A few days ago the first in a series of fireworks shows was held in Vancouver. I had rowing practice until just prior to the show, so I just walked down from the rowing club in Stanley Park to English Bay beach to check it out. The streets were full of people and the beach was pretty well standing room only. It was a good show, and of course the fact that they set some of the show to a Disney song was a nice plus. (Oh, dorky dorky me.)

All those thousands of people leaving downtown at the same time make for very busy buses. To avoid the rushes, I walked down Beach Ave, and across the Burrard Street Bridge. There was a long line of boats cruising from English Bay, where they had all been to see the fireworks. Green lights on one side, red on the other. Port wine is red. Red means port side. See, I did learn something from rowing after all. “Port” has four letters. “Even” has four letters. Even numbered seats are on port side. Green meads starboard. Odd numbered seats are on starbourd. But I guess that doesn’t apply to regular boats so much as rowing shells.

I thought I could go right down to Broadway and catch a bus to UBC, but when I reached the other side of the bridge I figured I might as well walk along the Kits beach area instead. Before long I was at Broadway and MacDonald, and I figured what the hell—I’ve got to be like halfway by now, I might as well finish the walk.

Here’s the difference between Vancouver and Montreal: In Vancouver, walking along a deserted stretch of road in the middle of the night, I was less afraid of being mugged and more afraid that I would run across a skunk. I’ve seen more “snuks” in the last three months in this city than I have in my entire life before.

The walk from English Bay to UBC turned out to be about 2 hours. Along the way my mp3 player kept me motivated. There was a good long stretch where I motored along to the beat of Turkey Lurkey. Embarrassing, I know, but there’s nothing like an up-tempo big band dance number to put some spring in your step.

And for a while I used it as an oracle. Put the player on shuffle, ask it a question, and the next song is your answer. I asked it if my crew is going to win the regatta on Sunday. The answer: “Yoshimi vs. the Pink Robots” by The Flaming Lips. Well, one of our rival crews is a bunch of strong guys, and at least one of them is gay, but I don’t think that makes them “pink robots”.

Those evil natured robots
They’re programmed to destroy us
She’s got to be strong to fight them
So she’s taking lots of vitamins
Cause she knows that it’d be tragic
If those evil robots win
I know she can beat them
Oh Yoshimi, they don’t believe me
But you won’t let those robots defeat me
Yoshimi, they don’t believe me
But you won’t let those robots eat me

The really stressful part is that, as bow seat, I have to watch our course (while facing backwards) and make calls to adjust it as necessary. “Hard on starboard!” and that sort of thing. Forget disciplining my body and taking all my vitamins—I’ll be happy if I get through Sunday afternoon without crashing us into a dinner cruise.

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