After seven weeks of mostly nice weather, rain finally caught up with me in British Columbia. I drove to Vancouver, the downtown of which is nicely located on a peninsula, with a number of parks and hills scattered throught the city. Unfortunately the waterfront is littered with a lot of unimaginative and similar-looking residential buildings, and counting. There's also a serious drug problem downtown which seems to be ignored by police for the most part, and which results in large numbers of private security guards all over the place. Across the street from my hotel is GM Place, normally home of an NHL team, but one night host to a Guns'n'Roses concert. Would have been I should say, because Axel Rose didn't show, the concert got cancelled, and the fans started taking the place apart. But since it was built for rough and tumble hockey, it survived. I extended my stay by a couple of days -making use of the free highspeed Internet connection in my room to catch up on my web surfing-, and also saw Red Dragon and the Everest IMAX movie, but the rain just wouldn't flinch, so I did.

I took the ferry to Vancouver Island, and stayed a couple of days in Victoria, the capital of B.C., where things are very British. Empire traditions are held up capably in the Empress Hotel, where every British monarch since Queen Victoria has stayed and dined. Lesser guests like myself are also welcome. And even the room in my less grand hotel had a fireplace ready for action, and tea was served at 4pm. Moving back to the US via the ferry to Port Angeles -a small place on the Olympic peninsula- I made a speed run for Portland. I would have liked to spend time in the rain forest of the Olympic National Park, but it seemed to rain harder by the hour, so I settled for seeing rain and forest instead, which can be done from the inside of a car.

In Portland I explored Powell's Books, reportedly the brick-and-mortar bookstore with the largest selection of new and used books anywhere -I believe it- and spent hours browsing, and ended up buying too much. Just an hours drive up the Columbia is the Columbia River Gorge, where the river breaks through the Cascade Mountains. Formerly the most miserable part of the Oregon Trail, the rapids are now tamed, and passable streets have been built. It's a great scenery, with many great views from the mountaintops left and right, and plenty of waterfalls.

Just showing in town was the excellent ensemble movie 13 conversations about one thing. No, not the one thing you think, it's about how to be happy in life. Very good.




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