Sunday, September 19, 2010

East coast report

I’m a long way from home in more ways than one.  Wardensville, West Virginia is only 90 miles from Washington, DC but it lives in a different time.  It’s like stepping back 50 years when you drive into town.  The guy who runs the research centre where I’m doing this installation says that it’s only in the last 2 years that they have had a restaurant in town that would take credit cards and I don’t have any trouble believing that.  We’ve been eating lunch every day at the VFW where the daily special runs $5 or $5.50, depending on the day and it’s a full meal. 

Last Tuesday I left Marilyn and Jorgito in Buchanan and drove the mighty cubevan into Regina.  I only killed one snake on the trip down to Melville – got two on the trip north a couple of days earlier.  I love those signs on 21 highway down the east side of Alberta that say “watch for rattlesnakes”.  I watch for them alright – how the hell else are you going to run over them if you don’t see them and anticipate their movements?  Fortunately all I had to kill Tuesday night was garter snakes.

Wednesday morning I was at the Regina airport shortly after 6 AM for a flight to Chicago.  By the time I got through all the pseudo-security bullshit and the customs nonsense in Chicago I nearly missed my connection to Pittsburgh.  Customs was the worst but when I looked around the room it wasn’t hard to tell why it was taking so long.  I wouldn’t have let 90% of them into the country if the decision had been up to me.  I could have speeded things up a lot but nobody asked for my assistance.  The first ones to go would have been everyone with BO – that room was the foulest smelling place I’ve been in since RJ and Jared shared an apartment in Saskatoon.

When the baggage carousel in Pittsburgh stopped turning it shouldn’t have been any surprise to me that my bag hadn’t arrived.  I barely got on the plane in Chicago so the don’t-give-a-shit baggage handlers could hardly be expected to have got my bag onboard.  Fortunately the lost baggage office was conveniently located next to the carousel and staffed with a reasonably personable “Lisa”.  She started filling out the form and didn’t throw a fit when I told her that the boarding agent in Regina had kept my luggage claim tag.  By the time I was done in her office she had determined that my bag was in fact still in Chicago having arrived at the gate too late to be boarded with me.  She thought it would likely come to Pittsburgh on United’s 7:30 flight so I went off to pick up my rental car and then came back to confirm that my bag was going to arrive at 7:30. 

Lisa was gone and the door was locked but after a while Leslie lumbered onto the scene.  She confirmed that my bag was scheduled to arrive at 7:30 so I reluctantly settled in to wait for it.  I had carefully selected a flight that missed Toronto and got me into Pittsburgh so I could drive down to West Virginia in daylight but now I was stuck with a drive in the dark.  I had also forgotten to bring an inverter to power my computer while it was running the GPS which turned out to be a major error.

I didn’t get out of the airport until around 8:00 by which time it was completely dark.  I tried to use the computer sparingly but it seemed like every time I turned it off I promptly went off course.  A couple of times when I turned it on I was a long way off course and had to recalculate the route completely.  I know I went through some really pretty scenery but I didn’t see any of it.  I kept thinking that somewhere I’d run across a WalMart where I could pick up a cheap inverter but didn’t see one until I arrived here in Moorefield.

Today I took the day off and drove over to Annapolis to look at a boat.  I was pretty sure we didn’t want to buy it, mainly because it’s on the wrong coast but it is priced right and it’s a 49 foot Defever so I figured I should look at it anyway. 

My height continues to be our greatest challenge to buying a boat.  This one has the same wonderful engine room that I have come to expect on a Defever and it has an inside helm in the salon which is my preferred design.  It also has covered side decks which I am sure are a wonderful feature - - - for people who can walk under them without constantly ducking.  I don’t think we will use a flybridge a whole lot but I couldn’t stand up on this one so not using it would have been a lot more likely. 

The broker was a likeable sort and we had a good visit.  He had priced cross country transport for a similar boat so I got a price point for that eventuality although I don’t think it is practical for the price range we are considering.  The broker had priced moving the boat on it’s own bottom to Texas and then loading it and trailering it across the west to Vancouver.  I have already priced Dockwise transport from Florida to Seattle.  The Dockwise trip comes in around $35,000 and the combination water/land trip comes in around $25,000.  On a $300,000 boat those numbers might make sense but on a $100,000 boat they don’t work.

Annapolis harbour was a fun place to hang out so I wandered around a bit and had lunch there.  Then I headed back west but on the return trip I routed myself right through the heart of Washington.  I’ve been there enough times to sort of know my way around but today was the first time I’ve had time on my hands and been able to drive around enough to feel like I could find my way without a map. 

Some fools had “organized” a World Peace Day at the foot of the steps to the Lincoln Memorial and at the risk of giving them publicity that they clearly don’t deserve I have to comment. 

I think it is an exaggeration to say there were 12 people in the audience – the real total may have been as low as 8.  I suspect that 4 of them were the sister, brother, brother-in-law, etc of the dude in the suit that was the invited guest.  I walked the length of the pool to get away from the saccharin lyric peace songs set to popular tunes like Yellow Submarine and He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.  By the time I returned to the west end of the reflecting pool Mr. Suit and Tie was introducing his illustrious career as a UN diplomat.  I kept on walking over to the Vietnam Memorial and mercifully the nonsense was over by the time I got back to the Lincoln Memorial.  I take comfort from the knowledge that even in a city as famous for it’s lack of common sense as Washington there were so few fools who think that world peace can be achieved by singing silly songs and listening to self important idiots talk about all the wonderful things that they have done.

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