Sunday, June 14, 2015

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

A few weeks ago we took a family vacation up to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. We drove through Missoula, Montana; Coeur d'Alene, Idaho; Spokane, Washington; and Seattle, Washington. It was a long drive, but beautiful, and we got to meet up with some people along the way.

In Vancouver we stayed at the Sylvia Hotel, a hundred-year-old hotel right by the beach on English Bay. Here was one of the views from our room on the top (8th) floor:

And here is the nearby beach we went back to many times:

We were in Vancouver at this time primarily to meet Erin's brother Colter Jacobsen for his art show at The Apartment art gallery. See Colter above wearing their Grandpa's work shirt with his name Virg on it! Here are photos of some of the pieces from the art show:

The area of town around the art gallery is where the heavy drug users congregate, and with the kids we saw junkies and near-zombies roaming in their altered states, along with the beautiful gardens and interesting mix of shops in Chinatown.

Colter stayed with us at our hotel most of the time and we got to see a lot of sights together, play games in the hotel room, and so on, which was a lot of fun.

On Sunday after church we went to the nearby Queen Elizabeth Park, which has the highest point in Vancouver (which is of course still not very high):

And in the evening we walked halfway around Stanley Park, near our hotel on English Bay:

On Monday, Jacob, Phin, and I hiked the Grouse Grind, which climbs 2800 feet in 1.8 miles. It earned the name. It was a fun hike, with beautiful forest and occasional views. It was a busy trail with people from all over, and I got to speak to several Germans who were visiting. We were disappointed that they don't allow you to hike down, and you have to ride the gondola. But that was fun too, and we spent a little time hiking around more on top, where we saw some captive bears let out to play.

We walked a few miles to Gastown, an historic and touristy district:

All around English Bay were nice walking paths, seawalls, beaches:

And to wrap things up with a sighting of urban confusion, the owner of this car seems to be a little confused about the industrial technology and infrastructure required to make it go:

We had a great time in Vancouver and look forward to visiting again someday!

Cicely, Alaska (Roslyn, Washington)

We missed out on the TV series Northern Exposure when it first aired, but Erin got into reruns of it in the late 1990s, and we’ve watched most of it on DVD since. Phin has lately started watching it from the beginning too, during his rare allotted blocks of TV time.

During our recent drive up to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, we took the opportunity to make a little side trip to Roslyn, Washington, which was the actual location of the fictional Cicely, Alaska portrayed in Northern Exposure.

It’s a very small town, and we were there late enough in the day that most businesses were closed, but it was fun to see it in person at last.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham

Look! Lorelai from Gilmore Girls wrote a novel! Okay, it's written by the actor who played Lorelai, but whatever. I will continue to refer to it as "that book by Lorelai."

Apparently, Lauren Graham used her own experiences trying to become an actress in New York as inspiration for this fun story. It's funny and fun and sweet and enjoyable. I liked it a lot.

Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

I loved this novel about an architect mother who goes missing. The story is told through emails, letters, notes, and journal-like entries compiled by her 15-year-old daughter. Sometimes it reminded me of Douglas Coupland's writing. Also, it made me think about going to Antarctica. Really good book!

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Broken Music by Sting

I picked up this memoir several years ago at a used bookstore, not knowing if I would ever get around to reading it. I thought it would probably be pretentious and pompous, which is kind of how Sting strikes me, even though I'm a long-time fan of much of his music. Jon brought it up from our library a couple of weeks ago, because I was revisiting some of his albums after seeing The Last Ship in New York in October, and I thought I'd better give it a try so I could decide if we should keep it.

It starts with a religious hallucinogenic drug experience that Sting and his wife Trudie had in Brazil, which might be off-putting to some, but it leads into his memories of his childhood and family in Wallsend, England, where he grew up. I loved this part. His childhood was more like something my grandparents would recognize than what my parents experienced, even though he's a few years younger than my parents. Lighting fires in the early morning, delivering milk with his dad in the early mornings, being caned at school -- it was a tough life in Wallsend.

The memoir covers Sting's childhood and then the years after school when he was working all kinds of jobs while he played music with various bands, trying to get to the point where he could make a living with music. There's very little after the initial success of The Police, but I liked reading about the struggles. There are great funny stories that are a bit self-deprecating, like the time he accidentally sprayed metallic-colored hairspray directly into his eyes right before the first TV appearance of The Police. You can watch the video of that appearance here, and now you know why he was wearing the huge sunglasses!

The book was not at all what I expected. I suspect there are other sides to the stories therein, but I found it entertaining and delightful and fun to read. I did have to ignore an inexplicable switching between past and present tense, but I decided I wasn't going to let it bother me, and it mostly didn't. Besides that, it's well-written and engaging. I liked it a lot.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Pale Harvest by Braden Hepner

My friend Stephanie recommended this book to me. It's written by Braden Hepner, who taught a Creative Writing class she took at BYU-Idaho. The writing is vivid and evocative but not too wordy. The story is sad, funny, tragic, hopeful, and reminded me of a T.C. Boyle novel, which I think is a compliment.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

I found a used copy of this at a library book sale and, feeling the need for some entertaining fiction, I picked it up and read it almost immediately and within a few days. The suspense starts up right away, with the husband's description of his wife that includes talk of her skull and what might be in her mind and brains. Entertaining it was, though it took a long time to end. It's sort of a mystery, but from the points of the view of the victim and the main suspect.

Warning: contains plenty of language (by which I mean bad language, of course) and some sex. And violence. And creepiness.