Monday, September 27, 2010

A Long-Awaited Photo

Ok, ok, so I've heard enough people bugging me to see a picture of Benjamin that I finally insisted on taking one yesterday (I realized that I didn't actually have one). Here's Benjamin and me when we went for a walk on the bluffs above the Bow River by our old house in Varsity. It's not super flattering of either of us, since we're both squinting, but it gives you the general idea.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Adventures in Boston: Part I

I'm pretty sure all of you have heard about my mishaps and adventures on the way home from Boston, but I figured that some people might enjoy a full account.

I was scheduled to fly out on Logan airport on Sunday at 6:30 pm, so I figured that I had time to check out, go to a 1:00 sacrament meeting in Cambridge, and get to the airport with plenty of time. I lugged my luggage (I just noticed that those two words are remarkably similar - can any English/linguistics majors illuminate me on that?) to the Stake Center in Cambridge and arrived about an hour early. Since I had three bags including my backpack, I searched the building for the always-present cloakroom that one finds in Mormon buildings. The one I found was kind of hidden behind some walls and so I figured that it was a safe enough place to leave my bags. Since my backpack contained my wallet and passport, I debated bringing it in to sacrament meeting with me, until I remembered how awkward I had felt with my big bulky backpack last week at sacrament meeting in Washington DC. I ended up deciding to put it under my other suitcases and calling it good. Besides, I was at church! Churches are safe! Luckily, I decided to take out my phone so that I could work on typing up an email to my missionary cousin while waiting in the foyer.

When I came to get my bags a little over two hours later, my backpack was gone. I looked all over the cloakroom and everywhere I had sat. Not finding it in any of those places, I went to both Sunday School classes and asked if anyone had seen of moved it. No one had. I think it was at this point that I first called Daddy in a panic. Then I enlisted the help of the Bishop and a few people helped me look. When we didn't find anything, I called the Canadian Consulate to see what my options were. A helpful man named Mark told me that we should probably cancel the passport and that I would be able to get an emergency travel document the next day. So I went ahead and rescheduled my flight, canceled my passport, and got all the necessary information to go to the Consulate the next day. Mark told me I would need a police report as well, so we called the Cambridge police.

When officer Callinan arrived, he told me in a great, classic Bostonian accent that since I needed a copy of the police report ASAP, my best option would be to go to the station first thing the next morning where they could take my statement, get it approved in person, and print out a copy.

Faced with the prospect of an extra night in Boston and no wallet, I was eternally grateful when a retired couple from Cambridge offered me their spare room for the night. I was able to use their wireless and their phone to finalize all my arrangements to leave the country. They also fed me a delicious dinner made with fresh vegetables from the farmer's market and washed down with the most incredible fresh Massachusetts apple cider.

People have asked me what i was able to do with my extra two days of vacation. Mostly, it was spent at the consulate and running from one official to the other, but the one extra touristy thing I was able to get in was with this older couple, and ended up being on of my favourite things in Boston.

The couple I stayed with both had PhDs. His was in chemical engineering and he taught at the university of New Hampshire and then I think at MIT before he retired. Hers, finished after their children were in school, was in American History and she currently teaches at Harvard. After dinner, they asked me if I wanted to go for a walk, since they live only about 5 minutes away from the main Harvard campus. They showed me around Harvard and she was the best tour guide I could have! She knew the dates of all the buildings, who the architects were and whether they were actual Georgian, revival Gothic or revival Georgian. She had interesting facts and stories about each building, for example, in the freshman dorms (which are mostly buildings from at least the early 1800s) they keep a list of who has lived in every room and when you arrive, they tell you which famous people lived in your room as students. A freshman might write home and tell their parents that they're living in the same freshman dorm room as John F. Kennedy. The tour of Harvard was amazing and one of the best parts of my trip.

I was so grateful to the ward in Cambridge for all their help. The couple who had me to stay were so kind and thoughtful and accommodating. One theme of my whole experience with theft (which I think I'll finish in another entry) was the kindness of people that I met.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Lone Wolf on Vacation

Sorry that there's no pictures on my vacation posts. I realized en route to the airport that I had forgotten the cable that plugs the camera into the computer, so you'll have to wait until I get home for photos.

I've always wanted to go on a vacation by myself. I'm not really sure why, but I just thought it was a cool and grown-up thing to do. Well, it's gotten me some weird looks since I've been here, from most people who are not Australian/German backpackers at the hostels. It started with the US Customs lady in Calgary. She asked me who I was travelling with. No one. Who was I meeting there? No one. Do I have any family there? Nope. Then she gives me a very suspicious look and asks dubiously, "Why are you going to Washington DC and Boston?" The even more suspicious look she gives to my answer "for vacation" leaves me thinking that unless I elaborate, I might be put on the terrorist watch list and then it's goodbye to passing through the border ever again.

I hot similar looks from most Mormons I've met on my trip, other than one girl in the Washington singles ward that seemed to think I was some sort of Mormon hippie just travelling through the states ojn a prayer and a song. Which I fully am not.

It's been nice, though. I've been free to do exactly what I want every day. If I feel like getting up early and being in line for the Bureau of Engraving and Printing for the first tour of the day, I do it. If I feel like sleeping in and then wiling away the morning in the antique shops and boutiques of Beacon hill, I do it. The only downside is that I don't particularly like being out alone when it's dark and getting late, so pretty much after dinner (which I've been eating late to maximize my time), I don't have much to do. I've mostly been reading and going to bed early, which is also nice because on the hostle mattresses and with 5 roommates in the hostel room, I'm never going to have a great sleep, so it might as well be a long one.

The trip alone has been great, but I can't help wishing every once in a while that there was someone to share my giggles when the tour guide said "the Hahvahd Yahd" for the twentieth time in five minutes.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Greetings from the Nation's Capital!

No, I'm not in Ottawa. I'm actually in Washington DC, which is not my nation's capital, but I've seen enough "the Nation's Capital" signs to make me think that this is the capital of something larger than just the USA.

So far, I have managed to take the plane by myself, check into the youth hostel, make my way out to the suburbs for the biggest singles ward I've ever seen, ride a bicycle from the Capitol building to the Lincoln Monument and back, eat two cans of tuna for two separate meals today and yesterday, visit the Holocaust Museum and the National Museum of American History, and take pictures by the White House, all without serious injury or mishap. Which is good, because I only recently (read: today) acquired health travel insurance. Tomorrow it's off to the museum of Crime and Punishment and then the Washington DC temple - if I can navigate two jurisdictions' worth of transit systems, that is.

You'll hear from me again in Boston!