Friday, November 15, 2013

The Words My Kids Say

Me:  "What are you doing, buddy?" 
Knolan:  "Oh.  I am just putting my hand in my butt to pull stuff out." 
Me:  "Um..why?" 
Knolan:  "So I can throw it."  (of course)


Kaycie:  (While flinging herself forward just because she felt like it, I guess.) "Mom. Look! I'm very impressive, aren't I?"


Knolan's childcare provider:  (after Knolan had a particularly messy accident in his undies and beyond) "You can't poop in your clothes, Knolan.  If you have to poop, you tell me or your mommy, ok?"
Knolan:  "Thanks for telling me.  I think I just needed someone to tell me."


Kaycie:  (After she pinched a nerve in her neck during gym class.)  "I sure got a lot of intention from my neck injury, Mom."
Me:  "Huh?"
Kaycie:  "Intention... I got a lot of it from the other girls.  They asked me a lot of questions about what happened to my neck, and I thought to myself, 'wow... my neck sure is getting me a lot of intention!' "


Knolan:  When we were standing out on the back porch after dark, I pointed out how pretty the moon was.  He said, "Where?"  I pointed at the moon, and said, "There!"  He said, "The sun?"  And I said, "No cutie... that's the MOON."  Knolan looked truly astounded, and then crouched down low, held his palms upwards, gesturing to the moon above, and whispered, "It's... it's... a miracle."  And then he stood up, still gesturing toward the moon and shouted into the night, "It's ALIVE!!!!!"


Kaycie:  "Mom... could you fashion me a cup of juice?"

Thursday, November 14, 2013

From the Fairmont Vancouver Airport to the Fairmont Whitehorse

The sun was starting to get lower in the sky as we pulled into Marlaine's driveway after our trip down the Klondike Highway.  I was really excited because I hadn't seen 2 of her 3 children in a very long time, and I was eager to see what changes time had brought.  I was also steadying myself for that bit of time that children normally require to acclimate to someone new or someone they haven't seen in a long time.

As soon as we came in the door, however, it became abundantly clear that there would be no acclimation period.  Marlaine's kids jumped right in as though no time at all had passed since I'd seen them last.  Hugs, tours of the house, questions... it was awesome.  The kids had even helped their parents put together a wonderful little apartment of sorts for my stay with them.  It was practically on par with the Fairmont Vancouver Airport!

I had my own bathroom...

and my own bedroom (complete with a little welcome gift on my pillow!)...

and a basket of Body Shop items and towels to make my bathroom time fantastico!

We had a wonderful dinner, prepared by Marlaine's husband, and then the children and I drew pictures of each other's heads with animal bodies.  It was also awesome.  So much awesomeness!  While the two youngest were reading bedtime stories, Marlaine's daughter and I hung out downstairs and chit chatted.  What a gift it was to have some quiet time with her.  We looked at the pictures I had taken that day on our road trip, talked about life in Whitehorse, went in the back yard and looked at the constellations, and talked about her new school.  What an amazing thing it is to be able to witness the alarmingly fast rate at which children grow and learn.  I swear it was just a year or so ago that I held her as a baby!  

Once the kids had gone to bed for the night, Marlaine and I ducked out to go to the drug store for a few things, and took another drive up Grey Mountain to see if we could catch any wildlife... well, not with our bare hands or anything.  Just a peek would be fine! LOL  Grey Mountain did not disappoint!  Not only did we see a porcupine (unfortunately not caught on camera), but a fox bounded across the road in front of us on they way back down into Whitehorse.  This, I DID capture on camera!

I know... it won't make the cover of National Geographic, but I still got a picture of it, and went to sleep that night with a smile on my face, as my running list of animals-seen included mountain goats, a bald eagle, a porcupine, a fox and one fake wolf!  My only regret was that I couldn't help my sister-in-law Kerry answer that infernal question that has been plaguing her, because the fox didn't say anything at all.  Ooooh man... *wiping tears from my eyes after prolonged laughing fit*  I am just so darn hilarious!

The next morning, I joined Marlaine and the children at their curling lessons.  Her two oldest were the ones taking lessons, and they are very enthusiastic about learning the sport.  They certainly showed a LOT more curling prowess than I ever have.  Did I ever mention the time I played in a curling tournament and managed to take out the entire house... on the sheet NEXT to us?  That was humiliating.

After lunch, we needed to fill a bit of time before Marlaine's daughter needed to meet her Girl Guide unit to help sell cookies, so we all piled into the car and I was treated to a visit to Yukon Brewing!  While I was there, I was introduced to the concept of "growlers" (pictured below).  Growlers are refillable glass bottles generally used at breweries as a means to sell take-out craft beer.  The fantastic part about visiting the brewery is that you can taste each beer they have on tap!  I had a nice beer glow on once I'd tried them all, and it was only Marlaine's 6 year old son who noticed that I tried to get into a nice young couple's car when we left the store!  I am a lightweight when it comes to alcohol.  Lucky for me, he won the argument I had with him about whether or not I was an expert on what the family car looked like. 

After the cookie selling shift was over, we headed home and Marlaine and I got ready for our next big plan - an overnight getaway to the Sun Dog Retreat!  Our hope was that we'd have a fantastic girls' night away together and get to see the Northern Lights by a roaring fire as a herd of caribou quietly walked by and a pack of wolves howled at the moon AND a bear came by on a unicycle.  At the very least, we'd have some much needed quiet, relaxing and reflective time away together.

On our way to Sun Dog, we stopped at the Bean North Café - a hidden treat in the woods!  This café is in a secluded woodlot outside of Whitehorse, and serves AMAZING roasts and some good eats!

On our way in, we checked out the Little Free Library #7713.  Since returning from Whitehorse, I researched this initiative a little bit, and found out that it is part of a much larger, worldwide movement!  Simply stated, a Little Free Library is a box full of books where people can take a book or two and leave another book or two in their place.  Find out more here!

We carried on after a leisurely latte, and finally arrived at our destination - the Wolf's Den cabin at Sun Dog Retreat!  I was so excited!  It was very cabin-y, and was surrounded by trees.  Once we got inside, we found a little basket of knitted slippers for us - which I of course insisted we wear and document for posterity!

After we had giddily checked out the entire cabin, we decided to have a drink from our Growler and enjoy some of the brie and asiago cheese we had brought with us.  We happily chatted away, occasionally looking out into the trees to keep tabs on any wildlife that might wander our way.  Oh how wonderful it was to have time to breathe and gab and enjoy ourselves!  And of course, I was amused to observe that the more beer I drank, the more passionate I became about the asiago cheese.  It was as if I'd never had cheese before in my life, the way I was going on and on about how good it was!  I think Mar was secretly happy that I didn't have eyes for her precious brie.

As luck would have it, something DID wander our way after a while.  I looked out the window at one point, and saw a woman wandering around our cabin with a beer bottle in her hand.  We were just on our way out the door to go for a short hike to the Yukon River, so we opened the door to see who she was.  Turns out she was a traveller from Australia who was spending time at Sun Dog with her boyfriend, and she was lost.  Lost, but still drinking.  A traveller with a traveller!  And she was very, very friendly.  She gushed about how much she loved our accents.  I loved that part.  As a child, I prayed nightly that I might suddenly wake up one day with a British accent, so this was almost as good.

We were driving out to the hiking trail, so we offered to drive her back to the main cabin - her original destination.  She happily accepted, and immediately started making plans for Marlaine and I to join her and her boyfriend for the night.  She encouraged us to bring all of our drinks and any "party music" we had over to their cabin and we could all hang out for the night.  In her mind, this was the perfect plan!  It was like the fates had come together when she tipsily stumbled across our cabin to make for the BEST PARTY NIGHT EVER! 

Well, she couldn't have found 2 people who were less in favour of this plan even if she tried.  Luckily, Marlaine was quite adept at politely ditching her at the main cabin, and we laughed in spite of ourselves as we drove away, and I immediately felt very old.  Old, but content with the fact that my ultimate dream night consisted of sitting around in my jammies quietly chatting with my best friend.

We drove halfway up the trail to the Yukon River and parked the car when the terrain became undriveable.  We hiked the rest of the way to the river as the day slowly began to wind down.  we soon came to a spot where the woods seemed to open up, and we suddenly were overlooking the mighty Yukon river.  It was impressive and huge, but at the same time, the mood was undeniably serene.  Marlaine and I stood side by side, humbled by it all, hand in hand for a long time.  I don't know how she felt, but I felt a strange mixture of a lifetime of experiences all leading up to this quiet moment with a childlike innocence or newness - kind of like I was seeing something with new eyes.  It was my favourite moment of the trip.

And then we got a bit silly, 'cause sometimes that's just how you get back to real life after moments like that.  :-)

Realizing the sun was now setting quickly, we headed back to the car.  Marlaine took this amazing picture on our way back up the trail.  It's one of the only pictures I have from this trip that really does seem to capture exactly what we were seeing with our own eyes.  The sunset was fleeting, but stunning, as it created a colourful, smoky backdrop to the tall poplars that lined the trail.

Once we were back at the cabin, Marlaine prepared us an absolutely freaking mouth watering meal.  Local Yukon potatoes, elk and greens with a glass of white wine.  That was it... the trip could have ended right there, and I would have felt completely fulfilled.  As it turns out, elk is quite tasty - so glad I tried it!

As the sun fell below the horizon, the moon blazed above us.  And when I say 'blazed', I have to stress how much I am not kidding.  I think it must be the lack of pollution or humidity or something, but the moon is almost blinding at night that far north.  My eyes hurt if I even accidentally looked at the moon.  It really was something else to see!

Marlaine, who I swear has a paranormal gift for figuring out exactly what I want to do before I even know I want to do it, turned out all the lights, made us a cup of tea, ripped open a bag of Reese's peanut butter cup chocolate chip cookies, moved the table out of the way, and dragged two chairs up to the window sill so we could rest our chins on our hands as we leaned on the window sill and looked out into the night.  We sat that way for ages, quietly talking, discussing things that were really, really important, and then sometimes laughing so hard it hurt as we discussed things that were really, really goofy and embarrassing.  You'll notice I didn't say 'unimportant' - because as every girl knows, the goofy and embarrassing stuff is what sisterhood is all about.

We finally turned in for the night, cursing the Northern Lights for evading us, but with souls and tummies that were full.  I fell asleep to the soothing smell of a wood cabin, and the absolute silence of the north.  And I woke up about a zillion times to go to the bathroom thanks to the Growler, the wine and the tea!  :-)

The next morning, as I stumbled out of bed, Marlaine informed me that there was a neat looking bird outside, and that she thought I might want to take a peek.  She knows me all too well.  Not only do I love wildlife, but Ken's parents have fostered in me an interest in birds.  I looked out the window, and about 20 feet from the cabin I could see a quail-like bird strutting through the tall grass.  I quietly crept outside and tried to track the bird.  It was a fun game of cat and mouse.  Or cat and bird, I guess.  Or, if I'm bothering to be technical, it was a fun game of Kirsten and bird.  There... I have satisfactorily butchered that little turn of phrase!  Anyway, the closer I got, the more the bird's expressionless face betrayed the fear deep inside.  That bird was freaked out by me, but was totally trying to play it cool!  I glided in and around baby pines, and stepped over shrubs, trying to get a closer look, but by now, the bird was in panic/strut mode, and was speed walking as far away from me as possible.  It really was comical.  I was sure it was a ptarmigan, and a quick internet search when I could get a signal told us that I was right.  Yay!  Another cool animal to add to my list!

The Ptarmigan Tracker!

I came back into the cabin, and we enjoyed a hearty breakfast overlooking the woods.  After a lazy morning, we headed back into Whitehorse to meet the rest of Marlaine's family for lunch.  We had lunch at a local spot called "Baked Café".  As the kids and I joked around and ate our lunch, I couldn't help but notice how healthy and fit everyone was.  Marlaine confirmed my observation during a later discussion where she shared that a healthy way of life is very core to the culture in Whitehorse.  It is very common - almost expected - for employees to take 2 hours during the middle of the day to hike or ski.  Executives can be seen on their bikes with their children in chariots in tow as they drop their children off at Montessori school before work.  Organic food is standard fare.

So, it was no surprise that after lunch all 7 of us (the family dog joined us!) headed out for a 3km hike.  The hike was a great chance for me to spend more time with the children, and learn more about the local flora.  The kids egged me on as I tried a Kinnikinnick berry - although edible, it is disgusting - and rosehip - edible AND decent tasting.  We explored streams, climbed downed trees, and pointed out evidence of wildlife through out the trail - my favourite being some trees half eaten by beavers.

At one point, we came to an amazing lookout.  It was hard to take in for me, given that we were standing on the edge of a cliff that made me want to hurl when I looked down.  When I was able to get past that, however, the view was spectacular - blue green river nestled in mountains and forests as far as the eye could see.  Nature truly is miraculous - I couldn't help but think of the forces that created those mountains as I looked out over the river.  It was amazing.

At the end of our hike, as we all sat in the car on our way home, I felt a surge of happiness for Marlaine and her family that they had this amazing opportunity to experience life in this gem of a city for a while.  Her kids were clearly happy and thriving - revelling in all of this activity and accessible nature - as was her husband, who was giddily planning to WALK to the airport the next morning to catch his flight to Chicago.  Most of all, though, watching Marlaine still be mesmerized by the mountains 6 weeks after moving there was a really refreshing thing to see.  Wonder and marvel in an adult is such a fantastic and rare thing to experience.  Whitehorse suits them - and I as I rode in the car, listening to the sounds of a family who has found their place, I felt so lucky to have the chance to experience it with them.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Motorcycle Ride

It's early morning, and my eyes are pried open by my son.

"Mommy!  It's morning time!"

Ugh.  I am so, so tired.  I hear myself murmur, "Just a minute."  Then I hear my daughter come prancing in, asking if we can have pancakes.  Again, I hear myself mumbling a request for more time.  The two of them seem hell bent on touching my face and talking into my ear canal and rearranging my room.

In a fit of desperation, I rolled onto my side and invited them to sit on me and play motorcycle.  My tired little brain figured that if they were sitting on me, they weren't wrecking my room and they weren't touching my face or ears, and maybe I could sleep through it.

Turns out it was the greatest way to wake up EVER!  Somehow, the two of them effortlessly, and without any prior organization that I am aware of, just drifted into the following... I don't know what to call it.  Vignette, or scene, perhaps?  Here is the play by play, but bear in mind... my son is only 3 years old.  This freaked me out and yet made me stuff a pillow in my mouth to stop from laughing out loud, lest I'd break up the fun. 

<Knolan climbs onboard the "motorcycle", aka, my hip.>

KNOLAN:  "Come on honey, hop on!"

KAYCIE:  "OK.  Honey... do you have the baby?  Oh wait.  Nope... I do!  Ok... I'm ready!"

<Kaycie hops on behind Knolan.>

KNOLAN:  "Well then, let's go!  Vroom, vroom!"

KAYCIE: "Oh darling.... this is just marvelous! You've planned the perfect trip for us."

<Lots of vrooming and pretend bumps in the road.  Knolan yanks Kaycie's hands and wraps them around his stomach.  I can see a doll's head peeking out between the kids.>

KNOLAN:  "Better hold on.  It's more safe that way."

KAYCIE:  "Pull over darling.  I need to put our baby in the trunk.   She'll be safer that way, and i'll be safer too, since I will be able to hold on to you better."

KNOLAN:  "Ok, but hurry.  I need gas."

KAYCIE:  "Ok darling."

KNOLAN:  "Ok, here is the gas station." 

<Knolan hops off, somehow manages to use my arm and hand (which he manipulated into a fist with a thumb sticking out) as a gas station nozzle, and to my utter horror, uses my belly button as the gas tank, and then hops back on.>

KAYCIE:  "Oh darling, I just love that you planned this trip.  I've always wanted to ride our motorcycle to Hawaii."

KNOLAN:  "Hawaii??!?  We're going to Toys'r'us!"

KAYCIE:  "Oh.  Ok, well, I guess I could pick up some things for the baby, then.  Let's listen to the radio on the way!"

<Suddenly I hear "Wide Awake" by Katy Perry playing.  Turns out that Kaycie has found my phone, and has taught herself how to play the Kidz Bop album that her aunt Tharen downloaded onto my phone for her.>

KNOLAN:  "Oh look!  A perfect spot to pull over and dance!"

<And then, a dance party LITERALLY ensues.  I lift my head, and the two of them are at the end of the bed, each of them holding onto one of the doll's hands, bustin' a move. Knolan takes a short break from the hand holding to do some sweet breakdancing/3 Stooges moves on the floor, and then he's back up with his girls once more.>

KNOLAN:  "Ok, honey, time to get back on the road."

ME:  "You two are SUCH a sweet couple!"

KAYCIE:  "Well.... Knolan really isn't an appropriate husband for me.  I am going to go back to being his sister."

<end scene>

And just as quickly as it unfolded, the scene was gone... like sunlight behind a cloud.  But how lucky am I?!  I am not refereeing fights at 7am.  They love being with each other!  And I am witnessing everything I had hoped for in my children.

My kids were back to digging in my ears, and all I could do was grin. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Never Cry Wolf.

Day 1 in Whitehorse.  Whee!

I am on Yukon soil at last, and I can barely contain my excitement as Marlaine lets me go to the bathroom at the Whitehorse Airport. 

LOL  Ok, that just came out of my weird brain, and it stays.  I really did have to use the washroom, though, hence the excitement!  Really, though, I could barely contain my excitement as we threw my crap into Mar's car, belted ourselves in and I chugged the entire Kanteen of water that she had brought for me.  Flying is dehydrating, I have decided.  Then I clutched my latte and my breakfast sandwich and gleefully looked out the window as we took off in search of adventure! 

I could hardly believe I was there.  I know some people dream of visiting the islands, or travelling overseas.  Me?  I have always loved exploring Canada.  While taking some business studies courses in university, I somehow found myself adopted by a group of international students.  Even though they were here to experience Canada, they delighted in taking me to different restaurants in the city to try cuisine from all of the places they hailed from.  It's so funny - as I write this, I find myself sad that I lost touch with this group.  I can't remember their names or faces, but I remember feeling so lucky that they had scooped me up.  Lucky, because they opened up my eyes to how the world sees Canada.  They all wanted to come to Canada because once you are here, it is relatively easy to take in many extremely contrasting landscapes and cultures.  You can go to B.C. to see the Rockies.  You can go to Alberta to see badlands.  You can go to the prairies for sun gleaming off wheat fields as far as the eye can see.  You can go north and see wildlife that differs significantly from what you'd see in southwestern Ontario.  You can go whale watching in New Brunswick.  You can work on your French in Quebec.  You can take in a maritime culture on the east coast.  You can see red dirt in P.E.I.!  Suddenly, I didn't feel so boring for loving any chance I got to travel in my own country.

I have been to almost every province, save Newfoundland (I'll get there!), but I honestly never thought I'd have a chance to set foot in any of the territories.  I remember studying them in school, and I have spent hours making myself motion sick from zooming in and out of the northern shores of Canada on Google Earth, amazed by the different terrains.  I mean, check this out - this is an image of the terrain around Tuktoyaktuk.  So crazy!

And yet, here I was! I must say, I am so fortunate that it was Marlaine who I was coming to visit, because she planned out a visit that was custom designed for me - that is one of her specialties!  She absolutely knew what I would enjoy and what would make for a meaningful trip.

First stop, was anything BUT a stop.  We went for a drive that started on the Alaska Highway and turned into the Klondike Highway, and we went all the way south into British Columbia until we hit the U.S./Canada border and we turned around and came home again.  It was so cool, because I found out later that the South Klondike highway pretty much parallels the route that the prospectors took during the Klondike Gold Rush in the late 1800s. This drive has been heralded as one of the country's most scenic routes, and I would have to agree, given that I spent pretty much the entire drive like this:

Before we kicked off this road trip, we took a quick spin around Whitehorse, so I could see what it looked like on the ground, and then we drove up the mountain that most closely overlooks the city - Grey Mountain.  There were a few lookout points, and as I got out to take a look around, I felt like my lungs were being deep cleaned.  You always hear people talk about "mountain air" - I am totally a convert.  The air was so, so crisp and I could smell the trees.  And... one of the thrills of my trip was soaking in how different the lifestyle is in the north.  Being outdoors and being active are just part of the culture in Whitehorse.  And there are so many really interesting and different ways to accomplish this.  For example, when is the last time you saw one of these clubs within 5 minutes of your house?

I've been home for over a week now, and I am still completely enchanted with life in Whitehorse.  I mean, come on... you can hike up a mountain on your lunch break!

Anyway, once we'd seen the city from Grey Mountain, we headed out on our southern sojourn.  It was a perfect way to start my stay, as it allowed us to chat and catch up, but also to marvel at the scenery and the wildlife.  We'd get out of the car from time to time to really take in the view, and then we'd carry on. 

One of our first stops was Carcross.  Carcross was originally a fishing and hunting camp for First Nations people and was once called Caribou Crossing.  Later, this community became a stop for prospectors during the gold rush years who were enroute to Dawson City.  Today, Carcross has a population of just under 300, is home to the tiniest and cutest post office I've ever seen, and also boasts a wickedly good coffee shop!  It also seemed a bit like a deserted town - likely because it wasn't really tourist season.  There was a random dog just walking down the middle of one of the streets, and there were ravens sitting on signs and houses wherever you looked. We stopped for a walk around, and some lattes and a washroom break.  The washroom break proved to be educational for this traveller.  I felt compelled to document the sign taped to the coffee shop's bathroom door:

As we drove south, we also drove up and up into the mountains.  The scenery was mind blowing!  Signs everywhere warned of avalanches and rock slides. We drove and drove and chatted.  We especially had fun playing a crude version of wildlife bingo.  This basically meant that every time we saw something move, we'd freak out and yell, "LOOK!"
At one point, I thought that I saw mountain goats up on a mountain (duh!). Marlaine pulled over and we got out to take a look.  And when I say I thought I saw mountain goats, I should clarify.  They weren't nibbling grass beside the highway.  They were wayyy, wayyy up there, but there was no doubt they were mountain goats when Marlaine shouted, “GOOOOOAAAAAATSSSS!” and they treated us to a short 1.5 metre shuffle.  I was so excited!  Fluffy, distinguished mountain goats! 

We kept driving and soaking it all in.  As we drove, I began to accept that Marlaine was a bit of a knee jerk roadside animal fanatic.  Meaning, we would be driving, and suddenly she’d inhale sharply, brake, veer off the road and breathlessly exclaim, “What was that!”  I have no idea how, but she spotted a bald eagle who landed in a tree top about 300 feet away from us.  I won’t question her abilities – they are uncanny, but it certainly taught me to hang on to my seat!  LOL  Plus, I saw a bald eagle!  Mountain goats and bald eagles - so far, it was a very stereotypical northern drive!
I was excited to pose along the way with signs that were memorable to me:
While Marlaine kindly humoured my sign "thing", we kept driving until we were running the wipers from the cloud condensation – we were literally in a cloud!  The whole topography had changed.  It went from towering dense forests of pines to spindly trees and an almost phosphorescent yellow lichen everywhere.  We finally came across the American border, but since I am a homebody Canadian weirdo, I didn’t have a passport and we couldn’t go into Alaska.  That would have been really cool, but I could at least SEE Alaska, and according to local conspiracy theories, I flew over it too.  I got out of the car, took a picture, and scrambled back into the car because it was flipping FREEZING!  The change in temperatures that corresponded with the changes in altitude were fascinating!
U.S. customs... way off in the fog/cloud.  :-)
On our way back up the highway and down the mountains, we pulled over and took a short hike down to the river.  Before Marlaine got out of the car, she said, “hey, check this out!” and I turned around to see her displaying a giant canister of bear spray!  This was because, as she and everyone else in Whitehorse says, "why be stupid?"  We climbed over rocks and through branches and groundcover where Marlaine showed me Kinnikinnick berries, I found a pile of caribou poop (ok, for those of you paying attention, this was my lame link to the teaser at the end of yesterday's post), and we found utopia.  Gorgeous rushing river, trees, pure mountain air, surrounded by mountain peaks.  Blissful.

Headed back up the highway.  I was happily taking pictures and chatting away, when Marlaine freaked out and yelled, “WOLF!”  I was so, SO excited!  An honest to goodness wolf would be the ultimate Yukon “find”.  We saw the wolf trotting down the highway in front of a pick-up truck – presumably driven by someone else who was excited to get a glimpse of this northern species.  As we got closer, it became obvious that we had been duped - mostly by our over-eager selves.  Turns out that our majestic wolf was just a dog, and the pick-up truck following it was being driven by the dog’s owner – a jolly woman waving hello as she “took her dog out for a walk” along the Klondike Highway.  Wolf sighting FAIL!
As we continued on, we came around one bend, and I couldn't help but gasp at what I saw.  The majesty of the mountains seemed to be captured at one amazing lookout.  Here was my best attempt to capture it, but as is always the photographer's lament, the picture simply doesn't do it justice.
As we eventually made our way back to Whitehorse, one of Marlaine's favourite spots became my favourite "jump out and snap a picture" memories.  As we crossed through Carcross on our way back home, she pointed out the Carcross Desert.  A desert nestled in the mountains!  What a fascinating sight that was.  It felt so neat to walk across the sand to find a shot that framed the contrast between two extraordinary natural wonders.
With time trudging on, and Marlaine's family at their house eagerly waiting to welcome me, we headed home in the setting sun feeling nostalgic, awestruck, and energized all at once.  I was stunned that within hours of getting off the plane, I had seen more than many people get to see in a lifetime. 

I am a lucky, lucky girl.

Next post:  We meet a lost Aussie, and I become.... The Ultimate Ptarmigan Tracker!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Fancy Room, Fancy S'mores, Fancy Meeting Everyone Marlaine Knows On A Plane!


I slowly open my eyes, stretch like a baby, and smile as my mind slowly clears and the crazy day I had the day before suddenly all comes back to me.  I blink a bit and look around at my fancy pants hotel room.  Out the window I see the tarmac and planes slowly lining up with boarding bridges.  Between me and the window is a table of empty dishes and a teapot - a happy reminder of the extremely fancy dinner that I enjoyed last night.  To the right of the bed is a gorgeous bathroom that features the weirdest lighting system I've ever encountered.  It took me a looooong time in the middle of the night to figure out how to turn the lights on to use the facilities!  But once those lights were on.... what a bathroom it was!  I felt like one of the Real Housewives of Vancouver... the awesome rich part, not the gag-inducing self-centredness part.

And how did I end up in this lovely room?  Let's pick up where I left off... the day before.  I had flown to Whitehorse to take a quick bird's eye view of the place, and then had just deplaned back in Vancouver, and powered up my phone to see how my host Marlaine was coping with this unexpected turn of events up north.

As my phone powered up, I started hearing, "Ding.  Ding.  Ding.  Ding."  I laughed out loud as I walked through the terminal reading the onslaught of texts - as predicted, Marlaine was in full go-mode.  Here are the screen shots of the series of texts that started spilling onto my phone from Marlaine as soon as my phone was on:


I love Marlaine.  :-)

Of course, she was right about all of the details.  I smiled as I read that she had contacted my parents.  I sometimes swear that she missed her calling as a personal attaché, but her real-life career truly suits her and she is passionate about her work.  Lucky for me, she is also passionate about our friendship and she had updated me WAAAYYY before WestJet had.  WestJet hadn't even given me my luggage back by the time Marlaine had equipped me with all the info I needed for the next 24 hours!

As I waited at the baggage carousel, I amused myself by listening to the growing swell of conspiracy theories that were emerging from my fellow passengers as we waited for our belongings.  I heard person after person on their cell phone speaking to family or friends in Whitehorse and then relaying to those of us standing close by that mere minutes after our flight headed back to Vancouver, not only did the Air Canada flight to Whitehorse land successfully, but so did the Air North flight!!  I heard whispers about some mysterious WestJet fog protocols.  I heard complaints about lack of fog landing terminology in Whitehorse.  I even heard one woman say that our plane had traveled far into Alaska while we were in a holding pattern waiting to land, and she declared that, "there must be some reason that they flew us so far into Alaska.  GPS does NOT lie!  I saw our little plane on the screen over Fairbanks and I want to know what they were avoiding in Whitehorse!"

Clearly we all react to the unexpected in different ways, but I really hadn't expected that the reactions of the other passengers would provide me with a steady stream of entertainment all afternoon.  We all made our way up to the WestJet customer service counter, where we lined up to meet our fate.  We were a tired looking bunch.  A porter came along with free water for us all, but it seemed that we were all just too defeated to even care anymore about hydration. 

As our line slowly moved along, a man ahead of me in line struck up a conversation with me.  He told me the amusing tale of the woman sitting in front of him on the plane who was convinced that our flight's pilot was a rookie who was too scared to land in the fog.  She was apparently an expert on all things WestJet, and repeatedly cited their "two-attempts-only" policy, as she insisted that the rookie pilot had wasted his two attempts and that someone should have stepped in to land the plane. Incidentally, I have no idea if this is a real policy or not.  In fact, I'm still not clear on why we couldn't land in the fog!

THEN, he told me that he was sitting beside a woman who claimed to have special healing powers.  He recalled the grand gestures she was making with her hands in the direction of the Whitehorse airport on our second attempt, and how she declared after the captain informed us we were heading back to Vancouver that she had saved everyone on our flight with her powers.  What really made me grin was his description of how even after saving our flight, she insisted on complaining heartily about the man sitting a few rows back, coughing and hacking from a cold, and she was continually whispering comments like, "Boy, is that guy ever sick!"  Both my new friend and I agreed that if it bothered her so much, she could have mustered up some healing for the sick passenger, rather than complaining and wasting time saving our flight from the fog!

Finally, I made it through the line up at customer service and spoke with an agent.  To my delight, WestJet had booked me a room at the poshy posh posh Fairmont Vancouver Airport Hotel and provided me with a fistful of food vouchers that could be used at the hotel or anywhere else in the airport.  I didn't even need to leave the airport!  All I had to do was walk to the other end of the terminal and check in. Woo hoo!

Well, as I joked with Marlaine later, although we weren't able to do our 3km hike that we had planned to do when I got off the plane in Whitehorse, not all was lost.  Turns out that Vancouver's airport terminal is AT LEAST 50km long.  Well... maybe it only felt that long, but I am convinced that I would have racked up 3km on a pedometer, had I been wearing one that day.  WestJet's customer service was at the very, very furthest end of the building from the Fairmont Hotel.  I was sweaty, tired, my muscles were all sore from sitting on an airplane all day, I was carrying all sorts of crap, I was thirsty and hungry, and I was getting really, really annoyed with having to swerve around lost people.  It's funny.  I normally have a very even temperament, and not much can rattle me.  But... if I'm tired and thirsty, I can go from zero to exasperated in a heartbeat over the stupidest things.  The very same statues and artwork that I was thrilled to stop and look at that very morning were making me mutter under my breath as I made my way through the terminal to the hotel.  "Stupid statue... making people stop and admire it.  Stupid tourists.  Stupid lost tourists.  Grumble, grumble, moan."

Finally I saw it!  The escalator to the hotel!  It looked golden and shiny and full of hope!  I savoured my 15 second rest while I glided up to the second level.  I finally made my way under the chandeliers that lined the bridge to the hotel, and dragged my butt into the hotel lobby and made my way to the counter.  As I made my grand entrance, the front desk clerk smiled and said, "Another victim of WestJet, I presume?"  I must have looked pretty dishevelled, but it also reassured me that I must not have been the only one from that flight feeling exhausted and "done".

I checked in and headed up to my room.  It was the perfect oasis for rest after a really weird day.  It's funny how sitting down all day can exhaust you.  I guess I should be kinder to myself, though - for someone afraid to fly who twice in one day thought she had brought down a plane all by herself, I was actually in pretty good shape!  The bed was soooo fluffy!  The bathroom was sooo spa-like!  And I could look out onto the airport tarmac and watch the planes come and go.  It was more like a suite than a room... it was awesome.  I was suddenly in love with WestJet and it's mysterious fog policies!

First thing was first.  I called Marlaine and we touched base and re-jigged our plans for the next day.  We had a few laughs about it all, and then I declared I was going to have dinner and then take a nice relaxing bath.  Then I ordered room service in a big, bad way.  I cashed in every single voucher WestJet gave me and chipped in $26 of my own and had a fantastic gourmet meal.  It wasn't one of those meals where all of the parts "went together", but rather, it was a Frankenstein meal of all of my favourite menu items.  I got a smoothie.  I got a breast of chicken.  I got a Caesar salad.  I got a pot of Earl Grey tea.  I got some toast and jam.  And.... the topper.... Fairmont's interpretation of the S'more.  Oh man, was that a good S'more!

After I had enjoyed my dinner, I slumped back in the wingback chair (which I totally sat in while I ate dinner - I'm pretty sure you aren't supposed to do that when you are as prone to spills as I am, but I was feeling like a badass) and debated whether my bath plan was still a good idea.

  • I felt gross. 
  • When would I ever get a chance to bathe in a clean tub again?
  • The soaps and lotions at Fairmont are top shelf.
  • The towels didn't have princesses and super heros on them.
  • The tub had jets in it.
  • I would probably feel amazing afterwards.

  • I didn't feel like getting up.
  • Saved by the Bell was on.
So, my choice was clear.  I stayed in my comfy wingback chair and watched bad TV for about an hour and a half until I realized I was falling asleep. 

Fortunately, when I arrived in my room, I'd had the presence of mind to get into my PJs, so all I had to do was a lame-o 2 step stumble from the chair to my bed, and I slid under the duvet and let out an audible, "yessssss!"  I was asleep before I even took my glasses off!

So, after a nice long sleep, and the added advantage that my 7am wake up call felt like 10am due to the time zone difference, I got up and had a refreshing shower.  I used every scrap of their bath products and used every single towel in the place - because I COULD!  I leisurely blow-dried my hair (decadence!), and straightened it, despite Marlaine's warnings that I would stand out like a sore thumb in Whitehorse if I looked too put together.  Look at me, throwing caution to the wind!

I packed up my things, checked out of the hotel like a completely new human being and skipped through the terminal like a 5 year old on her way to a birthday party.  I took pictures of the very statues I had cursed the day before.  I smiled at tourists.  I even helped a poor lost soul!

I made it to the baggage check counter, checked my suitcase, tra-la-la'd through security and thought, "Let's try this again!"

I grabbed a juice and a muffin and headed to my boarding gate.  There, I saw many of the passengers from our ill-fated flight the day before.  It was like a class reunion - everyone smiling and waving, swapping stories about hotel rooms and food vouchers.  We might as well have been clinking sloshy beer steins too for all the lovey-doveyness and reminiscing that was going on.

I struck up a conversation with a woman who was toting around the super large bouquet of flowers that I had noticed she had carried onto the plane the day before.  I thought she was bringing it to someone in Whitehorse, but as it turns out, she lives in Whitehorse, but had been in Oregon for a week helping a friend of hers start up a gluten free flour business, and the flowers were a thank you gift from her friend. 

We chatted easily as we boarded the plane and settled into our seats.  She asked about my plans in Whitehorse, and I mentioned visiting Marlaine and her one-year stint in the city.  Well, after revealing a bit about her profession, this woman suddenly says, "Well she must work with my neighbour, John!"  Well, I could still use my phone at this point, so I texted Marlaine, and sure enough, Marlaine knew of this John!  We had a good laugh about this on the plane and chatted some more about my trip and my friendship with Mar, although I never mentioned her name.  Suddenly, a woman in a red top a few seats over said, "Is your friend's name Marlaine?"  to which, I burst out laughing and said that yes, it was.  Soon, about three rows of people were giggling, and the woman who just sat down beside me joined in and said, "That's Whitehorse for ya!" 

Anyway, I won't go into another lengthy summary of the flight, but thankfully, this flight took off and landed in Whitehorse without incident.  I texted Mar the second we could use our phones and excitedly announced my arrival.  She texted back, "Get ready to be serenaded!"  I had forgotten that she had filled me in on a singing and drumming welcome that had been prepared by a group in Whitehorse to welcome members of a Māori tribe from New Zealand who had been on my flight.  Unfortunately, they had to do the sad-face shuffle back home the day before when our flight never arrived, but they were up and ready to go again when we finally did make it! 

As I came up the boarding bridge and rounded the corner, I could hear singing and drumming - it felt so celebratory!  Even though the welcome wasn't for me, it was the PERFECT way to arrive in Whitehorse after all of the troubles I'd had actually getting there!  here is a picture of the group:

As I walked past this amazing welcome, I almost burst into happy tears when I saw Marlaine.  We have been friends since elementary school and have bore witness to many versions of each other, have celebrated many wonderful times together, and have been there to hold each other's hand for the heartbreaking times for almost 30 years.  I think that there is something to delaying gratification, because the hug I finally got 24 hours after I was expecting it was so worth the wait.  And so were the Starbucks Tazo chai latte and breakfast wrap that she had waiting for me!  Can't think of many other moments as great as that one.  :-)

Next post:  What does this taxidermy exhibit at the Whitehorse Airport have to do with our first outing after I arrived in Whitehorse? 


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Are We There Yet? Are We There Yet?

I find it amusing that I have been able to fill two blog posts with only my drive to the airport and my flight to Vancouver, when really, the truly interesting parts of my trip didn’t begin until I boarded my plane to Whitehorse.

I was quite taken with Vancouver’s airport, and enjoyed my hour stopover as I waited for my connecting flight.  I think it’s lovely how some airports feature regional artwork and sculptures – it made me feel less like a passenger being herded, and more like a visitor to a world class city.

Once I got on the plane to Whitehorse, however, the tone went from world class city to party time.  J

The first parallel to a crazy night out with fun friends was that right off the bat we lost 2 passengers.  Thinking back to the party nights of my university years, almost inevitably, every time we went out, one or two of our group would monkey off after something shiny in the club district downtown and we’d end up forming a tipsy search party for our friends.

I couldn’t help but be amused as I watched 5 airplane staff try to locate these 2 missing passengers, who had apparently boarded at the gate, but somehow were forcing the headcount to be off by 2.  It literally took 4 flight attendants, 1 person in a fluorescent vest, and I think a couple of helpful passengers to empty the bathrooms and come up with a headcount that satisfied the vest person, and after 20 minutes of counting heads, we were good to depart.

As the flight attendants did their final check of seatbelts and overhead compartments, one of the FA’s (see what a pro flyer I am now??!?  I learned this short form from the attendants on the flight.) noticed my knees knocking and asked if I was ok.  I confessed that I was a nervous flier, and she gave me a knowing smile and carried on down the aisle.

Well, Rochelle (I learned her name from the safety demonstration, much like our old friend, Jay) must have shared this information with the crew, because as soon as we lifted into the air and it was safe for the FA’s to move about the plane, they had all befriended me and introduced me to the belle of the skies… Coastal Ridge Chardonnay!

Lest I get any WestJet staff into trouble, they didn’t start this – I was definitely the instigator.  Most of my timid flying friends had recommended that I have a drink or two to calm my nerves.  But much to my delight, my new friends Rochelle and Randall kept my spirits high and my wine glass full!  And you know what?  I had my doubts - I am not a super frequent drinker - but it really did help!

The two of them had clearly worked many, many flights together. They had a back and forth bickering banter that kept me grinning from ear to ear.  They seemed to take a liking to me instantly and taught me how to use my flight mode on the plane to take pictures and moved into the seats in front and beside me to tell me their life stories and take pictures out the window with me.  Turns out they were from Ottawa, and rarely got the opportunity to work a flight up the B.C./Alaska coastline.

They would hop up regularly to do their work, but continued their onslaught of verbal sparring.  As Randall came through selling earbuds, he hollered at Rochelle, “CHOP CHOP! Get our friend here a chardonnay… stat!”  I smiled at her, and she rolled her eyes as he looked at me and joked, “She hasn’t done a THING since we took off… just sits there and eats airplane snacks.”  And then he snapped his fingers at her, as she stood there laughing with us and said, “HelllloooooOOOOooo!  Chardonnay??” 

“Oh, he’ll get his later!” she whispered as she came back with my wine.  As she went back to chat with Randall about their plans for later in the day, I couldn’t help but laugh as I heard him admonishing Rochelle and saying, “We are NOT going to the Old Spaghetti Factory.  What IS it with you and chain restaurants?  I swear, I can’t take you anywhere!” 

As the flight went on, Rochelle and Randall amused themselves by exploring my airline travel naiveté.  They thought it was a rarity to find someone who doesn’t fly often, and laughed pretty hard when I asked if it was ok to have another package of cookies.  They seemed proud that they were the ones who had opened up the world of laptop use and flight mode to me, not to mention the benefits of inflight wine service.

The wine, incidentally, is the only thing that I can hold responsible for the dozens of pictures of the GeoNova live trip map on the seat back in front of me.  Clearly, I thought that pictures of the live trip map were KEY to documenting my trip, and that they would make wonderful keepsakes of my time in the skies.  Snort.  Reminds me of my niece’s recent trip to Disneyworld – she literally took pictures of everything on the plane.  And when I say literally, I mean a picture of her gum in its wrapper sitting on her seatback tray.  And then a picture of the gum sitting in the opened wrapper.  And then a picture of the gum going into her mouth.  And then a picture of the airline snack.  And then a picture of the snack opened.  And then… well, you get my drift.  Here… peruse my lovely gallery. 

RUSSIA!  We're so close, I bet I
 could see Sarah Palin keeping vigil in
 Alaska if I look closely.  :-)
As our flight went on, I marvelled at the little roads between mountains.  Who lives there?  How do they get stuff?  Even if they are logging roads, how the heck did they decide where to put roads?  The enormity of Canada – heck, even British Columbia – struck me hard.   I even thought I could see glaciers as we flew along the coastal mountains.  My parents were always very good about providing learning experiences for us on vacations, and we had even taken a tour of a glacier once.  My parents were very diligent about helping us learn what created the mountains and what effects glaciers had on the geography of the country.  But really, there is a lot to be said for understanding this stuff as an adult, and not as a kid who is pretty much half paying attention and half wondering if the next campground will have a swimming pool. 

Once, when Ken and I were hanging around one weekend and I was looking at a map, I had a freak out (notice the underline?  It really was a freak out.) because I thought Canada was ripping through the middle and we were headed for the next big continental drift.  I started exclaiming things like, “Do the scientists know about this?  Has anyone noticed this!?” 

Kenny laughed and explained about glaciers and the trail of holes and grooves they left, and calmly assured me that the trail of large lakes were simply evidence that glaciers had retreated in a big way across this big land of ours.  Thinking back on that, and now seeing it first-hand from the sky… now I am awestruck.

And of course, with that awe came the nagging voice in my head that reminded me of my fear of flying.  You know what didn’t help?  The day before I left, one of Kaycie’s school friends looked at me and said, “You’re going in a plane?  Aren’t you afraid to fly?”  Luckily, my daughter saved me from what would certainly have been a rambling and disastrous answer on my part to that question, and boldly and confidently stated, “No, of course she isn’t!”  It’s a humbling question to be asked by a 6 year old!  Her little voice echoed in my head many times during this trip, but I was determined to prove my daughter right, so I looked out the window and simply decided to enjoy the view.

And what a view it was!!  As we made our descent into Whitehorse, I could see a mirror smooth river that reflected the mountains and clouds and blue skies perfectly.  A camera will never capture the feeling I had when I saw it.

I was taking pictures and smiling away, when the captain’s voice came on letting us know it was time to turn off laptops and cell phones.  I looked at Rochelle, and she quietly came over and told me I could keep taking pictures safely for a couple more minutes.  I could see that they were still snapping a few last minute pictures with their phones, so I eagerly snapped a few more.

As I put my phone away, I could feel the plane dipping forward and our descent became very pronounced.  It was time for my landing ritual, which is just as ridiculous as my take off ritual.  Lots of knee knocking and nervous smiles and seat belt tugging.  I looked around as we got closer and closer to the ground.  The rivers were insanely blue-green – in some cases almost fluorescent.  We got so close that I started memorizing landmarks in Whitehorse to ask Marlaine about when I got off the plane.  A dry docked boat… a certain river…. an unusual building.  In a few moments I would be standing on the soil of a part of Canada I had never visited before!  There was a layer of fog over a good part of the city, but parts that could be seen so clearly that the sunlight was bouncing off of the windshields of cars.  I held tight for that last part of the landing when…

Whooosh!  Suddenly I was forced by gravity back against my seat as the plane shot upwards into the sky.

Oh crap, oh crap, oh crap.  I left my phone on too long and I screwed up the electronics of the plane and now the landing gear is stuck permanently and what the hell happens when that happens?!?!?!!

My fingers tightened on my seatbelt and I tried to breath calmly.  I could hear Rochelle and Randall chuckling about something, so I reassured myself that if they didn’t think we were crashing, then chances were pretty good that we were going to survive this flight, and I could stop feeling guilty about my phone.

The captain’s voice again came over the loud speaker and he calmly said, “Well, as you probably noticed, we made an attempt to land in Whitehorse, but there is a patch of thick fog right over the airport, and our first attempt to land had to be abandoned.  We are hopeful that the fog will burn off shortly, and we will return to make a second attempt once we get the go ahead from the control tower.”

“Probably noticed?”  Ummm… that was pretty hard to NOT notice.  It kind of felt like being on one of these dealios when we made our first atttempt!

Down... and right back up!
So, for the next 45 minutes, we did the equivalent of circling a shopping mall parking lot, waiting for that perfect, fog-free parking spot to open up right near the front entrance!

I should mention that as soon as the captain finished his announcement, Rochelle and Randall came right over to see how I was.  Turns out they had been debating the whole time between our failed landing and the captain’s announcement whether or not to come tell me that everything was fine.  Randall said that he’s a nervous flier too, and he stopped Rochelle from coming over because, “It’s ALWAYS better NOT to know.”  Well, I didn’t disagree with Randall outwardly.  I, of course, energetically nodded my head in agreement, while joking about my failed landing gear theory.  In reality, though, I seriously disagreed!  Even if they did have to stay strapped into their seats in the galley, a little smile from the FA headquarters, and a secretive pantomiming of, “ALL OK.  WINGS STILL ON PLANE.” would have gone a long way in soothing my inner screaming!

So, we circled over what I assume must have been parts of Yukon and parts of Alaska, since the cartoon plane on our live flight screens seemed to be doing fancy loops, circles and figure eights between Anchorage and Whitehorse.  I am pretty sure I saw Mount Logan, which was cool!  At least I was getting my money’s worth from this trip! 

Oh famous last words…

I felt us make a determined descent again.  This time, I triple checked that anything electronic in my immediate vicinity was turned off, and I watched out the window as we descended into Whitehorse for a second time.  I saw the roads and trees and cars and buses get closer and closer.  It felt like clear sailing ahead!  We were so close to the airport, when fog again brushed past my window, and the plane jolted upwards, accompanied by the groans of the passengers around me.

We ascended upwards and headed south.  I wondered to myself how many attempts they would make?  How much fuel can this jet hold?  Is there any place to land in a fog emergency?  Maybe they would land in Alaska and I could add that state to my list of new places I’d been!  As I confidently waited for the captain's voice to announce that we would make a third attempt, my musing was interrupted by the captain’s actual voice saying, “Well, as you can see, we made our second attempt to land, but folks, the fog is just sitting exactly over the Whitehorse airport, and we can’t make a landing.  Sooo, we’re headed back to Vancouver, and the time remaining in this flight is approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes.”

Say what?

My jaw dropped, and I looked around at the other passengers.  Half of them looked like I did, a quarter of them were laughing, just under a quarter of them seemed completely indifferent, and one woman looked like she was going to take down the captain with her bare hands.

I quickly turned around, so as not to incite any more fury in her.  For all I knew, she could have been a scopophobe.

Rochelle looked at me with bulging eyes, and Randall quickly assembled the team and whispered, “Ok, just unload the carts and give out as much free stuff as you can.”  Rochelle, walked by, handed me a mini bottle of wine, smiled and whispered, “Sorry, hon!”  Randall, came over and slid me a snack box of hummus and pita chips and whispered, “I noticed you liked these on the way up.  Have as many as you want.”

Strangely, I was ok with still being in the air.  My fear of flying had been replaced with thoughts of, “How will I cope in society without Rochelle and Randall!?”  These two anticipated all of my needs and had become a big part of my trip!  I just love how this fear trumped the faint whisperings in the back of my head saying, “You’re probably sleeping in an airport tonight!” and “You will never get to Whitehorse… EVER!”

So, with nothing else to do but fret about the future, I figured this was as good a time as any to focus on the past and start blogging about my trip, so I whipped out my laptop, and furiously barfed out my first post on this adventure.  It was such a relief to be blogging again!  I get such joy out of writing and experimenting with what makes people laugh.  The highest compliment I have received about my blog is that it is relatable – and that is what I aim to be:  so darn relatable that you will stop worrying about keeping up with the Jones’ and start worrying that you might be keeping up with me!  Yikes!  At least you’d be laughing all the way. 

Before I knew it, (which is pretty impressive, considering I’d just spent 10 hours in an airplane!) we were descending into Vancouver International Airport, which, for your information, was again, completely covered in fog except for the very tops of some tall towers.  It was haunting and beautiful, but also suddenly confusing, considering we couldn’t land in Whitehorse because of fog!

Nevertheless, the fog was really beautiful from overhead.  The sunlight was bouncing off the blanket of clouds in such a tantalizing way.  As the plane banked, the tips of our wings dipped into the clouds, and for a moment, I lost myself.  I was in a crazy, crazy headspace (I am starting to think 10 hours in a plane would be a good psychology test of some sort) and I was imagining that the wingtips were cones dipping into a vat of fluffy candy floss.  I was even imagining me fashioning some big long stick to slide out the window and hook a taste of the spun sugar.  Which was so weird considering I don’t even really like cotton candy!  Suddenly we dipped through the low clouds and suddenly we hit the runway and I snapped out of my circus concession stand day dream.

Suddenly, I had a list of things to do.  The captain had assured us during our descent that WestJet would take good care of us all, and that a customer service representative would meet us to sort out accommodations and flights and all that good stuff.  First, we’d need to claim our baggage and then head to the WestJet counter.

As I said a sappy goodbye to my wonder duo, Rochelle and Randall, I headed up the boarding bridge, wondering what the next few hours would hold for me.  More interestingly, however, I was very curious about what Marlaine had been doing all this time.  Marlaine is a “take charge” kind of person, who is very reassuring to have around in times of crisis.  I, of course, had not been able to communicate with her all this time, and all I could picture was her balancing the Starbucks latte and breakfast wrap she had promised to greet me with in one hand, while talking to the counter staff at the Whitehorse airport and texting me info with her free hand.  I would find out in a few short minutes when my phone powered up, whether I was right!  J