Erin's Journals

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Just a thought… No matter how hard you plan and prepare, things can still go wrong. [Lewis Howe]

You can watch a video version of this journal on my Facebook page, or here on YouTube.

And, I’m home again. Nearly four weeks to the day since flying out of Victoria to Vancouver and then on to Maui, I’ve come to the conclusion that in the 21st century, when everything was supposed to be easier, travel is just getting more difficult.

Of course, there will always be challenges like the weather: that Toronto storm last weekend meant my friend Allan, who came with me from Hawaii for a few days together in Vancouver, did not leave at 4 pm Saturday to go home, but at 4 am Sunday, poor soul. Here he is in a much more awake state! 

And truly, with his huge heart, having been there for us in good times and bad – helping plan a wedding and a funeral within two years, for starters – Allan IS the pot of gold at the end of our rainbow.

But it just seems as if the airlines are no longer equipped to handle the loads, figuratively and literally. My sister Leslie, seen here in a picture with Allan, found that out firsthand.

When she was travelling with me, she took a few days to go to her former home on the big island of Hawaii. Rain soaked most of that sentimental journey, but her rainbow came when she switched flights to come back to Maui direct and it cost her eight dollars. Yes, eight dollars US, but she also got to bring two checked bags free on Southwest. They had an awful December with multiple problems, but how do they reward people for coming back? By earning their loyalty again.

But when Leslie flew from Maui to Vancouver on Air Canada, her flight was delayed getting off the island, so she missed her connector to get her home to Kelowna. We knew that was going to happen, so we were on the phone for two hours waiting for customer support to get her on the later connecting flight the next morning. And it was a good thing we did: the lovely guy named Max who helped us said it was the very last seat on the plane. Oh, I feel so sorry for the front line workers with these airlines.

Sounds like a great save, right? Well, until it wasn’t. Leslie arrived in Kelowna, but thanks to a borrowed Apple AirTag (those GPS gadgets you tuck into your suitcase to locate it when it goes AWOL) she knew her bags were still in Vancouver. And Air Canada knew, too. But did she get a text telling her that? Nope.

She and her husband waited for two hours at the airport while their daughter walked home in a snowstorm, their son missed an appointment, and her husband fumed about missing deliveries he was supposed to make. The reason they’d left her luggage in Vancouver was because they had exceeded their weight limits and so they flew it into Kelowna the next day, where it sat at the airport for another day while they tried to find someone to get it to her house.

I’m sorry – it’s just a lot. Take my podcast partner Lisa.

She missed her bus home to London, Ontario after a brutally long travel day, thanks to a screw-up on the part of the shuttle service (hear about it in Episode 9 of Gracefully and Frankly). Allan endured a 12-hour delay; Leslie’s luggage was purposely left behind and she wasn’t notified. I mean, travel is hard these days. Add to it the fact that almost no one on our flights was wearing a mask, and you’re risking adding illness to insult, if you will. Interestingly, our friend Anita, the most zen of us all, managed to fly home smoothly (not counting the five-hour layover in Calgary she and Lisa shared). With plenty of laughs, no doubt, despite it all. 

I am not complaining, just observing. I know I’m lucky to have travelled; we all are. It’s just not a joy anymore. No matter what you pay or how you plan.

Except for a brutal performance by the hockey team we paid through the nose to see (perhaps why we ended up in the nosebleeds, Rob, Colin and I), I could not have asked for a better ending to a gentle vacation.

Yes, Saturday marked our grandson’s first NHL game and he was beyond excited; the ticket and weekend adventure were our Christmas gift to him and his tears with the humiliating 4-1 loss officially christened him a Leafs’ fan.

Rogers Arena was packed with them Saturday night and the excitement and joy of being there almost erased my fury at having an entire cup of cola dumped from the row above, soaking my purse, Colin’s “First Game” certificate and a Canucks toque given him by a local friend. I worked hard at being in the moment and getting shots like this.

After holding him as he cried softly on our way out of the row (Colin, not Rob), he was back to his beautiful cheery self that evening…

…and took away only good memories. That’s what we’re here for, after all, right?

Thanks for sharing our adventures and, yes, it is good to be home. We have a family trip booked (both our grandkids, their parents, plus Rob and me) in two weeks, so I’m not rushing to unpack just to fill the suitcase again. But this is what “reWirement” is about for me. Luckily, though, it’s just a drive this time. No airlines are involved for now – that’ll be April when I come to Ottawa for an event.

I’ll be my usual optimistic self and searching for the bright side, as in this picture Allan took NOT on a panoramic setting; it’s what the beach that has such precious memories looked like.

And I’ll try to hope for the best. I may be ready to fly again by then…or I’ll just climb back into my tree until my sanity returns. Don’t miss this Thursday’s Episode 10 of Gracefully & Frankly, where we’ll talk about what we do with our loved ones’ ashes, why other people can be the worst when you just want to have a good time, and so much more. Join us and find out why we just surpassed 10,000 downloads. It’s easy to listen and we promise you’ll be glad you spent half an hour with us over coffee, tea or whatever you enjoy with good friends.

Talk to you again on Monday!

Rob WhiteheadTuesday, March 7, 2023