Vancouver B.C. June 25, 2008

Wednesday found us spending the day at the University of British Columbia (UBC) campus. On the list were the botanical gardens and the museum of anthropology. We walked up to the transit area on Broadway and caught a bus out to the campus, through the Kitsalano neighborhood.

A quick note on transit. Portland has pretty good mass transit. Vancouver’s transit is fantastic. We’ve never waited more that 7 minutes for a bus or train. Usually we get to a transfer point and the bus or train is moments away. The transit has also been very direct. In some cases two transfers are recommended on the TransLink website, but that just is to give the option of not walking to a transit center. Usually we’ve walked to the transit point and caught either a single bus to our destination (e.g., UBC) or caught the Sky Train then a bus. For $2.50 you get a 90 minute window in which you can use any bus, train or sea bus (mini-ferries) to get around the city. Or you can pick up a book of 10 tickets for $19 at any 7-11, etc. We haven’t used the rental car once since arriving here! All told, using public transport the entire time we visited, we spent a total of $35 on transportation and made our way all over the city.

The ride out to UBC from The Drive took about 35-40 minutes, but since we had seats we just enjoyed looking at the people traveling with us and the changes to the neighborhoods. It isn’t though Vancouver is without big chains (e.g., Starbucks, MacDonalds, etc.), there just seem to be fewer of them. Many more independent shops, cafes, etc. Once again we were struck by how international the city is. We’ve heard many different languages here.

Once we got to the campus it was an easy stroll to the museum. The short walk took us past a really beautiful library, down wide avenues lined with big trees, through a charming rose garden, and to the museum. Nice people even took a picture of CK and I for free in the rose garden (**the $4 picture from Gastown did turn out pretty nice although we were totally hustled for that money).

Sherri in the UBC Rose Garden

The Museum of Anthropology at UBC houses an impressive collection of totem pole carvings from the First Nations tribes of this area. I was especially impressed a the display of these massive pieces; many are situated so a person in a wheel chair would easily be able to roll up to the very edge to appreciate the whole piece. These massive wooden carvings are housed predominately in the “Great Hall”, a soaring, glass fronted structure that looks out over the ocean and city. Grand Totem Room

The glass also lets you see the carvings in natural light as well as overlooking an outdoor installation of a family house, mortuary building, and more totem poles. In several cases they’ve positioned the pieces so the viewer is able to tell how they were used. Some poles were just that, poles outside of a house or village. However, many pole pieces were the internal or external supports for a building. The outdoor installation is particularly beneficial in seeing the poles for how were used.

Entire Outside Totem Display

The museum also has an amazing sculpture by late First Nations artist Bill Reid. There is a rotunda dedicated to this Haida artist’s work. There are small silver and stone pieces and great information noting how Reid’s work changed from these smaller pieces, done in the tradition of his grandfather and uncles, to the larger pieces after he had been diagnosed with Parkinsons. The centerpiece of the rotunda is the truly magnificent carving of Raven and the First Men. We circled around this amazing, massive carving for quite some time just taking in the tremendous details.

The Raven (Haida Creation Myth)

This image now appears on the Canadian $20 bill.

After we finished up with the museum we were a bit hungry and decided to go down to the seashore to eat our lunch. We found the trail head down to Wreck Beach and decided to go for it anyway despite what looked to be many, many, many stairs and the note that the beach is “clothing optional”. We were right, there were a whole lot of stairs and on the way down we wondered if we made the right choice since we’d have to climb back up them. But we pressed on and were rewarded with an amazing view of the city, cargo ships being towed into port, and very few naked people! We enjoyed our lunch we’d packed that morning and watched ships go by.

Looking back down the steps

During the climb back up all those stairs we decided that going through the gardens would be too much for that day. We opted instead to stroll along campus, by the Japanese garden and the Asian Centre.

Asian Center at UBC

We made our way then to the very large bookstore where we picked up a few things, then back to the bus.

We decided to check out Womyns Ware, a women owned/run adult “toy” shop, which is towards the north end of The Drive. During our stroll around the neighborhood on Monday night we’d spotted it and thought it would be fun to pop in. Amidst the impressive collection of toys for sale there is a good selection of books. This shop also rotates the art on display in the shop as a way to give local women artists another venue to show and sell work. I picked up a small, charming print entitled Lotus Shadow by the current artist, Michelle Kuen Suet Fung.

We then strolled back up, stopping in at one of the several co-op markets. Had a nice chat with the people in the shop, wandered up to the liquor store to pick up some beer, and then made our way back to the flat to make dinner. My cupcake baking plans were foiled again when I realized I didn’t actually have the oil that had been measured out in Portland. We opted to go back down to Sweet Cherubim and got treats (chocolate dipped halva bar [how can we get dozens of these back to Portland], a Bliss Ball [cocoa, almonds, and fruit juice made into a ball then dipped in chocolate], and a cocoa almond bar [nice, like a less sweet Larabar]).

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