Saturday, 2 June 2018

The Excellent Adventure Rerun

Last week I ended my blog like this: “Birthdays have always been a reminder to me to take stock and look forward...I’ll share more of that next week.” I meant it, too. In fact, by Wednesday I had most of it written. And then Thursday happened.

Five years ago, when my friend Trudy and I both turned 65, we celebrated the occasion with a BC tradition for newly minted Seniors: we took a free ferry ride. At that time, all BC residents received a Gold Card at age 65, a consolation prize for getting old, I guess. It meant you could ride the ferries for free from Monday to Thursday. Trudy and I chose to visit Powell River for our first free voyage. I wrote about that in my blog of August 17, 2013.

2013 ...younger, less grey. 
A year or two later, our premier Christy Clark was the grinch who took away the Gold Card from the oldsters.  Perhaps that’s why she lost the next election. Who knows? I think she learned her lesson: don’t mess with oldies. But recently our new premier gave that privilege back to us (he knows which side his bread is buttered on.)

So, on Thursday this week, Trudy and I repeated our cheap date, this time to Vancouver where the Canadian Quilters’ Association annual convention was being held. A day out in the big city, seeing beautiful things, and bonus, go cruising for free. Yay! It doesn’t get much better than that.

2018: still sassy
Apparently, hundred and hundreds of other women of a certain age had the same idea. When we showed up in Nanaimo for the 8:45 a.m. sailing, the waiting room was full of grey-haired women clutching their quilting totes in one hand and their free ferry tickets in the other. Many were wearing their best lace-up walking shoes: reality is more important than fashion on a day like this.

Unfortunately, I did not have my camera at this point in our trip, so this stock photo will have to do!

There were also many groups of kids on school field trips in the waiting room. Can you imagine the racket? A cacophany of old crows mixed up with teenie bopper squeals! More than one of us removed our hearing aids. When it came time to lower the barrier so we could board, the ferry staff sniffed disaster in the offing: don’t ever get between a woman of a certain age and the goal she’s pursuing. The smell of the Sunshine Breakfast was in our nostrils. The staff held the kids back, and we got to the head of the cafeteria line-up first. And no, not one woman said, “Oh, let the kids go first.” We’ve learned a thing or two in our dotage.

Over eggs and bacon, women mingled and exchanged information. The air was filled with phrases such as long-arm machines and fat quarters. (The latter not to be confused with fat butts; no mention of those.) People who had never met before became BFFs. In no time we were a cohesive flock, and flying together. One woman was the expert on bus schedules, and freely shared the info: seniors only had to pay $1.80 (can you believe it?) for the Express bus (#257) which would get you downtown in a jiffy. BUT that bus was bound to get crowded, so line up early so we could be first off the ferry. Use elbows if necessary. We did. We got a seat on the bus. We let the young ‘uns stand in the aisles ... or maybe even hang from the sides. All I know is, we got a seat.

When #257 approached the stop where we wanted to get off, the bus didn’t slow down. Do old crows keep quiet when their plans seem to run amok? They do not. They claw the doors and caw loudly.  The bus stopped on the other side of the corner, and the quilting crows burst forth, single-mindedly focused on getting to that convention centre. “As the crow flies” took on new meaning as cars screeched to a stop to let this determined migration stream down the hill to their destination. Fist bumps all the way around: we made it!

The flock broke up into little groupings, and some crows became solo adventurers, as we toured the juried quilts and shopped the merchants. After all, we’d gotten from Nanaimo to Vancouver for $1.80, so we could make like Blondie and spend all the money we’d saved. But we kept running into our new BFFs, and like good crows do, shared all the good info about the best bargains, where the loos were located, and which hidden quilt gems we shouldn’t miss.

I’d like to say that the return trip was more of the same happy hullabaloo, but truth be told, a day on hard concrete floors, even with good lace-ups on our feet, takes its toll on knees and bunions and hips, and carrying heavy bags of bargains too good to pass up didn’t do much for our shoulders either. It was a scattered, subdued group that made its way back on #257 (still only $1.80! Can you believe it?)  Fortunately there’s a pretty good place in Horseshoe Bay where you can recover before you catch the FREE ferry back, and I know for a fact that old quilting crows do drink beer and eat fish and chips. And if a 19 oz. sleeve of golden ale is $6.50 and the 10 oz. glass is $5, well, what do you think the smart crow chooses? That may account for the mellow trip back, watching the sunset over the water and counting our blessings that we could have such an Excellent Adventure.

What’s that you ask? The quilt show? Oh yes, it was Wonderful! Wonderful! Wonderful! You can see photos on the CQA website. Pictures are worth 1000 words, and I have squawked enough.

Oh, okay, just one photo... for some reason, this one caught my eye.


  1. Ha, ha! This is a great post. It sounds like you all had a grand adventure. I am almost sorry to have missed out on the whole ferry experience. I left the next day so my ride was quite quiet. I wonder if the staff are still talking about the day the silver wave washed over the boat?

  2. A silver wave washed over the boat: great image, Gayle! (Ever think of blogging?) I think they were just a little in awe of us all. And just think: this was only one sailing out of three days of the Nanaimo-Vancouver run, and ditto for Victoria.