Monday, September 28, 2009

Ferry Fun!

Photo of The Spirit of British Columbia courtesy BC Ferries Corporation

In mid-September my fiancee and I took a day trip over to Vancouver from Victoria, necessitating (unless we wanted to fly, or grease up like the appropriately named Fin Donnelly and swim the 45 kms across the Georgia Strait - he did it in under 9 hours!) the normally 1 hour and 35 minute voyage via BC Ferries.

See her fantasteriffic blog for details of the trip itself, and then come on back for the pulse-pounding (well... softly pounding in a very sleepy sort of way) tale of our FOUR hour return trip on the final 9pm sailing that evening/night/morning!

Now this (below) is how you are supposed to park on the 500 vehicle car decks of the Spirit of British Columbia (largest vessel in the largest ferry fleet in the world dontchaknow?). Which is how we did before heading on up to the cafeteria for some soup and hot chocolate. It had been a good but long day (up since 5am), rainy, tons of driving and walking, and we were plain tuckered out. Not to mention that we arrived early at the ferry terminal that evening and had been waiting for an hour and a quarter already before loading.

So as the ship sat still docked at 9:10pm, and as I supped on poulet avec nouille fantastique we were somewhat surprised to hear the chief purser come over the inter-ship communications announcing in a muffled voice ... "Due to a motor vehicle accident on the main car deck our departure will be delayed. We will keep you updated."

"Hmm" we, and many others, said to ourselves. "That's unusual..." If it's a minor fender bender it shouldn't have caused much, if any, delay. It must have been something more serious, maybe involving an injury. Oh, well... minor setback.

Life continued as normal on a tired rainy night. Finished up the soup, talk about our day, look at cool stuff picked up at Daiso, droopy eyelids abound.

15 minutes later the call of nature sent a text message to my bladder and I thought I'd kill two birds with one plate glass window by checking out the incident that was adding a half hour to our anticipated WACB (Warm and Cozy Bed) e.t.a.

Leaving Joanne to the comfort of the "Coastal Cafe" and a magazine or two I jauntily left on my appointed tasks. A few minutes later found me making my way down to the bottom level of the ferry and, after walking to the business end of the ship, this was the unusual sight that greeted me...

"What, pray tell, have we here?"

"I do believe that semi-trailer truck is jammed into the loading doors of the ship!" Let me take a closer look..."


It appeared that this misbegotten carrier of freight had inextricably wedged itself (well... I assume that the driver helped a bit!) into the loading doors of the ship, preventing them from closing. Can't move trailer? - can't close doors. Can't close doors? - can't move ship. Can't move ship? - can't get our heroes back into bed at a reasonable hour!

Now, I know that loading a 1992 Toyota Corolla is much easier than loading a 48ft trailer. And since I don't have a Class 1 air brakes license I wouldn't want to pass judgment (although it appears I'm about to!). But how in the heckeroony do you A: drive into the loading doors of BC Ferries largest vessel, and B: in an attempt to get free only wedge yourself in deeper?

After rubbernecking for a bit I trudged back up the four flights of stairs to rejoin my wonderful fiancee and fill her in on the not-so-nifty news while awaiting further developments. Within what was I'm sure a short time, but seemed much longer due the curved time-space complexities and quantum field theories that come into play when you're trapped on board a ship with little to do on a rainy night and a far-off down duvet is warmly calling you...

... we were once again graced by the dulcet tones of BC Ferries personnel over the ship's loudspeakers.

This time the head honcho himself spoke to us in a disembodied, and somewhat apologetic, tone with the promised update. The captain stated that it seemed the semi was indeed stuck fast to the doors and, in fact, the ship could not sail until that situation had been rectified. To wit, a tow truck had been dispatched from points unknown to attempt to free the beached behemoth. Unfortunately the anticipated arrival time of said rescue vehicle was not until at least 10pm!

Sleepy disgruntlement ensued. Even the proffering of free and gratis coffee, tea, and fountain drinks (that's sody-pop to you and me!) could not quell the air of somnambulous discontentment that was growing. Now, if they had offered us free video games in the ship's two arcades... that might have been a different kettle of fish! But alas...

Around 10pm I headed back down to take gander at the hoped-for progress, leaving my much smarter partner to take up residence in a padded chair in one of the main passenger areas. "You go have fun" was how I remember her dismissing me (I recall some shooing, but that may be embellishment on my part) to once again take up my photographic pursuit of (and I can't decide which works better)... " The Case of the Shmooshed Semi", or "The Mystery of the Stuck Truck".

Sometime after 10:15, to an ever increasing crowd of onlookers with nothing else to do, the tardy tow truck finally arrived, and proceeded to hook up his winch to the back corner of the trailer. A BC Ferries employee positioned himself with a charged fire hose in what I imaginatively, and very wrongly, assumed was in case of a massive Michael Bay-worthy explosion from the highly volatile cargo (I'm guessing here for dramatic effect) the truck might have been hauling...

In fact he just wet down the deck to make it easier to slide the vehicle over. And that's exactly what happened...

The tow truck slid over to the unmoved semi.

With thoughts of dancing sugarplums fading fast in my head I once again walked (although little slower with each successive trip) back to the upper decks to wait out our fate.

Fast forward through a couple more trips down to the main car deck, a groggy visit to the gift shop to make fun of the goofy souvenirs, and one or two more restroom breaks (there was free pop after all!) to 11pm... two hours past our scheduled departure time. With nothing else to do Joanne finally decided to go see what all the hubbub was about. This time, wisely taking the elevator down, we arrived just in time to watch as either a larger, or better anchored, tow truck finally succeeded in pulling the wayward trailer away from the car deck doors!

As the echos of squealing tires reverberated throughout the cavernous innards of our mobile metal marine motel a halfhearted "YAY!" rose up from the three dozen or so pooped passengers present. "We is free!" they exclaimed! (or at least that's how I choose to remember it. But I was really tired). I suspect, however, the twelve foot gash down the side of the smashed-up semi will not be free when the repair bill comes back from the shop.

Now only 15 more minutes to check out the doors, a 95 minute sea voyage, 10 minutes to dock, and a 30 minute drive from the terminal to home.


So... although I'm tempted to say that this is where the story only starts getting interesting (I was going to regale yous all with tantalizing tales of high seas hijackings, run-ins with the law, and lost house keys) the truth is that we slept in the car for the rest of the ferry trip, and eventually, and uneventfully, arrived home safe and somewhat sound about 1:15 in the a.m.

Elapsed time from arrival at the terminal to Victoria that night?... 5 1/2 hours.

Elapsed time from the front door to the warm duvet and sweet slumber?... 5 1/2 seconds.


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Toy Show Day!

Yep... the magical day that comes 'round but four times a year has occurred once again - no... not the changing of the seasons. Not the new fiscal quarter. Not even TV's sweeps week! - it's Toy Show Day! The four largest toy shows and sales in Western Canada (and possible the Pacific Northwest of North America) take place in our collector-rich hometown of Victoria, B.C.

Dealers large and small from Vancouver, Victoria, Seattle and environs gather with over 125 tables of goodies to tempt, tease and maybe even please collectors and looky-loo's in this day-long celebration of vintage and collectible toys, games, models, comics, books, records, club demonstrations, costumed character appearances, door prizes, charity fund-raisers, food and more.

This time I went in planning not to buy much, if anything at all, if I could help it. But once again the temptation was just too great. The five large boxes of $1 items at one dealer accounted for most of my cave-ins, but a few other siren songs called me and my wallet irresistibly towards a rendezvous avec treasured vintage paper and plastic items.

Although I didn't require it today I'm sure others would have appreciated the sentiment behind this vintage advertising sign at one table...

So here we find the end result - two-thirds of today's haul (some Mad magazines, a vintage Star Wars Probot, and a couple more kids books are missing in action from this spread). Although a few of these pieces will be headed for hopefully immediate resale, the rest are happy additions to my menagerie. Grand total... $22!

Left to right... 1977 Star Wars birthday card, birthday invitation and stationary, 1978 Star Wars die-cast landspeeder, vintage Star Wars bubble bath container, 1977 Close Encounters of the Third Kind & Star Wars movie programs, two 1969 Whizzer tops, 1976 Micronauts Crater Cruncher, vintage water rocket, beautiful 1965 children's book, vintage children's record, Star Wars book & record set.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Fall Fair!

My fiancee and I had a wonderful afternoon enjoying the 70 acres of animals, agriculture, arts, crafts, music, markets and food at the 142 year old Saanich Fall Fair 25 minutes outside of Victoria in early September.
It's an annual tradition for many on lower Vancouver Island, but it was extra fun this year to see it through the eyes of Floridian first timer Joanne. Egg laying, milk & meat giving, fur bearing and just plain cute animals of all types (see Joanne's Flickr photostream for more cuddly examples from this category), food eating contests, live music, dance performances and competitions, giant vegetables...

A midway with amusement rides, beautiful flowers...

Kids arts, crafts and hobbies in dozens of odd categories such as "19-718: Animal, Critter or Person made from Fruit &/or Vegetables. Ages 3 to 9. Please attach firmly to a strong base! "...

Picture-perfect fruit in natural, canned, jammed, pied and other variations...

Baked and confectioned goods of every stripe and shade, exhibitions of old time farm equipment and antiques of all kinds, more flowers...

Food and goodies from around the world at the concession booths, an extensive farmers market (we had to splurge on the somewhat balanced yin and yang of fudge (cookies & cream and mint chocolate), and succulent sunflower sprouts), and commercial booths extolling the virtues of everything from the latest kitchen gadget to the full range of local political parties.

We had a perfect, although foot exhausting, time, and look forward to making it back for more agricultural fun next year.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Pillow Talk!

Well... "Pillow CASE Talk" if you want to be accurate, but I've got to attract those darn internets eyeballs somehow!

As is the custom on or abouts the annual celebration of one's birth the giving of gifts often takes place. Since mein Geburtstag vas last week I receive a plethora of wonderfully thoughtful presents: books, music, meals, cards (handmade and otherwise), a tennis racquet, vintage tikis, handerpants, and more!

My favourite gift of all though was getting to spend the day with my finacee, but she sweetened the deal with these oh-so-cute and amazingly "awe..."some hand embroidered pillow cases. Despite being a relative newcomer to the art she plunged in head first with the most excellent and smile-inducing "Mr. and Mrs. Monkey" above, and the piece de la the resistance of all resistances...

...her absopoelutely, knock-my-socks-offingly, super-tastic masterpiece inspired by my last year's robot Valentine's Day card! What more could I have asked for?!

I love you too Joanne-3000!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Wonderful Week!

Joanne's in town for a week and a half! Vancouver (and Daiso and Ikea), up-Island road trip, thrifting, used book stores, way too much good food, my birthday, Ponyo, etc.

Life is great!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Welcome "Alice" Fan!

It just so happens that an extra-special Alice in Wonderland fan arrives in town today for a week and a half visit with yours truly. So in celebration of this super-tastic event here's one of the two images from John Huehnergarths's 1952 illustrated version of Alice that I've recently shared over at my Flickr photostream.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

New Know Sept/Oct!

Hey boys and girls... do you know what time it is?

That's right, it's time for the latest issue of Canada's favourite kid's science magazine (tied in first place with sister publication Yes Mag, of course!) Know to hit the stands and mailboxes! This time around they focus on the science of structures, which works out just peachy since I co-inkadentally just happened to name my regular Know Fun two-page puzzle and fun feature "Structureland! (detail above). For the full spread be sure to pick up the new Know near you!