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A daytrip to Vancouver.

The day started ridiculously early, as I awoke at three o'clock in the morning. Daniel picked me up shortly after five. We were quite giggly in the car on the way to the aeroport, which of course set the tone for the day.

As soon as we checked in and got our boarding passes, we bee-lined to the departure lounge. It was very spiffy in that neo-retro way so beloved by the editors of *Wallpaper. Daniel had a coffee whilst I, ever the bottomless pit, noshed on danish and fresh fruit, washed down with oj and espresso. They had a groovy wee coffee machine; press one button for coffee, another for hot chocolate, espresso, café-au-lait, whatever. I think there were six buttons. I stuck my mug under the spout and hit "espresso" three times to fill it to the top. Yay for caffeine!

For some reason, only one runway was open, and we had to line up with all of the other aeroplanes and wait our turn. It looked quite ominous as we trundled around a corner and the line up - nine planes ahead of us, seven behind - was thrown into view. What are these large metal creatures that blindly move in formation, like a column of soldier ants, ready to destroy all in its path? Why do we believe we have control over these jetson-like pods?

I get the same way on freeways with too many overpasses.

The flight was fine; I slept through most of it, except when Daniel awoke me for a caesar. Waking up with cocktails could prove addictive. and dangerous; they seem to work more quickly early in the morning. Maybe it was the altitude.

I find myself still somewhat amazed by air travel. Large hunks of metal hurtling through the air with nothing but speed to keep them aloft! Kooky! But then, my mind is yet boggled by the prospect of moving sound and image flying unseen through the air to reassemble itself in a television set. so there you go.

The ever charming Cole picked us up at the aeroport in vancouver and pointed out the sights on the drive back to west van.

"What do you have planned for today?" he asked. Daniel and I just sort of looked at each other blankly and then at Cole.

"We thought we'd just sort of, hang out. You know."

"Well where do you want to start? Breakfast?"

"Ooh!" I pulled out my little list of must-sees. "we are supposed to start the day with breakfast at the- the cosmic something."

"Sophie's Cosmic Café? Oh, it's great. In fact, it's so popular that they have an hour-long lineup on the weekends." Ao instead we went to Milestones, overlooking English Bay, where we could watch the ferries and the sailboats and the cherry blossoms and the palm trees. Van is the only area in Canada that is classified as sub-tropical.

We did a nice drive through Stanley Park, the only rainforest in the middle of a city anywhere in the world. I decided to take a couple of pictures, a traditional scenic landscape, a shot of Cole and Daniel, cole took one of daniel and myself. Then the film ran out.

"Well, you really came prepared!" snorted Cole. I pulled out a fresh roll and installed it, glaring at Cole in a snarky, spockish fashion all the while.

We zoomed back to west van to ditch the car, and then walked over to Robson Street to window shop and buy candy. They have a Ghirardelli shop there! We noodled our way through the downtown, stopping to ogle the Betsey Johnson boutique and the Fendi boutique, then made our way to the library, which was built out of genuine lego by giant aliens, and on to the Skytrain.

The Skytrain, which did not actually enter the sky at any point whilst we were on it, is operated completely by robots. The entrie transit system is on strike, but the Skytrain still runs, because people have no control over it. If you look at the front of a train as it hurtles into the station, you will not see the friendly face of a conductor, smiling in a reassuring manner. No, you will instead see a blank face of white metal, resmebling nothing so much as HAL's younger brother. You know, the sneaky one. We were followed out of the station when we disembarked at waterfront by a passel of chanting hare krishnas, whose robed and robotic presence in the retro-futuristic environment leant it a very Logan's Run-esque air. Cole commented on the repetitiveness of their chants, and suggested alternative melodies, such as "We wish you a hare krishna." You know, to liven things up a little.

At the waterfront, we contemplated the bizarre yellowness of a heap of sulphur, and Cole and Daniel nibbled on chocolate while I wrote out six postcards. By the time one has finished the first three, one tends to run out of steam. Cole explained his policy, which is "entertain the mail man." He writes postcards along the lines of "the doctors say it's not contagious, but I really don't like the looks of those blisters." then I realised I was short a couple of postcards, and that I couldn't mail one of the ones I had written without additional postage (it was sent to the U.S.). I picked up more stamps and cards on the way back to the Skytrain.

One of them had a picture of a clock engulfed in green smoke.

"What the hell is this supposed to be?" I inquired politely.

"That's the gastown steam clock," said cole.

"Ooh! I've heard of that!" I responded guilelessly.

"God, you're such a tourist! It's sooo boring. It's surrounded by tourists constantly, and they just stand there staring at it blankly for half an hour, and then a puff of steam comes out, and it goes 'boop-boop-beep boop' and then they keep staring waiting for something else to happen, look around sheepishly, and drift away."

We did not go to Gastown at all.

Back downtown, Cole pointed out an ugly statue that is chained to the ground (despite the fact that, beyond its ugliness, it appeared to be made of cast iron, or some equally weighty medium) and surrounded by "no skateboarding!" signs.

"Welcome to vancouver! Don't steal our statue!"

After buying more candy (including this weird but yummy stuff called Indian candy - holy non-p.c.! - which is double smoked salmon soaked in maple syrup and black pepper) and icecream we wandered down to a swanky bar called Zin which is apparently the new hotspot which sets out to answer the décor question, "If Hugh Hefner were going to design and opium den, what would it look like?" Groovy sectionals, candlelight, etc. we chose the peoplewatching patio. I tried to order "Boundary Bay Bitter," a local microbrew I was told to check out on my trip, but the waiter just looked at me quizzically. after finishing half my drink (Van has crazy rules about how much they can serve; perhaps they get around these rules by bumping up their alcohol content on the sly?) I got quite giddy and silly, so we went to a hair salon where we met a chihuahua named Zeus.

Then we strolled through the cherry-blossom-filled parkettes (to get the streetwalkers out of West Van, some sidestreets were closed altogether and filled with flowers - it's quite lovely) back to Cole's place. There was a letter there that filled him with dismay: "they're raising my rent. It's because of the rising enrgy costs." His rent (for a one bedroom with a balcony overlooking the water with mountains in the background, and all a short walk from downtown!) will now be $150 less than what I pay to share a two bedroom in downtown T-dot. Argh! Not that I'm better or anything. We pay less for cigarettes, although I quit smoking seven or eight months ago, so it's pretty moot. Sigh.

Anyway, Cole had to run a wee errand, so we chatted with William and attempted to think of a restaurant for dinner. I asked William what he would recommend, as a Vancouverite. he asked what we were in the mood for. I said "whatever," as I am the most indecisive person in the world when it comes to restaurants. Daniel said "the most adventurous I get is chicken wings and calamari" and I asked if he wasn't supposed to be avoiding fried foods and hot sauce due to his hiatus hernia thing. He said yes, and coffee too, and I said "that's awful!" and when Cole returned and asked what we had decided, we just gave him our traditional blank look of indecision and despair, and he said, "all right, Bridges it is, then, that way you'll get to see Granville Island, even though everything will be closed by now."

I tried to order "Boundary Bay Bitter" at Bridges, but this bartender was more dubious than the last. He suggested that I had the name wrong, and even when I showed him the scrap of notepaper on which I had written it, did not believe it existed. Cole explained the precise geographic locaiton of Boundary Bay, including local topographical features, prompting the bartender to stare blankly (a recurring theme throughout the day), and then say "Hmm. well, I don't know. I'm from Toronto." We said we're from toronto too, and he asked us about the hockey playoffs, prompting yet another reprise of our blank look.

Daniel and I started getting sleepier as the meal progressed. I am like a toddler; when I get tired, I get giddy, and then I run around in circles (metaphorically speaking) until I bump into something, fall down, and cry.

I slept almost all the way back, thank goodness, since the woman next to me was an air rage case waiting to happen. Before we even got away from the gate, she was screaming at the flight attendant for asking her to stow her blanket until we were in the air. Fortunately she shut up after that. Maybe the attendants carry tranquilizer darts for just such occasions.

Daniel wanted to go to G.G.'s for brekkie when we got back, but I was too too sleepy. In fact, I slept right through to eight o'clock monday morning, and had a fit that I was going to be late for work. I performed my ablutions, got dressed, then went back to my room in search of cufflinks, and noticed that it was significantly darker out than it was when I awoke. hmmm. I called a friend to ask the fatal question: is it eight sunday night or eight monday morning?

I was definitely glad I called before setting out for work. who knows how far I might have gotten before realising my mistake.

I also realised that I hadn't taken a single shot on my second roll of film. oh well.

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