Downtown Vancouver Chapters Board Games Night!

Hey everyone!

So if you live in Vancouver, you may want to check this out! My friend and I stumbled onto this while we were walking around downtown waiting for our friend’s birthday party to begin.

Did you know that Chapters (the one near Howe street in downtown Vancouver) has board games night! It happens on the last Thursday of every month (according to the poster, up to July anyway), and it is free! They had two tables and board games scattered around for you to play with. What is even better? They serve popcorn and juice!

Photo 2013-04-25 7 36 42 PM

Free refreshments? Yes please!

Free refreshments? Yes please!

It starts at 7PM, and our friend’s birthday party did not begin until 7:30, so we decided to sit down and join a game of Taboo! They also had Jenga, Apples to Apples, and the other table was playing some sort of complicated card game. We met a nice group of people, and our table eventually started to grow. The staff kept offering popcorn and drinks to everyone, and it was definitely fun! Shame we could not stay longer!

So if you are downtown on a Thursday night, and it happens to be the last one that month, you may want to drop by Chapters and play a game or two with strangers! It goes on from 7:00PM- closing (which is around 10PM I believe)!

Our Taboo table! :D

Our Taboo table! 😀

Hope you guys are enjoying the sun!

-Karen

The Vancouver Aquarium — Torn Between the Good and the Bad

If you live in Vancouver, and have had friends or family visit from some far away land, you will probably bring them around town. Seeing as how we do not have a zoo (at least not close by anyway), nor is Playland open 365 days of the year, the Aquarium is a top pick for many to show off as a visitor attraction. It is perfect for even when the weather looks gloomy, which as a Vancouverite, I can safely say that makes up around 80% of our year.

Over the summer, my friend Monica and I decided to take our sisters to the Vancouver Aquarium, calling it our ‘sister date’. Honestly, I just wanted an excuse to visit the aquarium.

I have not been for quite a long time, so I was pretty excited! We arrived at around 11:30am, hoping to make the most of our day there. The Aquarium usually closes at 6PM during the summer, and their hours of operation are even shorter during winter. If you thought that you would be bored walking around, you have another think coming. We started off with a 4-D experience adventure, watching animals in their natural habitat. I get pretty freaked out at these 4-D things because I am terrified that something will grab me. Thankfully, there was no grabbing. There was, however, things poking my back, me being sprayed at with water, something tickling my leg and other interesting effects. Monica’s sister gave a shrill scream at one point, then declared that she was not scared, only to scream again a scene or two later.

Checking the aquarium’s schedule after the 4-D film, we realized that they had shows lined up for every time slot available (an example can be found on their website here). For some shows, they overlapped, so one would have to choose between watching the dolphins, or watching the sea otters. We ended up watching a dolphin show, an introduction to seals, a talk on the new penguins that came to town and the beluga show. In between running to the various locations for these shows, we had lunch. Food was really overpriced, but you would expect that. Not that it stop us from complaining.

For those of you who have noticed, some Canadian restaurants have a symbol beside some of their menu items. We noticed it at the aquarium’s cafe.This one to be exact:

I have seen this symbol loitering around quite a few menus around Vancouver, and it turns out that it refers to the Ocean Wise  program started by the Vancouver Aquarium. It helps ensure that the item on the menu is a good choice for keeping the ocean ecosystem in tack, and for supply to remain abundant for future generations. So keep a lookout for the Ocean Wise sign next time you visit a restaurant!

In all, the aquarium was great fun, albeit tiring looking after our sisters. But to be honest, my sister is 14 so I guess I am referring to Monica’s sister. However, it’s hard to get annoyed because she is adorable! I guess it was a successful ‘sister date’!

Playing in the Kid’s Zone 😛

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So until this point, I have only spoken of the Aquarium in a positive light. Of course, every cloud has a silver lining.

During the trip, Monica brought up the questionable idea of whether the aquarium is actually harming the animals, forcing them to be mere attractions in a confined habitat. I was actually quite curious too. That led to a bit of researching after I got home. 

Suspicious pieces of facts that I found:
– their beluga whales dying within ten years after being born or caught (x)(x)
– how the aquarium acquires their marine animals (x)

There was more information from other sites, but they only provided small bits and pieces of information. The two above stood out most to me.

So it turns out that they do not only keep wounded animals, or those who cannot survive in the wild due to certain circumstances. There are cases in which they actively tried to buy sea animals for display. They also frequently try to expand further into areas of Stanley Park, making the aquarium bigger. Of course, these plans for expansion are always met with protests and discontent from various animal rights groups, but Vancouverites are generally pretty optimistic towards the expansion of their aquarium.

I do not know where I stand. I know that some of the animals were rescued, as told by the guides from several of the animal shows we saw, but how about the rest? The aquarium is no doubt one of Vancouver’s most profitable tourist attractions, so wanting more is no doubt on their minds. At the same time, the aquarium is also a great place for kids and other visitors to learn about animal conservation, as well as the importance of keeping the oceans clean. The Vancouver Aquarium also has, as previously introduced, the Ocean Wise program set up, plus helps organize and encourage shoreline cleanups around the city.

Sorry if this post is really torn between the good and the bad, but I really cannot decide. So what do you think? Hope I gave you something to think about the next time you visit the Vancouver Aquarium!

-Karen

PNE 2012 (Food and Pictures)

I guess I did get to go to the PNE/Playland this year! I thought that with the limited amount of time left, school would start before I could go. Thankfully, my friend Mary Anne called me up and we decided to go today!

I am not very into rides. I basically get heart attacks when I am on them…so it turned into us pigging out at a lot of the food stands there!

Pulled Pork Sandwich

Their BBQ food area never ceases to amaze me. The food there is just so good!

Mini Donuts

I feel like everyone who goes there gets one of these! So we had to fit in.

Colossal Onion

My friend and I both thought this would be amazing since onion rings definitely are. We ended up throwing most of this away..not sure if it was just this one onion, but the insides are not totally cooked and soft. The sting of raw onion when you were not expecting it really sucks.

Cotton Candy

Overpriced Cotton Candy. But then again, everything at PNE is overpriced. We got this so we would have something to much on during the Superdog show 🙂

Got a random slushie to wash down those donuts

Corn Dog

Mary Anne had her first hot dog! I did not know anyone who lived in Vancouver and had not had a corn dog before! She loved it. As expected. 🙂

Some non-food pictures

The alpaca! Or was it a llama? This little guy looked at me when I called it for a picture 😀

Me on the ferris wheel 🙂

Until next time!

-Karen

Down By Hick’s Lake

(Sung in the tune of “Down By the Bay”)
Down by Hick’s Lake
Where the water reeds grow
Back to my tent
I dare not go…. 

And that is basically where our campfire song ended as we realized how scary the lyrics were.

I am back from my camping trip, and have finally showered after two days without doing so. It was my first camping trip, so the whole no showering idea was scary to me. However, I prepared myself before the trip and finally accepted the fact that it was no big deal. What I did not expect was that there were no sinks in the ‘washrooms’. The ‘washroom’ was more of a pit in the floor, and the smell was pretty horrid.

Before heading off to camp, I read loads of camping tips, hoping I will have these bits of advice floating around my head as we camped. One of the first advice for new campers was to arrive while the sun was still up, so that you can set up your tent, get a fire going, and get a good look at your surroundings. Sadly, we did not arrive before sunset as we ended up being two hours behind schedule, so we did have to stumble around in the dark. Thankfully, the family in the adjacent camp site was really nice and lent us supplies (just rope really) and was there to answer any questions we had.

My friend Monica and I had practiced setting up the tent in her front yard before the trip, just in case we would be working in the dark. That turned out to be very smart indeed. We also prepped the food and meals for the trip, getting them ready for the cooler. Packing was slightly annoying because I had to dig around for some winter gear since it would get cold at night. In the end, I think we were pretty well prepared seeing as how this was our first camping trip. Josh and Connie chopped up wood for the campfire, William got the van, and soon enough we were off to Sasquatch Provincial Park.

The first night was chaotic. Connie got the fire going, while Monica and I tackled our tent, and William and Josh tackled theirs. Monica’s dog Gator was also very anxious as he had no idea what was happening. We ate bannock, ignoring all food safety procedures and had ham and cheese. Sleeping was actually a lot better than I imagined, mostly due to Connie’s friend who lent us her inflatable mattress. Without it, we would have been sleeping on gravel under our thin sleeping bags.

The next morning, we woke up at around nine. We started another fire so we could cook breakfast. We ended up cooking our lunch too (Beef Kebabs) since fires took so long to get going. I think we all underestimated the amount of time it would take for us to cook our meals. It was well into lunch time when we finally got the food well done enough to eat. Thus, we had brunch instead.

Hard at work cooking our brunch.

Bacon, beef kebabs (with zucchini) and scrambled eggs.

Then it started to threaten to drizzle, so we glanced over to our neighbours to see them setting up a tarp over their fire, covering as much of their site as possible. We had two tarps, one to go under each tent. Good thing one of the tarps were actually huge, so we moved both tents over to the big tarp and used the small one as our rain shelter. We had rope, but it was not enough. The family next to us offered to lend us some, so we ended up being able to put up the tarp. We were lucky we copied them, and for them to have extra rope. When we were packing, different websites told us to bring rope. None of us knew what the rope was for…until then.

When the drizzle stopped, we started to hike. Hick’s Lake was actually really nice, and we started to walk around the perimeter. We eventually got to a point where Gator could not cross because it was too steep, so we had to turn back. We stopped by our site for a quick break consisting of toilet breaks and fruits, then the girls were off again on a different hiking trail. The guys wanted to nap.

Hick’s Lake in the drizzle

We saw this little guy on our way back!

Connie, Monica, Gator and I found a place called Beaver Pond. It was a hiking trail, with a sign claiming that a hike around it would take thirty minutes. It took us a bit longer because we kept stopping for pictures. But the view of the pond was breathtaking. The water was very still, and gave a perfect reflection of the trees and the sky surrounding it.

Beaver Pond

That night, for dinner, we had stew along with crackers, followed by smores. Then we told some ghost stories and sang some songs. We also just talked for a while. It was not until we used up our firewood that we decided to go to sleep.

Connie and William by the fire 🙂

As a whole, I found the camping trip a fun experience. It was not as strenuous as I had imagined, but the lack of actual washrooms came as a surprise. I look forward to going camping again!

Tips for camping (a.k.a notes to future Karen for future camping trips):

  • it is best if you arrive before sunset
  • practice setting up a tent if you do not have prior experience
  • bring your own firewood, or else you will have to buy from the camp site (overpriced)
  • it does get cold at night, so bring suitable clothing
  • make a meal plan. Even if you end up switching certain planned meals around, you will be able to prepare the right amount of food this way.
  • camp sites that allow you to drive your car into your lot is awesome. You save time unloading everything, and you can also lock up any valuables or food items to be kept away from nature.
  • cooking meals take more time than you would think
  • bring extra rope and tarp in case it rains. Just tie the tarp’s corners to trees to secure it. For us, we had to secure one end of the tarp to our car as we lacked trees for that end.
  • firewood and supplies will take up a lot of space in your van/car. We rented a 7 seater van, but still struggled to fit all our stuff

Until next time!

-Karen

The End of Sleeping In

It’s that time of year again. School is going to start real soon and I have found myself filling all my remaining days with some sort of activity to squeeze whatever I can out of my summer.

I am very excited to be going camping today! It will be my first time camping outdoors– ever! (Unless if you count that time we camped in my friend’s backyard…but we definitely were not roughing it out at all.) Four friends and I will be going to Sasquatch Provincial Park. In a matter of hours, we will be setting up our tent!

Now that we are preparing (basically done at this point) for our trip, I realized how much work this all is. I have also been reading up on some camping tips and honestly, I find some of them quite terrifying. I will update when I get back so I will remember what it was like when I look back on my first camping trip!

In other news, my friends and I went to Society down at Yaletown for a goodbye get-together for my friend who is going off to Toronto for university. I really did not have high hopes for this place as I had googled it before going and they had pretty bad reviews. However, I thought that the pizza I ordered was decent, and my friend’s truffle mac n’ cheese was pretty good. My friends who got the Chicken Gnocchi said it tasted mediocre… so I guess our group had mixed reviews. We ended it all off with a Junk Food Platter! What really caught my eye was how pretty it looked! It tasted pretty good, though the macaron was not soft enough.

My pizza– the Ultimate Meat pizza 😛

The Junk Food Platter

On the other hand, the restaurant itself was annoying. The music was on very loud, so it is definitely not the ideal place to sit and chat, or catch up with friends. I felt like we were shouting most of the time. But then, there were pink chandeliers  inside so it looked really nice. It was the perfect lounge for a girl’s night out, but not so much for chilling and talking.

That is it for now! I will update after my camping trip! Hope you guys are enjoying the sun!

-Karen