Thursday, November 13, 2008
One Last Derby Adventure
Cold Hawaiian pizza
The Toronto Airport has a bunch of places to eat food but getting service depending on what vendor you pick can be pretty slow, extremely slow. I stood in front of a cashier at a burger place for about 10 minutes with not even a hint of service. I looked at them working, they looked at me. I was beginning to wonder if they were even open. As luck would have it as soon as I left to go to the food place across the way the person waiting behind me got served.
The other food place across the way was the same. I stood in line or an area I thought was a line. Near me was a woman looking at me. She wasn't sure where the line was either. Signage would have helped as an unmanned cash register doesn't scream out saying "place your order here".
Eventually the cashier meandered over from her state of trace and asked what I'd like to order. After doing the "You first.", "No you." with the other woman, I placed an order for a slice of the already made hawaiian pizza and a bottle of Coke. I wanted something that would keep my waiting to a minimum.
I could see the pizza slice being heated as it was placed in one of those conveyor belt ovens. The process took about 5 minutes (actually 5:17, I was timing the experience). By the time I found a table, sat down and placed the pizza in my mouth, the cheese was still cold. I began to think the oven was one of those Betty Crocker stoves with the single light bulb... A light bulb that had been replaced by one of those new florescent bulbs emitting zero heat.
The meal was seven dollars.
Flight Air Canada 109
The plane ride was not much fun either. I was placed in the middle of the plane, seat 13E, with a person on either side and my interactive screen was malfunctioning. Didn't matter if I choose a song or a movie. I'd get a bunch of scrambled mpeg data on the screen then the "Selection not available" message would pop up. Crud, and I really wanted to watch that X-files movie. The screens next to me seemed to work. The guy on the right was watching the Dark Knight movie and the guy on the left was watching CBC news. Good thing I packed the game boy.
While playing Advance Wars 2 I noticed my thumb starting to cramp up. "What the heck?". It was at that moment a voice came on the intercom saying to "sit down and fasten your safety belts". I realized I was playing that one level of the game for nearly the whole flight. five hours. I hadn't moved. I was in the shrimp position for all that time. My back ached. Geez.
We arrived in Vancouver airport. If you're a traveller and you feel like going through Vancouver my suggestion to you is to ask people standing around for directions as this airport is one of the worst airports I've been in for signage. Granted, the airport is under construction.
Because my end destination was the USA, my luggage was moved to a pick up area after going through US customs. You have to find US customs first. That is the trick as the signs kind of stop on the first floor. Only by asking a guy at information did I figure out you had to follow American flag images to get to what looked like a kitchen door for wait staff, go through that down some narrow corridors to a small bunch of rooms with no windows.
I had arrived around 4:30pm Pacific time. My flight out to Portland was 7:45pm. So it wasn't like I was rushing around the airport. There were a few glitches during the airport stay. When I got my camera case off the luggage carousal it wasn't closed. All my gear fell out (again). Damn those customs guys, why can't they just snap the case shut?
One of the luggage handlers gave me some string to tie the case shut which I thought was amazing. She also told me to complain to some of the people on the other side of the wall. I looked at my stuff and since it was all there and not noticeably damaged I didn't think it was worth going through customs again.
My flight out was delayed. We didn't start boarding the plane until 9:00pm. The reason, that was told to us, was that the previous plane had hit a bird and they had to get a replacement plane. Our question was "How cheaply are these planes made?", the second question was "How big was this bird?". The bird jokes kept flying (no pun intended).
Waiting for 4.5 hours wasn't so bad though. I met a woman from Portland that worked in medical services. She showed clients software that converts 2D MRI scans (or slices) into 3D representations using voxels (points in 3D space). She showed me some data on her laptop of a brain aneurysm. Density of the tissue determined the color of the voxel. It was very cool to see it in 3D but I felt sorry for whoever the patient was as the brain aneurysm was the size of a walnut.
The flight to Portland on the small plane was very spacious as each passenger had two seats. The ride was also surprisingly smooth. I, for some reason, thought it would be bumpier in a small propeller plane.
Once in Portland, this year's home of the WFTDA (Women's Flat Track Derby Association) Nationals - the Stanley Cup of Roller Derby (or Super Bowl if you're a football fan), I checked into the Thrift Lodge, dumped my stuff and like a good tourist wandered the city.
Glad I'm not paranoid.
The big Made in Oregon sign near old town
I love these old neon signs. Portland? Who knew?
A trailer I'll have to check out when it's open.
There's a lot of shelters or maybe I just happened to be in the right section of town.
The train called MAX can take me to the airport for only 2.25.
Stairway to water level.
I liked this pet sign.
Muchas Gracias, the only 24 hour restaurant I could find that did not require you having a car.
The ThriftLodge. Notice the lack of apartment windows.