“Fannie, I won a trip for two to Vancouver for the weekend do you want to come?” Eleanor asked almost squealing on the phone.
“El congratulations, which Vancouver, Washington or BC?” I asked playing with the base of the phone.
“BC, why would I get excited to go to Vancouver, Washington?” she asked tapping the phone with her finger, “hello?”
“Okay, I get the picture,” I said laughing. “You won a weekend get away to Vancouver, what are the details.”
“You won’t believe this, we’re going to stay at the airport for two nights,” she said her enthusiasm returning.
“Let me get this right, you’re excited about staying at the airport?”
“Fannie, would you let me finish?” she asked annoyance creeping into her voice.
“Sorry, go ahead.”
“I’m excited because we’re staying on the Concierge level of the Vancouver Airport Fairmont Hotel.
Sitting up straight in my chair, “okay, you’ve got my attention.”
Laughing she said, “I thought that would do it. We also have shuttle transportation arranged for a trip to Grouse Mountain and a guided tour of the endangered wildlife refuge. Plus it includes breakfast at the hotel and one meal up at the Grouse Mountain Lodge.”
“When are we going?” I asked twisting a lock of my short brown hair.
“It’s only good for next weekend,” she said.
“Count me in,” I said as Richard walked into the kitchen, his tall lean frame towering over me.
I hung up the phone, “Richard, Eleanor won a weekend to a Vancouver BC Airport hotel and she invited me as her date, do you mind having a weekend to yourself.”
Richard’s eyebrows resembled the Himalayas, “that’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever asked me.” Running his fingers through his short crop of thick brown hair he asked, “You want to go spend a weekend at a Canadian Airport with your sister?”
I nodded my green eye twinkling.
“Sure, knock yourself out,” he said shaking his head. “George, Devon and I are planning on doing some trial runs with the belt sanders, we’ll just make a weekend of it.”
I put Eleanor’s suit case in the trunk. We climbed into the car. “It’s Friday Seattle, and we’re in for our first spring like weather, high pressure is moving up from California bringing a warm front with it, it’s gonna be a great weekend.”
Eleanor and I bumped our fists.
“Have you got your passport?” I asked.
“Right here,” she said patting her purse.
“We should be leaving early enough to get through Seattle before it gets really bad,” I said, “and if we’re really lucky we’ll hit the express lanes as they turn.”
Broken clouds scattered across the sky like Oompa Loompas in the chocolate factory. The traffic slowed near Boeing field. As we crawled up the freeway, the Express Lane sign changed to “Open.”
Breezing passed downtown Seattle we cruised north to Blaine, Washington and the Peace Arch. The sign read “Wait Time One Hour.” We rolled down the windows and enjoyed the breeze coming in from the water.
The only question extra question we got from Customs, “Are you two twins?”
Smiling Eleanor said, “no, and I’m one-quarter inch taller than she is.”
Following the signs to the airport we drove up the ramp to the front of the hotel.
The valets opened our doors. “Checking in?”
“Yes,” I said handing him the keys. The bellhop took our luggage from the trunk and walked us into the main lobby.
“We have a reservation under Chambliss,” Eleanor said.
“Ms. Chambliss, you’re staying on the Fairmont Gold Floor, the bellman will escort you and the Concierge will complete your check in.”
Eleanor winked at me attempting to hide the smile. We boarded the elevator to the 14th floor. The elevator opened and sunlight illuminated the pale earth tone tile floor of the elevator lobby. A coordinating tan carpet with a rich maroon boarder acted as a runner. The light fixture above our heads hung suspended from a recessed cove lined with wood paneling. Polished, pale golden wood graced with black marble counters surrounded the Concierge desk.
“Ms. Chambliss, you’re in room 1408. If you need anything please let us know.”
The Concierge lead us to our room. She slid the card in the lock. When she opened the door, we walked through the foyer. I ran my fingers over the smooth wood paneling in the hallway. The narrow hall opened into the main room with two queen beds. Opposite the beds, a highly polished reddish brown wood table with matching chairs. Laid out on the table, a carved slab of chilled granite atop of which were several varieties of hand dipped gourmet chocolates and cookies.
“Have you stayed with us before?” she asked. We shook our heads.
“The room is fully automated. You can open and close the curtain from the telephone console located between the beds. It will also operate the lights and the in-room environmental controls,” she said smiling. “The complimentary binoculars are for your viewing pleasure to watch the planes land and take off. The bathroom is provided with bathrobes, slippers and toiletries. We have bed turndown service if you wish. There is twenty-four hour in room dining available. The windows are quadruple paned making us the only soundproofed luxury hotel at the airport. We have a full service spa and would be happy to make any arrangements for you. If there’s anything else we can do to make your stay more enjoyable, please let us know. We hope you enjoy your stay.”
White marble with black streaks adorned the bathroom, which contained a walk in shower, separate jetted soaking tub and water closet. Thick white terrycloth bathrobes hung in the bathroom. I ran my fingers over the fabric. It felt as soft as puppy fur.
“Good lord, Fannie, Tarzan could have his entire menagerie in this room and no one would hear a thing,” Eleanor said throwing herself onto one of the beds.
Sitting on the edge of the bed, I pressed one of the buttons on the console. The draperies closed. I pressed the button next to it. The lights dimmed.
“How’s the temperature, are you warm enough?” I asked smiling like an engineer with a new gadget.
“Wait, I want to try, don’t press them all,” Eleanor said rolling over on the bed.
“Well, while you play with the panel, I’m going to use the bathroom,” I said walking into the marble cave of luxury.
“Hey Fannie, do you think I can flush the toilet with the phone?” Eleanor asked laughing.
“If you can, please wait until I’m done, don’t want to waste the water,” I said winking before I closed the door.
The next day we were treated to a special breakfast in the dining room. Eleanor ordered Pain au Chocolat. They brought her a golden brown, flaky croissant filled with a rich dark fluffy chocolate mousse. Eleanor took her first bite. She closed her eyes and savored it for so long I thought she may have passed out.
“Fannie, if I died today, I would die happy,” she said licking mousse off her finger tips.
After breakfast, we caught the shuttle for our tour of Grouse Mountain. The driver dropped us off at the base of the tram.
The tram soared over the trees. The city of Vancouver spread out in the basin below, Stanley Park surrounded by brilliant blue water glowed like an emerald. Patches of snow appeared on the ground below. Exiting the tram, six inches of snow covered the ground. Picking our way through the snow we reached the animal pens of the refuge.
“This is the area where we rehabilitate injured predators,” our guide said stopping in front of a large pen surrounded by electrified fence.
Three timber wolves ran the perimeter of the fence. The large black male spied a partially attended toddler on the far side of the pen. Eleanor tapped me on the arm and pointed as the child walked under the wooden split rail fence into the no man’s land separating the public from the electrified fence.
The black wolf bumped the other members of its pack. They fanned out, flanking the toddler. The black wolf in the center crawled the last few feet as the little boy played with a rock. Eleanor ran as fast as she could around the pen toward the child waving her arms in the air. Two feet and an electrified fence separated the toddler and the wolf. Hugging the ground the wolf’s hind legs rocked back and forth. His hackles raised, he lunged toward the child, teeth bared muzzle connecting with the fence causing a loud zap. Startled, the little boy fell backwards screaming.
The wolf yelped falling backwards. He lunged again getting half way up the fence. Another loud zap.
Eleanor, ahead of everyone else, jumped between the wolf and the child throwing her arms out wide and letting loose a guttural scream. The parents dove toward their son. Every conversation stopped. All eyes focused on Eleanor.
The wolves backed away from the fence. They trotted to the far side of the enclosure away from the crowd.
The mother hugged her child, they both cried. The father hugged Eleanor lifting her off the ground.
“We can’t thank you enough, eh,” he said tears streaming down his checks.
After the adrenaline wore off, we needed lunch. We ordered every Tapas appetizer on the menu.
“Well, El, I don’t think I’ll ever forget this weekend,” I said shaking my head.
“Me either,” she said eating a Chopitos. “Maybe when we get back to the hotel I could ask them if I can flush the toilet with the phone,” she said laughing.