Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Trip West, part the fourth

In case you haven't guessed by now, we made it. I am sitting in a hotel room in the Sheraton Victoria Gateway, which, I believe, is in Langford and not Victoria, BC.

Yesterday began quite slowly. I woke to the gentle snoring of my little son and the call of a bird outside that sounded more like a cat than a bird. As usual, I headed to the little breakfast area in the hotel, got a small bite to eat, and logged on to this blog. The comments from the day before were checked, my notes were looked over, and I began to type.

When Marielle and Shoghi joined me, I had just about finished.

A few minutes later, we were off on the last leg of our journey west, driving through more "land of tremendous beauty". (Hmm. If I'm quoting my notebook, do I have to put the words in quotation marks?)

As we pulled on to the highway, we passed a sign that said something like, "No Hitchhiking. Do not pick up hitchhikers. It is illiegal." I'm sure that's not exactly what it said, but it was something very close to that. About twenty seconds later, we passed a guy on the side of the road, walking with the traffic, with his thumb lazily stuck out for a ride. Even if we had wanted to pick him up, there was no safe place for us to pull over.

This got us talking, Marielle and I.

I talked about the time that I was hitchhiking in Europe, and my own thoughts about it. I said that it was always important to me to make sure that I was standing in a place that was very visible for the drivers, where they could easily pull over. They needed to have enough time to brake, enough room on the shoulder, and a long enough space to accelerate again back into traffic. If these conditions were not present, I would not hitch there.

Then we spoke of appearances. We could easily have spoken about the attributes of cleanliness, and so on, but we were more mundane about it. And we compared this guy we had just passed with Shaylor.

Marielle said this last guy looked "scary".

I clarified that by saying that he was dirty, dusty and unkempt. His hair looked matted and his backpack was untidily stuffed and discombobulated. Did we want someone dirty, and possibly smelly, sitting in our car with us? Not likely. If I was alone, or the car was not so cramped, maybe, but definitely not under those conditions.

I told Marielle that I wasn't sure if my ideas of hitchhiking came from The Hitchhikers Guide to Europe that I had in my backpack while I was hitching, or just from my own sense of salesmanship. Aside from sensible placement on the side of the road, I explained that I had always made sure my clothes were clean, my hair was brushed and as tidy as it usually is (that's a joke, if you've ever seen me in person), and that my backpack didn't have things sticking out all over the place. Also very important was that I always had a smile on my face. I realized that I had to "sell" myself quickly to the driver. They had to want to pick me up, and I had only a moment to convince them. Aside from one unfortunate circumstance beyond my control, I never had to wait more than 20 minutes for a ride.

All of this, we realized, was similar to what we experience as Baha'is when we call upon people in their homes without a prior appointment. Have you ever noticed, for example, that the Jehovah's Witnesses and the Mormons never show up in anything less than the most immaculate clothing? There is a reason. I believe it similar to the reason that 'Abdu'l-Baha always ensured that His clothing was clean and neat. In fact, I have read that He usually changed His shirt in the middle of the day. Baha'u'llah, Himself, in the Kitab-i-Aqdas writes, "Be ye the very essence of cleanliness amongst mankind."

How can we, when we are presenting the Faith to people for the first time (or any time now that I think about it), do any less?

This was basically the gist of our conversation for the next hour or so. Oh, and it was, of course, interspersed with joyous silly talk with Shoghi, and proper ooh-ing and aah-ing over the scenery. We also spent quite a bit of time discussing future topics for this blog, about which I have copious notes. (Thanks Marielle.)

An hour or so later, we found ourselves approaching Chillliwack, yet another city with a name that conjures up amusing images. As we passed an on-ramp, we noticed another young man hitchhiking. He was well dressed and had a sign that said "West".

Sound familiar?

We got off at the next exit, drove back on a side road, got on the on-ramp, and pulled over to pick him up.

Shaylor just about doubled over in laughter when he realized who we were. And if you don't know who Shaylor is by now, I suggest you go back and read the first three parts of the trip west.

So no lie, I am not kidding, and this is the honest to God truth, we actually picked up Shaylor once again, and that is the only reason I am writing about this trip west for a fourth time. God really is an iron.

Well, we had another wonderful conversation, and Shoghi was so happy to have a friend sit with him in the back again. It was at this time that I shared with him (Shaylor, not Shoghi) my thoughts about hitchhiking, mentioned above, and asked him if he had any of this in mind while he was hitching, or if it was unconscious.

"A bit of both." He, too, had come to realize the sales aspect of hitching, and was also thinking of the driver when choosing his spot. He was very aware of his surroundings, and had come to understand that most people pick up hitchhikers in order to have someone "safe" to talk with. He said that he often felt like a counsellor when listening to the drivers speak, and was now considering that as a career. Given that he is quite good at it, as you can see from my own reaction in earlier posts, I encouraged him to look into it. Marielle and I both encouraged him to look into a combined degree of English Literature and Psychology, with either one as a minor. They could so easily compliment each other, and we both believe he would do well in each of them. (See? I told you I'd write about this, Shaylor.)

All too soon, we found ourselves approaching Vancouver, that elusive "West" towards which Shaylor was heading. When we asked him where he wanted us to drop him off, the conversation ended up something like this:
Shaylor: Horseshoe Bay

Me: Why?

Shaylor: I want to get the ferry to Nanaimo.

Me: We're getting the ferry to Victoria at Tsawwassen, and there's another one from there up to Nanaimo.

Shaylor: Is it a longer ferry ride?

Me: Yes.

Shaylor: Cool.

And so we took him with us to Tsawwassen, let him off at the "foot traffic" gate, and headed off into the sunset.

The ferry ride was uneventful and very beautiful. We met a couple of people on the ferry, but there is not much to report. Ishtar, a blind woman, was very pleasant to speak with, and encouraged us to not drive in Victoria, as there are plenty of bike lanes, and the rapid transit works well. Good on you, Ishtar.

Lauren was a young woman from... Uh oh. I just forgot. Goose Bay? I can't remember. But she is a folk singer who had just performed at the young performers' stage at the Winnipeg Folk Festival. She is exploring Vancouver Island for now, before she continues on and works a little bit at an herb and lavender farm in Chilliwack. I am certain she will do well, for she has the personality to succeed at whatever she puts her mind to.

Now we are here, in Victoria, and Marielle is picking up Bob (our friend and tenant who has moved out with us) and our cats (Kismet and George) at the airport. Our stuff arrives on the truck tomorrow morning, is upacked either later that day or the next, and then we move in to our new home.

Is the adventure over?

Nope. It has only begun.


  1. Welcome to the area! I'm on the mainland but pop over to the Island often to visit in-laws. Hopefully we'll bump into one another at some point!

    Janna (New West)

  2. Told ya you'd see Shaylor again. lisa