Friday, January 14, 2005

Vancouver Diary, Pt. IV

December 28th - The Aquarium and Stanley Park

Tuesday was rainy again, but we had a good activity planned - a trip with Melissa, Michael and Madeleine (I'm feeling lazy typing 3 Ms) to the Vancouver Aquarium in Stanley Park. We again bundled all the little ones up and piled into the minivan. (Gail's boss Kevin had loaned us his vehicle for the week - which was a godsend, since Gail's old Volvo wagon had succumbed to electrical problems the week before. We wouldn't have been able to move it to Pennsylvania anyway, so perhaps it chose its time well to trundle off into automotive Valhalla.)

Predictably, Stanley Park was fairly packed with people, this holiday week. We had to park some ways off, and made our way through the rain (I did mention that this was the Pacific Northwest, right?) to the Aquarium. It's a nice one, but filled to capacity this day; at first it was hard to see the shows due to the crowd. I took turns parking Melissa and Michael on my shoulders for a look at the big seals and sea otters, then we made our way inside. It was a little more hair-raising to keep track of them here than at Science World, since the aquarium layout rambles and isn't partitioned for small children. With three Ems, and two of Gail and I, we had a brisk job of shepherding - especially when they all became fascinated by different fish at once! But there were some nice exhibits for the smaller kids, including a little animal hospital where they could don white smocks and minister to stuffed seal pups.

Between the excitement and the crowds, the kids got very wound up, and we struggled through to the food court for a snack before leaving. Our next stop was to have been the Christmas Train, and the kidlets were excited at the prospect; but there was a sign at the ticket kiosk that said they were sold out for the day. So we made do by touring the Christmas light displays, and by decorating cookies at a tent set up as a benefit for local emergency services. Photos in Gail's album, and a few in mine.

On the way back, we stopped in at a Gelato place (208 flavors - apparently they picked up a few new ones, since Gail recalled it had been 198 last time!) and had some ice cream. The shop features some very exotic flavors and encourages tasting; and the tiny cones that are perfect for wee kids are free. So we all got a dose of sugar, and agreeably sticky. On the long trip back home, the Ems colored for a while and reluctantly began to fall asleep.

Gail and I made our way back to the city and enjoyed a wonderful Japanese dinner - perhaps she will remind me of the name, I really enjoyed it. I tried a lot of things I didn't recognize, and didn't leave a scrap. Gail ordered a new kind of sake advertised on a little card, very light - almost like a sparkling wine, I had a taste. But we boggled a bit when we got the bill; even though the bottle was quite small, one portion only, the sake was 19 dollars - half again as much as the rest of the meal, and we had ordered a lot! It's a good thing we didn't decide to go on a bender...

Next chapter: The Aberthau House, Anthro Geeking and Mr. Bean!