Adventures in Labrador

Hello, Internet, today is Saturday, March 5th, and yesterday we did the show for 200 high school students at the Labrador West Arts & Culture Centre.

Because of the availability of school buses, our show was performed perforce at 9:30 in the morning, which was a bit of a mind shift for us, but it went over fantastically. You could hear a pin drop in there. Magical.

LabWest 2 crew

Group shot!

We hit up a popular fast food restaurant for lunch because it was the closest thing to the hotel, and Evan wowed us with his colouring skills. Unfortunately, the crayon selection was… somewhat limited. Binary, even.

LabWest 2 Evan

Work in progress. Evan refused to colour Paddington’s hat any colour but yellow, and so it remains uncoloured.

 

The next bit of the tour is a bit weird, because I had to go back to St. John’s last night in order to pick up the van and all of the gear we need for school shows and drive out to meet the other three when they land in Deer Lake today.

So, yesterday afternoon I went to the Wabush airport with the giant boxes full of boxes – my portion of the checked luggage. I have taken these on purpose, because: a) I don’t trust that they’ll take these giant boxes as checked luggage EVEN THOUGH we’ve done it twice before; and b) if they DON’T allow them as checked luggage, then they have to go cargo, and I’d rather they had some extra time to get to Deer Lake (or Stephenville).

There is now a standard conversation with airport staff regarding these boxes. It goes like this:

Airline/Airport staff: Those are cargo.

Me: Nope, they’re luggage. The two of them together are 50lbs.

Staff: Well, they’re not going to fit through the x-ray machine.

Me: No, they’re not.

Staff: We’ll have to open them.

Me: Yes, you will.

There is no airport x-ray machine that can take these huge, awkward boxes, even diagonally, so they always have to open them. In St. John’s, they had us come over to look inside with them.

Staff: What’s in the boxes?

Me: Boxes. And bubble wrap.

Staff (opening first box and peering inside): Yep. Those are boxes.

In Goose Bay, it was a bit more complicated, but still a pretty seamless experience.

Staff: I don’t know if we can take them.

Me: You took them last time.

Staff: Mmph. Let me check.

(two minutes pass)

Staff: OK, we’ll take them. But we’ll have to open them.

Me: Yes.

Staff: (carts boxes to secure area out of sight)

And although we received them back barely closed and with a note inside that said “we had to open the box and are not responsible for damage,” everything was mostly OK. Nothing a bit of tape can’t fix, anyway.

In Wabush, things got just a little more interesting. Luckily, Wabush airport staff are all lovely and have a good sense of humour.

Staff: Put them up here and we’ll open them up and just swab them. What’s in these, anyway?

Me: Boxes.

(angry mechanical noise)

Staff: Ummm, that box has set off the alarm. Have you handled any explosives recently?

Here followed a long process where they asked me some questions about my life and work, completely unpacked both boxes of boxes, put all of the contents – and my carry-on luggage and my coat – through the x-ray, went through every pocket and leafed through every book in my carry-on, and then searched me. It was very thorough and hilarious, considering that the thing that had caused all the ruckus was a flattened cardboard box, but I had tons of time and everyone was pleasant. Apparently, the nearby mine throws off plenty of the stuff that sets off that alarm, and it’s not uncommon for any old thing to do it. Security and I were chatting away the whole time this went on, and I think I even told one of them it was nice to meet her before heading on my way.

And then, PAL took those boxes into checked luggage and they flew to St. John’s with me, to be loaded into a van and driven to Stephenville in the morning…

LabWest 2 set

The boxes that caused all the fuss.

Now, we fly.

Hello, Internet, it’s Wednesday, March 2nd, and yesterday we flew to Goose Bay.

After a 7am start on Monday, gathering in the car at 8:30 didn’t seem so early. We left all the school show gear – and the bulk of our personal luggage – in St. John’s and flew with just our set, costumes & props, and a few personal belongings. The result: the whole thing fit into our checked luggage!

Goose Bay show pack

This is our set, costumes and props. 3 pieces, and 100 lbs between them. Not to brag or anything (definitely bragging).

Today seems like a good day to recognize the support of PAL. Provincial Airlines offers a great deal to productions touring with the Arts & Culture Centres, and without their support it would be much harder to get to audiences in Labrador. And I have to say – and please believe me when I tell you that what follows was not part of the discount deal – PAL service is awesome.

Seriously. Service when I booked the flights over the phone was awesome. I had to call them back to make some changes about a week ago, and they were awesome then, too. But then! Yesterday!

Goose Bay YYT

Obligatory “we’re about to go on tour!” airport shot

The snacks on the plane are cookies – not the hard, crumbly ones, but the soft kind – and Miss Vickie’s chips. And they offered us hot towels and newspapers. And then, on the last leg of the flight (which was St. John’s – St. Anthony – Blanc Sablon – Goose Bay) they gave us full-on sandwiches. The luxury!

I know, I’m raving, but these things really do matter. And additionally, everyone was very polite and friendly, and we landed early. So, about as good a review as I can give of an airline service, all told.

Goose Bay planed

They were much happier about the Miss Vickie’s than they were about me insisting on taking this picture.

We are settled into our hotel, we’ve unpacked at the gorgeous Lawrence O’Brien Arts Centre, and we’re adapting to the cold. (It was 10 degrees in St. John’s when we left, and easily -15 degrees here when we arrived… and we’re led to believe yesterday was a warm day.) Today, a show full of high school and college students!