A Sunny Visit to a Little Bit of Heaven on Earth

by Jocelyn Howden Sept’48

On September 3, 2011, Daphne (Pearce), Elvidge, Roxy (Fell) Yelf, Jocelyn Howden all 1948 grads, and Beverly (Jeffares) Atkinson ’49 went on an adventure to visit Barbara (Elvidge) Maclachlan ‘48.

When you get to be an octogenarian, driving many miles through Vancouver traffic ceases to be a pleasure – particularly for the driver. So on Saturday, September 3rd, we four set out by public transit to visit a fifth member of our graduating class, who lives many miles away – the other side of Vancouver.

It was a picture perfect day and a holiday weekend in B.C. Three of us met in Park Royal at the bus stop and amid many holiday makers, PNE attendees and tourists, we wound our way to Vancouver on the WV “Blue Bus”. There we awaited the fourth member of our group who was coming on a different bus from the North Shore. We three sat on the busy corner of Georgia and Granville streets at 10:30 am for half an hour “people watching”. There was a Taiwan Fest in action in downtown Vancouver which added to the colours and feeling of festivity on this sunny morning.

Our fourth friend duly arrived, cane in hand, and we proceeded to the unfamiliar bowels of the city to board the Canada Line. To our somewhat rural eyes, this wonder of the modern age eagerly swallowed us into its cool and mysterious sanctum and off we went! The – to us- rather strange and definitely different attires seen around us kept us intrigued and interested. Just as well, for as I’m sure many of your know, there is no scenery to gaze out the windows at during most of the journey. With six Hearing-Assisted ears listening carefully for the names of each approaching station, we sat there hoping we would be getting off at the appropriate stop, as we had yet another phase of our trip to navigate.

We then enjoyed a very pleasant half hour drive through the farmlands of Ladner and South Delta, arriving at a McDonald’s restaurant where we were to leave the bus and call a taxi for the remainder of the trip. At this point there was some confusion. We discovered there was a McDonald’s in Ladner also. All set to get off the bus as instructed, a brief discussion with a very helpful  driver, and lots of laughs, and discussion among us all, we came to the conclusion that we were not at the appointed McDonald’s. A short ride further on brought us to the one where   we decided we were closer to our destination.

Disembarking at Bridgeport Station, as per the carefully written directions of our hostess and negotiating escalators and elevators, we found to our joy a bus island with several bays. Following our directions and conferring with bus drivers just to be sure, we boarded a very plush transit bus headed to Delta – and all this on one concession-priced bus ticket of $1.75!

“Go into McDonald’s and ask them to call a taxi for you and charge it to my account” were our instructions. This we did, however by this time it was about 12 noon on a holiday Saturday and you can imagine the line-up waiting to collect their “Big Macs”. The nice young waitress we approached was wonderfully helpful in spite of growls and some angry looks in the line behind us. We went outside to await our chariot and soon along came a bright green “Beetle” and we hailed him, saying “here we are” however, Mr. Green Beetle had been told to collect Mr. Ashley. Hungry, thirsty and somewhat travel-worn by now we cajoled him, in spite of there being no Mr Ashley with us, to take us to our friend’s home. After checking with his dispatcher, he was assured it had been  “Ashley” who had phoned for the cab, so off we went. Two and a half hours after leaving our West Vancouver homes, we duly arrived and were greeted by our hostess at her ‘Little Bit of Heaven on Earth”.  A delightful home right on the waterfront overlooking Point Roberts and beyond, Mount Baker, in all its summer glory. A charming cottage surrounded by a mass of colourful flowers and towering trees and a wide expanse of grass beckoning everyone to the benches at the far edge of the beach. Birds, squirrels, hanging baskets, small, welcoming, playful four-legged pooches and a wonderful long-time friend and classmate to greet us.

A gourmet lunch, refreshing cold drinks, many laughs, lots of catching up on the year’s news, updating future plans, and the joy of old friendships made the next three hours pass too quickly. The return journey was eased considerably by the very kind offer of a dear neighbour to drive us to a bus stop nearer to the train station. Such a welcome and unexpected help for us four old gals. And so we headed off in the right direction to return to our homes. It had been such a happy day and was so greatly enjoyed by us all, and I, for one, found it such as joy to do something so different from routine, and so very rewarding to be with the wonderful friends we were fortunate to have met about 65 years ago. 

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