It's been a whirlwind nine days of vacation outings, work catch-up and relaxation for our family. We journeyed to Vancouver, B.C., to visit relatives and kept ourselves moving the whole time, taking advantage of Vancouver's walkability and dense fabric of fascinating places. I stayed on track with my photo-a-day project - here's a summary post to fill the gap!
Day 37: The journey begins
For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to be somewhere else. There's a restlessness in my soul satisfied only by travel. To me, airports are signifiers of the human tendency to explore beyond our home territories. They are places of wonder, awe and discovery in the making. From my first trans-Atlantic flight at age 11 to routine hops to grandparents' houses and summer destinations throughout my youth, I always associated airports with newness - with the anticipation of grand adventure. I still like to get to the airport earlier than necessary (much to my husband's chagrin), just to walk the concourses and stare out at the planes as they taxi and take off. I like the feeling of going somewhere.
It's different now, traveling with a toddler - I don't savor the journey nearly as much as arriving at the destination - but I know the fun of being in transit will return as O gets older. Airports open new avenues as we embark on the journeys that define our lives.
Day 36: The child-friendly art of False Creek
O's grandparents live in a condo on Vancouver's False Creek waterfront - a place rich with public-art details for everyone to discover and delight in. Here are a few pictures of O's explorations of a couple of the interesting pieces along the water (click on the photo above to advance through a few more).
The condo offers an amazing vantage point on the city. From the balcony, one can gaze out at the B.C. Place stadium (the spiky, domed building in the photo below), Telus World of Science (the giant ball-shaped building, a relic of the 1986 Expo), Granville Island and, of course, the neighboring glass towers of Yaletown. I snapped a selfie on this particularly beautiful evening, enjoying the view.
Day 35: Crossing Cambie Bridge
Vancouver is compulsively walkable. I'm delighted to say that we used O's car seat exactly twice: first on the way home from the airport when we arrived and second on the way to the airport when we left. Otherwise, we walked or (twice) took the city's Sky Train.
The dense fabric of amenities in the heart of Vancouver makes it the perfect city for my in-laws to age in place. The plan is that they'll never have to move again. They have a one-story condo and can walk to grocery stores (several nearby, from the gourmet Urban Fare to the generic Save on Foods), Costco, entertainment and essential services. By walking, they also keep themselves fit, staving off the ills of aging. Perhaps walkable cities are the ultimate anti-aging formula! Wise urban infill that provides human-scale streetscapes amidst towers, parks and pleasant pedestrian walkways, dog parks and playgrounds, shopping and schools can cut car dependency and enable independence well into old age.
Day 34: TPTuesday and the rainbow
Tuesday, I was a little lazy with the camera, mainly because it was a drizzly, cold, wet day. After going out in the morning without exposing my camera to the rain, I posted a quick selfie for TPTuesday and snapped this picture of a complete rainbow spanning False Creek.
Day 33: Science World
Wednesday, the skies cleared and we took O to Telus World of Science for some hands-on discovery. He enjoyed it more than any of us could have predicted! It's an amazing place filled with interactive exhibits inside and out (and a fantastic Baby Haven, which I'll write about later). Here's a little gallery of images from that outing.
And I couldn't resist snapping this selfie as O played in the water table behind me ...
Day 32: Out and about on a sunny day
Earlier in the week, I had the great pleasure of meeting up with Vancouver urbanist and blogger Jillian Glover for a tour of Commercial Drive, a diverse, dynamic mixed-use area with a rich history. I went back on sunny Thursday to photograph some of the spots Jillian pointed out during our rain-soaked tour on Tuesday. Click on this image to see a gallery of photos showcasing Commercial Drive's abundant murals, greengrocers, parking-lot park ("parklet"), and cute storefronts, along with a fantastic block-sized park and playground, featuring a water-play area, huge shade trees, a sand-digging area, and a well-maintained restroom facility with a beautiful green, growing wall.
Later, my sister-in-law and I took O for a walk in the opposite direction, through downtown Vancouver, visiting some of my favorite spots, including the Canada Place convention center, where I participated in the World Urban Forum in 2006. Here's a gallery of images from that ramble.
On our way home, we stopped by Emery Barnes Park in Yaletown - by far O's favorite of the many playgrounds we found in the city. It features a fantastic play structure, a splashable water feature and lots and lots of dogs!
Snapped a quick selfie before O got completely soaked (he was too fascinated by the running water to even look up).
We rounded out this fantastic day by seeing the play, "Equivocation," by Bill Cain at the Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival.
Day 31: Skyscraper light
Vancouver's Yaletown neighborhood looks like Hong Kong, with its gleaming glass residential towers. Those towers become reflectors at different times of day, bouncing light into the shadows (and creating a heat-island effect, but Vancouver mitigates this with abundant vegetation, green roofs and parks). I took advantage of the awesome "skyscraper light" - like an instant photo studio - on my in-laws' balcony to snap a few shots of family members, including this one of O and his uncle, aunt and grandma.
Earlier in the day, we took a walk to Granville Island and discovered another wonderful playground in Charleson Park.
The harbors along False Creek are picturesque, too ...
And I snapped a selfie in the reflective surface of a jellybean sculpture while the boys chased each other ...
Day 30: Dinner guests and bubbles
Saturday was another beautiful day, but we spent most of it saving up our energy for our evening dinner guests. I snapped a selfie in the guest bedroom vacated by O's aunt and uncle after they headed back home to Ottawa.
That evening, we had one of my husband's old friends and his family over for dinner, and grandma had the perfect diversion for the kids: bubbles! Quick gallery here:
The light was so lovely, I couldn't resist capturing a shot of the balcony ...
... and asking my husband's friend to snap a family photo of us, too!
Day 29: Early morning walk, and home again
On Sunday evening, we flew home to Colorado, but O and I were up at sunrise and out the door to catch some pictures of the beautiful False Creek waterfront and Granville Island. Click on this shot to see a gallery of the gorgeous morning light on the city.
Snapped a selfie with O in a reflective window near the public market ...
And I was so delighted to finally get just the right photo of the Sky Train!
What a week! In the last decade, Vancouver has played an important role in my life, both professionally and personally. From the 2004 Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA) conference to our family visits most recently, this city has consistently inspired and nurtured me. I'd love to delve into all of those connections and all of the things that make the city great, but for now, I'll let the photos speak for themselves.