From The Dead to Vancouver

Rainy days in Vancouver lead me to coffee shops. One of them, the Amsterdam Café, invites coffee drinkers to bring their joints or purchase them from around the block. Well, disclaimer: the café does not permit any sort of trafficking or sharing. But the confused look on your face will prompt someone to tell you about the bald guy around the corner as you’re walking out.

A view from Vancouver

A view from Vancouver

Vancouver is on the tip of Canada’s westernmost mainland. Just turn around to marvel at the mountains dozing in the fog and remember keep moving if you stopped in an intersection to take a picture! The sea you can smell and hear and sometimes taste if you aren’t too careful with your picnic on the beach.

Vancouver’s neighborhood districts are surprisingly unique. The tourist promenade where you can stop and read about the steel industry or buy 2010 Olympic memorabilia quickly merges into Chinatown once you pass several streets of not so well off residents eager to share their AIDS diagnosis or monetary misfortunes. The Chinatown is sweet! Clean and with a pungent but not overpowering scent which usually lingers near fish markets and fruit stands where the vegetables look dangerous. A few more blocks north and you’ll hit what resembles a business district with record shops and independent bookstores. Walk up the steep hill from the beach and there’s a thrilling area of Japanese restaurants, more record shops, more book stores, bars and specialty bakeries and other shops. South of here is the shopping district, which is still pleasantly arranged and laid back.

A few white rice buns, one Allman Brothers Record and several cups of coffee later I am all charged up and start talking. I usually start off with a sincere compliment such as “Vancouver is such a nice city! It is so beautiful here – the mountains to the right, the bay to the left!” Depending on who I’m talking to I might gush, “All your coffee is fair trade and organic! Your sugar is unprocessed! It’s the standard here and it’s still cheap! I love Vancouver!” After a few minutes of chatting I can’t help but say, “Wow, people here are just so nice and there are so many young people! I am thinking about moving here or studying at the university!”

A view of Whistler

A view of Whistler

I’m winding down towards the evening and take a moment to reflect on the show last night, The Dead at the Gorge. It’s tough to put it into words, to say the least. The magnificent Columbia River couldn’t have been a more appropriate backdrop for this band. They opened with “Music Never Stopped” which if you haven’t heard, please do! The opening notes captivating our ears were throttled forward by the beauty of the river winding through a canyon like gorge. The chill of the air settled over our bodies hot from the day’s sun and we began to dance.

The Dead at the Gorge Amphitheater, WA

The Dead at the Gorge Amphitheater, WA

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