Tired, Hangry, and Lost

Yesterday I started out on a little adventure. I took a trip to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. “How lovely!” I hear you thinking. Well, it may be lovely eventually, but yesterday was a bit of an ordeal.

My first flight took me from Edmonton to Vancouver, and then an hour after I landed there I took a second flight to Nanaimo. The second flight was on a much smaller and noisier plane (a Bombardier Q400). I’m sure it was perfectly safe, but all the same I was very glad when we landed.

Bombardier Q400

By that time I was very tired and hungry and, as my children will attest, I can sometimes get hangry when that happens. But, I first had to wait for my luggage to be delivered to the carousel, and then I had to wait in line for a rental car in the hot airport car rental space with glass walls like a greenhouse.

For some reason known only to the Covid gods, car rental costs have gone through the roof, and cars are hard to get. I was glad I booked ahead; not all of those in line had done so. But, thankfully, everyone was stoically polite about it, even through gritted teeth. When it was my turn, though, I was given the key to a nice new white Toyota Corolla which is costing me only slightly less than my flight and Air BnB costs put together.

I thought i wouldn’t take me long to whip down the highway, find my AirBnB, and then go out for dinner. Oh, how wrong I was.

First, it took me a while to figure out how to open the car’s trunk. Then, I couldn’t figure out why turning the key didn’t start the car. After several attempts, and after grinding my teeth a little, I figured it out.

Then I put the address of the Air BnB into Google Maps and I thought I was all set. But, no. Google Maps had lost its voice. “Why won’t you talk to me, Google?” I shouted at it. It did not respond. It had talked to me with no problem that very morning but now, when I needed it most, it had gone silent. You don’t realize how much you depend on Google Maps until you are driving an unfamiliar car in an unfamiliar city while you are hungry and tired.

I got onto the main highway but, because I didn’t have my gizmo to hold my phone on the dash, I couldn’t see the map and, as I said, it was not in a talking mood. So, I pulled into the first rest area to try to solve the problem. I fiddled with the settings, I raised the volume, I wondered if it was because I was not in my usual phone service area, I thought perhaps Apple hated me, but nothing seemed to solve the problem. So, I did the only thing I could think of and that was to try to memorize the road I needed to turn off on to and then stop again.

I did that twelve times.

Yes, I got lost in a city that only takes twenty minutes to cross end-to-end. It took me an hour. And, even when I got where I was going, I wasn’t sure I had got there. The house I was staying at didn’t have a number on the outside. The map told me I was at the right place, but I didn’t feel comfortable driving into a stranger’s driveway, taking my bags out of the trunk, and casually walking into their back door. But, that is exactly what I did. Fortunately, it was the right place and there was a key for me in the place they had told me it would be. Phew. And, to greet me, a deer bounded out of the garden beside the house! I like to think that was a good omen. I take my omens wherever I can find them.

I put my bags into the suite, and changed into some cooler clothes. (It was hot. Did I mention that?) Then I went back out to go and find some food. First, though, I had another go at getting Google Maps to talk to me, but failed. Then it dawned on me that I have another map app on my phone, and so I tried it out and right away I heard the mellifluous tones of the lovely lady whose voice animates it. I don’t know if it is Apple Maps or some other brand name because it is just called Maps on my phone. Anyway, it works and it talks. Yay! There is hope that this trip might not be a complete disaster.

In my hot, weary, cranky state, though, I had left the charger for the phone in the suite and the phone was down to about 8% power, so once I had set out I knew would have to be quick. I found the nearest grocery store, bought various food items to get me through the next twenty-four hours, bought a new gizmo to attach the phone to the dashboard, and returned to my Air BnB suite.

Once there, I realized with dismay that the suite does not have the microwave that I had anticipated when I did my shopping, so I couldn’t heat up the deli-meal I had bought. But it’s ok folks. I didn’t starve. I had a banana and a pastry for supper, and a small glass of wine. Actually, it was wine in a mug because the suite does not have any glasses, but I can adapt. It’s a vacation, after all. It will all be worth it when I finally get to see the sea. Right after I buy some wine glasses.


  1. Nanaimo is not usually on the tourist destination list. Why there?

    Nanaimo’s central harbour district was designed by a typical British sense of order. Rather than have streets laid out by grid as was usual for most British designed cities, a buoy in the harbour was used and radial lines drawn out from there for the streets on land to be laid down. These radial roads run from the middle of town outwards like spokes on wheel but the topography next to mountains means some of these roads are either very steep heading up the foothills away from the harbour or have followed some contour of the hill they encounter. The roads that go between these radial roads then cause much confusion even for people who live there! It is very confusing how roads that pass north and south through the Harbour City all seem to follow a curve away from and then back towards the harbour and this can be very disorientating if a visitor doesn’t realize one has turned slightly as each radial road is passed. To add even more confusion, the road may change names for one part and then revert to the old name farther on! If I were Google Maps, I’d keep my mouth shut, too! Just look at the road you took into town: the Transcanada which becomes Nicols Street, which then becomes Terminal Ave, which then goes back to being the transcanada… all to the same road!

    This confusion isn’t just for the ‘downtown’; all the ‘neighbourhoods’ have rather distinct local geography and roads as each one was developed according to the developer rather than a central plan. Throw in all the ‘lakes’ (each one created by local coal mining operations from a century and a half earlier) and you have task to be able to navigate should you leave the old Island Highway that runs along and near to the coast (the new Island Highway that starts between the airport and southern Nanaimo is a lovely 4 lane divided highway set well back from the coast and at much higher elevation so it doesn’t pass through each of the coastal towns and goes to Campbell River).

    So if I can help you in any way or offer any advice, send me an email. It’s my old stomping ground.

    1. Your explanation of the way in which the roads were laid out helps me understand at least some of the mistakes I made. Thank you!

      I still don’t know why Google Maps won’t talk, but I’m glad I have Anonymous Maps that does. I’ll head out today and see if I can enjoy some of the views. I’m happy there are lots of parks and lakes, even if some of them are man-made or mine-made.

      I’m here because I am thinking about moving to Vancouver Island, and Nanaimo is more affordable than Victoria. If you don’t rent a car, that is.

      1. I lived in Cedar-by-the-Sea where we raised our family in house with no nails (only wooden pegs) and taught throughout the district (Ladysmith to Lantzville) as well as Malaspina (now Vancouver Island University). Like all places, there are good things and bad.

        There are no communities anywhere in BC as far as I can tell that aren’t affected by mills (lumber and pulp) and none on the Island that are exempt from noise caused by seaplanes and chainsaws. Nanaimo has its share. But the unique pubs make up for some of the discomfort (it’s SO British.. see the Crow and Gate as an example) as does having nature and ocean so close at hand. Keep in mind that being nearer the water mitigates temperature AND bugs (which is why Parksville and Qualicum Beach are filled with retirees) and that south facing properties make a huge difference in both the amount of daily light you get and melting of ice during the long winter.

        I hope you have planned to stay long enough to tootle about, walk some of the parks and harbour front, visit some of the islands, and enjoy the particular hue of blue and rain forest air found on the West Coast. Remember that the ferry system is an extension of the road system and not some unusual way to get about, so be brave and give it a whirl. Go on an adventure!

        1. Thanks for the information, tildeb. I tootled about this morning until it got too hot. I really enjoyed the harbourfront walk. Lovely. And I ate the best breakfast sandwich I ever had at a little cafe there. Jaberwocky? Something beginning with J.

          1. My family and I moved to Vancouver Island with no jobs, no plan, an eight foot trailer with some stuff in it, a six cylinder car operating on four, and a basement we could use for a couple of months in Courtney. We called it, “Throwing our hat over the fence.” We figured we could be poor and unemployed in an ugly place with lots of winter or just as poor in a beautiful place with flowers in February and chose beauty, knowing that when things go wrong, adventure begins. And through all the adventures it all worked out in the end!

            An old friend – truly a Renaissance kind of guy but a particularly proud fisherman – just sent me a picture of him holding up a 25 or 30 pound salmon on the back of his boat caught this past weekend in the waters outside of Nanaimo. I texted him back and asked where he bought such a good looking fish. Yup, that’s me making friends everywhere I go!

            He used to walk down our lane from his place carrying a cleaned pair of salmon fillets and give it to us… each literally longer than the width of our BBQ. I would help him transfer a chord of wood to his second story fireplace any time he needed it: him throwing, me catching and stacking, while we argued about religion (he was a fading evangelical, me an atheist) and the sad, sad state of my poor old Rams (he was a rather smug Seattle Seahawks fan… not so smug these days having to watch Aaron Donald wreck another game between the two). He still asks when we’re moving back… probably to give him time to hide. So I’m very fond of Nanaimo and know it has both its charms (like Dodd’s Narrows experienced from a kayak or Hemer Park after a meter snowfall) and challenges (like the stench of the pulp mill, the summer time swell of homeless people, and bears shaking your apple trees in the middle of the night).

            This is why I say to you, Prof, you don’t HAVE to live where you do, that sometimes an adventure is exactly the right decision for one’s state of mind.

            1. Ahh, you made me laugh several times there Tildeb! My neighbor soon knocked, concerned I was either having a heart attack, trying to kill a scampering roach, or playing Inspector Clouseau fighting Cato. Nevertheless, thank you for that delightful humor. πŸ˜‰ πŸ‘πŸΌ

              If I left Texas or the U.S., of which I desire beyond sanity, Tildeb… that would break my Mother’s heart so bad she would indeed have to be admitted to an asylum/institution from hysteria and metaphorically (I think?) a bleeding heart that cannot be stopped. I could not live with myself if I did that to her in her final years on Earth.

              Geezzz, talk about an angry old “Lady who doth protest too much methinks”… No! Meknows. Meknows she would haunt me to no end beyond the grave that I would follow her into said asylum/institution! (shivers from the thoughts of an extremely angry mother in ghostly rage) 😬

            2. Ah yes, family…

              Our approach to parenting has always been: Go! Do! Experience! Live! Be responsible. Be nice. We’ll be here so drop us a line and let us know how you’re doing or if we can help. Let us know if you can visit. Do you need money?

              The previous generation? Not so much.

            3. In Mom’s earlier years as a very happily married woman to her incredible (late) 2nd husband—an extremely intelligent, kind, loving gentleman of exceptional wisdom & post-grad education in geochemical engineering, and oh yeah, filthy rich from a lifetime career with Mobil Oil Research & Development here in north Dallas—she and he would say those similar words while being giddy world-travelers themselves. Wow was Mom happy those nine short years.

              Then Mom went around the world alone, yes at 65-70 yrs of age, if she couldn’t get her closest sister to go with her. Anyway, my point here is that Mom not only energetically encouraged me to go experience as much of life as possible in every corner of the world possible—hence, my futebol/football/soccer career taking me to 4 of the 6 inhabitable continents—but also provided the initial funding at age 12-15 all over N. America and Europe. THEN took me, my two children, and my sister with her on several vacations both abroad and on our continent. πŸ™‚

              Staying here with and for Mom isn’t even a passing thought of a no-brainer for me Tildeb. I’ll endure anything/everything for her until I can no longer. ❀️

            4. HAH! Oh, I assure you… I do! In fact, I find myself laying on my bed, in the Grand Hotel Mackinac Island, dressed in slightly outdated pre-Edwardian attire, bowler hat in hand, chain-linked gold-plated pocket watch in hand or vest pocket, eyes closed repeating over and over, again and again:

              It is June 27, 1912 at 9:18. It is June 27, 1912. Elise McKenna is at this very hotel. June 27, 1912…

              Kidding. But I do have a very active, vivid imagination. When it turns into present reality? Ooooo… watch out! πŸ˜‰

          1. Yes, I know! And it makes me wanna put a contract out on him sometimes. πŸ˜†

            But seriously, we need… I need those who get under our skin and make us think HARDER, BETTER about what we say and what we do. Am I wrong Ma’am? πŸ˜‰

    1. Thanks, Jamie. If you can tell me why Google Maps won’t talk to me, I’ll love you for ever. I suspect it has something to do with either airport security wands, airplane mode, or switching back on in a different province.

      1. Sorry I didn’t reply earlier! I don’t know why Google Maps stopped talking out loud but my first thought is that either it’s set to not use data while you’re on Roaming, or it hadn’t downloaded all the local map data yet? I would look at the phone’s settings for cellular and see if Google Maps is on or off, and look at Google Maps’ settings (I found it weirdly hard to find, it’s under the profile icon in the top right for me). Other than that I’m not sure. Have you figured anything out in the meantime?

        1. Ok. Data Roaming is on, Voice and Data set to LTE (whatever that is), and Low Data Mode is on. Google Maps is on and the settings are on as far as I can tell.

          In the meantime I’m using the phone anonymous Maps function and it is working fine.

  2. Yay for adventure! I have a friend (Canadian) whose parents live in Nanaimo. Small world! Possible move in your future, wow! I am very excited for you.

  3. WOOT WOOT! Thank goodness for a banana, a pastry, and a small glass of wine. Honestly Anne, I can’t think of anything better in a pinch. 😁 ❀️ Could it have been worse? hehehe

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