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.