Friday, March 15, 2013

Canadian Lasagna and a Nice Hotel View

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It had been a long day flying from Philadelphia all the way to Vancouver. Because of headwinds, we stopped for fuel in Fargo and then landed three hours later in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. One of my favorite places in the world!

The first order of business was to get some lunch. We borrowed the crew car from Million Air to drive about ten miles south to Richmond for a yummy meal. Sorry that I can’t convert that into kilometers for you.

And yes, the crew car is a brand-new Mercedes Benz.

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Have you ever seen a British Columbia license plate? Now you have! Sorry if you live in Canada, and this is your license plate. But I’m glad that you had good taste in where to eat, just like we did.

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Ta da! Because nothing says long day food better than The Old Spaghetti Factory! Am I right? Wouldn’t you want some delicious pasta after flying all day?

Me, too.

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I just love these restaurants. It’s a chain, so you might even have one near you. It’s worth checking out, if you do!

How often do you get to eat underneath ancient Tiffany lamps, anyway?

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The menu is actually an old newspaper with stories and the history of the restaurant. It provides wonderful entertainment if you already know what you want to eat.

But I didn’t know…so let’s see what they have!

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Boy oh boy! This all sounds so good! You can probably guess that this was before I made my switch to healthier decisions.

So lasagna it was!

They had me at “secret homemade recipe.”

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Any restaurant that brings bread while you wait is on my favorite list. This warm, crusty bread was accompanied by salted butter and homemade herb butter. They were both delicious on this hot loaf!

But you know me…warm bread and butter is one of my favorite things in the whole wide world to eat!

I’m such a pushover today!

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Though it isn’t my style for a house, the d├ęcor is just wonderful in this place. Check out that old tin ceiling! And this light fixture just adds to the ambience.

It’s a really fun restaurant. I’ve even been to a few that have a giant old trolley car in the restaurant, and additional tables are set up inside!

Pasta tastes exponentially better if eaten inside an antique trolley. It’s been scientifically proven.

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Love at last. We were here around 3:30 PM local, so it didn’t take long for our lunch to arrive. The lasagna looked and smelled like heaven. And, after letting it cool for three hours, it tasted like heaven, too!

I even took half of this to the hotel in a box and ate it later for dinner. I love when one meal feeds me twice!

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Soon we were heading back to the airport to return the crew car. I am really digging the lack of snow in this part of Canada. You can’t say that for the rest of the country in February!

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As we made our turn back to Million Air, so did this giant floatplane. There are several floatplane airlines out of here that run people back and forth to all of the islands across the Sound. They land just south of the main airport runways on a narrow strip of water.

It’s an aqua runway!

Can you imagine commuting every day like that?

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Here he is landing on the water. And that building up ahead on the left-hand side of the road is the floatplane terminal. There is a yummy restaurant inside there, too, if you’re ever near there.

You know, for your floatplane commute.

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Just like every other stay on this nine-day trip, my hotel room was astronomically priced! But it was the cheapest that I could find in a notoriously-expensive town. What can you do?

Luckily, it was a very nice stay near lots of things to do. So it didn’t feel like such a bummer when I paid the bill.

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Like always, I requested a high floor. In this case, it turned out to be a very good decision. The view from these giant windows was incredible! I get to enjoy it for almost three whole days!

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Holy smokes. Can you believe how gorgeous that is? This was my only view of Whistler Mountain in the far distance, since the remainder of my stay would be rainy and cloudy (and cold).

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Lots of gorgeous high-rise condo buildings were in this part of town, too. We are about a forty-minute drive to downtown Vancouver. The hotel is a few miles from the airport in a suburb called Richmond.

Isn’t this pretty? I spent hours looking out these windows, if you must know.

Killer social life that I have, if you must know.

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Until I explored on-foot, I didn’t realize my incredibly wonderful good luck! Is that a shopping mall down there?! Eek! It is! And I am going to enjoy this stay even more now!

Typical girl. Sorry.

People-watching in Canada is even better than at home!

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I think that this part of town is a China Town of sorts, since tons of stores seemed to cater to an Asian language. I picked up a few words here and there, but it probably wouldn’t be polite to repeat them in this setting.

Or ever, for that matter.

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That jumbotron screen was really neat. It had these gorgeous multi-colored waves that just swept through and kept changing. It was mesmerizing!

And then, when exploring on-foot, I discovered that it wasn’t a giant screen at all, but several little colored discs that were hung and could float with the wind. It was so neat!

And I was happy that they paid for a bunch of little colored discs instead of a jumbotron.

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As you can see, it was a very busy part of town. But I was so high up and had such good, thick windows that I didn’t hear any of the noise. I slept like a baby here for three nights!

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In this comfy bed!

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And they carted up a microwave when I asked if there was one in the room. This saved me, as I didn’t go out the next day but just cooked what I brought with me. Leftover lasagna and microwavable mac and cheese prevented me from having to eat out on Sunday!

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This was a nice, big working desk that I used quite a bit as well. And I watched a little bit of HGTV and Food Network, the only two channels that I even bother with when on the road, from this giant television.

We don’t watch TV at home, so those two channels are always a treat when I’m traveling.

There was another giant television in the bedroom, too, and it was fun to eat Easter candy mac and cheese healthy food from there while enjoying such a pretty view out of the windows.

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And, like I hinted above, I enjoyed some beautiful rainy storms while staying on the 9th floor. I love waking up to the sound of rain hitting the window! It was awesome!

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This is about as wintery as it gets in Vancouver. And I’m so glad! After Sunday ends, I’m headed out to explore!

See even more stores in the distance? Booyah!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Vancouver Gets Even Better With Age

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After a quick fuel stop in Fargo, we were were half-way done with the long coast-to-coast flight from Philadelphia to Vancouver, Canada.

Have you been to Vancouver? You should go. It’s lovely.

Fargo…not so much. At least, not in the middle of the winter like this!

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When I trained in Grand Forks just north of Fargo (yes, there is something north of Fargo), the airplane ramp was covered with packed ice like this for about five months. Except you couldn’t see cement…just ice, It was awful. And slick. Awfully slick, actually.

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So we were out of there as soon as the fuel truck was done pumping and the fuel bill was paid.

That’s a very important step, everyone. Don’t forget to pay for gas!

You can see that a few of those sneaky clouds were still hanging out around the airport when we departed.

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And this was a shot towards the north, where my beloved Grand Forks lives just seventy miles away.

It really was a great place to attend school. But I don’t know how I lasted four winters (three for my bachelors, and another as a flight instructor for the school)!

I would love to go back to visit for a few days. Being able to take some pictures of all the places that I held dear to my heart would be wonderful. Allegiant Airlines actually flies direct there from Phoenix, so maybe I can sneak away for a cheap, quick weekend this summer?

Not in the winter time, thank you!

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Anyway, there weren’t a whole lot of photo opportunities until we got much closer to Vancouver. Just lots of flat fields covered in snow. Four-letter word, everyone. Snow = yuck.

Here are some Rocky Mountains as we get a little closer to the west coast!

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Don’t worry…the weather wasn’t bad at all. For some reason, though, XM Weather thought that it should paint some ugly stuff like this magenta and red. Those colors are bad news! Luckily, it was just a fake warning today.

But it’s pretty, huh? If those colors didn’t mean certain death in a real weather situation, then I would think that they looked kind of nice!

I’m so dramatic…

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We got a little bit of icing in our descent today, but not much. These clouds look all nice and inviting…until you realize that you’re in Canada in February, and you will get icing in them.

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But once we broke out of the clouds, this was the view that greeted me.

Oh, Vancouver. How I love thee.

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That’s Whistler Mountain in the background, where the Winter Olympics were held a few years ago. And, if you can read measurements in meters, you can check out how much snow is at the ski resort right now!

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This picture of the actual airport is not the best. Once again, I’m going to blame the windshield heat for the fuzz.

Can you believe how close the runways are to the ocean? Don’t land long!

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You can see downtown Vancouver, and the Harbor where I spent a few nights on a yacht in the marina with family. That was a fun trip, too.

What do you think those fields are growing down below? With my luck, they are some sort of water treatment sewage plant. But I think they’re pretty anyway!

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And now I know why IKEA has such a giant sign on their buildings. They are advertising their location even to airline passengers.

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Just to the left of downtown, you can see the green grass of Stanley Park. I’ve been there, too. Though it was years ago and still pretty chilly in April, too.

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We were on the ground and taxiing back to the FBO before long. We had a few friends who landed behind us, so we followed them to the ramp.

It’s kind of an expensive version of follow the leader.

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Hi, Vancouver Tower! You were so nice to us. Thanks! Roger.

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Vancouver is a massive airport…the second-busiest in the country (I made that up, but I bet I’m right…this place is busiest right behind Toronto).

This is one of the five FBOs on the field! We tried a new place today…Million Air. We’ve never tried them at this airport but have used Million Air many times in the States. And they are awesome. So why not give them a try in Canada?

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With my old job, we used this Esso Avitat. We tried very hard to keep old memories at bay by going to a completely different FBO!

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And here we are! We are going to park next to that pretty Learjet. Can you see our bright-green-jacket line guy waiting to marshal us in?

When we called Customer Service, they said to look for the green pyramid. Now I understand what she was saying!

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Please put this in my stocking this year, Santa. I love it.

I’ve never seen this dark mint green color on an airplane before, but it was oh-so cool. I guess this Learjet was owned by the guy who owns this Million Air.

It appears that he is doing well, and I’m happy for him!

Those big white things on the wings? Where Gladys has pretty winglets? Those are giant fuel tanks! This is an oooooooolllllllddddd Learjet! That guzzles so much fuel that they had to add giant wing tip tanks in addition to what is stored in the wings and fuselage!

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This is not an old Learjet.

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Have I mentioned how lovely the folks were at Million Air? Our first order of business was to borrow a crew car to grab some lunch. It was a seven-hour flight day with a fuel stop, and lunch sounded just perfect to me!

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The FBO lobby was pretty cool, too. Someday, I would love to have a spiral staircase. Even if it just goes up to my tree fort above. That would be fine with me.

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Can you see the copper fireplace in the distance? The fire was warm and wonderful after being outside in the cold. Thankfully, Vancouver is a bearable cold. It doesn’t get extremely miserable here like other parts of our northern cousin.

Ever been to Winnipeg?

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And this is what the green pyramid looked like from inside.

But enough of this lobby sightseeing…let’s go eat some lunch!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Fargo Isn’t Very Warm in February

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And here I was complaining about how cold Philadelphia was!

Today, we are flying coast-to-coast…from Philly all the way to Vancouver! Unfortunately, especially with all those headwinds, we had to stop for fuel about half-way. And the best place for that mid-way stop was…Fargo!

In Philly, heading to the airport was a cold and drizzly endeavor.

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We hitched a ride with the FBO van, then borrowed a car to make a quick dash to McDonald’s for some unhealthy breakfast. If a hotel charges for internet, there’s a pretty high chance that they do not serve any semblance of complimentary breakfast!

But today will be a long day…about three hours each leg. So starting out right with some breakfast was the best decision that we made all morning!

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I don’t really like fast food breakfast. None of those McMuffin things for me, thank you! But I got their breakfast burrito meal and swapped out coffee for some orange juice.

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This was the best part of the meal. I love orange juice!

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Soon we were back at the FBO and waiting for our passengers to arrive. They know that we have a long day ahead of us, so we left at 9:00 AM this morning.

This is the FBO lobby. Pretty nice, huh? It was empty because it was too cold for most people to want to fly today.

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This is the reception area, and this nice gal was super cool to us. She was here when we landed two days previously, and she helped us get ready to depart by ordering our fuel, etc. We had very wonderful service at Atlantic Aviation in Philly!

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I gazed at Gladys from the warmth of inside…not wanting to go back out there until it was absolutely necessary. They let the passengers drive onto the ramp, so loading luggage was at least a little easy. Thank goodness! It was rather chilly today!

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Soon we were braving the drizzle and winds to depart for our long trip to the west. Goodbye, East Coast. At least for a few weeks, anyway!

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Rain makes seeing out the windows a little difficult at times. This will be the worst weather that we have to battle today. Fargo, while stinkin’ cold, is forecasted to be mostly clear. And Vancouver won’t have rain until tomorrow, after we’re safely on the ground.

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On our climb today, we definitely had the engine and wing heat on to prevent any ice from forming. The conditions were perfect for ice to adhere to the airplane today…cold, wet, and a cold surface (like an airplane) soaring through the sky!

But we beat it all by turning on the engine-bleed heaters. None of that icing stuff for us, thank you!

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I don’t know about you, but it looks pretty cold to me! Look at all that snow and ice on Lake Erie! Yuck!

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Even with a pretty winglet in the picture, it still looks cold out there. I’m glad that we have heat inside this airplane!

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I was excited for our fuel stop today, since it was just seventy miles south of my old college stomping grounds. In fact, I’ve flown to Fargo a time or two to practice approaches and do some cross-country stops. It kind of feels like coming home, in a sense.

But it’s way more fun to return in a jet.

And it’s also nice knowing that I will only have to endure the ridiculous temperatures for as long as it takes the line guys to single-point fuel my airplane!

And I can be very helpful and motivating fuel guys when it’s twelve degrees outside.

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We were told to expect the visual approach to Runway 18, but the clouds never cleared enough over the airport for us to see it. So they vectored us out a little wide to intercept the localizer to track inbound for the runway.

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We were given vectors towards KENIE, which is the final approach fix for the ILS approach for Runway 18. I’m glad that we got vectors, because we didn’t see the runway until just a few miles away!

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Supposedly, there is a town named Fargo down there somewhere. It’s hard to tell with all these cute little puffy clouds in the way.

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Finally we broke through and had the runway in sight. It’s fun to talk to the Tower guys…since all but two of them went to UND for their Air Traffic Control schooling.

Yes, the University of North Dakota really does do it all. It is hands-down the best place to attend flight school!

Nope, not biased at all. Why do you ask?

Go Sioux!

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It was so cold here. I didn’t even take very many pictures because I was worried that it would break my camera.

Oh yeah, and because I was busy getting fuel so we could be on our way again to thaw out! Fargo isn’t on my top list of places to visit in February, I’ll tell you that right now.

But they do have Krispy Kreme Doughnuts. We drove down a few times  over the years just to experience all of that glory. It’s been proven that the hot sign being on will help in student performance during Finals Week.

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That is ice on the ramp. It was lots of fun. And even with three shirts and two coats, I was still a little chilly as we got fuel. Luckily. they figured out that we didn’t want to stay long. Our quick-turn stop took less than twenty minutes.

We got our two passengers back on board and were off again!

Next stop…beautiful Vancouver!

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