Friday, May 11, 2018

Vancouver: The Best West Coat City, By Far

On fewer than fingers of one hand, I can count the cities with which I've fallen in love.  Born and raised in a cow town in northern California, I initially had little appreciation of what a city could offer. But thankfully, my first long-term city experience was Tokyo. Now that's a city. And from there, it was straight to Manhattan, where I lived for ten years. It's still my favorite. Everything you want within a 5 block radius. Loud, anonymous, intense, but more home than anywhere I've ever been. 

A real city will give you what you need when you look out the window or walk out the door. I found that in Manhattan, Tokyo, and London. And until last week, I hadn't really found that again until I visited Vancouver.

The whole family tagged along with Sumie for a nephrology conference. It was our first international family trip, outside of Japan, and the kids were excited. Rather than booking a hotel (which, with three kids, would have been hell) we researched Airbnb. Sumie found a gem. From the 32nd floor on the edge of China Town, we were met with this incredible view.
After a night's sleep, and waking to an earlier rising sun, we woke to the following... 
...and an hour later, this.
While the city was beautiful, we had plans with nature. Captivated by the Capilano suspension bridges, but too cheap to pay the $40.00 per perso admission fee, we settled on the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge, which is free.
Mari walked a lot, but still needed her mama.
We got a few good pictures in..
...and a few nature pics of the river.
 At the midpoint of our hike, we stopped by a deep pool for a picture...
...and at 30 feet deep, I was tempted to jump in.
Can you spot the Mimi in this picture?
Coming back, there were lots and lots of steps. All of which Mari insisted on tackling by herself.
The sun managed to soak through the foliage... we made our way down the trail...
...and back to our rental.
Yup, that's a Jeep Wrangler Unlimited. As it turns out, with how many we saw, it's the official car of Vancouver. And while I wouldn't choose it as a daily family car, I left Vancouver wishing I had one to take out on the weekends, tops and doors off and kids scared to death on a mountain trail.
 When we got home, we were presented with the following:

The next morning, we headed out for breakfast. This was a good call, despite being able to cook on our own. The food in Vancouver was amazing. A block away from our apartment was Chambar, a wonderful little French inspired restaurant. Mimi approved.
Waffles, with chocolate and caramel, were plentiful.
As were winks of appreciation.
I had morning braised ribs with eggs. All part of a Keto diet.
Mari eventually hit her sugar limit and had to be consoled by Mimi.
After breakfast, Sumie headed out for her conference. The kids and I walked out to meet an old friend of mine. On the way, we passed a car spike.
We had a great lunch out with old and new friends.
Mimi and Emmy posed for us...
...and I was able to reconnect with a dear friend from my old job. 7 years is a long time, but with the right person, the gap never seems to matter.
One of the most surprising aspects of our trip was the abundance of supercars, which was a huge bonus for Kuri. On our drive up to the suspension bridge, we came across a caravan of exotics. Tons of Lamborghinis, Ferraris, and a couple Porsches. The highlight, though, was seeing a Pagani Huayra. Holy crap. I never thought I'd see one of those in the flesh. Because we were moving, we didn't get any pictures, but the city had more to offer. We came across a Lamborghini Kuri spotted...
...and then a McClaren I found walking our way back home. Kuri missed Cars and Coffee this week because of the trip, but I think he saw enough to keep him happy.
Vancouver Science World: Canada's answer to San Francisco's Exploratorium. Believe it or not, it's just as good! At our first exhibit, Mimi made the most of the economic driving simulator.
Later, Kuri experimented with shooting parachutes...
...and then sending rubber balls up a pneumatic pipe system.
Even Mari got into the game by re-enacting an early iPod commercial in front of the thermal imaging screen.
There was at least one exhibit, a propeller spinner, that all three kids could experience simultaneously.
Mimi and Kuri had a great time shooting the plastic balls up into the elevated pond to see who got the best score. Not much science going on here, but a lot of good fun.
At the end of the day, Mimi proved tremendously adept at guiding beach balls through hoops with merely a blast of air.
On the next day we met Mama at the end of her conference. The kids explored the conference center...
...but Mari just wanted to cuddle with Papa.
Our last day in Vancouver required a visit to Stanley Park. The trees were in bloom.
Kuri posed for photos...
...even though he was working heavy machinery.
We walked along the beach...
...took plenty of pictures with the flora...
...and made merry at a number of playgrounds.
The highlight for Mimi and Kuri may well have been Beaver Lake. Lots of nature...
...and several rare opportunities for brother and sister photos.
The highlight for the kids was the ducklings we came across.
And for me, it was the reflection of the cloudy sky.
Had a ton of fun playing with the camera on this trip. Here's Kuri in focus...
...and now his big sister (Mari was asleep in the car).
The apartment building we stayed in had a pool, which was a great treat for the kids. The only hiccup was that we had to get Mari some goggles (even though she never placed her face in the water).
Mari was much happier just hanging out on the lounge chairs.
In short, it was a wonderful trip to a surprisingly wonderful city. It might be a while, but we'll definitely be heading back in the future. Maybe once all the kids can ski!