A Saturday on Granville Island

Since I had strep throat on the official day of our two year anniversary, Saturday was the rescheduled time to do a lot of nothing.

Beck on the water taxi

After a breakfast in English Bay on one of the best days that we’ve seen yet this year, we decided to head out for a walk. First we thought Stanley Park, maybe venturing the whole way around the Seawall, walking with some coffees, etc. You know, the typical things a lot of people do who live downtown, just minus all the Lululemon gear.

What I envision when I think Granville Island

We ended up hopping the water taxi and spent nearly four hours on Granville Island, tooling around the painfully swarming crowds to offer up ourselves a sense of relaxation. That’s actually possible as long as you just keep telling yourself that you have nothing to do, nowhere to be, and in no hurry. Once you grasp that idea, you can do damn near anything.

"Post this one on the internet."

When we saw a crowd around this guy, there were flames on sticks and laughter. I knew we had to head that way and see what this “Byron from England” was all about.

He’s a street performer that juggles fire, escapes from a straight jacket and chains, and is incredibly funny. This photo was where I became apart of the act, posing and talking to me while making fun of me for taking so many photos (which you can see more of here). It was hilarious. If you get a chance to catch this guy, stop and see what’s up. I think our experience was well worth it.

The plan for the night was to get all fancy and hit a posh place to eat, but we could feel ourselves getting tired out from our all day excursion. We utilized the market for all it is worth, picking out incredible dishes to take home that were easy to make and amazing to taste, not to mention some outstanding desserts that were mind blowing.

All of this after a delicious coffee with a fresh croissant in a tucked away place on the island that was free of tourists. Good bless all your dollars you spend into the local economy, but Rebecca was able to lead us to a peaceful place to enjoy the sunshine, not to mention croissants that were so flaky and fresh that I was afraid the pigeons would soon be onto me.

A very Vancouver scene

Aside from getting a chance to explore a creative side through photographs with my nifty christmas present, we sat near the ferry dock to pause and listen to this man with his guitar. He sang in French, so I have no idea what he was saying. Still, the soundtrack couldn’t have been better with a backdrop of city, mountains, and water, who cares what he was saying.

We don’t get over to Granville Island as often as we probably should, and it’s the tough crowds that mostly likely make it that way. It’s really refreshing when you can have days like these, even more so when it’s far too convenient to take a round trip over there on a water taxi. You don’t get to do that very often where I grew up, and it beats the hell out of a bus ride.

Photos from the Canucks Open Practice 2008

In light of the recent episode #61 of The Crazy Canucks at the 2008 Open Practice at GM Place, I thought I would post a few of my favorite photos from the event that I took. J.J. had some great, extra seats that we took turns checking out from behind the bench, and Rebecca scored some good shots here as well.

Never afraid to pose
Rebecca poses as an Ultimate Canucks fan.
J.J. tapes the jumbotron interview with Rintoul
J.J. took the reigns on a 30 second shot with Scott Rintoul from TEAM 1040 on the jumbotron in GM Place. The rest of us got in on it as well in the background, including Alanah.
Dave poses with the true, but strangely missing, MVP of the day
DaveO poses with the real MVP of the day, who was strangely missing from the event…

Blocker save

Skating with the troops

Meeting at center ice 2

I have to say that it was a pretty cool day. We didn’t get to see as much of the practice as we did from press row last year, but it was a lot of fun to hang out with the guys behind the Ultimate Canucks Search, who are absolutely hilarious guys. They’re also pretty damn good at what they are trying to do.

One thing worth mentioning was the shootout competition that they had at the end of practice. Willie Mitchell pulled his jersey over his head in a headless horsemen-like fashion, skated all the way from center ice like that, and scored on Luongo. It was priceless. What a guy.

Filling in for Rebecca at Skate for a Cure 2008

Silent Auction While Rebecca was in Toronto for her major TV appearance on Quiz The Nation, Skate for a Cure 2008 was going on back here in Vancouver. As the website can tell you, “Skate for a Cure is a fundraising event providing participants of all ages the chance to skate on the home ice of the Vancouver Canucks at General Motors Place, helping raise funds to find a cure for childhood cancer.”

Basically, if you help raise money, you get to participate in the group skate on the ice at GM Place on January 20, 2008 (I know I’m late to post about it, but better late than never). Even more, you get to meet a player if you raise past a certain level. There is also a silent auction for lots of cool things like air hockey tables, memorabilia, and other assorted prizes.

J.J. crashes the boards Since Rebecca was out of town, I took her place for the event. I didn’t have any skates, so my plan was to just hang out with Tracey and, fellow Crazy Canucker, J.J. With my new camera, I figured I just shoot some photos, get a little free swag, and enjoy the atmosphere. Imagine my surprise, and more so Rebecca’s later on, when I was told that we’d be meeting Trevor Linden[wiki] that day.

Apparently Beck raised beyond the $250 dollars, all through her blog, to get a picture taken with her favorite, all time Canuck player. Which is amazingly great… if she wasn’t in Toronto being on a nationwide, CBC television show at the exact same time.

"Don't worry, you won't fall..."

J.J. and Tracey on the ice. You can hear him saying, “Don’t worry, you won’t fall.” They both skated beautifully, no matter if J.J. did almost run into the motor for the big, inflatable thing when crashing into the boards to spoke me out.

Nothing says love more

Not sure who this couple was, but this is what I expected to see more of on the ice. Couples skating hand in hand, Endless Love playing on the speakers, etc. Instead, there was a creepy version of Ronald McDonald on skates with Moj from TEAM 1040 telling people on the P.A. how much time they had left on the ice. Doesn’t mean it wasn’t fun, but just a touch on the less romantic side.

My shot with Trevor Linden

Not to rub it in, but this was a pretty cool five minutes. I almost missed the opportunity simply because we didn’t know that Rebecca raised the money for this to happen. With some slight encouragement from Tracey, J.J., and the volunteers, I ran up the stairs to see if it was too late. As I went to shake his hand, one of the umbrella light stands of the photographer’s setup crashed into me. Trevor had just put his hand out and said, “How you doing?” All I could say, falling just shy of connecting that handshake, “I’m under attack!”

As we take the photo, I tell him that my wife is going to kill me. “Aw man, she wouldn’t do that, would she?” Yeah… yeah she would. I explained how she was in Toronto and couldn’t be here today. I also said how she would be really bummed about missing out on this opportunity, and I was pretty spot on. “There’s always next year, right?” Absolutely.

You can see all the pictures that I took from the event on Flickr.

The year of the eight

Good people, good drink For New Years Eve, we ventured out to be with some friends for the occasion. Some were old, some were new, but all of them were people that have become new to our lives. I’ll even say that if it weren’t for blogging, they probably wouldn’t be friends. It’s amazing how that works, and 2007 has been another, amazing example of how life continues to progress.

Hi. This is a delayed, new year post for 2008.

I actually started writing this sometime ago, and it was even late to the mark when I tried to do that. Ever since getting the full time gig of a day job, it’s tough to find a lot of time to do the other things that really interest me. It’s not that I don’t like what I do. I’m just busy.

This last year has been down right insane. It started off with my approval for permanent residency in Canada, and it concluded with probably the biggest thing to happen in my professional career. I’m working for a group of radio stations once again, and the work is nothing short of a walk in the park. It’s one thing to say that it takes time to learn how to do your job. It’s a whole other realm when you work in the 2nd biggest market in Canada, not to mention those winter snow games in 2010 on the horizon.

I suppose that this is the point where I should make resolutions for this year, but there isn’t a lot to hope for other than good fortune and health. We work hard day in and day out, and there are days when that doesn’t seem like it’s enough. And at that point, which is probably what the main resolution I have for this year, is to enjoy time together more with Rebecca. Camping, traveling, and summer days on the beach, all squeezed in between the hectic lives that we have carved for ourselves.

Get busy living, or get busy dying.

Good birthday, good times, and good friends

I was debating on making a follow up post to the week of birthday celebrations that we had for Rebecca, but some of the pictures that came from our small gathering this past Saturday were too good to pass up.

Ladies 50/50
Photo credit: retrocactus on Flickr

I read a post here about Ponchos, the place we finally settled on for her birthday dinner get together. A lot of reviewers spoke poorly of that place, and all I have to say to those people who are complaining about food being bland, poor atmosphere, or whatever doesn’t suit your taste need to really relax.

Why yes, this IS an iPhone
Photo credit: retrocactus on Flickr

Sure, it’s not the best mexican food I’ve ever had, but the people there are so sweet and remind me of being in a busy kitchen back home. Seriously, chill out. It’s a small place that is ran by folks that are working hard to do the best they can, in a place that can’t have the cheapest rent in the world.

Photo credit: retrocactus on Flickr

You know, we even called Hapa Izakaya to get reservations, but they never got back to us. In fact, they didn’t respond to any of our calls (note the plurality there), which puts a damper on the one time we went there and instantly enjoyed the place. Even if it is a very popular place and difficult to get reservations at, I wouldn’t know that because they never returned our calls. Don’t say you will in your voicemail greeting if you don’t plan on it. That’s bad business, and it has kind of put us off, no matter how much I love sushi.

Photo credit: duanestorey on Flickr

We had a lot of fun at Ponchos. For cramming 20 people into that place, the food was great and the margaritas were outstanding. We even up the reservation by two just an hour ahead of time. Now that’s good damn business.

Beck by candle light

Not to forget, we also took time to have a more personal birthday dinner celebration at Cloud 9 on top of the Empire Landmark Hotel. Couldn’t have been better. Amazing view on a night that wasn’t overly rainy so we could see much of Vancouver, even after telling me that reservations didn’t guarantee a table by the window. We were put there anyway, and Rebecca got TWO pieces of cheesecake for dessert because they are just that awesome.

I think she had a good birthday. 🙂

Impromptu adventure to Canucks Superskills

The white team lines up So I got ahold of some tickets for the Canucks Superskills event, and the fact that Rebecca’s birthday is coming up was going to line up perfectly. I thought I would put them in a birthday card and surprise her with them. After all, it was something that she had asked for, so I thought I was rocking the birthday.

All was going according to plan until I was listening to the radio while in the shower this morning. Apparently someone moved the event to today and not next weekend like I had planned on working out perfectly for Rebecca’s birthday. Or maybe it was actually today and I failed to really double check that date and time.

Regardless, I surprised her when I got out of the shower with second row tickets, which were actually a surprise to me as well (I really need to be better about checking these things), so we grabbed our things and rushed out the door.

Ronning chases the puck

The Canucks Alumni played a game before the festivities kicked off. Cliff Ronning, Dave Babych, Gary Valk, and a wide cast of others were on the ice just ahead of the Superskills getting under way.

"Captain Mike Weaver, thank you."

Just minutes before the competition, Mike Weaver was taped… er, tapped with the captaincy of the white team. He wore it proudly.

"In Sweden, we call them up pushes!"

Losers had to do push ups. Henrik looks a little too happy to be on the losing end of the stick, but you have to applaud his enthusiasm.

Mitchell chats up the junior players

The North Island Silvertips came over from the island for the festivities. They got to participate in each of the events as well. I could only imagine what it would be for a young kid like that and having these NHL guys around you. It would definitely be a boost to work harder to get to the big time.

Mason Raymond wins fastest skater, gets pie in face

Mason Raymond won the fastest skater competition, beating out last year’s winner, Ryan Kesler. You can see his reward above. An extra note, Alexander Edler won hardest shot, dethroning Sami Salo from his four year reign.

Luongo chats with the junior goalie

Once again, you’re a young goalie and you get to share the ice with the likes of Roberto Luongo. How cool is that? Intimidating and encouraging, all at the same time.

Slingshot swag to the crowd 3

The whole place was full with fans, and I can’t remember going to a game, which I haven’t been to a lot nor are we talking about playoffs, where there is so much enthusiasm combined with blue and green in the seats. From row one at ice level to the last row up top, I think it’s safe to say that some of the best fans in the NHL really is in Vancouver. For some, this is the cheapest way into GM Place to take the entire family, so it’s great to see a good turnout as well as a well done event, very deserving to the fans.

Happiness in a stick

Willie Mitchell, a true fan’s player, gave his stick to this youngster. It’s those things that stick with you as a little kid like that. If you don’t believe me, check out The Crazy Canucks #48 where we tell you the story of one guy’s effort to get a broken stick signed that he got as a young boy from Cliff Ronning during his days with the New Westminster Bruins[wiki].

Have nothing but good things to say about the event today, especially for being such a last minute thing for us to go check out. Our seats were amazing, and I had way too much fun with my new camera. You can see all 107 pictures in my Superskills set that I put on Flickr, and most of that was learning what my camera can do. I’m far from mastering it, but it keeps surprising me with what it can do.

Back home, far from home

What a whirlwind tour is has been. Six days is not enough time to spend with family and friends, but I think we crammed as much as we could in the time that we had to do it. We almost threw a train into the equation, but my brain scheming plan of convincing Rebecca to spend the weekend in Seattle and grabbing a train back to Vancouver just sounded like too much. Still, for the time we had, I can’t think of changing a thing. Well, we could have stayed longer, but that’s the way it goes some times.

Leaving KC

We did a lot of driving. There’s no better way to put it than maybe add another “a lot” to that statement. Plenty of miles, not kilometers, were covered in a short period of time. To and from grandma’s house, then to and from my parent’s house, and we tossed in another trip to Iowa City to see some old co-workers and then some friends.

Rocking out to Shrek's Super Party

I got to see five of the original six roommates that I had in my first semester in college. Kris (aka Muffin), Adam (soon to be a father in May), Ryan, and Heath all were able to stop by for dinner and then hanging out to catch up. Even Bill and Dave, who came to our wedding along with Muffin, drove over from Des Moines, so it was a true college reunion. Can’t forget to mention Qi Qi and Kim, but they rank just as highly even if they weren’t there in the college days.

24 pounds of bird

Thanksgiving was just as you can imagine. Too much food, and way too many pies. I think I did alright in terms of the amount of food I took in, but running tomorrow morning is pretty high on my list. Gotta get my internal clock kinda reset as well.

Getting my butt kicked at Madden '06

Used to be a time where I liked video games, but I was never the best at being competitive. My nephews, on the other hand, are far more advanced in terms of how to play these games. There is nothing better in their minds than beating their uncle.

Walking to our gate in DSM
Hustle and bustle of ORD
Beer and MacBook in SEA

The time was too short, and the amount of traveling we did seemed to be far too much. It’s nice to be back home in Vancouver, but I completely have a travel hangover. Maybe it’s the lack of a good sleep schedule or the multitudes of recycled air in the planes, but it’s been a tough day of being home. Monday will come far too quick, but at least we’re stationary until then. Plus our luggage made it all the way with us, so that’s a bonus.

Reflections of good ol’ KCMO

I love Kansas City. I think it is one of the most forgotten about cities in the Midwest, if not the United States. KC lies in the middle where “The South” starts and the heart of the Midwest stops (at least the parts where farming is the prevailing stereotype of the area). My aunt calls it the “heart of America”, and that’s pretty spot on. You’re practically in the middle of the U.S. by geographical location[wiki].

kansas city, mo
Photo credit: miss604 on Flickr

This is where my mind had the ability to open up and understand that there is a lot more in the world that I have yet to experience, yet alone grasp the reality of. Small town Iowa and inner-city KC are two, vastly different worlds.

Diversity is just the tip of the iceberg. In one place, you can forget to lock the doors of your house when you go to bed and feel relatively okay, if not safe, with it when you find this out a few days later. There are parts of KC where you should probably keep your car doors locked and windows rolled up just to add a layer of protection that you don’t really need 99.8% of the time, but…. just in case.

Within the past fives years, it has changed a lot. There is such a push to revitalize the downtown core that old warehouses are being turned into condos for “luxurious loft living”. Driving through there on a Sunday, it was fairly empty and lacking traffic on nearly every block, but the signs of change are everywhere. Street work, new construction, etc.

There once was a time, and I think this goes for much or America, where bridges were built out of utility, giving decor or appearance an after thought. Those bridges of major river crossings and such were the ones to get royal treatments, but not the most simple of bridges get cosmetics added to them to add a little flare or appealing look rather than guard rails or cement protecting the sides. Highway 71 through downtown is a prime example of that, and is that ever nice to have. Makes getting to and from my grandma’s house and my aunt’s house so much easier, not to mention shorter in terms of travel time.

Can’t forget to mention that Sprint Center. That sucker is impressive from the outside, but we never got a chance to see what it looks like on the inside. According to my aunt and uncle, they are pushing that venue big time, pulling in all sorts of concerts to the arena so people get out and know that it exists.

sprint centre
Photo credit: miss604 on Flickr

The push for a NHL team is there as well. My uncle Mark seems to think that if a hockey team didn’t work in KC during the days of the WHA, a NHL team wouldn’t do so well. That was over 30 years ago. Rebecca and I agree that if the city did get a team, we’d certainly check out some games when we were in town to visit family (another Canadian team is where our hearts desire, but go KC before Las Vegas, please!).

old kansas city
Photo credit: miss604 on Flickr

Downtown, The Plaza, Westport, a quick u-turn into Kansas, and a drive by of Kauffman and Arrowhead Stadiums in a whirlwind tour of Kansas City, MO. Not too bad, and we even got to have breakfast with my grandma and great aunt before leaving the city on our next stop on the tour. It’s tough to spend such a short period of time with family after so long of not seeing them, but at least the time was good, if not cherished.

union station, kansas city
Photo credit: miss604 on Flickr

Oddly enough, Rebecca and I both came to the conclusion that Missouri is actually flatter, if not less hilly, than Iowa. It’s amazing how much you notice after being gone for as long as I have from the Midwest. I even opened my cousin Sarah’s eyes to the numerous places that you can get fried chicken from in KC as much as you can get good barbecue.

I (heart) KCMO

Back in Iowa for the first time in two years

Photo credit: miss604 on Flickr

The jaunt that it took to get us to the Midwest has been a tad torturous. Bellingham to Seattle to Chicago to Des Moines, and from there we snagged a car to take us to Kansas City. This is the first leg of the tour that will take me to see my grandma for the first time in a while, a few months more than the amount of time I’ve last been to my home state.

Getting off the plane and walking to the car, there is a sense if your nose that you are no longer in Vancouver, or the Pacific Northwest for that matter. Maybe it’s the dryness of the air, or the fact that you can’t smell the sea air. We certainly don’t have the amount of pine or fir trees that scrub the air and stock the air with oxygen.

iowa rest stop
Photo credit: miss604 on Flickr

Contrary to belief, we have trees among our rolling prairie hills that tend to gather in decent bunches, but folks around here often refer to those areas as “the timber”. It’s a far cry from “the bush” in B.C. that can seemingly swallow a person away from civilization.

It’s very much dryer here, and the skin on my hands and arms are noticing it right away. This was an issue when I lived here, but this is a drastic shift from the wet climate of Vancouver. My arms were so itchy by the time we went to bed on our second night that I had to fight the urge to itch my skin raw before I fell asleep.

cheese We’re actually in route to my hometown right now, heading north on I-35, back in Iowa for the second time on this trip. Our first round was only for a handful of hours, so this will be the longer stay in the “field of opportunities”. I’ve heard rumblings of a basketball game by some of my nephews, and some old friends have made requests for gathering together.

We’re about to round Des Moines for the second time this trip, maybe the third. We got turned around coming out of Des Moines International, and I’m not the most knowledgeable about getting around this city as I am driving around it. Eastern Iowa rules, Central Iowa drools. Never found myself coming here very often.