I’m assuming, as there were zero comments on Part 1 of this saga, that you’re all either totally bored, or just completely enthralled and eagerly awaiting resolution! Actually, I choose the latter, which I can do, because it’s my fantasy world here at rideblog. Mine! Ha!
Um, yes. Vancouver…
As soon as we’d breakfasted on the rather Euro-meager, sugarless offerings of The Victorian Hotel, The Boy and I took off on our bikes for Stanley Park. We took full advantage of the bike lane system, wherever it was separate and therefore safe for a seven year-old.
Doesn’t he just look like an old pro here? Note that the shoes match the bike. He’s big into monster green right now. He’s also wearing an adult-sized helmet. As I tell The Boy quite readily: that’s why Mama had a c-section! My ex and I were clearly designed to create an entire race of giant-headed progeny, like bulldogs.
Or, in another way to view this problem, I also assure The Boy: it’s just holding all those brains you’re going to use to go to college and support Mama in her old age.
First stop on the seawall route? The big blue thing that might be a giant drop of rain, or um… something else artistic and profound.
What is it about public art that makes normally sane city planners buy stuff that’s totally inexplicable? I mean, I guess I like this thing, but it’s weird. It just is. We decided it was what raindrops look like to an ant.
Uh, Mom, isn’t he on your chainring?
For a full Boy-splanation of The Great Blue Heron, see this post.
Hey, more weird public art! I wish I’d been on the correct setting for this one (oddly, I had the camera set to its super low-light setting, which resulted in a blurry photo in some way I don’t really understand).
Here we both are, in focus, thanks to the kind offer of a stranger to take our picture, and my assumption that he wouldn’t steal my camera in the middle of the circle of Buddhist monk statues (that would result in some seriously bad karma, don’t you think?). Of course, I think I look fat. The Boy assures me that while many people’s mamas are fat, I am not one of those mamas. He thinks I’m quite athletic, which is nice. I realize this won’t last, and in about five years he won’t want to be seen on the same side of the street with me even if I lose 50lbs, so I’m enjoying this while I can. I can hear it now: “Mom, you are totally embarrassing me!”
Vancouver is a lovely city, and looks very different from Seattle. Much of that comes from the high-density downtown area, with its many pale-windowed condos. Why they’re all built to look nearly identical is beyond me, but the city scape is quite harmonious.
This part of the trail wasn’t even really Stanley Park’s seawall, yet. Stanley Park is one of my favorite features of Vancouver. In fact, I think it is my favorite feature. It’s as if someone just dropped 1000 acres of forest into the middle of a massive metropolitan center… oh wait: that’s exactly what Stanley Park is. Vancouverians (is that the right word? Vancouverites? Vancouverists?) take full advantage of it, too. The seawall path runs around the entire park, and is technically eight kilometers. I know from having done an 8k run many years ago, that this is about 5 miles. Right at the start, near where we stopped for the above photo, sits the Vancouver Aquarium.
Like all aquariums, it has lots of cool fish tanks. These aren’t of particular interest to The Boy, though he loves his own fish at home with a passion that moves him to frequent tears when they suddenly drop dead despite excellent care. Anyway, aquariums aren’t usually his cup of tea. This one, however, has an attraction that the Seattle Aquarium doesn’t boast and I knew from having taken him there when he was three that it would thrill him:
We like us some well-coordinated leaping aquatic mammals, yes we do! Immediately after watching the dolphin show, which features three animals rescued as babies from fishing nets, The Boy had to travel to the gift shop to get one for himself (quite necessary for completing his tour, since the dolphin could then return to the tank and see itself, along with the other animals on display. This makes perfect sense when you’re seven).
The only other true attraction, to The Boy at least, was this tank, where one could really become a part of the exhibit:
After we finished the aquarium, we rode the rest of the seawall (which was nearly all of it). The Boy did surprisingly well, and only had to stop for ice cream once. Still, having to remind him constantly to stay on “his” side of the trail as we were passed at least a thousand times by other cyclists, while he tried not to ride off the six inch drop that was on the right side of the trail, was exhausting for Mama too. Why they built the trail to have a drop-off on one side nearly the entire way around eludes me. Dang non-litigious Canucks!
We paused several times to catch our breath. Once at the foot of this bridge (you knew I just had to get that gratuitous bridge shot, eh?)…
And later, facing the entry to the port, with a panoply of tankers awaiting entry.
The Boy did a bit of impromptu bouldering at this point, to keep sharp:
As we continued on, there was also a brief beach stop, as there must be on any ride along the edge of the water. Driftwood is a tremendous temptation to a seven year-old, as it offers many opportunities to shift around and crush one’s limbs or get an enormous, bloody splinter.
In the end, The Boy was very proud of his circumnavigation of Stanley Park. I was thrilled as well, and count it a day well spent in the company of my favorite human being.
I didn’t necessarily feel this way in the car when I took a wrong turn and drove us through all (and I do mean ALL) of Vancouver’s suburbs. I added two hours more to our drive than was necessary.
Before that Catastrophe of Epic Proportions, however, we had a full half-day of fun. First, the Science Museum, always a hit with Wee Boys. We could easily have biked there, but there was the possibility of paying way too much to ride the light rail system for a single stop, so we opted for that, of course. Here, The Boy attempts to use leverage to lift a hippo:
On the way home, we walked through Chinatown, and “ate” the single worst meal of Chinese food I’ve ever had, which was a shame, as Vancouver has amazing restaurants. Can’t win ’em all, but you can pose with your new maze-ball toy in front of the giant lions:
And ponder the hilarity of this barber-shop sign:
Finally, we loaded the bikes back up onto the car to head for the border and get the heck outta Dodge… I mean, Vancouver.
After our… uh… detour through suburban Vancouver, we needed a break, so we stopped somewhere I have driven past several times but never stopped: Peace Arch Park. The Boy had spotted the giant flower flags from the crossing into Canada, and he was adamant that we had to stop so he could check this phenomena out. By the time we arrived there, a full two-and-a-half hours after leaving our hotel (and just 35 miles, you understand), I was ready to shove him out of the car into the flowers myself.
Mystery solved for one seven year-old boy: that’s how they do that! We had to then stand on the border (and play several games of “Hey! I’m in Canada! What are you doing over there in America?” Switch. “Hey! What are you doing over there in Canada?”).
I highly recommend Peace Arch Park, actually. It was gorgeous, and surprisingly big. Families were picnicking on the grass and kids were playing. There was nowhere to bike, but that’s a small quibble. We stopped at the last bathroom in Canada, which I pointed out. As we left, The Boy quipped: “See ya later, Canadian Bathroom. It’s over.”
“Did you just break up with the Canadian Bathroom? Because I so thought you two were going to get married!”
This resulted in many giggles and embarrassed shrieks of “MOM!” Then The Boy had to take one last good roll in the Canadian grass before we headed back to boring old American soil.
You know what they say about the grass on the other side…
Anyway, my final note on this lovely little trip is a bit of advice to the American border guard who interviewed us on the way back. Opening the conversation with: “Well, where’s the daddy?” is rude, and will result in the response: “In his own house, where he belongs.”
“Why were you in Canada?”
“Buy anything there?”
“A stuffed Pacific Bottlenose Dolphin, one maze-ball and a bear with a Canadian flag on it’s chest.”
“Yeah, but what did you get for the kid?”
Ah, America. It’s good to be home, I guess…