July 1 is Canada Day. It’s the day when Canadians proudly celebrate their special identity. It’s also the day when half of Vancouver drives to the US to shop. We aren’t sufficiently seduced by the lure of cheap US prices to abandon the country that so recently welcomed us, and decide to do something more patriotic.
It’s hot again. Ok, we need somewhere big with good air conditioning. Of course – Ikea! As we enter this blue and yellow shrine to the flat pack I start to get that little prickly feeling down the back of my neck. Maybe this isn’t just a random visit. Sure enough, as we follow the breadcrumb path though the forest of displays, little comments start to drop – “that would fit in …“, “this would go well with …” I feel I should contribute to the conversation. “But, doesn’t all this stuff come unassembled?” Mother and daughter give me that little look I know so well which says – “of course. That’s why you’re here.” “♪I can feel a project coming on.♪”
After many hours and a lunch prepared by the cousin of the Swedish chef, we leave the big box and aim for the exclusive suburb of North Vancouver. Our good friends Vic and Donna are in town for the weekend and have invited us to visit. We haven’t seen them since we visited their home in the beautiful lake district of the Okanagan Valley a few years ago, but that’s Ok, everyone has Facebook.
Their apartment is on the eleventh floor and has great views across the bay to downtown Vancouver. I can’t find a Like button anywhere, so just settle for a Comment. “Nice view.” Everyone Likes this. We all have a great visit, with a special highlight of a short trip to a nearby park, but then it’s time to pile back into the Dodge to head back to Surrey.
Kirsty reminds us it’s still Canada Day, and suggests driving back via some of the popular spots to soak up “the vibe”. Those locals who didn’t want to sit in lines for hours at the border crossing all look extra patriotic dressed in red and white clothes with slogans like “I’m from Canada eh?” We also pass a few bus stops crowded with groups of twenty-somethings, all planning on a big night of celebration.
Our route takes us through downtown and there are signs of the impending activities all over the place. Kirsty comments that this is a little reminiscent of the excitement when Vancouver hosted the winter Olympics. “Maybe we can find a good place to watch the parades and the fireworks.” We look at the swelling throngs, we look at the tired three year old, we head home.