Friday, February 18, 2011


Getting My Britches to Stitches

As I write this, it is about 1:15am and I am somewhere way up in the mountains in Oregon, having just left a little place called Chemoke (spelling?). I won't be able to post this until I hit civilization (and a wireless network) some time mid-Wednesday. If I perish in the woods before that, I hope that this message is found.

Being in Chemoke itself is no problem. No, no. The problem IS that if this is Chemoke, this must be oh, about 11pm on Wednesday, not 1am on Thursday.

Yet again I'm on my way to Stitches, and this time the trip has been even more fraught with difficulty than was last year's. I suppose I'll need to tell you the whole story.

In tedious, painstaking detail. Because this is my blog, and I can.

As I said in my last post of any substance, I wasn't even sure until a couple of weeks ago that I was even going to be able to do Stitches again this year, due to a year of turmoil, angst and general fuckery. I was pretty sure it was a bad idea, but it turned out to be such a hoot last year that even though it wasn't particularly profitable I just couldn't resist saying yes again.

So far it's looking, alas, like I should have trusted my instincts. (Then again if I had done so, things would have turned out differently in so many of my life's situations that you should hardly be startled that I chose "the other thing", yet again. I'm really not quite sure why I'm allowed out on my own most of the time.)

I'll whine on and on about how I don't have enough product, I knew I didn't have enough time to get ready, I'm lazy and irresponsible and my husband is a dickhead some other time. I think right now I'd like to share the complete and utter ass-sucking agony of the last 24 hours. Because, you know, other people's tribulations are funny, and someone should be getting some sort of enjoyment out of this.

After the debacle of last year's childcare-juggling done from 1600 km away, Mr. Assmuppet and I decided that he should take time off work while I was away. He's got the time coming, so we won't lose any pay, and we won't have to worry about who is taking care of Her Surreal Highness (or, as happened last year, who was not taking care of Her Surreal Highness). In light of that, I felt that it would be best to leave the car in Vancouver so that they didn't have to schlep around on the bus for 8 days while I knocked a year off of the car's life.

After all, the Amtrak is cheap and convenient and fun and they have wi-fi and I could just kick back and enjoy myself and screw about online and knit and watch the scenery, couldn't I?

Couldn't I?

As it turned out; no. No, I couldn't.

My first mistake was to assume that there were two trains a day from Vancouver heading southward. After all, there always had been and so why would it have changed? Being no fan of this whole planning thing of which I have heard others speak, I didn't bother to check the train schedule until Monday. Yeah, I know. The day before I was to leave. Imagine my horror in discovering that, without even consulting me, the fuckers, Amtrak had changed their schedule.

That's right; there was now only one train a day and it left at 5:30 in the morning.

Just a few hours away.

After running about screaming and flailing for a while, I contacted Maia and asked if it would be a big problem if I came down on the Wednesday morning train instead. After all, I'd be there by 10am on Thursday which would give us time for setup. I would, of course, be rested and raring to go after a peaceful day's trip looking at scenery and screwing about on the internet and a good night's sleep in my comfortable and roomy seat.

Not a problem, right?

Yeah. Right.

To start with, 4:30 am -- no matter whether it arrives on Tuesday or Wednesday -- is still too damned early to be awake. It's especially too damned early if you've been up until after 2am doing laundry the night before. (I believe I've already mentioned that I'm no fan of the planning. Shut up.)

Still, I managed to haul my ass out of bed and Mr. Assmuppet, who had been up all night loading up my new MP3 player with tunes for the journey drove me in to the train station. We made it three minutes before the scheduled departure of the Amtrak-which-is-a-bus-not-a-train (you can tell I'm still bitter about this, however at least it wasn't such a shock this time). Although there was, alas, no time to grab a cup of coffee, there was no problem getting on the bus-not-a-train. Seeing most folks are too smart to get up at that time of day I had two seats to myself and after successfully navigating the turbulent shoals of Customs and Immigration, I managed to get a deep and satisfying sleep most of the rest of the way to Seattle.

Seattle! Oh, how I love Seattle. The train station, in all its crumbling decadent glory, is in a "colourful" part of town. The weather was fantastic -- cold, windy and clear -- and I hit the street to nab some breakfast (good coffee and a bacon and egg bagel from a little cafe) and then went on a hike to find a Tracphone, seeing I couldn't find the one that I keep for use in the US.

Although my love for Seattle is deep and constant, my love for hiking up hills past police cars and interesting characters waned a little when, upon reaching my goal I discovered they were all out of Tracphones. "Oh well", thought I, "I'll just get one in Portland when I stop to get some food for the rest of the journey; there will be tons of time."

On returning to the train station I discovered to my disappointment that the Amtrak "train" that I was supposed to be getting on was yet another bus, and not a train at all. This was a matter of federal and safety requirements and not any sort of deliberate deception -- there had been a mudslide on the tracks and they had to send us to Portland, whereupon our glorious TRAIN would finally be waiting.

Because of this, Amtrak -- who I must say behaved decently throughout the entire trip, despite my deep and childish feeling of betrayal by just about everything -- provided a boxed lunch for all of us, as we wouldn't have access to a snack bar or a dining car. Unfortunately, it was a submarine sandwich absolutely loaded with peppers, to which I'm allergic. Hardly their fault, but it meant that my lunch was a small bag of chips and half a bottle of water. Hardly adequate, even for a relatively small rabbit.

Things started looking up when we hit Tacoma and more passengers got on the not-a-train. I ended up with a very congenial and interesting seatmate. I napped for about an hour on the way out of Tacoma and then we enjoyed some really fantastic conversation for the rest of the way into Portland.

The bus took considerably longer than the train would have, and so by the time we got to Portland not only was there no time to get a Tracphone, there was also no time to get food and barely time even to get on the train. We pulled out of the station considerably behind schedule.

The eagerly-anticipated dining car was already fully booked for the evening and one could only get one's name on a waiting list. I hadn't expected the food to be anything special, the eager anticipation was just because I was sort of falling over both from lack of food and lack of sleep. I toddled off to the snack bar instead and had ... uh ... something. It claimed to be turkey but I didn't examine it too closely. Can of pop. More chips. Because every girl needs two bags of chips in one day.

And then the day sort of went to shit.

The much-vaunted and promised wi-fi connection? Nonexistent (which means of course that as I write this my family has no idea if I'm alive or dead, as I have no way to contact them At All, and Maia has no idea that I'm coming in at least two hours late).Both of these things are Very Much Not Good. I also have no way to get online and track my packages to see if the pathetically small amount of product I sent is even on its way. For all I know I'm going to stand there with a couple of lbs. of mohair and nothing else. It really would have been nice to at least know about the wi-fi when I was in Seattle and had a couple of hours to spare.

And then the train had to pull over onto a siding to let another train pass. And then again. And then there was a line problem and we were delayed again. Right now I think we’re running about two and a half hours behind. Who knows what the rest of the night holds?

The knitting? Not so easy; because of the way I knit it's easier if someone sits on my right-hand side, but my seatmate was on the left. The restful sleep? Total bullshit.

For most of the trip, a woman from Klamath Falls went on and on, in a voice (to quote the inimitable Carole Pope) "like a razor blade on glass" about anything and everything that came to mind. Now, usually, if I'm trashing someone I won't include a pile of personal details, but seeing she had no problem sharing with her companions (and the rest of the carriage) that she lived in Klamath Falls, her daughter is a librarian, she hates to read however her daughter reads a chapter of a book to her husband every night, and it took her about six months to get through Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand.

Recognize yourself? Might want to reconsider sharing all of your details with 30 strangers, then. Especially when most of those strangers have turned the lights out and have made it pretty clear that they’d like to sleep.

And then there was Typhoid Mary. Now, it’s not her fault that she has vicious bronchitis, and it’s not her fault that she’s been barking oh, every 2 or 3 minutes. It is, however, her fault that she’s had several lengthy phone arguments with whoever’s waiting for her at home. And I have to say that although the illness isn’t her fault, I’m sort of feeling like I’d like to wash down all the seats and take a shower in Lysol right about now. Two words, honey: Droplet Infection. Covering your mouth is never a bad idea.

We won’t discuss the person who, even now, thinks that 2:30 am (yes, I’ve been writing for a while) is a good time to share movies (with lots of screaming) with the rest of us.

It’s gonna be a long night.

Right about now, I’m hoping the train will break down altogether and that we’ll be eaten by wolves.

You’ll be able to identify my corpse by the shock of unruly hair, the Canadian passport, and the half a bottle of water and three gummy fruits that is all that’s left of my stock of food.

Should I survive, I’ll post this in the morning and finish the sorry saga. I’m looking forward to finding out what’s going to happen, myself.

Oh great … and now some man stopped in the aisles between the seats and coughed on me. I’m going to try to sleep now. If I don’t make it, you can have my stuff.

ugh; sorry your trip's going so bad. Ben's already set up our booth and there and selling things while I have to work until 2pm and trust my life to 2 different Southwest pilots, because the best fare I could get has a layover in LA. I fly from DEN to LAX and sit in the airport at LAX for an hour, then fly to SJC.

Fingers crossed this is a better show than the last one we were both at.
somebunny's luck is BOUND to change after all that crapola!

here's wishing you a total sell-out of product, plus many orders at stitches, plus trains-that-really-are-trains for the homeward trip.
This post should come with a warning attached - a warning in BIG letters, bolded, italicized - "not compatible with the consumption of beverages" - I am having trouble staying on my exercise ball chair.

I am sure the experience was not nearly as funny as the post, but the post is a gem. Can't wait for the next installment.

Good luck at Stitches, I am sure you will sell out.
Oh my hell, woman. Last year must seem like a dream now.

Hope you have a chance to booze it up and good!!!
Are you still stranded on Amtrak somewhere?
God, I've missed you.
Damn, if I'd known your journey was that horrendous, I would have brought you a nice batch of cookies and a *good* sandwich yesterday.
It's a plot. The americans want everyone to drive their own (american built) cars so they make travelling by train as difficult, unpleasant and slow as possible.

Hope the rest of your week is a vast improvement.
PS I would have strangled that woman.
I didn't know Amtrak even had buses.

I always take snacks with me on trips because the chances of finding food I can actually eat is disappointingly small.
Sorta makes wearing a surgical mask in public look cool eh? I'll make a mojo cross & send it in your direction - I hope the show was good to you.
I'm looking forward to the rest of your saga and the return trip story. I know you made it to Stitches since Rachael mentioned stealing your Noro sock for her new loom and I hope you made it home in good health (or at least in one piece).
It is not funny in the least, but it does make a great tale... (and makes me wonder what kind of a tale I will have to tell when I finally make my way out there?)
Just wanted to say how much I've missed your posts. I hope you had a great Stitches time and your road home was less fraught with things that make good telling once they're over.
You have to finish this year's story please.

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