Day 3-4 – Vancouver

I’ve had a few days to relax and enjoy being back in my second home city – Vancouver. I lived here in my twenties back in the 90s. I made some great friends here and the experience of moving here fundamentally changed who I am as a peson.

It was a terrific time to be here. The music scene was vibrant. Matt Good was just beginning his career as a musician and his guitarist was a friend of my roommate. 5440 and The Odds frequently played club gigs. And just below the border in Seattle the grunge wave was taking off.

I was a club and concert junkie and saw literally hundreds of shows. I loved the vibrant atmosphere, the liberal outlook and general positive vibe of the city.

But it was expensive and I was irresponsible so I moved home to save money for a trip to Australia but I voed that when the trip was over I’d be back.

Well, fast forward 20 years. I’m returning for only the second time as a tourist. I must say I can still geel the same energy and life in the city. But 20 years is a long time, much longer than it feels as you get older. The population has tripled, the city has changed remarkably, and it’s been interesting wandering through old memories as I walk the streets of the city.

I’ve been fortunate to meet up with a really good friend, who I haven’t seen since the last night before I moved in 1993. It was amazing that it has been this long but we joined again in conversation like not a day has gone by. Obvioulsy we have grown and changed a lot over 20 years and yet we briefly talked about the past but also what it’s like to be a parent, our road over the past years, and of course politics and world events. We are both older, hopefully wiser, and certainly more traveled on life’s road. There are still visible bits of our ‘angst’ (we both laugh and hate that word) from our twenties but we truly hae left those parts of our pasts behind. Long gone are the booze filled nights in bars, the long nights in discussion and debate into the we hours of the morning, the rowdy parties at our communal house – there’s a theme here. Meeting up with him again has truly confirmed that much to my chagrin I’ve become an adult somewhere along the way.

The city of Vancouver has changed as well. It is less seedy in the areas that were seedy. The lost areas of the city have become gentrified and sanitized. The downtown has become much more corporate and anasthetic but the underlying problems are still there. It’s unfortunate that many of the old clubs and landmarks are now multinational corporations and lack the old soul of the city. The multiculturalism and metropolitan feel are still here in spades. And tourism, absolutely amazing as the downtown is loaded with tourists and travelers from all locales.

It also has been so much more proactive than Calgary in so many ways. Everything is transit and bike friendly. You can walk nearly everywhere in the downtown and the access to world class facilities is amazing. It just works. We seem to be eternally 20 years behind but this is an exceptional model city for what we should be doing to catch up.

I’ve had plenty of time to explore and walk, and walk, and, walk. Through the core, the Sea Wall and Stanley Park, Granville Island and Kitsilano. All bringing back fond memories of the many days spent in these places.

I’m a bit sad to say goodbye and deep down I hope as family we can return here someday to call this our home. It’s a nice thought anyway. It’s odd to think that in three years I made much more of a connection with a city than my hometown.

I’ve come to the realization over the last few days that whatever neurological issue my body has been having over the past couple years has continued to get worse. Pain, soreness and oddly blistering on feet and ankles after walking – even with shoes that are old and broken in. The numbness and pain is nearly continual and is affecting my dexterity and my ability to function. It used to be short little bursts of pins and needles or waking up sore. Now it has progressed to feet, ankles, muscles and has moved up to the elbows in my arms. I have a feeling that after reaching Hyder and having a few days off that will be as much as my body can take. I’ll likely have to return home directly over two days rather than heading south again – something I’ll have to discuss with my riding mate.

Tomorrow it’s off to the north. I nearly ran out of gas (again) in downtown rush hour traffic so I’ll sneak over a couple blocks early tomorrow for a filler up and head out to meet my buddy in Squamish. The Sea to Sky Highway through Whistler to Pemberton and eventually our destination for the day Prince George.