Back to “Reality” Part One – Tourist time

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So here we are in beautiful Vancouver, the cleanest city I ever recall having visited. Today, as was yesterday, and the last 171 days will not be without walking with our packs, at least somewhere. We have some exploring and tourista type “stuff” to do.

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Gotta love the Canadian who just couldn't seem to get his finger out of the with each photo he took for us

As we are used to walking 20+ miles a day, we decide to strap on our packs and explore, at least until we can check into our next hotel, the Sylvia. We are told that Granville Island which is a man made island across a bridge not far from where we stayed the night is a “must-see” sight and experience.

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Granville Island

After a coffee and a couple donuts (yes, we still like them) we take the pedestrian pathway to Granville Island. This place houses a “farmers market” of sorts, complete with an eclectic food court, artisan butchers, bakers, and (no joke) candlestick makers. This place is thick with people, and we figure while our packs are the lightest and most comfortable they’ve been in a long time it may be a better idea to see if we can store them at our hotel and come back to the village, so as to blend in more and not get the “homeless” sad looks from the city folk. We are in luck, as there is a water taxi that runs across the bay to the vicinity of where our hotel is located. Excellent, a “short-cut” that reduces our time on our feet. Of course there is a fee, 11 dollars for the both of us for a round-trip. Good. We will drop our packs and come back. We board the taxi with several other people. It is a short ride across the bay. There is a popular multi-use trail that skirts around English Bay and the perimeter of Stanley Park. We access the foot path. It reminds us of the multi-use trail that runs through Huntington and Newport Beach, except this one has parallel but separate paths for those on foot or wheeled conveyances.
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On the left is the ocean framed by pockets and then swaths of sandy beach. On our right is groomed lawn area that rises to the roadway that encircles the bulging metropolis. It’s a relatively short walk, as in 30 minutes, to our hotel. image

It was originally an apartment complex built in 1912 as a tribute to the owners daughter, Sylvia. It was later converted to a hotel in 1936, and is designated as a “Heritage Building”, which is our equivalence to a historical, and thereby protected, building. For the longest time it was the tallest building in Vancouver. It is no longer the case. We were pleasantly surprised when they told us, upon our arrival, that they had a room ready and we could check in. It was 11 am. We dumped our packs and headed back out toward Granville Island. Once back on the island, and seriously hungry, we were overwhelmed with the choices before us inside the market area. We settled on Mexican food, because it had been so long. We were somewhat disappointed, but then that only makes us appreciate our collection of Mexican Cantinas and markets at home so much more. The fresh fruit and desert/bakery area of the market, however did NOT disappoint.
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If we had another 100 miles to walk I think I would have had one of each item on display, but as it was, I chose a small Key Lime pie. I make it a point when we travel to seek out the best Key Lime and/or Pecan pie. Paul chooses cinnamon rolls. We buy some fruit to take back with us to our hotel, but as with the sweets, they never make it off the island. As the morning progresses into afternoon, musicians and street performers begin to setup and share their craft. The diversity of talent is remarkable. We wander through small art galleries and specialty stores. One thing we’ve learned on this hike, is we don’t need to buy anything. We already have too much stuff. Stuff we can do without. A house is like a pack. The bigger it is the more compelled you are to fill every inch of it with stuff you think you need. We now realize that one actually need very little, it’s the wants that create the clutter and unnecessary stressors in our lives. Food and water, shelter in inclimate weather, a place to pee and poop and human interaction are ones only absolute needs, and of course a means (ie. paying job or trust fund) in which to ensure those needs are met. Unfortunately life (in the fast lane) often gets in the way of living. When you are in the fast lane you can’t help but miss so much of the simple wonderment around you and the sheer essence of living in the moment. We have been out of the “fast lane” for over 5 months now, and I can honestly say we are happier for it. Unless you are being chased by a bear, a tree is about to fall on your head or you are seeking cover from a lightning storm, there is really nothing to be in a hurry about. We hope we will be able to retain this sense of calm and wonderment of all that is around us. We elect to take the water taxi back across the bay, and walk back to our hotel for a nap before we set out to check out what happens after dark in these parts. What was once a sparsely populated beach is now filled with people playing volleyball and lounging in the sand next to the hundreds of logs lined up in rows across the beach. Before we nap, we make sure to set a watch so as not to miss what should be an amazing sunset. Before long, the obnoxious beep of the alarm sounds. Rise and shine, it’s sunset time. We alight across the street from our hotel and find the beach and lawn areas to be blanketed with people from all walks of life. They too had “set their watch” and are here to catch a once in a lifetime sunset, as no two are alike. We had hoped to catch the sunset while sitting at one of the bars or restaurants that line the area, but it appears we are a little too late as we were not the only ones with a similar idea. We can’t get over how crowded it is, and then realize that this IS the last weekend of Summer…literally. After Sunday, it will be Fall. Everyone is here for their last taste of Summer. We are too. The air is warm, the wind is calm and quiet chatter echoes around us, but as the sun begins its final descent into the edges of the horizon, a hushed calm settles over the hordes drawn to the beach.
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Nudges and pointing starts as the sky transforms into a colorful and living tapestry. Phones are set to camera or video mode in an effort to capture the moment, at least visually. Soon all foot and bicycle traffic has come to a halt. The sun sinks below the horizon, and the curtain of darkness begins to fall. Reluctantly the masses disperse. We follow their lead and are now in search of a place to dine with the locals. We decide tonite’s quest will be a sushi bar. We find one that appears to be frequented by locals, and take a seat. We eat our fill, so much so that we will need to “walk it off”. We wander the streets of the West End. The evening is warm and being a Saturday night is teaming with people out for the evening as well. image

Eventually we return to our hotel and retire for the evening. Tomorrow we will seek out the local church and wander through Stanley Park.

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