West Coast Wonder, a bucket list item


By Francine Van, guest contributor

The cab arrived in the darkness at three in the morning. I was off.

Zone six was never called. Forty minutes waiting to board I quietly checked into the gate with the few remaining passengers. I didn’t ask why. This was my final checkpoint in the people mover system created for airplane travel. It all starts with that first scan of arrival and you are captive under their control through their flow. We remove shoes, clothes, and belts to be compliant to their demands as well as answering the personal questions of why you packed nail clippers. Yes, I was asked this question apparently in conflict with regulations. It is the only way if you wish to reach your destination.

Still re-gathering my belongings and redressing I was pushed along through the people mover. As a senior, this process takes me longer than before as my mind wandered through the reasons why I was embarking on this journey that had been on my bucket list. Entering the aircraft, I squeezed into the directed aisle asking a flurried flight attendant how many people were on board. Her quick response indicated too many at four hundred. I could not see the end of the crowded aisle as anxiety set in. Further maintenance delays on the tarmac ensued while we sucked the air out of the cabin until finally, we made lift-off.

Taking in my surroundings and feeling the crush of my seat I realized this would be my world for a few more elongated hours. Where were the washrooms?

Toronto to Vancouver was my agenda, one that had been planned last year as a leisurely revisit to an old haunt, while I still could. Facing the honest reason for even creating a list before death, I knew I was into my “lasts”. Comfort is challenged for any person flying, so with age even with health, it can absolutely incapacitate. Time itself on board pushes personal limits both emotionally and physically. Add the delays, turbulence, and food, and you have an over-whelmed elder. But I sat tight.

The landing uneventful, the vision of the stunning mountain views brought comfort, but with arrival I knew this trip would be a final. I would not again endure this distress feeling dehydrated and dizzy. Interesting in reference, so many times now I find myself thinking something will be my “last”… like the car I purchased. I remember my parents saying these things many years ago and I scoffed at their silliness. Now I get it.

Going back in time zones I found my friends for lunch although I craved any food now, it being the dinner hour for me.

Vancouver had changed over the years, over ten to be exact, yet the west end English Bay area remained intact. I enjoyed walks through quaint neighbourhoods admiring the spring flowers in bloom, their season well ahead of the east. Beaches mixed with the urban seemed more disjointed than my memories. Construction predominated the landscape in this city now. A ferry to Bowen Island offered the majestic peak scenes and glacier waters for a new scenic view.

I changed hotels several times, learning that trusting the internet can bring unacceptable accommodation. We expect comfort at this age but more importantly, safety. Comic memories of walking the streets rolling luggage in search of the next hotel, while stopping for washroom breaks at restaurants reminds me of travel hazards. Without expectations for this adventure I enjoyed meeting up with old friends, sharing some meals, we perhaps cackled a little too loudly in restaurants, hearing sometimes an issue too. Updating about our new lives it was most interesting to learn a friend who had been laid off from her advertising job in her late fifties found wealth in the newly legalized pot industry. She also found a new young beau and her stories were hilariously interesting, especially when she confessed being on the no-fly list.

I won’t mention the details of the return flight. I am rehydrated now.

Years fly by too quickly, but good times are still to be had. Enjoy your journey and for me that might be in theory only, although I do wonder if I have the courage and strength to take one last desired trip.

Never say Never.

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About Golden Wave Movement Canada

The Golden Wave Movement is a made up of engaged individuals who have serious concerns about the increasing challenges retirees surviving on modest pension incomes face nowadays. While our main purpose is to raise awareness of the financial difficulties faced by this vulnerable group of citizens, we also intend to raise awareness regarding challenges related to their physical, emotional and psychological well-being.
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