Last Wednesday we went for another bike ride along the Van Fleet Trail, eleven miles, to Polk City. There were supposed to be more people on the ride but it ended up being just seven of us because most of the other riders feared the cold. It turned out to be perfect for riding though - about 50 degrees and cloudless. By accident, we got to see a rocket launch too. Well, we didn’t actually see the launch itself but we did witness it streaming it’s vapor trail as it shot into space. Watching the news later we found out the launch was a private enterprise - not nearly as spectacular as the space shuttle, but still, a nice surprise.
At Polk City we stopped in at the Country Angels Café for lunch. I’m not going to tell you what we ate at the café, or what it cost, because it causes my buddy, Bill Lyle, to get all agitated. I thought it might be interesting for people to know how little restaurant meals cost here, in the land of the Golden Agers, in comparison to Canadian standards. To my surprise though, these kinds of reports seem to cause utterly inexplicable email outbursts from Bill. Janice and I have pondered our friend’s inappropriate reactions to some recent blogs and have come to several possible conclusions: It could be he’s ultra-sensitive about aging, (he is approaching sixty) or, he may be harboring some deep rooted anger management problems, or, he has too much money on his hands, or, it’s just so hard for him to fathom that the Yankees are outdistancing us Canucks in this department. We just don’t know. Bill, we hope it’s not causing too much inner turmoil and we both sincerely wish for you to find some peace - let it go Bud…
Pictured is one of the riders, Don, on the recumbent Rat Bike that our neighbour here in the park, Jim, built. Also pictured is somebody's shrine we saw along the way. We're not sure what the theme is - there's an oriental guy seated, the Virgin Mary hovers above him - there are dragons and goats on the roof and other odd assorted items. Weird, but cool too.
Anybody who knows me also knows that flying is not one of my favourite things to do. Consequently I had a terrible sleep the night before we left for Vancouver, via Chicago. The flights themselves were uneventful except that we sat next to a very attractive and intelligent young woman named Marley, from Tsawassen, who was on a volleyball scholarship to Tampa Bay and who’s team had just won the US national championship. I guess I should have taken a picture for the boys - sorry.
Janice was picked up at the airport by her mom, Rhelda, at the same time as her sister Corrine, who had flown in from Kamloops, so that the whole family could spend some time together in North Van. My sister, Lisa, picked me up so I could stay at her and BJ’s place in the West End, and so that I could spend time with my mom too, who also lives in downtown Vancouver.
Lisa and BJ are temporarily staying at The Sheraton Wall Centre because of a flood they had at their penthouse. The suite at the Wall Centre is on the thirty-fourth floor and has floor-to-ceiling windows. The view is impressive of course but still not quite as spectacular as the view from their thirty-seventh floor penthouse, which they’re hoping to be back in by the end of January.
BJ, who's a Scout for the NHL’s Central Scouting, was at a game, so Lisa and I walked around downtown for a long time looking for someplace to eat that wasn’t so crowded and noisy that we wouldn’t be able to carry on a conversation. Due to my Tinnitus I can't hear anything except a roar in a room with music or other loud background noise -too many years of rock&roll. We stuck our heads into several restaurants that were too crowded and raucous before stopping for a drink at the Fairmont Hotel. I was on East Coast time, which by this time was about 1:00am, so I was getting pretty hungry. We checked out a couple of places on Granville Street that were full when Lisa remembered there was a new restaurant on Richard’s Street called Quattro. We finally sat down to dinner and ordered the signature dish, black bean and garlic pasta, which was excellent. I wolfed mine in record time while BJ, who showed up after the hockey game was over, finished Lisa’s for her.
The next day, Saturday, I met my brother, Mark, at my mom’s place and took her out to lunch at The Hurricane Grill, (no prices Bill), and then helped her organize some of her limited edition prints. When Mark left, Mom and I sat and had a couple of drinks before I walked back to Lisa’s. Lisa and BJ were going out to a Cirque De Sole themed party in West Van. I declined, again due to my Tinnitus, I wouldn’t be able to hear anything anybody says in a party atmosphere. I was also still a little beat from the travel the day before so I took a walk in the rain with their tiny dog, Puff, tucked into my jacket. I found some pizza and some wine and then watched the Canucks get beat at home, for the first time ever, by the Tampa Bay Lightning. By the way, a Lightning ticket can be purchased for $5 here when you buy a Subway Sandwich. I think we will.
On Sunday Lisa and I walked around downtown again doing a little Christmas shopping while BJ was at another game. Later on we picked up Mom and drove to North Van where Rhelda, Janice and Corrine had prepared a full blown Christmas dinner - turkey with all the trimmings.
Pictured below is the crew at dinner: From Left: Janice’s brother Alan peeking out from behind his son Blake; our long-time friend Charlene (Charlie) Jenneson, my sister, Lisa; me; my Mom, Dorothy; BJ; Alan’s other son, Scotty; Janice’s brother, Gordon; Janice’s sister, Corrine and her mother, Rhelda, who turned seventy this year, doesn't dye her hair, and just returned from a trip to Australia and New Zealand.
Also pictured: Gordon, Alan, Janice, Rhelda and Corrine.
Also pictured: My Mom, Dorothy, and BJ. I’d say Dorothy looks pretty damn good for someone who’ll be eighty-eight in a couple of weeks and is suffering from a sinus infection. She just had a couple more art cards published by Unicef with all proceeds going to help children around the world born with AIDS. You can check out her art at www.dorothyfrancis.ca.
I stayed at Rhelda’s on Sunday night and she drove us to the airport in the morning. I’m unhappy to say that I went drugless for both flights (no Lorazapam), and both flights had bloody rough landings. On the flight to Chicago Janice sat beside a famous chef named Vikram Vij, owner of Vij’s restaurant in Vancouver, who was on his way to meet Anthony Bordaine, Rick Bayless and some other famous chefs in Chicago. When I asked if Anthony Bordaine of No Reservations and other Food Network fame was as wild as he portrays himself, he confirmed that, yes, that is definitely the case. He said he, "Does all things, all the time". He went on to describe him as, “The Keith Richards of cooking.”
Pictured is Janice with Vikram Vij. Also pictured is the causeway at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport.
On the flight from Chicago to Tampa there was a young girl carrying a huge trophy with 'US Dance Team' embroidered on the back of her jacket. When she got off the plane there was a big, cheering, welcoming committee for her.
Our neighbours Jim and Rose picked us up at the airport. It’s still frigid here but we’re planning to have a Tailgate Party this Friday and have invited about twenty people. It’ll be an afternoon affair and anybody else ambling by will also be invited to share in some holiday season libations. Janice is cooking a bunch of stuff and we’ll have a couple bottles of booze, a box of wine (mulled if it’s still cold), and a twenty-four pack of beer. A two-four here costs about $15. Bill, let it go…