Monday, May 29, 2006
Welcome To Vancouver
Although we didn’t stay out very late on our last night of the cruise, we went to bed and died; and didnÂ’t stir until 8 something in the morning when the voice of the lady calling luggage tag colors for departure finally penetrated the fog of sleep. We eventually extracted ourselves from bed and began getting ready to get off the boat. Although everyone was dressed and all our carry-off stuff was stowed, we didn't bother to vacate our suite until the nice lady on the PA admonished everyone still hiding in their cabins to get out and into a public space.
We found a nice couch in the Centrum area of our deck to perch on and I slipped off to the buffet and returned with a plate of munchies to sustain us until we could get lunch on land. Apparently Tenley didn't like the fact that I went to the buffet without her, and pitched a royal fit in my absence. By the time I returned, she had driven off the couple on the sofa opposite us. They were polite: they waited until a tag color was called, but Jeff heard the woman say to her husband "let's find somewhere else to sit".
Eventually Purple 7 was called and we joined the herd that was slowly migrating back to civilization. If you've never cruised, this is the part of the experience that generally sucks: it's early, your vacation is over, and you stand in a long line into a large area at the port where you get to play Indiana Jones and try to excavate your luggage, and then stand in another long line to go through customs, and then a really long line to catch a taxi. It's alot of hurry up and wait; which is why we laughed out loud at the coiffed woman in the red blazer (either a frequent cruiser, or a travel agent is our guess) who was giving hell to the port marshall about having to wait ("I KNOW our luggage is there!! I can't believe you're keeping us here. I want to speak to someone!"). Ironically, all the luggage wasn't out so even if she had gotten through, she might have been screwed.
After our endless parade through the lines we caught a taxi to the Granville Island Hotel, which I love because it's actually on the Island and that means you're very centrally located to a great many of the kid-friendly activities Vancouver has to offer. After we got checked in and settled into our room, we decided to walk over to the Public Market for some lunch and then catch an Aquabus to the World of Science.
The Granville Island Public Market is one of my favourite places. It's alot like the Farmer's Market in LA, except that it's all in one building with a large patio overlooking the False Creek Harbor. Tenley was dazzled by the meat, pasta and bakery shops, and insisted on smelling the flowers at the florist and demanded a fuji apple from one of the many produce vendors. We took our lunch outside where she quickly discovered one of the big attractions for people her age: the scores of pidgeons and seagulls who come to beg for food and are quite used to being chased by people her size. Sure enough, I got about 2 bites of hot dog down her before she was off to terrorize the birds and force her father to go up and down the steps with her while he tried to eat his pizza.
Eventually we pried her away from the pideons and on to the Aquabus. She really liked the boat ride and happily pointed and named boats and birds. As we putted along False Creek, I noticed several dragon boats were out for a paddle and there seemed to be some sort of a to-do on the shore next to the Science World dome. Sure enough, we hiked up the dock to the Vancouver Womens Invitational Dragon Boat Races. Awsome! I know it sounds silly to say this since she's only 20 months, but I'm always so excited to show Tenley women who are having fun participating in a sport or doing something to make a difference in the world. I love being able to show her women who are living their lives fully and not being hindered by their sex or race. These gals were having so much fun and clearly enjoying each other's company and the feminine competition. Many of the teams were dressed up (the Dragon Divas were all paddling wearing tiaras and feather boas, the Wasabi Women were all in wasabi green- including their hair) and many of them were defined by a common bond (A Breast in a Boat was a team of breast cancer survivors, and the Paddling Up the Dikes were lesbians). Best moment: seeing this clueless woman on her cell phone walking way too close to the row of port-o-potties as another woman came out of one and smacked the clueless one right in the face hard enough to knock her on her butt.
We finally made our way through the dragon boat camp and up to the main entrance of Science World. At the entrance is this large metal sculpture thingy that has pool balls that are carried by a series of lifts and then sent down ramps and over things that make all kinds of fun sounds. The three of us stood transfixed for a good 10 minutes while we watched the various balls make their way through their maze. After a long gawk (and Jeff declaring "I want one of these! How come I don't have one of these??") we went inside, hung up our coats and turned the Tenster loose. She ran immediately to the tables with the puzzles and began trying to solve them, and then tossed them to the ground when they frustrated her. Then she moved on to the house of distortion. She and two other little girls giggled as they ran in circles on the crooked floor and tried to wedge themselves in the oddly joined corners.
Next we made our way to the 2nd floor to all the hands on exhibits. This is where I lost Jeff, who like a kid in a candy store, took off to go play with anything he could get his hands on. Tenley eventually found her way to the LEGO: Secrets of the Pharaohs exhibit where things like the sphinx have been re-created using thousands of Legos. Mostly, she was excited about the big area in the center of the room which had play tables and about a bazillion Legos of every size and variety. The next 40 minutes or so were spent with Ten building things with the help of 3 five to seven year old boys who kept giving her pieces and showing her what they were building. Jeff found us there and happily showed us the crayon rubbing he had made of Tenley's name in hieroglyphics.
Our ultimate destination was the Kidspace Gallery which has been designed specifically for 2-6 year olds. It's filled with hands on exhibits for the tiny ones including a play structure, gear wall, and water table. Tenley loved it. We spent a good hour and a half in there. Finally we dragged her kicking and screaming from the building and made our way back to the hotel for a little nap.
After a brief nap we decided it was time for dinner. There was much discussion about this topic and finally we decided to take a short walk and look at our choices along the way. With Tenley happily in tow, we stopped at our first choice, The Granville Island Brewery. Hmmm, they close at 8pm and since it was already 7:45pm we decided to move on. Our next choice was The Keg. We weren't sure what kind of eatery this was so Michelle trotted off to look at the posted menu and report back her findings. The report wasn't good as this turned out to be a fancy steakhouse with fancy steakhouse prices. That left us with Bridges. The menu looked appealing and the atmosphere seemed acceptable for a Typhoon Tenley sighting.
Dinner turned out to be an $80 all-we-can-ignore-you affair. Almost 2 1/2 hours later we had ordered, eaten, ordered dessert, thrown a temper tantrum, eaten said dessert and finally tracked our waitress down for the bill as Michelle and Tenley were outside taking a walk. It was the longest dinner I have ever been to. The food was good but the service was disgusting.
Now that it was almost 10pm we walked back to the hotel for a good nights sleep. Well, that was our plan and as usual, Tenley had other plans. There was a quick bath and tooth brushing and then it was off to bed. There was no way she was going to go to sleep in the crib in this new room. Where was the boat? Where was my babysitter Lisa? I put her on the bed between Michelle and I and after a long time of kicking and thrashing around, she fell asleep. I put her in her crib at 1am and she slept there soundly until 4:30am. Great, this again! We tried to coax her back to sleep. We offered her a lovey, toys, money, keys to the car, and food but nothing was going to make this child go back to sleep. Michelle was up and on the computer pressumably checking the internet for child sedatives when I thought, maybe she is just cold. I grabbed her blanket, put her on the bed next to me and covered her up. Within 5 minutes that kid was back to sleep. This time, we left her right where she was on the bed. All three of us slept for the next 2 1/2 hours. I woke up nose to nose with Tenley who was smiling knowingly as if to say, "What's next?"