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August 7th, 2004

Home sweet home...

The alarm went off at 8:30. I hit the snooze three times, and finally got up at 8:57. I showered, and headed down to breakfast while Steve got up, shaved, and showered. The breakfast area was packed. I guess this is how it probably was every morning, but we never got down there before 11, 11:30 all week. A whole new crop of folks were there for the new weekend.

The guys with whom I shared a table for breakfast had been traveling since July 15th, and were on the tail end, returning home after this weekend. They were from Vancouver, and had been traveling around Canada visiting Toronto, Prince Edward Island, and several other resort kind of islands in that area. I asked if they were staying in hotels, or if they had a camper or something. "Oh, no. I need a hotel," the one responded. I made some comment about, yeah, one needs a camper, alone, just for the products.

Steve came down, and I read the newspaper while he had his breakfast. I saw that that husband had confessed to his brothers, who had then told the police, that he had murdered his wife. What a story. Amazing how some people just seem to "snap."

While we were eating, Shawn came down, with a shirt on, which was wise. He does look good in clothes, I'll give him that. Just a little too cocky to like, though -- for me.

We sat outside on the garden patio while Steve had a cigarette, then went up to the lobby to settle the bill. While Jonathan was filling out the paperwork to charge it, Steve made an entry into Le Conciergerie's "Guest Book," filled with comments from past visitors over the years. Earlier in the week, I looked back in the 1999 book, surprised to not find a comment from either me, or Dan and Joe from our stay here then. There were several books there, perhaps there was another from that year, but I didn't go through them.

The taxi was 10 minutes early, but we were ready. We left a $20 (Canadian) tip in the room, said our goodbyes to Jonathan (Luc and Michael seemed to be out this morning), and took an uneventful ride to the airport. The standard fare to and from the airport by taxi is $31 (Canadian). This one was no different.

There was virtually no line to check-in at Delta, and the flight is showing "on time." So far so good. The lady who helped us was incredibly nice, and directed us to Immigration via the Duty Free area. It was here that we found out that what Jonathan had told us earlier about being able to just get cash back for the taxes you paid while visiting was not quite right. To get cash for your refund (as opposed to shopping Duty Free to use it up), you had to leave this area, go fill out some form at some office, get the cash, then come back up, blah, blah, blah, or do it by mail when you got home. We took the forms to take care of it from Raleigh.

My December "detainment" all came back to me as we approached the Immigration area. The "bear" wasn't there, though, nor was outdoorsy "Jane Hathaway" at station number 9. I was sent to station number 3.

"How long were you in the country, Mr. Martin?"

"I arrived last Saturday."

"And what was the purpose of your visit here?"

"Vacation."

"Did you buy anything here, Mr. Martin?"

"This," I said putting my bag up on the counter, but before saying what it was he interrupted.

"And the value?"

"$34.00," I replied not clarifying whether it was $34 American or Canadian.

"There you are. You're all set. Have a safe flight."

Now that's how Immigration should go. :-) I waited for Steve, and then we went to the customs area together. While we waited to put our bags through the huge x-ray machine, a most fastidious woman was in front of us. Steve noticed this, of course. Everything about her was to the nines. Pristine do, impeccable nails, killer earrings, a very delicate gold ankle bracelet, perfect lipstick. Pure class.

All three of us were waiting for our bags at the other end, when hers came barreling out. "Shit!" she said. I laughed. So much for classy. I really expected, "Mon Adieu!" from such a femme.

I put my suitcase on the conveyor belt, and they asked Steve to take his forward, where they scanned it with some wand or other. One of those ones that "smells" it, I think. I told him I'd meet him outside the customs area. I proceeded through normal security, taking out my laptop, and removing all metal. I passed through without incident. At the end, she took my laptop to "swab," which evidently "passed." I waited for Steve, who arrived very shortly afterwards.

We had lunch at Burger King, and the proceeded to Gate 89. This is the same gate I left from in December.

Our flight left on time, and arrived at ALGA on time. Steve and I were the only two "through" passengers, so everyone else deplaned, while we stayed on board. After everyone had left, I went to use the bathroom in the back of the plane. It smelled too much in there, so I decided to deplane, and use the restroom in the terminal.

Outside the plane I found out that you had to take a bus, which I had missed, to the terminal. After a minute or so, one came by, which was empty, and I flagged him down. I explained to him what had happened and he took me to the terminal, where he wouldn't leave me until he "handed me over" to someone sitting at the entrance to the gate.

I used the restroom, and waited to re board. The call came at about 3:20, for our scheduled departure at 3:30.

At URDU, Steve's bag was about the third or fourth one off. Mine didn't come, and didn't come, and didn't come. He went outside to meet Sylvia and Phil. Eventually I noticed that our flight number was no longer showing on the display above the belt. I went to the Delta baggage office, and they took my information saying, "Your bag may have accidentally been taken off at LaGuardia. Great. My digital camera is in the bag, not to mention 99% of my current wardrobe, including the shoes I'd like to wear to dance tonight. Oh well.

At home, I found my place pristine. My place was vacuumed, bathrooms were cleaned, toilet paper ends were pointed, bed was made, and a mint was on my pillow. That mint of a man. There was also a note from Courtney that she had stayed, and thanking me.

I posted several of my journal entries, and left for dancing a little after 7:30. Only Michael and Van and Adam were there when I arrived. Others started coming around 8:30, the first being Steven, his friend Rob, and another friend Aaron. Steven and Rob had taught Erin four or five dances before coming, which he later danced, and did really well with. Good for him.

Missy did not make an appearance tonight. I did Schottische with Tony, which was interesting. By 11:00, the bears were getting restless, and later I heard that they were actually giving us the evil eye, ready for us to "clear the dance floor."

Afterwards, I ran out to my car and put on a dry shirt. When I came back in, most of the guys were leaving to meet at Van's. Van rode with me, so we could stop for beer on the way back, and Michael followed us, since he had never been to Van's, which really surprised me. We stopped at "The Kangaroo" on Avent Ferry and got two 12-packs of Bud Light.

There was a totally shit-faced girl in there who wanted some cash very bad. She thought she could get cash back on a purchase, but they don't do that, so she turned around to everyone in the store waiting, which was about 8 or 9 people by this time, and slurred, "Will anyone let me put their purchase on my credit card, and pay me the cash for it?" This one young student said, "Sure," I'll do it. He put his $17 beer purchase on her card, and gave her $17 in cash. I hope that got her through the night.

Van left there in Michael's car, and I rode by my house to get my Canadian Club, and while there, grabbed my Club crackers, and the crab dip. At Van's was Adam, of course, Eric (the black guy) and his room mate Bobby (who I had never met before), Michael, Rick E., Carl, Carl H. (Carl's "date), and Shawn and Josh. We sat out on the deck eating snacks, and drinking.

At one point, Adam took me on a tour of the house, as I think I've been there twice now, but have only ever seen the kitchen, dining, and living room areas. There were two bedrooms downstairs. One belongs to the couple that lives with Van, who I've never met, and they were out of town. The other guest bedroom, Adam called "Brook's room." Upstairs, the collection of CDs and movies that Van has is just mind-boggling. And then the collection of Disney collectibles, mostly knickknacks that he has, oh my god. Just phenomenal.

Carl H. had a lot to say, to which after a short while people were rolling their eyes to most of, and then Bobby told us about working at the prison. He executes people. He talked about "pushing the button," and other "behind the scenes" things that go on there (nothing sexual, believe it or not). After a while, a few people left, and me, Shawn, Rick, Josh, Adam and Michael went inside, and Adam put Sordid Lives on the large-screen TV. We were quoting various lines, and just being drunks, I suppose, while it was on.

At some point, Josh, Van, and Michael went upstairs, and went through Van's "outfits." After a while they each came down in drag, which was hysterical.

At about 3:00, I guess, maybe it was later, I crashed in "Brook's bed," and I think Shawn and Josh fell asleep on the couches in the living room.

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