My dad turned 80 last Friday. We were all set to head home for a week of celebration and relaxation, but the travel gods had other plans.

Thursday May 18

I drove to the office and back in the morning for a board meeting, so I was a teensy bit on the back foot from the get-go. Still, we were all set and packed and ready to get to the island airport with plenty of time. I checked the commute times, saw it was ~8 minutes longer than usual (no worries; we’d left ourselves plenty of buffer) and told Lindsay we should get a move on. We did, calling shortly after. Even by the time we got our bags onto the sidewalk, we realized something was up – our expected arrival time had gotten much later. Still, we were set to arrive 40 minutes ahead of our flight which, at the island airport, is enough time.

Things really went south once we started driving across Front. Our driver’s Waze instructions told him to take Esplanade – which you can’t do. By the time we diverted back up to Front, it was gridlocked. It seemed accidents or construction had blocked every westbound route in the downtown. What should have been a 15 minute commute ended up taking over an hour. By the time we arrived at the airport and waited through the two slow customers in front of us, our flight had boarded. For the first time ever, I missed a flight from the island.

We asked about other flights that night. There were none. We asked about seats the next day. Again: none to be had. Between the long weekend and the looming Westjet strike, all the flights were booked. We tried the Air Canada desk, but their island counter doesn’t book anything other than Ottawa and Montreal. We were despondent. In our haze, I neglected to ask about flights going into Moncton, which is also close to the farm. Outside, I checked the Porter site on my phone, and swear to god it said there was only one flight earlier in the day. We took a cab home to regroup.

Upon arriving home, while checking other flight options, Lindsay noticed there was another Porter flight into Moncton that night (via Ottawa) and if we left right that second we might make it. We rushed out the door, but once again were foiled by traffic, and arrived just as they were closing that flight. At least we hadn’t pre-bought those tickets. Dejected, we took Uber #4 home to lick our wounds, and re-book. The only tickets we were able to get were business class seats (yay!) on Air Canada Rouge (boo!) out of Pearson the next evening. We ordered some food, drank some wine, and called my mom with the bad news that we’d miss my dad’s birthday dinner.

Friday May 19

We went about our morning, making sure everything was prepped, and picking up an extra gift + card for my dad. Our flight was delayed about 50 minutes, which – between Pearson congestion and a just-avoided Westjet strike – wasn’t too bad.

Flying out of YYZ meant we left earlier, so I picked up my phone to call an Uber that would get us there 2 hours (!) ahead of time. As I did, I saw a message from my EA that one of the other executives at my company, with whom I’d interacted Wednesday night, had tested positive for COVID. Fuuuuuuuuuuccckkkkk. It was at this point that I had my second meltdown in <24 hours. I grabbed a test kit, jammed a swab up my nose, and waited. Negative. OK. That was a good, if inconclusive sign. But we’d also just gotten our boosters, so our immune systems were probably in tiptop shape. We decided to proceed, and called the Uber after all.

We got to Pearson and checked in 90 minutes before our flight, so still plenty of time. Our Nexus cards got us around a HUGE security line, such that we had time for a drink in the Air Canada Cafe before heading to our gate. Our flight was delayed by another 30 minutes or so, but we got on, and our seats were good, and our flight was fine. Except for one thing: see they have free wifi on the flight, so I was able to receive an email telling us our bags hadn’t made it on the flight? What the? We arrived 90 minutes prior, AND it was delayed!! Anyway, they’d be on the next flight, which arrived at midnight, but we weren’t sticking around for that. We checked in at the luggage services desk, confirmed our bags would be brought to us the next morning, and headed to the rental car counter. At least we’d made it – no more hiccups, right?

Wrong. The rental car smelled disgusting. It was like being inside a hockey bag. I was so tired I couldn’t even complain to the rental counter. We also had to drive it home through a windstorm, but by 9pm we’d arrived safely at the farm. At last.

Sat May 20

Finally, vacation: a lovely, warm, sunny day. Walks around the farm. Drop-in community celebrations for my dad where I saw a bunch of old familiar faces of family and friends. Lots of food. Naps. Games of crib and Uno. A quick drink back over at brother #2’s house. It was just what we needed.

Sun May 21

Brother #1, ever the ambitious one, was up to run a half-marathon in a windstorm. Good on him. We sat inside while the rain started, doing puzzles and playing cards, and eating leftovers. Brother #1 & fam left mid-afternoon; the rest of us continued relaxing and watching the Jays game while the sun emerged. We drove into Springhill to pick up Chinese food from childhood standby Jade Palace, one of my dad’s favourite indulgences. After downing that and playing a few games of crib (all wins for Linds and I!) we walked across the yard for one more drink at brother #2’s.

Mon May 22

We were really getting into the swing of things now: on a cool crisp morning, had coffee next door then read for a while before driving to Parrsboro for lunch at the Harbour View restaurant. Lindsay and I had a lobster roll; most others had flounder, now that it was in-season. After lunch we drove out to Two Islands to admire the view, then back through town and up Kirk Hill for more views, before driving home. There we found more card, more Chinese leftovers, and another walk around the home hill before settling in for one last drink at brother #2’s house.

Tue May 23

Our final day on the farm. We had a leisurely morning, though I did end up going through a bunch of farm paperwork.

We decided to take the shore road – almost getting smoked along the way by a dump truck who’d crossed the yellow line – to enjoy the weather and get some fried clams at Diane’s. Well, Lindsay had friend clams; I don’t like ‘em. But we sat outside in the warm sun with the cool breeze, and enjoyed every minute. On we travelled to the Masstown Market for supplies (pies, cheese, doughnuts), stopping briefly in Bedford on our way to Mahone Bay, where we’d decided to stay a couple of nights. We wanted to see and smell the ocean again, and settled in at a very beautiful AirBnB overlooking the harbour.

We turned on our heels, picked up some wine for later, and walked into Betty’s at The Kitch for dinner. We had such a delicious feast (wood-fired baked brie + haskap heat + rosemary; a “Davis” pizza; a bottle of Benjamin Bridge sparkling rosé; a warm cookie for dessert) that we resolved to come back the following evening. And with that, we went home for the night.

Wed May 24

We’d been hoping for a nice warm day to enjoy the deck and the cool ocean breezes. Alas; it was cold, windy, and foggy. Nonetheless, we persevered. We read our books most of the day, stopping to acquire some barbecue from Fireworks, and eventually heading into town to meet up with Lindsay’s brother #1, who lives about 20 minutes away. We had beers at Saltbox Brewing before walking down the street to Betty’s. There we sucked back dips (roasted red pepper, mushroom), lobster mac + cheese, a Broderick pizza, and a 2018 Lightfoot & Wolfville Chardonnay. They forgot to charge us for the bottle, but we made it right. Such a cool vibe in that place. He followed us back to the AirBnB since we’d forgotten to bring him some loot (in the form of cookies); we then bid him a good evening, and crashed. Ambitions for a soak in the hot tub were done in by too much pizza and sweets.

Thu May 25

The close of what ended up being a super-relaxing and celebratory week of vacation. We figured the morning would be one of getting ourselves together and driving to the airport, but the travel gods weren’t quite through with us yet. Lindsay’s mom called with some family health news that convinced us to change our flights. So as I write this, we sit here in Bedford for the next couple of days, hoping everything goes well.

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