Monday, December 1, 2014

Vancouver Trip

November was my month of travel and, fun though it may have been (and it was!), I am glad that I'm staying put in December. Oh, I may be thinking about a day trip or two to look for snow geese and the like but, I'm not planning to sleep anywhere but my own beloved bed any time soon.

This last weekend's trip to Vancouver was planned back in August when I gave tickets for Stuart McLean's Vinyl Cafe Christmas show to Scott for his birthday. There is no Seattle show this year so a trip to Vancouver (where we stayed at the quite pleasant Buchan Hotel) was required.

View from the window at the Buchan

The train trip north included an unscheduled hour or so at the Bellingham station while they checked a reported blockage on the tracks to the north. Happily, it turned out to be a false alarm, and--even more happily--I opted to step off the train to wait at the station while they pulled the whole train back up the track to avoid blocking an intersection. I suppose I could have spent that hour in the Parlor Car drinking fancy cocktails, but it was much nicer to get some cold fresh air and have a look at the birds to be seen in the immediate vicinity of the station. Especially when those birds included this handsome little creature:

Hermit thrush by the water by Bellingham Station

There were quite a number of birds to be seen from the train before and after the unscheduled stop as well. Birding from the train means snapping a lot of photos and hoping to be able to identify the results later. 

This group includes a number of pintails.

We arrived in Vancouver only an hour or so behind schedule. We checked in, had a cup of tea, did some shopping, and then went to Vij's for dinner. I'm sorry to say the food was less spectacular than on our first visit but it was still a lovely first evening in the city.

As it happened, it was Grey Cup Weekend which meant, among other things I'm sure, that there was a parade through downtown on Saturday. We missed some of it but arrived along the parade route in time to watch a number of marching bands, admire a couple of floats, and be baffled by the ways of foreign lands. I was disappointed not to get a nerf football but I did take some snaps.

I have no idea what this means but it's my new motto.

After the parade, we had tea and coffee at Finch's Tea House  (which could not be less like its website suggests) and then bought a number of books at MacLeod's Books. After depositing our purchases at the hotel we continued along to Stanley Park where we managed to spend an hour or more circling Lost Lagoon after which we were too cold to remain outside much longer. The Lagoon was quite rewarding, however

Stanley Park could be named Spotted Towhee Park. I've never seen so many. I was cursing my inability to get a decent photo of them when this little fellow threw up his wings in despair and obligingly posed for me. Repeatedly.

Alas, there is no sound or video of this amazing mute swan which powered through the water, pushing a great quantity of water along before it. Imagine "Swan Lake" performed by leaden-footed five-year-olds.

After an excellent dinner at Adesso Bistro  (the front door of which was conveniently located about a dozen feet from the front door of our hotel), we scurried along to the Stuart McLean show which was, as always, quite lovely though yet again I was not the oldest nor the youngest person present and thus did not win any prizes.

The return trip, via Amtrak Bus, was fine. There are a lot of bald eagles along the I-5 corridor.

Book Report: Ironweed is a violent little tale.

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