THE Long Weekend of Summer

The August Long Weekend in Canada really is the last great summer long weekend. By the time Labour Day rolls around the days are shorter and the air just a bit cooler. So this it! The peak of sunshine and time to enjoy summer for all it’s worth. In Van City and area there is much to choose from: camping, hiking, being a beach bum, patios and food trucks, picnics, the Celebration of Light fireworks, the anual Pride Parade and of course SUNSHINE!

My weekend this year was fun, thought not as exciting as last year where I drove to Whistler, BC to meet friends to go zip-lining with Ziptrek Ecotours – now that was damn fun! I highly recommend it. This blog, however, is about my 2011 August long.

The crowd at English Bay at about 8pm
Our picnic spot!
The birthday cake on the beach

 My weekend was good. I got to see some friends I hadn’t seen in awhile and enjoy a few of the events around town. Overall a mild, relaxing and enjoyable weekend. Finally the summer weather had arrived after a rather wet July (not that I minded — I quite like the rain). I was glad it wasn’t too hot though or sticky -I’m not a fan of humidity. I worked on Friday and then Saturday as well, so I stayed in on Friday night (which has been my regular, uneventful habit for the past few years). After work on Sat I headed out to English Bay beach to meet with a few friends for a picnic and viewing of the Celebration of Light fireworks. It took me a bit longer to get there as transit was packed with locals doing the same thing – going early to get a decent spot. Over 300,000 people lined the beaches at English Bay and Kitsilano as well as at Vanier Park. What can I say – we like our fireworks in Vancouver. So while I toted my green beach bag filled with rice pilaf, diet coke and my trusty camera I waited for a bus that didn’t flash “bus full”. Finally I arrived at a very crowded English Bay around 6:30pm, found my friends and settled in with them on our small blanket. We dined on salad, beef, rice, blueberries and peanut butter cookies all the while watching as the beach swelled with bodies hoping their view was the best. As the evening wore on, our friends Jimena and Caio came by (they  found us by way of cell phone) to say hello and to have a mini birthday celebration for Jimena. We sang her “Happy Birthday” and ate the cake with a setting sun backdrop. They soon re-joined her other group of friends.

oooooo!
aahhhhh!

At 10pm the sky lit up with it’s first set of exploding stars. A stunning show by China of bright lights and crackling sounds set against the black backdrop of the night. An incredible site to see. A spectacular start to the fireworks competition (Spain and Canada peformed later in the week, respectively). After 25 minutes of  oo-ing and aw-ing we gathered our things together to try to make way through the myriad of people.I decided to just head home and passed on going for drinks and salsa dancing with the birthday girl. Buses were not operating along Davie St. so it was time to hoof it to the first bus that would take me home. Soon the rain began and when I finally arrive near my home I walked 6 blocks in the rain. But truth be told, I enjoyed that rain walk!

Pride colours
The City of Vancouver float

The next morning, as I headed to meet friends for breakfast, I saw that the sun was trying to break through the cloudy sky. Looked like good weather for the days events. Ah, Sunday morning breakfast – something I don’t do enough of but highly  recommend.  I had my “breakfast of champions” at The Edge Social Grille located in the Best Western Chateau Granville. Feasting on my eggs benny and the company of TJ and Kwan (both Couchsurfers) was a delightful.  After our hearty breakfast, Kwan left us to meet some of his friends and TJ and I headed toward Davie St, with our final destination being Beech St to find a decent viewing spot for the annual Vancouver Pride Parade.

Amazing stilt walkers

The Pride Parade is the finale to Pride Week that is held every year in the West End of Vancouver. It’s a time to show support for the gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgendered community and is the largest parade in Western Canada. The theme for the last three years has been “Educate, Liberate, Celebrate”. By the time we reached the parade route the sun had burned off the haze and the clouds were long gone. We found standing room only, slapped on some sunscreen and watched as the parade reached our eyes. Music, colour, (sponsor’s) floats, stilts, balloons, boas, sparkles,costumes, flags, smiles, cheers – a one-day-a-year event that allows participants to dress wacky, weird, fun and outrageous in an effort to raise awareness and support of equal rights and tolerance for all.

Action Figure Cop

So how big is the biggest parade in western Canada? BIG! Especially on a hot sunny day. After about an hour and twenty minutes of standing in the blazing sun TJ was feeling a bit woozy (she’s very fair-skinned) so we decided to head back to Davie St and get a cold drink at Blenz Coffee. The parade was still in full swing. I believe it was about two hours long. It was still very fun even thought we didn’t see the lot of it. The rest of the day I took it easy and was happy to discover on Monday that I had some colour on my otherwise pale shoulders.

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