Sunday, August 21, 2005

Vancouver Vacation

Photo: Cleveland Dam/Lake Capilano, North Vancouver, with "lions"

We cruised into Vancouver just on dusk, catching the tail end of the rush hour. Crawling along in the traffic we had time to admire this pretty city. The lights were starting to twinkle on and, in the fading light, I could just make out some hills or mountain ranges hugging the harbour.

Before long, we pulled into the North Vancouver driveway of our Canadian friends, Eric & Linda. What a welcome they gave us – warm, happy, enthusiastic and very friendly. It was just like home and, like us, they had Rover cars in their garage, too.

I had met Eric via the Rover Car of Canada, when we were both the editors of our respective Rover Car Club magazines. In the days before email, we had exchanged our magazine. A correspondence and a friendship had grown between us.

Eric had been my guiding light for clearing American Customs at the start of the expedition. The length of this task had forced us to stay three nights at our arrival port of Seattle. Each evening, I rang Eric & Linda to advise of our progress and whether we thought we’d be joining them the next day. They were always reassuring and they inspired me to remain patient, rather than charge through, "bull at a gate" style that I am prone to. It’s probably because of their wise advice that I eventually talked my way through U.S. Customs, rather than get arrested for shouting and swearing.

And, here we were at last in their warm and comfortable home. The next few days became a pleasant hiatus after all the work/stress to date and before we would finally set off in earnest.

Vancouver is an attractive place. We toured around admiring its many charms, swayed on the Capilano swing bridge, craned our necks to admire Lions’ Bridge and also at the totem poles in Stanley Park. I particularly loved the Cleveland Dam and Capilano Lake area near Eric & Linda’s home, with its "picture postcard" Canadian beauty. Two sharp peaks in the mountain range soaring above the lake are called "The Lions". On the way there, I got all eager and excited when we passed a road sign warning of bears in the area. But, it was too early in spring and they were probably still hibernating. For now, I’d have to be content with the "lions".

One evening we ate at the fabulous "Salmon House". Now, I’m not much of a fish fan but I had never before (or since) tasted such wonderful salmon. This was wild (not farmed) sock-eye salmon, grilled over an open flame with green alderwood. Wow, sock it to me, baby! The restaurant d├ęcor is wood and slate. Very posh, yet comfy. And, as the restaurant is perched in the hills above Vancouver, the view is to die for.

While the days were idyllic, there was plenty to curse about at night. We were travelling with a lap top computer and wanted to use email to keep in contact. This was 1998 and early days for portable computing and emailing from "abroad". Internet cafes were not common then.

We had two different modems – one for a data capable mobile phone and the other for use with a landline. These days, of course, the modem is a combined device, and Internet Cafes abound. Back then, knowledge about using such technology when away from home was very limited. Almost up until the day of our departure from New Zealand, our mobile phone provider was not even sure how it would work, including the I-Pass numbers. They managed to find the one person in the country who knew enough to talk us through the steps. TH spent an intense hour on the phone with him to learn the ropes.

It didn’t work in Seattle and it didn’t work in Vancouver, either. TH and Eric spent long hours each night working on it, testing, re-installing programs, re-testing and talking to "experts". I have the greatest admiration that they just stuck at it, especially as Eric is a Mac user, until the numerous problems were solved. The root of all computer evils (nothing has changed today, of course) was with the program of a well-known, giant computer company, based in Seattle. Without TH and Eric’s dedication, I’m sure a laptop would have been hurled through that company’s windows, when we headed south once more.

Monday 9 March 1998 was our last rest day in Vancouver - Day 7 in my diary. I was recording each day in three-digit format and I was rather amused when I typed in 007. Round the word odyssey - licensed to thrill?

However, it proved to be a very quiet day. We had now been joined by our two travel companions - F1 and F2 (Friend 1 who owned the Series One Land Rover, and his partner, F2) TH and F1 repacked and re-arranged our two-seater Series 2 Land Rover to fit an extra person. The three of us would be driving back to Seattle together, so that F1 could collect the Series One Land Rover, which was waiting at our shipping agent. I spent the day writing my regular expedition article for a British Land Rover magazine. F2 embroidered. The rain poured down outside. Inside, spirits seemed damp and subdued. The weight of what was to come was pressing down once more.

Suddenly, the doorbell clanged into life. F2 and I started in surprise. Eric and Linda were both at work. We wondered who had splashed their way to the front door. I peered out. How bizarre - there was a delivery person holding a large box, which was emblazoned with "New Zealand Apples from ENZA". I flung open the door, so the poor wet man could "splodge" his way inside.

It turned out to be a gift from one our sponsors, ENZA, the then New Zealand Apple and Pear Marketing Board It’s amazing how a taste from home can lift your spirits. The day was no longer quiet. We crunched and munched happily, while the earlier depression dissipated. It began to feel like we were finally ready to go.

Some might say, "an apple a day, keeps the doctor away", but my motto is "on a full stomach, anything is possible". This was to serve me well throughout the expedition.

© Eventful Woman, 2005
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  1. F1 and F2? And TH? My theory is that either....
    a) they are people who took 344 sick days and don't want respective bosses to know..
    b) there are stories to come that would leave them very embarrassed hence the anonymity.

    I'm hoping it's the latter.

    P.S I was in Seattle about 3 months ago and didn't have time to pop up to Vancouver... I wish I had now after reading your stuff.

  2. Gidday Rod,
    Eeeeek! My secret's out. Yes, they were hoping that no one would notice they weren't at their jobs for a year.

    I hope you get to Vancouver one day. It's a lovely city.


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