Sunday, March 14, 2010

Lonsdale Quay

Friday, February 19, 2010, North Vancouver, BC: After 21 hours of driving north, we arrived in North Vancouver by the mid morning. We timed it to avoid Vancouver’s morning rush hour. Actually, the whole drive was about avoiding rush hours. We left San Jose at 8 so we could use the HOV (car pool) lane for part of the way and then get to Contra Costa just as the inland valley rush to Oakland and San Francisco was winding down. We also had to time our way around Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington, which we drove through at midnight and at 5:00 AM respectively. Shortly after reaching Everett, which is the northern part of greater Seattle, we pulled over to a rest stop for a few hours of sleep.

I slept, but Mireya couldn’t make herself comfortable in the car. Later, after breakfast, and a quick comb and shave in IHOP restroom, we enjoyed an unbelievably short wait at the Peace Arch customs, 5 minutes (!), then we drove up through Vancouver’s east side to North Vancouver. Last summer, we waited for 2 hours to drive up to the customs booth. I had assumed, considering it was the Olympics, that the wait would be similar this time around. Thankfully, I was wrong.

Normally, on this drive, we would stop over at a hotel in Salem or Eugene Oregon, but without knowing how light or heavy the traffic or customs was actually going to be, we decided to do it in one shot with naps. And, as you know, there’s no guarantee of getting any sleep in a strange hotel room.

By the time we got to Maggie and Gary’s place, Mireya was ready to hibernate till dinner. I was still “up” from the drive and its many cups of coffee, so, I headed down to Lonsdale Quay (pronounced, “key”) to see what was happening there.

Years ago, I used to live in North Vancouver a few blocks away from the Lonsdale Quay Public Market. North Vancouver is the city that covers the north side of the harbor up to the mountains. I was going to add a map, but less confusing for you if you’d look it up online yourself. The Public Market has many produce vendors, a food court and different businesses from artisans to candy makers to retail fashion stores.

That’s one of the Seabus vessels in the middle photo. There’s a public transit service called the Seabus that takes people from Lonsdale Quay across the harbor to the old Canadian Pacific train station in downtown Vancouver. The trip takes about 20 minutes and an extra vessel was added for the Olympics, so, except on the weekends when it was really busy, the waiting time was 10 minutes between each sailing.

On the right, there was a regular bus service for Olympic staff and volunteers from Lonsdale Quay to Cypress Mountain or Whistler Village. For spectators, you had to catch your Greyhound bus at the bus depot in Vancouver.

A group of young women admiring the view of downtown Vancouver.

Lonsdale Avenue is the major north-south road in North Vancouver. Lower Lonsdale, as you’ll see below, used to be full of shipyards and industrial buildings. That’s all changing and the whole area is going upscale with sparkling new buildings as shown in the middle photo.

On this day, the Russian Navy was in town, one of the training vessels from the Russian Navy was moored at the pier just east of Lonsdale Quay.

I like the way the vertical shape of the women imitates the tall buildings in the background. Also, the reflection of the sun on the water seems to bend around the legs of the two women on the left. You can see two of the Seabuses on the water between the women and the far shore of the harbor.

Lower Lonsdale, is still very much an industrial area. And if you stay at the Lonsdale Quay hotel on the top floor above the public market, don’t stay on the east side, because, if you do, you’ll hear the tugs fire up their engines at 3:00 AM. And you won’t be able to do anything about it as Cates’ tug boat business was there first.

From the top of the tower with the revolving “Q” looking down on the plaza. What a pretty fountain that is. In the background is a view of the Lion’s Gate bridge cluttered by the vessels and structures of seaborne industry.

Another look at the fountain.

The plans for this area is a tribute to the long-ago torn down shipyards. Including this cross-section of an old steamer erected as a statue.

Sometime in the mid 1980s during the first week of my first job out of university, I was walking home from Lonsdale Quay when a group of men came out of the then-operating ship yard across the street from me. A young man pointed to the elder in the group and said, “He retired today!” Retirement sure seemed like a long way into the future for me then (it’s not so far away now!)

The Russian vessel is called the Kruzenshtern. And for $18, you could go on board. I declined. For $28, you could disco the night way. Did they play, “Rah Rah Rasputin” by Boney-M? Probably.

A juxtaposition of old-time and modern architecture.                                       The Kruzenshtern in its full glory.

A 19th century hull with modern fittings. Those blocks look like something I saw in an art gallery not too long ago. Naturally, they used modern communications for safety.

Colorful flags against the plain yellow and black riggings. Made for a nice framing of the Lonsdale Quay Public Market.

See the big Q at the top of the tower? I took those earlier photos of the plaza, the tug boats and the side view of the Kruzenshtern from the highest observation deck beneath the Q.

This boy was cheering for the Swiss hockey team. Do you like the benches? The back and arm are made of rolled steel as used in ship building. The arches on this foot bridge were a nice touch as well.

The new and the old. The close up in the middle is pretty much what this area looked like for much of the 20th century.

Being in North Vancouver, we were never too far from the mountains. Those are the Lions in the background. My uncle Chris, who knows what he’s talking about when it comes to Vancouver and its trivia, tells us that there’s a bylaw in Vancouver that protects your view of the Lions. If your building in Vancouver has a view of the Lions, that view cannot be obscured by new construction.

A pleasing view of pylons.

There was not much in terms of official Olympic art, but plenty of places to nip inside to watch some of it on TV. The sign in the middle reminds me of the one on the right from Whistler (from the next day.) which says, “Congratulations, Jon Montgomery. Bring your gold medal in for a free burrito and beer!” Jon Montgomery won the gold medal in the men’s skeleton, which is like the luge, except you go down head first. I’m not sure why it is called the skeleton. Maybe it rattles your bones so much that you feel every bone in your entire skeleton after each run.

Everywhere you looked, there were Canadian flags. I hadn’t seen this much patriotism since 9/11/2001.

General Motors might have Mr. Goodwrench, but North Vancouver has Mr. Gold Wrench. Although, I’m sure his wrenches aren’t really made of gold, otherwise they’d be pretty twisty, wouldn’t they? Like pretzels they’d be.

There was a lot of positive patriotism from many different people who represented the competing countries. That makes sense logically, and the sort of thing you would expect. But, it never gets old seeing people excited about their countries out in public wearing flags or team jerseys or both. More on that next week.

Back on the Kruzenshtern, the sailors were only too happy to pose for photos.

A great memory to take home and share with the family.

Copyright © 2010 David G. Kelly

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