And so it’s off home we head.
I think on some subconscious level my body-clock is already trying to adjust as I awaken at 6am after having turned off the tv at half-past midnight.
When we picked up our Ford Escape SUV way back two weeks ago in Vancouver, the car-rental clerk told us to drop it off with an empty tank. I took him at his word and dropped off the vehicle with the trip computer reading “5km TO EMPTY”. Hope there was a gas station nearby.
We check in at the airport as soon as the gates open and – after a full body scan which found a minuscule piece of foil paper in my back pocket – we then sit by boarding gate 42 awaiting our flight home, but only after having bought a last couple of gifts for close friends.
Although I do rue not having bought Chris ‘Anal’ Ettritch an “I Love Big Dumps” t-shirt in Banff. I’m quite certain that not buying that for a man who has written-off my toilet a few times will haunt me…
So we sit in Calgary Airport; I with my pen and pad; Jo with her freshly-bought sanitary towels, looking back on a very successful and entertaining tour of Canada’s west-to-mid-west region. I’ve met some new friends, cemented other friendships, and feel that i have proven that Englishmen abroad wearing football shirts don’t necessarily equate to fighting thugs.
We have seen orcas, humpback whales, a beer and a deer all in the wild. We’ve seen baluga whales, dolphins, giant starfish and other animal wonders in an aquarium and even an
awful undersea garden.
We have seen mountains everywhere we’ve looked, and even been up a couple. We’ve seen vistas of beauty and have looked down on people and the tops of giant trees through the glass floor of a gondola.
I have eaten bison, but alas, not elk. I have eaten a steak over two inches thick and discovered the wonders of garlic mash. I have (finally) eaten a Baby Ruth, a Tootsie Roll, but yet still the Twinkie eludes me.
We have discovered that a tax hike earlier in the year meant that some things we had budgeted for way back in January when we booked the holiday were more expensive when we got there. We have found that the small b&b’s are just as good as the international accommodations. Fuel is a lot cheaper here than at home… even if I did look like a monkey working a washing machine trying to figure out how to get some of the fuel pumps to work.
We found that the Canadians are patriotic, hockey-mad, unafraid of what us Europeans call ‘the cold’, and they are also very, very friendly. We have discovered that ex-pats in Canada don’t miss England… except for small luxuries like gravy granules! And, strangely, I never
met a single Scotsman on our travels… Maybe they all live in Nova Scotia?!
And I also saw no chavs! Well, not until we got to Calgary Airport where a Dappy-clone and his bitches were boarding a plane.
My plane, incidentally.
I have learned that no matter how long I stare at a handful of change it is always better to get the store clerk to sort the exchange for me. I have learned that the secret to driving on the correct side of the road is to “watch what you’re doing when you turn left at junctions”. I also know that a solitary englishman sitting in a sports bar in Canada will be the only guy watching an NFL game.
I also realised that not eating a thing on a 10 hour flight is no cure for jet lag. I learnt that one the hard way!
* * *
So as we fly over an illuminated Glasgow at night I wonder where my next flight of fancy will take me, and I think about my next planned trip approaching in 2011 to Wisconsin to see an old friend.
It’s exactly that moment that Chris Ettritch messages me tongue-in-cheek, asking about holidays, and by the same bizarre stroke of fortune it appears that two guys from the same road on the Isle of Wight may just both be in Chicago at the same time next year.
Us two in the Windy City?
Now that would be something to write about.