Sometimes I do things that are so smart I have trouble believing it's me. The last one was a couple weeks ago when I was faced with going to Prince George to attend the wedding of my nephew Dan, a loveable heavy-equipment operator who was marrying a gorgeous Vanderhoof veterinarian named Laura. Everybody else was taking the 45-minute Westjet, grumbling about these far-away weddings, but I got it into my head to spend four days driving up and back. To make matters even more difficult I proposed to take my 96-year-old father Munga and his 93-year-old-bride, Edith, who were both enlivened by the scent of adventure. I didn't lack for warnings about the foolhardiness of this plan. The average age of our intrepid crew would be 85. Munga can only take about ten steps without collapsing now and can't go past a restroom, so I got one of those lightweight wheelchairs that fold up small enough to go in the cargo-space of a Toyota Matrix while leaving room for three sets of luggage. Edith is much more spry but is prone to tell you the story about the time she had Prime Minister Trudeau for dinner twice in the same half-hour space. My wife Mary just shook her head at our preparations and announced she would be travelling by air.
The first hitch was that Edith and Munga got their days mixed up and were still in bed when I arrived to pick them up, thinking we weren't leaving until the next day. One of Edith's charming qualities is that although her short term memory has dwindled, her self assurance has not.
"I am sure you said Friday," she said. I know better than to simply contradict her. You have to prove yourself
"Edith, just think. When is the wedding?"
"And how many days does it take to drive to Prince George."
"So if we leave on Friday and spend two days getting there, when will we arrive?"
"But what time Saturday?"
"I don't know. Around suppertime, I guess."
"Right. And when is the wedding?"
"It says 1 PM on the invitation."
"Right. So if we don't leave til Friday we would miss the wedding by four hours."
"If you say so."
"No, not if I say so. If simple arithmetic says so."
"But we aren't ready to go today."
"You've been getting ready for two days. How long can it take?"
"Oh yes, we're all packed. It's just that we weren't expecting to go until tomorrow."
"So, just change your expectation. Just think the thoughts today you were planning to think tomorrow."
"Easy for you to say. Just wait until you're ninety-three."
"I don't need to. I'm living it now." By rights we should have missed the 10:30 ferry but it was running two hours late so we were right on time. The disintegration of the BC Ferry Service sometimes has its advantages. It shouldn't have affected our travel schedule except it turned out Munga and Edith had not yet bought their wedding present and we needed to make a stop at Park Royal. The cops had the Upper Levels blocked off to attend a minor fender-bender, so it took us two hours to go the first 15 km of our 2000-km journey. Then it took another hour as Edith made the clerk at the Bay open the packaging of every single carving knife in the store before finding the perfect one. By the time we were back on the road Traffic Radio said the 401 was gridlocked to Chilliwack, so I did the only thing I could think of and turned left to Squamish and took the longer but traffic-free Duffey Lake route to the Interior. We only made it as far as Pemberton and for awhile contemplated the prospect of having to spend the night in the seedy and loud Pemberton Hotel, which Edith was sure would have bedbugs, but while we were waiting for our take-out she rolled down her window, began hailing pedestrians and determined there was an upscale lodge on the roadside leaving town. It cost me $287.00--ironically the exact same price I'd been quoted for a Westjet ticket to Prince George--but had a king-sized bed in a separate room for them and a pull-out for me. And definitely no bed bugs.