Thursday, 24 February 2011

Flames and Flowers

Originally posted to Multiply on March 21, 2010
We missed the main Olympics, but on our latest weekend trip to see the offspring we got to see the flame, yeah! It had been rekindled for the Paralympics.
No trip to the coast would be complete without a visit to the Dutch Cheese maker between Cherry Ville and Lumby. We stocked up on a whole wheel of Gouda, which will be gone by the next trip at the end of summer. Grass-fed real food. It still does not taste quite like Dutch Gouda. I finally figured out it has to do with the grass. Ask any wine maker how important the terrain is!
Daughter's household is car-free by choice, so she is a master at getting the most out of public transit. She was a great guide. Some trains have this great seat right in front.

The journey started with a sky train trip to Waterfront, a beautiful old railway station that has a new lease on life as urban transit hub. Daughter took this picture of the hall.

The cauldron was just West of there on the harbour.

Below: containership getting ready to deliver its Walmart-bound goodies from China. Or whatever.
Funny, I had always pictured the flames near the Science Center on False Creek. The cauldron was fenced off, alas, but there was a viewing area with a huge ramp leading to it.
I am childish enough to request a "yes, we were really here!" picture.

The next 2 pictures are taken from the same place, but looking in a different direction.
Looking down the ramp, notice the barge with Olympic rings!
The rings again, and standing with your back to the cauldron you see this. The treed area is part of Stanley park.

It was still pretty busy and the crowds were being hustled along. Is this an example of Quebec language use or a poor translation? Flâner in regular French means strolling, not loitering. As in Yves Montand's song "J'aime flâner sur les grands boulevards". I guess strolling was too slow. MOVE, you camera-toting-posing-with-the-flames multitudes!
Back on level ground we see the viewing platform behind one of the many volunteers who made the games possible. All over town and suburbs people were proudly sporting their bright blue jackets, still basking in the after-glow.
Cauldron duly admired and documented, DD noted that we had 20 minutes left on our transfer to catch sky train in the direction of the next adventure: a visit to Granville Island Market by water taxi. This was my favorite part of the whole day. I love being on water, especially in a tiny boat.
View East towards the science centre. We are traveling from Yaletown West towards Granville Island.

Top picture: some weird architecture, below it floating homes.
I finally got the bridge to stand still long enough for a decent picture!
The vessel, on Granville Island.
I had never been on Granville Island yet. Our downtown expedition usually takes us to English Bay to smell the salt water.
Granville Island is a great place to shop for serious foodies, a little world of its own. Best enjoyed by oneself, with money in pocket, or with one like-minded female companion. By the time the four of us got there we were a bit tired and more than a bit hungry. There were no tables available in the food court and it was cold outside. DD remembered a fish place. We had to wait for a table at Tony's but it was worth it. Fortified by the best fish and chips and clam chowder ever we followed our intrepid guide in the direction of her home. We first made our way to a free trolley that took us back to sky train. I love good public transit!
This is the Fraser River seen from the train near New Westminster.

Meanwhile it was spring there. Here are some images of random urban greenery and abundant flowery pinkness.

Son Alex is temporarily living in the same area, so we had the the whole family there. This doesn't happen very often. B.C. may be the best place on Earth to live, but when it comes to maintaining family ties it can be too big for its own good. The kids may think it is just right, :). I had hoped for a vigorous session of Catan, but alas, the man was too swamped with exams to stay long. He did make a special contribution to dinner, in honor of the date.
A cake in honor of international Pi day. Pi, as in, that thing that has something to do with circles. I knew it once, but math doesn't stick. Fragments of Greek poetry can be dragged up, but science doesn't come easy.
It is hard to see at this angle, but the top clearly said 3.14. All in all, a good day.


Sunday, 6 February 2011

Mountains, Mud, Chocolate and Family Values

Originally posted on Multiply January 26 2010
We broke the monotony of winter by spending a weekend with Chris' nephew Tim and family just West of Calgary. We are overdue for a visit to the coast to the offspring, but that will wait till after the Olympics.
The trip out was pure light therapy. We left home under the all-too-familiar 'flat cloud'. It started breaking up while we were on the ferry across the Arrow Lakes between Nakusp and Revelstoke.
Here are 2 more of mountains emerging from their morning veil. The ferry is at a wide open spot where the fog gets a chance to dissipate.

This one is looking West.
And this one is to the South-West
We hit cloud cover again between Revelstoke and Golden, but between Golden and Banff it was clear blue. Light Therapy! Boy, did I need that.

Here are just a few. I mean, how many times can you get excited over white peak against blue sky?
This one was still playing peekaboo.

Near the Kicking Horse Pass. (I think)

We were hoping to catch a glimpse of the Olympic Torch but it must have veered South towards Invermere before we got to Golden.

I almost feel sorry for the Olympic organizers. The next picture shows how high the frost line has been. We had a good start in early December, but now it is warmer and drier than usual.
One more, just because.
Enfin, we get the picture. White mountain tops, blue sky, all the calendar picture cliches. Even after 40 years of mountain dwelling I still get all excited. But then, I get excited about green grass in the spring too.

After Banff it clouded over. Usually it is the other way around. We took the slow road over Ghost lake and Cochrane. Grey skies do not flatter that dun-coloured landscape. It was kind of dreary.
 Near Bearspaw all was redeemed by sparkling hoarfrost.

Tim and Marjel's aspen grove, taken from the kitchen. They love it here and fully intend to stay, which makes me very happy! I really enjoy having family here, beyond the ones we have given birth to.

It was fun renewing my role as "Auntie Ien". Since it is part of an eccentric old aunt's job to introduce children to fragments of culture that might otherwise not come their way we spent some time studying 'Mud, Mud, Glorious Mud'. We now have the chorus down pat.

On Sunday we took a great side trip to the Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology in Drumheller. What is it with kids and dinosaurs these days? I don't remember being fascinated with them or knowing anyone who was. Anyway, we were shown around or rather, dragged forcefully to favorite places by two experienced and enthousiastic tour guides. These little girls (almost 7 and 5 1/2) are truly delightful creatures. They are quite privileged but somehow they have not turned into spoiled brats.

Alas, I had forgotten my camera on the trip. We drove through rolling prairie, under pearly grey light that made the land blend into the sky. The fields were covered in snow but the golden stubble showed through. It was beautiful in a totally different, less obvious way from the dramatic mountains. I need my big sky fix now and then.

The hour and a half trip to Drumheller was considerably shortened by reading Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. I am blessed with the ability to read in a moving car, and reading is one of my favorite things to do with little kids. We started on page 60-something before we even left the garage, and were just finishing the very last page when we got home. Talk about perfect timing!

For good measure we rented the Chocolate Factory movie with Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka so we could all watch it together. Most of it was great, but somehow the American makers of the film saw fit to alter the ending. In the book Willy Wonka and Charlie just descend upon the pathetic family in the great glass elevator, and lift all off to live in the factory in a sort of chocolaty Rapture. The movie alters the character of Willy Wonka, and drags out the ending with irritating preachings about family values. Boo!
Anyway, we left Monday morning under snowy skies, so here is some pictures from the way back.
The approach to the mountains is one of my favorite routes, no matter how often we see it.
It was hard to see where sky ended and mountain began. I love that effect.
The ferry across Arrow Lake, almost home.