Last Weekend, Part #2 – Ottawa to Ladysmith

I already wrote about flying from Rochester to Ottawa in a previous blog entry. The rest of the trip was a lot more of an adventure in some ways.

I got into Ottawa at 10:10, just 10 minutes after the time I had told customs I was going to get there. I love the fact that I clear customs in Canada via phone, so I don’t even need to see a customs officer. It took me about 15 minutes to finish up with customs, arranging a tie down for my plane and a rental car for me. Then I headed off to meet Stephan.

Stephan was coming in a commercial airliner and had asked where we should meet in Ottawa airport. I remembered a very nice big picture window overlooking the runway area, right beside the restaurant, and suggested that. And as I walked into the terminal, a feeling of dread overtook me – this was NOT the terminal building I remembered. Evidently some time between the time I came home from working in England in 1992 and now, they’d torn down the terminal building and put up a new one. The new one is almost a clone of the one in Vancouver that Vicki and I had traversed on our way to and from our Alaska cruise, only without the native art.

I sat down with my laptop in the baggage claim area to wait. I was half an hour early, so I figured I could get some billable time while waiting. Unfortunately there is no wireless internet access in Ottawa airport, but I had my files and a downloaded copy of the Java 1.4.2 API documentation, so I didn’t really need it.

After about 45 minutes or so, my cell phone rang. I answered it and the person on the other end said “Are you Paul Tomblin”, and I said yes. Then she said “Hello, anybody there?” and the connection broke. So I started to walk towards the outside to get a better signal in case they called again, but the phone rang again before I got outside, and I couldn’t hear the person on the other end at all.

Another 15 minutes or so, and Stephan showed up. Evidently he had a bit of an adventure clearing customs, and I hope he puts his hilarious tale up somewhere public instead of in a private email list.

We headed out, me surpremely confident because Jean’s farm is not too far up the road from where I lived for 5 years, and where my ex-wife and kids still lives. But truth be told, the bit of highway 366 beyond Masham is pretty unfamiliar to me.

Jean’s direction said something about the pavement ending, and then the turn off to her farm being past there, although I wasn’t 100% sure if she meant that the pavement ended 6 miles past Lac des Loups and the turn off being 10 miles past that, or the turn off being 10 miles past Lac des Loups. So when we got to the end of the pavement, I started counting, and when we hit 4 miles from the end of the pavement I started looking for the exit road. But I didn’t find it at 4 miles beyond, or 10 miles beyond. I even went a bit further and the pavement started up again.

There was no cell phone coverage up there, so I couldn’t call Jean for directions. Stephan suggested we continue up the road until we got to a concentration of population that had cell phone towers. Such charming naievety. I think the next concentration of population on that road would have been the Hydro Quebec dams on James Bay.

I took another look at the directions and saw mention of a turn at a grey church which I don’t remember. So we headed back towards Lac des Loups, and found the turn that we’d missed. Up that road, we found the turn-off to Jean’s farm, and everything was hunkey dory.

Jean didn’t recognize me, and she’d never met Stephan, so when we came up the drive way she came out and asked who we were. But after we introduced ourselves, and some other AFU people waved to us from the deck, she made up very welcome.

There are some links to good write-ups and pictures of what went on at Jean’s farm on the Memorial blog, so I won’t bother to add my own inadequate description. But I’d like to say that it was an extremely moving and touching time, and Jean is a master of organization.