Travelling, 2/18

I normally put my travel sketches on my personals blog, but for a reason they have not yet given me, they won't publish it -- one of the many reasons to tire of the Fast Cupid blog engine.

At SFO, only upon issuing my boarding pass did the agent admit: "You flight is delayed 40 minutes." Upon approaching the counter he asked or told me, "Going to Vancouver." I'm not sure which. It makes for good drama, though, as I realize on-board that my bags are only checked to Vancouver.

At the gate area, a wheelchair escort has rolled some bone-and-tendon case-hardened bird up to the seat next to me. The bird re-seats herself, gingerly, then checks every zipper among her bags rapidly, with a military gusto that would hearten even an anxious supply sergeant.

The escort, meanwhile, stands like a French bellhop. Ascertaining her escort's need for a cue, she fishes for a fold of singles in her vest pocket, and returns to attention. You are all set now, maam? The answer is a brief, distracted affirmative; there is no eye contact. The escort is past any proper window for receiving a gratuity, but something in the other woman's vigor has tipped her. I wonder she felt slighted by mere ignorance before, and offended by conscious deception now.

Sure enough, once she has left with the chair, the wiry woman is up and about, at the counter to bargain for a window seat, in the duty free shop for bargains, standing to chat with able-boded friends comfortably sitting a few feet away. later on the plane demanding to know why coffee is free and bottled water is not.

You have to pick up bags in Vancouver, it turns out, clear customs, then check-in for a connecting flight. All this takes more time than I have to make the connector, but Hotwire doesn't tell you that, the check-in agent doesn't tell you that, the flight attendants don't seem to know it. The PA guy at baggage claim knows it, which is better than nothing, but didn't save me lots of snorting and fuming until then.

Today's flight to Victoria from Vancouver is 2 hours, 45 minutes. The last fifteen are for flying; the rest is for waiting. Outside the terminal, I'm reminded of other small terminals: Burbank, CA; Shannon, Ireland; Parkersburg, WV. I'm given keys, smallest car out there, can't miss it, pleasant travels.

I'm driving south towards City Centre on BC-17, a clear but Northern night, by which I mean I know there are giants in the mountains to the east. I can feel the solemn energy of mindful creatures, unsettling the earth with their walk. In Vancouver the cusps of the mountains are here and there filled with powerful lights, star amalgam for cavity fillings. I'm hoping those giants swing their hammers at 3 in the morning, shaking the flats below. It'll be ok by me, 15 minutes of water between. Giants don't swim, so god bless 'em swing away.

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