The Blue Envelope and the Big Blue Yonder

Today the unexpected happened, my Blue Envelope arrived in the post.  Now, those of you living in the UK will understand the significance of this major event but for those of you who live elsewhere I will explain.  The Blue Envelope contains your invitation from the National Health Service to attend for a Covid vaccination.  My appointment is for Sunday 7th Feb. “Good for you!” you think, “…but why unexpected?”

Well, if you were to believe stories you read in the press you would think Scotland was centuries behind in its vaccination programme but here am I, a mere youngster by current priority standards, being summoned for the “Jag”.  Looking at the categories above me I hadn’t expected to be called until possibly late March.  So…do the NHS think I am a lot older than I actually am or, more worryingly, do they know something about me that they haven’t mentioned in the past sixty six years?  Hmm, admittedly I am getting older so it is possible I have dementia and have forgotten both my age and my (near non-existent) medical history.  I am confused.  I think I will write a blog post instead.  Ah, I just have…


As usual I have digressed.  What I had intended to write about today was something I discovered lurking in the early posts of the first (now redundant) blog as I learned how to put together the various styles of on screen presentation.  In those days I was flinging all sorts of ideas into the mix to see how they would work.  As the bloggers among you know the early days of a blog can be lonely affairs before you start to trawl around the blogosphere meeting like-minded souls as you go. As a result most of those early posts were seen by less than a handful of visitors.  On what is a sodding miserable (or as we say here “dreich”) Scottish February morning I thought I would cheer myself up by looking back to an unforgettable part of our (again – unforgettable) 2005 trip to Canada.

I’ll start by stating I do not like flying.  I hate turbulence. I positively hate airports.  I hate the unsmiling, sometimes close to hostile, airport bureaucracy.  I hate the “don’t care” attitude that airlines take with their customers.  In fact there is almost nothing I like about the whole experience.

So why…

…AM I SITTING HUNDREDS OF FEET IN THE AIR STARING OUT THE WINDOW OF A TINY 3 SEATER FLOATPLANE LOOKING AT A WHOLE SODDING RANGE OF VERY BIG MOUNTAINS WITH ADRENALIN PUMPING WAY FAR MORE THAN IT SHOULD BE!? (…and breathe)

That is a very good question.  Looking back I am amazed at my, ahem, bravery – but as you’ll see the Ucluelet airport experience was just that wee bit different from what you might be used to.

Before we were due to go to Canada that year we had pencilled in a whole host of things we wanted to do in what might be a “once in a lifetime” journey.  As well as meeting family we had the full tourist extravaganza planned.  The CN tower, Niagara Falls, the Calgary Stampede, meeting more family, Lake Louise, Banff, a train ride through the Rockies, Stanley Park Vancouver, and on Vancouver Island a whale watching boat trip and a flight in a floatplane!  We did all that…and so much more including an item on my list – a visit to “Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump”.  I was definitely going there – if only for the T-shirt!  But anyway, back to the floatplane.

We travelled about as far west as it is possible to go in Canada, Ucluelet on Vancouver Island.  You could say it was the final destination of our Canada trip.  I had always wanted to see the Pacific Ocean and here we were.  The July weather had been near perfect the whole trip and the day of our proposed flight was no different.  As I’ve said things at Ucluelet “airport” are somewhat different than what we were used to.  For example it’s the first time I’ve been photographed before stepping onto a plane. (if you click on the photos below you can see the bigger versions)

Now, I’m no expert on flying but I’m sure the pilot is supposed to control the plane from the inside…but I’m new to this sort of thing so I had better not interfere.

Talking of sophistication…the controls don’t look that complicated…maybe I’m supposed to look after them and the pilot steers from that position out in front?

Ah, I see, that’s where you need to sit to put the fuel in.  Also first time I’ve been in an aircraft equivalent of a petrol station.  Having been used to the more sophisticated look of modern holiday jets I can feel my tension rising.

As we taxi along the runway  waterway  sea loch  inlet the butterflies really get going and that big bird looks as if it is surveying its next dinner.

…and then we’re up!  Up into the big blue yonder.

WOW!

Our little plane bumped and swerved away from the sea and into the mountains of the interior. It was a fascinating experience…a mix of terror and exhilaration as we casually headed straight for a pointy mountain peak, suddenly to swerve around its side to take a peek at small snowfield on its upper slopes.

Unfortunately, in the distance, cloud had started to build over our return route so there was only time for a couple more shots before we lost the mountains.

Well, that was our big day out…a totally amazing experience. And for the curious this is how a floatplane lands…but I still hate flying/airports etc.

My only regret was not having a better camera with me, all the shots (including video) having been taken on the “wee Fuji” Finepix. Here are a few links:-