At the summit, the view is beautiful. These words have been in my mind the last few days. They were shared with me last year at work, during a very tough time, when we felt we had to work twice as hard, just to meet the basic needs of our customers, but we knew that the effort was worth it. We often felt that we were climbing a mountain, that just went up and up. Our heads were down, we took step after step, but when we reached the summit and looked at the view, wow, was it ever beautiful.
That’s how I felt this weekend. It has nothing to do with work, my job or my career. In fact, it was quite the opposite: a weekend away. I feel privileged that my husband and I, through our families, have homes we can visit outside the city. We both come from close families, who (usually) love to spend time together. We value the time we spend, often in very close quarters, at our family country homes, secluded from the world.
As I have written a few times, we spend much of our summer at my husband’s family country home in Quebec. The property was bought by his grandparents in the 1940’s, and the house was built in 1949 (with renovations over the years). For the last few decades, the home is only used in the summer months and must be opened in the spring and closed in the fall. I had my first chance this year to be part of the official opening of the home for the season.
Just getting to the house was a challenge.
I have traveled very little over the past two plus years. I had a quick getaway to Quebec City in November 2021, but other than that I have mainly stuck close to home in Toronto or to a family country home. So, when we booked a flight to Ottawa, to get part way by air to our destination in the Laurentian mountains in Quebec, we didn’t see an issue. Boy were we wrong!
I have traveled around the world, on my own and with my family. I have faced a few delays and inconvenient situations, but I never thought my husband and I would have to face the kind of climb that we did on Friday evening.
Turn on the news or just ask a friend about the nightmares of travel lately, and I’m sure you will get an earful. Long lines. Crowded terminals. Well, we didn’t face that at all. We chose Toronto’s downtown, Island Airport, as it was small and typically quieter and calmer.
I should have known we were in for a long night when I got a notification from Air Canada early Friday afternoon that said our flight, “has a revised time due to Aircraft technical issues and is now departing at 19:55” (instead of 19:20).
The next notification delayed departure to 20:15, and the next, received after we had checked in and sat at the gate, was for a 20:50 departure. The delay was annoying but not too terrible, as we enjoyed the quiet and relaxed environment of the downtown airport But I had a bad feeling that the delays would continue and maybe a cancelation.
I was right. Moments later we got a revised departure of 21:45, and then the flight was outright canceled because of “ground handling constraints.” I have no idea what this is or the other reasons we had been given (all different) for the delays throughout the evening.
At this point it was about 8:00 pm, we were still sitting in downtown, and we were frustrated. So, we were offered a flight, same night, from Toronto’s other, larger airport (the giant and wild one), that would depart just after midnight. We took it and grabbed a taxi. Across the city we traveled, and we checked in, dropped our one piece of luggage off, swiftly moved through security and to our gate (note to travelers: Pearson airport is empty and quiet on Friday nights!
We had a few hours to sit and wait for our flight, and at 11:40 pm, moments before we thought we’d be boarding our flight: notification of a delay. I read what looked like a menu of reasons for that delay (including customs and immigration, which made no sense for a plane coming in from Winnipeg), and our revised departure time would be 1:00 am. The plane finally took off at 1:20 am, and we landed in Ottawa just after 2:00 am.
But my story doesn’t end here. As I stood, semi-comatose, in the arrivals area and watched the luggage carousel go in circles (it was rather mesmerising), I knew my bag wasn’t there. I will note, my one checked bag had quite the mix of stuff in it, including my daughter’s Barbie “Malibu” house and my old espresso maker, both important items that are needed to keep me sane this summer. My personal items and clothing for the weekend were in my carry-on.
So, back in line we went, and told the kindly Air Canada agent that our large, bright blue duffle bag, full of a random mix of strange items, clearly didn’t make the long trip with us. At this point it was 2:30 am, I was exhausted and a bit punchy and short on patience. We were assured our bag would arrive (we gave him our address in Quebec), and took a taxi to my husband’s uncle’s home in Ottawa, where we stayed for the night.
Have I ever written that I’m not the nicest person when I don’t get enough sleep? Maybe another day. Anyway, after a short night’s sleep, a strong coffee and some errands, we drove over the Ottawa River on Saturday afternoon and arrived at our destination Throughout the drive, as we traveled along a divided two-lane highway, then past many farms and started the climb into the mountains, I kept saying to myself, at the summit, the view is beautiful. The higher we climbed, past towering evergreen trees and bright blue lakes, my anticipation was building.
As we turned into our driveway, the scene that was etched into my head came alive in front of me. I got out of the car, and I knew that I had arrived at the summit. And I have to say, the view was beautiful! Nine hours to travel to Ottawa. No luggage. Total exhaustion. But my gosh, the view in front of me reminded me that there is extraordinary beauty in this world. Sometimes you have to work twice as hard to get there. The climb may be rough, and you may consider turning around and headed back down the mountain. But my advice: keep climbing. Why? Because at the summit, the view is beautiful.
P.S.: Our giant royal blue duffle bag was delivered here late Saturday night (really Sunday morning) at 1:30 am. And the water container on my expresso maker was cracked and broken. We have filed a complaint to Air Canada for the delays, cancelation, lost luggage and broken contents. I am looking forward to the airline’s response.