Monday, April 10, 2006

Sunday in Vancouver

Forecast: I don’t know, but it is raining.

Everybody woke up this morning around 8:30, which was surprising considering how late the kids stayed up. I went across the way to Starbucks again (can you figure out my morning routine while traveling?) and then we had a lazy morning in the hotel room, getting ready to go out.

We checked out of the hotel at about 11:30 pm (only 30 minutes before the check out time) and headed to Dim Sum. Heather found what was reviewed as the Best Dim Sum place in Vancouver, but it was also not in a very good neighborhood. Several of the reviewers made comments about their car getting broken into. Luckily, but not for us, this restaurant had a parking garage. Not for us, because our Expedition is 6' 5-3/4" tall and the garage was listed as 6' 6". We found some street parking, after driving around the block a few times.

The Dim Sum was good, though there were more fried entrees than steamed entrees. It was really good, but we didn't get as many steamed dishes as we wanted.

The rain stopped before we left Dim Sum and headed to Gastown to check out a dinosaur exhibit and a live history of British Columbia, BC Live. Both exhibits were interesting and it was funny how they portrayed the Americans (both gold rush miners -drunken - and the president - buffoon) and the Queen of England (ditzy). It was humorous and informative on the history of BC.

I fed the meter a few times so that we could check out the sights in Gas Town. For the first time in a long time, I was hit up by panhandlers and some dude lit up a spliff while walking down the street. Gas Town is home to a Steam powered clock, which is kind of interesting. Gas Town is also home to many tourist shops. I had been quite pleased with us not buying any touristy crap, but that was shot down in the streets of Gas Town. I think we stopped at three tourist trap stores and bought stuff. It was good to try (note the use of try) to use up our Canadian dollars (I think I've got $12 CA in my pocket now and only $2 US - what is up with that?).

It was about 4:30 when we finally left Gas Town and decided we would do one last thing in Vancouver - eat - before we headed home. Heather found a really cool restaurant, Feenies, whose chef was an Iron Chef winner. I'll start by saying that it was a very cool restaurant and worthy of it's own separate posting (especially if I blogged about the Stanwood Grill).

Feenies was a hip and trendy bistro. All the staff was young and cool and there was a birthday party party for a bunch of 20 or 30 somethings. The decor was colorful and modern and the wine rack built into the wall had a clear glass back, so you could see through from the bar to the dining room. It must be a popular place, we walked in at about 4:50 and they had to check their reservations pretty hard to be able to squeeze us into a restuarant that had only one other party in it. We were told we could have the table until 6:30 - we took the table knowing we weren't going to be that long.

Prior to 5:30, they still serve from the afternoon menu. They are pretty adamant about it, there was another party, who got there about 5:10 and really wanted to be served from the dinner menu. They ultimately stalled until 5:30.

The food was excellent. Heather had a red and gold beet salad with lobster. It was really, really good. I didn't know that she was such a fan of beets - I'll have to make them more often. I had cured salmon with pickled shallots, creme fraiche and brioche. It was really good. We were warned when we ordered that they were appetizer sized (remember the Byte Bar and Cafe, Erik?), but we ordered anyway, knowing we had a long drive in front of us. The kids had a sausage dog and a nice angus burger.

This place (and probably its big sister), Lumiere, are places to visit again. If I end up in Vancouver again or pass through, I'm stopping there. Five stars. Two thumbs up. Little man jumping out of his chair. Totally bad ass restaurant. Eat here.

We headed out of Vancouver about 6 pm and headed home. The drive south was uneventful. We had about a 15 minute wait at the border. All my documents (recall, I had birth certificates for all, Heather's passport and my expired official passport) were in an envelope ready to hand to the border guard. We got up to the crossing and she extended her rubber gloved hand and asked for ids. I handed her the envelope and she pulled back her hand like I was giving her a poisonous snake. She wanted them out of the envelope, with which I complied.

She wanted to know where we went, if we were all US citizens and where we lived. Easy questions. She asked if we bought anything in Canada. Duh, of course we did. "Touristy souvenirs," I said.

"Any alcohol, tobacco, tylenol or codeine?"

I stalled out there. Heather had some flu-like symptons and I bought Sudafed - the wrong stuff for her symptoms - at the Safeway across the street. "I bought Sudafed."

It seemed like she was thinking for a while, making me sweat it out. "Your okay," and handed back my packet of ids.

We made it back!

About 9:00 we got back into our neck of the woods and decided to stop for dessert at Claim Jumpers in Redmond. I've never been to a Claim Jumpers before, but I had been told that the food and desserts were "good and huge portions." Our service sucked - we waited a long time to be asked what we wanted, when the waiter got to us, he was all excited that he had an easy dessert only table. Chase, Parker and I got our desserts so long before Heather and Alec got theirs, that the kids were able to eat half of their brownie. When Alec's ice cream pie finally came, it was half melted and the waiter said something about losing Heathers pie, so they upsized hers to the larger on. Except, they only offered one size.

My carrot cake and Heather's deep dish apple pie were disappointing. The apples had no flavor and the carrot cake was bland and so-so. The kids brownie was really good, though. And even better on Monday night.

Claim Jumper's did not impress me. I probably won't go back.

About 10:20 pm we got home. Overall, it was a great vacation and enjoyable. I saw lots of MINI Coopers, people watching was great, the break from work was needed and we had fun. I posted a bunch of pictures on my flickr account (I actually used up my free uploading space this month - I might have to upgrade), so check them out, too.

I hope you enjoyed this travel blog - it turned out to be much longer than I intended!

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