Roundabout route to Boston

Whistler isn’t much fun in October and November — too cold and wet to mountain bike, and too warm and dry to ski. I had a week of meetings in Boston in early November so I decided to make a few stops on the way there, and it turned into a month-long trip.

First I stopped in Edmonton to visit my family for a few days, including a birthday party for my brother. Then I headed to Montreal to visit friends and attend Roger and Marjorie’s annual Halloween party, with a side trip to Ottawa to visit other friends and retrieve various things from storage to ship to Whistler.

One of the highlights of being back in these places (aside from being able to see family and friends, of course) is access to Vietnamese food: I have now gone for Vietnamese 8 times in the last couple weeks: twice in Edmonton, twice in Ottawa and four times in Montreal (all four of which were extra large bowls of pho at Pho Bang New York, all of them good to the last drop :)

I really wish someone would open up a Pho place in Whistler. I know rents are expensive but I think it would do pretty well — how hard can it be to make a profit when you’re selling $1 worth of ingredients for $7?

I had planned to take buses from Montreal to/from Boston but the schedules were unusually painful this time, something like 12 hours for a trip I could drive in 5.

So I booked flights on Aeroplan points instead; unfortunately due to Hurricane Noel my convenient 1:30pm Saturday afternoon departure was cancelled and I opted for an 8pm flight instead. Air Canada called me on my way to eat pho on Saturday afternoon, telling me the 8pm flight had been cancelled as well, with no other flights available today. So I had them route me through Toronto, leaving at 6pm tonight.

Our traditional post-pho digestif activity (playing video games) ran a bit late so I didn’t get to the airport until 5:30, causing me to miss my flight to Toronto. But that turned out to be a good thing because all the flights to Boston tonight ended up being cancelled, and the next flight there from Toronto would have been at 7pm tomorrow.

I really wanted to make it to Boston in time for tomorrow’s meeting, because scheduled for tomorrow is an all-day team meeting, which is basically my only opportunity of the year to interact with everyone on the team face to face — it’s usually my favorite day of this series of meetings.

The only way I could think to make it there in time was to fly to New York and take a 4-hr bus from there, so I had Aeroplan put me on a 7:50pm flight to Laguardia. I checked in, went to the gate and mooched some wifi from the Maple Leaf Lounge to check for bus options from New York to Boston. The only workable option seemed to be one of the cheap Chinatown buses leaving at 11pm, which should be easily doable given that my flight arrives at 9:19.

Upon arrival at Laguardia I watched the baggage carousel get emptier and emptier with no sign of my suitcase, then finally gave up and went to the baggage office to arrange for it to be sent to my hotel in Boston. The girl there said my bag was still in Montreal; I asked if it could be sent directly to Boston and she said no because it had to travel the same route I did. So I was supposed to call to arrange for it to be shipped to me after its arrival in New York. I didn’t expect to see it before Tuesday or Wednesday.

Just as I was leaving the baggage office a guy came in with my suitcase, saying one of the straps had been caught in the carousel. Woohoo! No need to wear the same jeans/tshirt/hoodie for the next week…

I asked about ground transportation options to Manhattan; I could take a cab (maybe ~$40?), an express shuttle with a bunch of stops, or public transport (M60 bus and the N train) and walk a few blocks.

(btw, I love New York! I was dreading the thought of flying into the US because of bad experiences with rude staff at LAX and in Boston, but everyone I talked to here has been really nice, and it’s an amazing city in general. I’d love to live here for a while.)

I figured I had plenty of time to make it to Chinatown so I’d take the cheap option, public transport. As I sat on the bus and train watching the minutes tick away (never really sure if I was going the right way), I realized my whole elaborate plan to get to Boston in time was about to be ruined by some unnecessary thriftiness — something I’d be sure to reflect upon as I spent the next seven hours dragging my suitcase around Manhattan killing time before the 6am bus.

Luckily, I arrived at the Fung Wah Bus station at 10:55pm, ran to the ticket window to claim the ticket I had booked online in Montreal, and boarded the bus just in time. (sans food, but fortunately I always have snacks in my pack — tonight’s dinner is almonds and a fruit bar)

This is the fourth close call I’ve had in the past couple weeks: I caught the bus out of Whistler with about 30 seconds to spare, I rented a car in Montreal and drove to my dentist appointment in Ottawa with 5 mins to spare, and returned it a few days later just a few minutes before I would have been charged $60 for an extra day.

I should arrive in Boston around 3am (actually 2am thanks to daylight savings time), early enough to get a few hours of sleep before my meeting starts bright and early tomorrow.

I love it when a plan comes together!

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.