So where did we leave off dear friends? Ahh yes Autumn in Vancouver.
The days grew shorter, and the cold seeps in easily, making the prospect of curling up in bed with a good book all the more appealing.
Halloween was barely a blip on the radar but I did venture out to the rather disappointing Parade of the Lost Souls, complete with a rather brave yet still hilarious Borat impersonator, and a few days later to a Fright Night held at a local slightly derelict theme park, and found the scariest rides were surprisingly the Ferris Wheel and Giant Swings.
Dan and I, Halloween Party at Tobys
Jenna (The Bearded Lady) and I at Fright Nights
When Remembrance Day Weekend rolled around in early November, I jumped at the chance to take a few days off work, and headed to Port Angeles, in Washington to visit a good family friend. She had come to NZ as a Masters student when we were living in the Te Urewera National Park, and had kept in contact with the family and visited a couple of times over the years. After 10 years of not seeing each other, we had a lot of catching up to do and I was ecstatic to finally be in her neck of the woods. She took me to the small Victorian coastal town of Port Townsend, and we strolled around the little boutiques and galleries, and stopped in at a little rustic café for some French Onion Soup.
The following day we headed to the other side of the Olympic Peninsula along Highway 101 to the West Coast, past impressive Lake Crescent, and little towns called things like Beaver and Forks, to the small coastal village of La Push home of the Quileute Indian tribe. After a nice seafood chowder, I was shown around parts of Shoshannahs old stomping ground, in the Olympic National Park, and was more than impressed with Rialto Beach and its awesome views.
Of course since I was in America, I couldn’t give up the opportunity to go to Walmart and Costco, and brought a few bags worth of goodies. Shoshannah also took me to a Mexican restaurant, which I had never experienced before but found delicious and naturally we fitted in a trip to an American Diner, and a movie session complete with tubs of Ben and Jerrys – ahh bliss. It was so good finally seeing and catching up with her again, and seeing all her familiar sights and sounds.
Before heading directly back to Vancouver I took a day to tour around Victoria, the capital of British Columbia. An attractive city, with a distinctly European feel. Then back to Vancouver, and back to work, the days a lot colder, and definitely shorter. At the end of November my friend Jenna, not finding what she was looking for in Van decided to move back east, to Toronto, to try her luck in the concrete city.
The Empress Hotel, Victoria, BC
December rolled around, and it snowed. From out of no where came this white blanket, that covered the streets, and trees and put everyone in a more festive mood – well everyone except the drivers, and the homeless I daresay. I ran outside into the street in my pajamas, with out any shoes like a little kid. It had snowed briefly in Germany, but nothing like this. It didn’t stick around for long, but it kept coming back and although I loved when it snowed, Vancouver snow tends to turn to slush fairly quickly, and either melts or turns into ice, which when you’re a delivery driver is not a lot of fun. I had the joy of working one Sunday afternoon, after a particularly heavy dumping of snow, delivering food to a surprise birthday party on top of hill in a rather posh area. But having no experience of ever driving in the snow before, and having a rear wheel drive rickety old van, and compacted ice on the road doesn’t make fun driving conditions. I ended up fishtailing all over the road, and sliding back till I hit the curb. Then nothing, nothing I did would make the van move. I got out, shoveled away as much of the snow as I could and put salt and grit under the tyres, rocked it back and forth, being careful not to flood the engine – but nothing. And so inevitably the call to the boss got made, to come rescue me. I seemed to have missed the memo about loading the van up with cases of bottled water to weigh down the back tyres. This didn’t solve my dilemma though that I had a van load of hot food, a surprise party waiting to kick off and no contact phone number. So off out into the snow I go, hoofing it by foot I galloped the 10 blocks or so to the clients house, and wet as a dog and more than slightly puffed I arrived on their doorstep, and promptly told them my pathetic story of getting stuck on some ice. Never fear four sprightly men from the party came to my rescue and we ventured back to the van, and with three of them standing on the back and another at the wheel, (as by this point I had refused to drive in fear of crashing into the rather fancy parked cars) the men took off into the distance leaving me to gallop back the 10 blocks or so to the party to help unload. Rather exhausted with my efforts by this point, I was more than relieved to see a chain gang of party guests had been started by the time I arrived to help move the food into the house, and with the last dish safely inside, was the exact moment my boss showed up – bless him. Thankfully he offered to drive the Van back and I got to drive his snazzy four-wheel drive instead.
So then my birthday came and went, I had a small Ugly Sweater Christmas party, complete with my first glass of Eggnog and work got stuck into the crazy party season with gusto. The weather was still determined to play havoc with me, and I ended up slipping down some concrete stairs at a clients home while carrying a marble cheese board, and compressed several discs in my back making life fairly unpleasant until I got talked into finally going to see a Chiropractor. Just before Christmas rolled around Jitka, a true gem moved back to Europe, and onto a new job teaching English in Spain. I was gutted to see her go, but I know it won’t be the last I see of her.
Tabbie, Eliane, Jitka and I at Cascade Lounge
For Christmas I was asked to go to the home of two of my bosses for dinner, with several others from work who were also family-less during the silly season. Dinner was fantastic, complete with all the trimmings, they’d even ordered a Pavlova (a down under meringue type dessert) which I got to decorate, and with a fresh blanket of snow my Canadian Christmas went down a treat.
New Years Eve closely followed, and I joined a few friends on a Club Crawl around some of Vancouver’s Nightspots. I never have good New Years Eve’s, and this years was no exception. The night started off ok, getting taken to various clubs on a bus, but the last stop of the night was way out near the airport and if you know Vancouver – that’s no where near the city or anything really! At least I got to have my first ever ride in a yellow school bus, even if it was with 50 rowdy screaming University Students. Before the clock chimed 12, I made my escape and 4 buses later I was home, tucked up in bed ready for 2008!
January brought a welcome break from the madness that was December, and as everyone else had decided to take their vacations at the same time, I had little choice but to battle it out and carry on as per usual. However as I was able to get a good deal through work with a rental car, I grabbed Nic one Saturday and we headed up the Sea to Sky Highway to Squamish, a small town often used in movies and tv shows (such as Insomnia, Double Jeopardy and Men in Trees) as a backdrop for Alaska. After feasting on a massive lunch at a local diner, we kept driving further up the Squamish River and at Brackendale we found a Bald Eagles Winter Nesting ground, volunteers had set up and info centre and provided bincoluars. I love how just a short drive out of the city, you're completely surrounded by the great outdoors.
Cam, Grant, Stuart and Dan - the Ozzie Boys
The staff party in the middle of January in the form of a Hawaiian Luau, provided some much needed relief from the miserable gray doldrums. The whole Butler crew raided their closets and pulled out some real Hawaiian beauties, and nearly everyone got into the spirit of things. We’d hired out the ANZA clubs hall which was the perfect size and we put the dance floor to good use. Of course every staff party has a scandal or two and ours was no different, but boy was it a good night.
Me with Kathryn and Axelle
At the end of January I decided to move on from my place on Main Street, and jumped at an offer to good to refuse to move in with a friend from work who had a spare room, and lived in a trendy part of Vancouver, close to the beach, one bus away from work and at half the rent I was currently paying - I couldn’t say no. Then in order to reenergize both of our batteries we both took some time off work and headed to Harrison Hot Springs, just a couple of hours drive away from Vancouver. We had originally wanted to stay at a cabin further up the Fraser Valley but the heaviest snowfall of the season had made the roads to dangerous to venture further. But reluctant to give up on our little getaway we decided to treat ourselves to the Harrison Hot Springs Resort and Spa, and spent most of the days soaking in the hot tub, or reading books by the fireplace.
View of the Hotpools from our room
Once back in Van, I heard from Ayline one of the girls I lived with back when I first arrived, who was back in town on a month long visit, and quick as anything I jumped at the chance to take her out to dinner. Each January Vancouver has a Dineout festival where restaurants all over the city, offer a special menu at a discounted rate and it really gives you the chance to sample some fine dining for a fraction of the price. I chose to take her to CinCin, normally reserved for those with limitless budgets and we had a delicious evening of playing Ladies. A week or so later, a group of us ventured up to Grouse Mountain, over looking the city and dined out in the observatory, also part of the Dineout deal. For $35 we got a scrumptious three course dinner, a skyride to the top of the mountain, and all the activities we could want at the ski field, we settled for the sleigh ride through the Dr. Seuss looking trees. It was a gorgeous night, and well worth the effort of getting there and back.
So that really brings us mostly up to date. Phew! Of course I’ll remember some stories that I wanted to include in the next day or two, but really that’s the bulk of what I’ve been up too. Work, work, work oh yeah and a little more work with a dash of fun thrown in on the side. Forgive my laziness with keeping in contact, when I’m not working I’m recovering from working, and trying to stay warm :o)