the move west: day nine: delta to port hardy

We are here! At our new home! Very excited!

We had a reservation on the 10:15 ferry from Tsawwassen to Nanaimo, but we had to get there super early. If you get a lower berth, you cannot stay in the car -- which means we'd have to stay in the designated pet area with Diego. (You can leave your dog in the car by itself, but you know that's not gonna happen.) We wanted to make sure we had a spot on the upper deck, but you can't reserve that. This meant getting to the ferry very early. We were the second or third vehicle to check in, and M & SIL were right behind us in the truck.

Waiting to board, we listened to the end of the Westlake book and an interview with David Yaffee, who wrote the recent biography of Joni Mitchell. That was notable mainly for our disagreements with the author.

Eventually the boarding began. We happened to be parked right near the pet area. Turns out that is a little glass enclosure, about the size of an elevator, with a few built-in crates and two small benches. That would mean Diego would have to be in an enclosed area, on his leash, with other dogs. If you remember our Diego training, his issue was leash reactivity. He came a long, long way, further than I ever imagined he could do. But on-leash in an enclosed space with other dogs? Round two of not gonna happen.

So Diego slept in the back seat, and we mostly stayed in the car with him. The captain announced that a whale was visible on one side of the boat. We went to the wrong side -- and saw school of dolphins! A few moments later, the captain announced those, too. There must have been 10 of them, white and black, diving through the waves, very close to the boat. Beautiful.

Once off the boat, we all drove to Campbell River for some shopping. Campbell River is the closest big town to the north island towns -- the closest collection of big-box stores. Allan has been obsessed with buying a dehumidifier before we move in (as opposed to a few weeks later when we'll be there again). We used to have a dehumidifier, lost in the flood, and it was really effective. So to Campbell River we went for Canadian Tire, and while we were there, a bit of food shopping and a liquor store.

Then we drove. And drove and drove and drove. A winding country road, dense forests on both sides, intermittent heavy rain, and plenty of fog, just to keep things interesting. I thought Allan was driving fast, but every other vehicle on the road passed us as if it was bright daylight. Hundreds of kilometres of deep forest, rain, and fog. The mileage signs were all "my" libraries! All the libraries that I'll be responsible for: Woss, the ferry to Sointula, Port Alice, Port McNeill, and Port Hardy. It was a long, tiring drive, mostly because it was night, and we had had enough driving, and also because we didn't know where we were going. Eventually, the road ended, and voila, there was a town! Lights, stores, houses. Port Hardy!

We knew the house as soon as we saw it, and the rental agent was waiting for us -- with a fire going in the fireplace! The house is way nicer than I imagined. For many reasons, I don't like to go into details about living spaces; suffice to say that we were very pleased. You know, many people have remarked that it's amazing (or crazy or foolish) that we're renting a house we had never seen, in a town we'd never been to. But really, isn't that what people have always done? Before there was modern technology, anytime people emigrated or relocated, they went to towns and cities they had never seen before. When I graduated university, I applied for theatre administration positions in regional theatres all over the US. I was hoping for someplace fun like San Francisco or Chicago, but wherever I landed a job, I was going to move, and chances were good I would never have been there before. (As it turned out, I did the thing I was told was impossible: got a job in New York City.) All this to say that moving to a place you've never been is far from unprecedented, and in some situations, it's the norm.

I called my mom to say we were here and that we love the new place. She was overjoyed. Overjoyed is my mom's default setting these days, so when she's extra happy, it's through the roof.

M and SIL were in town before us, but they went to the local supermarket and waited for us to get in touch. We had no phone service on the drive up, but we all had signals in Port Hardy. (I expected that, but it was still nice to get confirmation.) We did a little house tour with the agent, then M and Allan started to bring in the "back of truck" stuff, the boxes and bags we had reserved for our first night and the following morning in an empty house. Then things went south. Spoiler alert: it ended up OK. Spoiler spoiler alert: we think, we hope, we still don't know for sure.

The back-of-truck boxes were soaking wet. The cardboard was pulp and came away in chunks. The plastic around the mattress was filthy with mud. The futon was wet. Boxes with sheets and towels were soaked through. What did this mean for our books, our furniture? Had everything in the truck been getting wet all along? Was our stuff mostly ruined?

We stood in the garage, trying to figure out next steps. Someone noticed the emergency water jugs... and then we realized what happened. Or what we think and hope happened. We had two huge water jugs, probably 5 gallons (20 litres) each. The water froze, the plastic containers cracked, then the ice melted, and things in the very back of the truck got wet. My computer was in one of these -- but it was bubble-wrapped, and was dry. Towels and sheets, washable. The mattress, under the plastic sheeting, had a few splats of mud, but there's an outer cover that's also washable. The futon will dry and we'll vacuum it. All told, no real damage done -- if that's what happened. I am reasonably certain that all is well. But we'll feel much better when we see everything is safe and dry.

Eventually we put a blanket on the floor, busted out the champagne, and had a picnic. My system worked: we found sheets, pillows, towels, and the all-important equipment for morning: coffee, coffee maker, kettle, tea bags.

People we've hired to unload the truck are coming (we hope) later this morning. All systems are go.

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