Last weekend I traveled to Quadra Island to teach a display fireworks course and while the course itself went well by every metric - including the most important metric to me, that all 19 attendees passed - the trip itself was not without incident.

I was already scheduled to teach a course in Maple Ridge, and in an effort to get additional attendees (we’re always looking for new fireworks crew, especially going into the summer when most of the displays happen) I’d posted notifications on my social media accounts. Shortly after posting the news on Facebook, a fellow pyro who lives on Quadra asked if I’d be willing to come up there to do a course. I replied that I’d be happy to and that she should talk to the office manager of the company I teach for - once they got the details worked out, I would make the trip.

Little did I expect that things would move swiftly enough that I’d be heading up there the week after doing the Maple Ridge course, but that’s life for you…sometimes, things just happen faster than one expects. Shortly after the Facebook exchange the emails started flowing back and forth and suddenly it’s okay, it would seem that I’m making a road trip.

Before I go into the details, I’ll explain the steps involved in getting from where I live to there I needed to be…

Working on the assumption that there’s at least one of you out there who doesn’t know what’s involved in getting from the Metro Vancouver area to Quadra Island, I’ll give you a quick lesson in travel logistics: you take a ferry to Vancouver Island (West Vancouver to Nanaimo, in this case) and then drive to Campbell River…from there, you take a ferry to Quadra Island. This sounds simple enough, and it is, but when it takes almost 45 minutes to get from home to the ferry terminal and the first ferry trip takes close to 2 hours and then you have to add another 90 minute drive after that, it can take the better part of the day to get from home to your home away from home. Since the course was scheduled for 10 am on Sunday morning, the plan was to leave Saturday morning and spend Saturday night on Quadra, run the course on Sunday, stay Sunday night and then head back home on Monday.

Since my travel expenses, including lodging, were covered through the course registration fees, I arranged to spend Sunday night with friends who live on Vancouver Island, thus saving the expense of a second night on Quadra. Since most of Saturday was going to be spent traveling, and since I had to deal with two sets of ferry schedules, I decided to splurge on a confirmed reservation for the first leg of the trip and not claim it on my expenses…I’m a nice guy that way.

Packing for the trip was easy enough; an overnight bag with the essentials including a company-logoed shirt to wear while teaching the course…and yes, mom, I did take clean underwear. All of the materials needed to run the course - inert shells, mortar tubes, exams sheets and the various cables needed to connect my laptop to the on-site projector - were already gathered together in a storage box so all I needed to do was toss everything in my car, along with my laptop bag, and hit the road. Easy peasy, right?

It wasn’t until I was over on Vancouver Island and well on my way to Campbell River that a nagging doubt pushed its way to the front of my mind: Did I actually put my overnight bag in the car?

I decided to not worry about pulling over to check for my bag and wait until I got to Campbell River ferry terminal - after all, I knew that I had all of the items needed to run the course, and it was far too late to return home and retrieve the bag so when I found it if it was there or not would not make a difference in the overall scope of things.

I was now the not-so-proud owner of Schroedinger’s Suitcase; a piece of luggage that existed in a quantum state of both being in my car and not being in my car until I actually looked for it. Isn’t science fun?

I got to Campbell River and was heading to the ferry terminal, but it seemed to me that I’d missed a final turn as I stopped seeing signs for the ferry so I used the hands-free feature on my phone to do a search for the ferry terminal…and I knew something was horribly wrong when it told me that it’d take me over an hour to get there. Whisky Tango Foxtrot???

TRAVEL TIP: When you’re asking for directions to a ferry terminal don’t ask for the destination terminal (Quadra Island), ask for the departure terminal (Campbell River). Once I realized my mistake I asked for the correct terminal and the nav app was all, “Oh, yeah, it’s just a few minutes heading back the way you came, you missed a turnoff.”

I made it to the ferry terminal, bought my ticket, and once I was in the lineup I checked for my travel bag - as I expected, it wasn’t there. Farewell, Schroedinger’s Suitcase, we might or might not have hardly known ye.

The ferry to Quadra Island was pleasant and uneventful; I made it to the course venue where I was to meet my friend (she works at a hotel on the island) and since I had no change of clothing I bought a souvenir t-shirt in the gift shop - after all, the least I can do is wear a clean shirt while I’m teaching even if it’s not a pyro company shirt.

My lodging for the night was at the home of another pyro who happens to be the father of the person who arranged for me to do the course; I was given directions on how to get to his house, along with directions to the local convenience store so I could pick up some toiletries, and I was on my way.

The three of us had dinner together that night, I was able to check out the conference room where the course would be held, and that was that for Saturday.

On Sunday morning I was left to my own devices before my pre-course breakfast at the hotel as my host volunteers to mow the greens at the local golf course on Sundays. I decided it would be a good thing to take a shower and since his tub was one of the free-standing types with claw feet and a shower curtain running completely around it, I wanted to make sure I didn’t get water all over the floor so I decided to tilt the shower head down a little bit.

Imagine my surprise when the entire shower head snapped off because it wasn’t designed to move.

Well, shit.

I finished washing up and left the shower head in the tub; the question now was not whether or not I’d confess to the deed (even if I had been the type of person to try and avoid taking responsibility for my actions there was no way in Hell that I could hide this; that shower head had been brazed onto its attachment fitting so there was no quick and easy fix) but how my host would find out? I knew he would be sitting in on the course so the following scenarios popped into my head:

1) He comes to the course directly from the golf course and I tell him what happened, offering (of course!) to pay to replace the shower head.

2) He comes home before the course to clean up and finds the shower head in the tub and I tell him about it when he arrives at the course, offering (of course!) to replace the shower head.

I won’t keep you in suspense, Scenario Number Two was what went down. Fortunately he wasn’t upset and wasn’t worried about being reimbursed for the cost of a new shower head.

That was the last thing to go wrong during the trip, thank Dog.

Once the course was finished I got on the ferry back to Vancouver Island, made it to my friends’ house in time for dinner, spent Sunday night with them, and made it back home on Monday afternoon.

My overnight bag was at home, right where I’d left it, so I unpacked it and put everything away.

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