Sunday, July 3, 2011

Vancouver

Sunday, July 3, 2011
We woke up at the same time today to hit the road at 8am for Vancouver, British Columbia (Canada eh?). It was an hour drive to Bellingham, our first home in Washington, only a few minutes from the border. It was only about a 20 minute wait at the border crossing. The typical Canadian questions were asked: How do you know each other? How long are you staying? Do you have any alcohol, etc to declare? It was an hour further to Vancouver’s Chinatown.
We went to a parking garage and then found some dim sum for breakfast/lunch. I went to find wifi at nearest Starbucks in the International Mall to research Grouse Mountain ($40 admission too steep for a few hours) and staying the night at a hotel so we could go late to the Chinatown night market. At the mall there was free parking for 2 hours. On the way back to the car, we saw some tents setup like a street market that we decided to check out. We moved the car to this garage and took Chance out for our walk.
The China Gate in Chinatown was part of the China Pavilion at Expo 86 in Vancouver. We took pictures of Zachary climbing on the lions at the gate. The street poles are cool here too.
I really liked this building and how it broke up the fa├žade in a nice way with an atypical roof on the base. There were some cool older buildings here. The metal perforated panels are a great organization piece on this skyscraper. There was a great copper dome roof.
I led them through the sketchiest area of Vancouver. I wish we avoided going to check out the tents all together. From what we could see, it was a large crowd of people with homeless trading goods on the street corner. It’s crazy how much the city can change in 6 blocks. Chinatown is great (one of the cleanest I’ve seen) and so is Gastown, but the in between is lined with vagabonds begging for money and worse. The downtown eastside by Cambie St to Hawks Avenue near Hastings is pretty much full of drugs and prostitution. I walked as fast as I could with a 6 year old attached to my hand to avoid the deranged raving lunatics. All that said, Vancouver is known as the safest city for crime, I just have great luck finding the sketchy areas of town.

Gastown is an historic area, Vancouver’s oldest neighborhood, with restaurants with outdoor patios and a quaint streetfront that we would have spent more time at last time if it wasn’t drizzling. It was designated a National Historic Site in 2009. It a fun mix and new and old with a great nightlife.
Gastown got its name from its first settler and saloonkeeper Captain John ‘Gassy Jack’ Deighton. It Victorian times to call someone gassy meant they talked a lot. We went to see the statue of Gassy Jack. Zachary admired the statue, probably wishing he could climb it.
There are hanging flowerbaskets from the street lamps. The steam clock in Gastown is the main attraction, the world’s first steam powered clock. The live steam winds the weights and blows the whistles. Every 4.5 minutes one steel weight travels by steam power to the top of the clock. Each quarter hour the clock sounds the Westminster chimes. The large whistle sounds once on the hour. The steam is supplied by the underground system of central heat distributors limited. The clock weighs over 2 tons. Joe, the engineer has to figure out how it works. Blue steel!
At the Chinese Cultural Center there was a circular paving with each of the calendar animals. This is Joe , the goat and me, the rooster. We walked into Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Park. There was a pond of water lilies and  turtle basking in the sun.
Chinatown Memorial Monument represents the sacrifices made by Chinese Canadians in building a united and prosperous Canada. We found some bubble tea, my favorite Taiwanese drink concoction, which is pearl milk tea with tapioca balls. The Sam Kee Building is known as the shallowest commercial building in the world according to the Guinness Book of Records. The basement extends beneath the sidewalk which has glass block paving. The ground floor at 4’-11’” is a Chinese law firm. The upstairs at 6’ wide is living quarters.

I love the Vancouver Convention Center by LMN Architects, at least the exterior and green roof.
We drove by the waterfront. They got really excited when they saw the large cruise ships at the dock. We dropped them off at Canada Place by the new convention center and went to find a parking space. We walked along the cruise ship as it prepared to leave port. The views across the water were gorgeous. I could make out Grouse Mountain and the Skyride gondola and windmill viewing pod at its peak. I pointed it out Stanley Park, the large 1,000 acre green space to the west we were going to next. There were seaplanes landing and taking off. It was cute to see the 2 brothers walking holding hands. For a full family picture, I took a photograph of our reflection in the Canada Place windows with the mountain-view behind us.
Chance enjoyed riding in the minivan.
Traffic was crazy by the park. Joe drove across the Lions Gate Bridge. Once again Chance freaked out and hid beneath my feet in the front seat.
As we past the playgrounds in Stanley Park, the boys were getting very excited!Second Beach was really nice. Swimmers were out in the deep waters in wet suits. I dipped my feet in the cold Strait of Georgia. The thing to do in Stanley Park is to rent bikes and ride along the seawall promenade encircling the park along the water’s edge.Zachary enjoyed playing in sand along the water’s edge.
Only lifeguards in Vancouver would be wearing a red t-shirt complete with long red pants on the beach.
Family.
The kids had some playground fun. Zachary ran off for a few more minutes on the other playground while Avery helped his dad walked Chance. I know one nephew of mine who would have been all over that antique fire engine.
 We drove by busy Third Beach and bodybuilder statues.
We drove by the Olympic soccer stadium and Rogers Arena, the site of the riots after the Vancouver Canucks lost the Stanley Cup.
Vancouver Chinatown Night Market. Yep we saw a UNC sweatshirt for only $8. They are so cheap because they suck!
 Richmond Night Market was huge! More bubble tea.
Sunset over the river.
Gary, we took this video just for you. As Joe says, “That’s a Gary special.”
The machine shakes the makings of the bubble tea drinks I’m so fond of.

When coming back over the US border from Canada, the security man was much more jovial. He commented that “I’ll have what they’re having,” referring to Zachary and Avery passed out asleep in the bucket seats. We had no issues with taking Chance across the border. We didn’t even have to show her paperwork proof of up-to-date shots. I think our dog is more well-traveled than yours now, isn’t she? 12+ states and 2 countries by the young age of 5 (35 in dog years) on July 22.
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