To bring you a few posts about our recent trip to Vancouver, BC.
Wednesday, August 28
A few months ago, I found out that my favorite band, Scottish duo The Proclaimers, were playing at Pacific National Exhibition in Vancouver. I’m on their email list and was notified of the pre-sale. I pulled out both our laptops, Jim’s iPad, and my iPhone working the “best available” ticket system. I didn’t want to be in the front row but I did want as close to center as possible. After about an hour (I did say they are my favorite band), I got fourth row center tickets!
Wednesday of last week, we packed up the Roadster and were ready to leave by 9 am. We hit a snag though with a sick chicken. One of our little Rhode Island Reds had been looking puny for a few days. Tuesday night she didn’t even make it up into the chicken house. The next morning, when Jim went out to let the others out and feed them, she hadn’t moved at all.
I didn’t want to leave our non-chicken-loving house-sitter with a problem and I really didn’t want the poor old hen to just sit there and suffer. Jim put her out of her misery while I dug a sad little grave down in the lower garden behind the grape arbor.
It took us about an hour but I’m glad we made the time to do it. Jim said she didn’t even do the decapitated chicken freak out which means she was very ill.
After cleaning up, we got on the road. The drive was pretty uneventful for most of the day – even through Seattle which is notorious for heavy traffic. Crossing the border into Canada was pretty painless, too, even if the border patrol officer was very serious. I lead a very low-key life and no government of any country would be interested in me but I admit I was still a bit nervous answering her rapid-fire questions: “What’s the purpose of your visit?”, “How long will you be here?”, “Where are you staying?”, “What concert?” “What do you do for work?” She did get a bit more interested when Jim said he was a retired police officer: “Any guns? Knives? Pepper spray?” “Any weapons of any kind?” No. No. No. Nope. She was nothing but professional though and got us on our way quickly.
About ten miles after that, traffic slowed to a c.r.a.w.l. in a construction zone. We’d planned to arrive a few hours early so we could check into the hotel, get cleaned up and rest a bit before going to the concert. The congestion used up a good portion of the buffer which put us downtown right in the middle of rush hour. An abundance of pedestrians plus many one-way streets plus rush hour equals very stressed out travelers.
We made it eventually (though not without some thinking on whether or not a dead chicken constitutes a “do not travel” omen) and got checked in to the Blue Horizon Hotel. We relaxed a bit then changed and set off for the fairgrounds. Photography is officially prohibited so I took a quick snap from our excellent seats just in case I couldn’t get one during the show.
Not surprisingly, many people had small cameras or smart phones and were taking pictures and even filming(!) during the show. I feel bad for modern musicians who have to perform for crowds of cameras and phones instead of people. But I also think it’s easy to get caught up in wanting to document an experience and forgetting to experience the experience. I did this very thing on a whale watching trip in college. I mostly missed what few whales there were because I was trying to take pictures. So I tried to stay Zen about the whole thing, being present in the moment and all that, but I couldn’t resist taking one quick shot as a souvenir:
They put on a great show and played many of my favorites including some from their newest album, Like Comedy. Best of all, they played “King of the Road” which is a great song anyway and really shows off their delightful brogue.
They wrapped up the show, as I believe they always do, with “I’m Gonna Be” the song that made them famous in the States after it was used in the movie Benny and Joon. It’s a perennial crowd favorite and it’s as much fun to see them play it as it is to watch the fans dancing and singing along.
We cheered them back onto the stage for an encore and they gave us a few more songs. And after a show nearly two hours long, they still took the time to come to the merchandise booth and shake hands, sign autographs and pose for photos for at least 100 people. They looked tired but were gracious and patient and very sweet about the whole process.
I was so nervous but was near the end of the line and had time to think of something to say to them. I came up with all kinds of intelligent things: thank you for playing “King of the Road”, it’s one of my favorites; we loved your acoustic show in Portland and it was a treat to see the full band; we just made our first trip to Scotland this spring, it was beautiful; how do you feel the 2014 referendum will go? When I got up to the table, however, that was all gone. Jim knew I’d be tongue tied and chatted with them while I fumbled my way though the meeting. I’m pretty sure I at least managed to say thank you and that I appreciated their patience but that’s about it. I found some comfort later thinking that they were so exhausted and had talked to so many people that even if I had been the most well-spoken fan in history, they wouldn’t have remembered that an hour later either. I did get their autographs on the Saltire I’d bought after our trip.
And Jim took a quick iPhone photo of us.
What a great evening! Totally worth the drive. (At least to me. Jim isn’t quite as big a fan but was nice enough to accompany me on the trip.)
Tomorrow – Vancouver, Day Two – Shopping and Sightseeing.
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