My last day in Vancouver and I had already bought postcards that failed to capture the beauty of the city, so I decided there was just one thing left to do: pretend to be in a Douglas Coupland novel.

I headed to the pub at the Yale Hotel to look for Cathy and Pup-tent and found myself right next to Drake Street. I could see no crows, but there were pigeons. There were also puddles to peer into, where the snow had begun to melt, and I began to look for a secret world.

'Once, on a morning after a particularly noisy night, Cathy and I were walking down Drake Street and we saw a crow standing in a puddle, motionless, the sky reflected on its surface so that it looked as thought the crow was standing on the sky. Cathy then told me that she thinks that there is a secret world just underneath the surface of our own world. She said that the secret world was more important than the one we live in. "Just imagine how surprised fish would be," she said, "if they all knew all the action going on just on the other side of the water. Or just imagine yourself being able to breathe underwater and living with the fish. The secret world is that close and it's THAT different." ' - 1: Cathy, My Hotel Year, Douglas Coupland.
Wreck Beach
Wednesday, I visited Granville Island, but like many other places I tried to visit in Vancouver, the main gallery at the Emily Carr Institute of Art & Design was closed due to the weather. I consoled myself with an apple green bubble milkshake (tapioca pearls!) and concluded it was too cold to be outside, so decided to go to the cinema. Fast Food Nation, directed by Richard Linklater, was the film I chose and then cried while watching.

Thursday, I headed to UBC, to visit the Museum of Anthropology, where stunning totem poles and masks and other articles related to First Nations culture were stored. After that, I climbed down treacherously slushy steps and over a fallen tree to reach a nudist beach. Wreck Beach was beautiful - a deserted beach covered completely in snow, with a forest for a backdrop. Sticking up from the snow were various pieces of wood, which looked quite odd. I walked down to the sea and found a stretch of sand, where the tide had just washed away the snow, and there were purple shells and bright orange and red logs there. As the sun got lower in the sky, I headed back to the UBC for a pint.

That evening, I reached 50,000 words of my NaNoWriMo novel and concluded that what I gained the most from participating in NaNoWriMo this year was a great travelling companion. The novel forced me into coffee bars when it needed words added and up mountains and skyscrapers when it needed me to find inspiration, but the best thing about travelling with my novel was that I rarely felt alone.
View from Cloud 9
View from Cloud 9
Grouse Mountain was my destination on Tuesday, but I did not attempt snowshoeing the Grouse Grind ("Mother Nature's Stairmaster"). The Skyride lifted me above the amazingly tall trees, which were all covered in thick layers of snow, and onto the mountain. I walked past Santa's Workshop, which had candy canes outside, and took photos of the chainsaw sculptures, before consuming a nanaimo bar and writing more for NaNoWriMo. The amount of snow and the views of the extensive forests were breathtaking, although the bears were apparently hibernating.

I walked from Gastown to Chinatown after that, taking in the sights of the Steam Clock and Gassy Jack, as well as the world's narrowest building. At sunset, I made it to the Vancouver Lookout in the Harbour Centre Tower for more great views of skyscrapers.

I ended the day at a downtown write-in, tapping out a few more thousand words.

Vancouver

Dec. 7th, 2006 09:44 am
View towards Lonsdale Quay
Skyscrapers compete with mountains.


Vancouver Art Gallery currently has an Emily Carr exhibition on, with beautiful paintings of vivid (and sometimes creepy) totem poles and swirling green forests where the undergrowth laps at the trees like waves. Emily Carr often visited and painted First Nations villages, sometimes with her sister and I quite liked this description: "Sister purchased a bird of melancholy mien, so resembling herself she had difficulty in restraining her emotions".

There was also a Paint exhibition on, so bright and neon and full of geometrical shapes and patterns, which seemed like such a contrast to the dark and brooding world Emily Carr sometimes painted, but it was still her trees that I found the dreamiest.

After visiting the gallery, we headed for Stanley Park, to see the Hollow Tree, which is mentioned in City of Glass: "Vancouver is perhaps the only city in the world where criminals might strap moose antlers to the hood of a stolen car and park it inside a 1,500-year-old hollow tree."

That was the day, I also ate a latke in Desert and then saw the play of Life After God.
Life After God
Life After God
I stare at t-shirts with "4 8 15 16 23 42" written on them and then step over cables used for filming Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer and wonder just what kind of made-up world I am now living in.

Steam rises from the drains and I keep thinking the pavements are on fire.

I repeat the words "SeaBus" and "SkyTrain" to myself as if they were an incantation. Many people travelling by SeaBus and SkyTrain seem to be carrying snowboards.
It was 4 a.m. and less than 24 hours before, I had booked a flight to Vancouver. I ate Daffy Duck raspberry jelly for breakfast, out of a star-shaped mould that once belonged to my grandmother. I then stumbled around my flat, gathering items to stuff into a large rucksack, unsure of what was needed. I packed Douglas Coupland's City of Glass, print-outs with the addresses of goth clubs, my half-written NaNoWriMo novel, not enough jumpers, and eventually, sushi at the airport.

In Amsterdam, between flights, I bought postcards of tulips and prostitutes and sent text messages to friends and relatives detailing my current location. My black jeans became sticky with someone else's chewing gum.

I watched My Gym Partner's A Monkey and consumed more jelly on the plane. As it flew across Canada, towards Fort St John, I looked out the window and saw a landscape that looked entirely lunar. I wondered if I was flying to another planet and what was actually there on the ground beneath me. On the in-flight radio, space exploration was mentioned.

As the plane began to descend and Vancouver came into sight, the sun began to set and the snow-covered mountains, skyscrapers, sea and clouds looked dreamy, so dreamy, glowing with shades of pink and blue.

Before I was allowed to enter Canada, immigration officers asked me to name what Douglas Coupland books I had read, amongst so many other questions that made me feel scared about travelling alone.

Eventually, I found [livejournal.com profile] ellescriba, [livejournal.com profile] bickichick, [livejournal.com profile] wrldtravlr2, [livejournal.com profile] elzbthpdx, Erin and Darlene, and we drank cocktails at Cloud 9, the rotating restaurant on the top of the Empire Landmark Hotel, where I felt giddy viewing the skyscrapers, that were lit up brightly in front of me.

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