-America Lines—HAL–(our baggage had been taken earlier) and then we were off and away. I was quite excited by this point especially at the thought of having a few hours to explore the ship and find our way around it. We had an ocean view room on the 4th floor which was very well located for the Reception Counter, main shops, etc. were just a floor below. In no time, we were aboard but went directly to Reception to try to make a lunch reservation on one of the two days it is usually offered in the pan-Asian restaurant called Tamarind—about which I had read on the internet—but was disappointed to find that it has been discontinued. So off to our stateroom we went and found that it (and the rest of the ship) is an exact replica of the Eurodam on which we had sailed through the Baltic Sea in 2013. There was a sense of comfort in the familiarity of it all but it was also a trifle predictable. Perhaps it would have been more fun to discover new horizons!

We did not lose much time in our rooms, however, as our bags had not yet arrived. Instead, as it was almost 1.00 pm and as we only had a croissant and coffee for brekkie, we went off to the Manhattan, the Main Dining Room—for lunch. It was our first meal on board and I looked forward to something really special. Only a few people were in the restaurant—most were still embarking. Both Llew and I chose the Cream of Broccoli Soup for starters—it was thick and very delicious. I avoided the bread as I am still trying to limit carbs. For our main, I had the Apricot-Glazed Salmon served with zucchini and carrots and steamed potatoes (which I avoided). Once I got over the sweetness of the apricot sauce that was poured over the salmon, it actually turned out to be quite good. Llew had the Pulled Pork Sandwich served with Red Cabbage Slaw which was really good. For dessert, the two of us had the Biscotti Ice-Cream—I ordered mine with a few strawberries. So that was it. It was a good meal, but not outstanding, but the cruise had not even begun yet.

It was time to get to our stateroom where we found that our baggage had been delivered together with a whole lot of delicious goodies—a tray of tea-time sandwiches (smoked salmon, brie, ham and cheese, prosciutto—all fab), a tray of sweets (truffles, cake, a chocolate tower), a tray of cut up fresh fruit—together with a basket of fruit and a lovely flower arrangement. We felt very special indeed! It was time to unpack and we found spacious closets with room enough for all our needs (I certainly travel very light and had no difficulty accommodating all my things). Unpacking done, we stashed our bags under our bed and went off to Reception again to made reservations for 8.00 pm dinners at some of the specialty restaurants on board at a time that would also allow us to attend the shows in the theater each night. All that done, we made our way to the theater for an introduction to the facilities and amenities available on board as well as to take a walking tour of the main areas of the ship and the areas we intended to use—such as the gym, the pools (indoor and outdoor), the hot tub, the Crow’s Nest which is the enclosed 11th floor Observation Deck, etc.

By this time, it was close to Embarkation Time and we had the mandatory Emergency Drill procedure to attend on deck. Having gone through this before, we knew exactly what to do and in no time, we were on the deck, participating in Roll Call, listening to evacuation and other instructions and chatting with a few other passengers. When it was over, it was time for departure so we made our way to the Lido Deck on the 9th floor at exactly 4.45pm to attend the Sail Away. This included drinks on the deck, the opportunity to grab one of the deck chairs that we positioned at the very front of the ship (it helped to get there early–but this turned out to be the aft or back) and to enjoy views of Vancouver as we departed. Going under a great big bridge was an additional treat as we listened to music, chatted with a few of our companions, enjoyed the complimentary nibbles—salmon, beef steak in horseradish sauce and spoons of baked brie with cranberry sauce and nuts–as we saw Vancouver recede in the background and the islands of the Archipelago that we had seen en route to Whistler by road come into view. Llew enjoyed lying on the deck chair while I left at 5.30 to pick up the complimentary ship’s charm that was offered to anyone who arrived at the Main Shopping Desk. I then reconnected with Llew as we returned to our stateroom. I ordered a cup of tea from Room Service and we began nibbling on our savory goodies in our room as Llew sipped some wine.

It wasn’t long before we dressed for dinner and went in search of the complimentary glasses of champagne offered by the jewelry showroom and art gallery on board and with that in hand, we made our way back to the Manhattan to have dinner before we could attend the live show in the theater. Only we discovered that our wait for dinner would be 20-25 minutes and, rather handily, since the Explorer’s Bar was just next-door, we sat down to enjoy a violinist and a pianist do wonderful soft classical chamber music. We were hugging the coast of Canada throughout our sail and the movement of the sea could barely be felt at all.

Very shortly, we were seated for our first dinner at sea in the Manhattan, a massive dining hall, where we found the menu for the evening was devised by chef Elizabeth Faulkner of whom I have never heard. I started with the Broiled Scallops with Bacon, Avocado Mash and a vinaigrette—but my scallops were tiny, the mash was bland and I found no interest whatsoever in the dish. Llew had the salad of mixed greens with caramelized apple which was far better. Since I was dying to also try it, I asked for a tiny portion of the Ketchikan Fisherman’s Chowder in a sample serving (it was served in a bread bowl as a regular portioned starter) and found it to be simply delicious and filled with tiny scallops. For a main, Llew had the Shrimp and Chorizo with Grits which was served with okra—a typical New Orleans dish—while I chose the New York Strip Loin done medium rare. Llew got three very large shrimp and I got an outsized piece of steak. We split our entrees and while they were both good, there was nothing to shout about either one of them. For dessert, Llew got the Mango Mousse while I got the Klondike Gold Rush Baked Alaska which was a brownie, topped with Vanilla Ice-cream and Meringue with a chocolate sauce poured over. Again, it was good but not outstanding. Since we needed to rush off for the show, we grabbed our things and left right after dessert.

In the theater, we found ample room. Nick, our Cruise Director, was holding forth, calling out a few raffle numbers and giving out prizes before the main act of the evening arrived—a stand up comedian called Chad—who entertained up for about 15 minutes. His jokes and his acting were pretty lame and by that point in time, my eyes were closing. It was 10.00 pm and any hopes I had of sitting in a Piano Bar and singing along were wiped off as we decided instead to get back to our stateroom and call it a night. But after changing and getting into more comfortable wear, we headed to the Crow’s Nest to see what it felt like to enter the Seymounr Narrows, a tiny inlet just past Vancouver Island. However, it was very dark and while we could see land on one side close to us, we saw nothing on the other side. We did see—literally—a ship pass us by night. It was a Holland America ship returning to Vancouver—which is where we will be a week from now. It was time to well and truly get back to our staterooms to sleep.

It had been a packed first day and we did not have a dull moment.

Until tomorrow…

A Wonderful “Canada Day” in Vancouver

A Wonderful “Canada Day” in Vancouver

Friday, July 1, 2016: Pemberton-Vancouver

            Awaking in our hotel in Pemberton, we showered and got ready quickly as we were supposed to return our car to Budget by 10.00 am. Bluebird Bakery was just opposite our hotel and there we picked up coffee with almond croissants and pain au chocolat and were off. The day was cool and drizzly and the mountains were shrouded with rain clouds that hung low upon them. As we zipped back down the mountains, we enjoyed the repeat journey that seemed much different as it turned out that we were in Canada on their national holiday—Canada Day—when the locals were enjoying a lie-in. This made it super easy for us to drive through the two downtown areas that had been chocobloc the previous day. We returned our car to Budget, took the shuttle bus to the Travelodge where we had another night’s booking and once we stashed our baggage safely in their store room, took the shuttle to the Skytrain station to begin our day long exploration of Vancouver.

Skytrain to Canada Place:

The Skytrain is one of the most convenient ways by which to get around Vancouver. It is new, clean, speedy and cheap. We took the Canada Line intending to get off at the Waterfront stop—which is Canada Place, a huge convention center–and the spot from where cruise ships take off. Well, on the train itself we got an idea of the patriotic spirit of the Canadians. We have never seen more red and white in our lives. Seas of people made their way to the spot and once we got there, we realized why. There was a stage set and live music was being offered. The Convention Center is the setting for the Citizenship Swearing Ceremony and loads of people who had taken the oath earlier that morning were on the pier taking pictures, their garb sporting their patriotic enthusiasm and their faces painted with Canadian flags! It was amazing. Absorbing all the energy around us, to see the rainbow hues that comprise the Canadian populace today, to imbibe their spirit—made it simply infectious.

We walked to the north end of the pier intending to look at the possibility of taking in Vancouver’s newest attraction, Fly Over Canada—a virtual show that is 4-D (it offers movement, sights, sounds, smells) as you fly across the country from the West coast to the east for approximately 25 minutes and $25. However, since the wait for the next show was about an hour, we decided to pass on it and move on. Instead, we feasted our eyes on a unique exhibition of Canadian war vehicles that were assembled in the main hall of the Convention Center for children to pose on. It was poignant as today is the 100th the anniversary of the Battle of Beaumont-Hamel, one of the battles of the Somme, at which about 700 ‘Newfies’ (Newfoundlanders) lost their lives. It is a Memorial Day of mourning in the province.

Lunch in Chinatown:

Walking, through the use of a map that we found at the Visitors’ Center, we made our way to Chinatown to get away from the chaos of downtown Vancouver on their holiday. As expected Chinatown was tranquil and offered some relief. Since it was lunch time, we asked a local for a recommendation and they directed us to Our Town which CNN’s Food Critic says is a “Must-Visit”. The place was full of locals which is a safe bet that the food would be good. As most of these places are, it was a little hole in the wall but packed to the gills. As recommended by Lonely Planet, we ordered the spicy pork steamed bun which we split—very delicious—followed by the Shrimp Dumplings—served dim sum style, four in a little steamer basket. They too were very good. Our main was a Shrimp Mongolian Hot Pot which had the most shrimp we have ever seen in a lunch order—good job we shared it as we had at least a dozen large shrimp each. And because I actually found it on the menu, loved it when I had last had it in Manilla in the Philippines in January and had adored it then, I ordered a Halo-Halo that we also split. You will remember that this is a very filling dessert served in a glass. It is layers of sweet red azuki beans, preserved fruit such as jackfruit (in this case), preserved coconut, a variety of noodles, loads of ice-cold milk and a big dollop of vanilla ice-cream. Of course, Llew loved it too and we realized that we would be skipping dinner after what had been a really inexpensive and most scrumptious meal.

Visit to Sun Yat Sen Garden:        

            We ended our visit to Chinatown by making a quick pop into Dr. Sun Yat Sen Gardens, one of the best classical Chinese gardens in North America. There usually is a steep entry fee that includes a guided tour, but since it was Canada Day, there was no fee and we had a lovely stroll around which brought us memories of the time we had visited this place on a previous trip to Vancouver. We were also able to see a really superb Chinese opera show in the adjoining Museum where the costumes and the makeup were simply spectacular and reminded us very much of our time studying about Noh Theater when we were in Kyoto, Japan, a few years ago.

By this time, both Llew and I were showing the effects of jetlag and an overlarge lunch! It was time to find the Skytrain station to take us back to the Waterfront and from there on the Canada Line again to get to the Airport from where we caught the shuttle bus to get us to our hotel. We checked in, picked up our stored baggage and made our way up to our room. It was still only about 6 pm, so we spent the rest of the evening catching up with world news on TV and watching a couple of TV shows. It was a very relaxed evening to a rather full day.

It was time to call it a night after checking email one last time through Wifi. And then it was time for bed. Tomorrow, we board our cruise ship to Alaska—we will make our way once more time to Canada Place. It has been a good start to our travels and we are very excited.

Until tomorrow…

And We’re Off to British Columbia and Alaska

And We’re Off to Vancouver and Alaska:

            Our departure from Southport, Connecticut, was a bit unusual this year. Instead of the convoluted journey we usually undertake to one of the New York City airports, this time Chriselle, who happened to have arrived from California to spend a week with her cousins, Arav and Anaya in our absence, gave us a ride to La Guardia Airport where our summer travels began. As Llew and I were utilizing Frequent Flyer Miles on American Airlines to get to Vancouver where our trip would begin, we ended up taking different flights with the intention of arriving on the West Coast of Canada within an hour of each other.

But the best-laid plans of mice and men…go awry, of course. Llew’s flight to Detroit from where he was to make a connection to Vancouver got delayed and, long story short, he was put on another flight to Dallas and eventually reached Vancouver an hour after I did—but minus his baggage. My own three flights that eventually got me to Vancouver went without hitch. I enjoyed First Class service on all three sectors, picked up a pizza from Wolfgang Puck Express at Indianapolis, had a super interesting companion on the leg from Indianapolis to Los Angeles so that time flew by most pleasantly as I marveled at the scenery of the world beneath my window while we flew northward along the Pacific Coast from LA to Vancouver where the sea was punctuated by islands burnished gold by the a swiftly setting sun.

However, by the time I made contact with Llew, it was past midnight and the two of us kept fingers crossed as his checked-in bag had not reached (because it was somewhere in Detroit). The airline assured us that we would receive it at our hotel in Whistler and recommended that he do some shopping for the next 24 hours as all he had were the clothes on his back! Dear, oh dear. Not the most providential way to start a much-anticipated trip—but we are seasoned travelers who know how to take all sorts of situations in our stride. So without batting an eyelid, we simply hailed a cab and proceeded to our hotel (the Travelodge at Vancouver airport) as we had missed the last free shuttle for the day.

Needless to say, we merely hit the hotel when the two of us passed out for the night.