The Friday of the last weekend of the Olympics I sat in my office listening to fellow co-workers talk about how amazing it was to be up there, how it was great just to be a part of this global energy regardless of whether they attended events or not. Only nights before I had similar interactions with friends - explaining how easy it was to get across the border, catch the sky train into the city center, and wander around taking in the sites. Now, I'm not normally known for spontaneity - my life reads like a calendar really, but that Friday afternoon I felt the sudden urge to be somewhat spontaneous and venture North the following day. My thoughts - how could we miss such a great event when it's so close to us?
Later that evening I prodded Gabe about the idea and it was settled - we would rise early, drive to Surrey and park at a park-and-ride, take the sky train to the torch and make our way through the city by foot seeing everything we possibly could. We prepared by making a quick trip to Trader Joe's to stock up on any snack items and a swing by the ATM for a fistful of cash...just in case I needed a pair of Olympic mittens that I've heard folks rave about. PS - never did get those mittens. We went into The Bay to check them out but the line was ridiculous. Gabe and I are definitely not 'waiting in line' type of people especially when it comes to purchasing more 'stuff' so we skipped it entirely. I have plenty of mittens and if I was really dead set on having them I guess I could purchase 2 dollar gloves from Fred Meyer and sew white circles on them.
Saturday morning we awoke bright and early and hit the road by 8 AM. I-5...no traffic. Wasn't there talk that the Winter Olympics was going to create copious amounts of traffic through Bellingham? Hmmm...doesn't look like that panned out. It was all a ploy for developers to build gigantic condo/retail buildings that will sit empty for years and to widen roads like the Guide, demolishing small road-side homes. But I digress.
We reached the border in record time and found ourselves in a line-free, all lanes open situation. We pulled in behind a truck ready to speed right up to the booth. Funny how the lane we DID pick ended up being the longest wait (all of 5 minutes...maybe). The guy in the truck was asked to pull over - bummer.
Once across it was smooth sailing to the park-and-ride in Surrey to catch the sky train. Although this wasn't the fastest way to get into downtown it was rather enjoyable. The train was fairly empty and we got to watch as parts of BC slid by.
First stop, the waterfront to catch a glimpse of the Olympic torch and the rings out in the water.
Then it was south to Robson St. and east to Granville. On our way I got a quick tutorial on the Bobsled...well, no, not really but it was a great photo op. I couldn't sit all the way down because the seat was covered in water but I'm pretty sure I looked professional.
We made haste past silly Canadians playing hockey in the blocked off street (getting ready for the big game the following day - Canada vs. US) towards Yale town. Unfortunately none of the quaint eateries were open yet so our walk continued on toward BC place.
Briefly stopping to check out the curling competition. Oddly enough I think this was the year of curling for me. I had seen it a few nights before our trip up north and my brother tried to explain all of the rules and the method. I think I'm a fan but I have to say it's not the most exciting sporting event.
There really wasn't much to see right near BC place since it was all tented off and only those with tickets were allowed in. But we did venture down to the riverfront and got a glimpse of the Olympic village on the other bank. It was pretty fun to see all the different flags hanging from the windows of the apartment complexes. You could distinguish the Canadian building from the Swiss building and so on. I wonder what it would be like as an athlete to stay there for a week or two and enmesh yourself in everyone's cultures (at least I hope that's how it works out).
And of course we got to see all of the rock statues that were erected on the river shore. Now, I didn't have a clue what these meant and there wasn't any placard that described their meaning so here's the deal - they are Inuit guiding stones. I wish my camera could have captured how large some of these were but oh well.
Our last stop was the Sochi preview at the Science Center. I was pretty impressed with the Russian pride and turnout here in Vancouver. I realize they are getting the next Winter Olympics but still - it's a long way to travel. They did have quite the flair.
A short sky train ride later and we were back at our car and heading home. All in all it was a very worthwhile half day tour of the Olympic scene in downtown Vancouver and I'm glad we were able to make the time to get up there.