Friday, February 26, 2010

Loving Vancouver

After a couple of weeks of olympic fever, one of the things that occurs to me is that it helps to be in the middle of such an experience to truly appreciate it. I didn't anticipate the life energy that would pulse through the city. There have been tragedies and triumphs and somehow, people have drawn closer.

On Sunday, Bill and I decided to take the little Aquabus from Vanier Park to the Aquatic Centre. It's barely a five-minute trip across the water, and took us to English Bay, where we walked with Black Jack as far as Stanley Park.

Sculptures and olympic reminders were everywhere.

We were impressed to see solar power being used for lights along the walking paths.

We sat for a while on the rocks by the beach, and watched this little brown bird - a song sparrow, I think.

There were hundreds of Inukshuks along the beach. I've never seen so many!

This seagull seemed to be enjoying the blue skies and relaxed atmosphere.

We watched all kinds of sailboats, tankers and yachts, and were especially drawn to this Viking Ship replica, Munin.

As usual, I took a lot of flying seagull shots. I like this one because I feel as though I have almost the same viewpoint as the seagull.

We walked as far as the heronry in Stanley Park. I have been enjoying the Blue Herons there for a few years now, and was wondering if they had returned to set up housekeeping for another season. As of Sunday, they hadn't arrived, but we were impressed to see that the Parks Board staff has put up these tin barriers on the trees. That will help, I hope, to keep the racoons out of the nests.

We walked along Pendrell Street, passing beautiful cherry blossoms,


and a heritage home with a beautiful garden and friendly inhabitant who allowed me to take a picture of his Camellias. At Denman Street, we made a left, and enjoyed a great brunch and latte at Delaney's Coffee House. Bill had a conversation with a couple who have been here for a few months, working on olympic projects. We sat outside, happy that a young lady was not only willing to share her table with us, but happy to welcome Black Jack as well. We left to go back to Stanley Park, warmed by the atmosphere as well as by the sun.

We walked around the lagoon, and enjoyed this Blue Heron,

as well as this one, just across the way. Note that little white seagull head peeking up from a nest at the right.

Bill quickly picked up Black Jack, when this racoon almost met her face to face.

At the little bridge, we watched ducks and seagulls. These Ring-necked ducks were diving so energetically, I could barely catch a photo of them.

I was almost eye to eye with this seagull.

Art on a background of blue sky.

Half moon in daylight.

Rich navy blue highlights.

It might be worth clicking on this picture, just to see the shades of orange in this pigeon's eye.

Strutting forward, showing off purples and greens.

I was happy with the fairly focused flying shot. (Phew.. alliterative f's)

A ring-necked duck taking a two-second break between dives.

We left Stanley Park, stopping for a moment on Alberni Street to take this lbb, and then continued on to Robson Street.

What a party! People cheered like crazy, as we watched a screen with speed skater, Kristy Groves, earning a silver medal.

We had fun watching the Zipline. The line-ups were too long to consider trying it out, but honestly, Bill and I agreed that it looked safe, and I think we both could imagine ourselves having a great time on it. This girl must be the epitome of olympic spirit. Check out that smile and those mittens.
I wonder how the photos turned out.

This gives you an idea of the workings at home base. Interesting to me that the guys sending the riders off were also wearing helmets. The rider in blue looks a little bit nervous as his friend records the moment.

There they go!

We turned up Granville Street, where the crowds were equally enthusiastic. Smiles and laughter were everywhere.

Superman was happy to pose, although he did provide a little box for tips.

The police were having a great time as well, posing for pictures, and even recruiting Bill to help them out with a video prank aimed at their boss. Bill was happy to oblige, and I would say he was at least deserving of an Oscar for his performance. Black Jack had fun too!

Signs of olympic spirit were everywhere.

While we waited for the aquabus to pick us up again, we enjoyed this somewhat different perspective of the Burrard Bridge. I have taken many pictures from that little balcony.

We boarded the aquabus to head over to Vanier Park. No picture, but we could see our familiar eagle nest, and even could make out one of the Bald Eagles sitting on a branch. Just a note: Last evening, as I biked homeward over the Burrard Bridge, an eagle flew directly across my path, not far above eye level. What a thrill to see it!

Munin was docked by the aquabus landing, and I took a picture of one of its dragon beasts.

The truck was parked near Vanier Park. I took this picture of the totem pole before we headed home.

What an absolutely perfect day it was in beautiful Vancouver.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Delicious blossoms

Yesterday's walk to Jericho had a few stops along the way - the first at the corner of Alma and 3rd, for a look at this blossom.

Another to check out this so far unidentified bird. It flew off just as the camera was poised.

The final one for a look at these daffodils.

Once in the park, I noticed this little bird, and again have struggled to identify it. The black patch on its throat suggests some kind of chick-a-dee, but what kind? Chestnut-backed, perhaps?

It could never be said of Black Jack that she doesn't stop to smell the Heather.

I think this was from the top of what I call bull rushes - the part that the Red-Winged Blackbirds seem to love. What stopped me yesterday was the frost-like glisten in the sun.


and robins said Spring to me. I've been hearing that message for at least a month now. I love that Vancouver's Spring season seems to last for a very long time.

We walked as far as the Vancouver Hostel (well.. ouver hosiel, as it appears here) where I had a recurring thought about Olympics. Bill gently laughs at me, because I don't do well with too much "rah-rah" attitude. Call me the fun police if you will, but my preference is for a quiet pride, one that embraces the success of other nations as fully as it does Canada's. I like to watch hockey, but like the players best who don't pump (or pump very subtly:) when they score a goal. Although I enjoy the lively spirit that I feel throughout Vancouver right now, I would be even more happy to see some sort of world flag, or athlete's flag, rather than just the Canadian one. How about one that says something like, "Welcome to the nations (or athletes) of the world!" Anyhow, all that to say, I loved seeing all of these flags at the hostel. (Had to do 3 pics to get everything in without changing my large lens.)

Note: teaching at an international school has given me lots of opportunity to learn the flags of the world, but only when I contributed to our school olympics by making a medal-count poster, and searching out (with google) pictures of each of the flags represented in our students (approx 30 countries), did I finally begin to learn to recognize many more flags than I previously knew. Care to take a stab at identifying these ones?

On the way home, I watched this Blue Heron for quite some time. It flew from the west pond to this tree, where I admired its topknot. (Sorry, I know there's a better word.)
It then flew from the tree, over to the pond,
where it joined the ducks and seagulls for lunch.

It struck me yet again how bright sun can make photography challenging. From second to second, it seems the colours change. Here, a beautiful dark emerald in the Mallard, but that could change to navy, especially if viewing them from the back.

Lots of people were out, with their plastic bags full of white bread. I always appreciate those who take time to bring more appropriate and nourishing food.
It seemed to me that the water colour changed every few seconds, as well.

Just before leaving the park, I enjoyed watching this House Finch consume cherry blossoms.
I wasn't sure, even after watching at least 20 different blossoms in its mouth, in what I would estimate to be less than five minutes, whether it was consuming the blossom itself, or the centre part. Here, it appears to find the buds equally appealing.
What I loved most was its complete focus on the task at hand, and the beautiful blend of its colours with the blossoms.

I really appreciate Primulas because of their range of vibrant colours, but also because they thrive throughout most of the winter in Vancouver.

This crow almost always follows me home, sitting in the tree and watching to see if I will leave one of Black Jack's treats. (I usually do.)

Another blossom-loving bird.

As you can see, there were still lots of blossoms left for the rest of us to enjoy. If you look closely at this picture, you can see a gardener. I admire gardeners very much for their perfect combination of creativity and hard work.

A Varied Thrush outside my window, later in the afternoon, made a beautiful Saturday just that much better.
All for now. I'm off to enjoy yet another sunny day in Vancouver. Happy Sunday to you!