Monday, November 26, 2012

Back on Track

Okay, so maybe the title of this post is a wee bit optimistic.  Perhaps it should read "Getting Back on Track. Slowly. Very slowly".  But the point is this: I am trying.

So, to get you up to speed, here's how the latest derailing went down...

I went to Disneyland. Via Vancouver. Where things went slightly sideways.

The trip to Disneyland was one we have been promising ourselves we would do for years. We wanted to do Disneyland at Halloween, as well as go to Universal Studio's Halloween Horror Nights and Knott's Scary Farm.  We are kind of into the Halloween thing around here, and the Disneyland thing, so what better family vacation could we want. The family is growing up and moving on with their lives, but we managed to coordinate dates and the long-delayed trip very quickly became a reality.

Steve and I decided we would load Miss Julia into the car and drive out to Vancouver to meet up with Brendan and Lexi, who both live out there. The plan was that we would all fly to LA from there after a few days of relaxing in Rain City. The drive through the mountains was lovely, with fall colours and misty skies making a every turn on the road feel like driving into an Impressionist painting...

We arrived in Vancouver on a cool, rainy Sunday evening and spent Monday afternoon visiting some of our favourite spots. In keeping with the Halloween theme of the trip, we decided that we would ride the Stanley Park Ghost Train while we were in town, and toddled off to get tickets for that night. We met Miss Lexi and her Significant Trout for a quick dinner, then set out for Stanley Park.

And this is where is all goes wrong. Driving through downtown Vancouver, we were hit by a driver who ran a red light. We saw him at the last minute, and Steve did his best to avoid being hit, but he nailed us on the rear wheel-well and rear panel of the car, doing significant damage. We were bounced around a bit, Steve said his neck hurt, a few heads were bonked, but overall, we got off lucky. The driver who hit us continued on his merry way without stopping. However, several witnesses, including a Trans-Link bus driver, all stopped. Police and ambulances were called. It was a BIG DEAL. One witness went to the trouble of pursuing the offending driver and getting his full license plate. The police response was quick and supportive, the ambulance crew friendly and thorough. If we had to have a car accident, this was the best possible way for things to happen.

Steve was assessed as having a neck injury and whisked away to the hospital for further testing. I was the only licensed driver who knew how to drive a standard, so I was left with the car while Julia went with him. I stayed with the police for a bit and called the insurance company before determining that the car was drivable,  then we crept over to the hospital. Steve had shown all the symptoms of a heart-attack on the ambulance ride over, so they had whisked him away into a treatment room the second he got there and he was being monitored. It was determined that he was not having a heart attack, but was in shock and that he did, indeed, have mild whiplash. He was given a fistful of painkillers and sent on his way.

It was at this point that I looked at my watch and realized we still had time to make it to the Ghost Train. So we went to the Ghost Train...

...and it wasn't until we got back to the hotel that we actually spent a few minutes looking at the damage to the car. It didn't look bad, but it was then that it hit me that we had had a very close call.

We spent the better part of the next morning dealing with several departments of our insurance company, negotiating the particulars of getting repairs on our vehicle, then we jumped in a cab to the airport and went to Los Angeles.

Disneyland was awesome, all decked out for Halloween...

Knott's Halloween Haunt was a blast, with 13 haunts to visit...

And Universal Studios was fabulous...

My Mom flew in and joined us for a few days...

...and everyone had an amazing vacation. It was wonderful to have the whole gang together in The Happiest Place on Earth. It was a marvellous week of escape and fun.

But, before we knew it, it was over and back to Vancouver, and reality. Our insurance adjustor dropped the ball on arranging a rental car for our return, and we wound up stranded at the Vancouver airport. Six tired travellers, stranded.

Steve managed to procure a stretch limo to get us all to our hotel, and got everyone sorted out and sent to bed. We got up in the morning to discover that there had been any number of SNAFUs courtesy of our insurance company's bureaucracy. After much phoning, miscommunication, phoning again and yelling, we finally got our hands on a rental van to drive home while our car was in the shop.  So, the next day, we loaded up the car, tucking Brendan and his gear in, too, since he was headed to Edmonton for work, and set forth.

Now, no trip to the Coast is complete for us is complete for us without a stop at the Krispie Kreme in Delta, which we have worked into our route out of the city. And while we were there, we figured we would stop for a quick lunch at the McDonald's in the same parking lot. Not the most nutritious of lunches, but not the worst thing that happened to us in we were driving out of the parking lot, a guy backed his ancient Suburban into our van.

The whole thing seemed like a bad joke. Fortunately, Steve kept his wits about him and dealt with the driver, who tried to claim we had driven into him, until he saw the van-full of witnesses. His tune changed pretty quickly, insurance info was exchanged, then we were off to a local office of the car rental company to file a damage report.

We got home without any further incident, rolled into Halloween, then November. I got the paperwork on Fibre Week finished up as we awaited word on what was going on with our car. We were sort of in limbo, with a dented mini-van. I have spent much of the last month of my life waiting for phone calls, looking up information, answering the same nine questions over and over again. I have been juggling two accident claims, medical claims, unexpected travel expenses, and a mountain of paperwork. What I have not spent much time doing is the things I love. My work, my writing, my spinning and knitting. This has caused me great consternation.

We finally got the word that our car was going to be ready over the Remembrance Day weekend, but that we were expected to drive the rental van back out to Vancouver and drive our car back.  By this point in the year, a scenic drive through the mountains holds a little less appeal, and the day we were planning to set out brought a massive blizzard through central Alberta, so we put the trip off a few days.       We wound up heading out for Vancouver on November 13, just about a month after the accident.

I have to say that I was more than a little anxious about the drive and about revisiting the scene of the crime, so to speak, but it turned out to be a good thing. Both Steve and I needed to get a sense of normalcy back, and we did. We got our car back. We hung out on Granville Island and ate fish and chips. We had sushi with Miss Lexi. We walked on the pier at White Rock. I wandered the yarn shops. I went for coffee with the remarkable Astor of Everything was lovely. It turned out to be a bonus vacation.

As we headed back toward home, we had a wee bonus side trip, courtesy of my friend Lynn, who arranged for us to visit shearer Joh Walker and her family's flock of assorted Down breeds in Fort Langley. When I got my fingers into the fleeces, I was back to work. The accidents, the stress, the aggravation at all of the bureaucracy, all melted away with the first whiff of lanolin.

There is still a ton of paperwork and we are being passed between insurance companies like a rotten egg. But things are straightening out. We have our wee car back, and we are settled in at home with no more sudden road trips in the foreseeable future. We are back to what passes for normal around here.

So, after a month in paperwork hell, I am getting myself back on track. I have Christmas knitting that needs to be done.  I have some very exciting projects coming up in the next few months. I have some great classes to prepare for. And I have some spinning to do.