Sunday, April 5, 2009

Eh Vegas: Getting there is not really HALF the fun

My guess is that everyone that reads OhCaptain Poker, does so for the snappy travel recaps. I mean it's been, um what, 3 weeks since I crossed the border. Well, here's part one of my Eh Vegas recap.

While we were in Vegas in December, we got a taste of what the big gathering is all about. It was an absolute blast. We also started hearing about the smaller, regional gatherings. Kat had OhCountess sold on a trip to Canada in about a 2 seconds.

Originally, we had hoped to travel together and enjoy a Mom and Dad weekend away. OhCountess will be finishing her Master degree the first week of May, this made it almost impossible for her to go. Too much to do and very little precious time left. This meant I was going to travel for fun all by myself. I haven't travelled by myself without a business agenda and an expense account in a very long time. Weeeeeeee!

I made my plans, got my passport, booked a flight and arranged with Kat to stay in the guest suites of her building. Heck, I even found out just how good the exchange rate was for us heading east and south. At .805, you get a fair bit more Cannuck money for your US greenbacks. A few days before I left, I even lucked my way into sharing the cost of my suite with someone else. VinNay was driving up from New York and looking for a place to stay. Suite! I mean Sweet! Not that you would have read it on in my Vegas recap that has yet to be published, but I had met him in Vegas. 

It might be because this summer, I'm hitting one of those major milestone birthdays. Watching Riggs and Waffles blaze the trail has been fun but I've decided to get some last youthful stuff out of the way. My midlife crisis seems to be resolving by me traveling while my prostate still allows for extended flight time. Blogger gatherings have the right mix of travel and excitement. There is still time to do a few more this year. Okie Vegas is out, we have a prior commitment. Is there gonna be a "Rainy Vegas" out west (looking at you WA, OR, BC)? How about a "Peach Vegas" in Georgia? Anyone? Bueller?
Travelling by myself has never really been a problem. I actually enjoy the surreal solitude you feel being alone in a sea of strangers. My itinerary had me travelling from home, to Minneapolis, to O'Hara and then to YYZ in Toronto. Only one new airport for me this time. It's almost impossible for me to travel without hitting MSP and O'Hara. Both are starting to feel like home. The picture on the left is the lovely eastern coast of Michigan.

I didn't really spend that much time at O'Hara, about an hour and 20 minutes. I did a lot of Twittering there and got my internet life in order. You see, Canadians enjoy paying outrageously for thier data plans. My beloved iPhone was gonna cost me $.02/kilobyte. That's ~$20/MB or HOLY SHIT! Once I left Chicago, data roaming was being turned off. Goodbye Twitter, Facebook, Google Reader. I will miss you.

This second leg of the journey was on the smallest commuter plane I've ever ridden on. Each row was 3 seats wide. I had discovered this while planning the trip. On the big plus side, I picked a seat on the single seat side. I really was looking forward to this, stretching sideways sounded like heaven.

Both of these flights were right around an hour. I remember complaining about how the little bag of pretzels you got on a flight seemed so tiny by comparison to the price of the flight. Now, I miss those salty buggers. I packed a few things to nimble on while on the journey, but of course, this little flight stowed the carry-ons at the gate.

While en route to Toronto, the flight attendant had stopped by with the customs form. It's funny, they give you these shortly after giving you a beverage. That's not a lot of room on that little tray. 

I was a little bummed about the timing. I was rereading parts of "Elements of Poker" by Tommy Angelo and got to one of my favorite parts. He writes about "The nut nothing." I had never given any thought to the concept of having the best high card and giving it a name. Still makes me chuckle.

I grabbed my pencil and started filling out the form. My headphones were cranking out Bauhaus at the time. For some reason, the dark Gothic sounds of "Bela Lugosi's Dead" seemed fitting. Listening to someone screaming in Latin while wondering why it matters if I've been to a farm in the last week. Who would answer the truth if any of this was true? Am I really gonna tell people that I have more the $10,000 in cash with me? I'm going to a home poker game and try to only bring what I can afford to lose.

When I arrived in Canada, I seriously considered dropping to my knees and kissing the ground. Remember the joy I had with having no one sitting next to me? Well, this comes with a price. On approach to YYZ, the ride gets so rough you no longer question the fasten seat belt sign. Buckle up!

Deboarding the plane at YYZ, you don't realize it at first, but the plane seems to have landed in another state. Shortly before landing, I realized that all the Coke Zero was starting catch up to me. Never fear, this is quite possible the worlds longest concourse. After travelling for what seems like a quarter mile, you make a left and travel about a half mile until you see this escalator down, welcoming you to Canada. Whew, the end! 


No, more hallway, a couple more turns and eventually, you finally reach a door. A fine government employ is sitting there. I wasn't really sure what he did. I'm assuming what ever it was, he was doing it well. He didn't move much but he was 15 ft from a bathroom.

For those of you that read my person blog, I've posted this before there. I wrote this down because while at the time, my tired brain was struggling with the whole thing, the story was actually quite entertaining. Here's the list of questions I was grilled with:
  • Why are you travelling to Canada. For leisure.
  • Did you bring more the $10,000 in cash? No (but really wanted to say - to a poker game, are you crazy? Kept lips tight on that one. 
  • Are you visiting anyone? Yes.
  • What is their names? Names of people I'm visiting. The short list, for god's sake I'm meeting up with like 20 other poker player/bloggers.
  • Where are you staying? The host's apartment building has guest suites. Rather nice ones I might add...never mind.
  • What's the address? Oh thank you Kat for emailing me this!
  • How are you getting there? Jeebus, The host's husband is picking me up...crap this is gonna lead to more damn questions about people I know but vaguely...I'm really hoping my creative writing skills are enough here...oh, and my ability to bluff like a pro.
  • What is his name? [name] - Here we go, this is one of my blogger friends non-poker playing, non-blogging husband...thank god I met him once.
  • What do you do for a living? Computer Programmer - I could have given him the long form of my actual job title - Senior Analyst/Programmer, but that just leads to more questions. By this time though, I'm struggling with every once of my being to not be a complete smart ass and just start making shit up...
  • What kind of car is Keith driving? Grey Mazda - Are you friggin' kidding me? I don't even know what kind of car my parents drive. I think my minivan is blue. So glad they told me ahead of time...and I thought they were nuts for telling me that.
  • What do your hosts do? School teacher and a (eyes shifting up and to the left - you do this when you are thinking creatively) sound engineer. I have no idea of EXACTLY what he does for a living. This is pretty close...whew.
  • How long are you staying? Would it be kosher to just give him the link to this blog? Seriously, I'm an open book...fine. 4 days.
  • Do you only have the one bag? No dumb ass, I rented out the entire plane for all the crap I'd need over the next 4 days. Single guys always bring extra crap...yes sir. The one bag.
  • Are you travelling with anyone else? For the love of Pete! No, I'm travelling by myself.
Have a nice trip, and welcome to Canada.

I had called Keith (Kat's husband) about halfway through the baggage area. We were arranging a method for us to converge. It would seem that on the other side of baggage claim is one more customs desk. Who knew? One of these guys didn't take kindly to me talking on my cell. 

"Put down the phone, NOW!" - one of the armed security guys screamed at me. I know I look like a 40 year old disgruntled poker player, but I hadn't even gotten to the desk yet...geez. His counterpart was a lot nicer about it and rolled his eyes. I could tell the power trip his friend was on was starting to lose it's luster on him. I was saying good bye when he yelled it any way.

Eh Vegas was planned for the same weekend as Spring Break. The place was a bit of a zoo, thankfully, they were fleeing and I was arriving. Keith would pick me up in departures, his grey Nissan was a welcome site.

I've met Keith before. He and Kat had stopped at our house on their way to Alaska. We drove towards the tall buildings, I was almost there. He's an easy person for a conversation. After travelling most of the day, it was nice to talk to someone. I had planned my flights to get me there with enough time for a good meal and some beers. It also meant we departed the airport at rush hour. Keith admitted to choosing poorly the route home. I really didn't mind. He got to show me some of the older parts of the city along Lake Ontario. So much history. It was really cool.

By now, I was looking forward to just slowing down. Back at the Kat and Keith's towers was a place for me to hang my coat and relax. Also back at their apartment were some of the TuckFards. Donkaa and NutzCarson were there with their lovely brides...and they had beer. Oh, sweet, sweet beer. It tasted so good. I don't even remember what it was, I just remember thinking how good it tasted.

It was awesome to finally meet them. I was a bit travel brained, so hopefully I wasn't too big an ass. Kat wasn't there yet, she arrived a few minutes after I did. She had keys to a place for me to keep my stuff. I got my hugs and with some quick cell phone calls, plans for dinner and drinks were arranged.

We were heading to the distillery district...

More later...this has dragged on long enough.


WeaselMomma said...

Glad you had fun! But did you win money?

Memphis MOJO said...

Thanks for the nice recap. Glad you had fun.

Anonymous said...

Sheesh. What are they going to do? Watch you as you leave the building and make sure you get into the right make/model of car with the correctly described person driving it?

I thought U.S. TSA and ICE were bad....