Father’s Day, Assembling a Barbecue, and Whistler

Today I severed the last vestages that tied me to my birthplace. This morning, I went to the local CAA chapter (known as BCAA), and turned in my car’s license plates. I thus separated myself from the suit-and-tie ideals of Toronto, and became fully enveloped by the sandal-wearing hedonism that thrive here on the west coast. I guess I am truly now a British Columbian.

On the weekend, Allison’s parents came out to the Lower Mainland for Father’s Day. Originally, Allison and I were going to Vancouver, but Allison wasn’t feeling well enough to travel, so her parents offered to come over.

They came over Saturday morning, which was when we had decided we were going to make a couple of purchases. We got up early (for a Saturday morning after a Friday night where we stayed up late cleaning up) and headed to IKEA and Home Depot. The idea was to purchase a table and chair set (which IKEA sold for a surprisingly low $229) and a barbecue. We needed both, since we were currently using Allison’s card table for a dinner table (and while it was a nice card table, it wasn’t terribly strong), and, well, hey — everyone needs a barbecue!

But it took us too long. I ended up having to drop off Allison at the Patterson SkyTrain station so she could meet her parents downtown, while I took our newly-gotten booty home and into our apartment, followed up by a very hasty shower and shave.

I was five minutes late getting downtown, something I owed to the plethora of red lights I kept hitting on the way.

We went to Granville Island, home of the freshest food available in the Lower Mainland. We bought all the food that would go into our dinner (after having a quick bite to eat), and returned to our apartment.

I decided that it might be a good idea to put the table, chairs, and barbecue together, since I didn’t really feel like eating at 21:00. As I began to piece together the table, Allison’s father sat down next to me and began to help. At first I was about to shoo him away, telling him to spend time with his family, but I quickly realised that I was going to need some help.

The table was a snap, we had it assembled in a few moments. The chairs took a bit longer (and it didn’t help any that I got two chairs assembled incorrectly), but soon were usable. The big problem was the barbecue. Bad instructions (Step #3 should have been explained before Step #1) led to a longer job. But soon it was perched on the balcony, awaiting a full gas tank to bring it to life.

Having wasted most of an afternoon putting things together, I suggested that we go outside for some air. Allison suggested that we go to Burnaby Lake, which we hadn’t been to before.

This was considerably harder than it sounds, especially when we didn’t know exactly where it was. (I know, I know — how to you not see a lake?) We ended up almost in Coquitlam before we realised that we’d missed it. So we broke out the map (which was in the trunk, which is why we didn’t look at it right away) and followed some rudamentary directions.

It turns out that Burnaby Lake is a protected lake — no-one’s allowed to swim in it, and the only place you can really get near the lake is at the rowing course that was built a few decades ago. It was the first time that I had seen lilypads in more years than I could possibly remember, let alone count. It’s about a kilometre long and about 300 metres wide, and ringed completely with marsh. Only the centre of the lake is exposed, which is where the rowing course is.

After that, we decided to hunt down Deer Lake, which is a slightly smaller, but more publicly accessible lake. (It’s rather interesting that both lakes are within 20 minutes of our apartment.) The area around Deer Lake is a park, and has some very interesting and very expensive buildings surrounding it. I don’t even want to know what the property prices are.

After visiting Deer Lake, we filled the new propane tank and returned to the apartment to have dinner. This was slightly more difficult than I had originally hoped … I couldn’t connect the tank. It seems that a couple of years ago, the Canadian Propane Monopolies decided that they weren’t making enough money, and changed the attachments for the propane tanks. This, of course, required you to either get a new barbecue, or get a $20 piece of metal that would allow you to attach your tank to your barbecue. I’m still annoyed that no-one at Home Depot warned me. Argh.

So Mr. Collins and I had to make another run to the nearest Home Depot to pick up an adapter to allow us to cook dinner. By the time we returned, dinner was ready to go on. After dinner, we watched Toy Story, which neither of Allison’s parents had seen before. I still don’t know if they really liked it or not.

The next day, we went to Horseshoe Bay to drop off Allison’s parents at the ferry. We had lunch at Troll’s, a local legend and location of the best fish and chips I’ve had. After dropping off Mr. and Mrs. Collins, I convinced Allison that we should go to Whistler. Neither of us had been there before, and it sounded like fun.

A lot of people complain about out-of-province drivers. “They go so fast!” “They’re dangerous!” Let me tell you something — all the cars tearing up and down those twisting mountain highways were bearing BC license plates. There was the odd out-of-province. And, brother, those were some of the most psychopathic drivers I’d ever seen. And whoever that moron in the red Dodge Pickup, license BE 5889 — if I catch you pulling the same shit you were with me, I’ll have your license revoked permanently!

Anyway, Whister was nice. Creepily nice. And clean. Deathly clean. In fact, it reminded me a lot of Colorado Springs (see [[Road Trip of the Southwest United States, Thunderstorms, Kansas, and Colorado Springs]]). I figured that it was the tourist dollars being put to use keeping the city clean.

It’s expensive there, though. A two-bedroom apartment sells for at least $200,000. Condos are worse. Especially if you’re near one of the ski-lifts. The clothes weren’t cheap either, but then again, this is one of BC’s biggest tourist destinations. So I guess it goes without saying that the prices will be higher.

Following dinner at the Olde Spaghetti Factory, we headed home to Vancouver. Both of us had to be up the next morning.

Car Accident in Vancouver

Last Sunday (7 June 1998), we finished moving Allison out of her basement suite, and into my apartment. This was for a few reasons: First and foremost, Allison was going in for exploratory surgery, and wanted to recupperate in a more comfortable environment (her basement suite was a little too cozy for her liking); I also wanted her to move in with me so we could be closer together (we were spending large amounts of time and money getting back and forth between our places), and hopefully save some money through less expensive rent.

We had to go back to her apartment to quickly clean it out (her landlords were pressuring her to make sure it was spotless, despite the fact that they had no legal right to do so), and so we could meet with Tyler, one of Allison’s best friends. When we finished, we made a quick dash back to my apartment (and the ensuing disaster area that we created moving things around), where I quickly took care of a shower — I smelled like something had died and rubbed itself all over my body.

We left short thereafter, to go to an Indian restaurant at Main and 49th, in Vancouver. Allison owed Tyler a birthday dinner, which she was determined to give him at some point. Following the dinner, we would quickly return to Metrotown to catch a showing of “The Truman Show”.

Dinner itself was uneventful (my butter chicken wasn’t bad, but after a while, I found it not settling with me too well), but fun. We left the restaurant with about 20 minutes to spare before the movie was to begin, but we had a long way to go. We piled back in the car, and I started driving towards the first major intersection (I had to turn around, but it was difficult on such a major road). I drove as far as 51st, before I realised that I was a fair distance from where I wanted to be. I decided a short jaunt down 51st to Fraser would be in my better interests. That was my first mistake.

I drove east along 51st a bit faster than I would have liked, but slower than the speed limit (the road had a lot of cars, but we were in a bit of a hurry). I glanced ahead of me to make sure that there were no stop signs to slow me down, passing intersection after intersection. That was my second mistake.

Why a mistake? What I didn’t notice is that there were no street signs at all. The entire neighbourhood was full of uncontrolled intersections, which I quickly found out about when I was hit by a BMW. The first thing I thought of was: “Oh no!” The second thing was: “We’re not going to make the movie.”

Luckily, no-one was injured, but my car sustained a fair bit of damage — the front fender was bent, and as I found out later, the right right wheel was knocked out of alignment, and bent in at the top. I think the shock was also ruined, but I’m not sure. The BMW sustained scratches (at least from a cursory inspection).

While Tyler attempted to get the police on his cell phone, the other driver and I swapped information. After about 15 minutes or so of waiting, we gave up and decided to leave. (BC law allows us to do so, as there were no injuries.) Tyler kept telling me to let him off and he’d take a bus, but I felt so bad about dragging him out and putting him into an accident, I wanted to make it up to him. In retrospect, I guess he didn’t want to be in the same car as a driver who had just been in an accident. Can’t blame him.

I make it as far as the McDonald’s on SW Marine before I realised there was something seriously wrong with the steering. The fender I didn’t care about. But the steering was a whole other issue. It was then I realised that things were rapidly going downhill.

The following day, Allison went in for surgery. I drove Allison’s car, so I could pick her and her mother up from the hospital. Allison was groggy from the anaesthesia, and I was still feeling a little strange about driving, so I took the trip home very delicately. Once we got in, Allison asked me to pick a few things up for her from the store.

On my way back, I thought I should stop into the Autoplan broker, and find out what my insurance would be. I had just lost my good driver’s standing, so I needed to know how much I’d be paying. They gave me an estimate of $2,300. I nearly choked. I was paying less than half of that in Ontario. It seemed that the accident was going to hang like a dark cloud over my head.

On Wednesday, I took the car into North Vancouver, to a recommended auto body repair shop. The man who looked at it (an immigrant from New Zealand, or so it sounded) suggested a different shop just down the road. I went in, had the car checked … $1,500. Mind you, that was after the shop foreman found out I had insurance. Otherwise, I’d have been in big trouble.

I later found out that the BMW somehow got about $1,100 in damage. From scratches. I hate expensive cars.

The rest of the week was pretty stressful, as was the weekend following. But those were for reasons I’m not getting into here. But the end result had me beginning to wonder if I really wanted to live here. I’m so far away from my friends and family, and I don’t find that I’m really being accepted here. I want to leave, I want to go away and not come back. I want to sell off all my stuff and run for the hills. The only think keeping me here, for now, is Allison.