Notes from a Pacific Northwest road trip – Stanley Park and Inukshuks
When I say that our rented apartment was close to all the party fun in Vancouver, I wasn’t kidding. One night, we had live music and fireworks right on the beach across the street. The next day, the beach party had been cleared up and another shindig set up, this time for the Gay Pride Parade. The parade started north of us in Davie Village, then carried on south toward English Bay, ending at the beach again.
It was one hell of a parade – and even Prime Minister Justin Trudeau marched in it. Nothing like having a leader who supports diversity instead of threatens it.
I was also able to tick something off my bucket list. No, it wasn’t attending a Gay Pride Parade – I’d been to a few of them in Chicago when I was a uni student – and no, it wasn’t doing something so extreme that it involves me vomiting as I throw myself over a cliff on a rubber band.
No, I finally got to see a Canadian Mountie in full dress uniform. Why was this on my bucket list? Lame, eh? Well, growing up, I used to watch a TV show called Due South. I’m pretty certain only Canadians and my family know this TV show because, let’s face it, it didn’t have the blood, gore, glamor (and, dare I say it, sexual nature) of most syndicated TV shows. It came out in the 90s – which really explains the hair and clothes, to be honest – and I loved it. Mostly because the lead actor as the Mountie was hot as hell, in my teenage brain, anyway. I may have had a crush on him. Maybe, a little – somewhat?
And if I’m really honest, I still think he’s hot as hell now as I usually rewatch the series once a year. It’s one of my favorite shows, as it takes place in Chicago for the most part, and seeing the city circa 1993 is fun. That, and I love the barbs they trade back and forth about Americans and Canadians. Perhaps oversimplifying, of course, but I can’t disagree with the stereotype about Americans always packing heat. That hasn’t changed since the 90s. Or 1700s.
So, that’s why, on all my sundry trips to Canada, I’ve wanted a picture with a Mountie in their dress uniform. Well, during the parade, plenty of them were walking around to ensure safety. Mom suddenly stops me and goes, “LOOK! Over there!”
I was expecting to see a vibrantly colored drag queen, or a man in a Trojan uniform. After all, this was the Gay Pride Parade. Alas, after a little bit of looking, I saw what she’s pointing at.
A Mountie in a red uniform.
Now, most women fangirl over movie stars, singers, models … and here I was, fangirling over a man in a red uniform. I’m fairly certain that I would have been the worst sort of patriot during the American Revolution. Again, another reason why I’d probably have been branded a witch back then, and why I’m glad to be living in the 2000s.
I turned around, and there were yet more Mounties in their resplendent red uniforms. My sister actually went up to the group and asked if we could get a picture with them because I was too busy fangirling to ask.
My life was complete. Well, somewhat. I still haven’t met Prince Harry.
A final day in Vancouver was spent enjoying the natural beauty and landscape of Stanley Park.
There’s plenty to do in Stanley Park, including just taking an amble through massive, tall evergreens and checking out the summer flowers. We strolled around the waterfront, watching supply planes and tourist skimmers take off and land, and admiring the boats sailing on the blue waters. The Vancouver skyline was easily captured from the park, including the space-needle-like building. The totem pole park was beautiful against the blue skies, capturing the spirit, art, and honor of the native groups who used to live in this part of Canada.
After a wander around the peaceful park, we had lunch at a local seafood restaurant on the waterfront, which provided a spectacular view of the mountains, bay, and sailboats harbored there. The seafood was good, but we were holding out for a cache of oysters for when we were back in Seattle.
From there, we walked into the city to catch a bus to take us to one of the other staples of Canada we’d had yet to eat – poutine. At the first possibility we found on Google Maps, the restaurant turned out to be closed. We got on the bus again, this time to a completely different neighborhood, one with old 1930s neon signs for old theatres, and located another poutine restaurant. This time, it was open, and nothing says, “oh, happy day”, like fresh, crispy fries smothered with gravy and thick cheese curds with shredded smoked meat on top.
We completed the day with a walk along English Bay’s waterfront, admiring the sunset, and ultimately finding a large inukshuk by the water. To be there at sunset was absolutely magical.