Tuesday, January 19, 2010

It's still raining, but we're still smiling...

It's Thursday and it's still raining. But, determined to continue venturing out, we went to the Museum of Anthropology. It was beautiful and breathtaking. The totem poles are just so incredible! There were also some great displays of other carved items. We also saw these big boxes that were made to be watertight for storage of food and possessions. The carvers would take a long strip of wood and notch it in three places, creating four panels. Then they would steam the wood to soften it so it bent at the notches and formed the four sides. Then they sealed the fourth edge and another square to the bottom to create a box, incredible! We also saw some old ceramics, carved wooden pipes, masks, knives and arrows. After the museum it was still pouring rain and had gotten very cold, so we took a bus into downtown Vancouver and went to see Avatar again, but this time in 3D. Overall, another good day, but the weather is definitely wearing on us. A lady at the nearby pharmacy said this is an unusual amount of rain, even for here. It is a bit warmer than normal, so we are getting rain instead of snow. Even the locals are tired of it. Cypress Mountain has closed completely because the grounds are getting ruined and need to be used for the Olympics.

On Friday it was still raining so we had a lazy morning then ventured out after lunch. Thankfully it had quit raining and we were able to walk around more of the city. We took the opportunity of dryness to explore Chinatown. Our first stop was the beautiful and simplistic Andy Livingston Park. It was lots of grassy areas with pretty trees and a stream running down through it. The stream flowed into various pools along the way and there was a pathway of cement shapes running through both the grass and over the water that you could walk up. It was beautiful! It's hard to describe but there are pictures in the online album to give you a better idea.  Then we went to Dr. Sun Yat-Sen’s Traditional Chinese Garden that is a replica of a 15th century Ming Dynasty tea garden. It was beautiful as well, and for the complete opposite reasons as the Livingston Park. It was ornate and every detail was done to perfection. The stone floor of the outdoor garden was composed of thousands of different colored stones that were arranged into patterns, the rooms were made without the use of any sort of nail or screw. We drank Chinese tea and learned that the pools in the middle of the courtyard were intentionally cloudy so that they reflected the sky and clouds better. We also saw various artifacts, tiny women’s shoes for women who bound their feet (the ideal size was 7-10 centimeters long!), and intricately sewn children’s clothing. After this garden, we wandered around and finally found a place to get a snack. After leaving the restaurant we both were sure we ate a ton of MSG (and we felt the effects for the rest of the day). Yuck! From Chinatown, we wandered up to Gastown – the oldest area of Vancouver and where the city got its start. The area was founded by Gassy Jack, hence its name, and, of course, I had to get a picture of Travis posing with the statue of Ol' Gassy! We also saw the steam clock, which is just what it sounds like – a big clock powered by steam. From Gastown, we mad our way back to downtown Vancouver and happened to hear some music. So we went down to the Robson ice skating rink where there was a band playing on a stage next to the rink. So we joined the audience on the stairs (they even had bins of seat cushions for people to use and return) and listened to the band and watched the people ice skate. It was wonderful! For dinner we went to Tsunami Sushi and had a great time! We sat at the sushi bar so there was a ring of water with big wooden boats in a train floating around in it. On each boat were different plates of sushi, maki rolls, oysters, chicken wings, gyoza (dumplings), ginger, and wasabi. The plates were color coded to indicate their prices, and you just took whatever you wanted to eat as it went by. Travis and I sampled quite a few different dishes and had a great time watching the sushi float by. We, unknowingly, ate raw scallops and they were actually quite good.

Saturday we woke up to sun! Hooray! So after breakfast we packed a lunch and took the bus to Pacific Spirit Park near the UBC campus. We spent the next two hours hiking on the trails through the park and taking loads of pictures. It was so beautiful! Such huge trees and lush ferns and moss. The trails were leash optional for dogs so there were tons of dogs running around and playing together, so cute! We walked across the park and had lunch looking out of the Pacific Ocean, then took different trails to get back to the other side and catch the bus home. After a little rest, we took the sky train into downtown and decided to inquire about Olympic event tickets again. There weren’t that many left, only hockey, curling, and ceremonies! So we decided to get tickets to the USA vs. Norway men’s hockey game. The only tickets left for this game were “obstructed view” but we went for it anyway. The other options were seeing women’s games, which Travis didn’t want because they don’t hit each other, or seeing a game with two random teams, like Latvia and Switzerland. The tickets turned out to be really good seats (row 5!), so we’re hoping the obstruction isn’t too bad. After another good dinner at “our” ramen house, we went back to the Robson skating rink and listened to a great jazz band play and watched the ice skaters.

Sunday we headed out into the rain, again, and went to Main St. The whole street was lined with outdoor shops. After going in one expensive one, we found the Mountain Equipment Co-Op that was like a huge superstore of outdoor stuff – clothes, tents, shoes, books, etc. You pay $5 to be members for one year and then you can shop there, and the prices are very reasonable. After the co-op, we went climbing for a couple hours and had a good time. The gym was still busy, but much more manageable this time. Then we came home, cooked a nice dinner, and settled in to bed early to get ready for work the next day.

Today was our first day of work! We got up early and headed down to the IBC (International Broadcasting Center, where all the different networks are based). Erin, the manager of the Runners, gave us a brief introduction and then assigned our first tasks. Travis was given the responsibility of “Olympic Venues” so he spent much of the day being driven around Vancouver to learn where all the venues were and information about them. I say he was driven because there is a whole team of people whose job it is to drive the NBC crew around in NBC cars. My job was to unpack and program cell phones. So another runner, Valerie, and I spent 2 hours inputting numbers into the master phones, and the next 5 hours synching those phones with the 100 or so other phones that are distributed to each member of the Today Show crew. It actually wasn’t that bad though because we had two people unpacking phones and Valerie and I programming, so we really spent those hours getting to know each other and chatting about everything imaginable. The whole group of "Runner" staff seems great and we're both excited to be working with everyone! We left work early today, around 5pm (we’re told to enjoy it while it lasts because many days will be 9am to 9pm) and a group of us headed to the Olympic Store to look at all the merchandise. Most of us bought the “hot” Olympic item – red mittens that have the Olympic rings on the top and the Vancouver maple leaf on the bottom. Very cute! Overall a good first day, although, happily, we are being eased into the workload. We'll keep you all posted as the week progresses...

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