My friend Cathy and I were both feeling badly that we had not managed to spend any quality time together during the past three summers. We have been fast friends since high school and during the almost twenty years that Cathy and her family lived in Saudi Arabia and later Abu Dhabi, she had almost always stayed in our home during her summer visits to Edmonton. We had long counted on the opportunity to stay up long into the night, catching up on all the happenings in our respective families.
Ever since we had retired and sold our home, and Cathy and Paul had settled in Kelowna, our summer schedules had hardly allowed us those golden moments together. Once again this year, we had exchanged plans outlining our respective comings and goings and to our dismay, there didn’t seem to be any time over the course of the three months when we could have some quality time together.
Once we had settled into our ‘house sit’ in Victoria, I emailed her and learned that Paul had just left to work in Edmonton for twelve days and that she would be on her own in her Kelowna home during that period. I spoke to Anil about making a quick visit on my own to see her, and his loving comment was, “You have only your own self to convince that it’s worthwhile”. Seconds later I booked my flight, planning to be away for three days and two nights.
It did seem a little strange to make a flight somewhere without Anil. Since retiring five years ago, we have been pretty much joined at the hip. I’ve even taken up playing golf with him so that I don’t have to be without his company for long stretches of time. Cathy met me at the airport with plans for us to check out some of the places that guests coming from out of town might like to see. Her youngest daughter’s wedding was fast approaching and I wanted to offer her any help I could. Cathy and Paul had been life-savers at Adia and Geoff’s wedding reception and I wanted to return the favour.
Cathy surprised me with news that she had tickets to see k.d. lang, a famous Canadian musician/singer, perform that evening in Kelowna. I had been disappointed that I would be missing the Edmonton Folk Music Festival for the third consecutive year running, and k.d. lang was the headliner on the Saturday night main stage at the festival next month. A second surprise was in store for me as well. Another old friend, from our days together at the University of Alberta would be joining us for dinner, bringing along a female friend to make our group a foursome.
The next morning Cathy and I set about making some decisions about a few of the final details for Cathy’s daughter’s upcoming wedding. Molly lives in Montreal and was not on hand to make plans, and Cathy was a little worried about making decisions on her own. I knew exactly how she felt because Adia was in Victoria and I was trying to finalize arrangements for her wedding while travelling in New York, Calgary and Edmonton.
It’s not a lot of fun running around to Costco, Michael’s, Safeway and other shops on your own, but somehow, we enjoyed doing all the odd jobs together and once we had all the materials we needed to make the goodie bags for the guests and the children, the task didn’t seem at all overwhelming. We put on a pot of coffee and sat at Cathy’s kitchen table and chatted away happily while our hands were busy packing the nuts, chocolate-covered blueberries, colouring books and crayons into the various bags.
It reminded me of the good old days when Cathy and I would get together in Edmonton in late November and prepare the Christmas fruit cakes, butter tarts, Nanaimo squares and antipasto for the upcoming holidays. With Cathy away in Saudi Arabia for much of the past 25 years, we haven’t had a chance to be together like this for a long, long time.
After attempting a new recipe for a yam and garbanzo bean salad, and grilling a couple of smokies to accompany the salad, we settled in with glasses of wine to watch a movie together. We settled on ‘Splendor In The Grass’ a classic film starring Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty. I can’t remember how many times I’ve seen this film, but I was only too happy to see it again. Somehow Cathy seemed to have it mixed up with ‘A Summer Place’, with actors Troy Donahue and Sandra Dee. It turns out she has never seen ‘Splendor In The Grass’ before, I couldn’t figure out how that could possibly have happened.
I was again reminded of the ‘good old days’ when Cathy and I would get together on Monday nights at my grandmother’s apartment where I was staying during the week while I was attending the University of Alberta in my first year. The TV show ‘Peyton Place’ was considered pretty risqué for the times, so it was shown at 11:00pm and was a full hour long. We were hooked! However, just like those late evenings back in 1968/69, we fell asleep before the program/movie was over. It was just too much to be snuggled up on a comfortable sofa so late at night.
On our last day together, before I was due to catch my flight back to Victoria at 4:45pm, we set off to explore a little of the area around Wood Lake, just outside of Kelowna, where the senior Moreau’s have had a summer cabin for countless years. The cabin had been chosen for Molly and Ryan’s wedding and many of the 100 or so guests would be staying in nearby hotels, guesthouses and B&Bs.
Cathy wanted to check out some of the local attractions in order to be able to provide accurate information to those who might want to explore the area before and/or after the wedding. A significant number of the guests were coming to the Okanagan region for the first time and many live overseas. We stopped by the newly opened Zipline!, The Alpaca Farm, The Jammery and a lovely Coffee House, across from the local Winfield golf course.
It had been a real treat to have such an extended amount of one-on-one time with Cathy after all these years, and then to top it off, she treated me to lunch at the Grey Monk Winery, overlooking Lake Okanagan. It was an early birthday present, knowing we wouldn’t be able to get together for my birthday, which follows too closely after Molly’s wedding. Not all of Cathy’s guests were due to leave until almost August 11th.
The final adventure of the getaway didn’t start until after I hugged Cathy at the airport drop-off zone and headed into the terminal to check in for my flight. For some reason, I couldn’t seem to find my reservation in the self-serve kiosk, even though I tried over and over again, thinking I had entered some of the information incorrectly. I looked up and noticed that the ticket agents were free so I abandoned the kiosk and wheeled my bag to the counter.
I stated my name and destination but didn’t hand over an itinerary because I didn’t have a printer when I made the WestJet booking. The agent started searching for my reservation, but had trouble finding it as well. I told him that I could pull it up on my iPad and when I found the reservation I gave him the flight number. He looked at me with a surprised expression and told me that flight was for Victoria, not Edmonton. I looked back at him equally surprised!
To my chagrin, I realized that I had punched in Edmonton as my destination at the kiosk and had told the agent I was headed for Edmonton as well. Am I getting old or what? That would explain why he told me the flight was making a stop in Calgary and why the departure time was 8:00pm not 4:45pm. See what happens when Anil let’s me loose to travel on my own! And I pride myself as being the best navigator between the two of us! Left to my own devices, I would have ended up in Alberta instead of back where I belong, which is currently Queen’s Ave, with my travel partner extraordinaire.