Sunday, June 07, 2009

So I'm a slug. Sue me.

At the end of March, the Cap'n had a presentation to give in Vancouver, BC, and I decided to tag along.

It is not good form for us to travel together when I'm tagging along for conflict of interest reasons, so he took one airline and I took another. We were scheduled to land in Seattle within a few minutes of one another, and then we would drive on to Seattle.

I had rented a car for us, because when the Cap'n rents a car on his gummint credit card, no non-gummint folk are allowed to ride in it. Even a taxpayer like me. I had all the paperwork with me.

Then it began to snow in Chicago. The Cap'n took off for Denver. I sat in Baltimore. Three hours late, we took off, and I arrived in Chicago which had only a tiny fringe of snow on the ground. Bah!

I had missed my connection to Seattle, but the next one was in six hours. I had my oxygen concentrator, my meds and my computer and phone, so I was in reasonably good shape to occupy myself for a few hours. I was able to call the Cap'n and text-message him, keeping him apprized of my situation.

We decided that he would go get a hotel room near the Seattle airport, get some sleep and I would call him when I knew what time I would be arriving. He would ride the shuttle bus back to the airport (since, after all, I had rented the car in my name, he couldn't pick it up), fetch me, get a car, and we would get a few hours sleep, since he had to give his first presentation in Vancouver at 1 pm.

Six hours came and went and still I sat there. At about 8:30 pm, I finally got a boarding pass for the flight to Seattle, and we left about 10 pm, arriving in Seattle after midnight. I walked the length of the airport (wheelchair service after midnight?? fugeddaboudit) and spotted the faithful Cap'n waiting for me. He grabbed my bags and we headed to the Hertz desk.

Hertz (smartly, on many levels) had decided to do server maintenance at midnight Pacific time on Sunday night. Which was when we were trying to get our car. The nice lady (and she was extremely nice) had to hand-write our rental contract, instead of spitting it out in ten seconds, it took closer to an hour to get it done.

We got into the car, and went to the hotel, which was really lovely as next-to-the-airport hotels go, and I stripped out of my nasty airport-soiled clothes and took a shower and took my meds and fell in bed, TWENTY-FIVE HOURS after we had been alarmed into action the day before.

We slept for about six hours and then took off for Vancouver. I had realized during my long sojourn in Chicago (nine hours gives you plenty of time to think) that I had failed to pack a coat. I assured myself that I could buy something in Vancouver.

The drive was really lovely, that typical northwest overcast, tall mountains still snowcapped, logs floating in waterways, lots of boats.

We were using my phone and its navigation system for our mapping, and we were successful until we passed the southern sections of Vancouver. Then I discovered that there is no CDMA coverage there. We have a GSM phone, but it doesn't have the nav capability, and the Cap'n 's gummint phone isn't allowed to have any external apps... so we were sorta without direction. Except, the Cap'n had actually been to the conference, in the same hotel, before, so he had some sense of where it was.

We did take a wrong turn, and had a lovely tour of Chinatown. Finally, we found the hotel and I quickly determined that, yes, I would be able to find something to wear in Vancouver, for in the lobby were a couple of stores I recognized, St John and Gucci. Yes, indeedy.

This is the nicest hotel I've ever stayed in. The concierge desk has yellow labrador retrievers you can check out for a walk. The Cap'n wanted them to come sleep with us, but I begged off. There are bowls of apples everywhere for your snacking delight.

I did check out Gucci and St John, but there was a third store which was more the right direction, however, the first thing I saw when I walked in was a ranch mink shawl, dyed pink, for $2500.00. Which, in case you didn't guess, is generally out of my price range. And taste. However, I headed for the mark-down table and found a chocolate brown cashmere wrap, which was half off, but it WAS half-off, and it WAS Canadian money, not like real money, so I bought it. And it is gorgeous, and light as a feather and very warm at the same time. And I told the Cap'n that in the case of my untimely demise, he should save it for the next Admiral, for she would also appreciate its loveliness.

I walked downtown in it, down to the city centre where they were having a Cherry Blossom Festival, without actual benefit of cherry blossoms, but with a variety of Japanese drummers and Okinawa rock n' roll.

Despite Chicago, it was a fun trip, and we got to see a bunch of folks we hadn't seen in a long while, folks whom I had met in Washington at various times.

We came home after the first of April, from snow in Vancouver to sunshine at home. We took our first sail of the season toward the end of April, knowing full-well that it was a great possibility that the weather would be horrid. We lucked out: it was spectacular. Nearly 90 degrees, but the water is still in the 50s and 60s, and the breeze coming across the water was sublime. We went to Oxford, MD (near Cambridge, strangely enough), and stayed at the marina there. We called a local restaurant and they came picked us all up for dinner (seven boatloads of us!) in their van, and we enjoyed dinner together. When we returned, and got ready for bed, a thunderstorm blew through with 70 mph winds. We were on the end of the dock, tied on only one side, and the wind hit us abeam (broadside), so the boat was rocking and creaking and rolling, and the Cap'n was skeered but I laughed at him. I'd tied the boat up and I knew it would take more than that storm had to offer to pull us off the pilings.

One of the most fun things to do during a storm on a boat is to turn on the communications radio and listen to the people panicking. I mean, you KNOW that the storm isn't going to last more than ten minutes, and you'd think these guys were with George Clooney in the north Atlantic.

And this one was even better.

In many of the mid-Atlantic towns, the street closest to the water is often named 'The Strand," which I think is one of the coolest addresses one can have: "12 The Strand, Oxford, Md." And Oxford is no different. The Coast Guard maintains a small office in Oxford. It does not appear to be the desired station for the Kingspoint valedictorians compete for.

In the midst of the storm, while we were rolling and creaking, across the radio came a call from a sailing vessel to the Oxford Coast Guard station. After two or three calls, the station answered, and the sailing vessel said "Look, I'm anchored right off The Strand in Oxford, and a motor yacht has come loose and is drifting toward the rocks. It just missed me by twenty feet or so, and it's going to cause some real problems out here." Silence from the Coast Guard station, then a very young voice asks "Do you have a GPS position for your vessel, sir?" The sailing vessel replied, not without some disgust, "I told you I'm anchored off The Strand. My navigation equipment is turned off right now, but if you want, I can certainly turn it on again, but it will take several minutes to do that." More silence. "Okay, thank you sir for your GPS position."

The sailing vessel said "Okay, I'm turning on my GPS, but in the mean time, I'm two blocks from your office and you could come out here and see what the problem is before I get enough signal to give you a position." Silence. "Do you have your GPS position, sir?"

More silence. Then the young Coastie said "Sailing vessel, do you see some bright lights on the shore? " The man in the sailing vessel said "Yes, your headlights are shining right on my boat, and the one that's loose is that one over by the rocks on my port side!"

I half expected the Coastie to announce that he couldn't go outside because it was raining.

Anyway, all's well that ends well, the motorboat didn't go up on the rocks, although our pal Tom had his dinghy flip, and drenched his outboard, and lost his oars. Quel dommage...

We did a Memorial Day sail further south, and had a good time. We made stops in both the Little Choptank and the bigger Choptank Rivers, then sailed home on Monday. No excitement, but a treat of Matzoh Brei for breakfast on Monday morning... a "stone soup" sort of arrangement where one boat had matzoh, one had eggbeaters and one had a Vidalia onion. Yum, YUM!

I have my own batteries on the boat, so I no longer worry about not having enough oxygen for sleeping "on the hook" (on the dropped anchor, rather than at a marina with electrical power). I experimented with the length of the batteries with both the oxygen concentrator and the CPAP device, and neither of them came close to draining even one of the batteries while plugged in all night. Further, we have gotten another television which is AC/DC so if I want to watch TV while on the hook, I can do that, too!

My health is reasonably good, I will have another echocardiogram in August, maybe a right heart cath to get into a new study this fall, but so far, so good.

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