Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Lost has Been Found

Last night, while Bryn, my friend Jodi and I were watching TV for a bit, my parents started cleaning up our old motor home, which my dad took away to the RV place this morning. Almost as soon as they went out to start, Mum and Dad were both back inside and came to find me. My mum had her hands behind her back and both my parents proclaimed excitedly that they had a surprise for me. I, naturally, got quite excited as well and took three guesses (a kitten, some candy and a book that I have been missing for around three years since I loaned it to a friend who never gave it back), all of which were wrong. When my mum brought a small, black booklet from behind her back, I wondered why they were making such a big fuss about it. For a brief second I thought it must have been one of my favourite picture-books when I was a baby or something and my interest was piqued again. All of a sudden it hit me though why the booklet was so familiar. It was a passport! And then I knew why my parents were so excited. Mum handed the booklet to me and I was looking at my first passport that I had reported as lost four and a half years ago to the Passport Office in Surrey. Since the summer of 2003 I have blamed my dad for losing my passport, but now I have to amend that blame. I thought for awhile last night and I think I finally now have the whole story figured out.

On August 16, 2003 a chance lightning strike hit in Okanagan Mountain Park just south of Kelowna and started a huge and devastating fire. Almost two weeks after the fire started my mum, Bryn and I left for our family vacation in Fairmont, BC, but Tyler and my dad stayed in Kelowna for an extra day in order to transport valuables from our house, which was in an area that was on evacuation alert, to my dad's cabinet factory. If the fire crept down the mountain and the evacuation alert became a mandatory evacuation, we wanted to make sure our stuff was safe while we were gone. I called my dad and asked him to make sure to bring my passport along to Fairmont, but when they got there, the passport wasn't with him. He said he must have left it in one of the boxes at the factory. When our week-long vacation was over, the fire had changed direction, our area had never been under evacuation orders, and the alert had been lifted as well, so we started to bring our possessions back home. But after all the boxes were unpacked, my passport was still unaccounted for. I was rather annoyed because I had a lot of really neat stamps in that passport from India, Thailand, Costa Rica, Mexico, Belize and Guatemala as well as my really awesome Indian visa. I racked my brain for where I could have left it and looked all over the house, but when I left for Walla Walla College at the end of September, I was no closer to finding my passport. Luckily, at that time, the U.S. didn't require Canadians to have passports to cross the border or to go to school in the States, so I managed without one for a few months. Then our family started planning for a trip to Europe over my spring break and I realized that I had to give up my passport for lost and apply for a new one. My mum drove down to Walla Walla one weekend in February, picked me up and we drove up to Surrey, just east of Vancouver, so I could apply for a new passport in person and get it in time for our trip. The passport official that took my application listened to my story seriously and asked if I had ever reported it lost (of course I hadn't because we were all certain that it was somewhere in either our house or the factory). She told me that I should have reported as soon as I couldn't find it and gave me a talking-to about keeping passports in a special, safe place so this type of thing wouldn't happen. Finally she took my paperwork and got the process started, but just before we left she mentioned that if I lost another passport, I would be put on a "watch-list" and be watched more closely in case I was doing anything illegal passport-wise. That sufficiently freaked me out and I've kept close tabs on my current passport ever since!

Now, after all this time, I find out that for more than four years my passport has been sitting in the motor home magazine rack right outside my bedroom window!! It's almost unbelievable! I've figured that I must have brought my passport to BC Campmeeting, used it to cross the border and go shopping in Bellingham, WA one day and then placed it in the magazine rack in our motor home for safe keeping during the rest of Campmeeting. Apparently I promptly forgot that it was in there and not at home. So now the Mystery of the Lost Passport is solved and I have it back in my possession, neat stamps, awesome visa and all.

(A side note - This must be the Year of Missing Items Found. This past May I got a phone call at work from ICBC in North Vancouver. When the receptionist told me who was on the line, I had no idea what in the world ICBC would want from me, especially the branch in North Van. The guy on the phone told me that he had a construction worker on another line who had just found my wallet in the basement storage area of a North Van. apartment and had phoned ICBC with my driver's license info so they could call me and let me know. I was shocked out of my mind. My wallet had been stolen from my friend's locked glove box (as well as his Ipod and another friends' new clothes in the backseat) in February 2007 while a group of us were in Vancouver to go to a Canucks game. We had filed a police report of our stolen items, but we all doubted we'd ever see our stuff again. So, more than a year later, I hear this news that my wallet was found. The money inside was obviously gone, but apparently everything else was still accounted for. The dumb thing was that the construction worker, when I talked to him, didn't care to take the time and mail my wallet back to me in Kelowna. He said that if I wanted it I could come pick it up and when I told him I was from Kelowna, not the Vancouver area, he said, "Well I guess you aren't going to drive down five hours just to pick up a wallet, are you?" I had to admit that I wasn't about to do that, but I was rather annoyed that he wouldn't just mail it. I guess it doesn't matter that much since I had already canceled my cards and got a replacement driver's license and stuff, but it would have been nice to have it back. Now I wonder if I'll find that missing book before the year is up!)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Flying with the Q.'s

A week ago, last Wednesday, after work, Tyler and I were able to explore the Okanagan Valley in a little different way; my Dad took us flying. Bryn had a dentist appointment and wasn't able to come, which was sad because it would have been awesome for all three of us to fly together. Even if she didn't have an prior arrangement though, one of us wouldn't have been able to come since the plane is a four-seater.

I guess I should explain a few things now. My Dad doesn't have his pilot's license yet. He started flying when we lived in Alberta more than 10 years ago, completed aviation ground school and got almost enough flight hours to actually get his license, but got caught up in business stuff when we moved back to BC. So he still hasn't taken his flight test which means he can't fly us around. All three of us kids got interested in flying when Dad started his training and Dad took us all to ground school in Kelowna when we were old enough. I did about 12 hours of flight training and Bryn and Ty did a few hours too, but we were already really busy with school work and music, so we never got too far with flying. We'd all love to complete our flight hours so we can get our pilot's license too someday, but for now we want to finish college first. Dad is more determined than ever to actually get his license now since he bought a half-share interest in one of his friend's plane. This friend and his family left Kelowna last September for Guyana where he is a missionary pilot. Another missionary family down there already had a plane, so he is using that plane and left his at home. My Dad is using the plane now as well as another guy that rents time from them. So now that you know about our family, the pilot-hopefuls, I can continue my story.

Dad wanted to go flying and take some of us kids up in the plane with him. Since he doesn't have his license he can't take us up without someone else who has a license so he asked the guy that rents plane-time if he'd fly us. With him, Dad, Ty and me, that was four people. Bryn will have to go up with Dad another time (and I hope I get to go again too!) for her first ride in the plane. The flight was a lot of fun even though we only had three head-sets. Ty said I could use the last pair and he went without. We flew all over our part of the valley and saw Crooked Lake up in the mountains where my uncle has a cabin. We go to the cabin to quad and canoe a few times a summer and it was awesome to see it from the air. We also flew over Big White Ski Resort where we ski and snowboard in the winter. Here are some pictures of our trip:

Before the flight in C-FIIX

Ty and I bravely sitting in the backseat as Dad co-pilots the plane

Our typical boating location (north tip of Woods Lake & south end of Kalamalka Lake)

Lost Lake (left) & Crooked Lake from the air (the dock at the cabin can be seen on the left side of the lake at the very bottom of the picture)

Our winter playground — Big White Ski Resort

Enjoying the view from the plane

A helicopter doing flight-drills over Okanagan Lake

Okanagan Lake north towards Vernon (left), Glenmore reservoir (front right) & Woods Lake (back right)

Me & pilot-Dad back on the ground at YLW

Friday, July 11, 2008

Free Slurpee Day & 10-digit dialing

If you haven't found out about this yet, today is Free Slurpee Day at 7-Eleven. Apparently today is 7-Eleven's anniversary (July 11 - 07/11) and every year to celebrate, each 7-Eleven store gives out 1000 free Slurpees. Bryn, Ty and I are planning to pick up our free Slurpees on the way home from work this afternoon. Go and get one too if you're near a 7-Eleven store!
On our front step with free 7-Eleven Slurpees

In other news, 10-digit local dialing has already started to become a nusiance to British Columbians and Albertans. Since June ended, every time a normal 7-digit number is dialed in this area of the world, the lovely automated operator's voice can be heard telling the caller that they need to dial 10-digits. Of course, she kindly puts the call through, THIS time. When a caller does dial a local call with the area code included, the voice informs the caller that the area code is not needed, YET. I am thoroughly annoyed with the crazy idea that once September rolls around, all local calls in BC and Alberta (and possibly Ontario and Quebec too, although I really don't know much of what they do over there) will require 10-digit dialing. The idea is pretty much ludicrous as well as exasperating and time-wasting! I do understand that new area codes are needed in the western provinces, but my brain has already thought up a much better solution; divide BC and Alberta into north and south, keep the normal area code for the southern areas of the provinces and activate the new area codes in the north. That way we can all keep calling locally with only our normal 7-digits. Now wouldn't that make much more sense?!?

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Bonne fête Quebec City !

Today is the 400th birthday of Quebec City. It is widely believed that at 11 a.m. ET on July 3, 1608 Samuel de Champlain set foot on the province on Quebec. There are huge birthday celebrations today in Quebec's capital honouring Champlain, Quebec City, the province and, to a lesser extent, French-Canadians all throughout the country. I really wish that we could have extended our trip a few days longer so that we could have been in Quebec City today and joined in the celebrations, but alas, I'm sitting in my room at home, sad that the "Quiring's East Coast Trip 2008" had to end. Even though we didn't get to be in Quebec City today, being in Ottawa for Canada Day more than made up for it! Now that our trip is over, I need to go back through my blog posts on CanadaTravelBlog, reworked them so they are worded better and therefore are more interesting and add pictures. That'll be my project for the next week or so. Feel free to click on the link on the side of my page to go back and read any of the blog posts from the trip and see if there are pictures yet.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Happy Birthday Canada!

Happy belated Canada Day everyone!! Yesterday was jam-packed from the time I got up until falling into bed just hours before getting up again to leave for the airport and home, so I didn't get a chance to wish you all a Happy Canada Day. Hopefully you'll accept both my humble apology and also my day-late Canada Day wishes.

Canada Day in Ottawa, ON was absolutely amazing!! I'm really glad that I was able to convince my dad that we needed to experience Canada Day in our capital city. This July 1 was an especially significant one because of three major national anniversaries. First, tomorrow marks the 400th anniversary of Quebec City. Second, this year is the 200th anniversary of a democratic vote being established in Nova Scotia, ensuring Canada would become a democracy. Finally, this year is also British Columbia's 150th anniversary of becoming a British colony, which meant that Canada would enjoy borders from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west. All three occasions are being celebrated all year long in their respective regions of Canada. In their speeches at the Parliament Hill noon show, both Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Governor General Michaëlle Jean mentioned these three anniversaries. It was really neat seeing these two Canadian leaders so close up on the Hill yesterday!

Other than the noon show on Parliament Hill, we also visited the Royal Canadian Mint and the Canadian War Museum. Both were free because of the holiday. The only downside to the day was the extreme heat. We were walking around all day with no sunscreen on and now we look like lobsters. Later, in the evening after the merciless sun set, we watched the national fireworks from Major's Hill Park just behind the Parliament buildings. Have I mentioned yet that it was an awesome day?