For you, the dress code is casual.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009


My father's in the hospital again, has been since last Thursday, will be for a couple weeks. It's lame. He should survive, we hope. Big scare yesterday that turned out to be pneumonia. Sigh.

That's my reality, but I don't want to write about it right now, I've already done that on the other blog, since this blog's one my dad reads when he's well. So I'm keeping that writing over there.

Meanwhile: It's pouring rain.

The snow that has been on the ground since Dec. 13th is now melting. We'll have floods by the time the day is through. I'm leaving early to go buy very much needed boots before The Great Melt goes haywire.

I figure I'm 6 to 8 weeks away from true travel freedom again. I feel like I have been imprisoned at home since September, thanks to back injuries followed by hard rehab/coping and then the hell of snow.

For those who DON'T know, more snow has fallen in THREE WEEKS than Vancouver gets in TWO YEARS. And, usually in Vancouver, our snow melts in a day. This more-snow-on-more-snow-on-more-snow thing is FUCKED UP. Weird.

And as someone who's been trying to rehab a back injury and having trouble getting around, and I'm only 35, I've been fucking LIVID at the city of Vancouver. Way to fail to enforce clearing laws. Way to fail to prevent chaos, city. Way to not be on top of a goddamned thing.

If this happens in the Olympics? We'll be fucked! We'll be the laughingstocks of the world! A guy from Toronto was on the news last night looking around the city and he goes, "If this happened in Toronto, there'd be riots in the street."

YES. But here? We bend over and take it.

Sunday I visited my father in the hospital in Surrey. WHOOPS. Took me FIVE HOURS TO GET HOME IN THE SNOW. Yeah, I was pissed. It's 25-30 kilometres!!! Here's how THAT unfolded:

Surrey to New West, got off the skytrain, after waiting for 10-15 minutes for a bus parked across the station, the driver comes over to say, "No chance buses are getting out of 22nd Street, so--" and I was told to go to Joyce Station and bus across town from there.

I get to Joyce, get off, there's 150+ people in line for a bus. There's no evidence they're even running.

Back on the skytrain. We pass Nanaimo -- buses are stuck and abandoned all the way up the hill.

Get off at Broadway. Finally get onto the BLine bus, where there's about 150 people waiting but I luck out again. It's now been nearly 2 hours, and I should be home.

Half-way across the city, it spins out and banks into snow, stuck. We're all kicked off. "Another bus will come, the driver says."

"Not fucking likely," I think. Pushing three hours into my travels, armed with 20+ pounds groceries, I begin the long trek to where there's only one bus that might get me to the south side of Vancouver, the OTHER B-Line. It's a 25-30 block walk.

Not a single bus passed me. Nor, more importantly, a single plow.

Finally, I get there, and there's more than 200 people waiting. Worse? The Granville Street rise, up from the bridge (out of downtown) is littered with buses who have failed to make the grade. No fewer than a pile-up of 10 buses made that ascent hell.

Here's where you need to understand the geography of Vancouver to understand the unique physiology of Hell that happens when snow falls: Downtown is basically an island you have to travel one of five bridges (or take ONE ground route to), but every single route then leads to a hill. Once you're out of downtown, you pretty much get into the Avenues that cross the city east/west. From First to 41st, it's all ascent. First to Broadway is REALLY steep, then it settles, then after 16th the real fun begins. But when it's snow, you have to get up 41 blocks of snow.

You throw Pacific moisture into that mix, and the right conditions, this city shuts completely down.

After you hit 41st, you'd think you were clear, right? Wrong, because then it goes downhill for another 30 blocks. If you live somewhere on that side of town, like I do, then when snow falls, you're in about the worst part of Vancouver you can live in, because to believe in buses reaching your house is sort of like saying you believe in Santa.

Anyhow. I was now at the one bus stop that might-- MIGHT-- get me home. I looked around at the 200+ people waiting, and I took a few minutes to talk to people. They'd all been standing there for forever.

"Fuck it," I thought, and for the first time in my life, I stuck out my thumb.

30 seconds later, an Egyptian man pulled over to pick me up. He shouted his destination and three others leapt at the chance.

A drive that can be 10 minutes on a good night became 100 minutes.

Along the way, we saw cars abandoned, whole groups of people trying to pull cars out of banks, or push them uphill. Every single hill had buses out of commission. One street had a bus that gloriously managed to not only spin out and get stuck, but managed to veer out of control and block FOUR lanes of traffic on one of the city's largest thoroughfares.

Thank god Mr. Samaritan had an SUV. I left Surrey at 3:45. I got home at 9:01pm.

Yeah, flood? I can handle flood. Fuck snow.