Adventures in Vancouver
"Just keep your eye on the horizon," said Al Vinni, one of my council colleagues who had invited me to join him and his partner Tammie on this salmon fishing adventure.
In the end, my stomach was fine and we road out the rough water, eventually finding a calm spot on the south side of Bowen Island where Dan, our trusty guide, got four lines in the water. Two nibbles and four hours later we packed everything up and headed back to the moorage behind the Delta Hotel near the Vancouver International Airport.
Rather than taking the Skytrain all the way to the YVR stop then catching a shuttle to the hotel, Al came up with the brilliant idea that we should get off two stops earlier, and go cross-country, getting us to our destination infinitely sooner and getting some exercise in the process. It seemed like a sound idea as we could clearly see the hotel as we approached the Templeton Station. And while we had to cross fields of thorns, five major thoroughfares and use a conveniently located length of 4-by-4 to cross a water-ladened ditch, we had made it to our destination safely.
After enjoying a terrific post-fishing meal at Pier 73, we decided to attempt an overland crossing again, though using a slightly altered route. It seemed like a smart move as we followed a bike path weaving and ducking under highway overpasses, until it came to an abrupt end and we were forced to once again negotiate four or five freeway crossings - this time in rush hour traffic, thorny fields and that same water-ladened ditch.
I felt quite a sense of relief as we made it back to the Templeton Station and the Waterfront-bound train that was only five minutes away. It was at that moment that I realized that I desperately needed to pee. I glanced around for any sign of a washroom, but this Skytrain stop, that seemed to be placed in the middle of bloody nowhere, had no relief to offer. I'd have to hold it.
As the train arrived and shoved off, picking up more and more passengers with each stop, my discomfort started to intensify and my brain began going into overdrive trying to decide from one stop to the next if I would be able to make it, or whether I'd have to bail on Al and Tammie and dash off the train way early to find somewhere to get me out of this painful fix.
Beads of sweat started pooling on my sun-soaked pate as my bladder's longing whisper become an insistent scream.
I might end up peeing my pants, I thought to myself as we pulled into Vancouver City Centre station and the majority of passengers got off the train, delaying the departure by precious seconds.
One more stop to go. I can make it, I assured myself, utilizing the power of positive thinking, shifting in my chair this way and that to reduce the pressure that was becoming unbearable.
At Waterfront Station, the doors opened and I darted into the stream of people, moving much too slowly for my liking, looking out for a washroom sign as we shuffled forward, sweat now pouring off my forehead.
You know how finding a washroom is a pretty normal thing, with suitable facilities appearing whether you want one or not? Well, in my heightened state of bladderific anxiety, I couldn't find one anywhere.
"Where's the nearest washroom," I asked an innocent looking security guard leaning up against the wall, hoping against all hope that he would say something like "right over there" or "just down the hall".
"There's a Tim Horton's about a block and a half from here," he said.
By this time I wasn't even rational, and took his answer to be the only solution available to me.
"You guys go on ahead," I said to Al and Tammie. "I definitely need to find a washroom, like right now."
They went right and I went left, desperately looking for the Tim Horton's logo. Like water in the blistering desert, I couldn't find it anywhere and not knowing what else to do, turned around and went the other way.
Catching up to Al and Tammie, I suddenly realized that our hotel was just around the corner and that I would be able to find solace in the comfort of my own room.
"I'm going to make it," I said as I ran past them, into the lobby and elevator, and up to my home-away from-home on the 21st floor.
The last time I was that desperate was about five years ago when I was wandering about, lost in downtown Calgary trying to find my way back to my hotel after having had too many wobbly pops with an old friend. I was in such bad shape then that I was almost ready to duck into an alleyway to do my business. I felt a similar clarion call today but in a busy city like Vancouver, public urination wasn't in my menu of options.
Anyone who knows me well, knows about my dysfunctional relationship with public washrooms. They will completely understand the severity of my predicament, that I was ready to go just about anywhere. I feel an enormous sense of gratitude and relief that this story flowed to a happy conclusion. There are alternate endings that would have included getting some laundry done and possibly even taking an unplanned trip in the back of a police cruiser.