For two years Canada has been the Place that I've longed for. TOO many times have I seen on the magazine covers those pristine landscape of the Rockies, with some old-fashion brick cabin or lodge or castle quietly nestled at a forested corner. My fascination didn't start with Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain; however, when I saw the movie I thought it brought particular gentleness, sensitivity, and even heartbreaking sensibility to the landscape. From then on I regarded Rockies in a more special light. It is a mystery why the Rockies are so particularly spellbinding to me as Towada Lake and Oirase River had been and still are. (The first time I came across pictures of Oirase on JR advertisement pamphlets was before embarkment of our whirlwind pan-Japan trip. The second time was on Shinkansen, where I asked a lady the place in the advertisement, which I had carried with me. I was surprised at myself when I unexpectedly jumped off the Shinkansen and broke off from our group when the train approached Aomori.) Maybe there are few places in the world that hold special spiritual connections with you. You may not have gone there yet but somehow they beckon to you. I am not as fully charged as I used to be in Japan, and I don't think I'd die if I can't travel by myself. Now I'd like to think these special landscapes as patient giants, and that they'd always wait for me to join their side.
Anyway before getting poetic -which I am not good at, I should proceed with my accounts of our Canada trip.
Family Trip with the Chens: Parents, bro, me, Abin-shushu, Chen Mama, and Leiju
Meeting with the tour from Taiwan consists of 30something members and a tour guide (Yang)
07/14/07 - 07/22/07
Bro had met up with the Chens the previous night before may parents and I flew into Vancouver at 8am. (We got up at almost 4am in Saratoga!) When we landed I immediately saw the big mountains flanking the city. I was excited and amazed because the mountains where I had lived by were never this bulky! Not in Taipei nor Saratoga. We waited for a little while for Bro and the Chens to show up, and even longer for the tour to arrive from Taiwan via China Airlines. Sure we were excited! We had not taken any family trip since the rainy 2-day Yosemite run 2 years ago and the second time we came to the US, which was in my second grade. Some airport pictures to show off our excitement!
We mainly toured some important spots in Vancouver for Day1: Queen Elizabeth Park, Gastown, Stanley Park, World Fair exhibition center, and a charming tourist-filled local market.
QE Park was very big and quite pretty. Lots of big trees and you could walk to a high point to have a good view of the city. There was a nice restaurant in there that has good view of it all; I forgot whether it was the Queen who had drank afternoon tea there or some G8 that had eaten there the restaurant is supposedly famous and hard to get. There were lots of couples getting their wedding photos in the Sunken Garden, but the most memorable part of the Garden was these strange giant rhubarbs we encountered!
The steam clock in Gastown didn't work, but I saw some steam coming out nevertheless. I also found a really cozy couch in the Starbucks at the corner right across from the clock.
Stanley Park is very comfortable with big green lawns, wide, unobstructed view of the Vancouver cityscape, strips of sandy beaches, view of Lionsgate Bridge, and lots of hinokis. Lots of Vancouverites rollerskating, joggin, and biking. Very jealous of the relaxing time they were having...wished I was jogging there with my buddy, then we could lie there taking a nap. Of course my mom did some stretching exercises; at the urging of my mom my bro also threw his arms around at the urging of my mom.
I had to be reminded that we're on a very fast-pace tour and that in a few more minutes we'd have to be on the bus.
After more than an hour on the bus since leaving Vancouver, we arrived at Chiliwack where we spent the night. We saw lots of antique cars parked outside our Rhombus Hotel, all of them made before 1914. Even the old guys were dressed like they were in 20s. Turned out there is some annual parade taking place near Chiliwack. These old farts shipped their cars all the way from the US to show them off. (Now I dont' mean old farts in an offensive way...I'm rather fond of old farts...they are funny) Funny but very impressive! They are so clean and shiny they might be in better conditions than our good old Honda!
After we settled in, this young couple who had been sitting behind us on the bus came to ask for some Internet help. My bro tried to help but to no avail. I liked the young couple a lot; they had married just a few days ago and are on their honeymoon. When I have my honeymoon though, I wouldn't be on a tour... because it's kind of like bang bang bang! A little tiring! But you do get to see a lot on the tour. Anyway that ends the post for Day 1. For the entire week I would be rooming with Leiju. She was a good roommate and I enjoyed it a lot! We always talked before we went to bed; hope she gets a job around here so she can stay in our house all the time.
Now I want to read a little bit more about Canadian railways before my bedtime call. I've been reading this little book I bought from a gas station in Kamloops. Not only the content is interesting, the prose is also curiously funny. The author would insert his own comments here and there and it made the entire story, especially the characters who played parts, came alive. I'm very delighted, and I've been following the trail with maps that I've gathered mostly from Merritt!