December 31st - First Night Vancouver
On the last day of 2004, Gail and I dismantled and crammed a lot of her furniture into the borrowed minivan (again, thanks Kevin!) and took it with us out to the Sunshine Coast, where her office is. A glass Ikea table and some metal chairs were headed for the office, and Gail's crimson fainting couch was going to her co-worker Melanie. Amazingly, we packed everything into the minivan and still had room for twelve boxes of envelopes that we picked up from the printer. (Although the only way to achieve this required me to ride tandem-style behind Gail!)
I got to experience the ferry trip that Gail has made once a week for a long time, a 40-minute ride out to the Sunshine Coast. It was raining and foggy (I did mention that this was the Pacific Northwest, right?) but I enjoyed the ride from our seats on the passenger deck. As we approached the coast, Gail pointed out the steeply sloping mountainside road that was our destination.
We dropped the boxes and furniture at her office, Equity Research Associates, which occupies half of her boss Kevin's big house on a steeply pitched hillside. Then the couch got dropped off at Melanie's house, and we said a quick hello to her husband, as she was out. We drove out to have lunch with Gail's retired employer, Ross and his wife Lee and a friend of theirs. We had some good turkey soup (which soothed my raw throat, but induced a bit of deja-vu; lots of turkey soup over the holidays!) and had a genteel good time. Gail and Ross told me some of their work stories, and we sat down to watch some video that Gail had brought of a truly grand retirement party, which she had organized. Ross and Lee were moved by seeing some of the footage again; it was apparent that the event was a big undertaking, and a big success.
Within a few hours, we were down the road to have dinner with Melanie and her husband, who is a chiropractor with an office attached to their home. Melanie gave us some nice wedding gifts and wishes, but also expressed her chagrin at seeing Gail leaving! Melanie will have a lot of new duties at work in her absence, but Gail will still be working as a consultant and will be traveling back and forth, so she won't really be thrown on her own.
I rested for a while before we headed out for New Year's Eve; we had bought passes for First Night Vancouver, the official downtown celebration. The human traffic was thick by the time we arrived, so we couldn't get into all of the shows; but we saw some good street performers, and enjoyed some short films in the CBC tent, and explored the area on foot and in photos. We took up a good position near the bandstand, where a great cover band was playing, tried a few self-portraits as the minutes counted down, and rang in 2005 with the happy, teeming multitude. Just after midnight, fireworks soared from the Canada Post building across the way, and we started to head back.
Walking through town, and through an increasingly drunken crowd, we stopped in for a snack (churros!) and watched as a poor drunken girl was herded in by her friends with a badly bleeding nose. While they hustled her into the washroom, they plopped another companion in a chair - which a minute later she slowly toppled out of. We finished our snacks and carefully picked our way back to the apartment. Gail and I have both done our share of drunken crawls; I enjoyed our New Years' celebration just as it was, mostly sober - no broken noses, lost clothing or police citations. I even remember it...