We Are the Champions (Sort Of) Part I

What do you get when five fifty-plus women, whose nicknames range from The Woman to Peppermint Patty to Cinder to SuperQueen to Mon Shin, travel on a epic journey to see the one, the only Queen, minus Freddie Mercury (RIP), plus Adam Lambert (awesome replacement)?  Well, you get a little bit of rock and roll with some mayhem and madness thrown in for good measure, a lot of laughs and some wonderful memories that will last a lifetime (or at least as long as we remember them).

We had many crazy adventures that began in the small rural community of St. Hilaire, NB where were met up and loaded all of our gear into The Woman’s truck. Now no one can accuse us of traveling lightly (calorie wise or other) as Peppermint Patty, the cook of the bunch, had concocted a cheese cake, maple cones, and ginger cookies and we all had brought along assorted survival foods like M and Ms, jujubes, licorice and chips (assorted flavours) and dip.  Also included were several bottles of wine, some chocolate liquor and a large bottle of Grey Goose – you know, all the necessities needed for a grand adventure! With our suitcase bulging with enough clothes to ensure we were prepared for any wardrobe malfunction or clothing emergency, we hit the road to Quebec and our final destination, Montreal.

It wasn’t long before our decision to pack survival foods seemed like a pretty good one.  Stuck in a long line of traffic between Edmunston and Riviere du Loup due to an accident several miles up the road, we soon found ourselves following some other very smart drivers down a side road believing it would lead us away from what was promising to be a very long wait.  Shortly after, we left a roughly paved country lane and found ourselves traveling on a narrow dirt road, dust swirling around us, visibility limited.  With heavy shrubs and trees lining each side of the road, there was nothing to do but keep moving forward.  Suddenly the cars and transport truck ahead of us stopped and when the dust cleared we realized that we had not made it to the road, but were now stuck on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere with no idea how long we would be there.

No worries for us though because we had our survival food and set about laying out a feast that would have made a lumberjack cry.  I decided to offer some ginger cookies to the people in the car in front of us as they had been nice enough to take a picture of us to memorialize this part of our trip (thank goodness we have cameras on our phones as the pictures will help when our memories get fuzzy as well as provide plenty of jealous moments for our Facebook friends who had to work).  I had just re-zipped up the ziplock bag, when drivers began running to their cars and we heard that the line was moving.  Hurrying back to the truck, we threw the feast back into the bags and ran for our seats.  When Peppermint Patty hopped back into the front seat, she expressed concerned about the dip and questioned whether or not she had put it back into the cooler.  As a food safety advocate, she knows her food safety rules and was very concerned that we would be poisoned because of her carelessness.  We reassured her that if indeed the dip had not been placed in the cooler, we would be able to get new dip, free from salmonella poisoning, when we reached Montreal, so all was good.

The remainder of the trip was rather uneventful – well except for the little stop at the rest area.  We all had to use the bathroom and so pulled into one of Quebec’s best features, a road side rest area.  Of course, it was busy and there was a line up for the women’s bathroom.  This is a world wide problem that I don’t understand.  They can spend millions to put a man on the moon, but they can’t spring a few extra dollars to put some more toilets in women’s washrooms.  Boggles the mind!  Anyway, one of team (whose identity shall be protected) had to really go to the bathroom and so we suggested that she use the separate disabled one that was free.  When she came out a few minutes later, we still had not moved too far and the line up had grown.  A couple of older ladies, seeing our friend come out of the disabled washroom, decided they would use it too.  Unfortunately, when they opened the door, they fell back and exclaimed that it smelled really bad and that they couldn’t use it.  This was all done in French and so our teammate, who also has a limited French vocabulary didn’t understand what they said but our gal Cinder, who is bilingual did understand and she translated for us.  Well of course, we fell into hysterics while our friend who was standing a few feet away and could not hear what was said, stood there with a blank look on her face.  Too funny!

We got back on the highway and texted Mon Shin, who had flown to Montreal from Saskatchewan to assure her we would be in Montreal before nightfall.  With two GPS devices guiding the way, we made it to our hotel with only a few wrong turns and checked in.  The poor concierge loaded up all of our gear onto a cart and holding onto his back for some reason, limped to the elevators.  Since we couldn’t fit into one with him, we took our own and finally met up with Mon Shin.  As you can imagine it was an extremely loud and boisterous reunion and I am surprised we weren’t put out on the street then and there!  Our bags arrived, the concierge wisely giving us enough time to greet each other so that we would then remember to tip him. As he walked back to the elevator, I was pleased to see that the limp had been replaced with a little skip – it is amazing how a good tip can put a spring into your step!

Well, because it was well after seven o’clock and we had eaten virtually nothing except for some licorice because we had thrown all of the the rest of the food into the back of the truck and didn’t want to stop to get it out, we decided we needed to head out for supper.  When you go to Montreal, Reuben’s is kind of an obvious choice and so that is where we went.  With great food, a tall, dark, handsome and very funny waiter named Tolis and an opportunity to catch up, we had a great evening.  Tolis was kind of cool when he first began waiting on our table, but certainly warmed up to the crazy ladies that he had the great opportunity to serve!  He joked with us and teased us and even gave us the good napkins (usually reserved for dining) for the desserts which are usually served with small flimsy napkins.  We were obviously very special customers.  It was an enjoyable evening and I hope Tolis got to keep his job after we left because his manager didn’t really seem to appreciate that Tolis had supplied us with the expensive napkins when the cheap ones would have done the job.  We assured the manager on the way out that Tolis was a gem and he should keep him on staff even though he ignored his other customers because we were so much fun.  If the waiting stint doesn’t work out, Tolis told us that he is also a stand up comedian so with his good looks and acerbic wit, we know he will be successful in that career and we can say we knew him when!  It is safe to say, we also provided him with some new material for his routine!

We made our way back to our hotel for some more reminiscing and a good nights sleep in preparation for what promised would be a big day on Monday!  We had a king sized suite which included a bedroom with a king sized bed, a bedroom with a queen sized bed, a living room with a pull out couch, and a good sized kitchen so there was plenty of room for our survival food and drink and assorted clothing and footwear.  We did have to share one bathroom and The Woman wisely brought some deodorizing spray with her so that we could ensure we left the bathroom smelling lavendery fresh when we used it. By midnight, we were all snoring away, resting our bodies for our next adventure in Montreal.

(To Be Continued)

Flying Comfortably is Not Guaranteed!

The end of a vacation is always kind of bittersweet. You have to travel home and it is often a long and challenging journey.  When heading home from an island, your travel options are limited; you can swim (not really ideal with all that luggage)), take a boat (that would be called a cruise and then your vacation wouldn’t really be ending, now would it) or you can fly (which is what my husband, Donnie, and I did because it is so practical and practicality is our middle name, plus we couldn’t afford the cruise option).

Our trip home from Barbados involved flying on an aircraft carrier whose name I will leave out. I will let you use your imagination because every airline has at one time or another had a bad day, er…bad week, er…bad year, er…bad decade (according to the reviews on this airliner that I checked out online). I am not sure how this airline stays in business because so many people who write reviews swear they will never fly it again.  Now in my opinion, making these kinds of assertions is not very realistic because usually you can’t follow through.  Often it is the only option for some destinations, and never again would mean you are grounded for good, or have to find some alternative form of transportation that does not yet exist.

Our flight home was on a fairly large jumbo something or another. One of the good things about the flight was we had free on-board entertainment at our seats which really is a must for long flights. This was different from our flight to Barbados where there was no on-board entertainment except if you had an IPad or rented one from them for ten dollars. Donnie had his IPad so he figured he was set but I don’t have one so I was screwed because I wasn’t forking out ten bucks for their crappy IPad. Now Donnie could have gallantly lent me his, but that didn’t happen. Chivalry is so dead in our house! Anyway, he downloaded the app and checked out the offerings and then he realized he was screwed, too because all they had were some really old bad movies and tracks from bands that no one has ever heard of, and for very good reason, according to Donnie. It was a long movie-less, music-less flight for both of us, but I digress.

Like I was saying, the plane was large and there were lots of people on it.  There were two rows of three seats each with 29 sections and I am telling you this so you can make a picture in your mind of how crammed in we were. Donnie, of course had the aisle seat, I was in the middle and, thankfully, a slender young thing had the window seat. I knew things were going to get interesting when just after take-off, the slender young thing indicated she needed to get out. We unbuckled our seat belts, took our ear phones out and wriggled out of our seats to let her out. She proceeded down the aisle, stopped at another seat, spoke to someone for two seconds and then came back to the seat wanting back in. We had to unbuckle our seatbelts, take out our earphones… well, you get the picture.

Things were proceeding along quite well until after the food and drink service cart made its first pass.  Suddenly, several passengers rose simultaneously and made their way to the two bathrooms which were located at the back of the plane. Now I have traveled by air a fair amount but I have never seen that many people need to use the bathroom at the same time.  They were lined up fifteen deep but it was so much work to get out of the rows that they must have felt it better just to wait it out in line rather than have to go back and wriggle back into their seats. It was then that I noticed that the average age of the passengers on the flight was around 75. For you young people who don’t yet realize this – age makes your bladder smaller and weaker, able to hold two to three drops of liquid before needing to go to the bathroom! Of course, seeing all these people needing to go to the bathroom made me realize that I had to go, too. Full disclosure – my bladder cannot hold one drop of liquid on a good day!

I decided that I would make a break for the washroom once the crowd died down because at this point there was no getting out of the seat because the aisle was blocked. About an hour later, I got my chance. I gave Donnie the signal, he undid his seatbelt, took out his earphones and wriggled out of the seat with both me and the slender young thing following, wriggling our way to the aisle.  Did I mention that the plane was cramped? I was quite excited to see that I was second in line. Yahoo! Suddenly we hit a bit of turbulence and the seatbelt sign came on.  I was not going to return to my seat at this point because I was next in line. One of the stewardesses then said to me, “Tell people they have to go back to their seat.” She might have actually said, “You and everyone else need to return to your seats” but my hearing was a bit off from the ocean water that had entered my ears while in Barbados.  I turned around and told the people standing behind me that the stewardess said they had to go back to their seats. Well, of course, no one moved because they all had waited for the line to die down, too and this was their big chance and plus, who was I to tell them anything. They were probably thinking I was lucky to even still be on the plane because I was wearing leggings and another airline had not let some girls on a flight the week before because they were wearing leggings. The stewardess then told me again to tell the people behind me that they had to go back to their seats – at least that is what I interpreted her words to mean. I relayed her message again but no one moved, including me. Thankfully, a toilet became available to me and I got in and got the door shut just as the stewardess shouted “Get back to your seats now!” Well one good thing was the aisle was clear when I came out and made my way back to my seat. Phew!

The stewardesses were hard working girls and they made several trips up and down the aisle offering water to passengers.  This was a really nice gesture, however with all those small weak bladders, it made for continued long line-ups at the bathroom.  I just want to say that whoever designed the layout of the plane needs to go back to whatever school they got their degree from and take some lessons in universal design for living because two bathrooms for that many people on a five and one half hour flight is not even reasonable and would rate a failing mark on a class project. That is, unless the point was to design something that would be cost effective and uncomfortable at the same time. Well, then they had a winner.

We made it back to Canada and were happy to get off that plane and make our connection to a plane that was even smaller and more cramped. Opting for first class is beginning to look very appealing and this is how I plan to fly once I win the lotto.  Until my ship comes in, however, I will have to fly econo!