This is a series of posts from my road trip in 2011 where I traveled around the US and Canada giving talks, attending conferences, visiting IGDA chapters, networking, hanging out with friends, and dog sitting an adorable pug named Thomas!
So last Thursday I was on Skype and happened to be paying attention to the IGDA’s Chapter organizer group chat when I noticed that Chris Tihor1 was mentioning that they still didn’t have a speaker for their IGDA Victoria meeting on Monday. After a quick Google Maps to check the distance, I realized Victoria really wasn’t that far away from Seattle, I had nothing planned for that day yet, and it would be a great chance to visit another chapter. So I jumped into the chat and said “I’ll do it!”. After a bit of back and forth it was suddenly all confirmed and there I was with a whole new speaking gig less just a few short days away.
Fast forward to today and I’m ready to zip across the border, speak, stay the night, and zip back all with the help of my car, my passport, some luggage and a laptop, and four tickets for two different ferry lines. Easy peasy, right?
(*sigh* Nothing ever goes that smoothly….)
So I get up, get dressed, pack up the car, and head over to the nearest FedEx Kinko’s (I still don’t agree with the name change to FedEx Office :>) to print out some of my tickets for the ferry lines and some directions (just in case my GPS goes weird). I get in my car, take a call with a client before I’m crossing into “it’s going to cost a billion dollars for you to talk on your phone all because you moved a few miles north” Canada, grab some McDonald’s in a drive-thru and head to the first ferry. I get there in time to grab a spot on the ferry and I wait for the ship to dock, the other cars to get off, and for us to be waved on. It’s as this is happening though that I start doing the math.
While yes, the ferry will land me on Bainbridge Island at about 12:15 PM leaving an hour and a forty-five minutes to spare before the 2 PM departure at Port Angeles, what I didn’t realize from the directions was that it’s an hour and forty minute drive from the ferry docks at Bainbridge to the ferry docks at Port Angeles and they prefer cars to be there 60 minutes ahead of time. This doesn’t even include waiting to get off the ferry, get out of the docks, and on the road at Bainbridge nor the whole docks and checking in process at Port Angeles.
Worse yet, the 2 PM departure is the LAST departure for the day from Port Angeles to Victoria, the only road route from here into Canada is BACK to Seattle and then up through Vancouver and then finding another ferry to get me over, AND I’m speaking in about 5 HOURS!
So it’s at this point that I’m now on a moving ferry, surrounded by water, and calling and texting my friends Cat Wendt2, Andrew Leaf3, and, of course, my husband Brett Rubin4 in a panic. I’m not one to not keep my commitments and I am not about to miss this speaking commitment unless it is absolutely necessary.
Andrew and Cat were able to do some quick Googling for me to see if I had any immediate options and then I finally caught my husband on the phone. He went into immediate action, too, as I explained the situation. Long story short after almost the whole two hours from Seattle on the ferry to the small town of Port Angeles Brett and I managed to find a solution to get me over to Victoria. It definitely wasn’t the one I expected though:
So now I find myself in a tiny one-prop plane flying somewhat daintily over the water separating US and Canada. It was actually a fairly smooth flight, until the turbulence hit. 🙂 Needless to say I was glad that this flight was only a half an hour long. Bonus: Customs was a breeze! He just made some call on his radio, I got out of the airplane, and I was free to go. I’m still very grateful to my pilot from Rite Bros Aviation5 for getting me to Victoria safely.
I head to the nearest desk I find to ask where the shuttle will be (because I was told by Chris that the airport had regular shuttles) only to find out that’s at the main Victoria International Airport. Me? I’m at some small little tiny airport and they’ll have to call the shuttle and it’ll be about 20 minutes before it can get to me.
So I head off to the waiting area (this airport must have literally only been a couple hundred feet long) and sit and hope the shuttle comes and that I’m not too far away from my destination. I text Chris that I’ve landed and I’m waiting for a shuttle and hope to be there soon.
Twenty minutes later a shuttle shows up and that’s when I find out I have no Canadian dollars because I didn’t land at the nice big airport with a currency exchange and this shuttle can’t take credit cards. Much to my relief he says he can take the approximate equivalent in US dollars and I just happen to have enough cash on hand to cover it.
The shuttle then proceeds to snake it’s way through what feels like all of Victoria and we drop off passenger after passenger after passenger as time just ticks away. Just when I am not sure how much more stress I can take the shuttle finally arrives at my destination and I happily hop off the shuttle and thankfully get greeted by Chris who welcomes me with a nice Canadian smile.
We then proceed into the back room of the pub where I’m supposed to speak, we work to get my PowerPoint setup and working, and I get a few minutes to drink some water and catch my breath before the meeting gets started.
I spent almost an hour talking about the customer experience, game development, and answering questions from the group. I then sat down to join them for food and drinks. IGDA Victoria6 felt formal like IGDA SLC in that they started their meeting with some news and then had a speaker, but the environment was more laid back like IGDA Portland. They were also sharing and showing games that were created at their jam and we talked about their participation in the Global Game Jam7. All in all I expect great things from this chapter in the future.
I’d like to thank Chris, and Andy Moore, and the rest of IGDA Victoria for having me out to speak, for getting my meal, and for helping me find a cab so I could get to my hotel (since my car was now stuck in Port Angeles, WA, USA).
So now I’m in my hotel room where the stress and excitement of today’s adventure has hit me. I have to get up early tomorrow as there are only two ferries that head back from Victoria to Port Angeles and I plan to try and make the first one so that in case anything goes wrong I can just sit there and wait until the second one leaves.
I then need to find a cab that will take me from the Port Angeles Ferry harbor over to the airport so I can get back to my car. Then I can drive back to the Bainbridge Island ferry so I can then try and take another ferry back to Seattle so I can get back to where I’m staying. Whew – Just typing that sounds exhausting so I’m off to bed.