An Olympic Odyssey


Canada owned these Olympics!

While Americans will prattle on about winning the most medals (37), frankly, who cares. The key is GOLD medals and Canada whooped America’s collective 308,772,000 sorry asses on that front – 14 to 9.

Canada has a population 10 times smaller than the US. Even when taking the total medal count, and playing the ratios dictated by population means we produce medalists at a ratio of 1 medal for every 1.2M people while it takes the US 8.3M people to produce that same single medal. Clearly Canada is far more efficient at producing talent.

Norway actually wins this game with a ratio of 1 medal for every 210K people. Now that’s stunning talent.

Yes, we are returned from our Olympic odyssey.

My thoughts on the Olympics having now attended, visited with friends who live in Vancouver, watched the protesters marching the streets, and chatted with friends who volunteered behind the scenes are these:

The Dreadful Bits
  • the Olympic “Spirit” is more about money than competition;
  • the Games are – at their core and despite the pomp and ceremony – a drunkfest masquerading as sport;
  • protesters – who have a valid message sure – should have used the two weeks they marched to better use by aligning themselves with Habitat for Humanity and building a home or two for the homeless in East Vancouver;
  • the local host organizers (VANOC) should have stipulated that anyone partaking in the final lighting of the Olympic flame must be a Canadian living in Canada (it was utterly shameless that Wayne Gretzky who fled Canada and lives in Los Angeles was permitted the honour of lighting the cauldron);
  • shame on VANOC for the fiasco that was the outdoor Olympic cauldron area with its chain link fencing. It created a barrier between spectators and the flame and made Vancouver and Canada look like some fascist state;
  • lines, lines, lines … everywhere there’s lines.
The Good Bits
  • the weather was damn fine;
  • the volunteers and Vancouver Public Transit did a super job moving us to, and into, venues safely and efficiently;
  • the Canadian GOLD in hockey over USA (utterly priceless);
  • Tessa Virtue and Scot Moir’s GOLD medal in ice dancing (their long program had me in tears it was so beautiful);
  • Canada breaking the all time record for MOST GOLD medals at any Winter Olympic Game with fourteen.
  • Canada breaking the all time record for MOST GOLD medals by a host country in Winter Olympic Games history with fourteen.

Fuck we’re an awesome country!

This trip was actually a series of trips that included:

  • time in Vancouver;
  • time on Vancouver Island;
  • time on Gabriola Island; and,
  • time in Seattle.

We flew with Air Canada out to Seattle the Thursday before the games and then up to Vancouver Friday morning, the day of the Opening Ceremonies. We returned with United Airlines from Seattle (via Chicago). If you ever find yourself in Seattle for a night and need a great hotel right at the airport with excellent customer service, book at the Best Western Executal. The team there has customer service down to a fine art. Simple, clean rooms with an excellent breakfast and door-to-door service to SeaTac Airport.

1 & 2) Best Western – SeaTac airport

On the flying adventure, I must admit neither Air Canada nor United Airlines first class food was great. The rice heading over to Seattle was hard as nails and the beef ‘tenderloin’ on United returning was overcooked and certainly not tender. In the battle of the lounges, we give the nod to the Maple Leaf Lounge at YYZ over the Red Carpet Lounge in either Seattle (or Chicago, where we had a layover). The Seattle Lounge was nice but you get unlimited free booze and better nibblies at the Maple Leaf Lounge. 

3) the Canada Line arrives; 4) our home for part of our stay in Vancouver was at Woodwards (with much thanks to Sand and Don for lending us their second home)

5) more home; 6) the view west from Woodwards condo


7) the Woodwards rooftop amenity lounge has a great urinal with a view; 8) the coveted Opening Ceremony ticket


9) we lunched with Sand at Nuba (an excellent Lebanese restaurant); 10) the Opening Ceremonies kit contents

11) this is the line to get into the Hudson Bay Company store off Robson!; 12) the Olympic clock is at zero hours

13) the iconic Woodwards sign at night from the condo; 14) flowers at Vancouver Art Gallery


15) the stadium awaits the athletes

16) Team Canada enters the stadium

17) the fascist fence protects the flame; 18) sneaking a picture through the chains

G and I, and several thousand others, are also closet FlashMob participants. We practiced the week before heading to Vancouver and on the appointed day (Sat) at the appointed time (4:00pm) joined thousands of other like minded souls on Robson between Bute and Thurlow to shake our booty to “Dancing in the Streets”. It was terrific fun and if you ever get the chance to FlashMob (or FreezeMob), do it.

19) Saturday 4:00pm, we prepare to FlashMob; 20) heading to short track speed skating at the Pacific Coliseum

21) Here we are dancing … if you look carefully, you might even see G and I

22) time to clean the ice; 23) the banner at Pacific Coliseum

24 & 25) short track speed skating craziness

26) real blue fin tuna at Octopus Garden; 27) salmon sashimi

28) the sushi master here is a marathoner; 29) highly recommend the sablefish

30) the rolls are excellent; 31) and in the spirit of the Olympics, they even do a “lobsleigh”

32) and an innuksuk; 33) moi decked out in opening ceremony garb

34) the view from the condo; 35) on our way to Harbour Air floating dock for flight to Nanaimo

36) downtown Vancouver; 37) G heads to our wee float plane

38) I get a seat right behind the pilot; 39) Lion’s Gate Bridge from the plane

40) Nanaimo on the horizon after the short 20 minute flight; 41) coming in for the landing

42) Blee and Sand on the flight over; 43) a BC Ferry chugs past way below

44) the main strip in Nanaimo; 45)  lunch at the Modern Cafe

46) many cheese mac with crabcake (we make better); 47) curried eggs benedict

48) all the spring flowers are blooming already; 49) Nanaimo Harbour from our hotel room

50) Blee checks out the view at our Coast Inn Hotel; 51) our Gabriola ferry arrives

52) the view from Gabriola across to the mainland; 53) Patrick the llama

54) hairy hens roam; 55) Shiloh watches me as I photograph the barn (which I actually helped build many moons ago and Blee and Sand wander

56) Shiloh and Maggie; 57) Lukas

58) Barry out giving Shiloh a frisbee walk; 59) great catch!

60) G and Cousin Roy watch the skiing; 61) while Blee helps Margot prepare dinner

62) everyone was recruited to prep the meal; 63)  the house

64) the whole place at Barry and Margot’s is zen; 65) G prepared to hike (long story about our laundry not quite drying back on the mainland is omitted here)

66 & 67) Sand and Blee wave bye bye as they head into the old growth forest in search of …

68) the trails are gorgeous and very Lord of the Ring-like; 69) me on the old logging trail

70) Here’s a moment of Gabriola zen I shot as we neared the cliff edge

71) the wee waterfall; 72) returning home

73) trails … this was VERY steep but the shot doesn’t show it;74) look waaaaay up

75) our Ferry arrives into Gabriola for the return to Nanaimo; 76) Nanaimo from the ferry

77) Nanaimo Harbour; 78) the Gabriola ferry taken from our float plane flying back to Vancouver

79 & 80) coming into Vancouver on the float plane (you can see the Olympic flame if you make these pictures bigger)

81) banking to land; 82) passing the Olympic flame taxing to the harbour

83) moi with the fascist flame; 84) heading to men’s figure skating short program (we’re right above the kiss and cry and sitting)

85) Patrick Chan takes the ice; 86) English Bay on a gorgeous morning walk from Maddy’s

87) on the tipy ferry heading over to Granville Island for coffee/breakfast; 88) safely landed

89) better than St. Lawrence Market; 90) G orders his coffee

91) choices, choices; 92) Blee and G wander

93 & 94) so many choices

 95 & 96) looking over to False Creek

97) Granville Island; 98) doing some work on the boat

99) Granville Bridge; 100) Canadian Coast Guard hovercraft heads up False Creek

101) kayaks on Granville; 102) even the statutes have the mittens

103) meeting up with WestJet Sue for lunch at English Bay … nice bike girl!; 104) people everywhere

105 & 106) the lantern festival downtown

107) Caffe Artigiano makes THE BEST coffee in the world; 108) their baristas win the National Competition every year

109 & 110) the view from Maddy’s condo … thanks for letting us crash with you!

111) more of the view; 112) tuna tartar at Tojo’s

113) the crab at Tojo’s; 114) Japanese halibut at Tojo’s

115) Tojo’s … visit if you’re ever in Vancouver; 116) the tuna, deep-fried with mushrooms

117) Tojo prepared a whole flight of excellent sushi for us; 118) black sesame pudding for dessert

119) Canada Line – more standing

120) the view from Maddy’s condo of the light show near Granville … it was AWESOME

121 & 122) Blee and I getting silly with the sculpture

123) hmmmm; 124) heading to Stanley Park

125) the Vancouver Aquarium; 126) anemone

127) the jellyfish exhibit was amazing

128) more jellyfish

129) more jellyfish

130) again, the jellyfish

131) jellyfish; 132) strawberry coral

133) turtle; 134) puffer fish

135) these fish were as long as I am tall – over 184cm; 136) even birds in the aquarium

137) eek … Jaws!; 138) Stanley Park harbour

139) meeting up with Tennis Star Suzie and Gracie in Gastown … Grace was assigned to work at the Westin Bayshore where the IOC was staying; 140) wandering along False Creek

141) innuksuks along False Creek; 142) the international press prepares for the men’s long program

143) stopping by for a swim …; 144) but wouldn’t necessarily want to be rescued by this lifeguard

145 & 146) Kintaro makes the best ramen in Vancouver … visit if you go and expect a line

147) waiting for our plane to Seattle; 148) arriving in Seattle

149) the SeaTac lightrail line; 150) our room at W Seattle

151) Pike Market; 152) G admires the fish at Pike Street Market

153) Pike Market; the original, 154) first ever Starbucks

155) the first ever Starbucks; 156) these were so yummy!

157) the monorail to Seattle Needle; 158) the Seattle Needle

159 & 160) Experience Music Project … built by Canadian Frank Gehry

161) G heads in; 162) it’s very funky and Disney-like

163) inside Experience Music Project; 164) heading back downtown on the monorail

165 & 166) EMP

167& 168) G hamming it up on the Red Floor at the Seattle Central Library, which is a wondrous place to visit

169) our room at W Seattle; 170) we laid in lots of Olympic celebratory drinks

171) the Library – icky on the outside; a wonder on the inside; 172) G goes up

173 & 174) inside the library

175) looking down from the library’s highest floor; 176) edges to the edge
177) the Bar at W Hotel – Seattle; 178) the view from our room

179) this was a fabulous sparkling wine; 180) Seattle as we head out on the SeaTac line

181 & 182) the Red Carpet Lounge at SeaTac Airport

183 & 184) bye bye Seattle

185) the Olympic range mountains; 186) dinner in First Class on United .. just so-so

187) on to Sochi, Russia in 2014!

I believe these Games were outstanding! I believe these Games were not golden but red: Red for Canada! I believe Canada is the greatest country on earth: innovative, kind, welcoming, stable and multicultural with a great ability to poke fun at itself, and the best damn backyard in the world.

We are the true North, strong and free.

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6 Responses to An Olympic Odyssey

  1. I wonder if Canadians would still feel they “owned the Olympics” had they won the most medals, but not the most gold medals. Something to think about I suppose.Anywho , great long post. Love the sushi photos. I haven’t been able to find a good sushi place since moving back home, probably because I just don’t have the time.

  2. kunhuo42 says:

    whoa, long entry… i’ll have to come back. i just want to state that your computations of medals to population should take into account only that portion of the country who is athletic… meaning you have to exclude most of the u.s. who are overweight! =D

  3. upandoutward says:

    Watching the closing ceremonies last night was probably the most ridiculous / hilarious thing I’ve seen in months! I loved it!What I’m not understanding, however, is this “haha we beat you” sentiment toward America. America never acts that way toward Canada… It’s one thing to be proud to have beat us out in medals, but quite another to tear down our “sorry asses”.Sorry we usually win everything, I guess?

  4. CurryPuffy says:

    What a wonderful trip! It was nice to see the host country ended up with the most gold, especially the hockey part. I can see you guys had lots of good food too!

  5. Fatcat723 says:

    Now that is a post!! Great photos and commentary.I watched what I could of the ceremonies and events. Looks as if you had a great time. Canada has always been gracious to me when I visited and the Olympics proved the same from what everyone said.

  6. christao408 says:

    It was very nice to see Canada perform so well at the Olympics.  What with all the winter you guys have to deal with, you deserve the wins!  Yes, Maple Leaf Lounge in YVR is spectacular.  I used to arrive there several hours early when flying out and just work from the lounge.

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