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Good and bad travel advisories

Bill FoxBy Bill Fox/Columnist

I recently came back after two weeks outside of Vancouver seeing my three-week old granddaughter. From there, we went on to the San Francisco area to visit a younger #1 brother. We were joined in San Francisco by #2 brother from Burlington. I’m sharing some of the insights I learned that might be helpful to you if you travel.

  1. If you travel by Air Canada Rouge and you are close to 6 feet tall, be prepared to have no room for your knees. My flight from Vancouver to San Fran, thankfully, was less than three hours, but was very uncomfortable.
  2. Flying home from San Fran to Toronto, I decided to spend $50 to upgrade my seat to preferred seating, allowing three more inches of legroom. Being right behind business class, through the curtains I could see and smell all the food that was being provided throughout the entire five-hour trip. Unfortunately, no food for the peons, not even peanuts or cookies. I had a mother and her hyperactive three-year-old sharing my row. This little lad continually bumped his head on my arm for about two hours before he finally fell asleep after trying alternate seating on the floor and under my seat.
  3. WestJet continues to be my airline of choice, as my flight out to B.C. presented no squeezing of passengers into uncomfortable seats.
  4. To avoid paying the $25 charge for checked luggage in Toronto, the man ahead of me had no checked luggage. He did have a conventional carry on, as well as a very large backpack, nearly the size of a hockey bag. But he endured with that backpack and his two laptop computers, thus saving the $25 charge.
  5. On my three flights, there were announcements that the flights were full and there was little overhead space, so people were asked to volunteer to have their carry-ons, checked into the baggage area and there would be no charge. I’m thinking the fellow with the hockey bag would have taken advantage of this. Maybe he knew the ropes?
  6. Good Friday, while a statutory holiday, is not observed by the majority in the Greater Vancouver area. Much to my surprise, all stores were open including the government liquor stores and all the parking lots were full with people taking advantage of the holiday.
  7. While in Maple Ridge, B.C., my #1 son’s lives in neighbourhood that backs onto a green belt, where there are numerous blackberry bushes. As a result, there is a “Warning: Bear in Area” sign with a number to call if you see one!
  8. We did a lot of travelling while in California, from Santa Cruz to the Sierra Nevada mountain range and up to Berkeley, but there was one strange thing my #2 brother noticed. Back in Burlington, he drives a Buick and there seemed to be no Buicks in the San Fran area. The most common cars were the Toyota Prius, Honda Civic, Accord and the Toyota Camry and Corolla filling out the top five, verified by statistics. Interestingly enough, a GM plant has been taken over and refurbished by Tesla Motors, the electric car company. Hear that, Oshawa GM workers?
  9. I had the best pizza I have ever had in my life in San Leandro at a Papa Murphy’s Pizza Store. Now, the strange thing is they do not cook their pizzas. They prepare them for you to take home and cook. Ours was approximately twice the size of a normal large pizza. We took the artisan thin crust, herb chicken Mediterranean, which was smothered with veggies. All this for $13.
  10. You have heard that California is in the midst of a drought. I saw lots of signs of this, but while travelling in the grape-growing areas, I saw two farms spraying water on their trees during the sun-drenched day time. Even in Ontario, we realize that much of that precious water evaporates during the day.