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25th May 2010

Chores Day and Granville Island

    Chores were catching up with me, and with a rainy start to the day, it seemed like a good time to get on with them. First task of the day, check the stalling problem out with the van, perhaps it was still a b.....d. I was astonished, it slipped into drive and reverse with no problems whatsoever. Intermittent faults worry me, I'd much rather they go wrong all together. Second task, change some U.S. dollar traveler's cheques at the bank. That was a really slow process. Third task, walk around some garages and describe the symptoms with the van, and see what feeds back to me. All start off with a scan costing $50 or so. Then comes the diagnosis, bring it up to $99. After that, the work. One garage pointed out a Windstar that had similar problems, and they estimated 6 hours to fix, at the going rate of $100/hr, plus tax. They were going on about gaskets and valve seals, but I thought hey, this is intermittent, gaskets and seals don't suddenly fix themselves. Another garage had more clues about flying to the moon than fixing cars.
    I slumped back to the hotel and surfed the web to get up to speed on these vehicles and see if anyone else had similar problems. A lot of folk had stalling when hot. Eventually I came across a page that described the problem I had, what was causing it, and how to cure it. The author had put the fault down to a carboned up Idle Air Control Valve, and described how to take it apart, and also prove the diagnosis. He reckoned that if you disconnected the leads from the device, it would actually stop the engine. I tried this out, and it did indeed stop the engine. Hmm..... I thought, all I need is a 10mm socket, a torque wrench plus some dexterity and patience. Armed with that little extra knowledge I felt at ease.
    I spent a while dumping all the information I have on the van, registration and AAA onto the internet. I am paranoid about losing information on this trip. In the U.K. I'm fine, but over here I make the perhaps incorrect assumption that the van and everything I have in it may one day disappear into thin air.
    Then, despite the rain, I headed off to town. On the way, I came across yet another garage, and I ended up talking to one of the technicians. He seemed to know his stuff, and when I commented about disconnecting the IAC, he said the engine should not stop. I thought, but it did, so perhaps it is gunged up inside after all. They offered their services, and I was tempted, but they couldn't start until Thursday at the earliest. I was intending to head off to the Sunshine Coast early that morning. I dropped the idea of spending money on the van.
    The Science World centre looked like a good option for a rainy day, but the imminent closing time dispelled the idea.
Birds Grow Big Around Here
    Instead I took the seawall along the south side of False Creek. This was a lovely stroll; lots of water features, a park, plus attractive accommodation surrounded by magnificent flowers and shrubs. I can see why joggers (half the population it seemed) do their stuff along the seawalls, it is such a gorgeous environment. The whole area was up market with the occasional restaurant or shop. I came across a pottery shop, with three potters sitting at the windows engaged in various aspects of pot making. A fellow came by on his bike with his young daughter on the kiddy seat, and stood there transfixed by the activities on display. I explained to the little girl how clay was made in nature, how the pots were thrown, and what happened to them after they were thrown. She was either totally engrossed in what I was saying or she didn't understand a word. I think her dad got the gist of it.
Totem Poles in the Making
    I proceeded to Granville Island, a spur of land jutting out from the south into False Creek, under Granville Bridge. To me the area was like a little paradise. It was full of artisans; craft shops everywhere. My sister and her friend would be in their element here. A decent sized public market was here holding plenty of good quality fruit and vegetables, meats and seafood plus the usual arts/crafts/jewellry stalls. Small eating places co-existed here too, all very tastefully setout. The island also had a good selection of eating establishments, in one of which, the Sandbar, I treated myself to a bowl of excellent clam chowder and a glass of British Columbian Chardonnay. I sat up in the patio area of the top floor, listening to the brass band playing 50 yds away along the seawall, and watching the numerous little shuttle ferries scudding along the water like water beetles. It was easy to see why this area has become a popular tourist attraction.
Shuttle Ferry
Granville Island Market
    I took one of the ferries across False Creek, and walked a while along the seawall towards Stanley Park, soaking up the atmosphere, watching the odd seal surface, and gazing towards the peaks in the north that had acquired fresh icing through the night.
Sea Plane Landing
    Then it was time to march straight across downtown to Burrard Inlet to visit the Vancouver Convention Centre, from where I watched the sightseeing sea planes come in to land directly below me. Seattle had a couple of sea planes on Union Lake, but here there was a fleet of them that seemed to work continuously. Looking across the inlet to Grouse Mountain, I wished the weather had been clearer. A cable car can take you to the top where superb views of Vancouver can be had below.
    Being in the vicinity of Gastown, I visited the Spaghetti Factory for a salad and beer. It took me a while to explain the concept of beer as opposed to lager to the waiter. To him it was all beer.
    Heading back, my route took me past the Hastings/Main crossroads, which is where I had come across the odd characters on my first night here. They were still here, and harmless enough; it didn't put me off the city at all.
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Uploaded from Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel Vancouver, 395 Kingsway, Vancouver, BC V5T 3J7 on 26/05/10 at 08:33

Last updated 29.5.2010