Hell yeah! Canada

Published: May 30th 2017
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On the way to Canada
This trip to Canada was completely on a whim. After some… Rather unfortunate events, I found myself needing to just... Go. Post military life was getting to me and school wasn't enough. So I just... went.

I didn’t think about roaming charges and I had no idea where I was going to sleep. “I’ll just pull over to the next gas station.” I thought to myself. I pulled up to an Esso station where my intent was to buy a map. Instead, when I walked into the station, where my eyes enlarged at site of Kinder eggs. After carefully selecting a few awesome goodies, I almost forgot about my map halfway through the purchase. Laughing at my situation, the clerk asked where I was heading. I told him I had no idea, that I’d grabbed clothes and decided to go to Vancouver, BC just because I could. I thought he’d find it strange, but instead he encouraged me to see some things. I walked out of Esso with more than enough candy for myself and a goal to see Friday night life in the city. I must admit… I went about 50k in the wrong direction, until I got back on the highway and didn’t exit until it said, “Vancouver”.

I pulled into some parking garage on the left and parked on the third floor. I walked down the stairs looking for the pay station so my car doesn’t get towed. Once on the ground floor, I ran into the meter lady, her name is Raj. I asked her if I had to pay right now and that I had no idea where I was. She asked me with a strong Indian accent, “What is it that you like to do? Do you like to drink or smoke or site see?” I told her that I like to smoke and she got excited, she’d told me that there was a place called The New Amsterdam Café near her bus stop, walk left and make a right at the intersection, then continue down and it’ll be on my left hand side. Raj told me that I didn’t have to pay as long as I came back before 2130, which is what time she clocks out. She wanted to make sure that I got to explore and understand the city more before parking my car. I left and headed towards the café. Before I got to the café, I accidently walked into their glass shop and the cashier behind the display offered me help. I told her that I was trying to get to the café, she smiled and noticed that I wasn’t from around here. She gave me a free entry pass and told me to walk next door to the velvet ropes.

I gave my pass to the woman at the door and she greeted me with a warm smile. I walked up a flight of stairs and got confused as to how to get some cannabis or even a smoking device. Behind the counter were workers carving pumpkins, it was Halloween weekend! He looked up at me and didn’t greet me; I still confused on where to go, so I went up to the next level where I was properly greeted. From there I asked for a joint and a bong. There was live music from a guitarist, a house cat, and a few people gathered around their smoking devices. I decided to find myself a corner near the window where I watched them film for a movie. Across from myself was a young Jewish Rabbi, he looked rather handsome in his suit and hat. It was around 2100 and I saw that the café was getting packed. I noticed a man looking for seats and I offered him my seat. He said that there are three of them and that I could sit with them if I liked. For a moment I thought to myself, “Hell yeah! You’re already here, what’s the worst that could happen?” I told him that I had to pay for my parking before I can come back and smoke a bowl with them. I left him with the quarter of my doobie and said I’ll be back.

When I came back there were three men sitting around the table, they had a volcano to smoke cannabis vapor. With this going around we got to talking and I really got to know about these fine young gentleman. One was an accountant, he didn’t want the job, but he happened to stumble upon it and ended up being successful, another was a computer tech (who actually lives out of town), and the last was a shoe salesman. These friends came together for a mutual friend's’ wedding. They’d just got done with a hockey game, so they all wore Vancouver jerseys. The shoe salesman’s girlfriend came later in the night and we smoked another couple of bowls with her. It’s almost midnight and we’ve all got the munchies. They invited me to a place called Steamworks Brewing Co, which is along the harbor. I thought this place was going to be like any other brewery, but damn was I wrong. This place was packed and the decor had a 1920’s theme. We waited for about 45 minutes and during our wait, we smoked another doobie along the harbor where the accountant eagerly showed us his office in the towering building next to Steam Works parking lot. He’d left his office light on.

When we went in to be seated, I was amazed at how far back we had to walk, then down a spiral staircase to a tall table that seated six. The entire back wall was made up of windows, it was a gorgeous view, both inside and out. The menu had specials for Oktoberfest and I decided to try a new dish. I had Bavarian steamed mussels with bacon apple sauerkraut, beer, garlic and onion, served with garlic bread. It was to die for! I shared some my dish with the shoehead’s girlfriend, she loves seafood. Throughout our dinner we had many conversations, most of which consisted of how I got to Canada and what my plans were. They were fascinated that my plan was to talk to the locals and say, “Hell yeah!” to everything. After discovering that I was staying at a hostel and had no idea where to go, they recommended that I walk or bike along the harbor and go to the Museum of Anthropology (MOA). They’d also informed me that there were dab bars around town! For those of you who don’t know what dabs are, it’s a cannabis concentrate. We spent a good couple of hours there getting lost in conversations that led to new conversations every few minutes. Good laughs were shared and great people were met. My first few hours in Canada is not bad at all! Before we split, they walked me to my parking garage, it was a kind gesture for a someone they’d just met. Time to find a place to sleep!

I Googled hostles nearby and one popped up right in the district I was told to go to, by the Esso clerk. I left the parking garage in search for a new parking spot near the hostel. The streets were crowded by people in costumes, IT’S HALLOWEEN WEEKEND! I found a spot behind a coffee shop, paid for my parking and walked a block. Once I saw the sign I picked up my pace. I’d forgotten how late it was, what if they didn’t let me in? I walked in greeted by the receptionist behind the counter. I admitted to him that I’d come on a whim and had no reservations, he checked his computer and said that there were only private rooms. “PERFECT!” I accidentally yelled at him, he laughed and booked my room. $60 Canadian dollars for a private room last minute? I’ll definitely take it, sure beats the hell out of a $120USD hotel room at Holiday Inn. Besides, in my personal experience, hostels has another type of vibe from the travelers. They preserve their money for explorer passes, museum, and bus tickets. I also feel more safe in a hostel. You can’t go up to the next floor without a key, there’s cameras, they offer private rooms and a women’s dorm. (Tip- Save your money, sleep in a hostel!) I unpacked a little and plopped myself on the bed. I didn’t even get a chance to go under the blankets before I fell asleep.

The next morning I awoke around 0800 left 30 minutes later for breakfast. Wanting to continue my adventurous streak, I stumbled upon a corner coffee shop and had my first London Fog. Yo… it was AMAZING! I paired my morning tea with a chicken pesto mozzarella wrap. I learned quickly that my taste buds didn’t appreciate those flavors together, so I got a water to have with my meal and saved my London Fog for my walk. After walking several blocks, I took mental notes of places that I wanted to see later in the evening. The time for me to check out was getting closer and I headed back to the hostel to check out. Before leaving, booked for another night in the women’s dorm and checked my back into their closet. Since it was rainy out, I decided to head to the MOA.

For some reason, I was under the impression that the Museum of Anthropology was near the district I was at. I was wrong, but I did enjoy the sites on my way there. The housing along the way are beautiful, neatly bricked homes with white fences and bushes. When I got to the university grounds where the museum is located in the parking garage and wandered until I found the entrance in. I asked when the next tour was and he said it wasn’t for another two hours. I paid for my ticket so I didn’t have to worry about it anymore and got myself some Canadian beef stew. It was so hearty and warm, I ate as much as my belly could handle. After my meal I walked around the museum to familiarize myself with the layout. Walking around I got lost in awe at how much history this museum held in its walls. I was greeted with towering totem poles and large bowls with spoons for serving tribes. The detail in the carvings, which told a story on the wood reminded me at how art can be used for many things. Art can be used for stories, a symbol of strength, a glimpse of hope, a portrait of weakness, and more. I could only imagine the stories shared over these bowls, the laughters, smiles, and tears. I wandered around carefully pulling out drawers and pushing them in and looking at sculptures from different angles; I tried to soak in as much history as I could. I checked my watch to see how much time I had before it started and I was almost late.

Walking up towards the totem pole I saw a group of mixed races. “This must be where the tour begins.” I thought to myself. I quietly joined the group of couples and families, I was the only one who was solo that day. That’s alright, gave me more freedom to absorb my surroundings. We start the tour and about half way through I got overwhelmed at the hand holding and kissing couples, so I headed back to Granville Entertainment District. I parked my car in another spot and took to the streets. I stumbled upon a dab shop that I was told about by my café friends. Never having been to a dab shop I asked the budtender what to do, she charged me $5 for a dab and I sat at the bar that held several dab rigs. I taught me how to dab and my first hit sent me into another universe for a second. “Good Gods, I need to sit on a chair that my short self doesn’t have to climb to sit on.” The budtender chuckled and told me that I had about three more hits left. Still on my Hell Yeah! Kick, I took TWO of the remaining hits; because three would’ve kept me down from the rest of the day. After a couple of drags off the rig, I sat down on the couch they had next to their bong display. I got lost in my thoughts for what seemed like forever, it ended up only being twelve minutes. I figured instead of being in this shop looking at still pictures, to go see a movie. After the movie I decided to walk around some more and get a snack. I found a Cold Stone and sat at the window eating my coffee ice cream and Kit-Kats. When I looked up, I saw many different people in the Halloween spirit wearing costumes and smiling at one another. Then I saw him. Deadpool. There he was, texting on his phone and when some tried to take a pic he posed in a silly pose. Typical Deadpool. When he was done with his phone he skipped merrily off to who knows where. It was getting pretty dark and I needed to walk off that ice cream.

For as far as I could see, the party was nowhere near me. I walked along some business where their lights reflected off the wet pavements. In the distance I saw what looked like a mass of people holding up a giant stick with lights. “Is that a banana?” I squinted struggling to make out of this moving blob. It was a banana! When I got closer to the group, the guy in a banana suit hooked my arm and said, “THIS WAY!” I smiled and said, “Hell yeah!” It didn’t take me long before I was dancing with them on their little march and making new friends. Several people asked where my companion was and I told them that I’d come on a whim. They all seem fascinated by that. After two blocks of dancing, I turned and found that a lot more people joined the tail. There were people in banana suits everywhere! Banana’s on roller blades made from small skateboards and tape, rasta bananas, bananas in suits, bananas in pajamas! I saw a mix of bananas, one as lively as the next. I parted my the party trail after several blocks, because I seemed to have danced myself up an appetite. I saw that there was a Mediterranean shop near the hostel earlier on my walk; I got myself a chicken Mediterranean sandwich with everything. My taste buds have never been so satisfied. After I scarfed down my meal I went back and joined the party. I’d decided that if I’m still going to go to Las Vegas to visit family, I should leave the following day. So I danced the night off with some YMCA in the middle of the streets making even more friends. The next day I loaded my car and headed south back to my home in Washington, to stay for the night and then the following night head for Vegas.

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