Don’t fail me now #Rimowa


Okay, so this is scary. I can’t get the combination lock on my suitcase to work. It just won’t open.

My wallet is in there. So is my camera, IPhone, computer.

I’m in Mexico, more than an hour from an airport and a customs officer with a TSA lock key. There are no suitcase places in town.

The only remedy is to have my extremely resourceful Air BnB host sever the lock. She has the proper hardware. Files of some kind. Says she has done this in the past for guests. It takes her less than two minutes to cut the lock.

I’m pissed. Not with her. She’s terrific. I paid $650 for this Rimowa suitcase three years ago. The lock shouldn’t have malfunctioned.


The only thing I can think of is damage done from baggage handling, or the suitcase being opened and fooled around with by security at one of the three airports I travelled through to get to Mexico.

(I opened the lock and suitcase once after I arrived to retrieve my scuba gear and put away my valuables. I noticed the lock was a bit finicky but didn’t think it was an issue.)

I’m freaked. I know there’s a five year warranty. The fix should be covered. Where the hell did I put the receipt? I’m usually very organized with receipts (photo to Evernote and original in a special file folder). Surprisingly, I can’t find it when I return home a few weeks later. (There’s a chance I did the ultimate safekeeping and put it in my safety deposit box at the bank. Didn’t check there).

Go to the MEGO store. Where I purchased the suitcase. They don’t keep records from that far back.img_0884

An email to Rimowa customer service tells me to take it to the local repair place in Vancouver. The serial number will determine whether the suitcase is under warranty.

It’s going to the repair shop this week. I’ll keep you posted.

I’ve got a trip planned for the end of October. Hoping the fix is quick and painless.

UPDATE. Weston Luggage in East Vancouver fixed it while I waited. Covered by warranty. Very happy.

Crap the #airlines make us do



Photo I took from zone 3 lineup.

It happens with every flight I’ve taken in recent years. Ever since airlines introduced the zone system for boarding.

Nowadays, folks line up long before their zone is ever called. The reason: access to precious overhead bin space. At least in economy.

I detest the airlines for making me do this. But, I do it. Every time. I want my bin space. I need my bin space.


Line extends way back.

Dog eat dog. It’s a shit show. Boarding a plane is painful. And nasty. I’ve seen passengers report other passengers to airline staff for contravening the carry-on limits on size and number of bags.

The only way one can extricate oneself is to pay for premiere boarding access. Or premium seats. Which most of us cannot afford.

The greedy airlines are raking it in these days and always on the lookout for more ways to gouge us. I hate them for this.

I hate the way people in business and first class look down their noses at us behaving in such an undignified manner.

I also hate being the person in that lineup, right near the front. But, there I am.


Tank travels 2 blocks – witnesses birth


Pew, pew, pew. Turtle/tortoise mama digs hole, drops babies.

Ah, the miracle of birth. Not what Tank expected to see today when she took her new camera and 45mm prime lens out for a spin. Was expecting the usual: used syringes and people sleeping rough.

I’ve lived two blocks from Sun Yat Sen Gardens and park for more than a decade. Run past it a bazillion times. Never been in. Not even to the park, which is free and lovely. Who knew? Not I, til now.

So, today I went in. Wow. Lots of great things to photograph. A turtle laying eggs, a Koi being coy and lots of greenery.

Very exciting. A great place to practice my photography.

Tank needs to travel more at home!

Fool fails to board airplane without ID

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“Hey dude, where’s my ID?”

So, here I am at YVR waiting to board an Air Canada flight. Heading to Edmonton. It’s 6:45 am.

Electronic boarding pass is on my phone and “government-issued photo ID” is tucked into a pocket in my purse.

Tank is nothing if not well-organized. Other travellers, not so much.

Can’t help but notice the ‘Dude’ seated behind. What I picture a 62-year-old former roadie for Uriah Heep to look like. 

As the flight begins to board, Dude realizes he has no picture ID. Gets his buddy on the smartphone and says, “hey, you forgot to give me back my ID last night.” 


Who lends their ID to someone, except when you’re an underage teen and your older sibling lends you his/her ID to get into the bar?

Next, Dude is at the counter in search of something ID-ish in his wallet. Found nothing. 

Next, he asks the nice Air Canada lady if he can get on the plane without photo ID. Nope to that.

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Being told he’s NOT getting on the plane without photo ID.

So, Dude never makes it on this flight. Dude is a dud. Methinks this could be a teachable moment for Dude. On second thought, maybe not. To his credit, he never raised his voice to anyone. Didn’t freak out on airline staff.

I’m always surprised people this incredibly stupid travel. I suppose I shouldn’t be.

Remember Andres & Black Tower?


Remember when B.C. wine sucked? When you joked about how spectacularly awful it was? When you gagged on Baby Duck, but bought it anyway because you couldn’t afford champagne? When Black Tower and Schloss Laderheim were the go to ‘party’ wines?

Who’d have thunk B.C. wine would become so awesome? In my lifetime.

Just back from a few days in Osoyoos-Oliver. Mission to bring home a couple of cases of wine accomplished. Only my budget prevented a larger haul.

I’m no lush, really, but could drink wine from this region exclusively.

My faves wineries are: Desert Hills, Gehringer Brothers, Burrowing Owl and Tinhorn Creek. Mostly dry whites, but the odd Pinot Noir and Gamay.

Also, a good place to play with my new camera, an Olympus mirrorless micro 4/3, I bought for my Galapagos trip in December.

I now have a presence on 500px, where I’m posting some of my better pics, above and below ground. Might even try to sell a few.

Meantime, I’ve got good wine to sip. Planning a return trip to wine country, maybe later this summer.


Living on stilts – Mabul Village, Malaysia


Playing, washing and snorkelling. Local children in Mabul Village.

Getting around to posting some of the pics from recent trips. Pics without tales of horrid travellers or other stories.

The images are from Mabul Island, in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. They depict local housing, tourist accommodations and new construction aimed at mostly Chinese travellers.

Travel by mainland Chinese is a HUGE moneymaker for places like Malaysia, Indonesia and Palau. So much, that tour companies and specialized services are being created with them in mind.

The big draw in this area is scuba diving in Sipadan, an island close by that offers some of the world’s best diving. Probably the best diving I’ve ever experienced.

Workers in the service/tourism sector here work long hours. Many live in housing supplied by the resort in which they work. Some never really know when they’ll get their next day off. If they’re on a regular schedule, they will work six days a week. I met a cabbie in Kota Kinabalu who slept in his car, and saw his wife and children only monthly for a couple of days. My wilderness resort guide lived on site and visited his family on a irregular basis. Incomes are low and workers depend on tips.

Those of us fortunate enough to travel should be grateful, respectful and generous.

@AirCanada challenge – 20 days, seven flights – kill me now?



Mummified on Air Canada.

Let’s imagine Air Canada is a good airline.

Do your homework and you’ll discover Air Canada doesn’t suck as much as we think. Don’t believe me? Check out what it’s like to be a frequent flyer on United or American Airlines.

ACs counter service is usually good. I haven’t projectile vomited on the food since the late 1960s. (Or maybe that was BOAC). As a bonus, AC tends to not crash its planes and kill people. (Google ‘plane crashes in Russia’).

Still, it’s not perfect. Air Canada’s public affairs department is clueless and delusional. I frequently, as a CBC reporter, sought quotes for stories and they always failed me. When they did speak, it was crazy talk.

Conversely, the folks who staff the Air Canada Twitter feed are quick to respond and act on complaints. They, evidently, didn’t come from the public affairs department.

Here’s the challenge. Seven Air Canada flights in 20 days. Five with a checked bag. Economy seating. Epic failure or utopia?

Leg #1: Vancouver to Montreal: So, AC switched out the plane I originally booked on for a smaller one. Airbus 320 to the 319. Meant seats got changed. I still got a window seat. My brother got his aisle seat. Sat further away from each other than expected. I’m guessing this made him extremely happy.

Plane is packed, the overhead compartments filled to the brim, but there’s leg room. The barbarian in the row in front has reclined. This always pisses me off.

Flight attendant found a way to save me money on my food purchase, as long as I agreed to buy chocolate. Who could refuse that deal? Since brother is across the aisle, I don’t have to share. Score 10/10. Service excellent. Flight staff cheerful. Left the gate ten minutes early.

Leg #2 Montreal to Quebec City: Arrived at the airport I call Dorval. Which is what I’ve called this airport since I was a child growing up in Montreal. Which I’ll always call this airport. My brother says I have to call it Trudeau airport. This ridiculous practice of naming airports after politicians has got to stop. Because if we don’t we’re going to end up with Mulroney International Airport and Harper International.

Flight delayed for two hours, then cancelled. Then, put on the late flight. New boarding passes issued without hassle. Checked luggage made it. Score 7/10. (Marks lost for a surly customer service rep at Dorval who didn’t want to talk about the delayed/cancelled flight).

Leg #3 Montreal to Vancouver: Check-in fine. Boarding fine. Got space in the overhead bin. Barbarian in row ahead reclined. In-flight service fine. Luggage arrived. Nothing to moan about. Score 10/10.

27/30 – interim score.

Legs #4 & #5: Vancouver to Portland – Portland to Vancouver: Prop plane. Jam packed. ‘Skychecked’ my carry on, so no fighting or crying about overhead bin space. Nothing to bitch about. Score: 10/10 & 10/10.

47/50 – interim score.

Legs #6 & #7: Vancouver to Fort St John – Fort St John to Vancouver: Another packed flight, which I didn’t expect, since oil & gas is in the toilet. Small seats. Big people. Woman next to me and her buddy on the return flight mummified themselves by covering up their heads and faces with scarves, ball caps and a hoodie. I think they were from Alberta. Checked luggage arrived. ‘Plane-ing’ and ‘deplane-ing’ without a hitch. Score 10/10 & 10/10.

  • FINAL SCORE: 67/70. 

I feel like I’ve failed all the Air Canada haters out there.

Next flight: Edmonton on Canada Day. Let’s see how Air Canada performs on Canada’s national holiday.