Monday, April 30, 2018

Maximum Color

Most days you will find me roaming around with my camera. No surprise really, but here I've taken it to a new level. On every excursion, whether it be right in the next door park, or walking the city streets, I'm seeing new things, which at our age, is a very good thing. And although I knew we were going to the tulip festival on Thursday, I still wanted more so I made a visit to Queen Elizabeth Park again to see what had changed since my last visit. Oh my, oh my, oh my!
I really can't find the words to describe the glories of spring, at least in this part of the world. Perhaps it is even better other places, I'll never know, however, I'm soaking it all in every chance I get. The weather was cooperative last week, in fact it got quite warm before this past weekend's rain. As soon as I got off the train, exiting onto Cambie Street, I saw Dogwood trees, something Nancy and I had only recently discussed. Quite common in the Atlanta area, I hadn't yet seen any here and assumed they did not grow in Vancouver. Wrong.
Indeed they do grow here, and apparently there is a pink version as well! Woo hoo! Prior to this sighting, I'd seen about three in Orlando, thinkin they were wonderful, although now that I've seen these, the few in Orlando pale in comparison. The trees along Cambie are probably seventy feet tall, rather than the maybe 10 feet tall versions I've seen. I'm beginning to wonder what doesn't grow here. I spent some time reading about the Vancouver city trees, learning that along with the 40,000 Cherry trees, there are 140, 000 other trees lining the streets. Furthermore, turns out loads of them are of the blooming type. And just when I thought that I could not get any more excited!
Above is one last one from QE park which is a shame because I saw some glorious things, however, if I focus on that, we'll never get to the tulip festival! Should you be wondering, that purple is an amazing rhododendron which I'm learning comes in so many, many, colors.

Oops, before we go on our trip together, just an updated picture of what I thought was a Quince and now I don't. All four of the trees are now covered in blooms, and if my reading about trees is any guide, this is probably a Plum tree. Or so I think.
Abbotsford is about an hours drive East from Vancouver. The nearer we got to Abbotsford, the more we could see of the mighty Mt. Baker, located in Washington state. How mighty? Here's how mighty.
Following the directions on their website, they sent us on a bit of a convoluted route, backtracking for miles, apparently to aleviate the local traffic conditions. Bruce kept asking if we were going in the right direction because he hadn't seen any tulip fields, however, we understood why once we arrived. Turns out they put up fencing which hid the fields from our sight. Holy Moly, what a sight it was.
Apparently, because of all the early April rain, the tulips were a bit late coming into full bloom so there were some rows that still had not opened up.
The good news for us is that this past weekend was the beginning of what they call "high bloom" season when they charge double for admission. My thought was to go on a weekday so it wouldn't be as crowded, and boy am I glad we did, as it rained all weekend long! The first thing you come to is the "u pick 'em" fields where the tulips are planted in multicolored rows.
Oh wait, here's a better shot of how they looked all mixed together.
Perhaps you noticed how the fields extend so far on the left? We walked around the whole display and seriously, it was almost color overload!
So, here I am amongst the blooms, wearing both sunglasses because it was crazy bright, and jeans, which were a poor choice. Because I anticipated getting down on my knees to take photographs, I wore the jeans, however, I was actually hot as the dickens, wishing I'd worn shorts instead! Because it was so bright, Bruce wasn't sure he was getting a shot we'd like so he took more. That's my boy! I'm including a second shot because, after seeing myself in the photo, I realized I'd better get myself to the hair salon ASAP. Which I did on Saturday, but that's a whole 'nother story better told in another post.
As we've discussed in the past, super bright sunshine is not really your friend when taking flower photographs. Some of the tulips were so intensely colored that photographs just do not do them justice. The one Bruce is holding is a case in point, and I'm sad about that because they were absolutely stunning in person. Nearly the size of an hibiscus which really surprised us.
None of them were labeled, so I have no idea what variety these are, but what I do know is that both their color and structure are striking.
As you can imagine I was dying over the intense orange, well, actually Bruce, although primarily a red tulip man, was enamored as well. The photo below includes two of our favorites, the orange one and the almost black, Queen of the Night, tulip.
Sounds as if I know what I'm talking about, doesn't it? That would be Bruce's scoop on the name of the dark tulip as he found someone to ask! I'd seen them at QE park the day before, thinking they were one of the most dramatic flowers I've ever seen. One thing the sun did for us though, is show how the tulips can be nearly transparent, including that variety which really surprised us as it is SO dark head on.
Compare the above with the one below.
All over the place, folks were either posing amongst the flowers,
or looking for places to pose! The lady in the blue dress stood out nearly as much as the tulips.
I fell in love with these red and white ones, I'm calling candy cane tulips which is entirely made up. I've no idea what they are really called, but don't you think it is a fitting name?
In our early days here, Kelly, from Bruce's work, told me about the festival and I'd been looking forward to it ever since. The experience exceeded all of my expectations.
Really, what's not to like? Mountains, good company, surrounded by flowers, warm air and bright sunshine?
You'd have to be a pretty big grouch not to have a good time amongst all of that beauty.

After soaking in as much as we could stand, we got back on the road, this time taking the shorter route. Bruce asked if there were any other places I wanted to visit while we were in the valley and as soon as I saw the sign to Fort Langley I asked him to pull off the highway. What a charming town, set along the Fraser River. (everything in this part of British Columbia, including Vancouver)
Long story short, this area once had a Hudson's Bay trading post, that nearly became part of America but the British won out. They call themselves the birthplace of British Columbia.
As it turns out, there are tulips everywhere. Following lunch at a very tasty bistro, we walked along until we came to the fort, however, truth be told, I was too darn hot to continue. I know, you thought that you would never hear me say something like that while here didn't you? That said, we most definitely need to return to this area because, not only is it historic, it is just plain beautiful!
Hardly looks real, right?

You would not believe how well I did when we crossed the Port Mann bridge on the way home.
Maximum color, is there any other way to describe this scene?
As you can imagine, this is but a fraction of what I took, doing my best to keep it brief but pretty. How did I do?

yours truly,

Gail

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Is it Any Wonder?

Going back through the photographs I've taken this April, aside from there being far too many, I counted all of the new flowers/plants I've seen, and even I am astonished that there are 72 new things to date. Incredible, right? My method was to just count the type. In other words, daffodil counts as one and so forth. When you start getting into the various colors, the number is probably closer to 100. Is it any wonder I'm going crazy with happiness? It hardly seems fair that I get to roam around and gawk while B is working, however, he does not quite have the same enthusiasm level when it comes to growing things. Although he is pretty smitten with the new growth on all the trees, as well he should be.
I finished the David Sedaris book, returning it this morning. Beth, bless her heart, alerted me that he will be here in a matter of weeks, playing at the Vogue theater which is but a few blocks away. We would be fools not to go.

The Vancouver police had a very busy weekend what with both a 10K, and Vancouver 420. I've most definitely heard of a 10K, but 420 had me stymied, that is until I heard someone talking about it on the bus. Perhaps I'm preaching to the choir, but if not, here's the scoop: at 4:20PM on April 20, people smoke pot in a big group. Although they are legalizing weed this summer, at the moment it is illegal, however, that did not stop anyone. I was walking down Beach on Friday afternoon after a wonderful time at SP, when I began coming across the folks, gathering at Sunset Beach.
It must have been around 1:30 in the afternoon and although a crowd was gathering,
apparently, by light up time there were 35,000 people who left their mark when it was all said and done. It always puzzles me how laws are enforced here.

Speaking of the bus, this was my driver one day last week. Unlike other large cities, the bus drivers here have no problem chatting you up should you be in one of the front seats. She, was of that ilk.
Although I do not share David Sedaris's wit, I do have curiosity in common with him. Learning that driving a bus was a stressful job, I asked for examples. One she shared is the day she had to turn a woman away because she wanted to carry a gas can on the bus. Plus people get angry when the bus is full. She talked more, but you get my drift. My bus ride takes about six minutes btw.

This I'm just throwing in here because it seems like a good aspiration.
I know we've been on flower overload for weeks now, but I do notice other things, including signs that amuse me. I've seen a heck of a lot of hair salon names in my lifetime, but never this one.
Following Saturday's spring cleaning, we began walking, stopping first in Yaletown at the St. George's Day celebration. Apparently the entire British Isles are celebrated. There was entertainment,
this fantastic car from the "mostly British" car club in Langley,
and a little market where these mugs caught my attention.
There is a roundhouse, which I'm still not entirely sure what that means, something about how a train gets turned around. A nice man began his chat, saying he would give us a brief history, however, his idea of brief and ours may not have been the same. Nevertheless, we love learning stuff so no worries. It is pretty darn cool to see the steam engine that brought the first Trans-Canada train to Vancouver.
Perhaps you are noticing all the sun streaming through the windows? Well, friends, it was a glorious day to be alive. Because B works, not to mention the weather has not been conducive to just walking, he's not seen nearly as much as I have, so I played tour guide.
We'd eaten lunch at a waterside restaurant and it was the first time Bruce has worn a short sleeved shirt in probably six months. Not for too long though as it was still chilly, but the sun felt so good nevertheless. While at the Roundhouse, we learned that the roof on BC place had to be replaced following the huge windstorm that felled so many trees in SP.
While I look at nature, Bruce looks at buildings. Well, duh, that's what builders do. Walking home through town, this new batch of cherry trees are killer. (more to come another day)
As are the tulips at the park. You know it is a wonderful day when you see the mountains at the end of Richards Street.
Later on Greg and Zarita picked us up for dinner at Gotham Steakhouse. Delicious, expensive, but what a treat. I've rarely had steak here because it cost more than I'm willing to pay, even at the grocery store.
The good news is that because we did not walk there, I actually wore some low heels, a first since we've been here!

The Vancouver Sun Run is one of the largest in North America, so you can bet I was happy that they ran right near our place,
meaning we took a little different route to church, heading up the steep hill on Hornby which I generally avoid. It was very festive as you would expect.
Organizers, no doubt, were delighted with the perfect weather after our 16 days of rain this month. Had we not been on our way to church, I'd have liked to get a better shot of all the runners heading onto the Burrard bridge, but you get what you can.
Following church, we walked a bit in the West End, admiring the trees that are both budding,
and those that are fully formed once again.
The day I visited the Roede house was a grim one, so seeing it in the spring made me happy that I got to show it to Bruce when the weather was perfect.
As is our custom, after lunch we walked towards Robson Square. Over the years, Bruce has become accustomed to me stopping every few feet when I see something that interests me, such as these undergarments.
What now Gail? You decide.
Amazingly, there were no protests, however there was a girl singing with a very lovely voice.
As I've told you before, when Vancouver is pretty, you just can't beat it.
Now, I'm mostly caught up. Tulip festival on Thursday!!

yours truly,

Gail

Long Beach, CA