Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Tourists in our own neighborhood

Why did we spend yesterday enjoying ourselves on a quick sightseeing tour of Vancouver? We were showing off the area to Bill and Sue, our Australian guests.

During a stay in Vancouver several years ago, they'd ridden the Grouse Mountain Skyride and also spent some time in Gastown, allowing us to remove those from our mini-list of must-see sights.

We crossed the border at the Pacific Highway "truck crossing," and after a very few minutes for Bill and Sue with paperwork inside we headed for downtown Vancouver and Chinatown. On a sunny day it's fun to wander around a Chinatown as large as Vancouver's and check out the food displays in particular. We eventually found a restaurant serving dim sum. It was adequate, not worth a writeup but not terrible, and reasonably priced.

After lunch we drove over to Stanley Park, and spent most of an hour driving the park road around the perimeter, stopping at the totem poles and Brockton Point.

During our stop there, Bill and Sue were excited to see a quartet of young raccoons emerge from the bushes to mooch food from tourists. It was fun to watch people from a country containing some of the most exotic animals in the world, from kangaroos to wombats to emus, eagerly snapping pictures of raccoons.

From Stanley Park we made our way to Granville Island, and again just wandered around to enjoy the atmosphere. In the Public Market, a young woman came up to Brian and identified herself as a former student. She was especially excited to see Kathy, her former band teacher, and we enjoyed a quick conversation with her and her family. Keely is well on her way to becoming a social worker and we wish her well! We were also quite impressed that we're still recognizable to former students eight years after we've retired.

Now it was time to head for home. We'd driven up Highway 15 all the way to Highway 1 and entered Vancouver over the Port Mann Bridge from the East. This roundabout route was due to an accident on Highway 99 that caused huge backups for much of the day. We heard that the transport truck full of jet fuel had now been removed so we headed down 99 just before 4:00 p.m. and were amazed at the lack of traffic. Another smooth border crossing, again with no more than five minutes wait at the Peace Arch crossing, and we were back in Blaine.

Today we're planning to show Bill and Sue some mountainous terrain by re-entering BC and driving them a little way beyond Hope. We'll stop at the Coquihalla Tunnels and the Hope Slide before driving up the "Coke" for some spectacular views.

Yes, it's fun to have visitors to remind us what a beautiful part of the world we live in, and motivate us to get out and see it. Vancouver is a fantastic city - we'll have to return someday, even without foreign visitors.

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