Monday, September 21, 2015

Stuff I did when you weren't looking part 3: The mushy stuff

Yeah, that's right. Here's the post you want to skip if you don't want to throw up in your mouth a little bit.

I'll save you the sanguine details, partly because vomit is gross, but mostly because I feel that words just don't cover how happy life has been. Adventures have been had, and planned, and imagined, and dreamed about. But not on my own.

The summer semester was over and adventure time was about to begin!

Rick and I went on a weekend adventure to Vancouver, BC! Neither of us had been there, so it was exciting researching the area and trying to decide which points of interest we absolutely had to see in the short time we were there. We stayed in a lady's basement apartment courtesy Airbnb, which is a site that connects you to people renting out rooms, basements, or entire apartments to travelers. It was fantastic, not to mention much less expensive than staying in a hotel, and we had an entire apartment including kitchen to ourselves in a cute neighborhood. After we arrived in Vancouver on a Friday afternoon, we walked down one of the many suburban streets lined with shops and restaurants and ate at an absolutely delicious place called Locus just in time for happy hour, so appetizers were half off. The drinks and food were amazing! We shared several appetizers and it was by far one of the best meals we had there. Next, we took the Skyline (which actually went underground) into Vancouver proper. We came out of the station to a crowd of people and skyscrapers as far as the eye could see. I'm not gonna lie, I think I had a minor panic attack and had to sit down for 20 minutes until I could cope enough to move on. My life in a box had not prepared me for the culture shock. 

We spent the rest of the day wandering around exploring the city while my brain adjusted. It was also a very hot day, and to be honest I had consumed a little alcohol at lunch, so that didn't help my mental state. We decided to take a break and have dinner at the Top of Vancouver revolving restaurant, which is kind of like the Space Needle. We had a fantastic panoramic view 553 feet above the city from the restaurant. I had a light meal of escargot. They taste earthy and chewy. 

Once the temperature cooled, it was a little easier to enjoy the city without sweating bullets and wishing I had shorts. Plus, we had hydrated at dinner. It was a beautiful city at night. The people were friendly and there was music on every corner. There were pianos randomly in parks and on Canada Place on the waterfront. The moon was full and bright! It was a wonderful first day in Vancouver and we were excited for the next day's adventure!
The first must-stop on our adventure was the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park  located in North Vancouver. The park is one of the  most popular places to visit in Vancouver, and it doesn't disappoint. The main attraction is the suspension bridge, but first we did the Cliffwalk (pictured at left). 
Yeah, it was freaky. The park describes it as a, "heart-stopping cliff side journey through the rainforest vegetation on a series of unobtrusive cantilevered and suspended walkways jutting out from the granite cliff above the Capilano River." Heart stopping is an understatement. More like heart said, "Nope. Nope. Nope." and jumped right out of your chest to go enjoy a drink somewhere. The walkways are very narrow and sometimes glass so you can see the looooong drop. It took a while, but I did become comfortable enough to say, "Bring it on!" to the suspension bridge. 

 The Capilano Suspension Bridge was built in 1889 and stretches 450 feet across and 230 feet high above the Capilano River. Did I mention it was a suspension bridge? Did you know that means IT MOVES?! Can you see my fear? It's real. Every time it moved, I was convinced it was going to flip over and we were going to plummet 230 feet to the bottom of a canyon. Rick had to give me some tough love to keep me moving and then talk me through walking the entire bridge so I wouldn't have a panic attack. The couple walking behind us were legitimately concerned. They high-fived me when I made it across. 
We did not plummet to our deaths! Should have seen the look on my face when I realized I would have to cross it again to get back. 

The Treetops Adventure was on the other side of the bridge. It was reminiscent of the Ewok village with 8 bridges between the trees and little tree forts. It was like being a squirrel in the 250 year old Douglas Firs 110 feet above the forest floor. According the to the park, the "Treetops Adventure was designed to accommodate the continuous growth of the trees. The viewing platforms are attached to an innovative tree collar system that is adjustable and move able and has no nails or bolts penetrating the Douglas-firs." There were great stations for kids on nature walks and an interpretive center with live bird of prey shows. It was a beautiful nature walk! Toward the end of the trail, there was an enormous downed tree that had fallen some years ago during a particularly bad snow and ice storm. It fell right onto the suspension bridge with the force of a 747 and broke in half. The bridge remained, virtually undamaged. With that thought in mind, I was able to cross the bridge again with Rick guiding me (walking backwards the whole way holding my hand, bless his heart) while I chanted, "I believe in science, I trust science, science says this bridge can hold a 747 falling on it." 
Totally nailed it.  

 We stayed closer to the ground for our next adventure after a lovely lunch at the Teahouse in Stanley Park, the largest park in Vancouver. We rented bicycles for the 7.5 mile bike loop along the Seawall. It was a gorgeous day! The ride was very relaxing with a beautiful view all around the waterfront park including beaches, playgrounds, and a water park. There is so much to do just in Stanley Park that we unfortunately did not have enough days for everything.
The bike ride was a perfect end to the day! 

Our last day in Vancouver was all about becoming cultured by visiting museums. There are many in Vancouver, and I wish we could have spent several days visiting all of them. We narrowed it to two that we felt we could not miss our first visit here, and leaving others that would force us to return. 

Just have to give a shout out to the Vancouver Public Library where we heard had the cheapest parking garage. We went upstairs into the library to head out onto the street and I about died. There were more books then I'd ever seen in one place. It was breathtaking. I wanted to become a resident just so I could get a library card. 

After the shock of the enormity of the public library wore off, we wandered over to the Vancouver Art Gallery, which has a mix of classic art (the "Of Heaven and Earth: 500 years of Italian Paintings by Glasgow Museums," featuring works of art by Botticelli and Titian) and modern art (the kind I have a hard time understanding). 

 My favorite exhibit was the puppet gallery by an artist I cannot for the life of me remember and I can't find any information about it on the website! It was a series of puppets made from fabric and cut out pages from books, magazines, etc to make characters. I could have looked at those figuring out the symbolism and the artist's vision for hours. I also enjoyed an exhibit with cut-outs from a history book placed categorically, for example dictators and medical innovations together. Kinda of makes me want to tackle some book art myself!

The absolutely stunning Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia featured thousands of pieces from every culture imaginable, including massive totems both inside and outside the museum. We were blown away by how much history was inside, and if the artifacts on display weren't enough, there were drawers and drawers of more pieces under the displays. We could have spent an entire day exploring this museum as well as others on the university grounds. One of my favorites were the Native American masks used in dance ceremonies. Some were massive and took years for a dancer to work up to due in part to the heavy weight. There were also exhibitions from popular world artists, the one we saw being from Portugal titled, "Heaven, Hell, and Somewhere in Between."
Please, please, please if you're in Vancouver, do not miss this museum! We loved it and will go back again!

We were sad to say goodbye to Vancouver and even plotted stealing the kids and living there indefinitely. The city is full of activity without feeling crowded and overbearing, the people were friendly, and sites were numerous, especially for nature and art lovers! I feel incredibly fortunate to have an amazing partner not only willing to whisk me away on adventures, but excited to enjoy and plan future ones! I'm not going to say I'm the luckiest woman in the world because that would be too cliche.

But I am.

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