Thursday, April 22, 2010
It started on Friday night. After a casual day, Dave came home and told me that the sitter was coming at 7pm and I needed to wear casual clothes, a raincoat and running shoes. Someone did arrive at 7pm, but it was not a sitter but my friend Lori who was up visiting from CA for the weekend; Dave arranged for us to go on the Underworld Tour of Seattle. (On a side note, this was great fun. We learned about how Seattle’s initial growth was funded equally by lumberjacks, men coming down from the gold rush, and hookers; how the city was first settled on a tide flat and kids used to boat across the road during high tide; how kids drowned in potholes in high tide, and where the term ‘graveyard shift’ came from…but that is another story).
After the tour, Lori was instructed to give me a small travel bag – she filmed me opening it to reveal an envelope – Route Info #1 for my personal Amazing Race Birthday Adventure. The clue instructed me to proceed to the Best Western in Pioneer Square and included a claim check tag, and required me to seal my phone, credit card and all my cash in an envelope that was enclosed. Ah, OK….???
After video taping me reading my first clue she was instructed to say good-bye. Being left alone in Seattle, especially after a couple drinks, was a little freaky, but I was very excited! I waved good-bye and headed to the hotel.
I checked into the hotel and received a small backpack that contained a change of clothes, toothbrush, a book…and Clues #2 and #3. Clue #2 instructed me to go to sleep and set an alarm for 6AM and NOT to sleep in…at that point I could read Clue #3. It also instructed me to check all the pockets of my bags…inside which I found my passport.
Clue #3 instructed me to travel by foot to the Amtrak station and included a train ticket for Vancouver. I also had to travel to Waterfall gardens on the way and find out whom the statues were dedicated to. Once in Vancouver I was to travel to Science World to locate my next clue. I was given $20 for that leg of the race. Since I barely slept being so paranoid I would miss my alarm, I ran to the first coffee shop!
Arriving in Canada I started realizing the things that the Amazing Race skips over. Beyond the obvious bathroom stops, eating and drinking, they never show people going through customs and immigration. Just an FYI, customs is not really happy when the answer to the following questions is “I don’t know…”:
-how long are you here for
-what is the purpose of your visit
-where are you staying
-how are you getting home
-why did you not come with your husband (this was asked when I said Dave was driving me home…)
As I have crossed the border once of twice I was easily able to give more appropriate answers, but I was wondering what he would have done if I told him the truth.
Off to Science World where it did not take too long to recognize my friends Scott and Robynn bobbing in the bay in kayaks. The provided me with Clue #4 – a detour. Doggy Paddle (swim to Granville Island), or Paddle Pretty (kayak with my guide to Granville Island). Guess which one I picked? Upon returning my kayak I would get my next clue.
Oh – I should also mention that the race organizer(s) did an exceptional job researching the clues. Each one held a great deal of history and trivia factoids about the area we were in.
Sitting outside Eco Marine on Granville Island was my sister in law Julie – my next guide and the possessor of the next set of Clues.
Clue #5 Sent me into Granville Market to find Birthday Cake in a Jar (yup, it’s a real thing and pretty good…even comes with a candle). It also included CDN cash to pay for my adventures. Clue #6 sent me to Granville Island Brewing to buy some Maple Cream Ale – my favorite beer. This is where I screwed up…I was kinda hung over so we just went and had a beer rather than buy a case…I got in trouble later. After our beer I got Clue #7 – proceed to pier #32 and find a Ketch named Peregrineo. Julie said good-bye and I was greeted by old friends, Philip and Diane, whom I had not seen in 8 years! They had their yacht in a slip there. Philip gave me Clue #8 - this is where I got in trouble – I was suppose to pay the captain with my case of beer to take me across to the Yaletown docks. True to race style, I probably should have gone back for it, but we were on a bit of a schedule. I owe them though… Sadly, their yacht was too big to take across, so we all got off the pretty big boat and piled into a little dingy. We had little wind, so after trying to sail about half way across, Philip had to row us the rest of the way.
After waving good-bye to my old friends, I took the garbage bag they gave me and headed off to find my next guide/clue. Dave’s cousin Todd was waiting for me there with Clue #9/Detour #2 – Blades of Fury (roller blade to the Inukshuk statue), or Chariots of Fire (run to the stature barefoot screaming the chariots of fire theme at the top of my lungs). Todd opened the garbage bag then which had all my rollerblading stuff inside, and off we went. Oh, and Todd brought his friend Chris to be our camera crew and bartender - AWESOME! Once we had our photo taken at the statue, Todd gave me Clue #10 which sent us in search of the Air India memorial on Second Beach, then back to Yaletown docks.
My next guides were at Yaletown docks, Erin and Christine, with the next set of Clues. Clue #11/Detour #3 was a choice between Twilight Fan (which sent us to the Blue Water Oyster Bar to have our photo taken there with vampire teeth), or Twilight Freak (we all had to get tattoos on our foreheads; mine to say Team Edward, theirs to say Team Jacob and Team Edward….we passed on this option).
After the photo Clue #12 instructed to put on our togas and go to the library. After getting photos taken here in togas, I was given Clue #13 – call a secret number and say “Friends, Romans Countrymen, lend me your ears; I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him” to get the next clue. Once I confirmed I was wearing my toga I was given a set of numbers and letters…obviously the dewy decimal system linked to a book in the library. (I need to call Janice Ansley DeFazio to take her for having this part) Off we headed in togas to find it.
Inside the cover of the book with the right number was Clue #14 - go to the canucks team store and find something with my name on it. The girls in the store were so excited to be a part of this they were hilarious! After finding my MacLachlans shirt I persuaded them to read the next clue to the camera for me. Clue #15 sent me on the Skytrain to the Burrard street Station. This is where Erin and Christine said good-bye.
There I found Margo was standing on the street corner with the last set of clues. Clue #16 sent us to Timmys to get coffee – I was SO ready for that. I was also to get a photo wearing an official hat, but none of the staff would allow me to borrow one…so after a great deal of persuading, they finally agreed to have their photo taken with me. Clue #17 was the eating challenge….there had to be an eating challenge. I had to go to JapaDog and get an Oroshi dog with all the fixings – sauerkraut …yuk. I was so hungry I inhaled it! Clue #18 sent us in search of who was playing at the Commodore Ballroom that night, and Clue #19 sent us to Century Spa where we each had a Vichi Shower. Dave had dropped off a suitcase here for me earlier in the day with selections of nice clothes and my girly stuff and bling.
Once clean and relaxed, I got the last Clue instructing us to go to Café Boneta in Gas Town, the finish line; here we were met by everyone that helped guide me along the way and had a fabulous dinner together!
The weekend was GREAT! Dave did an amazing job planning, coordinating and timing everything. He did a great job packing all my bags with everything I would need/want, and having all the stuff I would need along the way organized. But it could not have happened without the support of all my guides/friends along the way. I found out later that he kept everything a secret from everyone else too, and with the exception of his second in command, no one knew what they were doing or who else was involved – this was great because it made it fun for them too as they could play along, and made it hard for them to divulge information to me that they were not meant to.
Oh, and MANY thanks to Kerry and Barry for looking after our kids all day which was pivotal in making the whole thing possible! What an amazing husband and group of friends I have, and what an amazing birthday! Can’t wait to see what Shannon can create from all the video footage…
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Here is my written assignment for the Snow Bum Contest. I just sent it in. The topic is my most memorable travel experience, between 400-500 words.
A Tale from a Novice Kite Surfer
My most memorable travel experience happened while I was visiting Powell River BC in 2002. I had just finished my contract on a cruise-ship and having read about Powell River with its world class diving I decided to go explore.
Before heading to Canada I had spent a week sailing with my parents through the Danish Fjords and that’s where I first noticed some kite-surfers. Having been a water-sport fanatic all my life, I desperately wanted to try it out. I ran out and bought my first kite. With no knowledge of how to operate a kite but a strong desire to figure it out, I went to Canada with bruises and scrapes and made my way to Powell River.
While exploring the beaches I met a windsurfer named Mark who had lived in the area all his life and knew the conditions well… Perfect! He showed me a place where we could launch.
Mark launched my kite and I took off down the Georgia Straight. Good winds and sun prevailed as I was heading towards Texada Island for the first time, actually holding on and riding successfully. Mark jumped onto his windsurfer and followed me.
Nearing Texada Island I realized I needed to turn around. At that same moment I noticed a large black cone-shaped object about one hundred feet ahead of me appear from nowhere out of the water. My first thought was that it was a submarine telescope due its massive size and shape. Much to my shock, it turned out to be a large killer whale which was now fully out of the water! I stopped the kite from moving forward. This is when knew I was in trouble.
The whole time I was out kiting I had not looked behind myself or downwind. I suddenly realized that I was in the middle of a huge pod of killer whales. By then they were all around me and within touching distance. I decided to drop my kite.
The kite came crashing down, dragging me with it, and landed right in between the whales. I looked at the one hundred feet of line separating me from my kite and began imagining the next thing… being dragged by these whales down the Georgia Straight. (I was not going to let go of my new prized possession!)
After most of the whales had passed, Mark came up and screamed, “Did you see that?!!!!” He then took a good look at the colour of my skin which was slightly paler than usual. (Later on, CBC News confirmed that it was the largest pod sighted in a decade with over 110 killer whales).
Shortly afterwards, a Coast Guard vessel came over and asked if we needed help. Apparently someone had called in about a parachutist who had landed in the Georgia Straight and was surrounded by killer whales. We gladly accepted their assistance.
That night by a campfire on the beach we re-lived the experience many times over.