AKA, Safe & sound.
On my dad’s recommendation, we took Humphries Limousine Service to the airport, rather than the airporter, and that early in the morning, I’m glad we did. Humphries only drives one party per trip, so there was no booting around town to pick up other passengers before heading towards the airport, and no smiling politely at strangers, when really I just wanted to scowl at the dark. Humphries also charges a flat rate per trip, rather than per head. A roundtrip from Kitchener to Pearsons was $196, tax included. Airways Transit is $65 per person per trip, plus tax. Go figure. Plus, we were driven by a lovely woman, who, it turns out, normally drives a school bus. She was warm and vaguely maternal, and terribly efficient, which made 4am all the more bearable.
This was our first time in the New and Improved Terminal One, but I was much too sleepy to notice much. Flying domestic in Canada is a LOT less hassle than flying domestic in the US. We only had to show our passports twice (when getting our boarding pass, and again when actually boarding the plane), and no one asked us to remove our shoes.
The flight was non-eventful, although we did learn that if you request a “special” meal, you get feed before everyone else. Air Canada serves the following “special” meals, at no additional charge (you just need to let them know 24 hours in advance):
- Asian Vegetarian
- Fruit Plate
- Gluten Free
- Low Calorie
- Low Fat/Low Cholesterol
- Low Sodium
- Non Lactose
- Strict Vegetarian
- Vegetarian Lacto-Ovo
The Asian Vegetarian breakfast consists of sauteed vegetables (eggplant, onion, tomato), a hash brown, and some sort of loosely held together, savory patty with the slightly gritty texture that beans provide. Plus the fruit bowl, juice and bread that comes with the standard breakfast. It also comes with raspberry jam for the bread, which the standard breakfast, oddly, does not.
We arrived in Vancouver at about 8:30PST, half an hour before schedule, which turned out to be a good thing. We decided that Tsawwassen is where we wanted to catch the ferry, rather than Horseshoe Bay (Tsawwassen is close to the airport, but a slightly longer ferry ride), we found a kiosk in the airport which sold bus tickets to the ferry terminal. $26/person included the ferry ride, but the next bus wouldn’t leave in time for us to catch the next ferry (its still an hour long bus ride). The lady at the kiosk suggested we might take a cab instead, which would run us about $50, and then pay for the ferry as walk-ons ($10 each). This is also what C’s mother had suggested. Sounds good, but on our way towards the line of cabs, we passed a limo, who offered to take us to the ferry for $56. We opted for style, and had a very lovely ride out. It took about 30 minutes.
The Queen of New Westminister is a huge ferry (I couldn’t even begin to guess what her capacity is, but it took them well over half an hour to load all of the vehicles), with all of the expected amenities (restaurant, gift shop), and takes about 2 hours to cross over to Vancouver Island (Nanaimo). We bought a couple of maps of the Islands (though none of them show Quadra Island in any detail. By detail, I mean listed by name).
P&G were waiting for us at the terminal, and after collecting everything into the car, we headed for Katerina’s, a tasty Greek restaurant in downtown Nanaimo, for some lunch. Hwy 19 was, by Ontario standards, a very pretty drive up the lee side of the island, although I’m given to understand there is a more scenic route, if one isn’t rushing to catch a ferry. It took about 2 hours (I think) to get up to Campbell River, where we did indeed miss the ferry. In this case, “missed” means that we arrived 30 minutes before it was due to leave, but its a very small ferry and there was a very long queue. Luckily, there’s a new ferry every hour, and directly across the street from the ferry terminal is Java Shack, a quiet little cafe which sold fresh fruit smoothies and iced coffees.
We just barely made it on to the next ferry, for the 15 minute ride across to Quadra Island. Once across, P took us around to see the (undeveloped) property that he and H had just bought. Its a nice-sized wooded lot, not far from the ferry terminal. Apparently there is a new retail plaza in the works for across the street, so they are planning on putting H’s pottery shop right next to the road, which should attract traffic from the mall. Most of the trees on the property are balsam fur, although there are also some spruce in the back of the lot, which it sounds like they plan on keeping (the whole back of the tree lot, that is, not just the spruce).
Back at the homestead, we grabbed a shower to refresh before dinner, and then lots of catching up with everybody. This was the first time C had seen his family in about 4 years, so it was well passed midnight before we pulled ourselves away.
The weather is sunny and hot, the mosquitoes are in full force, and tomorrow (well, today, actually) is apparently May Day on Quadra Island. Parades, pagentry, and a couple hours of volunteering at the concession stand, await.