Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Multitasking in BC
When No1 Son and I go on a road trip there usually isn't a lot of down time involved and this Vancouver adventure was no exception. While thinking back on the weekend, I realized that my diverse group of friends would all be interested in different aspects of the trip so I thought I'd write this post like a "Sid Column", only with complete sentences. Sid "Grandpa Sports" Hartman is a columnist for the Strib paper in Minneapolis. He is about 124 years old, wrote his first column as WW II ended, and was once the general manager of the Lakers basketball team....before they moved to LA. He tends to jump around a bit but sometimes that needs to be done when there is lots of stuff to communicate to a diverse audience.
First the bike scenario. We decided mass transit and bikes would be the mode of travel. One of No1 Son's customers, Dream Cycle, hooked us up with bikes for the weekend. Darrin was smart in that he gave Erik a single speed and me a 21 speed to offset the difference in age and fitness. Very smart. We rode all over town on the many excellent bike trails, including the wonderful Stanley Park and Grouse Mountain ski area and gondola. No1 Son thought it would be fun to ride the bikes uphill for several kilometers to the ski area but I quickly put the kibosh on that idea. There is still well over 4' of snow up there (sorry Silbs) and we met folks with snowshoes on the bus. All the public transit vehicles including electric buses, Skytrain, Seabus, and water taxis were bike friendly so we just loaded them up. The weather cooperated as well and even my hind end held up OK
Next is the food update. Sushi is incredibly inexpensive here and much raw fish was consumed,including toro, the melt in your mouth fatty tuna. We also stumbled upon the spot prawn season opener. Once again sitting in a brewpub paid off when one of the chefs at the event tipped us off as he snuck over to order a beer. The prawn boats pulled into the dock, they off loaded the prawns, and began cooking. Five of Vancouver's top chefs made their special concoctions using the incredibly fresh prawns. An unexpected gastronomic delight for sure.
Most of my acquaintances are interested in beer. Granville Island brewpub was kind of home base, since it was central to a lot of our activities. Once we left the hotel in the morning we never returned until bedtime so we needed these ports of refuge to recharge and self medicate. GI Bitter was one of our favorite beers as was a cask conditioned and hand pulled ESB at a joint near the Lonsdale Quay called Sailor Hagars. Some kind soul must have figured we needed more self medication because I found a roach on my bike seat when we came out of Sailor Hagars. We actually passed on one brewpub, the Dockside, because it just looked too upscale for our proletarian tastes. Steamworks near the cruise ship docks was a cozy joint as well but the beers weren't as adventurous as at some of the other pubs. We were able to sample AlbinoRhino dark mild and also one of the wonderful Belgian ales, a 9% Trois Pistoles , from Unibroue in Quebec. Had we not been on bikes we would have been forced to pass on this complex yet high octane ale; score another one for people powered transportation and mass transit.
Finally the kayak update. We rented boats at Ecomarine Kayak Centre on Granville Island and Don was as insightful as Darrin had been at Dream Cycle. I'm in decent paddling shape already and he set me up with a Valley Aquanaut RM HV, the same enormous craft as my beloved Ore Freighter, only in rotomolded PE. This slowed me down a bit, especially in comparison with the Nimbus Sport in carbon fiber/kevlar layup that he hooked No1 Son up with, a guy who hasn't paddled in quite some time. He even managed to rustle up a Greenland stick for me so I didn't go into any sort of Euro spoon shock. We paddled around English Bay, crossed over to Stanley park to view it from the water, and then paddled around the False Creek area near Granville Island, a total of around 8 miles. We encountered a number of lavish powerboats, all crewed by folks in white sailor hats, blue blazers, and white bucks. When we asked a crusty old guy working on his boat what was going on he told us, "Its the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club. Today's the day they motor past the club and salute the bloody commodore". As we paddled along side one of the yachts, I gave the blazered crew a friendly greeting and they looked down at me like I was a lower form of life, not saying a thing. I was pretty sure I only thought 'pricks' but it must have actually slipped out because the look of superiority kind of turned to one of loathing. Oh well, I guess the feeling was mutual. In the end we had a great paddle, my first one in salt water in a couple years. We also felt pretty good about kayaking when we landed and talked to the sailors that were painting, scraping, and generally working on their boats on a lovely May Saturday rather than sailing. A hole in the water into which you throw money indeed!
Its back to fresh water and our beloved Gitchee Gumee this weekend with the first Apostles camping trip of the year. There is lots of news from the Apostles so I need to get posting here. It was great to get out to the west coast again however, do some father/son bonding, and generally enjoy Canada. Between the Blackhawks/Canucks series and the World Cup, the poor Vancouver residents were a bit glum hockey-wise but they are gearing up for the 2010 Olympics and I think its going to be a good one. Its a great city with some great people.