Vancouver’s 125th birthday celebration


Stanley Park, Vancouver

I had forgotten to call my bank when I went into Canada (– yet again I had figured the US and Canada were bffs and it wouldn’t matter and I was so close to the border – it wasn’t like I had flown to the other side of the world). But alas Chartway did not see it this way and midweek (after the 4th of July holiday of course) they shut me down. I frantically called Friday night only to get a woman who said she would send an email out on Monday. Monday. I was supposed to be back at work on Monday and all I had to my name was 10 Canadian dollars and a ¼ tank of gas. I knew my bank was open for a little while Saturday morning, so hoping to find a more caring human, I woke up at 5am Saturday morning to call just at it opened on the other side of the country at 8am. Meanwhile I had my Dad tag-teaming back home at one of the branches down the street. In a few short minutes my problem was solved and I was back into action. Because of random charges from this experience and the hostel charging more than I had anticipated, my card would go unusable again in a few days (requiring another fatherly fix – thank you daddy), but for now I was not broke, so I retired to bed, napping and reading until the early afternoon and then headed out on the town. (For all you concerned people out there, I really am fine, it’s just my only source of money is a single debit card from a 757 credit union and my card is just dumb).

Stanley Park is like the central park of Vancouver. Except it’s not very central. It’s a tiny peninsula jutting out of the northwest side of downtown, filled with waterfront bike lanes and forested trails. Upon my arrival in Vancouver I had looked up what was happening – hunting especially for concerts or maybe the filming of a tv episode. I had missed the newly wedded royal couple by a few days, Psych wouldn’t begin filming for another few weeks, Matisyahu wasn’t coming until August, and a sold out Backstreet Boys and New Kids on the Block concert proved too expensive and sketchy to find tickets for. It was, however, the 125th birthday of Vancouver and the city was hosting a three-day extravaganza in the park featuring clowns, strange art exhibits, and lots and lots of concerts on two different stages. Saturday looked to be the highlight of the event with the day beginning with “a dubwise afternoon” (featuring a different dubstep mixer every hour), merging into Blues and the Gospel Truth, and ending with Neko Case followed by the New Pornographers. I unfortunately slept too much for the first two performances but I did get to go to the aquarium instead for my afternoon.

Upon making it through the crowded entrance of the aquarium, immediately to the left were two bamboo double doors that lead you into the sweltering humidity that is a rainforest exhibit (or Norfolk/Williamsburg in the middle of summer – either way).  Every five minutes a rainstorm would occur to further simulate this environment, so after admiring parrots for a second I began to get field PTSD and searched for drier exhibits. I made it to the beluga whale show (singing the Raffi song the whole time of course) and the dolphin show. The highlight was the tanks brimming with British Columbia’s vast marine biodiversity. I smiled that I had the opportunity to witness some of the creatures the guide from the anthropology museum had mentioned (though of course visiting the actual Gwaii Haanas island would be neat as well someday).

The concert was just packed with people. As the sun set families with small children galloping around picnic blankets were replaced by younger crowds in dense huddles. Overall the concert was awesome, though I wasn’t really familiar with any of the songs. Perhaps it was slightly disappointing that as the main act the New Pornographers didn’t really seem to outshine the other performers, but it just made for a steadily entertaining evening. I walked back with the crowds of people slowly peeling off toward their respective destination. I probably had the farthest walk of about an hour, but it was pleasant in the summer heat with the lights of the city illuminating my way. Toward the end I merged into the new crowd of people emerging from the Backstreet Boys concert and laughed out loud at the girls parading down the street in wobbly heels singing/screaming “Backstreet’s Back – all right!” followed by a handful of guys in all white for no apparent reason.

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