LASHBURN, SK - Over 19 days and 12 hours since beginning a routine 90-minute hop-on hop-off bus tour of Vancouver, lost tour guide Gary Grant and his charge of tourists unknowingly crossed the Alberta-Saskatchewan border yesterday.
Grant has continued east, despite flagging morale, a broken air-conditioner, and several international calls asking for the safe return of missing, and sometimes missed, relatives.
“I know exactly where I’m going,” Grant assured his patrons for the seventh time from the bus intercom. “Just let me... let me see.”
Grant’s tour was supposed to focus on sites of cultural interest in downtown Vancouver. However, the tour extended indefinitely as Grant attempted to locate the city’s revered Stanley Park.
Passengers told reporters they felt skeptical about Grant’s knowledge of the city since starting the tour. At several ‘interest points’ missing from the free tour map he gave out, Grant asked his tour group to wait for him while he went ahead by foot to, as he put it, “prepare the area.”
“He would always sprint ahead of us during the walking portions of the tour,” said Fengwui Hu, a Malaysian visitor. “He said it was to check if the area was too crowded, but I think he was looking for those little blue plaques that explain the significance of the monument. He kept on reading the plaques out to us but couldn’t answer any of our questions. He would just read it again.”
“I fear for my children back home,” Hu added. “This tour has taken three weeks. It was supposed to be an afternoon trip.”
Image: The Beaverton with portions licenced by DepositPhotos.com / (from top to bottom) Elena Elisseeva, Alan Lucas, Tyler Olson
Grant has been driving the bus for the past 19 days, stopping at places that look interesting, and reading any historic plaques he can find. Despite pleas by tourists to return to Vancouver, Grant cheerfully insists that Stanley Park is just around the corner.
“I see a tree in the distance,” Grant said. “It’s the only one out here, so I assume it must be Stanley Park. It has to be.”
After stopping to inspect the tree and noting the absence of a plaque, Grant wordlessly reentered the bus and continued east. The bus is expected to reach the Manitoba border next week.
“We’re all afraid to leave. We’ve gone so far that we don’t even know how to get back,” said Sarah Shariff, a South Asian woman who came to visit her brother’s family in Coal Harbour. “I’m worried that my tourist visa will have expired.”
“The tour guide can’t even show us where we are on his map. It’s not big enough.”
Yet Grant remains confident the group will arrive at Stanley Park very soon.
“I really wish they’d stop talking about me like that,” Grant insisted while giving reporters a bright, unflinching stare. “I know exactly where we are, and this entire trip has been my plan from the start.”
“We get to see a part of Vancouver that no one here has experienced,” he continued. He then turned on the intercom. “Folks, if you look on your right you will see another tree. Yes, Stanley Park can’t be far from here.”