Thursday, April 10, 2008

Adventures in Travel

Today is a blue-sky, 70-degree, break-out-the-flipflops kind of day. Spring has finally arrived! I'm so excited to see crocuses, daffodils and tulips poking out of the ground.

Since blogging last, lots has happened. I haven't been avoiding writing it down, but it's been crazy. Now for some recapping...part 1.

I spent 3 days at a conference for work in Monterey, CA--our hotel was right next to In N Out (double double animal style, mmm) and I was in heaven! I schmoozed my butt off and was glad when it ended. As much fun as it is to get free pens (and free drinks), I hate having those fake conversations. It was gloriously exciting to hop on a plane and head home to Beautiful British Columbia.

Being at home was a whirlwind as usual, but so much fun. When I walked in the door, my dad wanted to show me some show he'd DVR'd about the Iditarod. Except it wasn't the Iditarod--it was the IDIOTAROD. And as the camera follows the insanity, who do they stop to interview? The Angry Whores!! I'm not in the segment (I think I was doing double dutch jump rope at that point) but Rachel explained our name to the masses. I'm definitely going to have to figure out how to get that on dvd and youtube!

The highlight of home was spending 3 days at Whistler. Having grown up on a ski season that ran from November to May (yes, May--in a t-shirt!), I've really missed skiing these past few years--nagging injuries and short visits home have kept me off the slopes. No more! I had two wonderful days of skiing in all conditions imaginable, from fog and light hail to dazzling sunshine. 25cm of fresh powder didn't hurt either! Neither did the chance to participate in the Fresh Tracks program--a breakfast buffet and chance to be on the mountain by 8am. My friend Mark and I burned through at least 7 runs before the rest of our group had even left the condo, and got some amazing shots of the view from the Peak.

Relaxing in the hot tub and going out in the Village were also fun. It was great to see all the changes that have been made in preparation for the Olympics, from highway improvements (finally!) to bleacher construction on the downhill ski course. I have to say, it's pretty cool to know that I've skied the same course that world-class athletes will compete on--just a tiny bit faster ;)

When I leave home after my all-too-short visits, I always wish I could stay longer. Be careful what you wish for! So began my odyssey...

When I went through American customs, the official sent me to secondary processing. I've never been sent there before, but in I went, trusting that all would be well. Silly me!

The woman in charge of the waiting room had the biggest Napoleon complex I've ever witnessed. Any attempt at a question was foiled. "Please ma'am, my flight is boarding" fell on deaf ears. She shushed Armani-suited businessmen as if they were schoolchildren. After informing me that I was not in "the system" (5 years, and it forgets me like that? Only 3 months after our last encounter?), she took me for extra processing. I am clearly a highly sketchy individual.

"Extra processing", which is a fancy term for standing in a different room with more stern-faced power-people, revealed that I was in the system after all. This did me no good considering my plane had taken off 10 minutes before, but was a comfort nonetheless. Thanks America, I knew you still loved me!

However, as Napoleon Woman handed back my paperwork, she gave me The Eye. Though the system had failed her and allowed my passage, she would have her revenge. As I turned to walk back out into the main terminal, she grabbed my shoulder and smiled like the sea witch Ursula in the Little Mermaid. "Oh no," she nearly purred."You can't go back that way. You have to go all the way around, through the terminal, and back through Canadian customs."

Airport security is a pain in the ass when there isn't even the consolation of a flight at the end. So is having to check your bags when you know damn well they aren't going anywhere! When I finally made it past the X rays, around the gates, and through the masses in the line, I was faced with a Canadian customs official who wanted to know where I had been. He could barely conceal his laughter when I told him I hadn't actually gone anywhere. "Man, you've had a worse day than I have!"


It could have been worse--at least I had somewhere to stay in Vancouver! But I never want to spend 5 hours in an airport again unless I'm actually going somewhere. They're fun, but not that fun!

Side note: when I arrived at customs the next day for my rescheduled flight, I went through with no problems. It was smooth sailing until the Xray security agent told me I had been selected for "random searching". Of course. One full-body pat-down later, I was free and clear and on a non-stop flight to JFK.

Take that, USA. I'm baaaaaack :)

(update part 2 to follow)

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