Tag Archives: vancouver

Hitching in the winter: proceed with caution

As it turned out, hitchhiking across five provinces went considerably more smoothly than just getting home from Vancouver.  And it took almost as long.   It was cold, we waited an average of at least two hours, and it cost about as much as the two of us taking the bus (but not quite).  However bad the hitching was, I know, it is never as bad as the bus.

I’ve always had a hard time getting out of Greater Vancouver, mostly because the city just goes on for so long.  It’s Hope before there’s a decent place to stand on the highway itself, and it takes over an hour to just get to any suitable onramps.

Last time, I found a magic bus route that dropped me right on an on-ramp, about a half hour from the end of the Skytrain, but for the life of me, I couldn’t find the route again on Google.  Public transit is usually a hitchhiker’s best friend in the city, vital for traversing hitching-unfriendly urban sprawl.

This time, we happened to land in the middle of a record snowfall event.  After a few Vancouver errands, we rode the Skytrain to the end, then got on a bus that seemed promising, but turned out to be the never ending bus ride from hell.  I think we were on that city bus for three hours!   I started to fret after one.  Everywhere the roads are in terrible condition, unplowed and heavy with snow.

It got dark, the entire human contents of the bus changed over several times, and then, alas!, the bus turned around and started backtracking without making the Google-promised loop to the highway.  Arrgh!  It was late evening, another bus, and a fair walk before we finally reached a marginally hitchable onramp somewhere in Langley.  Meanwhile, there’s snow everywhere, and still coming down copiously.  Great picturesque mounds of it, no big deal to us, but I knew that this was highly unusual for temperate Vancouver.

At our next on-ramp wait, we encountered a car stranded on the ramp and a television news crew packing up their gear.  One of the guys was right chatty and explained they’d just wrapped a piece on the “general chaos of it all, you know”, meaning the “extreme” driving conditions.  When we explained our own presence there, he was astounded.  “WHaTTT??  Hitchhiking?  Where?  Why???!!!”  Continue reading Hitching in the winter: proceed with caution

Vancouver Full Moon Riot

Partially by chance I was in Vancouver on game 7 night and wasn’t about to miss the action so I joined the crowd at Georgia and Hamilton an hour before the game started.  I wasn’t expecting that much action.

About 5 minutes after the game was over it had nothing to do with hockey any more. The small orange flames of the car fires leapt up and black smoke started to billow up.

The tension was building early and there was an aggressive edge on by the second period.  On my immediate left (like, the guy whose back I was pressed into) guys were threatening to knife each other because of some comment of Boston fandom, and one fight had broken out a little farther away.  On my right, guys were readying themselves for when the bunch on my left started to fight for real, and I was exactly where I didn’t want to be, between the two, and couldn’t move. Where I was standing the crowd was as tight as the last Nirvana concert I was at; a guy near me joked that having raised an arm, he couldn’t get it back down to his side.

Trouble started before the game was even over.  At the end of the second period there was an outflux of older people, children, and others unable to take the crush of the crowd. Continue reading Vancouver Full Moon Riot

Off to Whistler

Made a headlong dash for Whistler this weekend.  Going to Whistler before the Games was something I “had to do”, but when the time came, I had a lot of resistance and put it off and put it off.  Oh well, we made it out, feeling unprepared and leaving too late, but as long as it gets done.

After an eight hour drive shared with my friend on thankfully bare roads in the passes, a fantastic meal in Van that included seafood and Bailey’s ice cream, and a sleepover on a king sized bed, I was off for Whistler solo.

I’m so glad for Stanley Park.  It really is a jewel in the city, and somehow that abundant lushness dampens the buzzing of frantic city energy, if just for the moments of passing through it.  Even the token postage stamp of a forest that it is still puts the rat race in perspective, as the canopy dwarfs the traffic and the bucked up windfall on the side of the road reminds of the strength of natural forces.  Then you roll out of that reprieve onto the threshold of Lion’s Gate bridge, rather a beautiful sample of engineering.

The Sea to Sky is finished now.  There’s a little bit of falling rock remediation happening still, but the new highway is a far cry from the last time I drove it- in white knuckled terror trying to keep the speed of traffic in an endless narrow lane on a wildly curving road all construction zone with high-hoes swinging over traffic and equipment perched on the edges of cliffs and rocks with only the Pacific behind them. Continue reading Off to Whistler