Thursday, April 12, 2007

Home Again for Easter

The Best Week EVER!

Well, after a few weeks in Kansas, it was time to head back to Edmonton for everything Easter.

Flight home
Was it a smooth trip home? Hell no. My flight from KC was a touch late, surprise, surprise, so when we arrived in Minneapolis, it was literally about 5 minutes before my connecting flight to Edmonton was to depart. Then as the plane approached the gate, it stopped about 20 feet before and the captain announced that there was some equipment in the way! GREAT! REALLY GREAT!

Finally, we parked the damn thing and I hurried on out and ran all the way across this massive, massive airport, carrying my laptop and pulling my carry on luggage, sprinting down moveable sidewalks, dodging around people, taking the odd short break (yeah, yeah, I know...) and then hearing my name on the intercom to report to gate C14, which wasn't even close yet. I finally arrive in a pant and a sweat and while the plane was still at the gate, the freakin door was locked. So I wave out to the pilots. lol... I know, pretty useless. So I go to the adjoinng gate, interrupt the current inquiry, and ask the lady to get a hold of the plane. She does so, and says someone will be right out. WHEW!!!

So I get on the plane, go to my seat, and they give me some water. Nice.... Tired as heck and wanting to sleep, two chatter box comedians behind me are yappin' away to no end. I glance at the three empty seats across the aisle and head over to bliss. Nappy nap.

Upon arrival, I knew there was no way my other bag would have arrived on time, so luckily I didn't put any needed clothes in there, but I did have some ink cartridges for one of my bosses, but the next morning, the bag arrived at my door. Sweet.

As I couldn't get a hold of anyone to pick me up, a $50 cab ride ensued. Hopefully I can expense it.

I get my key from my aunt's place and cabbie takes me home. Ah... home. Nappy nap.

Later that night, the B-Street Gang went out for karaoke and Brad the DJ was there. Really good to see him and the crew again.

A Maundy Thursday
Thursday afternoon, I headed to work to drop off the ink cartridges to my boss and we chatted and then headed down to Lux for a while and had a really good meeting. Several of my friends who work downtown stopped in and we had more drinky drinks.
But then I had to head off home to get in my tux and go to my Masonic Hall where I was participating in the 18th degree - Knight of Rose Croix as the 2nd General. It's a pretty big night in Scottish Rite Masonry, so it was great to see all the brethren again too. The degree took about 2.5 hours and I thought my general's charge was pretty inspiring. Anyway, after our Extinguishing of the Lights - Feast of the Paschal Lamb, I popped in the hall lounge where I knew brethren of my lodge, ol' Ivanhoe #142 were hanging out. Many of us then headed over to Martini's Pub for some wine and fellowship. I told everyone about my awesome trip to the Scottish Rite Temple in Guthrie.
I must say that that Thursday was one of the best days I've ever had. I will never forget it. I also decided that Kara and I would go skiing to Jasper after she insisted. Her telling me "You say Jasper is your spiritual temple, so let's go!"
A Very Good Friday
So Good Friday we hopped in her van and headed to Jasper -- specifically the Jasper Park Lodge and Marmot Basin ski resort. With Blue Rodeo and U2 playin' on the way, I was once again, for the umpteenth time, awe-inspired by the massiveness of the mountain scenery. That night we went to the Atha-B and watched a really good blues band.
Saturday, here in the park...
The next day was very warm, about 16C on the hill! The snow was a bit sticky, but my favourite runs, Highway 16 and Showoff were still a lot of fun. Just before lunch, I mentioned to Kara in a lift line that I usually one of my friends here. Sure enough, one of my fraternity brothers was also in line and later we joined him and his gang for some beers, food, and tunes down at the upper parking. Classic. That's what I really love about Marmot is the party atmosphere in that parking lot.

So we skied one day and then Kara drove us home, again listening to Blue Rodeo, Dave Matthews, knowing that I would return to my most favourite place in the whole world.
Saturday night was hanging at Suede Lounge and it was awesome to see the ladies of The Crew -- you know who you are! Then we went to some Level 42 club, which wasn't bad, but you cats know me, ... not really into the dance trance, hip hop stuff, so I called it a night as I had to get up early in the morning.
Sunday, Bloody Sunday
I was up at 7am for the Scottish Rite Relighting of the Lights Ceremony and Easter breakfast.
After that, I headed home for more nappy nap. Then I visited my mom and grandma, and after picked up my aunt in the afternoon and we went to my uncle's for Easter dinner as my cousin and her family were in town from Kamloops.

Monday Monday, so good to me
I had lunch with another dear friend who I haven't seen in a while. Then I a visit with my mom again. My 2nd cousin and her family were there. Her husband and I get along really well, so we decided to finally hang out together that night and so I took him to Martini's pub where he got to meet my good friend Boobie. Well, those two were like peas in a pod, with their overemphasized gay voice talk and yappin' about movies and religion. Hilarity was had by all.
Home On The Range...
But let this be a lesson to you all. Do not have a hangover whilst flying. Luckily, my dear friend Al drove me to the airport. The flight to Minneapolis was really good. Coincidentally, I sat in the exact same seat on the exact same plane I arrived in. I knew this because I left a magazine in the pocket and it was still there! Would a hot sexy women then sit next to me fulfilling this serendipidous moment? Alas, no.
Then we had to go back to the other end of the airport (you know, where I usually arrive from KC at), but this time I had and hour and a half to kill, so I had some pasta at a fine restaurant near my gate. We all get on the plane, but then wait, and wait, and wait, and wait. Finally, the captain instructs that the nose cone on the plane "has a history" so we had to switch planes. But guess where? That's right, all the funk away at the gate I arrive at!
I am done with Northwest Airlines. Not one smooth trip yet.
So this time I discovered that the Minneapolis freakin' airport has an automated train that goes from the main concourse all the way down to the G gates and saves you a good 7 minutes of walking. WELL THIS WOULD HAVE BEEN GOOD TO KNOW A WEEK EARLIER YA KNOW!!!
Finally arriving in KC, but late, Dollar Rent A Car obviously didn't have the Sebring I reserved, so now, I'm currently driving a Dodge Caravan. Someone direct me to the little league soccer game so I can fit right in please!
But let me tell you all something. Although I had the best week ever in Edmonton, I missed Kansas. So it was good to be back... home on the range.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Oklahoma, Oklahoma!

Scottish Rite Masonic Temple
Guthrie, Oklahoma

On the last weekend in March, several of the local Masonic brethren from Auburn Lodge and I hopped in my kick ass Town & Country rental van down the Kansas Turnpike and made the four hour drive down to Guthrie, Oklahoma to stay and hang out at the infamous Scottish Rite Temple there.

Because it was my rental van, I had to drive. Unfortunately, an hour outside of Wichita, a terrential rain storm began. Let me tell you this was absolutely the most unbelievable rain I have ever seen. If it weren't for the lights on the truck in front of me, I wouldn't have been able to see where I was going. Stopping was out of the question as I wouldn't be able to see where I could pull over or would I know what was behind me. The rain was coming down so hard and fast, at one moment, my life passed before my eyes and I wondered what my mother was going to think knowing her son died on a highway in Kansas. Seriously, it was that scary. I've driven through snow storms in the BC Rockies, but this was really, really crazy. This went on for about an hour and a half.

Finally, we reached the Temple late Friday night and my friend Paul gave me a quick tour. And wow, this is absolutely the most beautiful building I have ever been in.

Saturday morning we got up early, and I registered, to which I had the secretary of my valley call ahead of time to confirm that me, a Canadian Mason was attending. There was a mix up and so one of the members asked me if I knew the 18th degree sign and password. I said, "As a matter of fact, I do." You see, they don't instruct them for any of the degrees anymore, but we do it in full in Edmonton. So I think my dear brother was caught off guard by him trying to catch ME off guard. That said, he probably didn't know that I'm currently the 2nd General of the Rose Croix body of the Edmonton Valley.

So they eventually let me and we watched degrees 17 to 21, then we had lunch and missed the 22nd, but caught 23 to 25. The 26th was not performed due to some of the cast not being able to make it. A banquet followed where the brethren invited their wives and girlfriends to which they were also invited to a play about Pontius Pilate and his dilemma.

Sunday we watched degrees 27 to 29 in the morning and 30 to 32 in the afternoon. The 31st has been revamped and is derived from the Egyptian Book of the Dead.

During the entire weekend, I was bugging my American Scottish Rite brethren and the caps they have to wear. In Canada, 32nd degree Masons wear a simple collar with a teutonic cross for a jewel at the end, where in th U.S., they wear black caps which in my opinion, makes them look like bell hops. So I continued to ask my friends why they haven't taken my bags up to my room yet.

Here are some of the photos of this beautiful building.

Left: One of the sitting rooms. Right: The Library

Left: Lodge room. Right: Egyptian Room

Left: Me and Bob Davis (Secretary of the Guthrie Valley). Right: A performance on stage. Look at the backdrops! This play was open to friends and family after the banquet.

These two are of the main auditorium being set up for a degree. The stage is very deep and has a couple dozen back drops which are used during the degree performances. The altar in the middle has a trap door on its back side.

Left: View from the first balcony. Right: Me at the big organ!

This is me and Dr. Jim Tresner, who is basically one of the most respected brethren in all of Masonry, especially in Scottish Rite circles. Saturday night he hosted an informal discussion in one of the sitting rooms where a couple dozen brethren asked him questions about Freemasonry. I stood up and brought greetings from the Supreme Council of Canada and the Edmonton Valley and proceeded to ask him two questions:

1) Which is your favourite degree in the Scottish Rite?
- He said, "The 18th, for obvious reasons."

2) Which is your favourite working tool?
- "The level."

Coincidentally, that's what I would answer.

I also asked a question regarding Buddhism and Freemasonry to which a brother from California answered very eloquently and was extemely enlightened by it all.

All and all it was an amazing trip, one I'll never forget and very glad I was able to take advantage of the short distance to travel while living in Topeka. The drive back was very pleasant, we stopped in Wichita for some food, and made it home in the late evening. I have to say again that I love driving the Kansas Turnpike. It's soooo smooth.

For all you Masons reading this, or anyone really, go visit this Temple and get a tour: