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Return to the land of flashing (Blank) traffic signals

September 4, 2012
At Avenue Bread

We left from Avenue Bread downtown (Orin O’Neill photos)

The alarm clock chirped much too early (especially since I’d only nodded off at around 4:00 am), but I dragged myself out of bed anyway. I’d been looking forward to the WSCE’s (Blank) Rally Ever for much too long.

Todd & Dorcie once again kindly lent me their spare ET4; we met up with Dan the Sailor Man and Megan, Jason and Alex at Avenue Bread, well ahead of the Farmer’s Market crowd. That crowd still had yet to show up in force as we set out for points north.

U.S.-Canada border crossing

The promised sunshine was a bit late, and still hadn’t arrived by the time we reached the border crossing. Most of the time, you’re better off avoiding the I-5/Peace Arch crossing in Blaine, but the line really wasn’t bad. Unlike Washington State Ferries, however, being on a scooter does not allow one to jump the queue.

Once across the border, we rode through Metro Vancouver’s suburban sprawl toward the ride meetup. We’d stopped at a shopping center to hit the ATM and the washrooms, and to get a better idea how to get to the morning meetup.

According to Todd’s watch, we had missed the meetup, which was scheduled to depart at 11:00 am. Okay, we’ll just head for the ride’s destination, New Brighton Park.

Which is where, exactly?

Megan tried to look it up on her phone, but the stray wi-fi was too slow. Luckily, I’d thought to bring a hardcopy map of Metro Vancouver. When you’re near the Canadian border, AT&T sends you a text reminder that your unlimited (or “unlimited,” your choice) data plan doesn’t apply in Canada, and that sending and receiving bits will cost $15.36 per MEGABYTE. Google Maps is a serious data hog, and you can run your bill up to stratospheric levels in no time. I can’t afford that, so I bring a map.

Location determined, we’re on our way. I flip the eyeshield of my helmet down, and it pops off. Wonderful.

I got it reattached and caught up with the group. I went to open it at a red light, and it popped off again. Crap.

I stowed the shield in the pet cooker; I was wearing sunglasses, which offered some protection.

We got caught up in the PNE traffic on Hastings Street, then made a few wrong turns among the Vancouver Specials before arriving at New Brighton Park’s swimming pool.

Oh yeah, I remember this place. A few years ago, the rally stopped here so everyone could go swimming, a refreshing break from the 90+° F temperatures that weekend.

But nobody was there.

Okay, let’s go to the other side of the park.

New Brighton Park

Nobody there, either. Well, we’re early, let’s hang out for a while and wait for people to show up.

We waited. And waited. And waited some more. We talked, among other things, about Poutine (a Canuck delicacy consisting of french fries smothered in brown gravy and cheese curds).

Dorcie said she was getting hungry, and so was I. So we went with Todd in search of food, ending up at a the Donair falafel place at Nanaimo and Hastings. Quite good.

Arrivals

A few more people had trickled in when we got back, then the big ride arrived. It was a long one, people said.

And it left around noon. Scooter time, remember? This was even thoughtfully noted in the itinerary. We could’ve made it to the breakfast meetup, and gone on the ride. Oh, well.

Hanging out

The stop at New Brighton Park was the official beginning of Saturday free time. So we hung out. Shoulda brought a blanket. Or two.

It was nice to see familiar faces and catch up, so we were in no real hurry to head for the meetup spot for the ride to the Summer Night Market in Richmond.

Sean finally announced a ride to said meetup spot, the former Olympic Village across False Creek from downtown Vancouver’s signature highrises. We’d stop at the Starbucks on Commercial Drive to replenish liquids before heading out to hang with the sparrows.

The sun was dropping low in the western sky as we arrived. We wandered around the Olympic Village courtyard, enjoying the skyline view, and the eclectic assortment of scooters.

Hanging out

There are a lot of older PGO scooters in Canada. PGO, the Taiwanese company that builds Buddys for Genuine, got started as a Vespa licensee—in fact, the name is plucked from “Piaggio.” A Canadian importer was quite active, for a while.

There was a lot of murmuring about when we were supposed to leave. One version of the itinerary said 4:30, another said 5:30. I think it was closer to 6:30 when we finally left.

Heading out

Scooter time, remember? Favicon

Next: The Summer Night Market in Richmond, B.C.

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