Sunday, 15 May 2011

Customs To Customs.

I knew it was time for me leave.  Walking by my son's bedroom door, I gently whispered, 'goodbye' to him and to Penny the Jack Russell dog and modest internet star.  It was with a sense of anxiety, mixed with excitement, that this reluctant recluse headed out his front door.  Time, once again, to challenge my uncomfortable comfort zone.  And thus, off I went on Saturday morning, May 7th, to travel to Manchester airport, destination, Vancouver, Canada.
I stood there at the check-in counter, waiting patiently for my turn.  Whilst waiting in the line, I was approached by an official representative of the airline.  "Are you travelling alone, sir?", the lady inquired.  To which I replied, "Yes I am.  Why, is it that obvious?  Do you feel sorry for me?"  The lady smiled and stated, "Sir, we are offering you 400 Canadian dollars to take a different flight."  'Hmmmm', I thought to myself.  'Does this mean that the other passengers have got up a collection to keep me off the plane?  Do I look like some kind of deviant undesirable?'  Well, it turned out that someone was wanting to travel with the rest of their family and didn't have a seat on my flight.  The offer was for me to take the money, take a flight with a stopover in Calgary and arrive in Vancouver 2 and 1/2 hours later than I would have.  If it wasn't for the fact that I was being met at Vancouver airport at an anticipated time, it would have been very tempting.  I've no idea if anyone took up that offer.
Finally, our plane took off, and 9 and 1/2 hours later, we arrived in Vancouver, 1 and 1/2 hours after we left.  Yes, that does sound confusing.  Upon arrival in Vancouver, we endured the long wait to get to the customs officer.  If you are not familiar with the wait to get to the customs officer at Vancouver airport, it makes for an overwhelming visual.  In front of you is a vast sea of humanity that follows guide ropes that snakes back and forth, back and forth.  After about 30 minutes, these two ladies from Manchester, complained to me about how long it was taking.  I said, "Ladies, look on the bright side.  This is indeed a long wait, but you have gained 8 hours."  They laughed and then asked me how long it took the ferry to get to 'Victoria' Island.  I corrected them and told them they meant Vancouver Island, which has the capital city of British Columbia, named 'Victoria', located on it.
After 40 minutes, it was finally my turn to talk to the customs officer dude.  "I see you are going to be here for 35 days, sir.  What is the purpose of your visit?"  I responded, "Well, I'm here to visit friends, family and hopefully watch the Vancouver Canucks make a bit of history."  He smiled and we talked hockey.  "You better get going sir, the game starts in less than an hour."  Only in Canada, eh.  Only in Canada.
So, I grabbed my luggage, got greeted by my mum and step-dad and headed back to their home.  Had a quick chat and then proceeded to sit in front of their television to watch the game.  Priorities, eh.  Only in Canada, eh.  Only in Canada.
I spent five days with my family in the seaside town of White Rock.   Even did something that is a bit of a Canadian tradition.  Yep, my brother took me for a coffee at Tim Hortons.
And now I'm typing to you from the town of Hope, British Columbia.  A small town about 100 miles east of Vancouver, that is surrounded by majestic mountains.  A town I wrote about in my second ever blog.  A town of great significance in my life and if you would like to read that posting, you will understand what I mean.  Tribes and Tributes.  You might be familiar with this town.  For this was the town used in 'Rambo First Blood'.  So far, nobody has mistaken me for Rambo.
I'm living in Hope.  Staying with two remarkable people who live in hope for a better future.  Their story, their inspiration, their continued belief in positivity, in the face of adversity, leaves me with no doubt that this holiday is going to be a deeply profound and powerful time for all concerned.  Upon my return to England, I shall do a detailed posting about this experience that I know will touch your heart.
In conclusion, I apologise that I've not been as interactive with you as I normally try to be.  This reluctant recluse got away from his computer and truly challenged his fears, his apprehension, his 'inner critic'.  I went out my front door, embraced humanity and had this sense of elation, a, 'what the hell I can do this', feeling.  That, my friend, is a result.


  1. Dear Gary,
    Sounds as if you are having a great time already, and congratulations on confronting your fears and doing it anway, as the saying goes.
    Things in Stoke have been all football oriented recently, what with Stoke in the FA Cup final yesterday (read my blog for more info!). And speaking of sport, I hope your team make some history in the hockey.
    Anyway Gary, I shall miss our little conversations and such (in a masculine, non-homosexual way, of course), but continue to wish you a very positive, peaceful and above all, enjoyable trip.
    Yours with Very Best Wishes,

  2. Welcome to Canada....I am so proud of you for facing your fears and are very brave. And Penny, well, now there's a pilot for you. So you went to Timmies for coffee? Fabulous. Enjoy your visit. Are you coming East at all?

  3. What a wonderful way to spend your holiday! Family, inspiring friends and views of mountains sounds like a dream. Enjoy, Gary!

  4. Hi Gary

    I'm soooooooo jealous! I'd love to visit Canada. Always have been mesmerised by its astounding and breathtaking scenery! Sounds like you're going to have a blast! Enjoy!

    Take Care

  5. Hi Y'all,

    Funny. My Human tends to mentally move people from place to place. Yes, she moved you too.

    Hope y'all have a wonderful day and you enjoy your visit with everyone.

    Hawk aka BrownDog

  6. Hooorah for a safe landing! :-) Glad you are enjoying your family and hockey games and being your Canadian other self! Enjoy! Take care

  7. Such a beautiful post, Gary. Enjoy your time away from the internet, with good friends, family, and in a beautiful, meaningful place.

  8. Hi Gary
    Hope you have a wonderful time visiting. Sounds great so far.

    (um, yes .. I have finally crawled out from under my rock) Good to see you!

  9. Glad to hear you landed safely, Gary. I popped back to Britain two years ago to visit my parents for their 50th wedding anniversary. When I returned to Vancouver, one of my first acts was to sit down with a coffee at Tim Hortons at the airport. That told me I was home again.

  10. Hey Gary; I guess we just don't realize how spoiled we are to have a Timmy's available anytime we want it. Whenever I am going on the road, I always stop and get a coffee and two caramel pecan cookies for the trip. MMMMMM! Great posting and looking forward to the follow up. Hugs.

  11. Your inactivity is forgiven, Gary. Glad you arrived safe and sound. Now, if it be a drive you're interested in... just head north on Highway 97 for about 8 hours and I'll have the tea on when you arrive. Cheers.

  12. i'm so jealous i want to travel and see new places. hope you have fun and enjoy your stay

  13. Happy as I am to see you're having a great time, I'm even happier to see you have been successful in stepping out of your comfort zone. I'm all for pushing one's own boundaries, keep it up!

  14. Dear David,
    Thanks to my dear friend, Heather, I've had the chance to use her computer, do a posting and now I'm going to respond to comments. Starting with yours.
    Indeed, once again I have challenged my anxiety and tried to work through my low self esteem issues. I'm amazed at just how well I can go from recluse to becoming the other me, almost a 'party animal' :)
    Ah yes, I saw the 'highlights' of the FA Cup final and I know the outcome. When I find a bit more time, I shall wonder over to your award winning blog and have a read. So far, so good, the Canucks are still in there with a chance of making history.
    Thanks for your kind wishes in regards to my trip. I look forward to some more fascinating chats with you upon my triumphant return to that 'green and pleasant land.'
    Kind wishes from Canada, your way, eh, Gary.

  15. Hi mybabyjohn,
    Thanks for the welcome :) And thank you so much for your kind words of support and encouragement. Very much appreciated.
    Penny the Jack Russell pilot dog and modest internet star, is indeed a brave dog :) She managed to keep all the bloggers on 'Blog Air' to behave themselves. Quite the achievement. Had a very nice coffee at 'Timmies', thank you. Thanks again and sadly, I shall not be back East.
    Take care eh, Gary :)

  16. Hey CindyLu,
    For sure, a wonderful and a most inspiring way to spend a holiday :)
    In fact, I'm living the dream and grateful for all those involved and grateful to you for such a lovely comment.
    Kind wishes from Canada, eh, your way, Gary :)

  17. Hi GEM,
    I really do hope you get the opportunity to visit this wonderful land with awesome scenery and delightful people.
    Outside the house I'm typing from, are all these magnificent snow-capped mountains. Truly inspiring.
    Take very good care of yourself and please look after England while I'm gone, eh :)

  18. Hey browndogcbr,
    How's it goin' eh? I wanna' thank your human for so kindly mentally moving me to British Columbia. If only I'd realised sooner, could have saved a fortune in the cost of the flight :)
    Thanks y'all for your kind wishes. I'm have a great time with my friends and family in Canada, eh.
    Take very good care and thank you.

  19. Hi Old Kitty,
    Yep, hooorah for a safe landing, thanks to Penny the Jack Russell pilot dog and modest internet star :)
    Thanks for your very nice wishes and it's loads of fun being my Canadian self and watching ice hockey. After all, watching ice hockey is the 'law' in Canada lol.
    Take care, eh, Gary :)

  20. Hi Raining Acorns,
    Thank you for such a wonderful and thoughtful comment. It's been a deeply profound experience being among my friends and family in this magical and yes, meaningful setting. Quite nice taking time away from the internet and appreciating the wonders of the world beyond my computer screen :)
    Kind wishes your way, Gary.

  21. Hi Mustang Sally,
    Really nice to see you again:) And indeed, I'm having a wonderful time visiting my friends and family :)
    Thanks and it really is a delight to see you back.
    Take good care, Gary.

  22. Hi Ian,
    Cheers friend. Yes indeed, nothing like getting back to Canada and having a traditional Tim Hortons coffee and maybe even a doughnut:)
    Not sure if I will be able to enjoy the beauty of Vancouver Island. That would be a shame, because it really is a special place.
    All the best. Gary

  23. Hey Heather,
    Guess what? Yep, I'm typing on your computer and it's gone past
    1:30 A.M. So, if I don't wake up right away, you will know why when you read this comment later :)
    Ah yes, all this talk about 'Timmy's' makes me want to get a whole bunch of their coffee shops set up in England. Yummy, for sure eh :)
    Thanks for liking this hastily typed posting and I'm sure you will like the eventual follow up posting.
    See ya later eh and would you mind going to Tim Hortons and getting me a coffee to help me wake up? Thank you :)
    Hugs, Gary.

  24. Hey Joylene,
    Thanks for that. I felt kinda' bad I've not been at least commenting on some blogs. Being on the computer is not part of my regular routine, right now. Probably a good thing :)
    Would be nice if we can make some sort of arrangement. Tea would be nice, rather different for me to drink tea and especially coming from a land of tea lovers :)
    Take good care eh, Gary.

  25. Hi becca,
    I sure do hope you have some chances to travel and experiences the wonders of new and different places. Thank you for your kind wishes.
    In peace, Gary :)

  26. Hi Chris,
    Quite right and thank you for a profound and thoughtful comment. I know we both firmly believe in challenging ourselves and working beyond the comfort zone. There truly is so much more to life. Thanks Chris and I shall try to get over to your blog, when I have a further opportunity on the computer.
    In peace and kindness, your way, Gary :)

  27. Gary, have stopped by here a few times and always wondered what khelanie meant, after I read your post on tribes and tributes I understand. Sounds like the walk was, although produced blisters on your feet quite inspirational.

    It has been a long time since I watched Rambo, but remember the town as looking very peaceful and quite, hope you don;t plan to make trouble like Rambo did?

    Canada is truly a great place, i have been to Canada several times at a younger age, Toronto and the Canadian side of Niagara falls.

    Coming from Buffalo, I can tell you without a doubt the Canadians keep their side cleaner and spend more on upkeep than us Americans.

    Hope you enjoy your trip!

  28. Hi Greg,
    Thank you so much for a very nice and thoughtful comment. I wish to apologise for my late reply and being somewhat out of the 'blogging loop', while I'm on holiday in Canada.
    Thank you for reading that archived posting and finding out what 'klahanie' meant. Indeed, that walk was one of the most profound and inspirational times of my life.
    Hope is a small, peaceful town and surrounded by spectacular mountains. I shall not get rowdy like Rambo did in this small, peaceful town:)
    I've been to Toronto and Niagara Falls. Had an enjoyable time.
    Ah yes, Buffalo. Vancouver, which is one of the places I'm staying, shares some sporting history with Buffalo. That would be that the Buffalo Sabres and the Vancouver Canucks joined the NHL in 1970.
    I'm having a most inspirational time on my trip to British Columbia, thank you.
    Take very good care of yourself, Greg.
    Kind wishes, eh, Gary :)

  29. "Does this mean that the other passengers have got up a collection to keep me off the plane?"

    THAT is one of the funniest lines I've ever read on a blog post. I'm commenting late so I hope you're having a blast - & a safe trip.

    You da man!

  30. Great to hear you made it back to Canada safe and sound. Like you, I've been out of the blogging loop for awhile now, too. Long story for another time.

    That part about the passengers taking up a collection for you was funny.

    I know you'll miss your son, for certain, but I hope you were able to have a good visit with your mom and your brother. Sounds like you might have. So was the coffee really good there at Hortons?

    Well, dude, I'm going to make this a short comment instead of one of my ultra entertaining rambling ones because I'm desperately trying to catch up on blog commenting rounds. things are getting better for me so I can do this. I hope things are still going well enough for you.

    I keep you in mind like I do all of my closest friends. Peace.

  31. hooray for walking out that door and embracing all that would come next on your trip..

    ...and with your usual humor and upbeat attitude... :)

  32. Hi David Ebright (aka JaxPop),
    Thanks David. I really appreciate what you have said. Coming from you dude, that's one heck of a compliment.
    I having a great time and a very inspirational time. And thank you for your well wishes. My sincere apologies for being out of the blogging loop during my time away from my own computer.
    And Dave, you is da man! :)

  33. Hey Kelly,
    Thanks for your kind words in regards to my trip over here to Canada eh. And, I do know that you also have been rather on the edges of the blogging world for personal reasons Please know, when I get back more into the groove, you will get my ongoing support and encouragement.
    I thought it was kinda' funny I got offered that money to take another plane. I couldn't resist making out the passengers had got a collection together to keep me off the plane :)
    I'm missing my son and of course, Penny the Jack Russell pilot dog and modest internet star. I did have a nice time with my brother and staying a few days with my family. I shall be heading back down to the Vancouver area in about a weeks time and be visiting a bunch of friends, there. Oh yes, Tim Hortons coffee is really nice n'stuff.
    I appreciate you making a comment and I'm very sorry that I've been out of touch with commenting on other blogs. I will get back to a more regular routine when I get back to England. In the meantime, I shall embrace this amazing experience that I'm having in British Columbia.
    I'm delighted that life has begun to improve for you, Kelly. You are one hell of a decent guy and I wish you much positivity. I'm doing very well and I know I shall return to England, a better man.
    Kelly, I'm sending peaceful and positive wishes, your way.
    Peace, Gary :)

  34. Dear joanne,
    Thanks for that :) I do my best to remain a positive, upbeat kind of guy. I know it's good to challenge the uncomfortable comfort zone and confront my anxieties.
    Peaceful wishes, your way, Gary :)


I do try to comment back to each commenter individually. However, I might have to shorten my replies or give a group thank you. That way, I can spend more time commenting on your blogs. Thank you and peace, my friend.