Saturday, August 11, 2007

Canada wrapup

On Wednesday the weather was still cloudy and wet so we took a drive North to nearby Pemberton. Here is Dag getting interactive in the museum:

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We hiked out to Nairn Falls, which was beautiful, awe-inspiring and a major hangout for mosquito gangs.

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For dinner I made a salmon salad with avocado and toasted pine nuts with more ravioli.

Dinner

Afterwards we watched my Spinal Tap DVD. Always a favorite.

Thursday was supposed to be overcast and rainy too, but when we woke up, it was not the case at all - it was sunny and gorgeous! So we packed up the car then hustled up Whistler mountain on the gondola before things could change.

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At the top of the gondola ride, you can hike a kilometer or so and then take a chair lift up to the very tippity top of the mountain for some majorly breathtaking viewage.

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Snowman

Just as we had seen everything we'd come to see, it began to rain a little. On our way back to the lift, it turned to hail which you can see if you look closely at this self-portrait of us on the chair lift down:

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It was like some kind of weather miracle made for our schedule only. I was prepared to not go up at all if it wasn't clear but I'm so happy that we got the opportunity - it turned out to be a major highlight. And from the gondola on the way down, we spotted two bears!!!

Bears!

They're those two brown blobs in the center of the photo.

On the way home we stopped in Bellingham to look at boats

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We got back into Portland right around midnight and now have a three day weekend to recover before facing any sort of employment-related responsibilities!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

blackberry haiku

Weather has turned foul
Inappropriate for the
Gondola trip up

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Breakfast buffet fight
Muffins and croissants flailing
Where is the stock girl?

Lunch with family friends
Out at the golf course. Nice view
And nice company

Hike out to lost lake
Lunch by the rushing river
Yes, lunch again. So?

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Naptime for Leslie
Dag plays some video games
Spacious hotel suite

Leslie cooks dinner
Ravioli in cream sauce
Dag does the dishes

Dinner

no internets

& not patient enough to compose posts on this blackberry. All is well
in Whistler!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Flamenco and an exit

Last night we went to the Kino Cafe on the recommendation of Dag's car guy. I wouldn't go back for the nachos, but the sangria was good and the flamenco was incredible!

Flamenco at Kino's

After our last breakfast at Thresa's Cafe (E, scrambled, brown toast), we stopped in Lynn Canyon park to check out the suspension bridge. The only thing that made me nervous about it was the number of people all getting onto it at once. It was really sturdy though so no big deal, really.

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For lunch we'd packed in the leftovers from yesterday's Chinatown Buddha Vegetables, but didn't have utensils. A couple of sticks ended up working great and when we were done we just threw them on the ground - no littering!

Leftovers picnic

A couple of hours drive later we were in Whistler. The hotel room was a loft with the bedroom upstairs and a lovely view from the balcony:

view out the balcony

The sun was out as it had been the whole trip - just gorgeous. Whistler village is a strange place. My first impression was that it reminded me of disneyland with the cobblestone pedestrian-only streets and steepled roofs. It just looked very "storybook". The mix of people was pretty interesting - you'd see anyone from suburban families to extreme athletes walking past you at any given moment.

Whistler village

During the summer, the ski slopes are converted to cycling paths and the lifts are rigged to carry the bikes up to meet their riders at the top for what I can only imagine is a teeth-rattling ride down the mountain. We did see some wheelchairs and crutches around town, but not as many as you'd think after seeing some of the trails these people were riding down!

After choking out a few expletives over the prices on the menus posted outside the restaurants around town, we finally settled on a sushi place but decided to make good use of our kitchenette thereafter.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Fireworks, Parades & Zombies

Last night around 10 we ambled down the street from our hotel and got a perfect seat front and center for the Grand Finale of the four-night three-country fireworks competition. It was really quite awesome, and not just in an 80s Valley Girl sort of way.

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Afterwards, we joined the millions of locals, subarbanites, cruise ship port of callers, gay prouds and tourists in a sea of foot traffic down Denman street (with a stop in our hotel for a bathroom break - have I mentioned that we are in the best location in the city?) and found a Japanese restaurant still open. Except for the loud drunk guy in the corner who must've been American, the completely full restaurant was populated by Asians, so we knew we'd hit on something good. Even more exciting than our Unagi etc. rice bowl or Sesame something noodles was watching the couple across the bamboo from us who kept getting these dishes that they cooked themselves on a hot rock or a small portable gas burner.

Today after breakfast

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we went back to our convenient-as-all-get-out hotel for a break then sauntered half a block to watch the Gay Pride Parade

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which made me cry no fewer than 5 or 6 times. It's been so long since I've seen Portland's parade (why is it always on Father's Day?) that I had forgotten I often react this way to a police car full of gay cops, a school bus full of gay teachers, a city bus full of gay drivers, a float full of gay city employees and one full of gay-friendly religious folks.

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But I swear, nothing gets my waterworks going like PFLAG. It's a good thing I was wearing big sunglasses because I was just a messy mess. Luckily, there was also lots of frippery and glamourousness.

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Afterwards, we didn't really have a plan and ended up somehow back in Chinatown for Dim Sum and vegetables.
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Today we are both majorly zombied out, getting from one place to another by lurching and communicating through a series of grunts and vague gestures. I guess it's from all the walking and visual stimulus and crowds and hot sun (did I mention the weather has turned out to be perfect???). Again, so happy for this superbly located hotel and for afternoon naps.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Stanley Park & Granville Island

This morning was grey but dry and by the time we finished our scrambled eggs, toast and bowl of fresh fruit, the sun had already come out. Stanley Park was ON! There is still a significant portion of the seawall that is closed for restoration due to the storm last winter.

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The effects were quite shocking.

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Nevertheless, it was a gorgeous walk that took us around 3-1/2 hours total.

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Afterward, we took the ferry to Granville Island, which was...well...disappointing I guess. It was mostly good for shopping and for being crammed in shoulder to shoulder with lots of tourists, both of which are not exactly on either of our Top 10 Greatest Things lists, but we did get some Gelato shakes and checked out some boats so it wasn't a total bust. By then it was time for our afternoon naps. In about an hour and a half we may venture out to see if we can catch some of the fireworks display without being crammed in shoulder to shoulder with lots of tourists.

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Friday, August 03, 2007

Change of plans!

Today we'd planned to get an early start and pack a lunch into Stanley Park. But as we stared out the window during breakfast and noticed the first drops of rain, some quick rethinking became necessary. Instead we hopped downtown (well, actually we walked) to the Monet to Dali exhibit at the Vancouver Art Gallery, which was lovely, warm and dry.

We emerged from the museum a couple of hours later to sunshine - hurrah!

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Since we were already halfway there, we continued on to Chinatown for lunch at Foo's Ho Ho, where I had the single best bowl of hot and sour soup of my entire life. It was simply astonishing! I think it had to do with the amount of sesame oil and the inclusion of not only the usual white pepper but also crushed red pepper.
Here I am about to be floored:

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After a tour of kitschy Sanrio type shops and grocery stores full of colorful yet unidentifiable (to me) foods, we took a peace break at Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Garden.

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Here is Dag trying to point out a turtle to me:

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We walked all the way back from Chinatown to our hotel in English Bay and were tripping over our feet by the time we got back, but some gelato...well, didn't exactly perk me up but it was yummy!

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And now we are all settled into the room we had reserved, kitchen and all.

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Thursday, August 02, 2007

Arrived in Vancouver

When I got in the car this morning I put my backpack in the trunk and threw the bag of nuts in the back seat next to the car munchies Dag brought:

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Oh yes, I think we have the mixed nuts pretty well covered. They are the perfect travel food, though.

We hit some pretty rough traffic once we crossed the border into Canada (and of course before Seattle) and arrived into town around 5:30pm - a full 8 hour trip. We did stop in a Seattle suburb for some truly awful Mexican food which was pretty much just a giant plate of melted cheese and since we are both being vegetarians mostly right now, we ordered cheese enchiladas and chile rellenos, the only thing on the menu w/o beef or chicken and these came not only crammed full of cheese themselves but the entire plate including the side of sloppy beans was covered on top by a thick gooey blanket of cheese. I love cheese as much as the next guy but frankly, I will probably be grossed out by that meal for the rest of my life.

Once we arrived, we got into our room, which is fine, just fine. Tomorrow we get upgraded to the actual room with the kitchen that we booked before they forgot.

On the way to the waterfront, we stopped for some Gelato - YAY!

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I had chocolate of some sort and black sesame, which was awesome!

We walked along the beach among the rollerbladers, runners and bicyclists and watched people playing volleyball in the sand. This town is so great.

After the walk, we headed to our favorite sushi place that we discovered on our first trip when it was just opening up and still decorated like a Greek place (or maybe it was Italian). Now it's busy and universally loved. Kadoya.

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Road Trip, eh?

In about five minutes, Dag and I will be headed North to Vancouver, BC for four days then North-er to Whistler for two, where we just happened to coincide with the vacation of some old family friends of his. Lunching will ensue!

Last night Dag called our hotel to confirm, which is something I never do, but probably will from now on! They had "lost" our reservation, even though he'd paid a deposit. I'm not really sure how that can happen but eventually they "found" it again. Whatever. But for a period of about 15 minutes, we were twisting the plans all around to get around the fact that since it's Pride Weekend in Vancouver, there weren't going to be a lot of affordable options left in the hotel department.
I'm glad it worked out because I would've hated to miss the parade!

After Whistler, it's anyone's guess. We've left the last few days of our holiday open for experimentation, adventuresomeness or just plain old driving home to rest.

Well, better get downstairs. Dag should be idling in front of the building right about now! WOOT!