Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Vancouver Good: Weather Average

Posted by Hello

Vancouver is a good city . People live and work downtown, the sidewalks are crowded with pretty types and, aside from a large homeless population, that pinched sour look that often seems to accompany life in a northern city is for the most part absent. The people live with the rain and are charmed by the sun, but don't stop living because of the wet.

Himself and I chattered on about how we wouldn't be bothered by the rain; nope, not one little bit. We live in the land of almost perpetual sunshine (although it's all marine layery and damp this morning) and like to think we can handle grim weather with aplomb. After all, between Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, we've lived many years with weather that is often miserably damp and cold. We knew we could handle a few showers. [CUE NOISE OF GAME SHOW BUZZER GOING OFF MADLY IN BACKGROUND to indicate wrong answer] Well, guess what...we are no good in the rain, not anymore. We bitch and moan and mewl and whinge: me about how sore my wrist got from holding up the big, honking hotel umbrella for hours while I searched for a cafe where my flippin', increasingly heavier computer could pick up a wireless signal and, well, Himself didn't really moan, but he did have to listen to me and he didn't really argue or disagree with me. I covered all the bases for him. I couldn't get my computer to work anywhere
and my stupid American cell phone won't pick up a signal outside the U.S.

Here's an abbreviated day-by-day log of our quick visit.

Day One: Easy flight out of the sunshine. As our plane winged its way north, the clouds thickened and I remembered that we'd forgotten our umbrellas and binoculars. The umbrellas didn't bother me at all, but I felt horrible for Himself, not having his binoculars. This is a man who doesn't walk to the end of our road without them hanging round his neck and one just can't pop into a shop and buy another...they're expensive I think he researched binoculars for two years (pre-Internet), before buying this pair.

Oh well...on to Immigration where a very young, very earnest, very annoying, red-haired boy proceeded to closely question my husband about exactly why he was in Canada. Himself answered, "I'm serving on a Board of Consultants to a large, underground project." Apparently the boy didn't like Himself's answer and then asked him, "Is this a job that couldn't be filled by a Canadian?" I unwisely interjected and said, "How could we know such a thing (said with entirely too much...what are my voice)?" Himself shot me a look that said, "Sit down and shaddup and don't make this thing more complicated than it needs to be." I did sit down, but I still want to lodge a formal complaint against this obnoxious kid. He kept us for 15 minutes. Himself maintained his demeanor. I stayed in my seat, all the while wishing I could leap up and strangle the little turd.

We'd read in our guide books that people drive very slowly in Vancouver, that there are rarely left turn lanes or signals and the advice is just drive like the locals, unless you want the RCM (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) to stop you. Since they're no longer on horseback and they
are armed, we pretty much opted to drive like the locals. Good job the city is nice and compact because crawling around at a snail's pace on freeways was really annoying. It's fine in the city, but on the freeway??? C'mon. We saw one fellow driving a yellow Maserati and all we could think was, "How annoying it must be driving something that's capable of such speed." I mean I pretty much always think that when I see one of those, even on L.A. streets, but at least here you can drive a little fast. I was constantly asking Himself to convert km to miles...and then doubting his engineer brain by shrieking,"You can only go 28 miles per hour here? Are you sure you converted that right? At this rate it will take us two years to get to (fill in the blank...Victoria, Whistler, Yaletown, Granville Market, etc.)."

Day Two: Still looking for a laptop connection and still having no luck. It's really raining today and the long-range forecast doesn't look very encouraging. I decided to take the Grey Line bus tour. That way I could be out of the rain and still get an overview of the city, getting off to have a wander when I felt like it. The drive was interesting enough, but more fascinating to me was the driver. She was one of those cheerfully defensive people who, after eight minutes, you just want to smack. There was an elderly English couple who timidly asked just why the bus was late (mechanical problems) and why we (I was one of them) had to wait for close to 45 minutes in the rain in beautiful Stanley Park. While the park is quite perfect, it WAS flippin' raining and chilly and I'd already gotten a little lost in the dense woods and had flashes of having to do battle with a bear (apparently they're everywhere). The driver said...all the while smiling..."Well, it's all in the way you approach a problem. If you're negative, you'll feel negative. I'm only concerned about your safety. I had to switch buses, but if you'd be more positive, you'll feel better." The English couple wanly smiled while I said, "Look, just say you're sorry and that will make us all feel better. We're cold and not too happy with Grey Line at the moment. It's not like this is a free trip" She just looked at me and then smiled and proceeded to talk on her flippin' intercom about the sights in Stanley Park. Yet again, I was impressed with my restraint.

Day Three: Early morning ferry ride to Vancouver Island; Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo, about an hour and a half. More to follow...


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