Last Day in Victoria; Win One, Lose One

by Lou on August 24, 2005

The Hotel Grows Quirkier the Longer You Stay Here
I’m playing two tournaments at once on my laptop in the Empress, which is fast becoming my all-time favorite hotel, for any number of reasons: its history, its elegance, and its incredible quirkiness. I love hallways that lead nowhere; there are lots of hallways like this at the hotel. There are also a couple of floors that are difficult to reach because to get to any room located above the sixth floor, you have to take the elevator to six, get off and walk down a long hall to another elevator that goes from six to seven and eight, where you reach floors with only a few rooms, so it’s sort of private but very tough to find and tougher still to get to.

Win One, Lose One
One tournament is no-limit hold’em; the other is pot-limit Omaha/8. Early in the tournament someone raises and I reraise with A-K, only to have a third player come over the top and go all in. I hate this but I’m pot committed and I call after the relatively short-stacked initial raiser goes all in. “Oh well,” I say to myself, “I’ll either wind up with a huge stack of chips or very few.” I’m up against pocket sixes and pocket eights, and now I like my chances but neither an ace nor a king fall and I’m the short stack at this one-table event by the end of the hand.

To win a tournament they say you have to win with A-K and you have to beat A-K. I did neither. After clawing my way back to the starting chip count, I am eliminated when my pocket pair of queens loses to A-K when the flop is K-K-7.

Things are going a bit better in the Omaha/8 tournament. I get to see a flop very inexpensively and wind up scooping with the nut flush and A-3 in my hand, when a deuce on the turn counterfeits anyone holding A-2, and gives me nut-nut. Two players go all-in on this hand and both go all-out. One had a king-high flush and I’m not sure what the other held. But I have a nice sized stack, and manage to ride it to victory.

The Best Curry I’ve Ever Eaten
To get to the Empress Hotel’s Bengal Lounge, you either have to walk through the room where people come — as they have for generations — to have high tea served in the highest of style, or you have to exit the hotel and enter the Bengal Lounge through the rose garden. But the Bengal Lounge, which is evocative of a British officers’ club in India 90 years ago, is where they serve a curry buffet for lunch every day. And if you like curry, this is a place you need to visit. You can sit in comfy leather club chairs and stuff yourself with a variety of curry, chutneys, and assorted other Indian dishes in great style.

From the comfort of the Bengal Lounge it’s off to the Airport, located about 15 miles away from Downtown Victoria. Alaska Airlines is really deteriorating. The quick flight from Victoria back to Seattle on Horizon air is efficient, the little planes are clean and the flight attendants are efficient and effective.

It all changes when you reach Seattle. You get off the plane, clear customs, and immediately have to go back through the screening process to enter the domestic side of the airport. So it’s off with your shoes and jacket, unload your laptop and cell phone and go back through security. It’s not like could have gathered any contraband in the 15 feet between clearing customs and going through the checkpoint again (and we were all screened when we boarded the plane in Victoria), but that’s the process and there’s no way to circumvent it.

Alaska Airlines Needs a Facelift, and Their Employees Need Some Customer Service Training
Seattle is gray and gritty, not my favorite city, and the Alaska Air experience is dreary. The departure gate area is dirty. When they begin to board the flight, they don’t announce “preboarding” so they are left with a woman carrying a screaming infant while pushing a stroller down an isle. Right behind her is another woman who is trying to make her way onto the plane schlepping a drag-along bag while walking on crutches.

Why no preboarding? The gate attendant determined that since the arriving flight was 10 minutes late, they’d board from front-to-back instead of back-to-front to give the cleaning crew a bit more time to service the plane. What a moron. If the plane is late, why not get more cleaning people assembled and have them work harder, faster, and smarter to get the plane cleaned ASAP? Instead, her solution was to inconvenience the paying passengers so that the cleaning crew can treat a late-arriving flight in a “business-as-usual” manner and pace themselves through their work, instead of hustling their asses off to get it cleaned in a hurry.

Once they load the plane the flight attendant has to scurry about to find a place to stow crutches and to fold and stow a stroller.

The crew might have cleaned the plane but it still looks dirty, and the cart they push up and down the isle with drinks and peanuts is either very dirty, in need of a paint job, or both. On top of that, the flight attendants — three people all absolutely devoid of personality and one with the singularly most obnoxious voice I’ve ever heard — need an attitude adjustment too. The difference between little Horizon Air and big Alaska Air is like night and day. Horizon treats their customers like gold while Alaska seems to have forgotten who buys the tickets that pay their salaries.

They May be the Size of Golf Carts, But I Think Those Smart Cars are Waaaaaay Kewl
Finally we’re home. I’m tired. It’s dark, and it’s late at night. I could have stayed in Victoria another day or two, but instead I fall into bed determined to get up the next morning, answer my email and then check out “Smart Cars” online. They are really cool cars, even if they make VW beetles look large, and look more like enclosed, gasoline or diesel powered golf carts than conventional cars.

Pictures to follow, just as soon as I get them off my camera, into my computer, edited, and published to this blog. Maybe tomorrow…..

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