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Vancouver 2017 - The Literary Exhibitionist
Vancouver 2017


Click on the first image above, and you’ll be taken to the 59-shot “Day 1” photo set from this past weekend’s two-day trip to Vancouver, B.C.; click the second image and you’ll be taken to the 100-shot “Day 2” set. It’s somewhat curious how this was my tenth visit to Vancouver since 1999 (thus I visit an average of every 1.8 years – and I’ve gone every odd-numbered year since 2011), and yet, at a total of 159 shots (including 2 brief videos), this is the highest number of pictures I have taken on any trip to Vancouver to date.

I was going to say it was the highest number "by some distance" -- but that's only because I had created misleading numbers by having a collection of Vancouver photo sets excluding Pride photos that were all put in separate sets. Hence this new collection of photo collections, which I assembled last night, grouping all of the separated sets together for each Vancouver visit. As it happens, the 2007 visit was pretty close -- I have 146 shots from that visit. And 132 from the second visit in 2008. Those all include Vancouver Pride, however, and if I only refer to non-Pride visits, then it is by some distance the most photos I've ever taken during a Vancouver visit, the second-highest being the 102 shots of the 2011 visit I took with Susan.

So anyway. I take a lot of pictures in Vancouver. And I especially did this past weekend. I'm still working on getting the captions finished, although all the photos that had been posted to Twitter, Instagram and Facebook during the visit have the captions used on social media; and I also pasted in captions this morning on all the photos I included in the email photo digest sent out to coworkers, family and friends this morning. So maybe a couple dozen of them are captioned so far, and hopefully they all will be by the end of this evening. I have also tagged them all so far, so between those and the captions I have thus far, you can get the general gist of the trip by clicking the above photos and tabbing through.

What can I say of the trip, broadly? I had a great time. I even thought during the car ride home yesterday how glad I was we chose to go there as our anniversary trip this year. This may have been my tenth trip, but it was only Shobhit's 7th: I did not know him yet when I went there the first time with Barbara in 1999; I went without him but with Susan in 2011; and without him but with Other Danielle and Andrea for the Madonna concert in October 2015. So Shobhit had been six times before this, but not since our honeymoon in 2013. I tabbed through that photo set (now also broken into two sets separated by day) the other day, and was struck by how happy Shobhit looked in every photo he was in. He sure was delighted to have gotten married. He looks pretty happy in his photos from this trip too, though. We bickered a little but not too much.

I was especially thrilled to be staying in the same place we had in 2013 -- the WorldMark Vancouver at the Canadian. In 2013, Sachin, who owns the TimeShare with this company, gifted us points he had so we could spend two nights there as our Honeymoon. We still booked through Sachin this time but paid him for it, and that was by far the most expensive aspect of the whole trip: $250 for two nights -- $125 per night is actually a pretty reasonable rate for a hotel, although this was more like a rental condo, complete with fully functioning kitchen but no cleaning service or room service or anything like that.

The building is mostly residential, but WorldMark rents out units on the floors between 19 and 25. In 2013, we had been slightly disappointed to be placed on the lowest of those floors. This time we were placed on the highest! So that first shot above is of us in our living room on the 25th floor. Although more literally it was the 24th floor, since they skip floor 13 in the numbering, but whatever.

It was a genuine thrill to me to stay there again, but I was thinking about this on the way back home yesterday: I feel no particular compulsion to stay there again any time soon; I do agree with Shobhit's notion of mixing it up in terms of places to stay -- not least of which is inspired by the desire to have things like cleaning service when staying out of town, and especially for that price (reasonable as it may be). It occurred to me that we may very well never stay there again, but who knows? It could happen. I have been thinking of breaking the every-two-years streak and going back again next summer, just because by then it will have been fully ten years since we've gone specifically for Vancouver Pride. And we'll probably want to stay closer to the actual Pride Parade and festivities for that (although The Canadian still is not far). My priority would still be attempting to find a view of some kind but I can live without it for such a visit.

As for what else I can tell you about this visit, probably the most significant thing is how very much we walked. I even made three screen shots of the separate round-trip walks we took from the building we stayed in: 4.5 miles; 9 miles; and 3 miles, respectively -- the latter two being both on Sunday, so we walked a total of 12 miles that day. My legs were fine on the day itself but yesterday and also so far today, every time I sit or stand still for a long period of time and then get up to walk around, parts of my thighs and especially my calves really ache. I want to say I'm getting old, and maybe that is part of it, but 12 miles of walking is a lot for anyone, even someone who walks and bikes as much as I do.

It was fun, though, and nice not to have to drive around anywhere. We actually parked the car in the building's garage on Saturday and didn't get back into it again until we were leaving yesterday morning. We actually would have had the weather been warmer, as Shobhit really wanted to go back to that nude beach we went to once in 2005. It was overcast and in the sixties at the warmest, some of it with a heavy-ish drizzle (that happened for most of our walk around Stanley Park on Sunday), all weekend, though. The idea of going to the beach, nude or not, really isn't that feasible in this region (Seattle or Vancouver) until late summer. June doesn't quite work for it. Honestly the prospect of that being a better possibility will probably strengthen the chances of Shobhit wanting to go back next year.

In any case, on Saturday we walked to Granville Island, which we had to increase our walking distance to a great deal by not taking the water taxi -- it meant walking the Granville Street Bridge, which goes a fair amount over and beyond Granville Island, and then we had to turn around and walk back to it. We then crossed the bridge again to go to a couple of parks we noticed from the bridge, on our way to dinner at an Italian place called Yaletown L'Antipasto. We met a very cool waiter with a lovely tattoo of his cat he only had for three years but which he apparently brought back to Vancouver from Thailand. He was delighted to have us ask about the tattoo and then tell us the cat's story. He had several other tattoos on his harm that were all also in some way related to that cat. He was all too happy to let me take the picture of it.

Shobhit has a tendency to be honest about how he feels about food at restaurants when people ask how it was: if it was just okay, he'll say so. The service at Yaletown L'Antipasto was unparalleled and we repeatedly said it was excellent, but the burrata cheese they used for the antipasti dish we ordered really was bland. The gnocchi kind of was too. The lady who had asked us about the food, who waited on us even more than the guy from Thailand did, turned out to be the owner of the restaurant, and I guess she was pretty unhappy about that feedback about the food, yelling in Italian back in the kitchen. The guy from Thailand came back just before we left specifically to thank us for entertaining him by causing her to do that.

The massive amount of walking on Sunday was mostly because we both agreed that we wanted, for the first time, to walk the entire perimeter of Stanley Park -- I had only ever before walked far enough along the perimeter to get shots of the downtown skyline. Before that, though, on Saturday I had the presence of mind to look up local "things to do" on Groupon, and found a 2-for-1 deal on a Harbour Cruise. We almost tried to get on one of the scheduled cruises on Saturday but wound up waiting to go for the 11 a.m. cruise on Sunday -- and we walked to that first. The dock is right by Stanley Park, so walking around the park was perfect for doing as soon as we got back. This is how I got up to 100 photos from that day alone: 32 photos of the Harbor Cruise; and 29 photos of the walk around Stanley Park.

It was barely mid-afternoon by the time all that was done, and our attempt to get together with Fatima, the friend from Trikone-NW we had lunch with in 2013, fizzled out due to it being Father's Day. She was unavailable, and we had no other plans. I did not want to just hang around our room the rest of the day, so I went back to Google to look up free things to do in Vancouver. I found plenty of lists with mostly things I had already done, but then saw the suggestion to check out the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, which is a 17-floor building constructed in 1939 with distinctive architecture. Right up my alley!

I did also want to see the grass-roofed Convention Center we had seen from the water in the morning, so Shobhit suggested we walk to see both. We also found a 40% off Groupon at a baked potato place called Russet Shack, and we stopped there on our way back. So that made up the second walk of that day, which was three miles round trip. We took the four potatoes (that's what we had to buy with the Groupon) back to our room and had two of them for dinner there. And then we hung out in the room for the rest of the evening.

With all that walking, even Shobhit was too tired to want to go out dancing. We saved plenty of money in cover charges and drinks by avoiding that anyway; we drank plenty, but only because we brought a bunch of liquor up from home.

And then we bought a bunch more at the Duty Free shop at the border yesterday. I guess it's only "duty free" on the first two bottles, and then they do tax anything more than that -- and we purchased four bottles of liquor: two 1-liter bottles of Kettle One Vodka; two 1-liter bottles of Casadores Reposado Tequila; and one bottle of . . . fuck, I forget what it was, something Shobhit wanted. Whiskey?

Anyway, they didn't charge us tax on any of it at the cash register, but Shobhit and I agreed it best to be honest at the actual border check point, and so the guy told us to go to this building on the other side of the border where we had to go in and pay the taxes. It only came out to $2.88 per bottle on three bottles, so we still saved plenty even compared to Costco prices, which are usually by far our cheapest option. And the guy we talked to at that counter turned out to be pretty funny: "Do you have any fruits, vegetables, dead bodies or severed heads?" He actually listed off more items even that that, but he still ended with those last two. He had been pretty serious up to that point so the punchline landed pretty effectively.

By the way, until we got to the liquor purchases, border patrol on the Canadian side asked us way more questions than the Americans did. That guy on Saturday asked countless questions about the nature of our visit, where we were staying, how long, if we had friends or family in Canada, even where we worked. Shobhit found it odd but I didn't per se, until we were coming back yesterday and the line of questioning wasn't like that at all.

Ivan must have been lonely being at home without us all weekend -- I had assumed he might like the weekend to himself, but maybe not. He asked me twice via Facebook Messenger what time we were getting back yesterday, and I had to tell him both times it would be after he left for work. The second time he even texted, Damn I was really hoping you'd be home sooner. I never know how serious he is when he says stuff like that, but I woke up briefly when he got home from work late last night, and I even overheard him say to Shobhit that "I was hoping you guys would change your mind" about getting back earlier, and "I was pretty disappointed." Aww, how sweet! It sounded like he didn't even have any company over the weekend, and I actually had hoped maybe he would. The thing is, though, we left Vancouver plenty early -- 9:30 -- but it's a three and a half hour drive aside from the wait at the border, which took us at least another hour, and then we stopped in Bellingham for lunch, and also had a bunch of shopping to do (Costco, Target, PCC) on the way home. There was just no way we'd get back before 1:45.

And then I spent the majority of the rest of my time at home working on the photos, and I still have to get through captioning them all. I might have gotten it done last night, but for breaking to have dinner with Shobhit, watch Real Time with Bill Maher (what a minefield that episode was), and do the crossword. I should get them done tonight, though -- so if you should happen to see this, say, on Wednesday, by then if you click through to the photo sets via the photos above, the captioning should be done.

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positive energy please