September 6, Vancouver

What a beautiful morning!

It was later than I wanted to get up, granted. But it was really really nice out. My flight to Calgary was scheduled for 5:30pm, and the hostel people had warned me to set aside 1.5 hours to get there.. erf!! So I figure if I leave the hostel by 3:30pm I'll be alright.

So, I rented a bike from the hostel, a hybrid/mountain bike, $20 for the day. I had been told in Seattle to go see Stanley Park, which I could see in the distance along the coastline from Jericho Beach. I followed the Seaside Bike Path, but missed the entrance to the bridge I wanted... so I ended up on Granville Island for a while. Artsy and I wouldn't want to park there, but on a bike it was pretty cool.

Granville Island "works" because it's like each entrance into either the market or one of the arts/garden galleries is an entrance into a maze with cool things to look at everywhere. The market is crowded; I eat more good Russian food, and watch the rain start again. Lots of artists of all kinds of media selling in the market and right around the corner in the other gallery buildings.

Eventually I continued on along the bike path towards Yet Another Bridge, avoided various construction-site-induced confusion zones as best I could, and eventually arrived at the park.

Unsurprisingly, it starts to rain, however. So I modify my return time to the hostel by 30 minutes forward, so I can stick my clothes in the dryer.

The park is beautiful, all huge big green trees, and in the rain it was even more -- foresty. *grin* For someone who's lived in southern California (read: Desert!) for most of her life, this is quite a change! The bike paths are all one-directional for the loop, with 2 lanes: one for bikers/skaters, one for joggers/pedestrians. The loop went mostly counter-clockwise, all the way around, and occasionally had those nice little tourist-information placards/stands telling you about what you were seeing or something about the history of the region.

The thing that I noticed most, however, is that all the benches to sit on had these little gold plates with writing inscribed on them. Upon further investigation, they all carried the theme of "In Memory Of...". Now *that* was different!! And there were a lot of park benches. No, it didn't feel like there were ghosts there, but it certainly was a bit of a reminder of how many people die; it's just that if you only know of a few or a handful who have, and you don't visit graveyards often, then it's not the kind of thought that generally goes through your mind. Well, through my mind, at least.

I paced a horse-drawn carriage tour for a while, listening to the tour guide tell a story about the origin of the mermaid statue (I think we were past the half-way/furthest-out point), and about what this rather odd park-thing I was riding next to was (it's a water park, on those days it's *not* raining and maybe warm, they apparently turn it on. It's like some super-deluxe sprinklers and other water-distribution means taken to a huge size, and they really do let the kids run through it!). However, it really started pouring, and it was getting pretty late, so I booked.

However, I booked a bit too hard; the path came off the beach as I neared the hostel, and moved onto city streets...different streets than the ones I went out on! So I overshot. *grin* I turned around at Locarno Beach when one of the bike path signs showed me I had passed my destination. Whoops!

I made it back, quickly changed, and dumped the wet clothes in the dryer. I then finished packing, checked out, and waited in the TV room (they had just started True Romance) for the next 20 minutes. Then up and outta there, by 3pm. I should have enough time, no?

I still had to mail home the stuff I'd bought the previous night at Cow's (sweatshirt, t-shirt); it was packaged but had no postage/declaration yet. So, I walk to the postal center at 4th and Vine, mail that, then find the bus stop...hey hey hey there's the bus now wait hey slow down why isn't it stopping??? I swear, that bus just blew me (and the other two at the stop) off. *sigh*.

I catch the next bus, 20 minutes later, now I'm a bit worried about catching the plane. I start talking to a guy on the bus about JPL (I was wearing my sweats), and he tells me that he tried to get into computers but just couldn't quite like them. I asked him when he'd last tried...3 years ago with a 286. It just wasn't very user-friendly, he said. *grin* I told him that his experience was understandable considering the time frame and the hardware, and that he should try again. *bounce*. He, in turn, finds out I'm going to the airport and suddenly strongly suggests that I should be getting of NOW -- not where I'd expected 5th and Granville to be (does every place in this city have a Granville in it?)!! The driver tries to close the doors and head off without me leaving but I'm having none of that, I shout until he stops and lets me off. Hah. I cross under the road via the pedestrian walkway, catch the #20 up to 70th street, catch the #100 to the airport. I have to buy an Airport Improvement ticket so I can get to my gate, because I'm making an intra-Canada flight. The airline personnel don't like the size of my backpack, so they make go back and check it. OOOooooh, time is getting close. I then get my boarding pass/seat assignment, and hurry onto the plane, just before takeoff! whoosh. I ask if my bag made it on the plane too, but they just defer to the check-in lady's judgement (who said it "shouldn't" be a problem). I was told I would be notified if they were informed that the bag didn't make it. Great. So, I just read my book and drank my ginger ale and ate a surprisingly *good* lunch! Especially considering it was maybe an hour-long flight.

Nobody said anything about my bags after 20 minutes, so I relaxed. The lady sitting next to me was flying in for the Master's jumping competition (that is, on horses!). She gave me her card; she now does software consulting. She wrote her sister's name on it so I could see if Trish knew who she was, apparently she is pretty high-up in the dressage circles.

We land; no Theo at the gate. So, I go to get my luggage, and I notice something very different about the Calgary airport; there are *no* non-passengers at the gate. Odd. Maybe I've just been flying Southwest for too long *grin*.

Anyway, as I'm walking towards the baggage carousel, Theo spots me! *BIG HUG*!! Happy Jen, both of us are grinning like idiots; me that I'm actually there and Theo that I'm actually in Canada! We find my backpack, and head out to his truck....8:15pm local time.

We drop off the stuff at his place, I meet his cats (Galileo and Kepler, two absolutely adorable and extremely intelligent felines), and we head out to dinner nearby. Theo lives just across the Bow river from downtown, so we walk over the bridges to Eau Claire, the wanna-be trendy nite spot (as witnessed by the brand new Hard Rock Cafe). We ate at Joey Tomato's, perfectly decent italian food.

We get back rather late from dinner, and immediately *zonkout*...