Canada ’08: Journey to Vancouver
The alarm cries and it’s time. To wake and to move from slumber to action. Tired and slightly disconsolate, those necessary last minute tasks await. We’re going to Canada today. going to be along day and sometimes a hard and stressful one. A bitter cup of coffee and endless security checks later, we’re passing from Manchester and being drawn towards Vancouver, British Columbia and our eventual destination, Kelowna in the semi-arid Okanagen region. This time for one month – four weeks – one twelfth of a year. It sounds a different duration whichever way one describes it.
Unlike most times there are few Canadians on our flight. No winter wear, no sea of denim just expectant mostly English faces in juxtaposition with efficient and workmanlike Scottish cabin crew.
Little to see of Ben Nevis, Iceland or Greenland, we surge on to North America and I wonder what changes lie ahead in the next month. Is this my tenth or twelfth journey to Canada? In truth I lost count a long time ago. I didn’t forget the memories though, now-distant vacations of white-capped mountains, of frozen lakes skated on, of huge shopping malls and cheap and plentiful food. Ice cold beer, hockey nights and afterwards the forbidding frigid atmosphere out on the sidewalks.
“Back on the stamping ground
To where it all began…”
What is the real Canada? I can’t answer that question but I know what the country means to me. It’s a huge wide open space that makes one feel a little humble – especially in those vast mountain ranges looking at mile after mile of coniferous forests and far as the eye can determine. Any lover of God’s earth is going to feel the same way about this immense land mass of powerful mountains wide, ample lakes and roaming prairies. One very quickly comes to feel small and inconsequential after leaving the United Kingdom which feels a little like living in a dolls house by way of comparison.
What awaits after a nine and-a-half hour journey are five more long hours in Vancouver. No beach or Stanley Park for us though, no ocean or Robson Street shopping downtown. It’s five hours of a wait for a small Westjet plane that will transfer us safely on to Kelowna airport and our eventual destination in that city. We know that our ‘summer’ will have arrived at last and wait for that familiar feel of warm, dry sun on our arms once more.
“Don’t worry baby, everything will turn out alright”
Maritime Vancouver – stepping out of the airport for some respite from the madness inside, we stroll down the side of the highway in warm, dry sunshine past the local marinas and on for an early dinner at the nearby Boathouse restaurant.
Happier now. Mel after the long flight, on the patio overlooking the marina at The Boathouse
The Boathouse is a small chain of a handful of restaurants in British Columbia. Specialising in seafood, it has an enviable choice of fish and shellfish. On this occasion I chose Lobster Kebabs to start and a Portobello Mushroom, Dungeness Crab and Shrimp sandwich. Superior chain eating, and delicious lobster on your plate without taking out a second mortgage.
Finally it’s a cab back to Vancouver airport and a short step up on to a Westjet aircraft for the final short haul to Kelowna. A gent turns up to take the seat next to me on the plane and let’s be kind and say he looked slightly ‘tired and emotional’. The stewardess kneels herself in front of him at eye level ‘sir – have you ben drinking before boarding the plane?’. ‘Sure – just a little’, (the passenger is clearly drunk) ‘Are you going to be okay to fly sir?’ ‘Perfect’ comes the reply. And sure enough he was, sleeping like a baby for the thirty-three minutes flight duration. He did however miss some incredible views of the mountains and the welcome sweep, dropping down to earth in good old Kelowna. It was good to be back. The sun was shining as expected, dryness, a gentle mid evening heat and a warm breeze greeted us just before my partner’s dad, another welcome. We were back and enormously glad to be here again.
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