Vancouver 2000-12-19

Returned to Vancouver after almost a 16 month absence in August. Stayed at Volkmar’s house, so I couldn’t quite say I was home, but it all seemed an instantly familiar place from which to make the first stop of the summer’s short road trip just before the beginning of school.


Redwood CA

Made it here on whatever power steering fluid hadn’t dribbled out on Highway 1. The plan is to have the car repaired in San Francisco and to just use muscle to bring it down that far. Half the fluid was dumped on a Safeway parking lot, five minutes after we topped it up, but sometimes it does last.

It was hard to look at the trees and not think of the Forest Planet from Return of the Jedi. Okay, it is the same setting, but the National Park wasn’t so successful for being what is, although it was spectacular for what it is supposed to be.

The hostel has potential. But since it has yet to be realised, the snoring man (not Volkmar this time) outright ruined the last evening. We (I) received extra clean-up duty because I didn’t clean up the baking sheet that I used to make apple crumble before the kitchen closed. The risk of attracting raccoons wasn’t realized, which may have been due to luck, or the quality of my cooking.


San Francisco, CA

We did spend our first day in the Bay Area driving from garage to garage, but when the car finally received enough care for us to consider her roadworthy, we happily moved into our room in the Sausilito Youth Hostel. Considering it is a complex of restored turn-of-the-century mansions and the hostel is neatly tucked into a wildlife sanctuary, it is an incredibly quiet, secluded and spacious place to stay in while visiting a big city. The drawback is that a car is an absolute necessity and one must also pay the bridge tolls.

I made the determined effort to stay the extra day in Brussels just to see the Magritte collection at the Musee des Beaux-Arts. But the disappointment of that exhibition was more than reversed by the surprise discovery of a travelling Magritte show at the SFMOMA. Volkmar and I first went the one day the Museum was closed, but we did manage to squeeze a trip in before heading for Berkley and it was well worth it.

Yreka, CA

The car broke down just outside of Yreka. We were towed into town and dropped outside a garage that refused to work on the car, citing a computer problem that was too complicated. Stranded on the Friday of the Labour Day long weekend, Volkmar and I checked into a motel and counted our options. During a exploratory walk around town we came across a bunch ex-hippies, or at least people who seemed to be the product of the sixties except for their very anti-gun control politics. One drove us around the town’s garages, and found us one with an after-hours number. Indeed Courtney was going to fix the car and allow us to race back to Vancouver in a rental.

George, WA

I had previously thought that Washington State was almost entirely mountains and coniferous trees in the same manner as British Columbia. However a hundred miles east on Interstate 90 one finds a dry and barren landscape that I would have expected to see in New Mexico, and not the Pacific Northwest. The Columbia river carves a canyon through this near-treeless steppe and someone had the bright idea of putting an amphitheatre on the cliffs edge. The little stage of the Gorge amphitheatre backs onto the canyon, with the rising hill of stalls and lawn seats overlooking both. Once one pays the $25 camping fee to go with the dear concert tickets, it is a fairly friendly, albeit short, festival amphitheatre. The Neil Young concert that brought Volkmar, Anders and I to George was also well attended by a few families. The kids played and fought on the grass, as the parents tried to listen to the old man, his wife and his sister. I wonder who felt the most out of place in the spectrum of ages.


Yreka, CA

Volkmar and I returned to Yreka in grand style. We took the overnight Greyhound from Central Station, for the total of 17 hours and 40 minutes. This included a stopover in sad Seattle to change buses, and then the scheduled breaks at Portland and some diner/truck stop in South Oregon. We arrived in Yreka with stiff necks and a replacement fan motor. It was only a short walk to the Garage where the Audi lay, and the shockingly sweet noise of the engine starting was a welcome relief. Courtney the mechanic only needed an hour and a half to install the motor and sort out the few other shorts that had turned up in the electrics. We loaded the car from ’86 up, and drove back up Interstate 5. Managed to stop at the aforementioned truck stop just as the next Greyhound bus rolled in. Concerns over the cars reliability and the question of suitable speed were gradually forgotten, and we subconsciously drove a little bit faster with each passing hour. Once we passed Seattle, every mountain looked like Grouse or Cyprus. Delusional with our desperation to finish the trip we made the return leg in less than eleven hours. This allowed us to keep our expectation to attend Rita and Heather’s parties. Rita’s boyfriend did not make the five-hour trip from Kelowna to Vancouver, because the drive was ‘too long.’ Some people just have different ideas of what can be done in a day.

Vancouver, BC

Went up the Harbour Centre towery-observation deck thing. Amazing how few trees there are to be seen, at least not counting those on the mountains. Still the most impressive grey and glass that I have ever seen.

There is a Garbage strike going on, but everyone in the municipality is trying there best to hide it. I don’t really want to know where they’re dumping their garbage, but the rat population is well under control.

Seattle, WA

A whole gang of IR people, Liesa, Chris, Tanya, Aliyah, Jola and myself just dropped down for the day to attend a conference on US graduate schools for IR at UofW. The University’s campus is quite nice, turn round the corner and think, "hey, Paris!" There might be a little audacity in the neo-gothic style, but it works well. Plus the Soviet/socialist looking motifs in many of the buildings’ detailing is fairly refreshing for the U.S. The conference was not too inspiring for me. I think a few among our group are not too inspired to rush off to Grad school, and are savouring the idea of a year off instead. The trip itself was great fun nonetheless, with a heavy dosage of American culture, or one of Globalisation depending on what type of cup your Taco Bell drink came in.

It seemed a little bit warmer in Seattle, but that might be due to our delusions about heading south.

Vancouver, BC

I found this Autumn in Vancouver was quite spectacular, in spite of so many people’s ideas of what the weather should be. There were so many sunny days with blue sky that if you had asked a person’s opinion about them, they would not hesitate to tell you that it just wasn’t right. But don’t ask, and don’t remark on what the weather isn’t and it becomes just as easy to gaze with the same wonderment as the carefree exchange students at another great day. The sunny days may all be behind us, but I still remember the sunshine.