2023 Running Trip – Day 5 – Vancouver, British Columbia

Thursday morning began early with a 5:45 a.m. wake up call. I wanted to make sure we left Seattle at a good time with a three hour drive in front of us to Vancouver. Vancouver has been at the top of our travel bucket list for many years, so Tillie and I were excited to arrive and explore. We said farewell to Sean and Michelle and headed north.

Let’s just say our travels to Vancouver didn’t go very well. A few minutes after getting on I-5, traffic picked up and someone’s blown tire came screaming into our front bumper, leaving some damage to the rental car. The grill on this car has seen a lot during this trip.

And then I got pulled over by the Washington State Patrol for speeding….. I told you I was excited to get there.

Expensive morning.

It could only go up from there, right? We were heading to Vancouver, recently ranked as the third most livable place in the world for its high standard of living and quality of life. And it’s Canada, they’re so darn friendly.

After a few hours on the road and a smooth entry into Canada, we made it to Vancouver and parked our car where we would begin our adventure that day – The Museum of Vancouver. After packing up our day-bags, I thanked my first donors for the day, Joe and Jessica Vonsak. I grew up with the Vonsaks in Fort Dodge, went to Iowa State with Jessica, and run into them each fall as we tailgate for Iowa State football games.

You know you’re in Canada when you find random hockey sticks abandoned in the park. I love Canada.

We ventured over to Granville Island, one of the more unique areas of Vancouver. Tucked underneath one of the main bridges into downtown, Granville is a happening spot filled with shops, restaurants, waterfront views, and a great public market. A great use of space!

The views of downtown from Granville are majestic, showing off the city’s density of modern high rise buildings with mountains peeking out from behind.

In Granville, we ran into the Granville Giants. The colorful, smiling concrete silos are one of the most popular photos in Vancouver. I thanked my former colleague Andrew Norrie who is an adventurer himself. Andrew has spent the past few years living and working in amazing cities across the world. I’m a bit jealous of his travels. He’s a Canadian himself, so I loved taking this photo for him.

Also on Granville Island was this bright yellow wall, where I had to capture a picture of my love.

From Granville Island, we found a pathway on the south side of False Creek that continued to provide amazing views. The path was filled with people and dogs getting their exercise in and enjoying the beautiful day. The water was filled with boats and kayakers. I had to use the path for a Runner’s Choice photo, once again thanking Mike & Deb Sedlacek.

Another shot of False Creek with downtown Vancouver in the background.

As we continued east, we ran into our next stop – The Birds. If you’re not a fan of birds, stay away. These life-sized statues look quite real and stare into your sole. I thanked Jason & Jadee Purdy and their girls once again.

Very close to The Birds is Science World. You can’t miss its globe-like structure right on the water. One thing I’ve learned about being a dad is that science centers are a frequent occurrence. Science is great, but I was glad I didn’t have to spend a few hours inside chasing around kids and pretending I knew all about science. I thanked Nicholas Scalice, a fellow Phi Delt, who I believe enjoys science more than I do.

Our next stop, the Trans Am Totem, apparently had enough of Vancouver, and left town. There’s nothing more disheartening that finding the old concrete slab where one of your donor landmarks once stood. I was supposed to thank Mike & Deb Purdy at the spot, but I hooked them up later in the day.

We made it into downtown Vancouver where we were quickly welcomed by a few stadiums. The Rogers Arena, home to the Vancouver Canucks, the best named hockey team in the land, and BC Place, the home of the BC Lions of the Canadian Football League. In front of Rogers Arena, I thanked hockey mom, and my childhood neighbor Jami Touney for her donation. I know Jami spends a lot of time at the rink, so she was excited to sponsor this stop.

We came across the Vancouver Public Library, a stately building that provided amazing architectural designs and clean washrooms. Seriously, big city libraries are the coolest. Go inside them when you find them!

A view of Victory Square as we walked to Chinatown.

When we came upon this mural, I realized that my inclusion of murals has been pretty weak on this trip. And there have been a ton of great ones in this neck of the woods. Hopefully this mural upon mural upon mural helps me catch up. I thanked the Cunninghams again for their donation!

Vancouver has a large Chinese population and is known for having the largest Chinatown in Canada, as well as the second largest in North America. Chinese immigrants originally migrated to the region as laborers, helping to build the Canadian Pacific Railway. Although most Chinese immigrants come from Mainland China, recent migrants also include those arriving from Hong Kong, many of which live between the two cities. For some, Vancouver is actually known as “Hongcouver.” I thanked the Etlers again for their donation.

Vancouver’s historic Gastown neighborhood is designated a national historic site and is quite lively. Along the water, it boasts great architecture, including this fun flatiron building, Hotel Europe. This intersection had a major European vibe with outdoor cafes and tons of foot traffic. I thanked the Jensens again for their donation.

Gastown’s most famous resident is the Gastown Steam Clock, one of the only working steam clocks in the world. As we walked up to it, it boisterously blew off some steam, and Tillie said, “That is fantastic.” It would have been nice to have the steam clock with us on our drive to Vancouver this morning. I thanked my former colleague Kerrie Herren at the clock. Kerrie used to be my running buddy in Oxford, and today, he is a high school principal in Kansas City, shaping the minds of today’s youth.

Tillie and I were about six miles in to the day’s journey, so we needed a bite to eat. Have no fear, a historical brewery with a view was near – Steamworks Brewery, honoring said Gastown steam clock.

After a quick bite, we were back on our feet. We visited the Woodwards Building, one of the more impressive pieces of property in Gastown to find this “Spiral Staircase to Nowhere.” Do you ever wonder how random ideas like this come about? This staircase had an indoor basketball court next to it. With a mid-day hooper draining threes next to me, I thanked Debbie Smith again for her donation.

One of the landmarks I was most looking forward to visiting today was the Jimi Hendrix shrine near Gastown. Why?

  1. Jimi Hendrix is a legend, and I love his music. Little Wing is his best song, no debate.
  2. It was the perfect spot to thank my Iowa State fraternity brother Brad Becker, a music lover himself.

But, the shrine was no longer there. Bummer. So I found the next best thing. A mountie! I knew Brad would appreciate it. Tillie and I love running into the Becker family in Kansas City.

I told you I’d make up a spot for Mike and Deb Purdy. Canada Place and the Vancouver Convention Centre is a spectacle of its own. Travelers everywhere from all over the world. On the water, we watched seaplanes take off and land. Really fun to watch!

Vancouver has the 4th largest cruise ship terminal in the world. We were able to witness the docking of the Ruby Princess. We got the heck out of there before the crowd rushed off.

Also at the Convention Centre is this cool digital orca statue. I couldn’t believe I had the spot to ourselves, and what do you know, I successfully positioned Janine Kock’s thank you sign. Success!

The Marine Building was our next stop. Completed in 1930, at the time of its opening it was the city’s tallest skyscraper and it is one of the most iconic buildings in Vancouver and listed among the best Art Deco buildings in the world. Today, it’s being heavily renovated, so yeah, we went back outside. We did find our favorite corner of the building though, and I thanked Dean and Carla Breneman. Carla is one my mom’s great friends from Eldon, Iowa. I love hearing about their annual girls trips to catch up on life.

Back on the feet, we crossed Vancouver’s West End. I could tell that this was my spot. Much more relaxed, quiet, beaches is what I needed after a day of skyscrapers. And look at what we found here – The beloved A-maze-ing Laughter art display. How cool is this? Instant smiles on the faces of its visitors. I thanked mom and dad once again. Anytime I talk to my mom about Vancouver, she always brings up these statues. About my dad, by the way, he deserves a shout out for being my original inspiration for travel, schlepping his young family across the country on vacations. Now a dad myself, and witnessing first-hand how amazingly awarding and frustrating those adventures can be, I am truly thankful that he made this effort with my sister Anne and me.

Our final destination was Stanley Park, and if I could have only visited one spot in Vancouver, it would have been here. Situated on a peninsula at the northwestern edge of downtown Vancouver, Stanley Park is one of the city’s main tourist destinations, attracting approximately 8 million visitors each year. Named after Lord Stanley of Stanley Cup fame, it is a 1,000 acres natural West Coast rainforest with a 17-mile seawall on its peremeter. For contrast for the Americans out there, New York City’s Central Park is 840 acres. We found the Girl in a Wetsuit statue on a piece of the seawall, and I thanked my cousin Adam, his wife Lindsey, and their three boys. We are lucky to have many family members near us in Ames, and we love hanging with Cousin Adam and the crew.

The 17-mile seawall around Stanley Park is the longest non-interrupted seafront walkway in the world. Pretty amazing. I wanted to find a bike and ride the thing, but Tillie and I were pooped after 12 miles on our feet. I thanked Jay Longnecker again for his donation.

Stanley Park is so great, it has a really good brewery within it, aptly named Stanley Park Brewery. We celebrated our long and very interesting day with a nice hazy IPA.

I usually have my lodging booked prior to my trips, but I didn’t in Vancouver. Due to high prices and wanting to see the neighborhoods before booking a spot, we ended up finding and booking a hotel mid-afternoon through the Hotel Tonight. I love this app as it gives you discounted rates last minute at properties. It’s really great for big cities. And if you want to try it, I’ll shamelessly plug my signup code for $25 off your first booking – sgood18

Our hotel was awesome by the way. The historical Sylvia Hotel, just across the street from the A-maze-in statues, a public beach, and romantic dinner of lamb and chicken schwarma wraps to-go.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Carla Breneman says:

    Thanks Steve, Vancouver was a 2 night stop for us on our way home from Alaska. We also found it to be a beautiful city, loved the marketplace, and enjoyed the fact we could all around the area by bus, train, or boat. We saw several of the same sites.

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