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Since I’m not travelling at the moment I thought it would be fun to write about Vancouver as if I’m a tourist here. When I’m travelling everything is seen through “new eyes”, or at least, if it’s a place I’ve been before, through “holiday eyes”. Everything seems fresh and fun. During the Olympics I noticed that all the people I was hanging out with, who were from out of town, were taking a lot of pictures, of just about everything, the same as I do when I’m in a new place, or on holiday. During the Olympics I didn’t take a single photo. Well the city is ordinary to me because I see it everyday. But most of you who read this don’t live in Vancouver, and have probably never been here, so hopefully you’ll find it an interesting travel post, and maybe it will inspire you to come visit.

Two weeks ago the annual “car free” day on Main St was held. And everyone came out to play. Prior to that we’d been seeing the signs that Main St would be closed from 33rd Ave to 16th Ave on June 20th but didn’t know why. I think sometimes  we live under a rock. Anyway we decided to go for a walk and since it’s right in our neighbourhood we stumbled straight into it. This was my cue to race home to get the camera – a real camera, an SLR, my first, a gift from my sister.

Car free day is when anyone and everyone sets up stalls on the street, and people dress up crazy, and ride weird hand built bikes or a big black mechanical spider, or do street performances, or play music. There was an African choir, and some blues musicians, and a great rock singer, and a singer who sounded like a young Joni Mitchell. There was a group of kids doing a performance with giant muppets. Roller Derby girls giving demonstrations. Spinners spinning in front of the wool shop. And a sound system powered by riding a bicycle. I saw a woman well into her seventies totally rocking out to the blues music (as I did myself), and a big crowd singing along with the African choir. Food stalls, and jewellery stalls, and clothing. A stall promoting backyard chickens now they are again legal in Vancouver, and all the different “Land Rights for Gay Whales” and save the environment stalls. And the crowds wanderd up and down taking it all in, like a big party.

A sunny day would have been magical, but this is Vancouver and we have learned to simply feel blessed that it is not raining.

Aaaaarrrrrgh! It sure is hard to pick just a few photos when there are so many interesting ones.

African choir members

Singin’ the blues

Powering the sound system

Blowing bubbles

Roller Derby rules!

Mechanical spider – this is a truly amazing contraption, having eight legs that rise and fall in sequence so the whole thing moves along.

I didn’t realise this was a man until I saw the photo on the computer

Since we live under a rock, and didn’t even know this was happening, it sure turned out to be a completely unexpected, and interesting, and fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

About a week ago we went for a hike in Pacific Spirit Regional Park, better known as the Endowment Lands (though the endowment lands are much more than just the park). In the early 1900’s the government of BC endowed the land to what would become the University of British Columbia. The park is acres and acres of forest, with hiking trails all through it. It’s unlikely to ever be developed since the following groups must be consulted beforehand: university students, university staff, university faculty, environmental groups, businesses, residents and the general public. So this means that right in Vancouver we have this huge forest to play in.

Don and I love to hike and often go over to the north shore mountains to the many trails in the forest there, but if we don’t want the longer drive, the Endowment Lands are just twenty minutes away.

Low tide at Spanish Banks. We start our hike here.

Summer in the city, even if it is only 19 degrees. Brrrrr

Forest trail

Forest foxglove

It’s a beautiful place to get some good exercise and soak up the stillness of really old trees and the beauty of nature.

All words and images by Alison Louise Armstrong unless otherwise noted.
© Alison Louise Armstrong and Adventures in Wonderland – a pilgrimage of the heart, 2010-2015.