Thursday, 10 October 2013

It's a Dry Kind of Hot

Thursday, 10th October 2013; 15:42
Location: Vancouver Public Library Central Branch, Vancouver BC, Canada
Why: Road Trip!

Okay, so it's not the next day writing even though I said I'd do it. But, here I am at the public library and determined to pound out this post before I head to my night school class in a few hours.

Before I even landed myself back at YVR I was easily persuaded to go on a little excursion with one of my good friends in Vancouver. This rather spontaneous commitment reminded me of when I was traveling in Vietnam and two friends met up with me in two different countries, pretty much on-the-fly. Austin and I tripped out on 'shrooms in Ubud and zipped around Bali with wild abandon. Then, Andrea C and I had a blast climbing the ruins of Angkor Wat in Cambodia and had our toes nibbled at by little fishies.

So I jumped at the chance to go on a road trip down to Arizona for sunshine and pit stops on America's highways.

On 22 Sept, Skooter and I stuffed a duffel bag and backpack with clothes and threw it in the back of Fanny, his sporty Ford Explorer. We also packed some pillows, a blanket, some tools. And an axe and shovel? Yep. "Just in case" said Skooter. I was in tears with laughter. I guess the axe was "in case" we had to murder someone in the desert and a shovel to bury the evidence. Destined for Arizona, we also brought along a fine collection of dried fruit and chips and were off.

We drove down towards Seattle for an obligatory visit to his sister's before making our way through a rainy Washington night drive. As we drove along, we hit Oregon, then into Idaho before I finally pulled the camera out.

This was the scene in Idaho for a very loooong time:

Sometimes the scenery was so, um boring that I secretly wished something would happen where we'd have to take out the axe or something, haha! Instead, we amused ourselves by singing (read: belting) to songs à la 1980's Exposé. It was quite the performance we churned out for "Season's Change". Someone please tell me you know the song I'm talking about!

Finally, when we hit Utah the landscape changed. Hurray!

Mountains! And signs of civilization:

And the obligatory selfie. Isn't my Skootie handsome?

As we continued to drive the landscape changed yet again.

Before I knew it, we were in Arizona. The giveaway? Cacti!

On the drive down, we really motored; reaching our first destination of Tucson in just two days. On the first night, we crashed in the car somewhere in Idaho at a rest stop for a few hours of uncomfortable sleep in our mostly reclined front seats. Skoot's mum was kind enough to book us a room at the Rodeway Inn somewhere else in Utah on the second night where we crashed like a ton of bricks. The next morning, I ate at my very first IHOP. I don't know what all the buzz was about since I found it to be pretty standard fare.

When we finally got to Tucson, I met his mum and stepdad and we spent one night at their house in a gated community reserved for mature residents. The next day, we drove to their other home, a tiny community in Tubac where we relaxed, read and played Word Play for the next week. It was really nice to just "turn off" the brain - their house was like a retreat.

Anyhoo, when we finally left Tubac, the car was now stuffed with new purchases including fabrics for my latest obsession - quilts!  I was anxious to get back to Vancouver as I found the desert heat extremely taxing on my skin, hair and allergies which totally kicked my ass. Arizona - it's a dry kind of hot. And while I LOVE the heat, I couldn't live in this kind of environment - I'd turn into a raisin! However, it did make me long for the hot and humid temps of SE Asia.

We took a different route home and decided to take our time unlike our mad dash driving down. We drove up through Utah, Idaho and Montana before crossing over into BC near Grand Forks.

Along the way, we made pit stops to see some canyons:

This Navajo Bridge in Arizona was pretty cool. I actually got a bit of vertigo looking down from it:

This sign made me laugh:

The American part of the drive home was pretty uneventful until we sped past some highway workers mowing the grass, sending rocks flying in our direction. This caused another crack in the windshield and shattered the side vented window. We were not impressed and by the time we realized what happened, we had already driven too far away.

The only thing that kept the side window from falling apart was the tinted layer on the inside. For some insurance we stopped in a gas station and bought some packing tape.

Skooter patching Fanny up as best he could:

Poor girl...

By now, I was ready to be in Canada. And before long, we were!

Driving along the border in BC's interior reminded me just how much I loved living in Canada's west:

So that was my 12 day road trip with Skooter. Unfortunately, we didn't need to pull out the axe or shovel. **sigh**

Sunday, 6 October 2013

I'm Still Alive!

Sunday, 6th October 2013; 13:19
Location: Blenz Coffee Shop, Denman St. Vancouver BC, Canada
Why: Because I've Been Paralyzed in Denial.

I just re-read my last post and a lump started to form in my throat. Has it really been 9 months since I hung up my travelling boots? I've done a terrible fail by not continuing my stories in "recent past tense" like I said I would. My sincere apologies.

The truth is I've been in much denial since returning back to Canada. Paralyzed really. Suddenly, I felt like I wasn't interesting to read about anymore. My everyday life was not about whatever new travel experience I was having at the moment. Rather, it became a wash, rinse, and repeat cycle of routine. 

After a couple of months playing "house wife" while my Handsome Young Man brought home the bacon, I got myself a job as a Graphic Designer for a womenswear company in April. While it was nice to use my Illustrator and Photoshop chops again, I was terribly unfulfilled with the company - a stuffy environment of 11 conservative, alpha-type females crammed inside a small design studio in Toronto's Leslieville neighbourhood.

And while my relationship with HYM was good, I was silently disintegrating as my travel spirit slowly began to slip away into nothing but a bunch of memories. Dreams even. As if it never happened. I longed to book a flight, any flight; destination Anywhere. My friend Anna had asked me what do I love more, the travel life or life with HYM. It was a dead on 50/50 so you can see how tormented I was.

I framed a series of photos to remind me that my travels did happened:

Examples of why I loved my life with HYM:

In late May, my Travel Soul Sister Anna made a week long visit to see us. I was giddy with happiness at reuniting with one of the most important friends made on my travels. It was great to just relax at the condo and catch up/reminisce about our experiences on the road. I secretly didn't want her to leave but alas her wandering feet were bound for New York for a short stay at her Aunt's before continuing on her world wanderings back to the Philippines to see family.

All smiles at the condo in Toronto:

But the bubble finally burst and in late July, with a heavy heart, I left HYM and booked a flight back to Vancouver. I felt an instant relief when I hit the "Buy Now" button and a lonely sadness at the same time. 

Being on an airplane always fills me with anticipation and excitement:

I always knew I needed to be back on the West Coast after my travels and the original idea was to return to Vancouver in the next two years after HYM finished his apprenticeship in Toronto.

Well two years was just too long I guess and my heart needed to be back here. So here I am. In my West End neighbourhood, enjoying a coffee after a nice run along Stanley Park Seawall. It's a sunny 17 degrees autumn Sunday and I can breathe a little easier knowing that I've found a lovely apartment at Beach Towers - a much coveted area in the West End with an ocean view. Okay, I haven't officially got the apartment yet but I wooed the management staff and they actually took the apartment off the viewing list this weekend so my application can be processed on Monday. Fingers crossed.

The best part is, in 10 days, HYM will be arriving in Vancouver. Surprise! Love is a force of nature and after a month apart, I got back together with HYM. Together, we are going to continue this crazy love journey on Canada's West Coast. And I'm sure we will be discovering more of BC in the coming months. Stay tuned.

Alright, so that was a quick snapshot of the past 9 months and me feeling sorry for myself. But really, I have much to be grateful for. Actually, writing this piece has just given me a little creative boost. And since this is a travel blog, I should be writing about travel related stories. This post counts no?

And I do have one! A recent road trip! But I'll stop now in case you've lost interest.

If you still think I'm interesting, maybe come back tomorrow and hopefully, I'll have some anecdotes on what it was like to go on a 12 day road trip to the U.S. involving an axe and shovel.