Today we will take a gander at Stanley Park, but first is mass at the local church (it’s been 5 months), followed by a haircut and color for me (I may feel old, but nothing says I have to look the part). Before we walked to church, we stopped at Starbucks for a coffee we didn’t have to brew ourselves. While there, we noticed the signage for the cue line. “Please line up here”. We chuckled because the sign started with Please. By having the “please” begin the sentence, it made the request more like a direction…a polite way to say, “no really we insist”. At home, if there were to be a “please” in the sign it would be at the end, off to the side, in smaller print and in cutsie script, more like pleading for you to follow directions thus assuming you probably won’t. Of course we stood in line, as directed and got our “go juice”. We then strolled through the neighborhood en route to the church. It was small and nondescript, built in similar fashion, design and adornment as the Our Lady of Fatima at home. Those in attendance were mostly elderly as we were practically the youngest there. It appears to literally be a dying parish. Following church and my hair appointment, we then brunched at the Central Bistro (a recommendation from the stylist)…banana bread French toast…to “die” for, yum! Although we don’t need to, we feel the need to maximize our time here and fill our day and last evening away from home with activities and sights. We return to our hotel and change into our well traveled hiking duds for a lap around Stanley Park. By the time we began what turned out to be a 5+ mile stroll, the multi-use trail was packed. Pedestrians traveling clockwise and cyclist and skaters going counterclockwise on a separate but parallel asphalt paved path.
As we wandered along the edges of Stanley park where the Pacific Ocean laps up against the rip rap sea walls protecting the raised foot and cyclist paths, a plethora of activities and events were happening in the interior of the park, reminiscent of Balboa Park in San Diego. As we continued along the path we couldn’t help but notice how smoothly everything flowed. The cars would slow and stop for pedestrians crossing into the interior before they even stepped on the edge of the crosswalk. And they did this without any look of hostility or annoyance. Slower walkers stayed to the right as joggers and swifter walkers passed on the left. For the numbers of cyclist in close proximity and varying speed, we were pleasantly surprised to have not witnessed one collision let alone a “close call”.
For all practical purposes it was a blissful afternoon for all. We concluded that there could only be one reason for so many people all engaging in different and even competing interests to get along so well together without any need for authoritative figures (the po-po)…there must be Prozac in the drinking water, or periodic misters dispensing the Prozac. Brilliant!
As we had time before the sun began to lower, we dried our still sopping wet tent on the lawn across from our hotel and chuckled with several other people at a young couple’s inappropriate display of affection for each other while seemingly oblivious to the “audience” they had drawn…more Prozac please. Once again the day drifted toward evening and like moths drawn toward light, throngs of people filtered onto the west facing beaches and manicured public lawns of English Bay. Better prepared than the night before, we found ourselves bar side with drink a plenty as the setting sun created yet another tapestry of color.
Some in the outdoor bar and dining area watched as we did, while most failed to recognize the wondrous gift on display before them and continued in conversation or stared as if in a hypnotic state at lights and images emanating from their phones. On our stroll back to our hotel we were treated to musicians and dancers drawn together in a “jam session” of sorts on the lawn adjacent our hotel. We watched and listened as one musician played a metal orb while another, a percussionist, sat atop a “box” and banged away, while a dancer “interpreted” the sounds and rhythms…with fire. We marveled at their seamless transitions from one rhythm or melody to another. One thing we learned for a certainty on this adventure, is that we are seriously musically challenged. We found ourselves at a loss to remember any song’s lyrics, let alone the full choruses, or worse yet how the tune actually went. This inability at times provided a good distraction from monotonous portions of the trail as we would discuss, analyze and sometimes argue over a song’s melody and/or supposed lyrics, and then laugh at how we can “sing” along when a song is playing, but absent the song we were hard pressed to remember the lyrics and usually woefully out of tune. Ah, yes…good times. Once back at the hotel it was time to pack our packs one last time… at least for this adventure. To be sure we didn’t make some form of a “watch list” we left our fuel canister for our jetboil in the hotel room, stuffed our small knives, nail clippers, lighters, small tubes of toothpaste, and travel size shampoo and conditioner deep into our packs. All electronics and some snacky foods we will carry on. We drift off to sleep excited to be finally “going home”, but also a little apprehensive as to exactly what “being home” will be like.