The Definitive Guide to Skytrain Happiness for Visitors

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Why, hello.  I’m so glad you’ve come to Vancouver for the summer, to cuddle our hipsters and instagram our still, flat, ocean views.  You may have realized that this city is very easy to get around – first, the parts you want to see are actually probably all pretty close to one another.  Not like that time you hiked Yonge Street in Toronto and got all Rob-Ford-bender sweaty.  And I bet you were delighted on your first Skytrain ride from the airport, though mystified why it appears to operate on the honour system (that is a story for another day!).

But I can’t help but notice you, traveler.  No, it’s not your shoes, those are fine.  It’s that no one has explained to you the nuanced etiquette of transit.  I know this because right now, I’ve just seen you break about six unspoken rules, and it is clear the commuter beside you is ready to wrestle that day pass right from your hands.  Some tips.

1) When you get on the bus/train, Keep Walking.  I know, it’s exciting, so many places for you to go and sit or stand, you are overwhelmed and must pause for fifteen seconds in the doorway or aisle making up your mind.  Where will the best view be? Who might you sit with?  This may shock you, but public transit pauses for mere seconds so that a large number of people can get off and on.  Behind you, other people must get on.  Move. Darling.

2) Perhaps avoid rush hours.  In particular, if you are prone to the above, you may note that after you have selected your standing spot and unblocked the door, around 8:30 a.m. there are many people in office wear glowering.  If you can spot them amidst the limbs and limited floor space.  Why so glum, office chum?!  Rush hours are not a great time to haul your giant suitcase or six-month-supply backpack on public transit.  They are not a great time to be on transit if you have no idea, or do not care, where you are going, or if you are having trouble with Rule 1.  Just give it the extra half hour.  Have some coffee, there’s a lot of it.

3) Last down, first up.  Whoooo the bus has finally come! I am so tired from casing Zara! And look, open seat at the front of a full bus, who is a champ today?  First, look at who else is getting on when you are getting on. Are they elderly? Are they a baby? Is it a pirate with a wooden leg that seems a little hard to handle? Give them priority.  If you get on, and accidentally take the last seat in the front because you did not see the baby pirate behind you, it is your job to pay attention and stand up and give priority.  Don’t look at that poor lady next to you, or your phone, just stand up and move along.

4) Plan for your stop.  Sometimes, we are but sardines in tin cans, in which case there is nothing you can do but try not to be gross or loud (imagine how terrible loud sardines would be).  If this is not the case, there are options.  If you know you are on the bus for the next 30 minutes, as much as you can, move away from the doors and toward the back.  Take the window seat.  If you are aware that you are only going one stop on the Skytrain, maneuver yourself towards the doors.  Do not hustle your way to the back for a seat you will sit in for fifteen seconds.  It is difficult to manage this in concert with #1, but you can do it, promise.

If you do all of these things, the transit gods will bless you and your progeny, for eternity.

Jamming in Northern Washington State

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My first thought when Washington declared marijuana legal for sale was how much more desirable Washington just became for holidays.  My second, much later thought, was Pike Place Market having a producer with a weed booth would pretty much make THAT my number one holiday destination in Washington.  My third thought, on thinking about actually putting these travel plans into action was… what about border security?

See, border security is both Federal, and thus, as confirmed by a Washington immigration lawyer, they DGAF what the state of Washington is up to, the war on drugs continues.  Telling border security the plan is a visit to Mary Jane… nope.  So I’ve been compiling a list of things I would be doing in Bellingham (dude, two dispensaries) that would work well with the possibility of having a legal joint if one presented itself, and the anticipated border guard response.

  1. Eating decent Mexican food:  unless the guard is well versed in how superior Mexican food is in Washington versus immediately North… “please open your bags.”
  2. Trader Joes:  angry silence.  Guard likely to know Canadians are always down buying up all the Speculous and ruining TJ’s for local people a few days per week, those cheese loving jerks!  Likely waived through.
  3. Being Cheap: “have a nice day.”  ‘Bellingham’ is associated with paying less for something than you would two hours North.  I think the Fifth Estate covered this.  I’m not that sold (ha), as my bank card has always seemed to hurt just as much after a tour of Bellis Fair as it has after a tour of Metrotown, and no one can take away the pain of sitting in the non-Nexus customs line – even with cheap milk.

Sounds like a plan.  Report to follow.

PDX is for Lovers

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What’s it like? It’s like food truck fried chicken in a plaza where a dude with my little pony mohawk hair busks using Postal Service songs and a uke. Like that. That’s actually the best part. Just being there in the unabashed strange.

A lot of Portland people I spoke to (or… who kept speaking to me…) volunteered where I should go and most of what I was told definitely delivered – I still have a variety of recommendations scratched on a restaurant bill that I ran out of time to get to, as a result I must return.

Haiku reviews:

Voodoo Donuts: no one told me then / there would be vegan donuts / full of cream magic

Food Truck Clusters: Van City spoiled / I the food truck dilletante / was fed but blase

Alcohol: yes, craft beer heaven / but distillery district / has heart forever

For Canadians: urban Trader Joes / with your free tiny coffee / so convenient

Transportation: frequent fast bus land / this is familiar man / oop crossed bridge turn back

Recommend.

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