annathepiper: (Starbuck)
[personal profile] annathepiper
So yeah! [ profile] solarbird and I took a super-quick road trip up to Vancouver BC this weekend, to visit [ profile] cow, hang out, check out the city, and just in general get out of the house. It was a delightful trip in general. We had beautiful weather, a beautiful city to hang out in, extremely tasty bagels and other food, and a chance to greet [ profile] vixyish and [ profile] gfish.

And, best of all, we had a Surprise Jam Session!

The trip up was swift, and the border crossing brief. A couple of the cars ahead of us got dinged for some extra questions, but once we actually made it up to the booth, Dara and I pretty much sailed right through. We diverted briefly into White Rock for a pit stop, which was neat since I hadn't been over there before. There was a nice stretch of beach in front of the little hotel and cafe where we stopped.

I armed us with my iPod and [ profile] spazzkat's helpful little device for hooking an iPod into a car stereo--the RoadTrip. And I queued up my "Canadians" playlist for traveling music, which is to say, all the Canadian artists who aren't Great Big Sea. (GBS of course having several playlists of their own. Featured on the list, for the interested: the Fables, the Irish Descendants, Natalie MacMaster, Jeremy Fisher, Liam Titcomb, the Paperboys, Captain Tractor, Three Dead Trolls in a Baggie, La Bottine Souriante, and all of the fine folks on Fire in the Kitchen.)

We got into Vancouver proper around 1ish, and finally hooked up with [ profile] cow. We went to have a very nice little lunch at a cafe near his apartment, which is in a neighborhood that reminded Dara and me both a lot of Somerville in Massachusetts.

On the way to the UBC campus after lunch, we stopped in the Chapters in downtown Vancouver so I could look for a particular couple of books--both by one of my favorite authors, Susanna Kearsley (the one who wrote The Shadowy Horses). She's got one out under the name Emma Cole, and another under the Susanna Kearsley name; neither of them have shown up on US shelves. But happily, I found them at the Chapters.

Our purpose for hitting UBC was twofold: 1) so [ profile] cow could pick up a library book, and 2) so we could see the part of the campus that stands in for Cloud Nine on Battlestar Galactica! (Reason #1 I'm using the Starbuck icon here, hee. ^_^) That was neat. Lovely flowers in the garden there, and an excellent view of the nearby mountains--though I will admit that the vista wasn't quite as impressive as the one of Mount Rainier on the U-Dub campus here in Seattle. For extra bonus geektitude, we also spotted the tower that appears in the X-Files episode "Blood"!

Next up: a jaunt over to Commercial Avenue to see if we could find a record store for me to get one or more of the Canadian CDs I wanted. Unfortunately the store that [ profile] cow discovered Googling turned out to be a used-record store that sold just rock, which failed to be useful for my purpose, since just about all the things I wanted fell into the category of folk. So [ profile] cow and I hung out on a bench outside while Dara went into the instrument shop next door and played with their mandolins.

We stopped briefly in a coffee shop on Commercial as well, and much to our amusement, were approached by one of the guys who'd been on duty as waitstaff at the cafe where we'd eaten lunch. He recognized us and wanted to know if we were together. Hee. ^_^ So we exchanged a little conversation and he wished us luck on the election in November.

Walking back from the cafe was nice, just a few short blocks to get back to [ profile] cow's apartment through a pleasant little residential area and park. Dara amused a passing dog owner by speaking Dog to her pet convincingly enough that said doggie was quite put out that there was no other actual dog in sight.

Dinner Saturday evening was Indian, since Dara and I hadn't had good Indian food in a while. That was tasty, as was the gelato we had after.

The first item on Sunday's agenda was to meet [ profile] vixyish and [ profile] gfish for bagels. This was pleasant all around even if we missed the initial bus we were aiming for; we wound up being only a little late, since the bus we actually caught covered the route a lot faster than expected. Amusing conversation and extremely tasty bagels were consumed. Of especial note: the Rosemary/Rock Salt bagels. ZOMG so good.

After bagels, we went back downtown to hit the HMV superstore there for Anna Attempts to Get CDs, Round Two. Here I hit paydirt and found albums by a majority of the artists I was interested in--though I was quite disappointed that they didn't have the latest Fables album, OR anything by La Bottine Souriante, the top of my Canadian music priority list. I finally got Song Dog by Jimmy Rankin and Va by Slainte Mhath.

Next: more BSG geeking as [ profile] cow took us by Skytrain and bus to the campus of Simon Fraser University. This was particularly cool as bits of the campus have appeared in multiple BSG episodes; I quickly recognized the fountain area used as the marketplace in the opening miniseries, as well as the steps where Helo first discovers that Sharon is a Cylon. Dara also recognized the building where Leoben holds Kara captive.

It must be noted that the SFU campus is up in the mountain-y bits around Vancouver and is stunningly pretty. The architecture is interesting to look at (as you might see from the aforementioned BSG episodes), and the surrounding mountains are breathtaking. [ profile] cow tells us that this actually keeps most SFU students from staying on the campus, though, since it's quite difficult to get up there during the winter.

The coolest thing by far about the SFU campus, though, turned out to be the SURPRISE JAM SESSION in the little cafe where we stopped for snacks. A guitarist named Michael apparently does a little open-mike thing there every Sunday, and when he spotted Dara's mandolin, he immediately struck up a conversation with us. I told him Dara's a lot more serious about the music thing than I am and that I noodle around on the guitar because I like it--but! He was very impressed by Dara's pieces that she played for him, and he let me play his electric guitar as well. VERY COOL. I hadn't handled an electric guitar before and I totally swooned at the sound of it.

He miked me up when I tried to sing a few things, which was a little nervous-making; I'm still not very good at singing miked yet. *^_^*;; It would be nice to get better at that and learn how to adjust my vocal power to account for it.

Michael was joined by a young lady whose name we were given, though I unfortunately didn't catch the spelling--so I'm only guessing that it might have been Davida. However one spells her name, she was nonetheless a stunningly good singer. She and Michael duetted on a couple of things, and it was very much a pleasure to listen to her. I was particularly struck by the piece that they did where she sang in French and he sang in English.

Also, Michael was a most excellent guitarist and I riveted my attention on his hands as he played, trying to figure out what the hell he was doing. Lots of barre chords, further up the neck, as well as some fun finger work--stuff I have realized I can't necessarily do easily on Rags because the action on my little guitar gets a lot higher quite quickly as I go up the neck. This increases my resolve to get a better guitar at my earliest opportunity!

It was with great reluctance that we eventually took our leave, just so that [ profile] cow could show us a bit more before we finally had to get on the road. And where we went, again by Skytrain, was the nearby community of New Westminster. By the time we got over there the downtown strip had pretty much closed up, but it was fun to walk into the gaming store there anyway and hear them playing "Still Alive" over the speakers, AND to see that they were selling lanyards left over from PAX. The guy at the counter cheerily informed us that he'd already sold three for five bucks apiece.

Finally we headed back to [ profile] cow's place, got our stuff together, and got on the road. The trip back was uneventful and the border crossing amazingly swift and hassle-free, much to our pleasure.

We must do this again ASAP, hopefully not too long after my surgery recovery period. I want to see more of Vancouver in general, hang out with other folks up there--and maybe bring Rags up so Dara and I can jam again with Michael at SFU!
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Anna the Piper

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