Adventures in Vancouver (With a Cantankerous Grandmother who doesn’t like Vancouver.)

So I’ve got a sweet new office and junk, that I was planning on posting pictures of – but frankly I’m not even done unpacking from the move. So instead you get pictures of my recent trip to Vancouver. And by recent I mean June (have I mentioned how busy I am?) Actually recent was a rather spur of the moment trip to see Josh for some much needed time together – awesome! Photos of that soon, but first Vancouver because that’s chronological order for you.

Usually all my vacation days are saved up to visit Josh, but this was a quick five-day getaway (including a weekend, thus requiring only a whopping three days off) for a low-key family wedding and a chance to hang out with some of my hipper relatives. Plus I’d never been before. Toronto and Vancouver each like to think they’re way cooler than the other (*cough* Team Toronto! *cough*), but really they’re just different in a million little ways and your preference will depend on which vibe you like better. I’ve heard them referred to as the New York and San Fransisco of Canada, which isn’t really all that apt – but you get the idea. Either way, any Canadian worth their salt (or other seasonings?) should at least try to see as much of the country as possible – it’s rather pretty you know. So off I went.

I have to admit that the shitty weather combined with sharing a hotel suite with a cantankerous grandmother added up for a less than impressive first couple of days. But eventually I got to check out some very nifty places including the Vancouver Aquarium, Van Dusen Gardens, and Shannon Falls.  For a short trip, I managed to cram in a lot of activities.

Photies!

First up was the Vancouver Aquarium with my uncle and grandmother, a day before my aunt arrived. It was of course eighteen different flavours of awesome and fun. But we didn’t get to stay very long, because although Grandma joined us for the scenic drive up, she stubbornly refused to pay or have anyone pay for her the $17 seniors fare that she deemed absolutely outrageous, and anyways it was too much walking. So we spent two hours seeing as much as we could before feeling the pangs of elderly abandonment guilt while she perused the gift shop for over priced souvenirs for the younger cousins. To be fair, she probably had more fun there than she would have had inside, surrounded by strange looking things.

Sculpture outside the entrance. I get it Vancouver, you REALLY dig whales.

Coming to get you!

You thought of the turtle from Finding Nemo. You know you did, and you did the voice too.

Cayman are scary!

I don't know what this is, but it's exceedingly orange.

I don't know what this is either but I'm pretty sure it's flashing me.

Octopi!

Jellyfish!

Next up! Van Dusen Gardens, a completely gorgeous collection of rare and expertly cultivated plants, a shrubbery maze (a shrubbery!), ponds, ancient trees and enough oxygen and chlorophyll to leave me feeling very zen and peaceful, which by that point was very much needed.

We all went first for the wedding, you see (of which I have no photos as my camera had by then sucked through multiple pairs of batteries.) It was a very simple and elegant outdoor ceremony followed by a traditional Chinese eleven-course seafood dinner – which Grandma had initially looked forward to, being a lobster lover and all, but was then promptly disappointed because everything tasted “too Chinese.” The fact that her grandson had married a Chinese woman may or may not have dawned on her, although she adored the girl and got along fabulously with her family (small blessings, we count them.)

The next day we all decided to go back to the gardens to see the areas we had missed and linger in the foliage. Except Grandma. She didn’t want to walk that much, didn’t want us to walk slow for her because that “wouldn’t be fun for you young people,” and was absolutely offended at the idea of renting a wheelchair for when/if she got tired. This is the same lady who rides her bike for an hour every day, mind you. Besides, having traveled all the way to the west coast for a wedding (by five day train, because no way was she flying for five whole hours) there was now nothing more important than catching that second-last episode of this seasons Bachelorette. So yes, a trip to a very calming garden was very much in order.

My aunt and uncle and the awesome garden entrance.

These are Ginkgo trees, which have apparently been around since the Jurassic period and nearly went extinct before being cultivated back into widespread existence by Buddhist monks. The next pic is a closer shot.

Brachiosaurus food.

Ducklings! We spent twenty minutes watching them swim between the lily pads, climb up on them, get too close to the edge and plop back into the water.

Water lily.

Scrabble alert! Sequoia is the only seven-letter word containing all five vowels. They are also huge and very old, having been here since before the shift of the continents.

Trilliums! Go Ontario!

I forget what these are called, but they will eat monkeys.

More prehistoric ginormous plants. These have giant spikes on the underside.

My aunt loves English gardens.

Random Nuit Blanche style art installation in the middle of the gardens.

We couldn't decide if these were truly red poppies, which are apparently illegal to grow.

Norwegian poppies. Not illegal.

Lastly was a trip to Shannon Falls to see the natural glacier run off and dip our feet in freezing cold crystal clear ice water and climb over boulders and wet mossy rocks in totally-not-hiking-appropriate shoes. I still say my gold flats were perfectly fine for climbing.

That's a lot of water! Glacier runoff, actually, so it apparently slows down a bit towards the end of the summer when the melting is done.

This was insanely cold.

Climbing back up from the water.

The scenic drive back down the mountains.

Foxgloves - pretty, but deadly.

And my feet are still painfully cold.

So, guess who stayed at the hotel? Yep. That scenic drive you see there was far too nerve wracking for a little old lady who will attack home-invading wildlife with shovels, squirrels with slingshots, and will threaten tele-banking branch managers with physical violence and make waitresses cry.

Oh Grandma. We love her dearly, but wouldn’t exactly describe her as conducive to a peaceful or even remotely calm experience. Grandma’s the one to call if you want a mouthy neighbourhood brat bitched off your lawn, or a particularly profane round of Bingo, and for that and her fierce familial protection we do indeed cherish her. Just don’t try to take her anywhere else.

Except the Mandarin. She loves a Mandarin buffet like nobodies business. You see the irony, yes?

**************************************

The next day I was back on a plane and back in Toronto, and the following morning I was back in the torrential clusterfuck that is moving an office. Accomplished successfully (pics to follow, eventually), we’re still rearranging furniture and getting my work area to my liking. As stressful as the job is, it is kind of nice to have a management team that says “Your office needs more colour and artwork, we’ll get on that. And that shelf is ugly, we’ll get a better one.”

Added bonus: trying to cut back on overtime pay, they asked if I would be willing to accept time-and-a-half lieu time in exchange for coming in on moving weekend (which I had begged them to let me work through, not so much for the overtime but preferring not to deal with a ton of shit on a Monday morning.) I said I certainly would accept lieu time, and as soon as the move was done I planned a last-minute trip to visit Josh. I only had to use up four vacation days – and my quarterly bonus covered my expenses! Woot timing!

You know what that means – more pictures to post and another visit to plan very, very soon!

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5 Comments

  1. joanharvest said,

    August 30, 2010 at 4:01 am

    Oh, I love your Granny. I wonder if my granddaughter will think I am cantankerous? It looks like you had a great trip though.I love the photos too.

    • Emerald said,

      August 31, 2010 at 2:57 pm

      Thanks Joan! I love my Granny too, but oy she’s a handful. Somehow you don’t strike me as the cantakerous type 😛 And I’ve been so bloggy absent lately, I definitely need to stop by and see what’s up in Joan world! 😉

  2. Jim said,

    March 4, 2011 at 6:58 pm

    I love the pictures. Wonderful photography.

  3. Scott said,

    April 23, 2011 at 9:15 am

    Beautiful! I missed the one opportunity to visit Canada in 1985, when I was a delegate at the Circle K convention in Seattle. I had to attend all the meetings, including one held while non-delegates took the ferry to Canada. Looking back, I wish I would have insisted my bossy companion-delegate go to that one meeting alone! Perhaps another time, though! I have a friend in Washington who drives to Vancouver occasionally, and it is obviously as beautiful as he describes! As for the cayman, yes they look scary but they’re as docile as alligators (which are very common where I live)–it’s crocodiles that are truly dangerous, they kill 3000 people a year. And ginkgo–good stuff! The extract (ginkgo biloba) sharpens memory amazingly, and enhances sexual arousal and performance (though one must be very careful with the dosage). In fact, I’d normally recommend it for anyone’s grandmother (it’s proven even to help with alzheimer’s)–but I don’t think your grandmother needs it!

    • Emerald said,

      May 6, 2011 at 3:27 pm

      Yes, if you ever get the chance to visit, it’s a beautiful country. Vancouver has a lot of naturey stuff, and Toronto has a more modern, busy, glass and lights and culture and interesting things to do sort of vibe. I haven’t spent much time in Montreal but it’s not my favourite although others love it. Lots of dining, clubs, indie music and snottery – which we all have in T.O. as well 😛


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