“But what if there are bears on the plane?”
“Sir, I can assure you there are no bears on the plane.”
“Have you personally checked the plane yourself? For bears in particular, I mean? ‘Cause sometimes when you’re just looking around for general hazards you might miss ‘em, because your mind isn’t deliberately looking for bears, I mean. I can understand that, happens to me too. Like when I’m making sure I’ve got both kids in the car after going grocery shopping. To be honest, most times I’m just doing a quick headcount. But it’s those times that only mid-point on the drive home do I notice in the mirror that one of ‘em’s Hispanic all of a sudden and-“
“Sir, there are no bears on any plane-“
“What about a zoological transport plane? Maybe our plane was hired as one just prior to our flight and they missed one? Maybe a cub in the overhead bins?”
“Pepper spray, and this INCLUDES your bear spray, is a restricted product in aviation transportation. I have no choice but to confiscate it, period.”
… Damn. She was tough.
“If I slipped you ten bucks would you keep it for me ‘till I get back?”
Nothing but a stern look was her reply.
“Ooo! And I’ll even throw in a pack of Fruit n’ Veggie gummies?” I pulled out a children’s snack packet out of my back pocket.
She was no doubt on the verge of handcuffing me when my wife yanked me (a touch harshly, I might add) towards the rear of the lineup for airport security, muttering something under her breath, probably asking sweet baby Jesus for another mug of spiritual strength. In hindsight, she might have saved me the uncomfortable awkwardness of a body-cavity search (I mean, are you supposed to maintain eye contact with them during the exam? Is dinner with the agent a pre-requisite? I just never know how to behave in public.)
We didn’t mean to bring the bear spray. It just kinda hitched a ride with us, like a capsaicin stowaway. We unfolded the stroller at the airport, and voilà, there it was, our ever-present backwoods trail companion. The bags were checked, so sneaking it into the baggage hold was not an option, and we’d parked remotely, having taken a courtesy bus from the parkade. I tried leaving the spray at the “information/lost and found” booth, but seeing as how we were booked for a wickedly early flight, the booth was still unattended and quite closed, attendants decidedly preferring to deal with bear-spray wielding idiots at a more sensible hour.
Still wandering around while carrying my young daughter, I briefly thought about ditching the aerosol can behind a bench or dark corner somewhere and hope it would still be there upon our return over a week later, but I’ve seen too many terrorist action movies to know that the multitude of security cameras keeping an eye on things would probably betray me, leaving my wife to wonder where she went wrong so many years ago. Sigh. Always the bad boys.
So, I had no choice but to allow the lovely, physically superior security officer to take my bear spray while I witnessed little stacks of winged money flapping away with it, and joined my family at the gate to board a (supposedly) bear-less plane bound for California.
A cousin was getting married, and what better excuse for a stretched-out family vacation? A little mountain getaway for a few days, with relaxing trail walks and games by a fire, followed by a beautiful wedding with delicious free food, and finishing with a sunny visit to San Diego and the aquatic wonders of Seaworld with the family… it had all the promise of a terrific trip, and really, it was.
Yes, yes, the kids drove us nuts a lot of the time, what with the disrupted sleep schedules and the constant stimulus and the acclimating to eating out all the time and new toys and souvenirs and lockable bedroom doors and LIGHT SWITCHES THAT ARE SUDDENLY WITHIN REACH WHILE TRYING TO COOK SOME FRIGGIN’ DINNER?!!
All par for the course when it comes to travelling with children, I suppose. Or having children, for that matter. But the smiles of new experiences and discoveries make it all worth it, even if the checkbook doesn’t balance once the travel bills come in. To a point, of course. We had a good enough read on our munchkins to know that cashing in our RSP’s for admission to the bigger theme parks would be like hucking pearls at piggies. Seaworld was a good bet, though; ya just can’t go wrong with dolphins.
And California’s nice. Good people, easy climate, and oh good gravy, are the roads ever smooooooth… We really noticed the difference this time for some reason (maybe it’s a sign of age; I’m now more concerned with taxpayer stuff.) While our roads are subjected to the relentless onslaught of seasons (don’t give me that lip, California. You have summer, that’s it. Any cold spots you have actually belong to Oregon,) the mind-boggling freeways of southern California are watched over by fairies and sprites and elves, where every journey is like floating in the clouds.
Except for the drivers.
Can you believe we never received a single wave from merging traffic? Nothing! I tells ya, they were lucky to be sharing the road with a nice, laid-back Canadian on vacation.
But I could understand that, really. I’m sure very few people pick “Wave appreciatively at fellow motorists” when they register their vehicles. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Obviously, you’re not from around there. Let me lay it out for you, my friend.
When we got our rental car we were able to choose which laws we would abide by, kind of a motoring à-la-carte thingy. It’s California law. Don’t ask me why, I just vacay down there. There’s no maximum, but you need a minimum of 5 “law abides” for any car on the road. We scrolled down an expansive list while our children went through the luggage of people standing in line at the rental agency.
• Use of turn indicator while changing lanes.
We’re good little Canadians. Of course we picked that one. If we’d known no one else in California bothered with it, we would have skipped it, choosing to flip lanes Indianapolis 500 style. I should have clued in when “Turn indicator” was a hardware option when we selected our vehicle. Cost an extra four bucks.
• Speed beyond safe limits, up to Warp Five.
Shit, why not? We were on vacation. Less time on the road meant more time relaxing. Oh wait, I remembered we had kids. Relaxing isn’t in their programming. Eh, thought we’d try it anyway. Good thing too, ‘cause I’m pretty sure everyone had that one. Any freeway we were on, the flow of traffic was set minimum at 10mph faster than the posted limit. Once, we were chugging along with the rest of the freeway goers at 90mph (signs meekly displayed a max of 65mph), and a Sheriff was in the mix, not pulling over a soul, no camera flashes anywhere. All seven lanes (this is just one direction, mind you) were packed, wall to wall traffic as far as the eye could see, and eerily quiet as we moved in unison far ahead the wall of sound. Obviously, the Californians got organized ahead of time. “What’re they gonna do, pull us all over?! Yeah right, dude. Weeeeeeehaw!”
We topped off our selections with Use headlights at night, Stop at most stop signs, and Mandatory bird-flipping when honked at. I’m not much for bird-flipping other motorists, but hey, when in Rome. I didn’t want to miss out on tradition, you know?
But we must have missed a few on that list, being distracted with the kids committing felonies and all that, because it seemed most drivers had selected something akin to Drive however the fuck you want because no one got pulled over for anything. Motorcycles zipped between cars on the dotted lines, drivers didn’t slow down in school zones. But, to be fair, the signs always stated ‘Maximum 25mph, WHEN CHILDREN PRESENT’. The hell is that?
“Your honor, we the defendant feel that my client should not be held responsible, because that kid really was a short sumbitch.”
*Wham* “Case dismissed. Next!”
…And not to mention passenger-less motorcycles in the carpool lane. Uhh, were we the only ones to see these guys?
But there is something about weaving through traffic like a cannonball racer bent on breaking the record. It’s a game, and if I were stuck dealing with a million other cars on multi-lane freeways on my way to work every day, I’d probably take it up right quick just to keep it interesting. Shoot, after the first day battling traffic I was on board. “Get ouddadaway, dammit! I’ve got some relaxin’ to do!”
But that stuff needs to stay in the states, I’ll tell ya. I like the laid-back I’ll-get-there-eventually attitude of driving up in Canada. Sure, the driving in the big cities can be a touch busy here in the Great White-Most-of-the-Time North, but it’s nothing compared to the likes of L.A. Did you know Mad Max Fury Road was filmed at the dropoff/pickup area at LAX airport? They didn’t even needed modded vehicles and makeup, that’s actual footage.
But it does give me an edge for when I get back on Canadian Roads. When I pull out at intersections now I’m leaps ahead of the other drivers, sometimes wondering if the light was still red when I stomped on the gas. My turn indicator lever is collecting dust from marginal use, and I see speed limit signs as more of a suggestion than – whoa! Barely missed that pothole… I’d better slow down.
Meh. It’s a nice day anyway, and the view is beautiful.