Thursday, February 4, 2010

Au Bout de la Terre in Vancouver

A couple of years ago I went to Vancouver to do a little thing on William Gibson. The William Gibson thing didnt come to pass but I hung out for three days had a very nice time. I got a deal on Orbitz and stayed at the Pan Pacific for 1 dollar a night and the view I had from my room was spectacular, looking down on flying boats landing in the bay. I had great breakfasts and fantastic fish meals in the evenings and I went to a donut factory for lunch. I took a kayak tour of the city and went running in the gorgeous Stanley Park. On my third and last day I took the bus out to UBC to see the campus and some locations for Battlestar Galactica (yes I know you dont even need to say it). I walked around UBC for a few hours and then I discovered a trail down to the sea. It was quite stormy and I found myself on this windswept place called Wreck Beach. The visibility was extraordinary. You could see all the way up to the mountains in the north, in the far west Vancouver Island and in the south almost down to Puget Sound. The sky was blue and it was cold and the beach was littered with big trees from the forests further up the Inland Passage. I stayed there alone watching the sun set over VI and the Pacific. It was extraordinary and peaceful and as close as I've ever gotten to any feeling of transcendence on this Earth.
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I flew back to Denver and told the wife and said she had go to Vancouver and especially to Wreck Beach. She went in June, stayed at the Pan Pacific ate at the fish restaurants, ran in Stanley Park, took the kayak tour. I begged her to go out to UBC and down to Wreck Beach and as soon as she got there to call me and talk to me about it. I was so excited waiting for her call, because I wanted her to experience the same feeling of transcendence that I had had and to get a bit of it back myself. She went to UBC, then to Wreck Beach and then she called me. "Well, how was it?" I asked. "Fine," Leah said. "Fine? Fine?! What do you mean fine," I said. She hesitated. "What is it?" I asked. "It would have been great but for all the penises," Leah said.
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You see Wreck Beach is a nude beach and on that particular June day it was full of creepy swinger dudes with chest chair and medallions who had all walked over to Leah to say "hey baby" and stuff like that. Yikes. But it demonstrates what Thomas Wolfe rightly pointed out a long time ago "you can't go home again, asshole, you can't go home again."
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(I think the title of this blog post is a double entendre in French Canadian but if it doesnt work somebody please let me know.)
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And for those of you looking for my review of Garry Disher's latest you can finally read it here. (I'm chuffed about the Blade Runner ref that I snuck by the sub editors).