The Western Canadian Farewell Tour, last stop

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Rosetown, Saskatchewan, en route to Calgary. One of the last grain elevators I'll see in a long time.

I've arrived in Calgary for the last leg of the Go See Run Eat Drink Western Canadian Farewell Tour. I've got a few days here staying with my sister, brother-in-law and niece before the big flight out on Sunday morning. On the agenda: seeing a couple of friends, attending my niece's daycare wind-up, last-minute trip-related shopping, oh, and building a 6' x 14' shed for my sister's back yard. No sense in hanging about doing nothing for 3 days, eh? I think once I get to London all I'll want to do is sleep for a week. Then again with the transit strike it may take me a week just to get from the airport to my hostel.

I'm still feeling completely unprepared. The list is shorter, but it's still there: establish secure online document storage, attach earpiece to Skype headset, print approximate itinerary for non-techno relatives without blog access, get two more small luggage locks, get a smaller water bottle, slice up Rick Steves guide books to eliminate unnecessary sections, and print a few things that need to be carried as hard copies.

As for being mentally prepared, despite the fact that the countdown clock says something ridiculous like 3 days, I still really can't believe it's actually happening, and I can't shake the "What have I done?" feeling. I really hope some excitement starts very very soon.

Packing the Aeronaut for the jaunt to Calgary was as discouraging this time as it was the first time. It seems that my list of stuff has surreptitiously ballooned since the last attempt. The final pack on Saturday night will require some extremely hard-nosed decision about things I thought were non-negotiable. I really need to embrace the "If in doubt, throw it out" theory. Things that have already fallen prey to this rule: long underwear, light gloves, buff, the folding Orikaso cup and the plastic sleeve the Orikaso stuff came in. Things on the chopping block: hand sanitizer, one t-shirt (there are 2 others, plus one for running), some first aid kit stuff, the retracta-safe cable lock, the Rick Steves shower caddy, the small travel towel, the Absolute Shoulder Strap... and so on. If absolutely necessary, I'll divide stuff between the Aeronaut and the daypack, and carry two bags, but that would really be admitting defeat.

I have NOT received my UK passport yet, and my hopes of having it in time to enter the UK without having to provide proof of onward travel are fading fast. I paid 3 USD per minute to phone the "What's Going On With My Passport Application Information Line" last week. I spoke (as quickly as possible) to a woman with a very thick Scottish accent who confirmed that my application was received, and that my payment had been processed, which means my application has been accepted and they will be issuing me a passport. However she said there was a "significant backlog" in applications, so I shouldn't expect to receive the passport until 20 working days after they processed my payment. That was on May 6th, so 20 working days from then is approximately last Thursday. Thank you Miss Scotland. I'm now relying on the receipt and confirmation of my Russian Tour and my Eurail pass to prove that I won't be staying forever to go on the dole and watch "Coronation Street". I've also got a colour printout of a scan of my UK citizenship certificate (of course the passport people have the original...) so really they should just shut up, let me in, and give me a cup of tea and a nice biscuit.

(Aside: One reason it's so important to be certain they'll let me in to the country is that United Airlines won't even let me on the plane if they think I'll be turned back. If I get all the way to London and the British border officials refuse me entry then United Airlines has to pay to return me. So if the United folks at the Calgary airport look askance at my Russian tour documents and my copied citizenship certificate, I'll be going nowhere on Sunday.)

It looks like I may need to have the passport sent to an obliging English relative for me, in the hope that it will arrive before I leave that country on about July 5th. Even if it can't ease my entry to England, at least it can get me into the short "We're all Europeans Here" line-up at all future EU borders.

Ok, this has been a bit of a downer post, eh? At least it's actually summer here in Alberta, instead of that lingering chilly spring that's been going on in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Also, I just got off my first real Skype call, and after a bit of technical difficulty, it worked, with video and everything! Nice to see you, Steve.

Off to bed.


Chris said...

Only a couple more days!!! Very exciting! I am sure everything will work out when the time comes. I look forward to reading about your adventures.

Steve said...

At least we know that even without audio we can still mime our conversations.

Mitch said...

So, I am curious, How do you feel about twitter, now that you have been using it a little bit? I think it's a great way for you to throw out some one-liners rather than compose a full blog post.

And I have to get myself a skype thingy.

Pam said...

@Mitch: I like the Twitter so far, but it will depend on whether I can get cheap text messaging that will allow me to post updates without breaking the bank. There are different number you Twitter to in the US, Canada, UK and Everywhere Else. It's the Everywhere Else number that I think may get pricey.

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