The plane touched down at about 1:20pm Palm Springs time. My father-in-law greeted me and secretly delivered me to his place in Palm Desert. I snuck into the living room and watched the faces of my kids processing the fact that I was there. Their surprise and delight was music to my soul. Andrea heard us talking and came out of her room saying, “What is going on? What on Earth!” Apparently she had been having a hard time thinking she was ready to come home. That’s all changed now. It’s been a fantastic four day weekend.
Last Thursday I travelled up to Barnett House, the ATA headquarters in Edmonton, for a political engagement meeting. The ATA was updating its members on an awareness campaign for public education issues in Alberta before the next provincial election.
The meeting was pretty interesting. It was eye-opening to hear how many school divisions are hoarding millions of budgeted dollars instead of spending it. I couldn’t help notice that a lot of the biggest offenders are from the separate (Catholic) school divisions. I also liked hearing from pollster Janet Brown about how the UCP are not polling well since their new leader was chosen — though most of what she said was in this article by the CBC and I had already read it.
At the end of the day, I found out that my plane was delayed and that I probably wouldn’t be able to catch my connecting flight from Calgary to Lethbridge. It turns out — very long story short, WestJet had some major computer schedule issues and after a not great two hour sleep in a hotel on Friday night I ended up driving a rental car from Edmonton to Calgary so I could catch that connecting flight on Saturday instead of waiting an extra, extra 24 hours.
Because I was driving, I now had some time to kill in Calgary. I called my sister up to see if we could meet while I waited for my flight. As luck would have it, (or as it turns out bad luck) she was bringing her oldest, Ryker, to Olds for a volleyball game. Ryker plays for the college in Lloydminster. We met up and because Ryker’s game wasn’t going to start until much later and he just wanted to hang with his team, we decided to drive to the airport in Calgary to spend some time together there.
The roads were pretty bad when we set out but we hoped with the direction of the wind, it might not be so bad when we were headed south on the highway. It was really bad, even heading south. I had my AirPods in and was chatting with Jackie while watching her taillights disappearing into the white out blizzard conditions. Suddenly she told me there were vehicles all over the highway and that I needed to stop. She told me she couldn’t stop and was going to have to pull into the ditch. She did so and never had any real issues but with the extra time to slow I was able to navigate through the gauntlet of five or six crashed vehicles both on and off the highway.
It was just last week that a cousin of mine actually died in a collision on a snowy highway and so it made this situation all the more tense.
Suddenly I saw a car in my rearview mirror approaching rapidly. I tried to speed up to get out of the way but he was coming way too fast and I told my sister I was about to get hit. I braced for impact and was surprised at just how hard the force compressed my body against the seat. I stopped the car in the ditch and after a moment got out to inspect the damage. I took this footage:
Cars continued to smash for a few minutes. A couple of semi trailers pulled off the road and crashed into the nearby barbed wire fence.
The car was still drivable and the RCMP showed up fairly quickly. They shut down the highway and since we weren’t hurt and the conditions were so cold, the officer asked if we would take some of the people that had crashed their vehicles with us. I ended up taking the very same guy that rear ended me. That was fine but also I felt annoyed that he couldn’t have avoided me and now I had to sit beside him for the drive when what I really wanted to do was call my wife and complain about how I think he had room to drive by me.
As a result of the accident I had neck spasms and a headache, so I went into the hospital to get things checked out. The doctor said it looks most likely that I have, “what they used to call whiplash,” and he added that I might have a concussion as well. His advice was to take some ibuprofen and Tylenol and if I start acting loopy come back to the hospital.
So I took the day off work — I’ve also got a cough and cold going so I wasn’t feeling that well anyway.
The lesson of the weekend is that I won’t be flying WestJet for a quick day trip to Edmonton again, and if I find myself in a huge pileup on icy roads, get as far off the road as fast and far as possible.
and I’m still getting headaches every day. Andrea thinks it’s time to head back to the doctor. I’m doubtful that the doctor can do much for me, and I’m still hopeful they will just go away.
On Tuesday, April 19th we left today and entered the world of yesterday, tomorrow, and fantasy. It’s the happiest place on Earth — Disneyland!
And we WERE happy, because getting there was no easy task. Before we left I knew that our two hour drive (by distance) was never going to take a mere couple of hours. Traffic backing up is normal going from Palm Springs to LA, but this day was a holiday — I figured it would be a particularly good day to travel, avoiding the typical commuter traffic. Not to mention, we were setting out at noon, a time one could assume to be easiest to make the journey. Well, unfortunately, it turns out we were embarking at the worst possible time. Tens of thousands of Coachella concert goers were returning to the city on the Monday after Easter. The freeway was like a parking lot. Our exasperated three year old daughter put it best as she exclaimed, “We’re moving like turtles!” Slowly and steadily (and 5 hours later) we arrived at our destination in Anaheim.
We’ve been planning our Christmas vacation to California since last June but with the new omicron variant throwing a wrench in the gears we finally pulled the plug on the trip last Tuesday. Now I’m just hoping we can still get our kids together with their cousins and grandparents over the Christmas break. Such is life in a pandemic.
Back in June WestJet’s website said we could book with confidence knowing we could cancel our flights and get our money back with no fees or hassle but when I called them on Tuesday, the customer service rep told me that I will get the money back as a credit and that the credit will last for two years before it expires.
I was livid. After a moment of almost losing my cool I realized I needed to keep it together and asked her if there was anything she could do to help me get a refund. As it turns out there is a website that I could go to and fill out a form to apply for a refund. I’m still mad that they were pretending like they weren’t giving out refunds but at least things worked out for us.1
- At least it appears it might work out but I can’t actually apply for our money back until after our original departure date on Saturday; give me a break! Anything to make getting our money back just a little bit harder. It’s so shady of them.
Here’s a great little travel tip from Marco Arment via his podcast ATP. When you don’t have cellular service but need to connect to Wi-Fi and can’t get your phone to get started, trying to connect to a non secure socket layer site will solve the problem. (This happens to me every time I go grocery shopping in the States and want to check with the better half if we need more milk).
Here’s the relevant ATP clip: overcast.fm/+R7DVAsQuw/12:17
And, as Arment points out, a sure address in which to connect that will always use just plain unencrypted http is Neverssl.com.
We’re off for a family trip to California next week and a couple of days ago realized that not only are we losing an hour from the change in timezone, but we’ll also lose an hour because next week is the time change.
It occurred to us that this abrupt two hour change might be hard on our daughter, The Little NessMonster, so we’ve started advancing her bedtimes by 15 minutes per day. Her usual bedtime is at 7:00 and by the time we leave she’ll be going to bed at about 9:00pm which seems crazy but at the same time, it will make it easier for Halloween since we won’t have to worry about her being woken up by trick-or-treaters.
We’re very excited for California and despite widespread black-outs due to high winds, fires, and the dangers of fires from downed power lines… Palm Springs area isn’t supposed to be affected.
Last night after catching what I thought would be our dinner, the second hook on the lure accidentally pierced Andrea’s thumb during the hook removal process when the fish made a last effort to escape by wiggling and jumping.
The lure with its two hooks, one attached to the mouth of the jack fish and the other deep in the centre of Andrea’s thumb, connected every flop of the frightened fish to driving the hook deeper. I held the fish down and another fisherman nearby helped us take the lure from the fish’s mouth.
This is what it looked like after we got the hook off the fish and the line:
After a moment or two of wondering exactly what we should do and a couple a failed attempts, I gritted my teeth, locked the plyers onto the hook, and ignoring my tendancy to be paralyzed with empathy for her pain — I pulled it out as straight as I could. I’m not sure how it can be the case, but Andrea insists it barely hurt at all.
After all that, the fish, however, was too small to keep so I let go.
We’ve been doing a lot of travelling these last couple months. Most recently, we returned from a lovely week long adventure in Hawaii. It started out with a conversation between my sister, my mom, and me about how fun it would be to spend some time in Maui. Andrea and I had never been there — in fact this would be Andrea’s first time on any of the Hawaiian islands so we were both really excited about the prospect.
After buying tickets, some sorting out the dates and — believe it or not — which island we were going to, our whirlwind trip would be to the island of Kauai.
That’s just a brief look at our trip. Perhaps I’ll come back and add more later.
A couple of weeks ago I called my parents and asked if they wanted to spend the day in Waterton — to my delight they immediately took me up on the offer and arrived only a couple hours later.
Many great memories flooded my mind as we checked off the list of essential Waterton activities and attractions.
Photos by the Prince of Wales Hotel… check.
Climbing up Bears Hump for photos of the Waterton town-site… check.
Lunch at Zums followed by photos in front of Cameron Falls… check and check.
It was a great day for it too, even though the skies threatened a storm, we only got a little drizzle of rain followed by sunshine and ice-cream cones. Ice-cream tastes better in National Parks.
The take home message really is that it’s well worth it to take advantage of our close proximity to a world class national park — one can basically drop their camera and come away with some great photos.