Seawall Heaven

One of the best things about Vancouver, especially in the summer, is our fabulous seawall – oh yeah, I love it.  This past week, on the two sunny days mid-week, I took advantage of the warm, dry weather to strap on the ol’  blades and take a spin around the wall. Since I’m still easing into the skating season after a wet and horrible Spring, I’m using my old skates with smaller wheels until my ankles strengthen. These, called a hi-lo set-up, have 2 80s in the front and 2 84s in the rear (the skates I usually use have 4 90s and, since I’m small, are harder for me to keep upright). The wheels are worn down but still quite hard and, aside from the two that have terrible bearings, are still rolling along more or less well.

Anyway, at 8 in the morning on a work day, the seawall is blessedly empty except for a few other early birds and I enjoyed a stress-free roll around past Coal Harbour, the statue of great runner Harry Jerome,

the Lighthouse and its view of the gigantic yellow sulphur pile on the North Shore waterfront,

with a brief stop to admire the rocky mermaid in her Canuck jersey,

past the water park at Lumbermen’s Arch in the process of being refurbished, past the culvert made famous in one of Jeff Wall’s photo pieces,

under the Lion’s Gate bridge, past the second lighthouse, past Siwash Rock,

a rest at Third Beach watching some fitness freak exercise on the beach, past the not-yet open pool at Second Beach, a rest at English Bay where an older guy on a bike held out a bunch of uprooted tulip bulbs for me, past the workers on the seawall on Pacific Street, past the skate park at Sunset Beach, to Tartine’s on Beach where I devoured a tiny cherry pie – delicious!

Another sunny day, another seawall outing, this time a walk with the big man and Brubin the beast. Brubin loves to walk along the seawall, especially when he gets an opportunity to hang out at the dog beach under the Burrard Bridge with the other four-legged beasts.

Some of the Vancouver Sculpture Biennale pieces are still installed down along the beach, although for not much longer. The Arc nicely frames a reclining female figure and a bright orange freighter waiting in the harbour to be unloaded.

For the next two weeks Vancouver’s bike people will have the joy of a grand cycling extravaganza, the Velopalooza; Ty and I grabbed our bikes and zoomed around the seawall past Science World to the Bird Plaza at Athletes Village for the Velopalooza opener, a BBQ celebrating Bike to Work Week.

Tents from bike manufacturers Giant and Brodie, BC Hydro’s Power Smart, Ethical Bean coffee, Modo Car co-op, and others were set up around the plaza and attracted a diverse crowd of cycling enthusiasts, including one man, obviously having just ridden from work, with a bright green collapsible bike and a young boy riding joyfully on his big-wheeled plastic racer.

The best part of the proceedings, for us, was the Carnival Band, a motley crew of folks who rode up on their bikes with instruments – saxophones, French horns, trumpets, drums, other percussion instruments – strapped to their backs, and proceeded to serenade us with some great tunes, especially an early twentieth century Italian “freedom song”. I especially loved the garb, complete with cycle helmets, including one with a golden French horn painted on its side.

See more pictures here.

Read more about Velopalooza here.

Read more about the Carnival Band here.

Summer in the city – it’s grand rolling around the wall, whatever the wheels! Other cities I’ve been to are not quite so wheel-friendly – while in Side, a small city on the south Mediterranean coast of Turkey one hour west of Antalya, a couple of years ago, I brought my skates, intending to have a few wheeled excursions. Since Turkey in June is HOT, I got up one morning at 5 am, thinking that the weather would be cool enough and the streets deserted enough for a decent skate along the road which fronts the ocean for miles from Kemer to Kumkoy.

I’d forgotten to take into account the many stray dogs who never sleep and a group of them, spotting me as I rolled through an intersection, started barking madly and trotted over to me determinedly. Feeling a bit threatened, I debated about what to do but decided that, rather than turn tail and head back, I’d pick up some rocks and threaten them with these – this worked. Rather than having to actually throw the stones my threatening gesture, along with a fearsome growl, was enough to convince them to head off in some other direction – huzzah! Unfortunately, an inebriated man driving home from work wasn’t so easily disposed of – this guy, having taken offense to my presence on the road on skates, followed me in his car yelling at me to get off the road and go home for the duration of my skate. I finally managed to shake him by deking into a housing development and waiting until he disappeared. Extremely unpleasant. Skating in other countries is unpredictable …

See some pictures of my trips to Side, Turkey herehere and here.

See some pictures of a cycling trip around the Side/Manavgat area here.

While on the island of Cozumel, off the Caribbean coast of Mexico, Ty and I both cycled and skated. We stayed at the Vista del Mar, a sweet boutique hotel on the boardwalk of San Miguel, and spent each day out on the road, often heading down the west coast of the island to a beautiful beach called “Paradise” about 18 km down the road from our hotel. Although the pavement here was not exactly pristine, the vehicle traffic was relatively light and so the journey was always enjoyable.

Paradise Beach, like others, had a couple of large white plastic climbing icebergs anchored offshore; we had a blast clambering around on one of them. When the big man ascended to its peak, he created such a large dent in the top that the children playing on it slid into the subsequent plastic well. After a day spent beach combing, swimming and climbing, we savoured fabulous fajitas washed down by the always tasty Corona or Dos Equis to fuel our return journey, sometimes with large snail shells in hand.

Read more about our Cozumel trip here.

Read about a day skating on the Riviera della Versiglia in Viareggio, Italy here.

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