Day 3 - Vancouver

The next day we decided to drive out of town and see some of the country. Initially we thought we'd head to Whistler, but it's a 2-hour drive each way on a windy road so we went half-way to Squamish. This is where we first discovered that the area hadn't had rain in 60 days (some kind of record) and there was extreme fire warning requiring that all hiking areas be closed. Drat! Though it certainly took the pressure off us from doing anything too strenuous. ;) It was the most gorgeous drive, with the ocean on our left and the mountains on our right, and we put the top down and let the sun warm us as the wind whipped by. When we got to Squamish, I initially thought it would be a bit crapcake, because all I could see was a dusty little main street with various run-down-looking cafes. But we drove up to the Chamber of Commerce and got some suggestions and were soon on a dirt road through some lovely trees just outside of "downtown" on our way to The Spit, which turned out to be a little finger of land that extended out between two pearly green swatches of water and lots of gorgeous greenery on either side. Because of the way it's situated, the wind conditions on the end of The Spit are crazy, and they hold the World Windsurfing competitions here! There were even tall bleachers set up at the end for the spectators, but this morning we only saw a couple other people. We did get to observe three different guys in the water, and it was an incredible spectacle. They were flying along at about 50 miles an hour, leaping many feet in the air, and doing all kinds of tricks. It was thrilling. Meanwhile, we were just about being blown away, too. Squamish is an interesting contrast of small town businesses, some sort of industrial mining outfit (we saw machinery and big piles of dirt-like-substance everywhere) and sheer rock faces and evergreens completely nestling the town in a sort of bowl.

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When we got back into town, we had lunch at the Howe Sound Brewery, which is also a resort (this in a town that initially looked like it couldn't possibly have a resort), and it was just beautiful. All wood beams and homemade bread for sale, and we had maybe the best lunch of the trip! The service was lovely, and I would like to go back there in the winter to just bask in that gorgeous lodge, great food and the incredible scenery. We tried to walk to the Squamish Estuary and do some bird watching, but access was closed because of the fire danger. So we headed up the road a way to the Shannon Falls Provincial Park (mostly closed, again, because of fire) where we were able to take a five-minute walk (hike would be stretching it) past a babbling brook that led up to an observation deck below some incredibly high falls pouring down over the rocks as if from the sky. It was gorgeous and very relaxing, and after we admired for a bit we climbed back down and headed for Vancouver while enjoying a baked apple dumpling we'd bought at a Squamish bakery, hands-down the best baked good of the trip. The moral of the story: eat well in Squamish!

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Since it was only about 3:30 when we arrived back in town, we decided to pull off on Denman St. and explore the West End, which was supposed to be very chic. I was also looking for a place I'd read about called Cupcakes! which sells nothing but. We found Cupcakes!, but David was annoyed that they were so expensive, even though they were very pretty with their various blue and pink and yellow frosting and whimsical descriptions. They freaked out when he tried to take pictures, though! We did get some Mondo Gelato (gelato is very big in Vancouver, and we saw gelato shops everywhere-how do the Vancouverites stay so slim?) and that was incredible; you could taste the actual ingredients and the flavors were beautiful and exotic like Green Tea and Rose Petal and Limoncello. Denman had a lot of cute shops and cafes and we walked as far as English Bay Beach, which is a popular spot on the Stanley Park Seawall route. At this point, we were starting to feel a little weary and we didn't have much time before our evening theater festivities, so we headed back to the hotel to rest and change.

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Because I had felt cheated out of meat the night before at Anapurna, we headed back to Kitsilano first for dinner at Vera's Burger Shack, which was about as fancy as it sounds and perfectly delightful. :) We got a sidewalk table and did some people watching as we ate our Australian burgers, which were delish, and our whole dinner set us back about $15 Canadian. Then we drove on to the Granville Island environs to find our first theatre venue, which seemed to be in an office building, and like a miracle, we found a parking spot on the street right in front. This was such a fun evening, because we walked from this venue to the next, and along the way saw lots of other venues and tons of the performers, many of whom were self-advertising their gigs with flyers and tantalizing offers of free tickets (which we would have snapped up if we weren't shortly headed out of town!) Our first play, "To Wit, To Wed, To Woo," was a four-woman show based around most of the women of Shakespeare's plays, all connected by a contemporary bride who's being forced to marry in an anachronist ceremony because of her Renaissance fair- loving fiancÚ. :) She is visited by Ophelia, Juliet's mother, Viola, Joan of Arc, Lady Macbeth, and many more, and the hilarity ensues. :) This was a lot of fun, but we couldn't imagine the madness that would await us once we walked down to Granville Island (there was about 45 minutes in between our two shows) and found our way to a much different stage-it seemed to be set up for dinner theater-for "Job: The Hip-Hop Musical." This show was pure genius, performed entirely by two young guys (in the most amazing shape!) who rap and dance their way through the Biblical story of Job, if Job were employed by a major record company and had a Harvard professor wife. The guys did all the parts, including the women, and often SWAPPED PARTS even when the other guy had been previously established in that character. It was madness and genius, both in story and the songs themselves. And these guys could move! We were left wishing that we had come to Vancouver to "follow the Fringe" and see all the plays (there are dozens) which are spread out in various performances over the course of a week. When we got back to our car, we even met an Australian guy who was waiting to pass out flyers at our first venue who tried to convince us to come to his very-funny sounding show, one that we had come this close to choosing on our own, too. And the show he was waiting outside of was one we were sorry to miss, also-one guy performing all of the Star Wars movies in a single hour. ;) Hey, they don't call it "the Fringe" for nothing! :)

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