There are certain phrases you don’t want to hear at 3am on a night bus. They include: highway closures, avalanche control, stuck on the road, annoy your seat-partner, heavy snowfall. Luckily for me, I heard them all in what must have been the Canadian bus-drivers’ association’s bad-luck bingo.
Ten-million hours previous to this, Sophie and I had woken up on our last day together and embarked on a mission to find one of show-jumping’s most prestigious grounds, Spruce Meadows. Cheered on by how close it was, we hopped on the trains and mapped out the best way to get there. We both thought it was located a bit too close to Calgary city, but after bandying around examples like Olympia and the NEC, we brushed it off, until we realised we were half way to a hotel.
It turns out Spruce Meadows is very far outside of Calgary, not accessible by public transport, and marked by a purple 36, not an orange 36.
Our last day couldn’t be more apt, and we finished our trip together with a game of trying-hard-not-to-be-overly-competitive-Scrabble (which included teaching a Turkish guy the words ‘drown’, ‘hike’, ‘quid’, and basically every word on the board apart from ‘beer’. I’m surprised he didn’t accuse us of making words up…).
The last three and a half weeks have been filled with non-stop laughing, delirious conversations, spooky mind-reading, and renditions of songs that I will never ever stop singing to Soph (sorry buddy). It’s been the best way to acclimatise to travelling, and although I’m still not certain that I’ll last very long now I’m solo, I at least know that Sophie managed it around the world once with very few navigational skills (haha, sorry again).
She is truly one of the most brilliant, kind, brave and funny people I have the pleasure of knowing, and she’s one of the bestest friends I’ll ever have – Soph, I’m going to miss you like anything over the next few months, and thank you for putting up with my general uselessness, sarcasm and constant head-banging.
So, after I said goodbye to Soph, I hopped on a very poor looking bus, cried when a fat man who smelt of onions, cheese and B.O. sat next to me (i.e. sat on me), and slowly moved away from the mountains. At 3am, we pulled up to change buses (and seat partners, thank the Lord), and it turned out we’d had avalanches on our tail the entire way, and it was doubtful that we were going to make it to Vancouver without having to stop for avalanche control (whatever that is).
However, 15 hours after leaving Calgary, we arrived at the bus station and piled out. With a patchy hour’s sleep to hand, I struggled my way towards the airport, and only managed to get there due to a very friendly train controller who just wanted to talk about Melbourne.
I’ve currently been in the airport for 15 hours, and soon will be getting on a 15 hour flight. I’m starting to understand why Doctor Who has a permanently confused look on his face; this time-distance malarkey isn’t half confusing. I have no idea what day it is, where I’m going, or where my plane is, but hopefully the next time you hear from me, I’ll be somewhere in Australia, sometime in the future.