Financially Independent, Retired Early(ish) at 57.

Canada/Alaska Day 2: The Exciting River trip!

Today was the day we met our tour guide and our group. The plan was to have a whistle-stop tour of Vancouver before we leave the next day.

The first thing of interest that we saw was a very narrow building.

It was built out of spite, when the city decided to widen the road and appropriated most of this guy’s land. The building is 11 feet deep, which you’d think would make it unusable. It’s been occupied ever since.

We drove through Chinatown, mainly filled by older residents who have been there for decades. The younger people want better housing and more affordable rent, so they’re moving outwards.

Gas Town has a dream clock, that Andrew from the comments asked about in my last post. We got to the clock just in time to walk to it and take some photos.

Then this happened:

Megs took this video. Notice the steam coming out from the top!

I turned around and saw this building with a crash-landed UFO on top.

These wild and whacky Canadians!

Gas Town has these fake gaslights, probably put in for the tourists.

Gas Town was established when a guy called Jack sailed in with a boat with a big barrel of whiskey. And he said, “If you help build me a tavern here, you’ll drink free for a day!” 

A day later, the tavern was built. They must have been very thirsty.

The steam clock was built by a man who saw a solution to the problems that steam was causing. The steam was created in great underwater boiler works and it was venting out on the footpath and burning passersby. He designed this clock to put over that vent to protect people. Steam was working the clock but it didn’t do it accurately so it’s now all driven electronically.

Here is the official Olympic Flame, installed when Vancouver hosted the Winter Olympics at some stage. The citizens wanted the flame burning the whole time these next Olympics were going, but the mayor said that he’d only light the flame for an hour IF a Canadian won a gold medal. The flame costs $50K/hour to run.

Fair enough.

I noticed this building as we drove away from the airport to our hotel. It is covered with grass. This turned out to be the Olympic stadium. The grass provides excellent insulation, gives worms for the birds and has 3 different bee colonies on it. This was taken from the Stanley Park part of our tour.

Yes, we were here yesterday.

Speaking of Stanley Park, remember the ‘Girl in a Wetsuit’ sculpture from yesterday? This was supposed to be an identical replica of the little mermaid in Copenhagen Denmark and the ladies of Vancouver said, “You can’t put naked breasts on her in our harbour!!” So she’s now decently clad in a  wetsuit and flippers. When it’s high tide the water comes up to the bottom of her flippers.

After a half hour with the totem poles, which I spent getting to know Mad and Rhona from Phoenix, we set off for Granville Island.

This created a dilemma, because we’ve settled with Blogless Martha that we’ll be spending Sunday on Granville Island with her. So we stuck purely to the produce part, completely ignoring all of the art, jewellery, pottery and everything else interesting parts.

We still had a good time.

The first thing I saw when I entered the produce shed were these enormous, shiny capsicums. I’ve never seen capsicums like them.

Look at these insane cherries!

I’m not a foodie, but even I was mesmerised by these stalls.

They’re almost glowing with pride.

Or chemicals.

I had to take this photo. These could be nowhere else but in Canada.



I was standing in the food hall, trying to decide what to get for lunch when I thought I heard, “Frogdancer!”

That can’t be for me, I thought. I don’t know anyone here.


Megan touched my arm. “I think she wants to save you a seat.”

It was Rhona and Mad.

We had a fun lunch, then we all jumped aboard the bus back to the hotel.

Megan and I wanted to see an exhibition by Emily Carr that Blogless Martha told us about, so we walked off to find the Old Law Courts. When we got there we were a bit cast down to find that the gallery was closed on Tuesdays.

Not to be deterred, Megan asked the receptionist what she would do if she had an afternoon to fill.

“Well, you could take the ferry to North Vancouver, walk around the market and have afternoon tea on the dock. Or you could take the Skyrail to cross the Fraser River. That’s always exciting – to cross the river.”

We looked at the time, realised we could do both, so off we went to the station.

When we emerged at the ferry terminal, look what was parked nearby:


We set out on a sedate trip across the water, then wandered onto the dock.

I don’t know if I’d like to be so rich as to own a yacht like this. Every time you tie up at a dock, you’d have to leave the shop because everyone who walks past peers in.

This reminded me of that bridge in Paris.

We headed towards these yellow umbrellas. I thought it was the market. Megan, however, knew that it was the pun. She wanted a beer.

I was reminded of that time in Beijing when I was with Helen, Rick and Matt and we ordered a cocktail in the middle of the day at a tiny bar.

Why not? I ordered a Shochu Sour. It was bloody beautiful!

I liked this.

We found the market, but most of the stalls were shut. We took the next ferry back to Granville station, then we took the line to cross the exciting river.

It was a subway station. So was the next one. And the next.

The carriage grew crowded. I leaned over to Megan and said, “Wouldn’t it be funny if this line went under this amazing river?”

Megan just looked at me and raised an eyebrow.

Suddenly, after 9 stations where we were crushed against the citizens of Vancouver, the train rose to the surface. We were about to see the river!!!!

Unknown to me, Megan took this video.


She felt the same.

Megan’s the navigator on this holiday. I’m experimenting with only using wifi. She worked out the closest station to our hotel, so we walked to our local supermarket, bought our meals for the night and crashed at the hotel.

But I wanted to leave you with this.

These are ordinary-sized pigeons.

Look at the size of Canadian seagulls!!!! They’re giants!!!

And they have a different cry to ours. Canadian seagulls sound mournful. Seriously, they sound depressed. If we had these guys in Australia, I’d give them all of my fish and chips, just to try and make them happier.

Dad Joke of the Day:


  1. Debbie

    It’s so interesting to see my hometown through someone else’s eyes. Thanks so much for sharing and have a fantastic time on your Alaska cruise.

    • FrogdancerJones

      Haha, thanks Debbie. Today I was asking questions to an American who’d been to Melbourne !

  2. sandyg61

    Thanks for the memories. I walked Gastown and Chinatown by myself exploring while hubby did the suspension bridge with friends we had met on our trip. My feet died after walking for hours and I caught a taxi back to the hotel. With our tour group we stayed near the Olympic flame. Hubby and I had three days in Vancouver after our Alaska cruise and went to Granville Island first to stock up for our fresh food supplies. What a wonderful market.
    PS I did my NZ cruise on Ruby Princess just before it became the plague ship.

    • FrogdancerJones

      Seems like you’ve covered everything! Haha!

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