Flying (non) Visit

Just over a week ago, I had the opportunity to once again visit lovely Vancouver, Canada, a city I’ve frequently spent a day or so in for various grant-related review panels, strategy meetings, and the like. Always fly-in, fly-out, unfortunately – the last occasion on which I spent any time there was… actually I don’t remember the year, but it was in the mid-1990’s sometime.

I had grand plans in mind to meet up with Cath, since my last visit (yet another grant panel review) was another arrive/edit presentation/sleep/get up for early morning strategy meeting/attend panel/leave immediately jaunt, that didn’t allow even an extra millisecond for socializing.

Did these plans pan out? No, they did not.

One peculiarity of living in a country this big is that the time zones can really, really mess up your plans. On the way west, I elected to work a full day, and fly out at about 8:30 in the evening. The four and a half hour flight, coupled with a three hour time difference in the other direction (so to speak), means that the whole trip put only an hour and a half on the clock. 10:00 PM is still a reasonable time to arrive, although I was flagging pretty badly by the time I’d checked in to the hotel, my internal clock believing it to be nearly two in the morning.

East-to-west advantage:  full day of work can be put in before leaving. Disadvantage:  leaves no time for socializing with Vancouverites. I was staying at the airport hotel, which is wonderfully convenient to the airport, but not to anything much else.

The trip back, by contrast, takes nearly eight hours of “clock time”. Since airplanes don’t land in Toronto in the wee hours of the morning due to municipal noise regulations, this means either leaving Vancouver by about 4:30 PM, so as to land before midnight, or considerably later so as to arrive after about 6:00 AM. Which translates to option (a), spending most of the evening at the airport and arriving in Toronto dead-tired, early in the morning, option (b) staying another night in the fabulously swishy airport Fairmont, at taxpayers’ expense, leaving early in the morning and essentially losing all of the following day to travel, or (c) leaving right after the meeting, catching the last plane out and missing any opportunity to meet up with Vancouver colleagues – again. Not wanting to either wipe out my Saturday, or hang around the airport for hours, I opted for (c).

So the mini-Occam’s Typewriter meet-up that could have occurred was kind of a non-starter, and I hope Cath didn’t take offense at my lack of determination to come and say hello. Doubtless I will be back at YVR some time in the not-too-distant future, and maybe we can make it work on one of those occasions. Until then, we’ll have to remain twenty-first-century Twitter/blog/email acquaintances – as I am with the rest of OT’s bloggers.


If you’re wondering about the lack of pictures – the airport wasn’t exactly photogenic. And my photos of it were crap.

About Richard Wintle

I am Canadian by heritage, and a molecular biologist and human geneticist by training. My day job is Assistant Director of a large genome centre, where I do various things along the lines of "keeping the wheels on". In my spare time, I tend to run around with a camera, often chasing race cars, abandoned barns, and sundry wildlife.
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7 Responses to Flying (non) Visit

  1. Austin says:

    I flew from DC (via Toronto) to do a seminar in Edmonton once. Long way. Long.

  2. Ken says:

    Never been to Vancouver, but sounds like an interesting city to visit. I vaguely recall a William Gibson novel being set there, but can’t remember which one.

  3. Cath@VWXYNot? says:

    You should have taken the train 🙂

    The time zones are a pain, and the 3 hour time difference is deceptive – it doesn’t feel like it should affect you that much, but it really does get to you, in either direction. In my last job I used to go to a lot of East Coast US conferences, and what with the ridiculously early and bumpy flight to Seattle to connect to the long distance flights, the incredibly long flights, and then the jet lag, it was very draining. And I always flew back into Vancouver close to midnight, then had to be back at work the next day. The time I went to Halifax was the worst – two long flights (via Hamilton) and a four hour time difference, and then the airport is about 30k from the city… great trip though! Mr E Man came with me and we stayed an extra few days at the end for a mini-holiday.

    So I feel your pain, and I’m sure we’ll eventually manage to meet up, in one city or another!

    Oh, and YVR isn’t photogenic??!! Granted, the best stuff (the waterfall, the totem poles and most of the other local First Nations art, the aquarium) are in the International Arrivals and Departures areas, but it’s still one of the nicest airports I’ve ever seen. And what about Bill Reid’s “Spirit of Haida Gwaii”, aka the Jade Canoe, as seen on the $20 bill?

    YVR Pride! Our airport’s better than your airport! Toronto sucks! etc. etc. etc. 😉

  4. I should have qualified this with “the bits of the airport I saw weren’t exactly photogenic”.

    Toronto does have an intriguing tank full of floating plastic cubes, which I also didn’t photograph.

    As for the Spirit of Haida Gwaii, I did see it and it’s very nice. But I was rushing past, and I also considered it as one of those “things photographed a million times already” so I didn’t bother. Maybe if I’d had time to explore a really interesting new point of view… but I didn’t. 🙁

    Let me tell you about my meet-up with a fellow blogger at 2:00 AM in St. John’s airport sometime…

  5. KristiV says:

    It’s a shame you didn’t have a chance to meet up with Cath, Richard, but I know how those fly-in fly-out grant panel review meetings go. My only air travel in 2011 was one such trip to … I want to say Washington DC, but truth be told I never got any closer than a hotel near Dulles Airport (which, mercifully, has eliminated most of those “mobile lounges” (in which a friend lamented that he waited and waited, but never got his drink). At least the other panel members are pleasant company.

    The East Coast is only one time zone away, but air travel time is sucked up by connections through Atlanta, and limited by my home city’s apparent inability to accept that it is indeed a Very Large City. It seems that every flight in or out of SAT is overbooked or completely, knee-crunchingly full. Add to that the unwillingness of most passengers to pay baggage fees. One good reason to fly Southwest next time.

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