It was an exhausting weekend.
It started on Saturday with my company’s summer party. We were given tickets to a nearby amusement park and given free reign to have fun. I also got to bring Catalina. I went alone last year, but it was better with someone else. I did force her to go on one adult ride; you should try to do things that scare you. And she did a lot of screaming on the wooden rollercoaster, but there was a big smile on her face afterwards as the adrenaline kicked in. Having got her to do that, I didn’t make any other demands for rides.
Her favourite rides though were the little kid ones. We went on the merry-go-round way too often. I don’t even want to talk about the train ride.
There was a barbecue too, but unfortunately our company has gotten too big. There was a long line to get your food. I think we were waiting in it for an hour. If you are waiting that long, you don’t want to wait again, so you pile up your plates with as much food as you can carry. Needless to say, I did not need a dinner that night.
I will complain about the miniature golf course. It is built on a slope, so the first few holes are at such a bad angle, that it is very easy for your ball to roll right back to the tee.
The next day, Catalina and I drove out to Pitt Lake. Friends from Edmonton were in town and we decided to go on a canoe journey with them to Widgeon falls. It was different from when we did the trip last year. There were no forest fires going on so we actually had clear weather and could see the surrounding mountains. And since we were using multiple canoes, I could be in some of the distance-shot pictures.
The hike to the falls seemed to go faster too. Probably because I wasn’t as obsessed with taking as many pictures. I think we got to the falls before the crowds, but more and more people started showing up after we arrived. We ate a pleasant lunch and then swam around in the water. It was very cold though.
There is a place on the trail that we call the D&D grove; it’s where, last year, we encounter someone reading a D&D manual while hanging out in a hammock. It is also a nice place to swim without crowds. Unfortunately, it is still early in the season, so the water was very cold. And the day wasn’t hot enough to make it worth staying in for too long.
On Monday, I had taken the day off so we could give our friends a walking tour of Vancouver. This journey took us from the library, to Thierry, along Coal Harbour, into Stanley Park forest trails, to Cacoa 70 on Denman, walking along the seawall. We then took a ferry to Granville island where we investigated the Public Market and then bought some hats. The ferry took us back to Yaletown where we walked home and then had a movie night.
And on every day, I got up early to do my morning run.
Today, 7-11 had a Slurpee Bring-Your-Own-Cup day. (Restrictions apply.) I was curious enough that I decided I would take part in this event. I chose as my “cup” a large plastic container that formerly held profiteroles from Costco. I had no intention of being able to drink it all, but it was more to experience the attempt.
I did my run this morning and went to work. At about 11:30 I decided that I had waited long enough and walked over to a nearby 7-11. I’m downtown so there are lots of locations to choose from. It would feel wrong to just have one flavour with the amount of slush I was going to get, so I varied it.
I should preface my experience by noting that I have not had much pop for several years now.
I brought the Slurpee back to work and proceeded to drink it slowly. It initially tasted good. I mostly just tasted the Coke layer, but occasionally the Mountain Dew layer intruded. The Orange Crush just tasted of sweet. It was all very nice.
About three hours later though, I was not as happy. My brain felt off. Slow? Lethargic? I could still think at a regular rate (I believe.) My digestive system was also cranky; I burped a lot and felt a bit queasy.
It eventually went away, but it was an interesting experience. I am no longer a teenager; I can’t imbibe massive amounts of sugar without consequences. I have no intention to do this again, even though the event is for two days.
I will definitely have to do a good run tomorrow to burn off this excess sugar.
Yesterday was a lovely evening.
I had gone out to pick up something from a store about twenty minutes away. It was close to one of my favourite restaurants, so I decided to go there too. I finally tried their onion rings; best ones I’ve ever had.
Then, on the walk home I heard a distant sound. It took me a few seconds to realize what it was; a ship horn. A ship wan maneuvering around the harbour. And didn’t I find out last year that a cruise ship leaves at around this time?
I changed direction and got to Canada Place. As predicted, there was a large cruise ship leaving port. I had missed the initial cast off, but I got to see it attempt a two point turn. It was a beautiful time, with the sun low in the sky giving a good view of the mountains, the ship, and the sea.
After I had seen enough, I took a different route home than usual and saw a few things I hadn’t before: A status from Salvador Dali; a chocolate cafe; fountains. It was a nice way to end the day.
I should mention the Sun Run I did two weeks ago.
It’s a 10km race in Vancouver, apparently the biggest in Canada. There were 40,110 participants.
I signed up awhile ago because the people I run with at the Running Room were looking for more people on their team. It seemed like a good idea. I had had the opportunity to join as part of my corporate team, but at the time it seemed too short. Then I got injured and 10km was about what I was doing anyway.
My physical therapist was not entirely on board. But he relented as long as I didn’t push myself. No sprinting.
When he had let me start running outside again, he had told me for only twenty minutes. And then I figured out that he hadn’t given me a distance limit, so I could do the distance I wanted as long as I did it in twenty minutes. I knew at the time that that was not in the spirit of the rule, but I did it anyway. And it felt great. So he rightfully doesn’t trust me. At the minimum I listened to him and didn’t sign up for the marathon that is going on today.
The Sun Run conveniently starts close to where I live. I did run there a bit to warm up, but otherwise I was in the starting pits for about half an hour. The sun was peeking between the buildings which made it a pleasant wait.
I had signed up with an expectation of finishing in 45 – 50 minutes. That seemed reasonable. I was even concerned that I would be too slow. And when the race started, I didn’t push too hard. But then you are surrounded by people, all running. It is very easy to just try and pass that person who is just ahead of you. And there is always someone just ahead of you.
Everyone’s race shirt who was part of a team, had that team’s logo on it. So when I saw someone from a competitor company, I knew I had to beat them. I switched to a higher gear and was able to overtake them. But then I got used to that new gear. I could increase the pace, get used to it, and then repeat.
I finished in under 42 minutes, placing 622. I ran the fastest 10km I’ve ever done, and feeling good the entire time. I watched someone else at the finish line who needed to be carried away, while I don’t think I was even breathing heavy.
Catalina and I walked to the restaurant to join the after-run brunch with the others on my team. It was an hour and a half after I had finished, and the streets were still filled with people running. With the staggered start, I had technically finished before a lot of people had even started running.
When we got to the brunch, all the people I knew had finished in under 37 minutes. So I guess I know what I’m doing next year.
Last Friday, during my morning run, I observed a large number of tents being set up along sunset beach. I assumed they were somehow related to the Sun Run that would take place a couple of days later. I was informed by a coworker that it was actually for the Vancouver 420 festival. The marijuana party.
From what I understand, this is not an officially sanctioned event by the city. The organizers never got permission and just set up. I suppose it makes sense if you are dealing with an illegal substance that you just do everything illegal. At least the city acknowledged the event and didn’t ignore it; there were police directing traffic and signs letting people know what was happening, and which streets would be closed.
I decided to check it out, and discover the “real” Vancouver. Unfortunately, when I had time to go, it had started raining. This affected things.
The organizers, on the news, had sounded very proud of what they had done to make sure they didn’t disturb the park grounds. That clearly was no longer going to be true with the rain making a lot of the grass turn into mud.
I would not have wanted to be a bicyclist that day. The event was bisected by the seawall bike path, and of course there were high people wandering about. Someone could easily have gotten hurt.
I also liked that there were several booths selling snacks. And I’m not talking about weed-infused snacks. I’m talking about pies. Straight from the grocery store with no enhancements. They know the festival-goers are going to have the munchies and they are there for them.
Due to my late arrival, and the rain starting, there were a lot of sales going on. They were shutting down and didn’t want to have to haul everything back again. 2 for 1 deals. Deep discounts. Free add ons. Basically, a going out of business sale.
Still it was a good experience to see. I wonder what it will be like next year when pot is officially legal. Will they actually be forced to get permission for the festival? Will people show up when they can just get their pot from Shopper’s Drug Mart? It won’t have the cachet of being contraband.
So yeah, I got married. A week ago, on the 16th. At Prospect Point.
The day started out with rain. I confirmed this by doing my morning run and noting that I was getting very wet.
After a small breakfast my father and I went out to do a manly celebration: we went to get a straight-edge shave. It’s the closest men can get to a spa day. Then we went to join the rest of the families for a dim sum. Due to careful research by my new in-laws, we had scoped out a good place. Everyone enjoyed it, but we ate too much.
We sent the parents off early to the Prospect Point bar/café while Catalina and myself got ready. My sister, Lise, stayed behind to help us. Catalina had a dress from Dawnamatrix made completely in latex. She looked amazing. We weren’t 100% sure she would wear it as it does not insulate from the cold, and she didn’t want to freeze during the ceremony. To match her, I wore a nice suit in the same material from Libidex. Latex is not a material that is easy to get into, so it took time and lots of lubricant.
We put Lise in charge of the rings. While we weren’t looking she took the small Gund polar bear that Lana had given me. It was going to be the ring bear.
We drove up to Prospect Point. By the time we got there the rain had let up quite a bit. It was still drizzling, but it was more of a mist than rain. I conveniently met the marriage commissioner while we were both paying for parking. We went into the bar and presented ourselves to the family where they had been enjoying the happy hour.
From there I led Catalina out to the point where there was a beautiful view. It was slow going as she had very high heels on. Because of the rain, we had the lookout all to ourselves. I held an umbrella so that the bride could stay dry. The marriage commissioner declined her’s; it was such a light rain. She was very professional and had her papers in laminate; she was an all-weather commissioner.
What more is there to say? There was no objections from anyone. We said our vows. We exchanged rings. The ring bear was adorable.
We got married.
And we looked amazing doing it. My father took some great pictures. Some tourists had braved the rain and applauded afterwards. We should get married more often because we are really good at it.
We went back and did the paperwork and took more pictures. People had after-wedding drinks. Passerby’s wanted pictures of us. (Like I said, we looked amazing.)
Catalina, Lise and myself headed back to the apartment, and got the rest of the family to take a taxi to the post-wedding restaurant. (Oddly, there was a parking ticket on my car at the Point. As near as I can tell, the parking machine took my credit card and then had an error so it refunded the money to my credit card instead of marking me as paid.) Although we looked great, the clothing was not designed to be good for eating a meal. We changed into more conventional clothing.
We ate at a French restaurant next to False Creek called Provence Marinaside. It was a good choice as they were having a poisson d’avril festival, which meant there was a triple course meal available. Everything was delicious. I had the rack of lamb.
I drove everyone home in two trips. Catalina and I took some pictures with a huge mastiff that a small girl was walking outside the restaurant.
It was a wonderful day. We even hit some of the stereotypes. The ring bearer lost the rings at one point. (Fortunately they were colourful silicone ones, so she was able to find them.) Wine was spilled during dinner. Speeches were made.
Yesterday I went to the doctor. I recently went and there were some concerning high levels of liver enzymes. I got some more tests and went back to get the results. It was a little stressful because I had gone onto the web and read up on that which meant I was sure I was dying.
In the end, I am not. The levels have since gone down. I suspect they were merely elevated initially from the food poisoning I had a month ago. Maybe it takes awhile to go back down.
But these days I am worried about my health. My legs hurt. I still run every day, but it is not as enjoyable. Fortunately I have an appointment to get a massage tomorrow, so hopefully I’ll be better after that. I think the biggest problem is my left heel which has previously had a fat pad bruising. I suspect it has come back. It has caused my gait to change which is probably causing other issues.Someone knowledgeable might tell me to let it rest and recover. Those people are wrong and I will not listen to them.
I also appear to have a pain in my abdomen that I thought was a hernia. My doctor thinks it is just a sore muscle, so I’m hoping the masseuse can also do something about that.
The day I arrived back at work I discovered that there was a “team building” event going on that day. It had been announced while I was gone, so I had no preparation for it. Luckily, I was up for the challenge.
There were two parts to it. The first part was to eat as much pizza as possible. That may not have been an actual event, but I took the opportunity to replenish calories.
The second part, probably the main event, was go-cart racing. I was surprisingly good at it. In the initial round, the goal was to have the fastest time around the track. I did the best in my heat. The final round, after being placed with people of similar skill, I placed third.
The competition was aggressive; at one point I was shoved into the sideboards and I’m pretty sure I got some air there. My bigger problem was that the strap on my helmet wouldn’t stay tight. The helmet stayed on, but the hair hood they made us all wear started to get in my eyes. Adjustments were necessary as I raced around the course. That was probably not safe.
There were no prizes except for honour. But it was a nice way to get back into work.
The next day though, everyone’s back was covered in bruises; the go-cart seats were hard and the corners were rough.
A week ago I returned home from Houston. It was a great trip and I got to see Catalina again. She is going to arrive in Vancouver again on Thursday, so it was a taste of things to come.
We did the usual hotel stay and joined the conference to see our friends. This meant late nights. There was free, low quality, alcohol, and I tried some champagne on the first night, but I couldn’t be bothered after that. I stuck to cans of pop. This was a weekend where I decided not to bother watching my sugar intake, so it was hedonism for me. They also made the mistake of giving me access to a buffet dinner, and I will admit the third trip was probably one more than I needed, but I still had room for desserts.
That said, I still ran every day. Part of me wants to say that was not a good idea, but who am I kidding? I have a pattern I have to maintain. Let me elaborate though.
Since I didn’t want to have to run when I was having fun with Catalina and friends, I decided to run before my flight on Thursday. Since I had to be at that airport at five in the morning, this meant I was out running at 2:45 AM. Stanley Park is a lot more skunky at that hour. It shames me that I have to correct people that I mean there are lots of skunks, not that it smelled of pot. That sort of skunky is more during the day.
In the mornings in Houston I did my runs. There is a lot of pavement in that town, but I found ways to get to the bayous and ran along those. They are murky affairs, surrounded by decaying trees, and they probably have alligators. It was different, but not as scenic as Vancouver. Despite being in the low 20’s there, it is still greener in here.
My biggest problem was that my legs were hurting on every run. I initially blamed the cramped seating on the airplane, but I think the real issue was that my shoes were old. I had run about 600km on them, and I think they had expired. I could keep up my regular pace, even accounting for traffic lights, at the start of the weekend, but by the end, every step hurt too much. When I got back to Vancouver, I stopped using those runners, but my legs still feel bad. There are bad knots in my glutes that are making things my runs slow.
In any case, I was still having a good time in Houston. There was even a pool party at one point, but as usual it was too cold for people. For non-Canadians. I did get to be inside a giant inflatable ball with Catalina that was tossed around the pool; she was obligated to wear a hamster costume. It was not a problem for her.
We ended the weekend at her new place. It a rental she is living in temporarily, so she isn’t trying to make it a home. It was also the most difficult place to run from; it’s a gated community only accessible by a freeway. Still it was a nice place to be with her.
I am continuing to run everyday and I am worrying that it is causing my body to fall apart. My heel is not happy with me. My knee is getting better, but it still isn’t 100%. My current big worry is the persistent abdomen pain; my hypochondria suspects I have a hernia.
With all of these aches and pains, I have finally seen a doctor for a checkup. With the move to Vancouver, it has been about two years since my last one. Ideally the checkup should be an annual event.
I found a doctor who is available, conveniently downtown so I can walk to him. The initial meeting wasn’t great as he seemed to only do the checkup routine which for him meant: take blood pressure and send him off for tests. He was not interested to hear about my concerns.
But I think that is how it is supposed to go. Now that I have had the tests, I’m to go back in tomorrow morning and hear the results. I have gotten the impression that he will now listen to what I have to say.
But the fact that he wants to talk to me about the results of the tests is also ominous. It may be nothing, but the hypochondria does flare up and I fear I have cancer.
The food poisoning of two weeks ago has cleared up so I don’t think I have to talk about it. I do still feel a bit weak though.
I do have a lack of energy lately, but I think that is due to bad dietary habit. I like to believe I am eating healthy; I have cut sugar drinks out of my diet and I try and eat a good amount of vegetables. But I think the bigger problem is that I am now not eating enough. I run every day. I go through a lot of calories. Maybe I should go back to sugar water?
Yesterday I went to the bank to see about mortgage options.
My current apartment is a small one bedroom. It is adequate for a single person, but it is tight. It is not big enough that I feel comfortable having non-family guests over. I am also paying a lot per month. So I would like to know what it is possible for me to afford if a place comes available.
Part of the problem is that when I look at real estate prices, the numbers don’t translate into the real world. They are huge, unfathomably huge, but because they are all huge, I am looking at them relatively instead of absolutely.
Next door to work a condo building is being constructed. Many of the places were sold out when I first investigated, (I assume to Chinese people trying to park their money in foreign lands) so all that was left was a 1500sqft. one on the 22nd floor for $2.7 million. Then I heard that a smaller one on a lower floor had become available. After asking, I found the price for that one was $1.9 million. That was high but due to the illusion of comparative prices, it was starting to feel more affordable.
However, I decided to go to the bank to find out what sort of mortgage I could qualify for. While waiting for an advisor to become available, I saw another property listed. This one was a block further from work, but only one million. That was looking promising. Pictures made it look nice too.
I have now had sense driven into me.
The bank made life clear to me. In an ideal situation, I can afford a fraction of that. A significant fraction, but definitely not a whole number. The amount I qualify for would get me a property about the size of my current apartment over a 25 year period. I would have the benefit of increasing my equity.
Vancouver has a property bubble. Everyone knows this, but it has been increasing for 30 years and doubts are surfacing that it will ever stop. The best way to make money here is to own property and just let its value go up. Having a job is optional.
The advisor was impressed with my investment history and that I had been investing for a long time; she was jealous. But then she described that she had bought a house ten years ago that has gone from half a million to $1.4 million in value since then. So even though I am a “good” investor, her purchase of a house destroyed any investments I had done.
One of the more interesting things to happen in the conversation with the advisor was her advice to get my parents’ to help me with the purchase. She even showed me the paperwork that would be needed to make it happen. I never brought it up; she just assumed. Which implies to me that this is the route most people have to go through here. It reminded me of this article which describes the concept of “Landed Gentry”.
For most of the past several years, the B.C. government has explicitly avoided doing anything that might cause a decline in home values. We were apparently supposed to celebrate the windfall that foreign capital flows had on our markets. Again, this was a policy direction aimed at funding the retirements of Boomers at the expense of the future of Millennials, or as one B.C. MLA told me, this windfall can be used by Boomer parents to help out their kids. Many will and some won’t, but what this MLA was unwittingly endorsing was the move away from meritocracy and toward the creation of a landed gentry: if your parents were lucky enough to win the property lottery, you can hope for a piece of it.
As always, if you ever want to start a conversation with a Vancouver resident, just bring up the topic of real estate prices.
Last night was the office Christmas party. Last year it was practically across the street from where I lived, so that was incredibly convenient. This year, it was at Science World, the big spherical building at the end of False Creek. Not as convenient, but not horribly so. It was close enough that I decided I could walk it; a coat check would be cheaper than parking. The walk turned out to be about twenty minutes. When I got there, I discovered a free coatrack for everyone, and stories about how the Cirque du Soleil show had used up all the nearby parking.
I had initially planned to wear my suit and tie. But when I wore it to the symphony last week, it felt large on me; I’ve apparently shrunk sometime in the past year. I decided to wear an outfit that I had last worn when I worked at FileNet in Edmonton. I know this because I found my old business cards in the pocket. That would have been about ten years ago. It still fit, but it was also a bit large. I really need to see a tailor.
Science World was a good place for the event. They tried to make it cultural and had “representatives” from five countries there. For the most part it felt like they were picking the worst stereotypes. Canadians were shown as dressing like Mounties. The Germans were wearing lederhosen. The Mexicans had a mariachi band. The better part was that there was matching food!
I started with the Mexican tacos, and then moved on to the Japanese sushi. I got mine in Aburi style (i.e. flame seared) and it was delicious. Unfortunately, due to rationing, we only got two pieces each. On the second floor the Canadians fulfilled their stereotype with poutine. The Germans’s had good pastries. The Chinese chow mien was surprisingly good.
I then passed the time seeing the educational movie in the Imax theatre, Dream Big. It was good and inspirational and made engineers look like gods who walk as men. I want to go out and build a bridge now. Actually, now that I think about it, that description isn’t correct. Almost all the engineers that were shown were women. I didn’t notice until I made that misogynist remark.
Afterwards I saw the various cultures do performances. The lederhosen Germans were doing a good band. The Mexican mariachi band may have been good, but there was a drunk co-worker (who I’ve never seen before) who seemed to be trying to be the centre of attention. The Chinese had dragon dancers wandering the halls. The Japanese had really good taiko drummers; they even let several of us try out and learn how to do it.
One of the best parts of having the party at Science World, is that you could try all the exhibits. And it is great to be able to learn science without having to deal with children running around hogging all the fun toys.
In the end, I learned that my old outfit was warmer than I expected. I was hot enough throughout the evening, that when it came time to walk home, I felt no need to put on a jacket for the outdoors. It was nice to slowly go along my running route and soak up the sights that I normally run past. The fog that has been lingering around Vancouver has made everything look different and exotic.
I saw the dentist today. It was at one o’clock, which is when I usually take lunch. So beforehand, I ate a plum as a snack and had my usual apple a bit before the appointment. The cleaning and checkup went quickly. Due to a weird quirk of fate, I had gotten into the habit of flossing every day since I last saw them, and they could tell. I got back to the office at two, although I was told not to eat for half an hour.
I had a meeting at two though, but I couldn’t find the other participant. This would be my last chance to meet with him before he leaves the company for an exciting opportunity in Singapore, so it was an important one not to miss. When I discovered him, he was running late, so we didn’t start until half past.
Just when it ended, the fire alarm went off. “This is not a drill.” We all shuffled out of the building to wait for the fire department, which is kitty-corner to the office, to deem the crisis over.
Only then did I finally get my lunch. At around three o’clock.
Yesterday was Catalina’s last night in Vancouver before heading back to Houston. I tried to make it special.
In the afternoon we watched a movie (Finding Dory) then I took her out to “The Flying Pig”. It is a very good restaurant that we both enjoy going to. The veal picatta that she got was fantastic. I wish I had ordered it instead of my half chicken.
After that, we dressed up and went to the symphony; the one across the street from where I live. They were doing “Classics of Broadway”. I know she likes to go to the symphony, so I tried to pick a performance that I would enjoy as well. And since my enjoyment is directly proportional to how much I recognize the songs, this looked like a good bet.
I did not recognize any of the songs in the first half. They were dong the classics in chronological order, so the early ones were really old. They also shied away from the most recognizable songs. So the work from “There’s No Business Like Show Business” was not the title song, but “Alexander’s Ragtime Band”. (I’m not even sure the song that I think is in the play is actually in it; they may only share a title.)
In the second half, it got better. But I now have The Lonely Goatherd from The Sound of Music stuck in my head. That said, it is much better with a full symphony behind it instead of a bunch of kids singing it on a small TV.
They did not do the title song from Oklahoma! but they did for Jesus Christ Superstar. It concluded with a sample of three songs from “Phantom of the Opera”. Unfortunately, by this time it was getting late, and we were both getting tired. A matinee performance would have been easier on us.
My life has a routine these days. I get up, go for a run, shower, eat breakfast, go to work, come home, make and eat dinner, recover. This does not give me the most interesting life.
The running has been going well. It looks like I will have run further in November than I did in October. Which doesn’t actually get me anything; it barely gives me bragging rights. I don’t think anyone would care. The biggest issue is that it is always raining these days. So I’m getting wet, and I don’t think my rain jacket actually protects me anymore. Eighteen years may be enough of a lifespan for a rain jacket. I need to get a new one.
Catalina returned to Vancouver so it is nice to have her here again. It is too bad about the weather. I wish I could take her more exciting places, but it is pretty miserable right now. I am trying to take her to new restaurants, and I think we have a new favourite sushi place.
Work continues. I’m enjoying my current project. I seem to like tasks that involve cleaning up existing code. It isn’t profitable for a company though because customers usually like new features. The behind the scenes stuff doesn’t earn money, but it reduces code debt.
I wish there was more I could say, but like I said, my life has a routine.
Halloween had a special treat for me. Stanley Park became the place that did not want me to leave. That is a good start for a horror film.
In the early morning, before the sun had risen, I ran along the seawall from False Creek to English Bay. On the shores of Stanley Park, I continued on. Suddenly, after Third Beach, there was a truck on the seawall path. Easy enough to avoid, so I kept going. When I got close to Lionsgate bridge I had made the distance I needed to so I turned around.
And then I discovered why that service truck was on the trail. They had closed the gates for construction. This was a bit scary, because it was still dark and I was trapped where no one knew I was. The fence had too fine a mesh, so I couldn’t climb it. Fortunately it was low tide, so I ran back a bit and then clambered down into the side of the wall to the shore, covered in seaweed. I didn’t think of it at the time, but this was dangerous. It was slippery and dark and if I fell, I would not be seen by anyone for a long time. Or some ancient horror could have risen from the concealing seaweed and taken me to a watery grave. Either or.
I clambered through the rocks and eventually got to a beach and could take the stairs back to the seawall. I continued my run. I got to see the signs that they had put up after my passage warning about the closure. I guess they didn’t try more to stop me because they assumed I would continue around to the other side instead of turning back.
In the afternoon though my company had encouraged people to do some volunteer work this month. So I walked back to Stanley park to help with removal of invasive plants. (My coworkers took the bus and I saw them pass me both coming and going.)
English Ivy has been planted around buildings, but it is not welcome in the park. It out-competes the native plants. Himalayan Blackberry is also a mean and nasty plant that, although providing nice berries, does not belong. Both of these are very good at spreading. The Blackberry is also mean about it too, with spiky vines that will cut you.
The sad thing is that because they are so pervasive, after we are done removing them, there is only bare earth. We are defoliating. Maybe a fern or two can keep going, but we are removing a lot of plants.
I’ve been told that parks will now be ruined for us. We will now notice the invasive plants and know that they should not be there.
Jamaica was nice. Principally because I got to see Catalina again, but it was wonderful to see all my friends. The resort was the same as last year, which meant it wasn’t the greatest place to stay, but it was a place where we could meet. The food was actually rather disappointing; mostly bland American food. I consistently asked for jerk chicken, but it never came. Well, it did on the second last night, but since I was late for dinner that night, it was all scarfed down before I had a chance to get my share. The solution was a friend who had rented a car; we drove 3.5km down the road to “Ultimate Jerk Centre” where we finally got some chicken that burned our tongue. We were even able to get some Jerk Rabbit; it tastes exactly the same as chicken except more expensive.
A routine quickly developed in this place. This was helped by very consistent weather. It was beautiful until about mid-afternoon, then there would be rain for an hour or two, and then nice weather again overnight.
My day went like this:
Morning Run: I got up before 6:00 in the morning. Not feeling motivated, except by obligation, I would leave the resort and start running. Sometimes to the west. Sometimes to the east. Sometimes towards the interior where I discovered that there are some nasty hills on this volcanic island. If I had been a bit more ambitious, I would have run a bit further to the west and I could have seen Discovery Bay and taken some nice pictures, but I did not have a good enough internet access to plan that kind of exploration.
The first run I did I forgot to zip up my running pouch and my phone took a tumble onto the road. The back cracked, which overall is very minor damage. It didn’t affect the camera, so I could still use it for everything. However, I think it became less watertight. I think this because a few days later, while I was dripping sweat everywhere, my phone acted like it was breaking down; it wouldn’t stop vibrating. I put in dried rice and it got better, but after that I used a waterproof envelope while running.
After the run: I would eat a breakfast that probably broke all of my dieting rules, but it was nice to guzzle juice when you’ve sweated so much. I also discovered cherry juice which is a pleasant change. I would then go back to bed and try to sleep the rest of the morning. Others in the group, including Catalina, would go to an eleven o’clock yoga session. It was very popular and a lot of people were encouraging me to try. I think I was better off catching up on sleep.
After lunch: At this point activities would start happening. Usually some contests put on by the organizer of the trip. Catalina and myself also took the opportunity to try the kayak and go swimming in the ocean. This is when the drinking would also start. The entire time I was in Jamaica, I think I had only three alcoholic drinks. Two of those were Dirty Bananas, and on the second one of those I was avoiding the rum at the bottom because I just wanted the milkshake part of it. If we bugged the right people we could also get coconuts from the trees and drink the water in them.
There was also the afternoon grill that was open. There you could get cheeseburgers and occasionally hot dogs. These were usually better than the actual dinner buffet. You can’t go wrong with a burger, and you know what to expect. There is only so long you can have the baked chicken at dinner.
From a friend I was able to try a mermaid fin; basically just a swimming fin that you stick both feet into, not the full tail thing you see in videos. They are really hard to use; it did not feel very efficient. Would not recommend.
Sunset: At sunset there was a lot of photography, it being the golden hour and all. Some beautiful pictures were taken by people more professional than me. People would disperse after that; too early for dinner, but no sun. But also a good time to have conversations with people by the bar.
Dinner: Bland food. Great company.
After dinner: We put on shows. There was a lip-sync performance and I got good compliments for my usual Proclaimers song. I also tried “Simply Irresistible” that went over well, but I think that had more to do with my backup dancer. The organizer also decided to bring in some strippers. I can’t say I’m a fan of that, but it was nice to see them trying something different than the usual. It would have been better if they had actually, I don’t know, stripped. And speculation was rampant that one wasn’t actually a woman. Good times!
On the final night, there was even a wedding ceremony. That made me a little depressed; Catalina had left a day early. The early departure let her get a direct flight, and popular opinion agreed that no one is worth an extra six hours of travel time.
All in all, I had a good trip. But it is good to be home.
My seat on the flight were in the back of the plane; only one less than the very back. Since a Boeing 777 tapers, they didn’t have room for the usual number of seats. This meant I was in a side row of just two seats: window and aisle. But because it was still a bit wide there, my window seat had room between it and the wall. I was not able to rest against the wall while I tried to sleep. Still, I had more room.
Once in Toronto, I waited for the sun to rise and then I would go for a run. I put my luggage into storage and then went out. I had a route in mind, but no plan survives contact with the enemy. It is one thing to see an aerial view, it is another when you see what those brown smudges are. (Not a gravel parking lot.) It didn’t help that my Garmin is a nervous traveler and takes an hour to figure out I want to use it after any flight. I gave up and used an iPhone application to track the run. I hope I’ll be able to import it into my Garmin tracker.
On the way out I was fairly conservative and stuck to the obvious roads instead of the planned park. I did eventually get to the creek but by then I had to turn around. On the way back I was more aggressive and did a bit of exploring. I saw an Avro Arrow on a pedestal, crossed some creeks. I followed a trail by the baseball diamond that led into the swamp. The trail became fainter and fainter as time when on, and was soon unrunnable. Not willing to admit defeat I bushwhacked through the reeds. I wrecked my goal time, and my legs got all scratched up, but I eventually made it back to civilization. And my shoes are wet.
I would take a different route the next time I try to do this.
Back to the airport, I cleaned myself off in the bathroom, got a breakfast and now I’m waiting for my plane.
Last weekend, for Thanksgiving, I went to see my parents’ in Alberta.
It was a fairly busy time. On Saturday they were having a communal garage sale next to a farmer’s market. I helped as I could, but it didn’t feel like much. I did a drive back to the house to grab something that was forgotten (and wound up never being sold), and I took the dog for a run.
The next day I picked my sister up from the airport from her vacation to New York. She is having a rough time lately. She started a new job and within the first two weeks, another new hire betrayed her and is trying to get her fired. The bosses seem to be taking the other person’s side and were asking my sister to resign. She is a little stressed and I wish there was more I could do. She may have to start looking for work in other provinces now. Which is unfortunate since this was her dream job.
My mother prepared a fantastic turkey dinner. The initial plan was to get a free-range organic turkey from a neighbor. This had been planned for months, and we had jokingly called our turkey Larry. However, Larry was sold to someone else. Despite a phone call confirming it a few days ago, we had missed an email asking if we still wanted it. But the Butterball turkey we got tasted amazingly good.
Other than that, I did my usual daily running, but this time in the foothills. There are some very nasty hills around my parents’.
I returned to Vancouver on Tuesday evening. Surprisingly, the woman I was seated next to on the plane also got off the same SkyTrain stop I did.
Now I’m waiting to board my flight to Toronto and then on to Jamaica. It has been a busy week.
I’m looking forward to seeing Catalina again. However, I got a text from her saying the bus driver missed the resort and she is in Ocho Rios. That’s the last I’ve heard from her so I’m getting worried. Hopefully the bus took her back to the resort, but my mind is playing with worst-case scenarios.
Last night I went to the symphony.
A coworker had extra tickets so I nabbed one once I was certain no one else wanted it. I should have gone to the symphony long ago; The Orpheum is located across the street from where I live.
The setting was absolutely amazing. I was impressed as soon as I entered and saw the atrium. The atrium! Those chandeliers alone were artistry of glass. I’m glad I made sure to wear a nice suit and tie for the evening. Although I did see a few people who did not have the same commitment to culture and looked like they had just rolled in off Granville street and gotten confused as to where their nightclub was located.
The actual venue was gorgeous. I now have to pay more attention to TV shows to see which ones were filmed there. (According to MovieMaps, a lot of DC superheroes end up at the symphony.)
I was located on the lower balcony which I would not recommend for myself in the future. It is fine for other people, but let’s be honest; I’m tall. And a lot of that length is in my legs. And at that location the seating is more cramped than an airline seat. Other than that, the acoustics were fine and I had a great view.
It took me awhile to figure out the last time I was at the symphony, and I think it was when I was in grade school as part of a field trip. (I still remember the diagram showing the different roles of the orchestra; they were all tall cartoon mice.) So I am not the target audience. While I appreciate classical music, I am not a musical person.
The first piece was an original composition by the conductor. The second piece featured the Australian String Quartet doing a medley of several Beethoven pieces. After the intermission we heard the Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 5 in E Minor.
I have no regrets about going, but I do not remember the music. I zoned out for a lot of it. Occasionally there were snippets of melody that I recognized, but it wasn’t enough to enrapture me. I suspect the symphony is an acquired taste, and so I should work at acquiring it. And I mean that! It’s across the street, and I don’t have enough activities in Vancouver yet. Right now the highlight of my weekend is a nice nap.
Looking at the program there are a few upcoming performances of interest. However the Chris Hadfield show with its Science Fiction theme is when I am out of town for Thanksgiving. Maybe the Jurassic Park one in November?
I wish I could recall the grade school diagram more, because I do not know what the conductor does during the performance. It doesn’t look like anyone playing an instrument is paying any attention to him. And his arms aren’t even moving to the time of the music. I’m sure it is more than just a tradition, but I don’t see it.
Long ago, while I still lived with my family, I had an idea, dare I say a plan.
I thought that when I lived on my own I would go out regularly to a coffee place, or a diner, order a hot chocolate and read a book. I imagined myself in a booth and bold women would approach me to ask me how my book was. It was a nice fantasy, but I never really tried to implement it. The closest I came was going to a Starbucks and doing some programming on a laptop.
My weekends here in Vancouver have been less thrilling than I am happy with. I generally do a run and then not much else, spending far too long wasting time on the internet with things that are not fulfilling. There may be a possibility of a nap.
So today, I decided to force myself to do something. Anything.
I had a book I wanted to read; one I had started over a year ago. (Progress has been slow.) So I grabbed it and went for a walk. No coffee place would be my destination! (Because there is one in my building so that is hardly a challenge.) I was going to go to a park and read. Last time I did that was with “Feet of Clay” by Terry Pratchett, and that was a long time ago.
I provisioned myself with a Blizzard and then headed out on Robson Street. When my family visited, we found Denman to be an interesting avenue, so I made my way there. Unfortunately, it was more interesting in my mind than in reality. But it deposited me on the English Bay beach. There I found a nice rock in a sunny place next to the water. I watched the waves, then read a few chapters of my book.
When I had had enough I walked home.
It is odd to walk along a route you frequently run. You can suddenly stop and “smell the flowers”. I could spend time checking out things I usually see in a blur. I could even take some pictures for my #AirWreckRuns postings. (Yes, I sometimes use pictures taken not on the exact run I post them, because sometimes I took a better picture on a day when something else more interesting happened.) I even explored a bit off the beaten path.
I would say I was high on life, but if I truly wanted that, I would have gotten some pot from one of the many vendors who had set up tables outside the provincial courthouse.
Today, I decided I would go out for dinner. My restaurant of choice was Save On Meats. It would be a pleasant walk there and then have some good comfort food.
Along the way I had an idea. But first some background. When I started my job, nearly a year ago, I was given a gift card which let me go to nearby restaurants. To challenge myself, I made a pledge that I could not go to the same restaurant more than once in the initial period. That way, I would force myself to try a variety of places. It was a good idea.
So why have I never done that for other restaurants? If I go out for dinner I tend to always hit the same places. And there are a lot of options around here! So I should make a list of all the restaurants within two or three blocks of home and try and hit all of them at some point. That would be a nice plan for the future.
A future that became more present when I discovered that Save On Meats closes at 7pm. It seems like a style for late night munching, but apparently that is not to be.
On the stroll back towards home I thought about going to Chopped Leaf where I could get a nice salad. But then I recalled my idea and decided I couldn’t go to a place I’ve been before.
So tonight I ate at Hüngry Guys. (The umlaut makes it cool.) I got an acceptable, if forgettable, burrito. It looks a little too easy to get cilantro in your meal though. I would say it filled a void and that is about it.
I’m not happy with myself lately.
I live alone in Vancouver. My fiancé lives in Houston and is trying to recover from the disaster of Harvey. So she will not be coming soon. In 2016 I saw her lots. This year I think I’ve seen her for a total of five weeks. I talk with her everyday, but it isn’t the same.
Being in a long distance relationship is putting me in a bad position. The fact that I’ve moved here from Edmonton has made it worse.
In Edmonton, I had friends and a social network. I saw them a couple of times a week.
Since I’ve moved, I don’t go out. I don’t see anyone outside of work. Since I have a fiancé, I even have an excuse to not go out to bars that I never wanted to go to in the first place. I am becoming a hermit. With the new running program, I don’t even have the run group I used to see on Wednesday and Sunday. It wasn’t much but it was something.
I’ve lost all social outlets.
And with it, my social graces. When my family visited last weekend, I was not great. I don’t know if I was tired or stressed, but I was not in a good mood and I took it out on them at times. I did the actions to give them a good time, but my personality prevented them from truly enjoying it.
Part of me thinks it is because I haven’t seen them in so long that I am not used to my mother getting old. I think of her as having as much energy as I do and expected her to keep up with me. But let’s be honest, I’m a bad person to be around now.
I’d like to be better, but I don’t feel motivated to socialize.
And even if my fiancé comes back, forcing me to accommodate someone else in my life, I fear the damage has been done. This apartment is feeling like my place, and not our place. She will be a guest in my house. It won’t be her home. And I’ll have gotten stuck in my rut, and will be resentful of anyone trying to change it.
Hopefully acknowledging the problem will help stop it from getting worse.
This weekend my mother and sister came to visit me in Vancouver. So “Operation: Exhaustion” began on Friday night.
I picked them up from the airport and immediately took them out to sushi. They were tired after the flight so I let them go to bed afterwards.
On Saturday, I did my morning run and then grabbed a dozen fresh croissants for them to have for breakfast. Then we used the Aquabus to go to Granville Island. Apparently dogs travel for free as someone brought four dogs the size of great Danes onboard. We hit the Public Market first. It is an interesting place to go, but it is crowded and the fruits there are too expensive. I don’t think we actually purchased anything. We then wandered around the island for a bit.
In the children’s section, my sister convinced me to do the 3D virtual reality simulator together. Two roller-coasters. The first roller-coaster experience was the best; you went on a track that clearly did not have enough support and whirled through simulacrum of famous monuments; the Statue of Liberty was much more endowed than usual. The second experience was very similar to “The Beast” that I rode at the fairgrounds a couple of months ago. The scenery didn’t change much so it wasn’t as entertaining. But it did bring me back to memories of the Beast, which made it more scary. But the interesting part was that if you closed your eyes, you realized that there were no G-forces at work and your chair was just shaking a bit. The visual element is very necessary.
We then took the Aquabus back and I took them to “Provence Marineside” for a classy lunch. I let them take a nap, and then we went off to Sunset Beach for some ocean. My mother enjoyed herself, but she felt that the boats that were leaving through False Creek were making it smelly.
For dinner I took them to “Legendary Noodle” and they REALLY enjoyed that. My mother doesn’t even like pasta. She got some dumplings and declared them the best she had had ever had.
On Sunday, we drove to Third Beach in Stanley Park. I left them to enjoy the water while I did my morning run, in the forest for a change. That helped a lot on such a hot day. I then changed and joined them in the water where my sister and I swam out to the buoy and then back.
From there we crossed the Lionsgate Bridge and drove towards Squamish. We didn’t get there and stopped off at Horseshoe Bay where we had a lunch at a fish and chips place. Then we watched the water in the harbour and saw the ferries leave. We drove a bit more around the area to see some sights. I would like to try and get to Squamish one day, but I will need companions with more energy. I took them home and we watched a movie before going to dinner at “The Flying Pig”. They have a great pork roast on Sundays.
On Monday, we took it more easy. I ran in the morning and then we went to a waffle place for breakfast. “Le Petite Belge” was higher rated, but the waffles were too light. I think I preferred “Waffle Bant” which isn’t reviewed with high marks. We investigated a mall that would be air conditioned, ate lunch, and then went to the cruise ship terminal. There was a Disney Cruise Line ship there. It was enormous. You don’t really grasp how big those ships are until you walk next to them. We relaxed in the area for awhile and then returned home to watch another movie. Then the public demanded that we go back to “Legendary Noodle” for another dinner.
From there we watched the sunset on the beach.
This morning I put them on the subway to the airport and they got home safely.
There are not more impressive stellar phenomena in my opinion. (Other than ones that end civilization.) Unfortunately, it requires a full solar eclipse. A partial doesn’t cut it. With a full, the sun is completely gone, and I am lucky to have experienced that in Winnipeg in 1979. 38 years ago. I barely remember it. I certainly don’t remember wearing special glasses.
With a partial, the sun does not look any different. It is still the big glowing ball of fire in the sky. Only with special glasses can you directly see that anything is different. Indirectly, you can see that the things around you aren’t lit up as much as usual. It has all the appearances of early dusk, but the sun is still high in the sky.
I had thought about making a run for the border and going to Oregon to see the full Monty. But I kept hearing about the crowds of people thinking the same. There is no way I would have found a place to stay. And the traffic back would have been obscene. So I stayed in Vancouver, and did my job. Not very exciting, but that is what is needed to keep the world going.
But it was a nice experience to go to the roof of work, borrow glasses and pinhole cameras and see that there was something funny going on with the sun.
My knee has been hurting since I moved to Vancouver. It may have happened when lifting heavy boxes during the move. Or it may have happened when I had to jerk out of the way of a caterpillar drifting down into my run path. I’ve tried numerous strategies to get it to feel better. I tried giving up running for a month or so during the “winter” but it didn’t seem to help.
When I finally got my BC Health in order, I went to a physical therapist. Luckily, he didn’t seem to discourage me from running. He gave me exercises to do. It helped a bit, but my knee still hurts.
Yesterday he decided that more drastic actions needed to be taken. Well, drastic from my perspective.
Instead of my 2-3 runs a week, I need to run every day. However, my distance is now capped at 5km. I can increase by 10% every week though.
The plan is that by doing a reasonable amount consistently, my body can get used to running and still do the healing. Activity does help the process. Too much activity or no activity hurts the process.
I think he decided to do this to me because I ran 33km on Sunday.
So, today I started trying to run every day. Before breakfast I went out and hit the pavement. My big problem is that there aren’t that many options around here for 5km routes. That really is true of any place though; 5km is not enough distance to have variety. But I do have options, mostly seawall based.
I’m going to try and keep this going by giving myself the challenge to find something interesting to see each day. I’ve been practicing this for awhile, but I haven’t written down or spoken of what I’ve seen or done. That changes today.
It started off well. I think I ran through the set of Deadpool 2. I can’t be sure, but the overturned car and rubble did paint a picture.
Yesterday I performed a successful vacation for Steph. Remember, I only consider it a success if the recipient is totally exhausted by the end.
I did let us sleep in, and took people out for Belgian Waffles at a cozy place near the library. Although we had bubble waffles, so not technically Belgian, but I think these were better.
After that, we drove off to Golden Ears park for a hike. I chose this one because it did not involve a mountain. As much as I like those, with the haze from the fires, the view would not be worth the effort to climb higher. And if you are already dealing with oxygen deprivation, particulate matter will not help. So, with that and the heat, I concentrated on a hike that stayed within the trees next to Gold Creek.
We started at Gold Creek parking lot and found a park ranger to pump for information. He confirmed our plan to start with the West Canyon trail.
I had a map, but it was a little confusing for me. I’m so used to ultramarathon distances with a scale that lets you run for days; it felt wrong to be walking and seeing landmarks come quickly. it also, unfortunately, did not indicate elevation. The park ranger was young, so I think his description of it being a flat trail was borne of youth and not experience.
It wasn’t too bad until we followed his recommendation to go down to the Lower Falls. It was beautiful, and worth the trip, and a great place to have a lunch. But afterwards we had to climb back to where we were, and then keep going up around Edge Peak. It culminated at a point-of-interest called the “Gold Creek Lookout”. After that it was downhill, to the aforementioned creek where we crossed a bridge to the other side.
Due to scheduling and lack-of-motivations for ascending more, we didn’t go to Alder Flats. Maybe next time.
The trip back, starting on East Canyon trail, on the other side had one hill, and then we went down to the Lower Falls on the other side. Still beautiful. There were lots of people there swimming or jumping off rocks. Steph was not pleased about that.
After that we took the Lower Falls Trail back to the parking lot. It was flat, and people were tired by then. Conversation was almost non-existent. In all it was about 12.5km of hiking, taking around six hours.
We then drove Steph to the airport where she had a safe flight home.
We were supposed to go to Well Grey Park in the interior, but the heat and smoke from B.C. burning made us decide to stay in the lower mainland. It was a good choice because parts of the park got closed off due to the threat of more fire. We still wanted to do outdoor activities, so on the advice of a coworker, we went to Widgeon falls yesterday.
It involved getting up earlier than any sane person just so that we could get to Pitt Lake in time to rent a canoe. I would like to say it was a beautiful day, and it may have been, but the smoke was making everything hazy. It felt like we were going through a fog on the drive there. We had to get there early before all the canoes were gone, and even through we got there three minutes after they opened, there was already a line. Steph and Catalina took the opportunity to go blackberry picking while I waited in line. They were still somewhat tart.
Catalina and I paddled, while Steph acted as ballast. She had the important job of taking pictures, which is a very valuable service. We crossed the Pitt river towards Widgeon creek, and I think we encountered a sea lion on the way. It may have been an otter, which would have been more plausible, but I don’t think otters get that big.
Widgeon creek’s mouth was through a marsh. We took our time so we could avoid the crowds of other canoes. (Including one who had installed an electric motor to their’s.) The canoe rental place seemed specifically designed for this route. We followed the twists and turns and it was thoroughly enjoyable. We saw a lot of herons, and I think some were posing for us. The haze from the fire meant the mountains weren’t as visible, and prevented any postcard picture opportunities. But the haze also gave some nice depths to the mountains we saw.
After an hour and half of paddling through the creek, with the way getting shallower and tighter all the time, we came upon the campsite that was our destination. We dragged our canoe out of the water and continued on the trail on foot.
It was a beautiful hike, of a bit more than three kiometers. Mossy trees and so much green. The orange sun from the smoke was actually making everything look more vibrant than ever. Especially when the light came through the trees.
At one point there was a lovely view of the river, and some people had set up their chairs there. Oddly, one was reading a 2nd edition D&D manual, preparing for the game.
We eventually got to the falls. They were beautiful. Loads of people though. I would like to come on a weekday when there aren’t as many, but it was big enough that it didn’t feel too crowded. It did make the photos less glorious because there was always someone in the view.
We ate our lunch of Subway sandwiches, then soaked in the cold water for awhile. We didn’t go in far because there was a big current that wanted to push you. From that we found someone’s prescription sunglasses. We did not find the owner though.
Eventually, we had to head back.
We stopped off again at the D&D clearing for a snack break. I decided, with encouragement, to try swimming in the area. There weren’t any people, and it looked calm and deep. It was a little difficult to enter, but it felt so refreshing. The water was so clear it was hard to judge where it was.
When we got back to the canoe and started paddling back, we discovered the effect of being on a tidal lake. According to Wikipedia, there is a three foot tidal range on the lake. And from our experience, that included Widgeon creek. Where before we easily guided our canoe through the water, now the water was almost gone. I had to get out and pull the canoe about four times. At one point the water was only a small trickle that was the the equivalent of a garden hose. Widgeon Falls water spreads out in the marsh and it doesn’t all go through the same creek we were using.
We were back around 5:30, and drove home. We stopped off at a couple of places to buy fresh produce. Purchased blackberries were a lot sweeter. Did you know you can get 10lbs of blueberries for $20? I do now. Also, Siri could do better with directions.
In celebration, we went to the Keg for dinner and then went out to see the fireworks from the Burrard bridge.
It has been a wild weekend that, of course, I’m only now writing about it. Since what-happens-in-the-weekend-stays-in-the-weekend I will spare you some of the details. Needless to say, a bunch of friends from out of town were here and there was a lot of late night partying.
On Saturday, a couple of us went to a beach. We discovered that a beach (Sunset Beach) that is nearer to where I live is not as busy as I suspected. I usually go to Third Beach. In addition, the water is clearer. Unfortunately, I applied sunscreen before I went into the water, and a lot of it came off. So, while I enjoyed sunning myself in the pleasant summer sun, I paid for it later. We were able to get Catalina in up to her neck; that is a major accomplishment.
On Sunday, the highlight was going on a boat cruise. I enjoy expeditions where it is enforced that if you aren’t there on time, we leave without you. Even it means watching a friend from Edmonton, literally, miss the boat by one metre. It was really warm while we were in the harbour, but once we got going the breeze off the sea was very pleasant. And it is a nice change to see Vancouver from a different angle.
The boat went out into English Bay and went around a few of the big cargo ships before heading back. It was only a three hour cruise. (Ominous.) The view was great and with the haze from the fires, the mountains looked spectacular. The smoke is really coming in these days, so I can’t see the mountains any more.
On Monday, I took the day off and we went to Wreck Beach. Famous for various reasons. The place was rather crowded, but a nice atmosphere. Except for the one drunk guy who decided to yell at all of his friends. For hours. It was also thick with hippies. Some friends specifically moved their blanket because they couldn’t stand one that was playing his guitar constantly. I didn’t hear it, so I suspect he wasn’t as good as he thought he was.
The water was nice and I was able to get Catalina in again, and she even went underwater.
We stayed late enough that we even got to see the sun set. It was beautiful. I’ve been spoiled by Winnipeg though; say what you will about Manitoba, but it has had the best sunsets ever. The puffy clouds make them gorgeous, and the sea has yet to compare.
My company had a summer party at Playland today. That is a permanent amusement park in Vancouver. I hadn’t been to one in over a decade; I think I went to K-days once, but I don’t recall going on any rides. I didn’t think Edmonton had a permanent amusement park until someone pointed out West Edmonton Mall.
In any case, the company was allowed to go in an hour before general admission, so there would be no lineups. This would be a huge opportunity, so I shouldn’t waste it.
I did research beforehand to try and figure out the rides I should go on. Watch some videos, read some reviews. That was a mistake. All it did was make me realize that I don’t like thrill rides. I was getting anxiety attacks. Thankfully I forgot most of it by the time I got to the park. (Hey, I used the Vancouver bus system for the first time since I moved here.)
It was a great day to go. It was cloudy with a constant threat of a light rain. So the park would not be too crowded. It sprinkled a few times, but nothing bad.
When I got into the park, I said hello to the director. I asked her what ride she would recommend: The Beast. Great! No lineups; near the entrance; I was on it before I had a chance to see what it was really like. If I had seen it in operation I would probably have never gotten near it.
This is a ride that I feel was saying “Where are your laws of physics now?” You aren’t supposed to accelerate upwards when swinging on a pendulum. I spent most of the time concentrating on breathing without hyper-ventilating.
Afterwards I followed a co-worker to The Corkscrew. Another ride I got on without actually paying attention to it. It was a roller coaster; how bad could it be? In fact, while it was climbing up the lift hill I was looking back at The Beast, wondering how I got on that. So I didn’t notice how high we were going. And that I was going to be upside down until I was about to be. But a roller coaster feels safer because you feel solidly connected to something, and if you are weightless, there is something beneath you. Heck, we went on twice in a row.
With that, we went to the Atmosfear. Once again I wasn’t paying attention; I was following someone I knew. It was just one of those rides where you are in hanging chairs and it spins everyone in a circle. Basically a faster merry-go-round where you are suspended by chains. It was only when it was too late that I noticed that we were going up higher than I expected. Yes, the tall tower it was attached to didn’t really click in. (Who really looks up?) The worst part is that you cannot grab tightly onto something solid; you are attached by chains. This time I got through it by just focused on the ground.
I think that I didn’t sleep enough the night before because I was not paying attention to what I was doing.
The final ride I went on was the Wooden Roller Coaster. Roller coasters seem to be about the level I can handle. The rickety wooden ones make it a rougher ride though. The hills were sharp, and I made the mistake of trying to force myself to stay in my seat. It tensed me up and I think I got a bit of whiplash at one point. You aren’t going to fly out, so relaxing is better.
That was my last thrill ride. I woke up enough by then to stop myself from doing dumb things. I only went on the ferris wheel to calm down.
I did notice that the rides are the same as everywhere. I have seen these exact same rides in other cities, in other countries, in other continents. It makes sense; if you are a manufacturer of amusement park rides, you would design a good ride and sell it multiple times. Economies of scale. But I’ve even seen these same ones in traveling shows. I think the wooden roller coaster is the only unique one. (Oldest one in Canada.) You can also figure out how old the rides are by how they are advertised. I’m pretty sure the one covered in breakdancers is from the ’80’s. The one featuring Baywatch is probably from the ’90’s.
They also have the idea of gateway rides. These are rides that are mini-versions of the main attractions. So little kids can get used to them before going on the big ones. It’s a good idea.
There was a barbecue afterwards, then I had some cotton candy and a candy apple before I decided to walk home.