Frodo Baggins had Tom Bombadil and Goldberry. I had my sister Elise and her husband Brad.
(Warning: Nerdy talk ahead)
Tom Bombadil did not make it into the Lord of the Rings movies. While I would have loved to see his character portrayed, I understand the decision. Some scenes had to be cut to keep the movies a reasonable length. Shame. He is an interesting character, very powerful yet very silly; switching back and forth between profound revelations and singing about how awesome his boots are. He is perhaps the only being in Middle Earth who is completely unaffected by the power of the ring.
Frodo, along with the other three hobbits, meet Tom Bombadil early in their journey. In terms of the movie, The Fellowship of the Ring, it would be before they encounter Aragorn at Bree. Mr. Bombadil helps them out of a couple harrowing situations and houses them for a few days. The hobbits eat well and rest well, enjoying the hospitality of Tom Bombadil and his wife, Goldberry.
Though the hobbits have scarcely left The Shire, this rest is important for them. Perhaps they are beginning to grasp the magnitude of what lies before them. Perhaps they are beginning to understand the perils of their journey. Perhaps they now know that they have no idea what they are doing.
I have no idea what I’m doing.
I understand that now.
12 days in Vancouver was the perfect stop for me.
I have to summarize, which is a bit unfortunate. Doing so will seem to downplay the immense hospitality that was shown to me while staying here. I categorize my time here more as a break from my adventure rather than part of the adventure itself. The first day I came my sister told me, “You can stay as long as you like.” This perpetual invitation was repeated multiple times, by her husband, Brad, as well. Little did they know that I would take them up on it!
Elise and Brad have been married for 9 months now. They moved to Vancouver in January after Brad got a job with a visual effects company. It has long been a dream of his to work in digital animation and he has taken all of the steps to make it a reality. (He’s really good at what he does. He’s as talented at digital animation as I am talented at putting long strings of text within parentheses. The guy is legit.) He also found time to find an awesome wife along the way.
My sister and I are really close. We even lived together (along with some other awesome guys) before she met Brad. She taught at Schoo Middle School in Lincoln before finding true love in South Africa (ask them the story sometime). She is now a barista at JJ Bean in Yaletown.
They have a nice little apartment in downtown Vancouver, up on the 26th floor. They are both just a couple of blocks from work. It was hard to work on my blog with this view:
They filled me up with so much good food. Both home cooked and at restaurants. Poutine, sushi, Japanese hot dogs, miso soup, pho….the list goes on and on. Below is a picture of me tripling my lifetime intake of sushi in one meal (that wasn’t all just for me though):
I got to celebrate Canada Day with some red beer:
We took a couple of fun hikes:
Sorry about your face, Sister.
Elise’s friend, Shayna, was visiting for about a week while I was there. On her last day, she paid for a boat rental for the four of us. It was awesome.
(Yes, this is the picture I decided to use. Sorry everyone.) 🙂
I can drive anything that starts with a ‘B’. Bus, bike or boat. (Just toss me the keys to a Boeing or a bulldozer.)
Brad and I got to brew some beer. He has promised to save me one!
So…..we did a lot of stuff, which was great. But these days were much more about the being than the doing. It was nice to feel like I was back in a somewhat normal life: Going for runs, playing games on my phone, having a morning coffee (or two), watching movies, going to church. You know, things that humans do.
My trip up to this point has basically consisted of four things: Riding, writing, wrenching and researching. As much as I love to do each of these things, the lack of down time has started to wear on me a bit. My stop in Vancouver recharged my batteries, but I think it also helped me realize that I need to be purposeful about budgeting in “me” time.
I also learned a lot about how to supply the tangible things I need for my trip. My departure was delayed by waiting for a new rear tire to arrive in Blaine, WA. I should be well equipped to plan ahead more effectively in the future.
I don’t think Annie’s time in Vancouver was quite as good as mine. She was confined to a little corner underground and spent most of her time with only one wheel attached. She had a a couple of Kawasaki crotch rockets for company, but they just wanted to talk about body panels and aftermarket exhaust (things that don’t interest Annie). Annie’s stories were met either with disbelief or haughty questions like “Ewww, didn’t you get dirty?” But the time was good for her. The bearing issue is fixed and the chain is “re-clipped.” She will get a new rear tire in a few hundred miles.
My last day in Vancouver was my birthday-eve, giving my hosts one last chance to lavish me with generosity. I wielded my birthday power to get Brad to watch The Sound of Music, which he had not seen before. I mostly succeeded in suppressing my singing reflex until “Climb Every Mountain.”
I don’t think I am fully ready to continue, but I am ready as I can be. I am so thankful for the gift of family, both immediate and extended. Without their support I don’t know if I could carry on.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go meet Gandalf at the Prancing Pony.