Vancouver Olympics – Day 1

Last night was a LATE night for me. I was up until 1:00am making sure that everything was where it should be in preparation for my morning this morning. I am not unaccustomed to making the trek across the water to Vancouver, but I normally don’t have the world traveling with me. I wasn’t sure what to expect.

I was aiming to catch the 11:00am ferry from Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen, BC (aka, Victoria to Vancouver). I left my house at 9:45am to ensure that I made the sailing. The trip is about a 30 minute drive, but I didn’t know what the lines were going to be like.

The ferry terminal was extremely busy, even for walk-on traffic. The waiting bay was full and the sailing at 80% full with another 40 minutes until the ferry was due to leave. I don’t know if the sailing sold out, but I wouldn’t have been surprised. The only time I’d seen it busy like that was from the Vancouver side, when spring break was over for the university students and everyone was heading back to the University of Victoria.

Looking around I could see that I’d be taking an S-class ship, also known as the “Spirit” ships due to their naming schemes. In this case, it was the Spirit of Vancouver Island.

Everyone was murmuring about the Olympics; thoughts on the day’s events, complaints about spectator limitations in venues if you don’t have an event ticket and social commentary about VANOC and the IOC decisions from the last 7 years that has affected local business.

Even before the ferry finished docking for unloading, people crowd toward the loading doors. It’s a crush of people and languages.

Something that always drive me crazy is when individual people shove and jockey for place, cutting off old ladies and generally thinking themselves more important than everyone else. Why does this happen? You’re all going to get on with enough time to find seating.

While waiting for the doors to allow us on, I was surprised at the number of people coming off. There were nearly the same number of people exiting the ferry as were waiting to board.

Once we are allowed to board, I knew where to head. I am accustomed to taking these vessels to and from Vancouver as I take the trip frequently. Normally I bee-line for the 5th floor (main floor, the first 4 levels are reserved for cars and engines) seating area near the exit doors for easy access when we arrive on the other side. This time, however, I went upstairs to the 6th floor to the family seating. This area has access to the outdoor viewing decks and it allows me to go outside for easy photos.

There was strategy in my seat choice too. I didn’t choose a seat closest to the doors, but rather closest to the public electrical outlets. There are precious few available to passengers and it allows me to charge my laptop during the trip. There is no wireless available on board, but I am always prepared for the inevitable boredom. I’d loaded the audio book for Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince to my computer.

I was one of the first in the room, but shortly after I’d arrived, the seats start filling. Two girls who were clearly into anime (sporting a bag themed with Kyo from Fruits Basket and a few Naruto pins) sat behind me and when I struck up a conversation, they told me about the anime series they were currently watching (and intend to watch during the 1 hour 35 minute trip). I intend to look some of them up later.

There were televisions in the seating areas and whereas I heard it clearly when I’d entered the room, it was pretty much inaudible as the room filled with conversations and children playing.

I plugged in my laptop and settled in for the dulcet tones of Mr. Jim Dale, crooning to me about Harry and his adventures.

The sailing was calm and the weather was beautiful with a mix of sun and cloud. At one point I’d had to get up and take off my hoodie due to the warmth of the sunlight. There was a clear view of Mount Baker and more of the mountains viewable from the Georgia Strait. They appeared to have received a fresh dusting of snow. I can only hope we get more of it here.

Later, though the room chatter remained high, I’d noticed people cheering. While I’d been listening to my book, someone had turned up the volume and the Men’s downhill event was being broadcast. The majority of the people in the centre of the room appeared to be watching. I’d glanced over in time to see one of the Canadian skiers crash, much to the room’s dismay.

About 15 minutes from shore, the ship’s alarm klaxons sounded. Everyone froze. I quickly put my notebook away and awaited to hear what we should do. Shortly after the alarm was disabled, an announcement came over the intercom, telling us to disregard the alarm as it was a safety alarm for one of the handicapped bathrooms. That poor person! They must have been so embarrassed.

I made my way downstairs, hoping to avoid some of the rush to the doors I knew was soon to come. Unfortunately, quite the lineup was already forming. I waited, in line, near the rear of the room and when no one moved during the “please return to your cars” announcement, I knew I’d be waiting longer than normal.

Mrs. M and her friends Miss C and Ms. N were waiting for me and waving when I arrived. They had come to deliver me to my Grandparent’s place.

We arrived at the apartment complex, and discovered they weren’t home. I attempted to call them, but with no answer on their house line or cell, we decided to go to Starbucks until they came home. We went to the local one, and I sprung for their drinks. Mrs. M mentioned she needed produce and luckily there was a Kin’s Farm Market in the same complex as the Starbucks we were in. We decided to pop in there after. Nearing the time we were wrapping up our chatting, I called my Grandmother‘s cellphone again and this time she picked up. We’d let her know we were coming to the apartment after we stopped to get groceries for my sister.

While we were getting groceries, I picked up some snap peas, cucumbers, apple-pears, strawberries, grapes, asparagus and brussel sprouts. I love fresh fruit and veggies!

We got to Grandma and Grandpa’s and things started to settle down. I delivered some video games to my sister (she wanted to borrow some) and gave her a soundtrack she wanted. The girls all visited for a bit and then headed back out. Grandma, Grandpa and I have just been relaxing, watching the Olympics on TV and just having enjoyable conversation. Tomorrow I plan on going into town with my friend Miss K and taking lots of photos!

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