Monday, May 27, 2013

Final destination, the lower mainland

Mount Robson, near Alberta-BC border
The trip to Vancouver took 3 days, I think I could have done it in 2 if I had pushed. There were no further tire or wheel incidents.

Once I crossed over from Alberta to BC the road traffic increased exponentially, lots of RVs and tour buses. A couple of times I happened to stop at rest areas where there was a tour bus, they were generally full of Asians who loved Hapi on sight. We would get mobbed by people with cameras who I guess thought we were part of the whole BC experience. Hapi loves attention and would rub up against all the women, to their great delight.

One woman had the dickens of a time trying to get her photo because Hapi just wanted to be petted and the woman wanted Hapi to pose for her. After much running around and calling and backing up she finally got her photo. It's kind of funny to be the subject of excited tourists' cameras when you are sort of a tourist yourself.

At another rest stop a car pulled up behind me and let their little dog out who proceeded to run in excited circles. Hapi gave chase. It turned out the grassy area was full of prairie dog holes and the little dog's owners were locals who would bring the dog there for exercise. After a few minutes of chasing pop-up prairie dogs the dog was done and they drove on to their destination. I tried to interest Hapi in the game but she didn't get why all those holes were such a big deal.

There was lots of scenery, mountains and big trees and rushing rivers, it was nice to see but I am afraid I've become a bit inured to mountain scenery in my old age. Nothing new.

My truck, parked below one of the sites of the big forest fire of 2010
I stayed at my friend's brother's place again the first night out from Hay River, only this time he wasn't there. However he had told me that the lock on the back door was broken so I could just let myself in if I wanted to stay there again while he was away. It was and I did. The next night I stayed in a rest area that was fairly nondescript but I was the only person there. It rained. I got up early and drove away without breakfast, figuring that I would stop as soon as the rain did and make coffee and breakfast then.

When I did stop for breakfast I let Hapi wander around. Another car came in, a man got out and whistled. Hapi made a bee-line to him. Boy, if that guy had wanted to steal my dog he would have had no problem at all. A few moments later another truck and camper pulled in and a guy got out and started walking towards Hapi and me. He asked if she was a malamute. When I said Yes he said he had a giant malamute in his truck. I looked and sure enough there was a giant dog face in the side window of his truck. He said that his wife spotted my dog in the rest stop and instructed him to pull over, that there was another malamute there.

He let his dog out and sure enough it was giant malamute, all 180 lbs of him. Giant malamutes can run to 250 lbs so as giants go he was actually on the small side. He was excited to see Hapi but I think Hapi found him a little intimidating. What a goof. OK to intimidate a shih-tsu but doesn't like being intimidated by giant dogs herself.

I stopped for gas in Abbotsford, from the past I knew it was the cheapest place to buy gas in the entire province. Believe it or not, gas in Hay River is cheaper than in BC, the price in Abbotsford was on a par with Hay River. In Vancouver itself the price is $0.10/litre more expensive. In BC they have a carbon tax that makes gas quite expensive, but everything in Vancouver is more expensive than anywhere else, which is why I don't live there anymore. That and the rain. Beautiful, but expensive and wet.

The long anticipated reunion of Hapi and Hiro was a little anticlimactic: Hiro was delighted, Hapi not so much.

Sam was out when we arrived there but he gave me the door code via text message so we were able to go in. Sam was away all day and left Hiro in a darkened apartment with all the curtains drawn, so when I opened the door I could not see him at first. He came to check out who was at the door, sniffing and sniffing. I watched his tail rise and wag faster and faster, until his whole rear end was wagging as he sniffed Hapi all over. Hapi looked quite alarmed.

Hiro's rear end just a blur of tail wagging,
Hapi looking a little apprehensive
Hiro made all sorts of efforts to get Hapi to play with him but she would have none of it, she was looking at me with a kind of "Get me out of here" expression. Hiro would tap her on the shoulder with his paw and bow and scrape in front of her but that didn't do any good. The only time he could get a rise out of her was when he greeted me, she was jealous and tried to push him away. When Sam finally arrived home Hapi recognized him instantly and was ecstatic to greet him. I no longer existed for her.

Here I was thinking that she would miss and be happy to reunite with Hiro, when it was really Sam her heart belonged to!

The next day we took the two dogs to an offleash dogpark and they did play with each other like old times. After that things seemed back to normal between them, I think Hapi is quite content to be with Hiro now and especially content to be with Sam again. I am leaving her with him while I go visit friends, she didn't even notice my unpacking the truck and driving off without her.

Hiro and Hapi at the dogpark
Sam lives in cohousing which is quite a tight-knit community, I got a lot of stares from people who wondered who I was when I walked around the shared areas. But several started up conversations to find out and once they knew who I was and why I was there welcomed me and were very friendly. Most of Sam's neighbours remembered Hapi from when she lived there before and were glad to see her back, as Hiro is inclined to howl when left alone and they all thought Hapi being there would put an end to that, even if only temporarily.

I do hope Hiro is not doubly disappointed when Hapi and I leave more or less permanently.

There was a community dinner while I was there which I attended with Sam. It was in honour of a renter who was leaving and there were several short speeches by residents wanting to acknowledge how much they had enjoyed this renter's presence in the community.

One resident told me there were 90 members, of which 30 were children. Sam didn't think there were that many children. It is certainly a space designed for families as well as single people. There are quite a lot of older people there who like it as an "aging in place" kind of community.

The building layout is one central hub with two wings of residences. The hallways in the wings have glass roofs so the lighting is all daylight, with a few "street lamps" at night. The hallways are called "atriums" and are quite wide, like small streets. Many people have chairs, couches and tables in the area by their front doors, so it does give the impression of a friendly neighbourhood street.

When kids are playing in the atrium the echoiness of it makes the noise quite loud but they are fairly strict about quiet in the evening. In addition the building is on 5 acres of land, half of which is left wild, mostly an unmowed grassy area with a stream running through it, and the rest is lawn and garden. There is a good sized allotment garden for residents where many people grow vegetables.

There is underground parking and workshops on the basement level. In the central hub area are a children's indoor play area, a common kitchen-dining-meeting area, several studio areas for art and dance, a guest suite, a TV room, a common laundry room and large lobby area with nice plants and comfy old furniture. and of course the requisite community notice board.

Dogs are supposed to be leashed but apparently I was the only one following the rule (and I wasn't even aware that it was the rule, I was just doing it out of caution). I gather this is a bit of a bone of contention between dog-owning and non-dog-owning residents. Like any community there are ongoing dramas and issues, but the general ambiance seems friendly and relaxed. If I could afford to buy into such a community I certainly would consider it. Sam would like that, if only to keep the two dogs together.

Today I am at a friend's place trying to work out schedules for visiting with family and old friends. It's a bit tough, I am trying to fit into my friends' schedules and just when I think I have it all worked out, someone changes their own schedule and that has ripple effects all the way down the line. So today I have fired off emails and text messages to all affected and am awaiting replies in order to rework the schedule. I have a month so hopefully it will all work out in the end. My friend is out for the day attending to family business (ailing parents, etc etc) so I am at her home with the cat.

Since the last time I was here (2010) there have been significant renovations, I am staying in the brand-spanking-new guest room cum TV room and I just had a shower in the super-dooper latest and greatest of shower stalls.I had to be shown how to work the controls. I tried it on my own first, but couldn't figure it out.

Before I leave Vancouver I also hope to try the super-dooper bathtub, its controls look a little more straight forward, although they did tell me that it uses up the entire hot water supply to fill it. So one must book its use at a time convenient for all.

And that's it for now.


Rain Trueax said...

Sounds like a great trip. I love Vancouver as it's so beautiful on the water, great museum too. I am glad the dogs got along well. That always helps.

naomi dagen bloom said...

We were in downtown Abbottsford last summer. Spent much time in a yarn store with a huge industrial wool carder--unusual opportunity to see.

Ah, co-housing. In another life we considered this but too used to less collaborative life. Even went to a stimulating conference in Toronto from Baltimore where we living at the time. Though no longer an option, I've thought about going on co-housing tour advertised here in Portland, Oregon.

Important concept and one that needs exploration when we talk about environmental concerns.i80miaa has

Annie said...

Hi Naomi, if I have time I will try to get to that yarn store, sounds interesting.

Co-housing is a great option, but as you say you have to be up for that lifestyle. Definitely worth checking it out I think. This particular co-housing place has some rentals available occasionally, which is a good opportunity for folks who want to try it out. Some renters end up as owners.