Tuesday, October 18, 2005

B.C. Two-Hander

The Seattle Trip, Part 3

On Saturday, we headed up to Vancouver, B.C. to pay a visit to Michelle's aunt, grandmother, and cousin. We arrived around noontime and met everyone in Richmond, a suburb of Vancouver. Suburb might not be the correct term, because Richmond is actually something of a suburban Chinatown. I've been to a few other suburban Chinatowns before, and they are pretty interesting. They take the look and feel of an urban ethnic neighborhood and apply it to the suburban strip mall. One of Toronto's Chinese suburbs, Markham, even has its own multi-story full-enclosed Asian shopping mall.

We all met up for Dim Sum at Kirin Seafood Restuarant. The Dim Sum experience at Kirin is fairly upscale. They don't have waiters pushing around carts and calling out dishes as they pass each table like a peanut vendor at a baseball game. The decor was definitely several notches above your average Chinese restaurant, with nice tablecloths, carpets, and wood paneled walls. The food was very good, though the selection was somewhat limited, at first. We were told that three of the dishes we ordered: turnip cake, rice porridge, and egg custard, three dishes that I thought were pretty much standard Dim Sum fare, weren't available. In the end, they managed to bring us the egg custard and the rice porridge. The egg custard was delicious and easily the freshest I have ever eaten. It was still warm and soft when it arrived at the table.

After Dim Sum, we all headed to the Capilano Fish Hatchery, located just north of downtown Vancouver in North Vancouver. Vancouver is an amazing city, and I will hopefully get to spend a lot more time wandering around it sometime. Unfortunately, it lacks a north/south freeway, so driving through it takes forever. Still, if you don't have enough time to stop and enjoy Vancouver, at least you can get an idea of what the city has to offer. The southern part of the city has kilometer after kilometer of interesting shops and restaurants along Granville St. As you get closer to downtown, the view of English Bay, high-rise apartment towers, and the mountains to the north overwhelm your view. The compact and lively downtown abruptly turns into Stanley Park, a beautiful and heavily wooded urban park that covers the entire peninsula that sticks out into the bay on the northern edge of Vancouver.

The fish hatchery was interesting. Prior to my visit, I thought a fish hatchery was a place where fish were farmed for human consumption, but that's not really what goes on. Fish hatcheries actually capture fish that are on the verge of spawning (in this case, salmon) and take over for the fish, removing the eggs from the females and fertilizing them with the sperm from the males. They take care of the baby fish until they are ready to go out on their own, then they release them into the river and they swim out and live their lives in the ocean, then come back to the river when its time to spawn. The whole idea behind this is to increase the survival rate of the offspring, thereby increasing the number of adult salmon swimming around in the ocean and eventually, into the stomachs of grizzly bears or sushi connoisseurs.

The highlight of the hatchery visit for me was my new t-shirt. I have developed a strong appreciation of the art of the indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest and I've been looking for a t-shirt that depicts some of their artwork for a while.

After the hatchery, we visited the Capilano Suspension Bridge and Park. This place is basically a tourist trap, but the suspension bridge is pretty neat, though not really worth the price of admission. The bridge is a footbridge that spans the width of the Capilano Canyon. It's no place for those who are afraid of heights, and the bridge sways enough that you almost think that you are taking your life into your own hands as you walk across it, even though it's perfectly safe. The other main attraction was a set of walkways that allow you to walk around the forest 20-30 feet above the ground.

We then headed back to Seattle. Fortunately, the traffic was much lighter going though Vancouver on the way back. On the way into Vancouver, we saw some Toyota Prius taxicabs, which I took as more evidence that Vancouver is a pretty hip and innovative kind of city. On the way back, we saw a Toyoya Prius taxi with rims and a drop-down LCD screen for the passengers. Next time you need to arrive in style in the Vancouver area, look no further than Coquitlam Taxi.

We got back to Seattle around 8pm, had some dinner, and headed back to Fremont for some drinks at a bar called Norm's. Norm's is cool because it's a dog-themed bar, it's smoke-free, and it has some good beers. Of course, almost every bar in the Pacific Northwest has good beers. I enjoyed a Deschutes Brewing Co. Black Butte Porter. One of the unfortunate parts of this trip was it allowed me to taste the beers that I haven't tasted in several years, since it's hard to find a lot of craft beers outside of the area in which they are brewed. Beers like Black Butte and Full Sail Amber Ale had been elevated to ambrosia-like status in my mind, since I remember enjoying them in Oregon six years ago and I haven't tasted them since then. In actuality, they are very good beers, but they didn't overwhelm my taste buds as much as I had hoped. In their defense, I didn't manage to have either one drawn from a tap while I was in Seattle. I've always found that draught beers taste better than bottled beers, providing that the draught is being drawn from a fresh keg.


Mary Morgan said...
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Amon said...
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