Trip report: refereeing in Abbotsford, Edmonton, and a quick trip to Toronto/Waterloo

Posted by Patrick Lam on Sunday, March 10, 2024

I flew to Canada on the Thursday before the Pacific International judo tournament in Abbotsford, with an early-morning departure, and, yet again, a stop in Sydney. Due to the magic of the International Date Line, I also arrived in Vancouver on Thursday, at 6am. Then I napped in a conference room, served on a PhD defense committee, and attended a talk at SFU. Then I got a bunch of sleep in Vancouver and drove to Abbotsford.

One side quest I had on this trip was bringing my telemark skis back to Canada. I don’t need two pairs of skis in New Zealand! Since my first flight was with Qantas, I only had 1 checked bag, and put my boots into the ski bag. Then I stored my skis at YVR on Thursday and put them in the rental car for the weekend, before checking them through to Toronto on Monday.

At Reifel: Anna's hummingbird, sandhill crane; Pacific International; Edmonton International; my skis at Pearson; Simon Fraser University; seen in Vancouver.

On Friday, I checked out what was in the area, and found the George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary in Delta. It’s not far from Richmond, but you have to get to the bridge across the Fraser River, so it is about a 30 minute drive. After the overnight-flight-which-is-impossible-to-sleep-on from Sydney to Vancouver (most of it is during daytime hours in terms of your body clock), I did sleep in a bit longer on Friday, and only got to the sanctuary at 11:30, after a quick stop for banh mi. Note that when the sanctuary is busy, you have to reserve in advance and arrive before 11 or after 2. Anyway, the sanctuary had Anna’s hummingbirds at a feeder, as well as sandhill cranes, and lots of waterfowl. (First time I’d seen a hummingbird!) The weekly species list for the previous week had 77 species.

At the tournament itself, I appear to have dodged getting COVID, unlike last year. I also managed to get them to open doors to improve ventilation to some extent, though that only dropped CO2 from 3300s to 2200s near where I was. It was interesting to see that the curtain really impedes airflow and keeps the CO2 level up, despite CO2 being a gas. My experience is that most people are amenable to improving the ventilation in these venues. I just wish they had better ventilation in the first place. But an issue with judo tournaments is that they are packing in far more people than design capacity for the venues.

After the tournament, I flew to Toronto, went bouldering at the Rock Oasis with Marco and Blake (saying hi to some OAC folk), and made my way to Waterloo on Tuesday morning. I had a full schedule of meetings for my two days in Waterloo and a bit of a kerfuffle getting the keys to my place. There was a whole chain of annoying occurrences keeping me out, including my garage door opener being unreliable. I also did a Walks as a Service with a 4th year Computer Engineering student and met my graduate students. Many thanks to Rux for putting me up in a spare room!

For Thursday I bought the cheapest ticket of the day, departing at 2135, which got me into Edmonton around midnight, at a Comfort fare, which allows standby for earlier flights. I managed to confirm onto the 2025 flight but was 3rd on the list for 1400 and they only let on two standbys. (It was -2 when I checked in at YYZ). Then the 2025 flight was an hour late, oops. With the wait between 2pm and 6pm, I took the UP Express into Toronto, warrantied Darn Tough socks at MEC, and met with Bilal briefly before going back to the airport.

In Edmonton I took the 747 bus to Century Park and stayed at an airbnb near there, before meeting Dave for lunch and then making my way to the West Edmonton Mall, near which I had another airbnb.

The Edmonton International is a super big tournament (though still substantially smaller than the Quebec Open). We did the ne waza (groundwork) tournament on Friday, and then 14 hours of fights on Saturday and 10 hours on Sunday. Fortunately, they had the junior referees start the U10s and U12s on Saturday, so I only started at 10:30. Still, I was on for 12 hours on Saturday. At least they provided pizza for dinner. Not as good as the excellent lunch they provided, but better than nothing!

When they mailed us with the 12 hour Sunday estimate, I figured I’d be fine with the 2000 flight I’d booked to YVR, connecting with 2345 to AKL. I was playing with fire because I had booked this all as 3 separate itineraries, but nothing bad happened this time. Of course, I ran into many judo people at YEG. Then, it turns out that our former neighbours Dirk and Martha were on the same YVR-AKL flight, heading to their NZ trip.