That's David there, at the Taylor Meadows campground on the Garibaldi Lake trail near Whistler, at the end of July, for pete's sake. (Click on that and get another view of the alleged campground.) This is a time of year when you can usually hike from the top of the Whistler Express lift, thousands of feet above. They were still skiing. Out of six tries, we hit one good hike. I wouldn't be going on about this except that, as you know if you've talked to David lately, hiking has become a centerpiece of our recreational life. So the snow kind of colored the trip. Yes, white.
So. Forgetting for the moment the snow, and the bugs, and that phony baloney "wine bar" in Whistler, and the fact that the river otters have been moved inside the aquarium (I'm assuming) where you have to pay to see them, what are the things we'll remember about Vancouver '99?
- That Robson cruise. Boy, it just gets more over the top every time. One by one, the few remaining down-to-earth establishments are being replaced by stores with names like XYXX and stuffed-beaver-and-syrup emporiums. Dear Kamei Sushi, where we got so blotto on sake, is now a Hooters. Insert woeful head shake here.
- Even more Millers, and a couple of Hanrahans. Last visit, Cousin Zach came up to meet us; this time, he brought along Uncle Ed and Aunt Bonnie. We had a Kirin dinner, a Chiyoda dinner and a hike with them -- the pic is Zach and a deer on a trail at Lynn Canyon park in North Vancouver -- and for Chiyoda threw in the mix old friends Brian and Gina from Pasadena. Couldn't be keenah.
- The Four Immortals. Kirin, Chiyoda, Imperial, Victoria. Imperial, actually, was a little weak this time. Big wedding was going on there, but they've been able to handle that in the past. On the basis of past performance, they retain a place on the list.
- Gotham. A new addition to our dinner circuit, and I'd say Hy's is now our No. 2 steakhouse. I was underwhelmed with my drink and salad, but the decor is good, the service is excellent and the steak is outstanding, and what else would you come here for?
- The Residence. After many happy times together, O'Doul's (the Listel) priced itself out of our reach. We went across the street and for barely $100 U.S. a day got a nice two-bedroom, two-bath suite with full kitchen and a decent view.
- Jeux Sans Frontieres. Or as Peter Gabriel says, "She's so funk today." But this is not the song! It is a so-French televised competition, kind of a EuroGladiators, in which teams of leotarded people perform tasks that I don't even want to know what kind of drugs you have to take to think up. One involved wearing big Crash Bandicoot heads and jumping into a big mud pit to catch balls that were being shot out of some other animal. Another one, a man in cowboy clothes -- and nobody does cowboy like the French -- tries to untie a teammate from some tracks as a locomotive powered by bicyclists comes ever near.
- Chocolate hedgehog heads for a loonie. We like loonies -- and big brother two-nies -- but I'd trade them all (well, OK: some) for some hedgehog heads.
- "I tell no one they will die." Written promise of a Robsonstrasse fortune teller. And a good place to end.
Last time out: Our 1997 Vancouver trip.