Stanley Park, A Steam Clock and Tim Hortons- Vancouver, Canada

“Whaaaaat! Where did you get that??”

The question is thrown at me loudly, breaking the early morning atmosphere of the break room and I look down at what i’m holding, what the lady who’s talking to me is staring at. It’s a stainless steel travel mug emblazoned with TIM HORTONS across it in happy red script. Her enthusiasm to discuss this makes some kind of sense then, given I live in Texas and you can only get Tim Hortons in Canada.

Lets step back about two months before this interaction (and about 6 months from todays current date because life has managed to truly mess up the timeline of my blogposts lately) back to when the bf and I were driving up from Seattle to Vancouver, having learned only then that the day we would be visiting any part of Canada for the first part was to be on “Canada day”, a federal holiday comparable to the 4th of July for Americans. I wish we could say we planned it that way on purpose but to be honest we planned this trip like most other trips, that is to say, on the fly and with only minimum research. Perhaps with a little more insight, we might have avoided the long wait at the border crossing and anticipated the heavier traffic in the city but in the end it worked out for the best and we got to see downtown Vancouver lit up with pride.

We had only allotted a day and a half for Vancouver, though obviously you could (and should) spend a bit longer here, especially when you include the surrounding area. Not wanting to overextend ourselves too much, we picked Stanley Park and the Gastown area of downtown Vancouver to check out with the time we had, choosing a Hyatt to stay in. We made the most of our time by driving through part of Stanley Park as soon as we arrived, to get a feel for where everything was and making note of what we wanted to come see early the next day when it was less crowded (due to the aforementioned holiday). After marveling at the green gorgeousness and bay views, we headed towards our hotel, a 5 min drive that took almost half hour because gods above you will either use public transportation in Vancouver or you will regret every even looking at a car- not thats a such a terrible thing to be honest. After checking in and decompressing we headed back out to explore the nearby streets, find cool cheesy souvenirs for friends and take in a little more of what the city had to offer.

The sun didn’t set until well past 9pm that night and the boyfriend and I kept looking out at the skies both marveling and slightly freaked out until the fireworks started up somewhere by the bay. Rather tired from the days traveling we opted to stay in for dinner and order room service, complete with a cheese/dessert plate I would soon come to regret ordering the next day.

Up and at them early the next day, we checked out and loaded up our things in the rental to go wander around Stanley park for a few hours before we started the drive back to Seattle. I hadn’t finished the dessert and cheese plate treats we had gotten the night before, so rather than throw them away (because room service is many things but cheap isn’t one of them) I stashed them in a handy plastic bag and figured I would munch on them during the day….which would have been a grand plan if the boyfriend hasn’t been worried we would get arrested for trying to cross back into the US with loose fruits, nuts and cheeses. All my attempted soothings were for naught however and after we explored some very beautiful areas of the park, I ended up sitting hunched over in the passenger seat hurriedly stuffing my face with cheese, crackers, sweetened fruits and candy bites like a desperate dumpster diving raccoon so as to convince the bf we would not have reason to get violently arrested at the border crossing.

(The park really was very beautiful though, and apart from this face stuffing incident, a wonderfully peaceful oasis that I would really love to visit again.)

A goodbye to Vancouver it was, but not a good bye to Canada yet, because as we were leaving the outskirts of the city I suddenly remembered-

“I need to find a Tim Hortons!” 

“…Why ?” 

Because! You gotta do it if you visit Canada!” 

He was dubious but I insisted and so we found the nearest shopping area, pulled up alongside the cleanest cop car i’ve ever seen and got out to go buy some Tim Hortons coffee. This is where I saw the gleaming beauty of a stainless steel travel mug and bought it, positive it was the best souvenir of the trip even if the bf wasn’t so convinced. Months later, sitting at work in the breakroom, I would be vindicated when a transplanted and slightly homesick Canadian walked in, did an actual double take  and then promptly lost her shit at seeing the mug. She asked to take a photo of it and grilled me on where i’d gotten it and we commiserated on how very very unlike Vancouver any part of Texas is.

On the drive down to Seattle, I saw a Round Table Pizza coming up on the GPS and after asking if the bf had ever eaten at one and confirming he hadn’t, we took a small detour for lunch. I spent the better part of my teenage years growing up in the Bay Area of NorCal and Round Table Pizza was irrevocably linked to those years- birthday parties, after school cool kid hangout area and just really frikin good tasty pizza. After just one slice, the bf agreed it was amazingly good pizza and worth a detour (though perhaps not as good as pizza we made a 2 hour detour for in Zion ).

Loaded up on carbs and still buzzing from coffee a bit, we made it into Seattle just around 4:30 and proceeded to find a parking spot near Pike Place Market and aimed towards a shop just nearby that had a name that caught both our eyes, Robot Vs Sloth. After we both dropped a probably ill-advised amount of money on unspeakably cute stuff that just spills over with that west coast Seattle vibe, we headed on down to the market where we wandered around a bit, bought some fruit and finally I ended up on the lower level in a bookstore where I could have spent hours browsing through the haphazardly stacked books if it hadn’t been closing up in 5 minutes. The owner was super nice though and I managed to grab a book on the evolution of Pacific Northwest art in the region before he closed for the day and was ready to head on out when I saw just across from it, another store that was still open that captured my attention.

It turned out to the the Patrick T Kerr Gallery shop and honestly I have rarely seen such amazingly detailed art that still manages to be supremely creative. I tend to shy away from art rendered in precision and usually that means no architects but, this art was so lively and yet fantastically restrained in it’s efficient lines…I loved it and the guy working there must have seen that because he let me browse well past when I think they were probably supposed to close without even hovering. I bought a bunch of prints and postcards, one especially to send to a friend who lives in Paris who I knew would appreciate the work given his own love for the pure logic of mathematics. The man working there that day was insanely friendly and down to earth, even giving me a free signed print as he said, “Well you’re buying so many, don’t you want a perk?”  Which yes my good sir, thank you! I rarely talk about places to shop when I write about traveling (or ever) but if you’re visiting Pikes Place Market, I would definetly make the time to check this shop out if you can.

We ended our time here at the market by grabbing some of the last fresh mixed lemonade a stand was selling out front of the market, they were closing up shop so while we paid for small cups we received large sizes since it was the end of the day. Nice people or just good luck? I’d say a little bit of both probably, and also really good lemonade! We sipped the cool drink as we walked down closer to the docks and the Puget sound, the sun slowly starting to set a golden color over everything.

~m

Whats Up? (aka the past 4 Months)- Frisco, Texas

Back in April I started posting about the trip me and the bf took to Europe together at the end of March and since then it’s been pretty much all i’ve posted about- both because I had so many photographs I wanted to share and because I do like providing a more linear kind of blogging experience vs sporadic postings all over the place. But, because of that and my reigning title as Exemplary Blogging Procrastinator, it’s now the middle of August and i’m just now finishing up posting about the trip (which isn’t even counting the fact that I didn’t do my usual Outtakes post but lets not get into that…)

So whats up?

A fair amount of stuff actually. Here’s a handy numerical list of things :

1- House sold. The bf and I decided you know what, as has probably been apparent for a good while, living in the suburbs isn’t for us so we decided after 3 years of living out there in a house much too big for just the two of us, to sell it and move closer to civilization. We’re now renting a 3bd apartment in the city of Frisco, Texas and it’s honestly been fantastic.

3- Fantasy books bought because my co-worker suggested them as we have the same taste in books. I still haven’t read the first one because this guy promised me they were a complete trilogy but a frantic late night discovery on his part reveled that nope, it’s an ongoing series. I didn’t commit workplace violence by throwing one of the books at him but, it was a close thing.

2- New places visited and marked off my bucket list- Washington (specifically the Seattle and Olympic Natl. Park area) and Vancouver. To put it simply- I loved it. Like no exaggeration here, i’m already making plans to figure out how to move out of Texas and live somewhere in Washington permanently.

1- Work related goal completed. I doubt i’ve mentioned this before but my day job (the one that I was offered last year while I was on vacation in Germany) consists of working in Sales Ops as a Salesforce Administrator and in June I finally put  my money where my mouth was and took the certification exam- and thankfully passed! Its not the first certification i’ve gotten for a job but it certainly felt like the hardest.

8- parcels/letters sent. Outside of work and traveling, i’ve a giant procrastinator. This definetly applies to my love of snail-mailing and after coming back from the aforementioned trip to Seattle and Vancouver, I sat my butt down and put together a bunch of packages to send to friends and realized as I always do when I get back into it, that I love and miss snail-mailing.

2- Unexpected work related things that happened in June. My director ask me if i’d be interested in going to the yearly Salesforce conference  (Dreamforce!) thats held in San Francisco and after I said yeah sure, why not? got issued a company credit card. Neither of these should be taken as a not-so-subtle humble brag though, because after that happened I had a deep existential crisis about what the heck i’m doing with my life and decided escaping to the PNW for a couple of days with the bf would be a good way to clear my head.

4- Pairs of weird and cool pj pants bought- one has whales, the other dancing cactuses and the third happy ice cream cones. The last one had otters on it that I sent to my friend Julia (the one who is amazing and let me stay with her when I visited her in Germany last year) and if thats not a sign of affectionate friendship that transcends international borders, I don’t know what is.

Countless- Cheeseboards eaten (because thats what you get when you realize you can either make them yourself or easily order them in place of a meal especially when you’re stressed as all heck)

And so thats, more or less, a compendium of whats been up in the last 4 months. Ideally the goal is to start posting about the trip to Seattle + Vancouver here sometime soon, but at this time i’m also navigating work (and studying up for my next Salesforce certification that I want to take in September at the conference), working on polishing up a manuscript to shop around to agents (query letter hell here I come), trying to get back into my art and snail-mailing, oh and also planning my next trip to Europe at the end of November. I think I forgot to mention that in the list above so here-

2- Plane tickets about. One roundtrip ticket from Dallas–> London and one from Budapest to London. 3- Hotels booked so far- cities include: London, Prague, Budapest.

Yup. Life has not slowed down and if anything it’s looking to just keep getting more and more interesting but apart from needing cheeseboard and coffee breaks here and there, i’m enjoying it.

Not drowning in my coffee cups yet,
~m