Vancouver, 5–8 October

Melody's sister Celeste came into town, so one of the things we decided to do was spend a few days in Vancouver to give her a taste of the city. It was a packed trip.

Friday, 5-October

Since we were taking an early train, we were able to catch one of the commuter buses and not have it be very full. After getting our seat assignments at the train station, we waited until it was time to board, looking at the architecture and people watching.

After we settled into our seats, the people in the couple rows in front of us didn’t want to face backward so they turned the seats around. That meant everyone else needed to also turn their seats around, otherwise, there would be about 6” between the cushions, too little room for two sets of legs. Fortunately, it wasn’t difficult.

The ride north was pretty uneventful, but a couple times the train came to a stop then started up again. The conductor said they had just installed Positive Train Control but the system sometimes would get confused and think the train was going too fast or that the section of track had a reduced speed, even if neither was the case. We also had to wait for other trains, including going to a side track, allowing the other train to pass, backing up, then pulling into the station.

It was quick going through customs, and we were loose on the streets of Vancouver. We got transit day passes and rode the SkyTrain one stop, then walked a couple blocks to where we were staying.

We settled in for a few minutes, grabbed some pizza for lunch, then hopped onto the bus towards Stanley Park, where we did an Environmental Art Walk which led us between pieces of art in the park which were integrated with the natural settings. Unfortunately, most of the pieces didn't seem to be around anymore, but we got a good walk out of it. Melody and I have been to Stanley Park several times, but we hadn't seen the abandoned polar bear exhibit or the beaver pond.

We did a lot of walking in the park, so we just had some dinner, got groceries for breakfast, had dessert, and then turned in for the evening.

Saturday, 6-October

After breakfast, we worked our way to Gastown to do the Historic Steam Line walk. Because we wanted to end up down by the Roundhouse, we did the walk in reverse order. The timing worked out so we were there at 45 minutes past the hour and saw the steam clock do its steam whistle Westminster chimes.

The part of the tour where we spent the most time was at the Vancouver Public Library. The architecture of the building is very interesting, and we went to the rooftop garden to take in the view.

After we took a look in the Roundhouse, we went out to the ferry dock and caught a small boat across False Creek to Granville Island, where we had pot pies for lunch. After that, we took transit across town to East Vancouver, where we hung out at a café for a bit before going to the Rio Theatre. The Vancouver International Film Festival was in full swing, and we saw Love and Bullets, an Italian movie. It was a spy musical, so people broke out into song. The whole movie was very tongue-in-cheek, which had the audience laughing loudly.

On the way back to the room, we first scoped out how we wanted to walk to the train station on Monday morning. Along the route, we saw a stack of cars on a post, which is the sculpture Trans Am Totem. We then shopped for more groceries and had ramen for dinner. After that, we were ready to call it a day.

Sunday, 7-October

For our last full day in Vancouver, we took the hour-long bus ride out to the University of British Columbia to go to the Museum of Anthropology. Not long after we arrived, we went on an overview tour which gave us an idea of what other things would be good to go back to. We were getting pretty hungry after the end of the tour, so we had lunch. After that, even though it was drizzling, we joined the outside tour which covers the totem poles and the Haida house.

It had been several years since Melody and I had been to the Museum of Anthropology, and the general layout and major pieces were the same, but there was a whole new set of rooms, the Multiversity Galleries. They hold thousands of pieces densely packed in display cases, and more in pull-out drawers below. Items from all across the world are represented, and there are even some (as well as in other parts of the museum) which you're encouraged to touch.

On the way back, we stopped by Jerico Beach Park, walked around the duck pond, then went along Jerico Beach for a while before turning back. Celeste was excited when she saw a man walking his beagle (she has a beagle, too) so she struck up a conversation with him.

Back to the grocery store, where we picked up items for dinner and an early breakfast.

Monday, 8-October

An early train ride meant checking out at 5am, walking the route we figured out a couple days earlier, and getting to the train station after there was already a line forming to board the train, even though it was more than an hour early. We filled out our customs declaration forms while waiting in line, got our seating assignments, went through customs, then boarded the train. On the ride north we had two seats and the one across the aisle, but this time we had a group of four seats facing each other (with plenty of leg room) and no one sat in the fourth seat.

There was quite a bit of fog, so the view was ethereal and moody, which made it very interesting to watch go by. There were several herons along the shore, in addition to the usual gulls and ducks.

After arriving in Seattle, we had very short waits for the train and connecting bus and got home around lunchtime. It was nice to have the rest of the day to do things and relax. We would be able to relax the following day as well, then the day after that, time to go to Spokane.