Nearly a month into our trans-continental voyage, we made it to the Pacific, the left coast, the other side. It was a little anti-climatic in as much as we arrived on a cloudy day, the ocean blanketed in fog, and I got fairly mixed up trying to get to our campground with the result that I spent our first half-hour in Vancouver alternately driving and stopping to consult our maps. But find it, I did.
It was just under the Lion's Gate Bridge in North Vancouver.
Well, it wasn't quite that close...I took this photo outside the campground.
The day we arrived, I was able to check email and discovered that I had two opportunities to meet up with knitters that very day. What can I tell you? I felt exhausted and, more importantly, my children were clearly not up for another meeting. Living closely together, nonstop, for a month was mostly great and harmonious. We get along well and travel well together. That said, there were times when the thread holding all that harmony together felt very thin. So, with a deep breath, I made an executive decision to forgo the meet-ups and instead we took care of domestic business after four days of being off the grid in the mountains. It felt a little like failure in some ways and I felt terrible that I had to say no to people who were kind enough to arrange meetings, but as every parent knows, sometimes it is the only choice. And so it was that, instead of conversation and insight, we had a long walk along the waterfront of West Vancouver.
This guy was there, along with many dog walkers.
This blurry photo, which I kind of like, is of one of two communities right near our campground that were for First Nation people only. Without knowing ANY of the politics behind their existence, they appeared to be thriving, which is quite different from the communities in, for example, Labrador. But like I said, I have no idea if my superficial glance is correct or not.
This was also the night that a person working at the campground stopped me and said, very slowly while enunciating very clearly, "We...will...leave...the...TV...room....open...until...3..am...for....the...soccer..." I was quite mystified by his way of speaking until I realized that he had mistaken me for one of the many, many Germans who seem to flock to RVs (and RV parks) and who might be World Cup obsessed. When I replied, "Ok but I'm not really interested in soccer," he returned to a normal way of speaking. And what the heck, I always get a little thrill from being not identified as an American. Typical Blame-America-Firster, I suppose.
Dan met us in Vancouver (taking the easy way, I might add - he flew in), so we had a day of touristy fun.
Finn is such a camera hog - he just loves getting his picture taken!
A great blue heron sitting quietly right in the middle of the city. Vancouver totally won us over and we soaked up the whole, laid back, west coast vibe. Everything was so fantastic - food, weather, friendly people....why do we live somewhere else? It was a thought that ran through my head during most of my time in BC. I know, it is too perfect. Yah, that's it.
But after totally blowing it on the day we arrived, I had some work to do. Thus we headed out to Surrey - the end of the metro line in one direction. I got some excellent video from the train, as well as some incredible, unforeseen video of some older women doing country line dancing in costumes at a community festival. Video gold!
Surrey proved a rich vein for exploring what is happening around Vancouver. Older bungalow style houses are being sold off to developers and new high rise buildings erected. It made for some odd juxtapositions.
Among the gentrified version of "luxury" that was getting the hard sell in Surrey, there was clearly a still-seedy underbelly. And a thriving immigrant community, which allowed us a fabulous lunch of Vietnamese food. It was the perfect experience of wandering around a corner, expecting only the worst, and discovering the most amazing place, full of Vietnamese and offering up food that would make you weep. Damn you Vancouver! Too perfect once again!
And then, there was this sign....
Bible study and dessert party? A natural combination.
So, somewhat like where we started in Winnipeg, I felt like I didn't really tap into the heart of the community, or communities, of Vancouver and its suburbs. This was disappointing but it was the reality of the moment. I took in as much as I could, I spoke to strangers, I let my outsider's perspective be my guide. And I certainly made a convenient set-up for another visit to Vancouver...