Wednesday, April 30, 2008

One more thing about Sean Taylor and a walk in the park

The Taylors
Mentioning the little shindig at Sean Taylor's house, I neglected to get into the good news for Sean, it seems that he and his great girlfriend, Lindsey (actually not sure about the spelling) are getting married this summer. It'll be on August 9th- 2 days after my wedding anniversary and one day after my birthday. Great choice of day guys and congratulations!
That evening Ken was a bit fussy through the evening but I managed to sleep well- and Ritsy did not. So I felt a bit guilty when I woke up feeling fresh at 8 in the morning and she was quite groggy. So I went with Scott and Benita to walk their dog Doogie at the park.
It reminded me of the many aspects of Vancouver that I love and miss. Take this great picture of the great Lion's Gate Bridge lined with the ever present clouds. That is truly Vancouver!
And the beaches always lined with these giant logs providing a great spot to sit back for a picnic or soak up some sun, or just hang at the beach!
It was a great walk with the happy family, hanging out by the sea and sand with Stanley park viewed in the background. I came home and let Ritsy sleep a little more, so it was a pretty nice morning all in all.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The end of a Canucks era and Sean Taylor's house

Though the news had come that the Canucks were not making playoffs already, there was still one last game to played in the season. Possibly the last game ever for long-time Canuck (and one of my personal favorites) Trevor Linden. So we gathered up the crew and headed over to Sean Taylor's house to watch the season finale.
Sean, Colin, Scott, Ken, Ritsy, Me.
Sean Taylor is one of those unique people whose name can not just be said as a single unit. His name is always Sean Taylor- not Sean or Mr. Taylor, Or Tails- (though he used to be known as Soul Patch for the little patch of hair growing under his lip)it has to be the full name Sean Taylor. Anyway, he has a nice cozy pad with a big tv and it was a great setting for a little bit of puck.
Late comers were Yurika, Carrie and Carl. We sat and watched as the Canucks had their butts kicked for the last game of the season. I stopped watching intently around the end of the first period.
Soon, Ken took over as most popular entertainer at the little party.
We also got to revisit some pizza from an old favorite dining establishment known as Double D's. The pizza was a little burnt and repeated on us a bit the next day, but delicious all the same and good to see the guys from the old restaurant!
The evening ended with the Canucks humiliated, but the fans gave a touching standing 'O' for the former captain and he waved thanks to the fans- classy player to the end!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

A&W, Scotty's house and playing with Doogie

The dawn of the second day in Vancouver and we loaded up Ken in the stroller and walked down to the local shopping center near the place we were staying. Our mission was lunch and we found one of our favorite fast food destinations - A&W. I always like the mozza burger- a fast food burger with real cheeze- of course the thing they are famous for is rootbeer- both of these are tough to find in Japan.

With food in our stomachs, we headed over to Scotty's real house which is deep in construction-- the insides are completely gutted. Sadly, none of y pics inside turned out well.
The view is just amazing from his place. The first one, above, you can see Stanley Park and the Lions Gate Bridge.

You can also see from his patio roughly dead center, the downtown skyline and Canada Place. Must be great to sit in the hot tub on his deck and enjoy this view!

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Later, after we returned to their place Ken and Doogie played a little tug-of-war with one of doogie's toys. Doogie was so gentle around the baby, very clever- and Ken really enjoyed playing with Doogie-- good times.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

... and a nice first evening

We got to Scotty's rental place (they are doing some work on their actual house), and were able to fit in a couple of hours of zzzz's. It helped shake off the tough start to the trip and get a little rested. Finally Scotty and Benita made it home with their great dog Doogie ( I believe the name comes from Douglas, not Doogie Howzer).
Benita took an instant linking to Ken and was teaching him some yoga and how to walk.
Colin showed up adorned in his favorite toque.It was time to eat some Canadian food.
So, of course, we hit a Greek restaurant in the neighborhood. We had some great Pita and Hummus followed by Lamb souvlaki. Ken had his first attempt at sitting in a high chair and looked pretty comfortable!
Of course he got fussy soon and Ritsy ended up having to hold him. But it was a nice mellow evening and great way to spend the first night in Vancouver!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A frustrating start...(bit of a ramble)

Ahh... Lions Gate bridge and Stanley Park, we're in Vancouver again!
After we got off the plane, we had the usual long walk over to the immigration area and Ritsy stopped quickly to change the diapers of Ken. We had to wait through the long line and managed to pick the slowest line. Anyway, the payoff was that our luggage was ready and waiting for us when we got to the baggage carousel.

I called the car rental company to tell them we were running late and the person calling me ma'am on the phone got my blood boiling a bit. Now, I used to work a phone support job and was very commonly mistaken for a woman on the phone (we usually laugh about this), but probably the long flight, and line and hearing the news the Canucks' season was over got me a little testy.

Next came the taxi station. We asked the man at the station to get us a cab with a baby seat. To my surprise he told me that was impossible! Come on! Don't people with babies ever travel? Would it not be a great PR image for a cab company to be family friendly? They found one cab that had a seat with a built in child seat, but it was not good for Ken, so we had to bite the bullet and just hold him on the way to the car rental place- which was just over the bridge. I wasn't happy about that.

We got to the Car Rental place- and they must have had their B-team working. Really, they were very nice- but the customer service was somewhat lacking. They got our car ready and I casually asked them if the child seat was already installed. This confused them. Apparently, even though the website allowed me to request a child seat, they never saw this request. I patiently explained to them that my child's safety was very important and that I could not drive a car without a baby seat. They went into the shed and pulled out a baby seat that looked like it was made in 1953, it looked like a booster seat with a single bar running across the lap area. My mind boiling, but realizing it was not the staff's fault, I told them that was a ridiculous looking seat and told them they had to do better than that! Don't parents travel? Finally they called up another location and had a chair brought over, they upgraded our car for us, and didn't charge us for the child seat. The seat wasn't state of the art, but it was sufficient. The last little bit of annoyance was that they didn't know how to install it. Ritsy volunteered to install it and we were finally on our way. I had arranged to rent a stroller from a great home-based business in Vancouver called Wee Travel- they were professional, quick to respond and offered a very good product, I should have pre-arranged them to drop off a baby seat too! Check them out-- WEE TRAVEL.

We were staying at Scotty's place so I needed to phone him. Unfortunately, the pay-as-you-go phone I had for use in Vancouver hadn't been used in a year, so I had to reset the phone- which meant about 20 minutes on a payphone, but we were finally able to call Scotty by the time we hit North Vancouver and everything was sailing a little clearer after that.

Yeesh- it was a bit of an aggravating start.
I'm soooo tired!

Monday, April 21, 2008

One more little bit of business in Tokyo before hitting the road

Behind the trees, you can see the Canadian embassy
Before hitting the airport, we had a little bit of business to take care of. We stopped by the Canadian Embassy to submit the paperwork for Ken's Canadian citizenship documents. It was pretty quick and to the point- the consular was impressed with Aya's translations!
Next to the embassy is a lovely little park offering a nice little place to relax.
Or breast-feed your baby if he is a little bit hungry. Ritsy bought a nice little cape for feeding in public that proved quite handy on the trip. With a tummy full of milk-- Ken was quite happy. Finally we made our way over to the airport and hopped on the plane. From the beginning, I thought it would be the ride from hell- as he was really getting fussy when we started takeoff. Luckily he started sucking his thumb when we hit the runway so he could pop his ears and avoid discomfort. Around the mid way point- he passed right out and Ritsy and I took turns holding him, so the flight wasn't all that bad in the end.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Lounging in Tachikawa

A quick side-note before getting into the story about the trip. Yesterday Chris and I joined Peter for a little bit of a sendoff. He is moving on to surf the waves in Australia and will be sorely missed around here. The sendoff went well, and I heard that he had a tough time finding his way home last night. We'll see ya Pete!
The first night of our trip was spent in Tokyo. So, after hopping off the Bullet Train, we got on the local line and headed up to our hotel in Tachikawa, the town in Tokyo that Ritsy and I used to live in. We were able to get seats and Ken had a good little sleep, except for the last few minutes when he thought he would show off his screaming skills.
We headed over to Kichijoji with Ken to meet up with my former colleague and friend Martin. Ritsy took off early and met up with some of her old co-workers from when she worked at Hino hospital.
I stayed in Kichijoji though, and had to wait for a little while as Martin had a class to teach. I headed over to the local park (Inokashira Park) where the hanami parties were in full swing. It was wild to watch them, the park was just packed and alive with a wild buzz as partiers were singing, dancing and partaking in other drunken celebratory activities.
After another beer with Martin I got back to the hotel for some zzzzzz'z. We woke up early in the morning and shared an apple with Ken and said goodbye to Tachikawa.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

We're back

Finally back- and ready to blog away about the trip. It was a fantastic time and left me thinking for a while about moving back to Vancouver (though I don't think we'll be doing that for a while still)-- thanks to everyone for the great time! I'll start off with a bit of a prequel as I am still quite a bit exhausted from the trip now.
We took off for about 12 days starting from the 3rd of April. We threw on Ken's best sun-blocking hat and laced up the baby carrying sling and headed off to the Shinkansen (Bullet Train) for Ken's first adventure on the speedy train.
Ken, ever so excited for the trip, insisted on wearing the Mickey Mouse outfit that was a gift from some of my students. It was quite cute, but a couple of old ladies thought he was a girl. Luckily Enough, amidst all the buzz and rigmarole of the busy train (and the busy Tokyo trains) Ken was still able to sleep-- what a trooper he was throughout the trip!

Here is a little video of our Bullet Train coming in at Hamamatsu Station...
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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The turn

Now he has started turning onto his stomach and back onto his front, turns into a nice roll. Yesterday he was turning himself like a little gymnast.

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