(This got way too long for one post. Also, the return to work has been a wee bit stressful, and our internet connection at home is all messed up,so it's taken me ages to write it. Boooooo. I'll try to get Part II written soon! It'll even have photos!)
First of all, I slept in - bliss! I had a leisurely breakfast, then took the bus and SkyTrain down to the Vancouver Art Gallery. This is the same route I take on work days when I'm not cycling, although I usually get off a few stops earlier, and it was so much nicer than during the rush hour! I even had a lovely chat with a woman who was, like me, trying to decide whether to take the #8 (comes every five minutes, but is usually heaving and stops on almost every block and is therefore slooooow) or cross the road and wait for the faster #33 (stops only every two or three blocks, and is generally less crowded, but only comes every 15-30 minutes, depending on the time of day). I used my Translink iPhone app to figure out that the #33 was the best option (it almost always is), saw this woman wavering between the two stops, and decided to share my information with her. We continued our conversation all the way to the art gallery. She's new to my neighbourhood and, like me, is excited about some upcoming changes to the area (post to come!) I'm used to fighting for space, having my face wedged into a stranger's armpit, getting hit by people's backpacks, and/or dealing with general commuter rage (mine and others'), so this was a lovely surprise.
The gallery was very nice. I'm not a particularly arty person, and know next to nothing about art history or techniques, but I do enjoy looking at pretty and/or thought provoking things, and I love the general atmosphere of art galleries. I wasn't allowed to take photos, but I did jot down some notes on the pieces I enjoyed most: a glass box with First Nations designs and old family photos engraved into it, with a light inside, all alone in a small white room, such that the designs and photos were projected onto the walls (Marianne Nicolson - I think it was this one); and some stunning images of the recent BC forest fires by Evan Lee, who prints photos onto the reverse of the usual paper, then smears the ink around before it dries - like this.
I had some rooms completely to myself... until the school groups hit the building. This was the hidden flaw in my cunning "enjoy popular attractions in the weekday peace and quiet" plan... man, kids are loud, and big stone buildings are echoey! I escaped to the gallery's cafe for a healthy and tasty salad, although the echoes of kids yelling and adults scolding followed me, and then headed back to the galleries once things had quietened back down. I saw everything except one room before the usual gallery fatigue overtook me, and I even managed to avoid spending any money in the gift shop (I have such a weakness for blank journals to write in, and they had some gorgeous ones, but I reminded myself that I have a couple of still completely virgin journals at home). A success!
I headed off to the Salt Spring Coffee place on Main Street (excellent as always, especially because I had an ethicalDeal coupon) for my first installment of sitting in cafes pretending to be a writer, managed to write one blog post, and then got the bad news about Mr E Man's accident. So I headed home via our usual grocery store to sympathise with him over his poor mangled finger, make a quick-and-easy dinner (baked potatoes with sauteed garlicky mushrooms, leeks, and bacon, with grated cheese on top, of course), and watch the Canucks game.
I woke up to find a beautiful sunny day waiting for me - but with a crazy windstorm also in progress. I'd said on Sunday night that I'd spend the first sunny day of the week biking around Stanley Park, but the wind was a little intimidating - I don't tend to enjoy riding during gusts so strong that you have to pedal to get down the hills, and from past experience this looked like just such a day! However, this being November, there was no guarantee of any more nice weather during the rest of the week, so I decided to go for it. (Mr E Man was invited, but said he wanted to snuggle on the sofa with the kitties and feel sorry for himself. To be fair he was on some fairly strong pain killers and hadn't slept much, as he kept catching his injured hand on the duvet when he rolled over, and he woke up shouting in pain several times during the night).
It was indeed ridiculously windy, and I did have to pedal down all but the steepest hills on my way to the sea wall (pedestrian / bike path around the city's ocean front) at Science World. But I persevered, buoyed by the exhilarating sun-shining-on-snow-capped-mountains-and-sparkly-blue-ocean-and-glass-skyscrapers-and-sailboats view. It was a day in a million by any standards, one in a trillion for November - truly stunning. What little skill I may possess in the wielding of words and cameras is hopelessly inadequate; I just can't hope to capture the beauty and joy of the day.
I fought the headwind all the way around the northern edge of False Creek (actually an ocean inlet, hence the name), along the beach at English Bay, and into Stanley Park. The wind died down considerably as I headed east onto the more sheltered edge of the park, and I was even able to sit outside in the sunshine to enjoy the excellent tea and muffin I bought at the totem poles concession stand. I watched bald eagles and seagulls play in the wind, seemingly just for fun, and felt exceedingly glad not to be stuck in the office.
This feeling grew and grew as I made my way around the rest of the sea wall, and when I passed under the Lions Gate bridge, around the point, and back onto the more exposed western edge of the park, the sight of the ocean waves crashing into (and occasionally over) the wall made my heart sing with pure joy. There were a couple of other cyclists, four or five joggers, and several more walkers on the same stretch of sea wall, and every single one of us wore a massive grin across our face. It was... there are no words. Magnificent comes close. I hopped off my bike, sat on a rock on the beach, and fell in love with Vancouver all over again.
If I hadn't already moved here, I would have headed from the beach straight to the immigration office. Seeing as I'm already a card-carrying citizen, though, I headed back along the English Bay beach front and over the Burrard Street bridge (LOVE LOVE LOVE the new protected bike lanes, which I hadn't used before) and went to Granville Island for a very late lunch (red snapper soup and bread from The Stock Market, an old favourite from when I lived nearby and went to the public market most Sundays). I wandered around the blissfully uncrowded market, bought dinner ingredients from several different places, then enjoyed a sweet treat and some tea at the Blue Parrot cafe. I even did some proper writing - in a journal, with a pen! I just fleshed out some ideas for a project I've been thinking about for a while, but it was fun, and just how I'd imagined it might feel to sit in a cafe overlooking the ocean and pretend to be a writer.
Dinner was three different kinds of fresh ravioli (porcini mushroom, asparagus, and butternut squash) with spicy Italian sausage, asparagus, red pepper, and a yummy cilantro pesto from The Stock Market. Mr E Man agreed that I'd spent the day most productively.