Monday, June 6, 2011

Trip Number Nine: Vancouver Island to Edmonton

Itinerary: Toronto (YYZ) - Vancouver (YVR) - Campbell River (YBL) - Port McNeill - Port Hardy (YZT) - Edmonton (YEG) - Toronto (YYZ)

I got the call shortly after returning from Portugal. "OK, this one's weird."

"Yeah, I'm super surprised by that", I answered.

Although this was a nice, domestic trip, it still had a few snags. First, there were no flights into the TINY airport where I was picking up my patient. Also, the patient was well enough to drive himself the six hours home from Edmonton.

"So, why am I transporting this guy?" I asked.

"I really don't know", they answered.

Oh well, a trip is a trip and I've always wanted to see Vancouver Island. I found out about the flight late in the evening and had already made plans to see a late show with the girls, so getting to the office for six am was unpleasant. Fortunately, the flight was going on to Seoul, so it was one of those massive planes with proper beds in first class. I managed to snag an upgrade spot and, after my pancake breakfast, I flattened out my seat, pulled up my duvet and slept like a baby. I even managed to sleep through the fresh-baked cookies with vanilla ice cream they served before landing (I know, I know, now I'm just being a dick, but it's really fun up there!).

The airplane culture-shock set in when I went to board my next flight and asked why I didn't have a seat assigned.

"Oh, you just sit anywhere. There are only a few seats on the plane, anyway", the gate attendant told me, with a 'have fun, city girl' smile on her face. I think I might be getting used to the tiny planes, though, since I was completely distracted by the incredible view. It was like one of those chartered sight-seeing planes that treated me to a gorgeous view of the Straight and the islands.


The journey didn't end there, though. I had to get up to the Northern tip of the island and the only way I could do that was by taxi. A three and a half hour taxi. The view was gorgeous and the cab driver a self-professed 'red neck' who spouted such incredible wisdoms as "I don't need some new-fangled bit of plastic full of buttons to do my math, I use my noggin." It was interesting.

I made it to Port McNeill in one piece, worked out some kinks with my patient's rental car and had dinner in town with him and his wife. Usually, I would decline the offer to join a patient for dinner, preferring instead to go exploring on my own, but I was hungry, and there are two restaurants in Port McNeill, so the chances of an awkward run-in would have been very high.

IMG_0578Mountains, ocean and boats are always a winning combination, in my books.

After that, the whole thing was very uneventful. The flight out left from the next town over and being in the airport felt like we were going back in time. No security whatsoever. No actual baggage check (I held on to my medical kit and handed the rest up to a crew member kneeling in the cargo hold of the plane). Only two flights out that day.

IMG_0586Ours was the next flight, and only slightly bitter.

The company was kind enough to respond favourably to my request to spend a little extra time in Edmonton. I dropped the patient off, got some sleep and spent the better part of the next day hanging out with good friends I hadn't seen for a while and meeting an extremely cute baby.

IMG_0585Always good advice

While I really love the international travel aspect of this job, it's always nice to spend some time in my own, beautiful country. It reminds me how incredible Canada is and revives my appreciation this enormous and diverse chunk of land and its people. I particularly enjoyed the fact that, no matter where I was, be it Toronto, Edmonton or the tiny towns of Vancouver Island, there was one topic on everyone's minds: hockey. I swear, I had about twelve different conversations about hockey with as many different strangers while I travelled, and I only initiated two or three of them. It made the whole trip feel like home. It was nice.

Photo of the YVR control tower posted by user Midvale on the Canuck's web forum.

My favourite comedy moment of the trip, - chatting with my cab driver in Edmonton about what I do for a living, we had this little exchange:

"Oh, that's like that movie, you know, with George Clooney. He's always flying places and he wants to get a million airmiles? I think it's called Air Miles."
"Up In The Air?"
"Yeah, Air Miles. Good movie."

Click here for a few more photos from the island.


  1. i remember being in one of those small planes flying to norther ontario. pick your seat and the pilot was the "welcoming crew" and the flight attendant, lol!

    beautiful west coast scene. good work freeman!

  2. that sounds awesome....i bite my thumb at first class! yet i long to sit there.