Slow Late West

It’s some ungodly hour in Charlottetown as I write, and only slightly less ungodly here in Anacortes, BC where we’re en route to Johnny and Jodi’s wedding.

Random observations from a day travelling from Harrisville, NH to northern Washington state:

  • United Airlines service is about as poor as Air Canada’s, making me think there’s some sort of Star Alliance bad service standard. Nothing absolutely horrible, just lots of little fallings down on the job.
  • Enterprise Rent-a-Car charges as much per day for insurance as they do to rent a small car. And they sell the insurance hard and sneaky. My online reservation was quoted at $169 total; at the desk I was quoted a “final total” of $273 because the agent decided that I needed super coverage. Thankfully I was able to fix this all up at the yard when we picked up the car.
  • Oddly, in light of the above, the service at the actual pick up yard from Enterprise was amazing: we were met at the shuttle bus by an agent who took us immediately to our car, offered us free coffee and soft drinks, filled out the paper work right there, and sent us on our way. This compared to 30 minutes in a hot and frustrating line at Alamo last month make me forgive the insurance scheme and I will be a regular customer.
  • In Seattle there are special lanes on the major highways for cars with 2 or more people in them. These lanes are designed to attract people to carpooling, and they move much, much faster than regular traffic. You would think, as a result, many people would carpool. But we passed thousands of cars with only the driver in them, crawling along in the regular lanes. Amazing.
  • Manchester, NH and Seattle, WA have very nice, efficient airports. Washington (Dulles) does not.
More later.

Sesame Street is brought to you by...

Any kid of my vintage had the phrase “Children’s Television Workshop” burned into their memories, for at the end of every episode of Sesame Street it was announced that Sesame Street was a production of this mysterious cabal.

Well, the Children’s Television Workshop is no more. They’ve changed their name to Sesame Workshop.

And here in Canada, Sesame Street is called Sesame Park. I won’t dare to speculate on why.

Bubble Machines and Lawn Chairs

Random observations from the Gold Cup and Saucer Parade:

  • Bubble machines are big, and an easy and cheap way to give your float lots of visual energy.
  • What’s with the older gentleman, a “float of one” walking along in a sombrero?
  • Islanders seem to have abandoned the collapsable lawn chairs in a bag that were so obvious at the Festival of Lights and turned back to traditional lawn chairs. No word on whether Steven Garrity has followed the herd or not.
  • Majorettes are showing more skin these days, and the anti-anorexia movement is, thankfully, demonstrating headway, as evidenced by the variety of body types present. Unfortunately this also appears to mean that Majorettes no longer actually twirl or throw batons, they just walk along carrying them.
  • Is Hagar the Horrible popular enough to warrant a giant floating balloon statue? I heard a lot of parents trying to convince their kids it was really Elmo in a Viking costume; kids weren’t buying it.
  • Only in Charlottetown could the winner of the award for “Most Humourous Float” be a float consisting of a flatbed truck of people in hippie costumes smoking giant pretend joints. I thought “obvious drug references” were banned in North America since Nancy Reagan? Thank God we’re still free here on the Island.
  • Every father hopes their son will grow up to be hip and cool and eschew parades in favour of John Coltrane records and mint juleps. I am failing in this regard: Oliver loves marching bands and horses and Bush Dumville’s antique car. He even like Hagar the Elmo.
In the grand tradition of my family, I left the parade early.

You can't chop down a symmetry

A hot night in Charlottetown. Too hot.

Escape to Tim’s for a cooling ice capp. This is the first day we’re really, really glad we have a car with air conditioning. Briefly consider running the car all night and sleeping on the back seat. Just like they do in Alaska to keep the engine blocks from freezing in the winter. Ohhh, Alaska, cool…

Stop at A&W for a Mozza Burger on the way home. Traffic, traffic, traffic. Everyone is out on the streets for their last taste of traffic freedom before the parade in the morning block everything in.

Home to pay bills left over from February (still can’t pay my Island Tel Internet bill online, #$@#$%!). Mozza burger has some sort of foreign congealed mass of boiled bacon fat — or something — in the middle and must be disposed of. #$@#$%!

Off to SDM to buy stamps and skin creme. The special skin creme they keep behind the counter we only know by its price: $2.22. I ask the pharmacist for “some 222 creme” and she looks at me weirdly and goes to the cupboard. They don’t have large bottles. But she can sell me two smaller bottles. The smaller bottles cost $1.11. This makes me very happy. My happiness is all lost on the pharmacist.

I forget to buy juice for Oliver for the morning, so take the long was ‘round to Ken’s Corner. Notice that Ken’s Corner, which used to be called Green Gables is now called Needs. Realize that all Green Gables stores are now renamed Needs. Ponder the demographic reasoning behind the corporate renaming decision. Reach no conclusions.

Ken’s Corner is hoppin’. There’s a dance across the street at the Curling Club. The band, Phase II, is playing a cover of I’m a Believer. The architecture in the Ken’s Corner neighbourhood serves to whirl the sound around into a frenzy.

Inside Ken’s Corner there are lots of people buying cigarettes and gum. There’s a lot of talk of Tyne Valley and people getting their heads smashed in. The woman in front of me has a large flaming tattoo on her shoulder. It sounds as though she, herself, is not from Tyne Valley.

I pay for my juice and marvel at the shapely singularity of the cashier’s nose; it is a work of art.

Back into the car. Turn on Magic 93 and the air conditioner. The Smashmouth cover of I’m a Believer is playing on the radio.

Home to frantically work while the traffic’s still good.

You can’t chop down a symmetry.