We arrived at Vancouver Pacific Central Station early, about 09:00. Orienting ourselves to the city, I called our reservation at the Sandman Hotel and was soooo happy they had a room ready for us.
We decided to walk. A security person estimated it to be a half hour walk and, while I tried to get him to guarantee it wouldn’t rain for the next half hour, we chanced threatening clouds, gathered our packs, and walked toward Main St. to connect with the Georgia Viaduct.
Arriving at the hotel we made a quick check in and rode the elevator to the ninth floor and our room. We dropped our bags and sprawled on the bed.
We had slept the previous four nights in a sleeper on the VIA Rail Canadian and were looking forward to a bed that that didn’t rock and roll and hallways that didn’t move as we walked along. And sure enough, as we lay on the bed, our internal equilibrium gently rocked us.
Rain showers were in the forecast and looked imminent as we left the hotel to explore the downtown neighborhood. The joy of walking without bags or a reboarding schedule propelled us on as we passed shops, restaurants, and–mostly–people. A light meal at an Indian restaurant and we were good for more. Much slower and with not nearly so much visible enthusiasm, we nevertheless felt like a dog newly arrived at the dog park. Life was good.
We were in our sixth time zone of the trip and the fourth since boarding the train at Toronto. Every night we set our watches back another hour and every morning eagerly checked the cell phones to make sure they were keeping up. Another time zone!
I decided time zones that are skipped over, as in a lengthy flight, are less weirding than a long train trip. When we fly to Hawaii, for example, we go from the first to the fourth zone, sort of skipping the ones in between. But we had lived for a a day in each one. Our bodies remember. Any of the time zones can show up for weeks afterward, randomly and inconveniently. With great hope and sleep-lust, we were out by about 10:00 PM.
At 11:00 PM the fire alarm was slowly ringing its way into our consciousness. Waking up enough to realize we were waking up, we pulled on clothes, grabbed the computer, and headed down the stairs with everyone else. We realized that the hotel we had thought of as nearly empty was in fact full. The stairways, lobby, and outside street were crowded with people. Not smelling smoke or seeing anything amiss, the throng was mostly in good humor. Word spread that a quick fire department check had found no problem. The alarm system was reset, the manager muttered something about a prankster, and we were faced with either 1) waiting in a long line for an elevator or, 2) hiking up the stairs nine floors. We hiked. And then went right to sleep.
We were eager to visit the Granville Island Market and left shortly after 09:00 to walk Howe St. to the Aquabus terminal and the short ride across False Creek to Granville island. Strolling the food areas in the public market, we gathered breakfast and fueled ourselves with coffee. And we were set to wander the shops of Granville.
It wasn’t all that cut and dried. I fell out of the Aquabus. Not into the water, that would have been dangerous and terribly embarrassing. I simply missed the step, caught my foot, and sprawled onto the dock. Thankfully landing on my good knee, only later did I realize I must have done a bit of a skid as I almost wore through the knee of my favorite walking pants.
We exhausted ourselves playing tourist and finally gathered for the return. Rather than retrace our Howe St. route, we stayed to the walking path that skirts False Creek, finally leaving it a few blocks before the BC Place stadium.
We were given beautiful weather, classy architecture, an abundance of fall colors, and old bodies that held up one more time.
Friday, Departure Day, we were up at 04:30 to be at Pacific Central Station before 06:00 to clear customs/immigration well before our 06:40 departure on Amtrak Cascades 513 to Kelso. Our taxi dropped us at the station and we were at the front of the line before it was a line. Our check in was brief and easy, and five minutes later we were settling into our seats.
Pat looked at me and said, “Well, that was interesting.” I didn’t ask if she meant the check in or the whole past six weeks.
On November 8th, while I was herding leaves off the driveway, the Beacon Hill Sewer and Water District Water Police came by and checked our meter. We hadn’t been using any water. He finally asked, “Have you been gone?”