Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Oh Canada

Hello again, it's time for a recap of the second half of my trip.  I'd say our trip, but Deane's was a little longer than mine, so we'll just stick with my experiences okay?  And anyway, this isn't Deane's blog ;-)

Alrighty then, where was I...?  Right, we're still on the mountain... Yes, Friday was our last day on Whistler Blackcomb, and we finished it well with a Fresh Tracks breakfast which was fantastic.  Once we finally got there anyway.  Deane is like a very stubborn rock first thing in the morning - near impossible to move.  I did manage to wake him up at around 6am, but by the time we actually got out the door and into the Village, it was 8am.  We'd missed the cut-off for the gondola ride up.  However, we joined everyone else heading up for skiing and boarding and went to the Roundhouse anyway.  Luckily breakfast was still being served, so I loaded my plate with waffles, bacon, syrup and potatoes, grabbed a cup of tea and dug in.  We had beautiful weather for our last day on the mountain, and this was the view from the Roundhouse window while we ate breakfast (you can see window reflections in the pictures):

Gorgeous, isn't it?  We had a good day, although my last run was certainly not my best.  I was going to go down Whiskey Jack and Olympic again, but Deane thought it would be better for me to go down Bear Cub.  So I did, and regretted it.  I wiped out quite spectactularly when I was going a little too fast (for me anyway) and heading towards the edge of the run.  I tried turning and screwed it up, fell over, and slid all the way to the edge.  By the time I stopped, one foot and half my board was hanging off the edge, with a lovely rocky cliff drop beneath me.  I do believe I said aloud, "whew, that was close!".  Wish I'd thought to take a picture of how close I was to going all the way over.  Kinda scary.  So I took it easy the rest of the way down to Midstation, then hopped on the gondola back to Creekside as planned (wasn't going to board down any more blue runs after that!!).  Deane and I met up, I dropped off my board and boots, we grabbed our shoes and headed back to the Lodge to get changed.

We had a lovely drive back along the Sea to Sky Highway around sunset, and snapped a few pics along the way:

This particular picture was snapped while whizzing along at 100km - Deane was intrigued by the plume of smoke between the hills and wondered what it was from.  I don't think we ever did figure it out.  We arrived back in Vancouver and checked into the hotel, then dropped off the rental car to avoid paying horrendous parking fees.  While we were strolling through downtown, we noticed lots of people walking towards the waterfront with Canucks shirts on, surmised that there was a game about to start, and headed towards Rogers Arena on the off chance there were still tickets available.  To our delight there was, so we just had to go to the game!  And, naturally, have poutine for dinner ;-)

The atmosphere was quite something, the fans a wonder to behold.  Nothing like a live ice hockey game!  We were very happy to have ticked that off the 'must do' list.  And it was quite a game too.  The Canucks won 2-1 after overtime, a penalty shoot-out and a sudden death shoot-out.  Exciting stuff!

The next day we wandered around town and checked out the Vancouver Lookout:

Science World (a-ma-zing!!!  An excellent place for kids to spend the day):

 and Chinatown, where we found the world's narrowest building:

That evening was spent out on the town with some fellow work mates of Deane's, and some customers that had arrived earlier in the day.  I went back to the hotel at around 11pm and Deane wandered in some time around 3.30am.  Which gave me a chance to head out for a run around the Stanley Park seawall at 8am, once it was light enough.  I met a fellow runner in the elevator on the way down to the lobby, and it turned out he had exactly the same plan (plus a map) so we decided to run together.  We chatted the whole way, and it turned out he was also from New Zealand, although currently residing in England.  It was nice to have some company, particularly company that was just as keen to snap some photos on the way around.  We each took a photo the other, but mine turned out horrible (I had my eyes closed) so unfortunately it wasn't a keeper.  These were though:

 Lions Gate Bridge
No, rocks!!  Clever ;-)

We both agreed that it was a fantastic place for a run, and the crisp early morning air was a delightfully refreshing experience.  No wonder it is a highly recommended running route.  All up, the distance to and from our hotel plus the run around the park totalled 13.4km, which we finished in 1:21:44.  The pace was a little slower than I'm used to, averaging 6'05", but that made it easier for us to converse comfortably.  We were happy with our run and parted ways in the elevator, much the way we had met.  Thanks for a great run, Ant ;-)

After a nice hot shower, I woke Deane up and we headed out for breakfast, then caught a bus out to the Capilano Suspension Bridge, which was amazeballs.  We did ALL THE THINGS.   Suspension bridge, treetop walk, cliff walk, shopping at the Trading Post... so much fun!  The views were absolutely spectacular, and the history of the bridge and surrounding area was quite fascinating:

 All those little dots?  They're pennies.

All I can say is wow.  If you're ever in the Vancouver area, you HAVE to go check this out.  Afterwards, we headed back into town and caught up with a bunch of convention-goers to watch the Super Bowl and have dinner.  Man, what a game!  Definitely a fun night out too.  We had a laugh about the women's toilets at the Steamworks Brew Pub where we watched the game.  Check this out:

Two loos!  I know girls usually go to the restroom together, but this is a little too far for me...  It was quite a talking point and source of amusement among the men of the group.  There was many a joke to be had :D

Monday saw us wandering from place to place, making good use of the SkyTrain and bus system - we checked out the Lululemon outlet store, which was a complete waste of time in my opinion.  I was kinda bummed that we'd spent a large chunk of the morning finding the place and having to walk through slightly more... unsavoury... areas of Vancouver:

Seriously, the area looked like something out of Supernatural (which, funnily enough, is sometimes filmed in Vancouver and surrounding areas apparently.  Hmm...)  After that, things went a little better - I got to go yarn shopping!!!  We went to Three Bags Full and the Sweet Georgia Yarns studio.  I spent quite a bit on yarn, and felt a little guilty about it (plus making Deane traipse around in semi-rural and industrial areas for my benefit) so I promised him a pair of socks (hence the rush to get a pair finished before he got home on Tuesday, you may recall).  I had a great day and a fun evening.  Deane had to go to a conference welcome dinner, so I ate alone in the hotel restaurant, then headed into town to go to a proper Lululemon store, where I spent a rather ridiculous amount of money on new running gear (which is awesome btw) to make up for the poor experience of earlier that morning.  Then it was back to the hotel to watch crappy cable programming (I believe it was four episodes of America's Funniest Home Videos in a row) before hitting the sack early.

The next day we were up bright and early - 5.45am!  It was the morning of the Fun Run!  We donned our cold-weather running gear and met a bunch of participants in the lobby, then walked down to the start line together.  I ran with one of the guys, and left Deane to run with a bunch of others.  It was a little dark, so I'm glad they had markers for the route:

My time was not my fastest, but not bad for a 5km - 28:57 (I won fastest female for the 5km, although to be honest I don't think there were any other women running the 5km.  Maybe one in the 10km, but the rest were men.  Not really a competition, is it?).  Deane rocked in about five or so minutes later, happy to finish the race I'm sure, but also happy to have achieved his goal:

Way to go Deane!!!  After that, the conference was in full swing so Deane was busy.  I had some time to do a bit of last-minute souvenir shopping in Gastown, then it was off to the airport for my flight(s) home.  I kind of wish I'd managed to get a few photos of San Francisco as we flew in to land - the views were absolutely amazing!  But my phone was off and buried in my bag under the seat in front of me.  So I just looked out the window and tried to absorb it all into my memory.  One day we might actually visit there.  As for me this time, I literally walked off the plane, walked about 50 metres to the next transit lounge, and sat down to knit and read for an hour before boarding the next plane to Auckland.  I did manage to get a photo of the cool little ice patterns on the plane window:

Neat, huh?  The flight was a fairly quick one (even though it was nearly 13 hours long), and we arrived in Auckland about half an hour earlier than expected which meant I had a good chance of catching an earlier flight to Napier.  The odds were in my favour as I whizzed through customs and walked out of the international terminal in time to catch the shuttle to the domestic terminal.  Thankfully I had plenty of time to change my flight which meant I only had to wait for half an hour, instead of 2 1/2.  Much better!  I arrived in Napier at 7.45am, tired but happy to be home (although still a little bummed about having to leave Vancouver and Deane behind).

All in all, it was an absolutely fantastic trip, and I really hope we get to go back again soon.  I adored Whistler, and Vancouver was amazing.  I would love to see more of Canada.  Apparently next year's conference will be in Vancouver again... hmmm...

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