July 30th, 2007

new year

Travails of the traveler

Let me tell you at once that I mean to start at the end, go on to the middle, and conclude at the beginning. Just so we're clear about that.

Now that I'm back from Vancouver Island, unpacked, the laundry done, and a great deal of gear put away, I intend to take up some quiet hobby for the next couple weeks until Number One Son gets home from Ecuador, like maybe defragmenting my hard drive. Already today much progress.

My impressions of Vancouver Island were on the whole extremely favorable, even though I lost my wallet in the middle of the week. This made things surprisingly awkward Saturday on my trip home, when I tried to check into the hotel in Salt Lake City where I had a layover (in preference to Chicago, or sleeping in an airport) and the young men who were running the place could not check me in without something, some magnetic strip to swipe, no matter how many other credit card numbers I was able to give them. Funny, you can buy things easily enough online or over the phone, and I had booked the room with nothing more than my say so and the numbers. But the day the wallet disappeared I had cleverly left my passport and half my cash in the dorm, so I was able to pay for the hotel room in cash, even though I didn't have enough left for dinner. I subsisted on trail mix and fine chocolates until I got home the next day. Thus I learned that the wise traveler not only divides the cash and identification, in case of such mishaps, but the credit cards as well.

Today I also found the phone number for a nice little coffee shop in Victoria where I stopped last Wednesday on our day out, and just might possibly have lost my wallet in the comfy chair. Not much hope, but I called anyway and left a message. Likewise called the Victoria Bug Zoo, which I stopped in just long enough for the shop to have eaten said wallet, perhaps while I was buying the postcard of a giant preying mantis climbing over the Empress Hotel. When I got back to campus that evening, I was not nearly so calm about it. After I had turned my dorm room upside down looking for it, the lovely people who ran the conference called the coach company that had driven our party back from Victoria (slouching perhaps too much in my seat) as well as the famous Empress Hotel where I had had their famous tea, again in very comfy chairs; but no luck. I had not actually used my credit cards, so it was hard to work out where I last was sure I had the wallet. But then I called Mr S at home, and he calmly took care of calling the credit company and all that business, and no harm done. The next morning I woke up with the conviction that I had actually had my pocket picked, as it was high summer and Victoria was stuffed with tourists, good pickings, perhaps, for that baglady who was maybe following me around... but I'd rather think someone nice picked it up, or it was simply dropped while I was taking photos of the sailing ships, and might still turn up.

Otherwise, I have been to a lot of nice places, and Vancouver Island is one of the nicest: nearly as beautiful as Skye, but with excellent mild weather. The international calligraphy conference that was held there at Shawnigan Lake this year was pretty good -- my thirteenth (chords of doom), this year at a posh prep school that was the most handicapped-inaccessible institution I have ever seen, although the landscaping was lovely, the new dorms comfortable, and the food excellent. I had the greatest good fortune in randomly assigned roommates (Nina and I immediately felt like old friends). I treated myself to three massages in the course of the week, instead of buying more great thick books to load into my luggage, which weighed exactly fifty pounds coming home, and I mostly refrained from wearing myself out.

You can read more about all the week's events at this blog until I get around to telling more about my particular studies. Must go look at her pictures and help out with identifying the pieces in the faculty show -- I will have photos like those myself, and picked up a catalog list for the show as well.