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A Vancouverite's Travel Page

This blog is dedicated to all the Planet Rangers out there who might be curious about Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Surfing your travels kept me sane through a couple cold and lonely winters on the Prairies. Now that I'm back in my old hometown, I thought I would share what makes this city beautiful to me.

Diary Entries

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Location: Vancouver, Canada

Is this my last post?

On this, the one year anniversary of starting this blog, ending it would seem fitting. The whole impetus for doing this was a desire to share the discoveries my 'fresh eyes' were making, to share my love of Vancouver with all the Planet Rangers out there who have likewise shared their love of places with me. While it seems I have left so many things unsaid, I hope what explorers find here will inspire them to visit. It is a spectacular and vibrant city, and I truly feel blessed to live here again.

For those kith and kin and fellow Planet Rangers who have encouraged this endeavour, thank you. If I decide to either continue this when I travel, thus regaining my fresh eyes, or start another blog somewhere else, you will certainly be invited once again to share my musings.

I would be remiss at this point if I did not thank you again, Tim et al. I'll still keep Planet Ranger as my home page because I doubt I'll find a site I like starting my surfing with more. You guys rock!

Tuesday, 02 October 2007

Location: Vancouver, Canada

Ah, rain... I'm certainly one of those rare birds who adores the stuff. Now that the monsoon season has settled in properly, drenching Vancouver's leaf and garbage strewn streets, I find myself madly in love with the city again after summer's passionate desire to escape the concrete in favour of islands, mountains, and other natural wonders that this region has to offer.

The most striking symptom of this recent weather-induced mood alteration is my attitude toward the ubiquitous construction sites that are changing the landscape daily. Since childhood I've been the type of girl who stops at those little viewing windows cut into the temporary plywood walls to watch building projects in action. While the incessant dust and noise of these sites seemed oppressive much of the summer, now that the rain is here to dampen both, I have returned to a childlike awe of such projects.

So, lacking much else particularly newsworthy to discuss (trust me, you do not want to hear about the gazillion month long garbage strike!), I'll delve into a few of the more interesting construction venues available. Two have been drawing me repeatedly over the last year or so: the convention centre beside Canada Place and the additional Skytrain line. These projects have come under my camera's scrutiny often enough that I'm even able to provide some photographic entertainment here for those who feel the same draw toward construction sites (see photo page Boomtown).

The new convention centre jutting out into Coal Harbour is taking shape nicely now, beginning to clearly resemble the architectural drawings. Last autumn at some point I spent a very pleasant lunch hour watching the construction boats and barges, which were necessary initially because the limiting factor of Burrard Inlet's natural shoreline is being ignored in this 21st Century building frenzy. Now the boats and barges are gone for the most part, but the position of the new centre will ensure that the nautical theme remains.

If there is a construction project in this town that has turned into a mini obsession with me, it would be the new Skytrain line being carved under the downtown core. While I was excited by the prospect of taking a train to the airport before any level of government had committed a penny, now that huge swaths of Granville Street are massively deep holes in the ground, I find myself fascinated by the construction process itself.

Particular mention must go to the mechanical excavators. Honestly, I can and, in fact, have watched these at work for hours. Is it the unrealized archaeologist in me that is mesmerized by the constant scraping away of layers? I find myself quite drawn to the whole process, using the movie-making feature on my camera more than ever before as I record these ground eating monsters in action. As much as I adore soaring construction cranes and long to climb one, it is the excavators that can hold my attention for extended lengths of time.

Last but hardly least, having lived in this town during the bust part of economic cycles, seeing a boom in action is very, repeat very, cool. It's also surprisingly sexy. Yes, I said sexy. With this boom has come a new male aesthetic to crowd the prissy GQ business boys out of downtown eateries. Let's just call it construction worker chic, shall we? Clompy big boots, tool-laden brown coveralls, Army & Navy plaid shirts covering probable muscular physiques, well, they're enough to make any single girl smile.

Sunday, 16 September 2007

Location: Vancouver, Canada

The only problem with having taken half of summer away from blogging is that I now have more to catch up on than I could possibly cover. Summer was already crazy busy with friends from out of town when I decided to take my hiatus, and it didn't slow down until this weekend. Yes, you guessed it, the rain has begun, but instead of being gloomed out by that, I find myself relieved.

Last summer I guess I was too freshly returned to my beloved city to feel anything but a giddy joy. This summer repeatedly reminded me that I truly am a local again, enough so that the influx of tourist hoards grated on my nerves. Particularly because I live in the West End, I found myself frustrated to the point that encouraging even more tourism through this blog became an impossible task. I don't know how the citizens of Paris or Rome handle it. I didn't want to return to Planet Ranger until I could honestly encourage you all to visit. I think I can do that again now, but the focus from this point forward is distinctly to suggest that off-season travel is worthy of attention.

For a synopsis of my summer fun, check out the photo pages I'll be posting in the next couple of days. I certainly didn't make it out to all the events listed in my last entry, and I didn't necessarily have my camera with me when I did. With so much great stuff to do in summer (or in this case done), it should be hard to pick a highlight. That has always been the case in previous Vancouver summers for me, but this year I had an experience that made all other fun (even sailing, cool as that was) pale in comparison: camping. Instead of the daily battle to navigate sidewalks around slow-moving, camera-toting non-locals, I had a blissful long weekend remote from civilization, which will merit a stand-alone photo page here.

For next summer, my To Do list is short: sail lots, camp lots, and when someone suggests the ubiquitous "drinks on a patio" somewhere, parry with "cocktails on the beach for sunset," oodles more fun.

Saturday, 28 July 2007

Location: Vancouver, Canada

The whole point of this blog was to be a bit of a booster child for the city I adore so much, to highlight some of the wonderful qualities that made me long to return from the Prairies last year. As the tourist hoards began to descend in June, the inessential nature of my entries became glaring. Vancouver hardly needs my help attracting anyone. Recognizing my own urbanite jadedness with chagrin, I've decided it is time for a holiday from making any attempt to encourage another single tourist until I can do so wholeheartedly.

Therefore, because I still think Planet Rangers rock and should visit, I'll give you a shortlist of must-sees for what remains of summer and get back to this blog when the monsoon season begins again. The problem with this list will quickly become apparent. Several of these events occur simultaneously. That's what happens in a city with only two reasonably assured sunny months each year.

July 25 - August 4 (i.e. already in progress): Celebration of Lights fireworks competition set off from a barge in English Bay (Wednesday's & Saturdays). The second night of this festival is tonight. With our current garbage strike in full swing, it was feared that last Wednesday's show would leave a disaster on the beaches. Thankfully, a bunch of City managers and volunteers were up early the next morning making the beaches presentable. As I did last year, I will be taking advantage of friends who happen to have a stellar 20th floor view of English Bay. Fireworks are hard to take pictures of, but watching all the boats massing for the show should give me a shot or two for this site.

July 28 (i.e. tonight): Illuminaries Lantern Festival. Thanks to the shimmer and shine bombardment in my own backyard, I've never made it to this East Vancouver festival before, but that might change tonight. East Van is very granola, so I guess the hippies would rather play with candles than pyrotechnics, or maybe the fear is that loud explosions would terrify all the doped-up street kids. Either way, I've heard this festival is worth checking out.

August 4 & 5: Powell Street Japanese Festival. Because of the neighbourhood (AKA the Downtown Eastside), I'll only do this one in daylight and, even then, only if I can swing a couple burly friends into going. The fact that there is still some sort of Japanese community in Vancouver after the embarrassing WWII roundup and internment measures (very Naziesque without the gas chambers) makes me want to support this event no matter how scary the location is. Wish I had my own pack of Ninjas!

August 5: Pride Parade. You certainly don't have to be gay to enjoy this one. While the Pride party is a week long and evident throughout the rainbow-strewn West End, the parade is unquestionably the highlight of fabulousness, the don't-miss event for anyone who isn't some sort of homophobe. It's just a given that you'll love this if you're gay, so I'll encourage those of you hetros out there. For straight guys, well, there are the Dykes on Bikes who start things off with a very shirtless, very Harley Davidson roar. For single gals like me, countless fit, half-naked men dancing up a storm is an absolute delight. Pretty club boys, gym jocks, twinks, bears, leather lovelies, faux uniformed everything: take you're pick of the yummy eye candy. I wish this happened every weekend! ;-)

August 6 to 19: Festival Vancouver. The civic worker's strike has really thrown this one into anxiety mode because of the number of City venues that had been scheduled. I'm hoping things get sorted out promptly because this is a truly amazing music festival for those of us whose tastes range far, far beyond rock, folk, or country. If there is anything that makes me think of Vancouver as culturally astute in the classic sense, it would be this festival.

August 12: Chariot Festival. This one caught me by surprise a few years ago, teaching me exactly how glittery you can make a parade float. This year I know when it is, so I will be there (hmmm... unless a hoped-for sailing adventure pans out; as I said, glorious nature seems to be trumping any City stuff this summer).

Generally, if I can squeeze them in, a visit to the Malkin Bowl (outdoor theatre in Stanley Park, the site of my very first Broadway-style musical when I was seven or eight) and Nat Bailey Stadium (baseball circa 1950 - no really!) are hoped for. Both places are cool enough that just seeing them is worth the price of admission.

If I lug my camera to any of these events, I'll post pics. Otherwise, have a great summer!

Saturday, 07 July 2007

Location: Vancouver, Canada


I didn't read your message until you had already departed for the Coast. Check your webmail! I've found almost as good a view as the Sylvia with much better food!

;-) lexi

Wednesday, 04 July 2007

Location: Vancouver, Canada

Happy Independence Day to all Yanks and a belated Canada Day to my friends and family! I hope y'all had as much fun as I did for the long weekend.

While I truly love living in Vancouver, a key element of that passion is the ease with which I can escape the city when I feel like it. With the contract that had kept me working overtime finally at an end, an offer to celebrate the holiday weekend sailing with no particular destination in mind could not be passed up. Contrary to all weather reports, the rain held off and gave us (amazingly) not a drop all weekend.

But I get ahead of myself. Late last Friday night, exhausted from shopping for provisions and the myriad of other tasks that come with such an adventure, I realized that this weekend would also see me celebrating the one-year anniversary of my return to Vancouver from the Prairies. Aside from the irony of wanting nothing more than an escape from the city for a few days, the anniversary also meant that I had the added chore of writing another year of rent cheques before sailing away. Sigh.

So it was with a scant four hours of sleep that I started my holiday early Saturday morning. With the sun shining and a latte handed to me as soon as the car was packed (overstuffed would be a better description), my holiday weekend began.

Thanks to all the marinas within a day's sailing having been booked however many months ago, we left town prepared to essentially camp at anchor somewhere, bringing everything we needed. For the detail oriented, the sailboat in question is a Beneteau 36.7, Beneteau being one of the sweeter sailboats out there, 36 being the number of feet from bow to stern, and the .7 designating the vessel as racing class. In this instance, to be honest, the luxury accommodation offered by a vessel of this calibre played a bigger role than its speed over water. We did, however, clock every single sailboat in English Bay when we finally decided to put her through her paces come home again.

There I go, getting ahead of the chronology of the weekend again. Being the only person aboard with sailing experience other than the highly competent skipper, it was left to me to stow our gear and goodies properly as we motored out of port. Pleasantly, when I finally came up on deck again after casting off, we were just off West Vancouver's Lighthouse Park. A stunning little gem that I recommend to anyone, plans were made to go wandering through there some weekend in the vague future.

Next, we rounded Bowen Island, my favourite day trip destination, and made a beeline for Keats Island to see if there was anchoring room to be had. Keats is a small island in between Bowen and the town of Gibsons on the Sunshine Coast. I was curious about it because friends of my parents used to have a cottage there, but I had never visited. Our skipper was curious to know whether the government dock destroyed by last winter's monsoons had been replaced. The two neophyte sailors liked pretending to be alternately yachting movie stars or pirates and didn't care where we went, so we made Keats Island destination numero uno on our itineraryless weekend.

Well, it turned out that the new dock had officially opened for moorage a mere two days prior. Better yet, the new dock does not restrict vessels to 30 feet in length like the old one did. Best of all, there was a primo spot waiting for us. Rather to our surprise, that slip became our "campsite" for the entire weekend. Our primary goal had been relaxation, and the serene, friendly beauty of Keats relaxed us all so much that we saw no good reason to leave. Au contraire, we felt quite blessed.

A friendly bunch of other boaters became our temporary neighbours, and we made a particular friend of Charlie, a very fun dog. We liked him so much, in fact, that we invited him to join us on our hike up to the Lookout to celebrate Canada Day. That part of our adventure can be better told on the accompanying photo page entitled "Keats." Thanks to getting ahead of myself twice, the only real addition I can make is that we four sailor girls mostly ate, drank, and laughed the weekend away as we savoured our escape from the big city to a small cottager island.

Saturday, 16 June 2007

Location: Vancouver, Canada

Busy, busy, busy. No time to really write here this weekend other than to let you know that I finally managed to post the pictures from a couple of weeks ago.

I'd been invited out sailing but was simply too busy to commit to a whole day of fun, so I took an early morning mini-adventure helping to motor the boat from its home in Coal Harbour over to Granville Island to pick up those fortunate enough to have a whole Saturday free. Sigh.

An aside to those fortunate sailors: I'll be e-mailing the more personal pics to our skipper in the next day or so. See you in July (sailing this time)!

Friday, 08 June 2007

Location: Vancouver, Canada

Well, life has been crazy busy since returning to Vancouver. Two jobs will do that to a girl. If I hadn't sprained my ankle this week, making one of those jobs impossible, you probably wouldn't be reading this now. I'm glad to simply have a chance to post a few rhododendron pics from a walk I did a couple of weeks ago. Check them out!

Coming soon: last weekend's Bowen excursion. Yes, I went there again. Any old excuse will do...

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Recent Messages

From Cathi
Thanks for the interesting read! I'll miss the blog!
Response: Sad that I haven't even checked the mail here in this long, but thanks so much for your kind words.
From Bird Lover
I liked your winter wildlife theme and especially liked the photo of the heron's nests. We seldom recognize what marvelous architectural structures birds' nests can be and how they can withstand weather that topples our own. By the way, I think Cyclops may be an American coot, a type of rail, but I like your name better. Cheers
Response: Thanks, Bird Lover! My big plan to replace my bird identification book this weekend ended up crowded out by a bunch of chores and yet another walk in Stanley Park, so I appreciate the info! Lexi
From Judy
Those shots of the Marine Building are really cool! Especially the one with the reflection of it in the surrounding buildings.
Response: Hey, thanks, Judy. What's even cooler is that you are the first person I don't know who has sent me a message. Double thanks.
From Robyn
I liked your analogy comparing Vancouver and Montreal to two men. It looks like you are having fun with this. Write on!
Response: Thanks, Robyn. I thought it was a little silly when I wrote it, but it's nice to know someone liked it. :)