Monday, August 28, 2006


We bought two all day passes from the 7-Eleven and rode the bus to the Downtown terminal. From here we caught the Seabus - just imagine having this view as part of your daily commute - to Lonsdale Quay, then another bus climbing through the hilly suburbs of North Van and up to Grouse Mountain.

It was a ‘life imitating art imitating life’ ride, because the setting - large houses set in woodlands; big windows with, presumably, most of the daylight blocked out by trees; a sort of dank, gloomy sixties vibe lingering throughout (think The Graduate set in a forest halfway up a mountain) - was exactly as I’d imagined it would be from reading Doug, as we call him. I don’t know if we passed along or nearby to the real Rabbit Lane, but we might as well have done. It was the closest I’ve ever felt to stepping inside the pages of a novel.
For your safety please hold on.

The cable car ride up Grouse Mountain was spectacular.
As mountains go it’s pretty commercialised, with a large café staffed mainly by gossipy teenagers, and a shop selling ultra-hi-tech outdoor clothing, a dream come true for rubber and zero-weight fleece fetishists everywhere. The Smiths’ Panic played on the sound system. I wanted to buy two of everything, but settled instead for a can of Red Bull and a salty snack to try and calm myself.
In winter, the good people of Vancouver come here for a spot of night-skiing after work. I’m so envious and I’ve never skied in my life.
We walked a little higher, up the dirt track and away from the logging arena, for a more panoramic view. On a clear day, and today was nothing if not clear, you can see as far as the San Juan Islands a hundred miles away in Washington State. The sky accessorised Girlfriend’s new earrings perfectly and - holy crap! - we came this close to a grizzly bear.

Later on in Gastown, I snapped the world’s most photographed steam powered clock.

There was a birthday celebration at a nearby table in La Casita. Everyone had lined up their cameras on a nearby shelf to go off on self-timers. It was like a film premiere with invisible paparazzi. Before I could stop it, even mine got in on the act.
Girlfriend kept her eyes peeled for Mounties.

Question: Is having a rainbow flag in your bar or restaurant a bit like, say, being accredited by the Soil Association? Does your establishment have to meet specific standards of gayness? Do mystery shoppers from the Gay Association come along and secretly assess you, then mail you a certificate confirming how many stripes you’re qualified to display on your rainbow? Or is it just an unregulated free for all?

We closed the day with a few drinks in the Denman St. Free House. There was a rainbow flag inside the door but the place was at most only half-gay, as far as I could make out. Three lads came in, very excited about something or other, knocked back shots of some cocktail containing absinthe, and were off again in seconds. And that was it!

We got chatting to Moose who waterproofs decks.
He had a lot to say about most subjects and seemed a very decent bloke. He sees his daughter alternate weekends and seemed to be hurting a little about it.
I did shots with him of a drink that sounded like yoghurt, and every time I asked him or the barman - who, incidentally, knows his English football better than many English football fans I’ve met - to repeat the name of the drink, it still sounded like yoghurt. So we did shots of yoghurt. I returned the favour by buying us both shots of Sambuca, set on fire with flames.

It was a good night, and when we finally left - Citrus Mules are fantastic, by the way. Ever tried one? You really should - he asked me and Girlfriend, in a voice that was half-jesting but all the way sincere, “Am I an asshole, guys? Honestly? Am I an asshole?”
“Absolutely not,” I promised him, and I meant it.
If you’ve enough self-awareness to be asking the question, then it's already been answered in the negative, and that’s what I really think. Hic.

Dinner shot: Chimichangas!
Wobble Head Factor: 7

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