Sunday, January 30, 2011

Snow Day

Our snowshoes

After breaking two bones in my left wrist after an ill-fated cross country skiing excursion in 2009, I decided to give up my nordic career and take up snowshoeing.  What a smart move that was!  If you can walk, you can snowshoe.  Even me!  For those of you who have never tried it, I highly recommend you do so before this winter is over.

In addition to snowshoes, we now have season's passes to the Olympic Park in the Callaghan Valley, which is situated halfway between Squamish and Whistler.  What a great legacy from the 2010 Olympic Winter Games this park is!  Miles and miles of trails in a breathtakingly beautiful valley.

The View of the Callaghan Valley from the Olympic Park Day Lodge

Not a bad spot to stop for a bite to eat

Yesterday we had the pleasure of taking Miss Molly and our friend Maytal out for a day of traipsing through this winter wonderland.  It was raining in here in Squamish, but snowing lightly in the Callaghan Valley.

Joe busting a move while driving the car

We listened to the Rolling Stones as we wended our way up the Sea-to-Sky Highway.  

Two of the cutest snowshoers EVER!

We donned our gear and were on our way!  Our plan was to meander through the meadows on fairly flat terrain. 

Heading out

The next thing we knew, we were following another couple into the woods on what (we learned later) was a black diamond expert trail.  It was straight uphill along a steep mountainside.  Thank God I had my Nordic poles to help me navigate the treacherous parts.  I have to admit, I was NOT loving this part of our adventure.

Climbing the 'expert' trail.  If you squint, you can see Maytal and Molly smack in the middle of the photo.

Such beauty....

I love these 'snow hoodoos'.  Big blobs of snow on top of a tree stump.

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

It started to snow during the final part of our hike.  We were warm, we were in the great outdoors, we were EXHAUSTED!

Happy snowshoers ready for lunch!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Soggy Saturday

A rainy drive down the Sea-to-Sky Highway.

On a recent rainy Saturday morning, Joe said, "Let's get outta Dodge today.  Why don't we go on a date in the city?"  Who could say no to such an offer?  Certainly not me!

Bins of apples and oranges brighten up an East Vancouver sidewalk.

Our first stop was in East Vancouver where we loaded up with fruit and veg at 'Donald's', a neighbourhood institution.  Of course I was STARVING by this point, so we also had to buy some food for me to eat inhale in the car.  Bread, hummus and mango juice were hastily consumed to stave off a sure case of starvation.

Graffiti near East Hastings and Nanaimo streets.

My 2011 passport mugshot

My passport is about to expire shortly, so it was time to submit to the humiliating experience of having my photo taken.  As I was trying not to smile for the camera, Joe kept skulking around behind the shelves at London Drugs popping up out of nowhere to make me laugh.  He succeeded and it took a while to get this somewhat acceptable shot.  Gawd, I hate getting my passport photo done.  (I swear, if my lips get any thinner, they're going to disappear altogether!)

Joe's 100 year old grandfather fell at home on New Year's Day and fractured his hip.  He is recuperating from his operation at Vancouver Hospital and we stopped by to see him for a short visit.

We stopped in at Chapters to do a little book shopping.  I had a gift card from Christmas that was burning a hole in my pocket and needed to be redeemed.  'Room' by Emma Donoghue came home with me.  (Thanks, Maytal!)  

Vancouver Art Gallery with protesters on the steps.

One of the main reasons for going down to Vancouver was to see Song Dong's exhibit 'Waste Not'.  It was closing the next day and we'd heard such interesting things about it.

Song Dong's mother grew up during the Cultural Revolution in China where they were deprived of pretty much everything.  Families had to save every scrap in order to eek out a living and survive.  When Song Dong's father died, his mother fell into a grave depression.  Song Dong had the idea to create this art installation in partnership with his mother in a bid to help her feel better again.  It worked!  After helping her son create the art piece she said to him, "Aren't you glad I saved all of these things?  They were useful, weren't they?"

Now, Mrs. Song had a lot of stuff crammed into her little house.  She was the original hoarder.  Dirty pieces of styrofoam, sheets of cardboard, stuffed animals, fabric.  You name it, she had a million of it.  It was fascinating to see what she saved.

Photo courtesy of MoMA 

There was a lot of pointing, tsk-tsk-ing, and laughing from the crowd.  Lotsa judgement goin' on about old Mrs. Song.  I said to Joe, "People shouldn't judge.  None of us knows what it was like living through the 1960s in China.  And you know what?  I think we'd all be shocked if we removed every last item from our houses and laid them out on a flat surface piece by piece.  I think some of us North Americans would give Mrs. Song a run for her money!"  Now that I think of it, it is an exercise we should all do just to keep our ever-growing collection of material items in check.

*Back Story:  The night before coming down to Vancouver, Joe and I had watched "Exit Through The Gift Shop", a documentary about graffiti and street artists.  In 2003, Banksy (very famous and very anonymous) smuggled in a painting and glued it to a wall in the Tate Museum in London.

As we were walking by a corner of the gallery filled with a pile of neatly folded plastic grocery bags, I laughed as I thought about the movie and pulled out a plastic bag from my coat pocket.  "Joe, we should pull a 'Banksy' and add this plastic bag to the pile."  "Yeah, let's do it!" he said.  He was serious.  "No!  We can't do that!  We'd get caught and look like the idiots we are," I told him.  

The next thing I knew I saw something small and white fly out of Joe's pocket.  It was a crumpled receipt that landed somewhere between the pots and pans.  We wondered how long it would remain there before being spotted by the security staff.

Meat & Bread sandwich shop on the corner of Hastings and Cambie streets.

By this time of the day I was in serious need of some sustenance.  We had heard about a new restaurant in Gastown called 'Meat & Bread' that served only 4 kinds of sandwiches, 1 soup, 1 salad, 1 red wine, 1 white, 1 beer and 1 soda.

A porchetta sandwich on a ciabatta bun with dipping mustard, vegetable beef soup, and a Blue Buck beer.

The room is long and narrow with a table running down the centre.  Everyone sits cafeteria style.  It was a delicious late lunch and I highly recommend this eatery.

The Vancouver skyline as seen from Brockton Point in Stanley Park.

To cap off our day, we walked a bit of the Stanley Park Seawall in the rain.  We strolled around Brockton Point for some fresh air and to stretch our legs before getting back in the car for the 
drive back up to Squamish.

Mops and Pops in the rain on the Stanley Park Seawall.

Thanks for a fun date, Joe!  Let's do it again real soon!