Making it to Vegas and a little further
I don't think anyone goes to Vegas for their own hitching without expecting something unexpected to go down. On our first night there, I sat in our plush hotel room looking down over a million tiny lights and thought, I wish Scott were here too.
We chose to fly out of Bellingham in Washington State since it is a short drive to get there from Vancouver and that way we'd be taking a domestic flight instead of an international one. One the drive to Bellingham we stopped in for a cup of tea and a visit with Scott's Grandma McCleod. Her teapot was covered with a bright orange knitted poodle tea cosy like the one in the picture (except orange). I wish I'd taken a photo of it. It was nice to be able to visit her on our way into the States. All my grandmothers (I grew up with an above-average quantity of grannies thanks to multiple divorces and remarriages) have passed away and I have been lucky to acquire two really nice new ones through Scott. We looked at photos with her, and she told us what she'd been up to and gave us sandwiches. She is in her 80s but still extremely active and energetic. I hope that if I make it to 80 I am too.
After our visit we drove over the border into the US. Part of our motivation for doing this was that I would be able to pick the new camera that I'd ordered (an Olypmus EPL1). Now, while driving over the border into the US will never be as scary and invasive as flying there, it is still a real ordeal to me as a South African without a fixed address or standard employer. After a stressful border-crossing where I'd gotten the hairy eyeball and I-don't-believe-or-trust-you series of questions from the border guard we tried to find the place that had my new camera, got lost and accidentally drove ourselves right back into Canada. Spot the bloody fools. To make matters worse, it was a different border crossing than what we'd come through earlier so the guards wouldn't recognize us, and we'd technically not actually crossed into Canada. We'd attempted to do a u-turn as soon as we realized our mistake and our u-turn threw us into no-man's land with the only option being to re-enter the country that we had never officially left in the first place. I hope this doesn't cause problems for me later on. Anyway, fortunately right when our new border guard was confusedly asking us WTF we were doing (which surprised me since it was not a difficult mistake to make and we can't have been the only people to have done this), there was a diversion a few lanes down with shouting and lots of running cops and a man standing next his car with his hands in the mothaf***kn air and all lots of drama and he (the border guard) just shook his head, threw our passports back into the car at us, told us to go and ran off to partake in the drama. I can't work out whether we were lucky or unlucky that day. I'm going to mark this one down as a neutral.
After spending the night in Bellingham we'd checked in for our flight and were waiting to board, already through security and at our flight's departure the gate. Scott went off to the bathroom, and came out looking disturbed. But something was different this time: he'd broken out in a terrible rash... his body was completely...
cue horror-film soundtrack
Scott was well on his way to being Frankengroom. We panicked. I told him to phone his mom and ask what to do. He refused. I suppose we have different ways of problem-solving. After weighing up our options we decided that it was best for him to leave and go back to Canada where he could see a doctor without the risk of having to sell a kidney to afford the medical treatment. We explained our situation to the Alaska Airlines staff and they were beyond amazing and put him on a flight the next day at no extra charge, AND upgraded him to first class!
And so it came to be that I took the flight on my own. As soon as I'd boarded and lacking the option to phone my own mother I explained to the flight attendant that I'm not a good air traveler. She was incredible. She put down what she was doing and chatted with me, just normal chit-chat, until I calmed down. After I'd been seated a while (but before take off) she came to check on me again. The woman who I was seated next to overheard that I was freaked out and after the flight attendant had moved on to deal with less needy passengers, she offered to hold my hand during take-off and landing! During the flight, the flight attendant checked on me a few times and came to feed me vodka. All of this was incredible, but she gave me something far more important that may just have changed my life: an explanation for the terrifying experience that I had in Argentina a few years back. Apparently, sometimes when a plane is coming in to land it can get caught in the jet stream of another plane in front of it and tossed around like a leaf. She said that she'd never been on a flight where that had happened but had heard that it was terrifying. I've yet to do any research on this, but oh my god how this has changed everything for me flying-wise. So between the kindness of the ground staff, a caring flight attendant and a warm American lady who held my hand I think I could get back into this and have started entertaining thoughts of all the magical places I'd like to see (Iceland please! Oh my hat, the prettiness). As well, given the option in future I will always, always pick this airline to travel with.
Scott (aka Hive Alive - ha ha haaa!) made it back to Vancouver and had himself medicated, and made it back to the US the next day with a personal record for border crossings in a 24 hour span, and everything after that was happy and without rash :)
But more on all of that later.