Home Sweet Home (Be It Ever So Humble)

I know I should be sleeping off my jet lag right now, but I guess I got too eager to get on with things. Besides, I can take naps throughout the day.

I got up at 4:30 AM New York City time (1:30 AM Vancouver time) yesterday, so I could catch a cab to LaGuardia Airport and thus be on time to catch a 7:00 AM flight. Not having access to a printer before I arrived at the airport, I printed my boarding passes at the airline kiosk, but forgot to check my suitcase, so one of the clerks helped me. Upon leaving the scanner and gathering my things in the security area, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a young woman get arrested. From then on, it was smooth sailing–or, in this case, smooth flying.

Until I got to Seattle.

At Seattle-Tacoma Airport, I tried calling the station where I was dropped off last Monday to see if I was to catch my train home there, but nobody answered. I wandered around until I found an information booth, and there learned about Seattle’s LINK Light Rail, and thus took that downtown; I’m pretty sure if I’d known about LINK Light Rail when I first arrived in Seattle, I could have saved myself some money on cab fare, and some worry in New York about how I was going to scrounge up cab fare from Sea-Tac. Once in downtown Seattle, I asked a couple of police officers to direct me to the train station–which was indeed where the bus from Canada dropped me off last Monday–where I sat it out for the next five hours–and had some empty calories to ward off hunger pangs. But then, how was I to know they would serve food on the train, and I could get what actually passed for a meal (a veggie burger and a cola)?

My train got caught behind a freight train some time along the journey, and apparently the freight train moving faster than it did (molasses, I’m sure, would have moved faster) was too much to ask, because the train I was on was basically on stop-and-go (slowly; though it did gather speed at some points along the journey, only to have to stop again). Couple that with the time I spent at the border checkpoint–which, by the way, is at the Pacific Central Station here in Vancouver (something else completely new to me)–and it was after midnight this morning when I finally got home and fell asleep. Oh, and I caused myself some embarrassment on my declaration card, when I initially overestimated the monetary value of the goods I had purchased in New York which I was bringing back into Canada, and added that value to the amount of money (US) I still had on me. So many lessons to learn for next time.

I love New York City, though I’ve only been there once, and I have every intention of returning, hopefully sooner than later. But Vancouver has its charm, too, and, like I’ve said to so many people over the years, I’m in no hurry to leave. And it feels so good to be home.

One Hurdle (Barely) Cleared

I’m at Seattle Tacoma International Airport now, waiting for a midnight flight to Houston, Texas, on the second leg of my trip to New York City, where I’m going to spend a few days checking the city out and doing research for my entry into this year’s National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo for short).

I almost didn’t make it this far, though. When the bus I was on got to the Pacific border crossing in–or near–Blaine, Washington, the first guard to process everyone who was on the bus ushered me to the side so he could talk to me, after I admitted to him I’m currently unemployed. He was courteous and patient, and didn’t raise his voice–even when I took longer than I should have to register, at one point, that he was asking for my home address in Vancouver. He searched my bags–the only thing he did I didn’t like was stack two of my spiral notebooks on top of each other with the spirals facing the same way–then he let me proceed. I, for my part, didn’t lash out, but sucked up the situation, and honestly answered his questions.  The ladies checking luggage were quite gracious, waiting patiently for me to fumble with, and then close, my knapsack before placing it on the conveyor belt for them to survey.

At least I was allowed to continue on to Seattle.

When we arrived at the Amtrak station, I was disappointed to find there were no staff around for me to ask if I would be catching my train back to Vancouver from that same station, so I’ll have to assume it is. So I just hailed a cab outside of the station, and we headed to the airport. The cab driver was friendly; we had some good conversation, and he very politely corrected my pronunciation of Mount Rainier; I pronounced Rainier the French way (my dad’s side of the family tree is French Canadian), but it turns out, here in Washington State, it’s actually pronounce raehn-YEER. Well, you learn something new every day.

Please allow me a digression here: I’m absolutely amazed at how big Seattle is in comparison to Vancouver, whose council seems to be focused on growing upward instead of outward. It took so long to get from the King Street Station to the airport, and the ride cost me just under $40 US. Given the distance between the bus/train station and the airport, I honestly didn’t think I was going to get off that cheaply.

And now I’m waiting to continue my trip.  I have to admit, I’m really looking forward to getting on an airplane again, now for the first time in over ten years.