June 25, 2002
Travel update, volume V

On Friday we headed north to Vancouver. To those who say that the Canadian border is a sieve, I can tell you that if you try to enter or exit Canada via I-5, you'll need to show proof of citizenship to the customs agents, and you may have to answer a bunch of questions about who you are and what you do for a living. We saw at least one vehicle get denied entry into Canada on our way in. We really did need our passports.

The Hertz Never Lost system got rather confused on our way in to Vancouver. After exiting highway BC 99, we took a wrong fork in the road (due in no small part to the road being very poorly marked) and spent nearly 15 minutes going in circles trying to find our way back. We later found out that the map database for Vancouver was a relatively new addition to their system.

We stayed in a hotel in downtown Vancouver, about a mile from Stanley Park and a half-mile from the convention center. Once we'd checked in we took a stroll around the place, winding up at Stanley Park before walking back. It was nice to stretch our legs out, and the weather was gorgeous, perfect for walking.

We had dinner at a sushi bar on the way back to the hotel, then changed for an all-wedding-guests party that the bride and groom were hosting that evening. The wedding party was about 120 people, most of whom were at the Friday night get-together. It was a fun and loose event in which the groom's brother-in-law emceed some silly bridesmaids-versus-groomsmen and bride-versus-groom games. The guests entertained themselves by decorating caricatures of the happy couple and taking a rather challenging quiz about Canada. I got about half the answers right, and I'm pretty good at this sort of thing.

Saturday was another beautiful day. The bride and groom led a small but hearty group of guests for a dip in the chilly English Bay. Helena, the bride, announced this outing on Friday night and specified that swimsuits were necessary, so I assume they didn't go here. We hadn't packed swimsuits, so I didn't join them. Instead, we took the car to Stanley Park this time and visited the excellent Vancouver Aquarium. Among the cool things that they had there are Beluga whales, sleepover programs, and a walk-through butterfly exhibit. We then had lunch at an outdoor restaurant which overlooked the Lion's Gate Bridge.

The wedding was held in the St. Andrew's-Wesley Church, which has apparently been used in various episodes of The X Files as the place Scully goes when she's having a crisis of faith. The ceremony went off without any aliens or ectoplasm getting in the way, then the guests were transported via shuttles to Brock House, a historic mansion on Jericho Beach. As with pretty much everything in Vancouver, the view and backdrop were spectacular. Best of all, they had a fine selection of beer. A good time was had by all.

We returned to Whidbey Island on Sunday for our niece Vanessa's third birthday party. The Never Lost got confused again as we left town, but this time we were able to recover without too much agita. One thing that really amazed me during all the driving we did was that from Whidbey to Anacortes to Orcas to Vancouver we were able to pick up Canadian rock station CKKQ. If you're ever up in that part of the world, tune your radio to 100.3 FM and leave it there. That was the best radio station I've listened to since the heyday of New York's 102.7 WNEW back in the 80s.

We spent a few hours in Whidbey helping Vanessa celebrate her birthday - with both sets of grandparents as well as two aunt/uncle pairs, she had plenty of help - then saddled up again to head back to Bellevue where we would once again crash at Manu and Jenny's house. The last thing we did before we left town was a stop at Pike Place Fish Market for some dungeness crab to go. They packed it for travel, and we wolfed it down at home with some help from Tiffany's parents, without whom we'd not have been able to cross the border in the first place. Today, after putting the passports back in the safety deposit box and profusely thanking the BankOne employee who helped us out with that, I will rescue Harry from the kennel on my way home from work, and all will be back to normal at home. Just in time for next weekend's housewarming party...

Posted by Charles Kuffner on June 25, 2002 to See, I do have a life!