A funny thing happened on my way home

[Ed. Note: I’ve stripped out a bit of unnecessary bit at the beginning, and it was suggested that I sanitize it for sensitive eyes…]
So last week, I was huddled with my mom back in Oakville, Ontario. No, I didn’t publicize this because — and utterly no offense meant to anyone — I didn’t want to see anyone but my Mom (and by extension, my sister and her family).
The story here isn’t the journey to Oakville, or even the events in Oakville. This is about my trip home to Calgary.
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The trip home

Well, Monkey, we’re home now. I know it doesn’t seem like it to you, because you’ve lived in three different homes since you were born. But this house, the one in Calgary (where we’re currently adjusting to serious sub-zero temperatures and drying out) is a home we hope you’ll come to know and love.
It’s not Costa Rica. It’s not always warm. It’s not filled with the sounds of parakeets, or tropical rainstorms, or filled with Spanish-speaking voices. This is the Great White North. It’s chilly for most of the year, leaves are seen for only five months, and the only monkeys you’ll see are at the zoo. It’s going to be an adjustment for you, and for Mommy and I, too.
It was a long road to get here.
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San José Airport is no fun after 20:00

Well, we’re here waiting at the airport for our flight to Panama. A flight that I’m not really looking forward to, only because I’d rather not to go Panama this weekend (would rather do this intentionally than being forced into it).  
I will say this: Normally this isn’t such a bad airport given the stores that you can spend a couple of hours searching through. But everything closes here at 20:00, leaving us not much to do. And considering that the lines are non-existent at the check-in counter in the evening, we’ve got a lot of time to kill.  
Sigh.

Back in Costa Rica

Years ago, I used to think business travel was glamourous. You got to go to far-flung places, see different things, and engage in activities you just don’t do at home. Then I started going on business trips. I learned fast that the enjoyment is only so deep.
Worst experience was [[Live from Cincinnati|Cincinnati in 2000]]. Second, and only because I was utterly exhausted by the end (the trip itself was very helpful) was [[Je suis en Paris!|Paris in 2006]]. (As I learned, when you travel to Europe, you end up with 18-20 hour days, because you’re trying to stay sync’d with the home office.)
But today hasn’t exactly been a slice, either. And just because I’m currently in Costa Rica doesn’t mean I’m sitting on a beach.
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The Obligatory Vacation Recap

In the few minutes I have before I dive back into another conference session, figured I’d cover some of the items of our last vacation. This was a 2.5 week excursion mostly to Scotland, with a few days in England. Alex planned most of the trip, with me handling things like the transportation and hotels to stay along the way. Overall, about a 50/50 split on the events et al.
Sadly, at the end, it wasn’t a usual vacation. Until now, it’s always been either just me, or myself and Alex. Now there’s three of us, and the Wee One doesn’t have our stamina for travel and has a pseudo-schedule that needs to be followed from time-to-time.
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Anyone know what Terminal 4 at Heathrow is like right now?

We leave for Scotland via London Wednesday evening, on BA 102. We arrive, according to British Airways’ information, at Terminal 4. I consider this a good thing, given that Terminal 5 is a living nightmare right now.
However, that said, there is NOTHING in the news about how the other terminals are faring at Heathrow airport. Does anyone know what baggage delays — if any — exist at the other terminals? Pileups at one surely must affect the others. Any and all pointers are appreciated! 🙂

Flying home to Calgary

I woke earlier than usual — about 8:45 or so. Craig was still up, but not nearly as tired as when he’d scared the bejezesus out of me.
Turning down his offer of a beer (for Craig, this was still the end of the day), I got a glass of orange juice. Craig and I took the opportunity to have a chat about his career. I guess I forced the issue. I’m worried about him. I don’t know Craig as well as perhaps I could — he’d family, but aside from a few visits, I don’t know him even remotely as well as I should for a brother-in-law. For what I do know, though, Craig works too hard. I know the desire, though. I know what drives him, what pushes him forward. I had that drive once. It’s died off in recent months, mostly due to recognition of my own faults.
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Halifax to Huntsville

I hate alarms. Especially when they go off while you’ve still got an hour of darkness left of the night. I had an early flight to Toronto, though, and wasn’t keen on missing it.
I had packed the night before, so all I had to do was shave, shower, dress, and throw all my bags in the trunk of my rented car. Checking out was trivial, just the way I like it. Then it was off to the airport.
Now here’s where either my unbelievably good sense of direction, or my unbelievable stupidity, shows through. Most normal people would ask where the airport is and how to get there. Not me. I decided I could find it based on the solitary sign I’d seen on the Highway 102/103 interchange yesterday. Oh, I should mention that it was still dark when I entered the highway, and the radio was calling for dense patches of fog … about 10 seconds before I ran into one myself.
So I drove north. I wasn’t sure if I was even going to the correct airport. (I didn’t know how many airports were in the Halifax area.) For a short time, I considered turning off to get directions. But something kept me going. I found my way to the airport, though. The correct one, at that!
One of these days, this behaviour is going to get me into trouble. Big trouble.
Checking in was fast, as was picking up the seafood feast I was bringing back to Ontario. Five lobster, two pounds of mussels, and a pound of scallops. And so help me, none of it cooked in butter. (Not counting sautéing the onions and garlic for the white wine sauce.) The box the seafood came in, however, needed to be taken on the plane. Along with my two carry-on bags. This was over my limit, and a bit of worry. Luckily, the plane was only about three-quarters full. The staff didn’t stop me.
Toronto came quickly, and I was soon waiting in the baggage claim with my three carry-ons. My duffle bag was the first bag off. My knapsack was significantly later. As I exited baggage claim, my mother came in the main doors. Five minutes later mom, Cathy, and I were on our way north.
I was goaded into coming back to Ontario for Thanksgiving. I wanted to go home to Calgary. I’ve been away for a month and a half, and I want adjustment time. But somewhere in the back of my mind, staying for a couple of days in Huntsville seemed like a good idea. I gave into pressure and decided to come in. However, I’ll probably only see the airport, the highway, and the cottage. I doubt I’ll see anything else, or anyone else.
The ride north was uneventful, save for the Teeming Thousands who were similarly heading north. The traffic, according to Cathy, wasn’t too bad though. On long weekends during the summer, you simply just don’t go up on Saturday’s. It’s just shy of declaring insanity. When we hit the Highway 69/Highway 11 split, the traffic lightened. The rest of the trip wasn’t so bad.
At Orillia, I convinced Cathy that we needed to stop for lunch. I hadn’t eaten a thing since leaving Halifax, and it was now 3:00pm according to my stomach. This meant, of course, a stop at Weber’s — an institution in this part of Ontario. Virtually everyone who’s driven this stretch of highway more than once has eaten at Weber’s. And for good reason: it’s fast, fresh, and good.
We were in Huntsville about an hour later. After a quick stop for beer (I’m a picky drinker), we made the long trek out to the cottage. It’s a bit of a hike — a lot longer than I remembered from my last journey out here (see [[Visit to Ontario, Cottage in Huntsville, Thanksgiving Dinner, Algonquin Park]]). But the cottage was as I remembered it. The outside, anyway. Cathy and Craig (mostly Craig) have put in a huge amount of renovation. It’s not done yet, but one day it’s going to be the smartest-looking small cabin on Lake Vernon.
Craig was already there, having been doing yard work for most of the day. Bear and Kylie (both dogs) raced out of the woods to greet us. Within minutes of being inside, I started to feel a little more relaxed. I still wanted to go home to Calgary, though. I guess all this travel has just left me feeling a little tired.
The renovations were awesome. The kitchen was totally different, the floor all tiled, and the bathroom looked almost totally new. (Well,it practically is.) Still, some work was still needed, including the walls of the living room and dining room, and the downstairs. But one thing at a time.
Dave arrived not long after, Chuckie (Dave’s dog) in tow. Anne and Rebecca arrived not long after. We chatted and made fun of each other until it was time to get cooking. Which was when the lobster pot finally got to a boil — after being on the burners for about three hours.
Lobsters: about 10 minutes. Mussels: about 7 minutes. Scallops: about two minutes. Time to eat it all: about an hour and a half. But worth it, if for no other reason than it cleared out the memory of the scallops I had in Lunenburg. We had no room for dessert.
The fun continued after dinner as we resumed making fun of each other. I didn’t participate as much, being quite tired from everything (and the alcohol not helping much). It was a good time, but I didn’t really feel all that relaxed. I still wanted to go home. Maybe tomorrow, I won’t feel so uptight.