Monday, June 21, 2010

some old news. and some current news.

oh hey!
I know, it's been a while... these things happen. you'll get over it. quick overview of my life since the olympics:
march- paralympics; i went to some wheelchair curling and a couple sledge-hockey games and the opening ceremonies. it was a good way to ease out of the olympic-lifestyle that vancouver had come to know and love in february.
april- worked making coffee, then at the end of the month headed east. to oakville and quebec city, caught up with friends, went to braden's final gallery, helped braden and jess pack and move. beginning of the playoffs. canucks made it through rounds 1 and 2. nashville did not. both lost to chicago.
may- got home from the east, packed my life up and moved into an apartment across the bay from my parents' house. got a job. making coffee. again. got restless, drove to canmore for the 2-4. leapt on the chicago bandwagon (if you can't beat 'em, join 'em, right?) and followed them to the cup. ran the 10k sunrun.
june (thus far)- braden and i roadtripped to america. spent a night in seattle with laur, then a night at the gorge with tom petty. amazing. a PERFECT weekend. lots of sunshine, good music and real beer (imported from canada, obviously). ish-following the world cup, most of the games are on in the morning here, and i'm usually at work. i did get up at 4am this past saturday to drive across town to a bar to watch a 430am game. just so i could say i did it.

ok, now that you're caught up, i'm going to backtrack and make you read something from mid-may... back when the canucks were still in the running for the cup, and braden and i spent an afternoon adventuring around downtown vancouver. because right now it's just sitting on my computer and no one's ever going to read it there. so read on, young grasshoppers.

As with all successful trips downtown, we grabbed lunch and a Granville Island Pale Ale at the Kingston. Classic venue for the lunching crowd- pizza, burgers, beer, fantastic old building, lovely little patio- generally a great place and at the top of my list of downtown regular haunts. Boo!

Having completed our lunch, we were prepared to take on downtown. But first- to park the car. We found a spot down by the water, no problem, then did exactly what you're never ever supposed to do- we sat in the car, in a parkade while Braden got all the camera gear prepared. Never, in my many years of forwarded email experience seen an email that says "if you find yourself with some free time and fancy an incredibly safe, low-risk place to spend some time, try sitting in a parkade with thousands of dollars of camera equipment visible and keep the doors unlocked." in all seriousness though, I’ve spent my fair share of nights downtown Vancouver (some more sober than others), and have never felt I was in danger. Sure, you get the odd catcall or whistle, but where doesn't that happen? Nowhere I’ve ever been, I’ll tell you that. But that's not really why we're here right now, is it?

We started our adventure in earnest at Canada Place- the iconic five-sailed convention centre and hotel on Burrard inlet. On our walk around the outside of the sails we saw a Bollywood movie being shot (not necessarily true.. but it had the look of a Bollywood movie) and a seal in the harbour. Neither are unusual sights around here.

So the FIFA world cup starts in a couple months, and that will be huge. But before the city divides itself along nationalistic, futbol-inspired lines, we're all pulling together and standing behind our Vancouver Canucks. After all, we are all Canucks. Now, I am writing this the day after our downtown adventure, and hindsight is a tricky thing... the city stood together; flags on cars, every 4th person on the street sporting a jersey or Canucks t-shirt or hat, signs in windows, sidewalk chalk drawings on the ground… you get the idea. We stood together and we fell together. Our boys just couldn't manage to pull through the second and third periods. The better team last night won. Unfortunately, that wasn't our team. Even more unfortunately, it was Chicago’s. And most unfortunately, it was the 4th win in a 7-game series for the Blackhawks, thereby knocking all dreams of Lord Stanley visiting Vancouver right out the window. It was a sad night in the city last night.

Now, the reason I’m telling you this is because we were not only on a downtown photo-adventure, but also on the prowl for some Blackhawks. Really, only one of them- we won't get into naming names, but lets say despite the fact that I’m considerably shorter and lighter than he is, I am not afraid to play dirty and go for the knees. No such luck (probably for the best, at least if you start thinking about the consequences of assault); no Blackhawk sightings.

From Canada Place, we headed next door to the new convention centre (formerly known as the Media Broadcast Centre during the 2010 Olympic Winter Games! - this will be a recurring theme… get used to it now). I got my picture taken in front of a giant tire. It was thrilling. Context- there was a mining convention going on and everyone knows you can't have a good mining convention without at least one pair of excessively large tires. You’ve got to show these urban dwellers that you mean business. Your convention does not mess around.

We meandered the Seawall around the building- which really is quite lovely, glass and wood and a green roof and other generally aesthetically pleasing architectural elements… And there's a giant Lego killer whale statue on the west side of the building (just next to Jack Poole plaza/ place/ square/ whatever)! The torch is still there. Fenced off (of course) and unlit (duh). It would be really cool if they could keep it, it's so pretty. And it’s a reminder of what we can be, what we were for two and a half weeks in February, not just Vancouver, but the whole world. We were supporters. We obviously all cheered on our own teams, but we also supported each and every team and lived their dreams as our own. I’m getting off course, and I could follow this road forever, so let’s get back to the torch. Being, as it is, at ground level, it would be a very easy target for stupid people looking to do mean things. It will be interesting to see just what happens to it.

It is rare to make a trip downtown without having to stop in and visit someone at work, especially when you're with Braden. Yesterday’s stop was at Mink- chocolat extrordinaire!

From there we headed northeast to Gastown. The original Vancouver. Then the rundown Vancouver. And now the slowly rejuvenating Vancouver. The charm of Gastown lies in its buildings and brick roads. Vancouver is a young-looking city. It is, as others have noted, literally built nearly entirely of glass. Gastown is not. Gastown is brick and stone- turns out that back in the day (and by that I mean the 1880s) glass buildings were wildly inconvenient; hard to heat, hard to cool, shows fingerprints… now, maybe it's because I grew up in the east where everything is built from brick and stone- houses, churches (mosques and temples too), downtowns, schools, arenas… everything, but I love it. It feels like history. Glass doesn't date a building quite as well as stone does. That’s why I like Gastown. It feels like history. And it has such potential. Of course, this potential needs to be realized in a way that sees the past, present and future work together. Those who live in Gastown now are very different from those whom I suspect will be living there in the next 15 years. But it will be home to both groups of people, and they need to figure out early how best to get along with each other. My favourite Gastown landmark is John Fluevog shoes, the giant windows looking north to the mountains and the huge open space just makes it an amazing building.

Just south of Gastown you'll find the stadiums. GM Place was getting ready to host Game 6, and now that we know how that ended, we'll just carry on to BC Place. GM Place feels pretty darned big when you're inside, BC Place is three times the size. you can fit 60,000 people into BC Place- 60,000! that is a lot of people. as you can probably imagine, it takes a while to walk around a building of that size. I can attest to this as I spent months doing laps of the inside of that building leading up to the Olympics. it's a big place. and right now, it’s also a roofless place. the dome came down earlier this month for the last time (and this time was 110% intentional). BC Place is finally getting a new roof.

once we'd made it from one side of BC Place to the other, we just about ready for a cold one. it was a brilliant, hot sunny day, and we'd been on our feet for a couple hours at this point. fortunately, we were also in Yaletown. there is really no better place to go in downtown if you're looking for a drink on a patio on a nice day. Yaletown was once warehouses. it is now high-end condos and lofts, fun restaurants and boutique shops. Yaletown is Cool. good-looking people live, work and hang out in Yaletown. but don't worry, they let ordinary people in too. we finally settled in at the Yaletown brewing company. always go local if you can, you can drink imports anytime.

that was pretty much the end of adventure number one. after sampling a couple different brews and discussing future adventure ideas, it was time to be headed to our respective homes. walking back towards Canada Place, we took Richards, a one-way street with traffic flowing north-> south. walking south-> north on Richards (or against traffic on any one-way street) gives you a whole new perspective on the city. I saw buildings I’ve never noticed before- big buildings, not just little low-rises, I’m talking easily 15-storey buildings. so, if you think you know your city, walk the wrong way down a one-way and take a look around.


hmm. i think that's all i've got for you right now.. if i have any excellent adventures this summer, i'll be sure to keep you posted. although right now, vancouver isn't being very summery at all, hopefully that all changes soon and the sun finally comes out.

with much love.