On Friday night, the word from Via Rail suggested the Canadian would be on time or even early. Consequently, a shade before 8 PM, I bade goodbye to Mark and my nieces. Alice drove me first to the hospital where she had to check up on some work. As I waited in her electric car, I got a phone call from Via Rail saying that the Train was likely to be 20 to 25 minutes early! Would I mind being at the station a little early? Alice came out and asked me if I would like to drive. I most certainly would and did so. Driving an electric car is a bit eerie as it is too easy to accelerate and too easy to underestimate your speed. It is also cool.
The Canadian arrived well ahead of schedule and after waving adieu to Alice, I got on board my car. I was in the Butler Manor sleeping car, just ahead of the Bliss Manor car which was the one my compartment was in on my first trip on the Train.
The theme of premature arrival was one that carried over to Vancouver, as we arrived possibly as much as an hour ahead of schedule. I had phoned Margo to alert her to this unusual state of affairs shortly after we crossed the Fraser River. My breakfast companions were some Americans from Portland, Maine who were surprised I had data access on my iPhone. Somehow, they hadn't twigged I was Canadian (eh?) and therefore had a Canadian data plan.
Margo met me at Pacific Central Station. While we awaited the arrival of my checked luggage, we chatted with a woman who said that there had been a Quebecer who had been caught smoking in the bathroom on the Train and was now being formally informed that he was persona non grata as far as Via Rail was concerned. Chris drove us to their house where I promptly collapsed into a snooze as I hadn't slept particularly well on the Train.
The great thing about staying with Margo and Chris is that I find it very easy just to take it easy and relax. There is little impetus to do this or that in any hurry. This is assisted by the fact that I have been here several times in the last fifteen years, and the three of us know each other fairly well.
On Saturday, we had supper with Margaret and Edward who had come over to see Science World. They spent the night here and then left, with Edward taking several Church Mice books with him.
On Sunday, I went over to North Vancouver to spend time with my cousin Kristine, her husband Kevin, and their daughters Julianne and Elisabeth. Kevin, Elisabeth and I had a walk in a nature reserve down by Burrard Inlet where we came across a quartet of deer.
On Monday, I had lunch with my Aunt Rosemary and Uncle Cecil. I had gone downtown with Margo and Chris by bus and SkyTrain. Margo and Chris were going to a lecture at Simon Fraser University about Chile. I met up with Margo and Chris after lunch and we went to see the steam locomotive that hauled the first transcontinental passenger train. I made curry out of leftover lamb that night.
On Tuesday, I borrowed Margo and Chris' "loaner" bike and took advantage of the first sunny day to ride to the Vancouver Aquarium. Many other denizens of Vancouver were also enjoying the sunshine in diverse ways, including bikes. As I rode for the first time in nearly two months, I tried to assess what type of cyclist I appeared to be as I was riding a beater bike, but with an older MEC pannier and wearing a good helmet and a bright orange fleece jacket. I never came up with a good answer.
At the Aquarium, I was intrigued to see that the marine mammal lineup now includes Chester, the young (two years old) false killer whale who shares a pool with Helen the Pacific white-sided dolphin. Helen used to share the pool with another of her species, but it died within the last year. After I was done with Aquarium, I went around the Seawall then rode to the end of False Creek. I stopped outside Science World to consult a map when I noticed an electronic sign that tallied the number of cyclists that went by via an electromagnetic loop in the bike path. I wonder if it picks up carbon fiber bikes. Approximately 1760 cyclists had ridden over the sensor that day by the time I was there. Not bad for a week day in February! After a stop at MEC, I went home.
Today, Margo, Chris and I took in the St-Roch and the Maritime Museum. Afterwards, we had Shanghai-style dumplings for lunch before going on a walk beside the beach with a friend and the black Lab he is fostering before she starts her training to be a guide dog.
Tomorrow, I fly to Victoria.