How do you amuse your Aussie friends on the last day before you send them on their way? Don’t stress, there’s no right answer to this question. Today is Murray and Jenny’s last day with us. They still have a relaxing Rocky Mountain train ride and a self-drive challenge before they leave the country, however we feel it’s our personal responsibility to ensure they go back to Australia with good memories of the great northwest.
Murray wants to meet a colleague today, but only needs to be downtown around 3:00pm. We therefore have all morning and part of the afternoon free. Our happy extended household is suddenly split into two camps. The maroon camp suggests that it might be a good idea to try a dry run of the trip from Surrey to the station where the intrepid travellers will need to join the Rocky Mountaineer in the wee hours of tomorrow morning. The blue camp says that this is overkill – “how hard is it to find a train station anyway?” Surprisingly, the blue camp prevails for once, with the assistance of a few obviously biased referees.
As a result, we all pile into the Dodge and head off in the direction of downtown and the famous Stanley Park. The maroon team are still grumbling a little, but tensions are soothed by timely application of, you guessed it, coffee and donuts. There’s a road running around the outside of the park, with views of the bay. Photo opportunities abound on such a beautiful day. Murray opines that the shots would be better if there were a few orcas, and Jenny and Nanette consider business opportunities involving some inflatable whales and people dressed in bear suits near each of the popular tourist spots. A quick call to the National Canadian Tourist board kills the idea – darn – a Chinese company already has the rights tied up.
After lunch it’s off to the tourist mecca of Granville Island. There’s a saying about keeping kittens in the basket, but I’m from simple stock so I prefer to talk about trying to keep all your pet cockroaches in the bucket on a hot day. As soon as we hit Granville, Murray disappears to his appointment, David Kirsty and Kai head to the kid’s playground and water-park, which just leaves me to chaperone Nanette and Jenny around the tourist markets and shops. Woohoo – my favourite! While the market is always a great way to spend a couple of thrilling hours, we still have the feeling of anticlimax. What can we do to ensure a truly lasting memory? Of course! A Tran barbeque!
Excitement mounts as we head back to Surrey for one of the famous family cookouts at David’s parents’ house. As always, this gathering of the extended family involves food and fun, sonically enhanced by three noisy grandchildren enjoying themselves. Debates erupt about what tastes best. The short ribs! No – the marinated chicken! No- the potato dish with cranberries and secret sauce! But what about the salad generously laced with mango chunks? The issue is quickly resolved when the hot prawns in creamy sauce appear. Murray and Jenny look at each other. “Maybe we should come back to Canada sometime eh?” Mission accomplished.