Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Flight Report

The good thing about keeping a blog back for a couple of days: the urge to rant like crazy about some things diminishes. Like, if this here had been written while I was still on the Air Canada plane? It would have been the meanest, grittiest post about Heathrow airport, and my frequent use of the "f" word would have made my publisher blanch. I did send out one tweet using that word, and it felt GOOD. That's what I think about Heathrow.

Hamburg Airport, 5am. Just me, the planes and the rain on the tarmac.



At that time of day, I was all alone. You know how it is when you get ready to go on a really big trip? The moment you've checked in and your luggage has been processed, even though you are still in your home town part of you has already left, is on its way, and you have to follow. So no long goodbyes for me.

The plane to London was tiny. We had to drive halfway across the airport to get there, in the pouring rain, past the giants glued to the comfortable walkways. My plane did not qualify for them, I guess. The funny thing: the moment I got on my fear of flying was totally gone.

Heathrow. Heathrow, REALLY? I mean, freaking REALLY? That airport is a nightmare among airports, it deserves awards for bad design and bad maintenance, and an extra-Oscar for ugliness. If someone needed an airport setting for a horror movie? Something depressing, apocalyptical and really, really ugly? Take Heathrow. It's like the house from the "Psycho" movie gone airport. It's like how Stephen King would make up an airport for a really dire book. One where nightmare clowns lurk around every corner.  I mean, seriously? Why in the world does ANY airport need that many stairways (and no lift!!!), corridors and corners and BUILDINGS? Come on, London. You can do better than that! And I'm not even going to say ONE word about the dinginess of it all.

Ok, so there was some Heathrow rant left over in me. I'm sorry.

On the Air Canada plane, this pretty lady greeted me:



Isn't she one cool girl?

She took this pic of me halfway across Greenland. See? No fear of flying!



It still was a mean, long flight from London to Vancouver. The last two hours seemed interminable, and I have to say I never bought something more worth its money than my flying socks. Thank you, dear Doctor, for prescribing them!



See what I mean? Long, long flight. Thankfully, the service aboard was very good.

Vancouver airport: Clean. Efficient. Nice. Pretty. Airy and light, full of Native art, waterfalls, shops and restaurants. Did I mention clean and efficient? Yeah, that. Short ways. All in one building. Carts for the handicapped, like me, to whisk you through border controls and customs.

Suzie's home:



If you turn around and look in the other direction you can see the snow-capped mountains in the distance.

Sue's family was there. Hubby, kids, kids' wives and all. They are a loud, friendly, easy-going bunch, and it's ALL about the food with them. Lengthy, philosophical and intense discussions about dinner go down here, and the results are amazing. Sue does not like to make hamburgers, so she got her son to form the patties.



It's funny how places smell so differently. I always notice this when I go somewhere else, and it's an important part of a place. Vancouver has one pervading scent: cedars and the ocean. Even downtown, in the midst of rush-hour traffic, it's there, just like the water is everywhere. You always seem to be driving down towards the water. I can see some of my next book happening here. It's just the kind of place that would appeal to my characters.

You all know this trip was about meeting twitter and fb friends, right?

So besides Sue, here is the first friend from twitter I now met in real life: lovely, witty and charming: Moniera!



Can you imagine going out for cocktails, and then they don't serve strawberry margaritas? I had to have bourbon and lemon something and it was called "Lynchburg Lemonade", and boy it was good enough to have a second one.

That was an interesting part of town though, where we went for those drinks, and I'd like to go back there and walk around a bit. Sue said it was "touristy" but I don't care. I'm a tourist. I like pretty.

So the things I've done so far:

Had a family dinner with the Farrants. Drank Single Malt with Sue's hubby. Went grocery shopping. Went to the Apple Store. Did NOT buy shoes for Sue.



We had the most amazing sushi for lunch, and I really want to go back to that place and have what the people at the tables around us were having. Sue drove me through Stanley Park (in the rain!) where the huge cedar trees grow right down to the beach, and I turned down the car window, and there it was: the amazing smell of forest, cedars and ocean. The water was to our right, the old, dense forest to our left, and it was everything I had thought it would be.

I've talked to both Jane and her sister-in-law on the phone today, probably the two sexiest voices this side of the Mississippi, and now I can't wait to meet them.

This afternoon there will be a pedicure, and I'm getting the Canadian flag on my toenails for Canada Day. After that, I'll attempt my first border crossing into the US. I hope they let me in. Guys, I'm a good girl and I love the US. So please be kind to me. Ok?

Tomorrow night will be my first book reading ever, here at Sue's house, and I had hoped no one would show up and I could get out of it, but that's not going to happen, I've just been told. The house will be full. So... I guess I'll better practice my reading some more. And hope they won't laugh me out of the front door. Oh well, too late to worry about that anyway.



And here they are, the FedEx-delivered pre-launch booklets. It's an amazing feeling to hold them in my hands. I've written this, and a publisher is putting down their money on me. Tomorrow night, my career as an author starts in earnest...