Tuesday, July 29, 2008

On the "road" again...
Air "traffic"

Well I'm back to traveling to close out my summer with a bang! This morning Brittany and I (plus our ever so kind parents who drove us) headed to the airport before the sun came up. The stress has been high over the past few days, finishing up school (and work) while packing for such a LONG trip can definitely take its toll and add a higher stress level to traveling. We actually had to pack for 2 trips - our trip home and our stay in Lakeland before & after the trip, as well as the cruise AND our extra time we will be spending in Anchorage. After the packing (for us and the animals) and trip to Lakeland we were finally set and ready to fly out. Mom greeted us with the Poultry representation of the Darby doing their travel research to ensure they have the best trip possible in the last American frontier:

Home & Flight to Vanc. 8-29-08-1

Didn't get much sleep the night before the flight and I am not a morning person so needless to say the stomach and nerves were pretty tight. Once we finally got to the airport in Orlando, things settled in a little. The flight from Orlando to Houston was fairly uneventful. I am not really able to sleep on planes so I got my camera out and fired a few shots whenever I saw something I felt was interesting. Taking pictures in general, using manual settings and a lot of equipment is not an easy thing to do, so doing it in a seat on an airplane, early in the morning, with only half of a window to shoot out of makes it that much more "fun." I was inspired by Window Seat: The art of Digital Photography and Creative Thinking so off I went. Here are a few of my favorites:

Home & Flight to Vanc. 8-29-08-51

Home & Flight to Vanc. 8-29-08-20

Crop Circles

The set taken from the trip up is viewable here.

Finally landed in Houston and had a short layover prior to finishing the flight to Vancouver. Unfortunately the trials and tribulations of my camera gear began when I returned to my seat from using the bathroom on the plane and saw a quarry:

Home & Flight to Vanc. 8-29-08-61

and rushed to get a picture. Unfortunately in the process my lens hood (the one I just replaced from losing it in a previous adventure blogged about earlier) and my lens cap fell to the floor and began rolling to the back of the plane. As most photographers would agree - first and foremost - get the shot - and I did, but then had some difficulty finding the lost gear. The lady behind me kindly found my lens cap but we were unable to find the hood, until later in the flight. Fortunately all was recovered! Unfortunately however, the trials and tribulations were not yet over. While waiting in line at customs I got the bright idea NOW was the time to put my camera back in the backpack prior to going through customs. While holding the lens with one arm between my forearm and body (don't do this) and the body in my hand the lens slipped and fell to the ground. POP - I see a plastic piece shoot off and the lens roll away, just as the line moves forward. Trying to act like it didn't bother me although inside I was FREAKING OUT I gathered up all the parts and moved up in line. Of course this was done while others in line made the amazingly brilliant comments like "ouch" and "that must have been expensive" etc etc. I just smiled and kept my not so kind thoughts to myself so I could gain entry into Canada. Fortunately the only thing that broke was the lens cap, and it did not scratch my lens while breaking off. I tested the zoom and everything else and all was good. This was not the start I was looking for on this trip, especially since my camera body was already damaged, but it may have been a good thing to caution me to slow down, and be more careful.

Once we got through customs and outside we were greeted with temperatures in the 50s and a light rain, two things we would be dealing with (enjoying) for the rest of the trip. It's fun to get on a plane where it is in the 90s and arrive somewhere that is 40 degrees cooler, I doubt the return will be as fun.

After settling into the hotel (which was oh so conveniently under construction) we headed out for a snack and settled on a middle eastern place (which was actually quite good) since everything else was closed. We were both amazed at the significant presence of people of Asian descent in the area when we knew we were not in "Chinatown." As it turns out Vancouver is one of the most diverse cities in the world with almost half of the citizens of the country speaking a language other than English as their native tongue. Truly remarkable! Also, upon further research it appears that Vancouver is one of the top 5 places to live in the world, based on quality of life and other factors. I really enjoyed our short time in Vancouver, and can understand why it has been rated so high. The friendly and diverse people are really refreshing and it was a great start to our trip.

After a long nap to help us catch up on the 3 hour time difference we got up and took the bus downtown for dinner and some shopping. Fortunately thanks to some friends who had recently been to Vancouver we had some great suggestions on places to eat and enjoy and we found Steamworks Brewing Company and enjoyed a great dinner and some local beer. The manager who we struck up a conversation with (who ironically had been to central Florida and actually received a speeding ticket on I-4) put the first round of drinks on the house. Just one of the many reasons I love Vancouver. After dinner, dessert, and some more drinks we finally made our way back to the hotel to rest up for the cruise tomorrow.

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