So much international flare in one city

Market in ChinatownMy feet and legs are sore, but the adventure that we took today was well worth any pain that might come out of the nearly fifteen miles that we walked today. From the west end to Commercial Drive via Chinatown, I saw more sights of the city that I’ve been wanting to explore some more since the day I got here.

When I was in the check-in line at O’Hare on the day I was leaving for Vancouver(the last time I was in the U.S. actually), an older, Chinese couple struck up a conversation with me. They told me that I had to visit Chinatown[wiki] because they loved the one in Vancouver. They were on their way to visit family near Hong Kong and said I really needed to visit there because I would absolutely love it. We couldn’t exactly walk there today, so Chinatown will suffice for now.

I had so many flashbacks to walking around Japan today. I know that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Chinatown? Japan? Well, there is a Chinatown in Yokohama that I made a few visits to during my summer there, but that’s another story for another time.

E. Pender St. in ChinatownI guess it was the smells and sounds that take me back. The abundance of the language, combined with that smell. It’s hard to explain it, but if you’ve experienced it, you know what I mean. Baked goods, fish, squid, seaweed, prawns, steamed buns, and what not, all in the open air on a hot, sunny day. It had me craving yakisoba from a corner stand much like you can grab a hot dog or gyro on a Manhattan street corner.

More pictures on my flickr, tagged “chinatown“.

One thing I never did while in Japan was to try a steamed bun. They always scared me, all the while making me incredibly curious as to what they tasted like, not to mention that stuff that was inside them. It was usually brown, and I could never be sure if it was meat as I passed people gnawing away. I already loved sushi and had a knack for trying new things at that point in my life, but I was always too chicken to go for it. Today, Rebecca showed me how stupid I was to pass so many of those up, so many times during those days in the Kanto. Spicy pork is oh so tasty!

Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese GardenThere’s more to be explored, found, and exploited in the future. In fact, our venture up to Commercial Drive[wiki] only found some slurpees and shade while we passed so many places that caused us to to point out at least five places on every block that we needed to come back to.

I should also add that the Chinese Garden in Chinatown is well worth the visit. The area that is free to the public is all that we saw, but it was a very peaceful, secluded spot. The whole area was crawling with people, but that entire, city atmosphere went away while we explored the garden. Well worth the visit.

By the way, anyone know a good place to get mexican bread up on Commercial? I was thinking that if there was somewhere to find a mexican bakery, that would be it.

What’s more Vancouver than Douglas Coupland?

Douglas Coupland signed a book for meIn a last minute dash of cool, free things that Rebecca seems to win a lot lately, the streak continued when she was selected for a CBC Radio One live taping of North By Northwest yesterday morning. The entry went in on Friday, we got the word on Monday morning, and the event was that night at 6:30 PM at VCC.

Douglas Coupland was the guest last night, and it was an excellent event. Rebecca’s been a fan of him for most of her life[her post], and “City Of Glass” was one of the first things I read when I got out here. I have more of his stuff that I want to read, but sitting down to read a book has always been a challange for me. Regardless, his works is a great way to familiarize yourself with Canadian culture, more so the ins and outs of what makes up Vancouver.

Coupland was not what I expected, but I like him even more than before. He’s scattered, smart, random, geeky, educated, and entertaining. This is just my impression of him as a person during the recording. I have yet to really say anything solid about his writing.

Douglas CouplandStill, I’ve come into contact with many authors during my days in college and public radio. Among all of those experiences, this guy ranks up there with some of the best. And by best, I mean some one who is cool. That goes a long way with me.

When I gave him “City Of Glass” to sign, he asked if we were from out of town. Of course we’re not, but I told him that, yes, I am from Iowa and this was one of the first things I read while living here. That kind of peaked his curiosity, and he asked what brought me here. While I told him that it was because I married the girl standing next to me who has lived here all her life, he signed my book, “To John from Iowa, Douglas Coupland.” Pretty neat. 

Adventures On the Sunshine Coast

Venturing through the woods on the Sunshine CoastAs you might have heard on the podcast, we took a day trip to the Sunshine Coast[wiki] over the weekend. This was my first time making the trek, but Rebecca is a seasoned pro. And anytime you have to take a ferry to get somewhere, I’m pretty excited, fear of sinking or not. Is that because in Iowa we don’t have ferries? Yeah, you’re probably right, but we do have some nice boats you can ride on down the Mississippi while you gamble.

Our time up the coast was a super awesome good time. Rebecca spent a lot of time in this area while growing up and speaks about it highly. This was my chance to check it all out, and I have to say that I can see why. It was very apparent, as with nearly all of the lower mainland, that the area is developing a lot. Ocean front homes are the thing to have, and people are building them where they can, as big as they can.

Horseshoe Bay ferry terminalI heard someone say that living in B.C., it’s hard to not become a lover of the outdoors. I can say that is oh so true. I had fun playing soccer and what not while we were there, but I wanted to keep exploring the woods and just see what was out there. There were some trails that we went around, but with my hiking shoes on, I could have stayed out there for hours.

I uploaded a series of pictures from the day to my Flickr account. Check out some of the shots from Horseshoe Bay[flickr] and the Sunshine Coast[flickr] if you’d like. I have a feeling we’ll be back there again in the future.

Seeing David Suzuki At the CBC

Rebecca scored us a super cool opportunity to check out David Suzuki[wiki] at the CBC studios here in Vancouver. CBC’s Studio One Book Club will feature Dr. Suzuki with his new book, David Suzuki: The Autobiography[froogle].

The Book Club takes place in CBC Radio’s Studio One in the CBC Broadcast Centre, 700 Hamilton Street in Vancouver (corner of Georgia Street), across from the main branch of the Vancouver Public Library.

The show is being taped for broadcast on North by Northwest in two parts over one weekend: Part One on Saturday May 27, between 8 and 9am, and Part Two on Sunday May 28, 8 to 9 am, both on CBC Radio (690 on the am dial in Vancouver).

I recall catching his programs(The Nature of Things) on PBS growing up, especially during those days when we only had four channels on our TV. When I got sick and had to stay home from school, I spent hours watching PBS because daytime TV was torture. And I’m not saying I loved all the programming Iowa Public Television had to offer. It was the alternative that made those days go by.

All it took was a creative essay on Rebecca’s part and someone over at the CBC making the selection. It’ll be exciting as it’ll be my first time venturing inside of the studios here in Vancouver as well as the chance to hear Suzuki speak. A very BC experience, if I must say so myself.

First Farmer Tan of the Year

Walking over the Granville Street Bridge in the hot, hot sun.I had to run an errand over in Kits last week, so Rebecca gave me a scenic route to take to get there. I’m always up for a good walk, so the trek seemed like a good time to me. I ventured over the Granville Street Bridge[wiki] and went all around to the Cambie Street Bridge[wiki] in time to meet Rebecca after work.

It was quite the hike. I cannot forget to mention that there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and temps broke 65F in the downtown area. Combine all of that with my mexican blood and you get a nice farmer tan starting to show on the upper areas above my biceps.

I snapped some pics along the way that you can check out on my flickr. It was a gorgeous day in the city.

Back From The Fruit Of B.C.

I am a good driver...  What a great, little getaway.

I get a feeling that running away like we did to the Okanagan[wiki. def.] would be a cliche thing to do for some Vancouverites, but there is no way that we are not going to do trips like this again. You can see how people flock to the valley for summertime vacations, even more so for those family holidays that your mom and dad dragged you along to. Miniture golf courses, beaches, B&B’s, real golf courses, hotel after hotel, and huge homes on the shores that one can only dream of ever owning.

Kelowna is a great community. However, it’s a city with two faces. Off-season and on-season. It seems like all of the hotels are hiring right now, the phrase “for the coming season” being key. To me, it’s a bit like the Wisconsin Dells[wiki. def.], but Kelowna has it beat for sure. I don’t think you can check out as many attractions as you can back in the states. At the same time, I don’t think that is why people flock there.

Crusing down Highway 5...The drive to get there and back was a treat for myself. I have this ongoing love of road trips, and Rebecca couldn’t be a better companion for that. With both of our iPods, we had plenty of tunes to make up for the lack of radio stations between populated areas. We took a different route there than we did back, so I got to see a lot of the mountainside between destinations. It could have been the fact that we set out early on Friday, but I said very little the whole way there, my head turned out the passenger side window with the hope that I might get to see a bear. No luck. Continue reading “Back From The Fruit Of B.C.”

Adventures in Canadian Wine Country

Heading off to the Okanagan [wiki. def.] to get away for the weekend. For me, it’ll be a chance to explore more of the interior of British Columbia. I’m unsure as to what to expect from the mountain passes in terms of driving the route to get there, but it’s going to be a pretty fun experience.

Rebecca and I on wine tours? I think it’s a recipie for neat things to happen. I’d say disaster, but I know it’s going to be a good time. Makes disaster seem like such a lackluster word, eh?

Spending Sunday in Fort Langley

Planet Java's ceilingThere isn’t a whole lot in Fort Langley, but sometimes that’s just what you need. A place where there isn’t a lot of hustle and bustle to get away from the city for a while. We were able to check it out a little more than just the drive through that I have experienced before. And if you are driving through, that doesn’t take too long.

Needless to say, it’s a small town with some character. Reminds me a lot of the small towns from where I grew up, but I think it’s a lot harder to get soy in your lattes back home than it is in Fort Langley. Even though there isn’t a Starbucks or Blenz in sight of downtown, there certainly is no shortage of coffee related establishments. You’ll have to wander past the numerous antique shops to get to them.

Autographed Tori Spelling photo at Planet JavaYou can tell that the town gets more traffic in the summer. People head out from the city to do the exact same thing that we did on Sunday. And if you do get the chance to get there, check out the little 50’s diner for a bite to eat, Planet Java 50’s Soda Fountain Café. They don’t do fries as a side to your sandwich of choice. The potato salad is just as good though, perhaps even better than the fried alternative. And it still tastes good for at least two to three hours after. How can you beat that?

And there have been movies film in this little downtown area as well. What kind of B.C. town would this be if it wasn’t used as a film set? It’s getting to the point where the game is spotting the place that has yet to be in a movie.