Last week Rachel was in London and Rob was in Vancouver. Yes, I know that seems strange since, a) we're no longer world travelers, and b) Rachel is five months pregnant. But, a) "it is what it is" (voted by USA Today as the #1 cliche of 2004), and b) we really had no choice. So we boarded our little Jackson, said our farewells to each other, and went our separate ways.
Rachel spent the 9 hour flight in business-class luxury - a necessity given her medical issue (child in belly). She arrived well-rested at Heathrow on Sunday morning, checked into a Sheraton near Trafalgar Square, and began a really enjoyable work-week. Besides meeting folks from the London office, Rachel reports eating lots of great food, including Starbucks, Pret a Manger, and Wagamama. Those lucky enough to live in American's Northeast already have access to those last two restaurants. Rachel was impressed by the healthiness and freshness of food in London. Whole juices, fresh veggies, and scrumptious meats seem to be more common over there than over here. We hope the trend makes it over to this side of the pond. Rachel reports hearing of some football matches in the area (Chelsea and Arsenal) and she made the time to find me (Rob) a snazzy slim-fit dress shirt with French cuffs... so of course she also had to get me a pair of cuff links. And I admit I'm very hooked to the English dress shirts. I've already found the company's website, priced it out, and am collecting my next order (Let me know if you want to go in with me on the "4 for 100 GBP" deal). Rachel also visited the Tower of London, where she took the following pictures:
Tower of London
Nice Flowers somewhere near St. James' Place
The day after Rachel's flight to London, Rob hopped in a taxi to Seattle's train station. Yes indeed, I took a train up to Vancouver. A new experience for me here in America. The Amtrak between Seattle and Vancouver was about four hours - roughly the same as driving to Vancouver, but without the long delay at the boarder. Once in Vancouver, I checked into the Kimpton and got to work for the next few days. Unfortunately I don't have as many snazzy stories as Rachel. I was slightly disillusioned from my long-held notion that Vancouver was sort of part of America. I heard my share of "American's take all of our energy" and "Canadian cattle was banned for two years!" and "America is our biggest trade partner" and the likes. I realized then and there that while Canadians act similarly to Americans, their world-view is probably more closely aligned to the British and even the Romanians than to Americans.
Did you just say Religion? Probably not, but I'll mention it anyway: I was impressed by Canada's personal convictions towards their Christian faith. When I explained my bizarre childhood of moving over 40 times (my dad was a church planter - someone who starts churches in new communities and shepherds them for a year or two before moving to another community), several different people started talking about the churches they attend, their parents who are pastors ("I'm a PK too!") and their brothers who are youth pastors. The fact that Canadians tend to view faith and Christianity more similarly to Americans than do the British or Romanians added to my metaphysical "what does it mean to be Canadian" dilemma .
While I sit and ponder the meaning of all of it, below are a couple of simple photos from my camera phone:
Downtown Vancouver (aka, Metropolis from Smallville)
Inukshuk statue (you'll see this in the 2010 Winter Olympics)