I don’t think anyone in the whole world could miss what happened in Washington on the 6th January.
I watched in horror.
But, why would it matter to anyone who is not American?
12 years ago, in January before Obama’s inauguration, we were visiting a very different Washington. It was a cold but sunny winter’s day, and at the time there were very few people about.
We had come down from Baltimore by train to visit the sights, and monuments, which included the Capitol.
I remember going into the building, and through the rooms that we saw being invaded, and was struck by a sense of awe in that these were the hallowed halls of democracy.
We have all been taught that democracy and the United States go hand in hand, and that it is enshrined in these buildings and in their constitution. I saw and read a copy of this constitution, even bought a copy of it to read in more detail later. Even I could understand what it meant, not only for America, but for the rest of the world.
I wonder if any of those people who invaded the Capitol had taken the time to understand just what their constitution stood for or how sacred their monuments to democracy are.
This morning started with a visit to the car rental place in Vancouver. It reinforced the notion that you can be given the address and still not find the place. It happened in Washington where it was hiding in the back of the main railway station, and it happened again in Vancouver when it was hidden inside a hotel.
We simply walked straight past it. Pity there wasn’t a sign to let people know.
We went in expecting a Grand Jeep Cherokee and walked out with a Ford Flex, suitable for three people and four large suitcases. It actually seats 7, but forget the baggage, you’d be lucky to get two large suitcases in that configuration.
It is more than adequate for our requirements.
Things to note, it was delivered with just over a quarter of a tank of gas, and it had only done about 11,000 km, so it’s relatively new. It’s reasonably spacious, and when the extra seats are folded down, there is plenty of baggage space.
So far, so good.
We finally leave the hotel at about half-past ten, and it is raining. It is a simple task to get on Highway 1, the TransCanada Highway, initially, and then onto Highway 5, the Coquihalla Highway for the trip to Kamloops.
It rains all the way to the top of the mountain, progress hampered from time to time by water sprays from both vehicles and trucks. The rain is relentless. At the top of the mountain, the rain turns into snow and the road surface to slush. It’s 0 degrees, but being the afternoon, I was not expecting it to turn to ice very quickly.
On the other side of the mountain, closer to Kamloops, there was sleet, then rain, then nothing, the last 100kms or so, in reasonably dry conditions.
Outside Kamloops, and in the town itself, there was evidence of snow recently cleared, and slushy roads. Cars in various places were covered in snow, indicating the most recent falls had been the night before.
We’re staying at the Park Hotel, a heritage building, apparently built in the later 1920s. In the style of the time, it is a little like a rabbit warren with passages turning off in a number of directions, and showing it is spread across a number of different buildings.
It has the original Otis elevator that can take a maximum of four passengers, and a sign on the wall that says “no horseplay inside the elevator” which is a rather interesting expression that only someone of my vintage would understand. And, for those without a sense of humor, you definitely couldn’t fit a horse in it to play with.
The thing is, how do you find a balance between keeping the old world charm with modern day expectations. You can’t. Some hotels try valiantly to get that balance. Here, it is simply old world charm, which I guess we should be grateful for because sooner rather than later it’s going to disappear forever.
In my writer’s mind, given the importance of the railways, this was probably a thriving place for travelers and once upon a time, there were a lot more hotels like this one.