Monday, 22 December 2008

A Tale of Two (or three) Cities OR Snowmeggedon OR the Winter of my Discontent

After nearly a month of J being savagely ill with various childhood illnesses, he and I boarded a plane a few days ago to spend 3 days with family and friends in Calgary before rendez-vous'ing with C2 and the rest of the family in Victoria on December 21 in time for Christmas.

We didn't get off to a good start. The temperature when we landed in Calgary was -30 and the streets were icy and dangerous...not helpful that I have a phobia of Calgary's notorious black ice. The next day found me at a doctor being given antibiotics for a severe sinus infection and a lecture from the doctor about the evils of decongestants while flying. My mum and I stocked up on tourtières to tote to the coast for our ritual Quebecois réveillon on Christmas Eve and carefully stored them on the balcony to stay frozen until our departure.

The sun rose fridgidly on December 21. Yet another day of -30. The balcony door refused to release its frozen hold and we stared bleakly at our pile of tortieres. Our friend Vera came to the rescue and arrived with a second armful just as we were leaving for the airport. Phew, one catastrophe averted...things could only get better from here right?

Oh wrong, oh so frigging wrong! J, my mum and I arrived at Calgary airport early for our flight to Victoria, mindful of warnings of long lines and bad weather in all parts of the country on the busiest travel day of the year. First sign of pending trouble was an SMS I received from Air Canada indicating that C2's connecting flight from Vancouver to Victoria was cancelled due to bad weather in Vancouver, ugh. As it turned out, his flight from Frankfurt was the last plane permitted to land at the Vancouver airport before it was shut down due to a monster snow storm. Note: Monster Snowstorm and Vancouver are never mentioned in the same sentence.

Still things looked positive as we boarded our Air Canada regional jet bound for Victoria only a half-hour late. "Farewell -30" I crowed as we took to the sky. J sat with his Grandma and I dozed for the 75 minute flight. We began to descend into Victoria and I breathed a sigh of relief that we had beat snowmeggedon to the coast. Just as everyone was stowing their handbaggage and making sure that our tables were in the locked and upright position, our pilot came on the intercom to announce that the storm had hit Victoria, the airport was closed, plan B diversion Vancouver was closed and we had just enough fuel to hightail it back to Calgary - WHHHAAATT?

I am not kidding, for the next 45 minutes (thank you strong tail wind), I sat in my seat petrified that I would hear the sound of engines running out of fuel, making us fodder for the Rocky Mountains below us knowing full well there were no airfields capable of landing a jet closer than Calgary. I don’t think I took a real breath until we landed fast in what was clearly a direct approach to the airport on a runway I have never landed on before and in opposite direction to all the other airplanes. How much fuel was actually left, I’ll never know.

Most of a bottle of wine later back in my mum’s cozy apartment and sitting on hold with Air Canada for more than 2 hours, they kindly rebooked us on the next available flight. Christmas Day, 4 days later. Every available seat on all airlines to Vancouver or Victoria are booked solid. Merry Christmas and back to -30.

Still I am endeavouring to find the silver lining. We are holed up at my mother’s lovely home, we have good friends who have already scooped us up for dinner on Christmas Eve, my mum made a great stew for dinner this evening and someday we will all laugh about this, right, right?


Mighty Mom said...

And don't forget about the tourtieres on the porch. If the door thaws today, you've got yourself a feast!

I'm SO sorry for your troubles. Here's hoping the snowmeggedon has run its course. Snow in Victoria???

Jen said...

Darling, it is NOT looking good for us if you are still here and we will set a place for you at dinner!

Jen said...

Oh, I take that back, it looks like flights are going through! Bon Voyage I hope!