Flying into Vancouver takes your breath away. It is a utopia inspired view, a stunning mix of perfect pine tree islands, shimmering blue water and mountains whose peaks are so perfectly snow capped that it truly borders on fantasy. Why is it that I always get stuck in holding patterns in Jersey but never above something like this? â€¨â€¨The people of Vancouver are very friendly. It’s a genuine congeniality that you know comes from the heart and not because they have to be nice to you. I guess it’s the opposite of Paris. I had recently read an article that the Paris tourism board was spending millions on a campaign not to attract travelers as is usually the case but to convince their own Parisians to smile. Vancouver is a city often studied for its urban renewal, it should also be studied for its friendliness. On my day off I was taking the bus and missed my stop which took me over the bridge and into an area where there was no station or place to buy a return ticket, I also had no small change. I waited for the bus and when I told him that I missed my stop he said, “c’mon the ride’s on me.” (?!?!) That act of kindness sort of sums up the experience you have with Vancouverites.
When things go wrong they really go wrong. Even in Canada I am feeling the frustration of communications. I forgot my Verizon hotspot would be an added charge “abroad” and am now facing the possibility of my bill being in the thousands of dollars. I tried to access the hotel’s wireless at 15 dollars a day only to find the system could not detect my room which had me on the phone for nearly 1/2 an hour talking thru the problem with a gentleman in India. He fixed the problem and credited me two days of free wireless but then my computer acted up to the point where the screen and buttons would freeze. Making posting and responding to twitter a lengthy affair that surpassed an hour and ended with me slamming my laptop on the table. Cell phone costs … well I just have no idea. And by day four I bought a calling card since my skype would not be an option with my exorbitant Verizon and frozen hotel hotspot. The calling card is 5 dollars for 600 minutes — a virtual steal but when I go to check my messages — well I can’t. Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out.
Tonight ends with us shooting the fireworks competition on English Bay. We were all very excited for this international competition but we had no idea that mother nature would put on a spectacle that man could never match. As the sun went down brilliant hues of color swept across the sky and saturated the earth with an orange as deep as children’s cough syrup and a saffron yellow so intense you felt like you could just open your mouth and drink it in. The lightning started and warmed up our voices with the oohs and aahs we had reserved for the fireworks display.
I will always be endeared to the city of Vancouver not solely because of its grand natural beauty but because of its devotion to swings. Whenever I walk thru a park that is devoid of a set of swings I grow slightly suspicious of the people who live there. No fun, I think — too serious. I have never grown too old to think that I don’t deserve a good swing and the sets found in Stanley Park were among the best I have ever enjoyed. Tall as a Giraffe — a serious swing that provides not just a quick back and forth but a full voyage of movement. When other adults see me they join me, too.
We are here for the upcoming Olympics of course and Winter Olympic athletes are hard to come by in July. But I get a twitter that speed skater Chris Needham tweeted that he saw me and my crew shooting at Granville Market. So I tweeted him and then he tweeted me and Voila! I got to train with the US Olympic Speed skating team!
The flight to Whistler was even more amazing than I could have imagined it to be. We flew low over Horseshoe Bay passed the Beverly Hill style homes. Then gained about 5,000 ft of elevation to get above the mt range that hid like hallowed Easter egg jewels of nature like volcanoes, buttes and age old glaciers that reminded me of Aztec homes carved out of blue ice.
I’m so excited to finally be going to Whistler. As a skier, Whistler is the talked about winter destination and everyone who ever goes there just gushes about it. It’s the summer which of course puts a slight damper on my ski plans but I love mountains in the warm weather months too. I’m always in a great mood when surrounded by mountains, my emotions can’t help but strive to reach the same height of those exalted peaks and so I always feel like I am walking on air. We don’t have a day off while in Whistler which is a big bummer but we do end up having an early shooting day so when we’re done by 5pm I race back to my room to head out for a beautiful smile inducing hike.
The next day we are shooting the Downhill Mountain biking segment. I really love being on a bike but am a little nervous about tackling the vertical ski trails. This is a serious sport here and there are just as many bikers in the summer as skiers in the winter. A serious sport calls for serious gear and I become even more nervous when I see the safety equipment I have to put on. I know I’m going to be wearing a helmet but a chestplate? Should I really be doing this? As we go down what is considered a beginner trail — Easy Does It, I think the name is — I can’t imagine going on the intermediate trails. This is hard! There’s also very little pedaling and all breaking so by the end of the ride my hands have seized up into two carpel tunnel nubs. I think I’ll stick to riding in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, where my rides usually end with less pain and an ice cream sandwich.