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Blogging from Vancouver

This is my 28th day on the road and I'm in a light airy apartment of friends in Vancouver getting ready to head south and home. Yesterday I finished my final shoot in the rain (what else?) of a sculptural house on a small island off the coast of West Vancouver. Hey, that's a wrap, I thought, feeling movie-director-like, and now I get to head on down the road to home sweet home.

I've been cold every day (off and on) for a month. Home-made muffler and Alpaca wool hat, 5 layers of clothing, gloves, rain boots, and still a shock each time I get out of my truck. Rain, snow, hail, wind, towering white clouds and fast-moving water-laden black clouds. One day of magical snow on Hornby Island. The trees grow like mad here in the Northwest. People living in the country have to beat back the ever-encroaching woods. I asked a guy in Tofino what the rainfall was and he said "Ten feet." But the great thing about winter here is the lack of tourists. Tofino ("Tough Town"), the picturesque seaside town on the west coast of Vancouver Island, is a dream this time of year. Down to the locals, no strolling crowds, good vibes.

Here are a few things this San Francisco-based observer has observed up here, meaning Vancouver Island and vicinity:
  1. People are more competent. They have to cope with tough weather. Nature slaps you around. There are a lot of young people who can do real stuff: building, fishing, gardening, welding. People seem sincere, straightforward; it's a relief to get out of California for a while.
  2. Native culture and art are still very powerful here. Most of the Northwest Indians may have been wiped out by Whitey, but a lot of the strong ones have survived. You see native people everywhere and the art (totems, masks, paintings) is vibrant and alive.
  3. This is sea-people country. It's a water wonderland, with not only the ocean, but inlets, passageways, fijords, islands, thousands of miles of every conceivable type of waterway, and there are boats of every description everywhere.
  4. And finally, the carpentry: before I came up here for the first time last year, a friend said "You don't have anything in Home Work like the buildings up north." Lo and behold, he was right. This is my 3rd trip (out of 4) to Vancouver Island and vicinity shooting photos for a book, Builders of the Pacific Northwest Coast, and I've been constantly delighted by the creativity and craftsmanship of these carpenters.
Vancouver is a wonderful city. Clean, brght, on the sea. I just had the best meal of the trip (actually out of a lot of good meals) at Restaurante Baru Latino on Alma Street. The great feeling when you realize that every bit of food has been carefully and lovingly prepared. I started talking to the chef, who was a sympático soul, and asked him if there were any good blues clubs in Vancouver and he directed me to The Yale Hotel (at Granville and Drake) and it turned out to be a large rambling room with pool table, plenty of tables, bar and dance floor in a 170-year-old building, and talk about good vibes! The band was Texas Flood, so named after a Stevie Ray Vaughn Album, and sure enough they were channeling Stevie, down to the guitar player wearing a Stevie-type hat. Turns out to be a great venue. James Cotton had been there a few weeks back, the Reggae Cowboys the night before, Walter Trout the next week. There isn't really a blues club like this in San Francisco.

Well, so much for my plans to blog frequently on my trip — just didn't work out that way. I DID keep up with my email, but never seemed to have time to post anything. I'll try to get some stuff up when I return home, after I get through the first week of decompressing and unloading info (2,500 photos among other data). Tomorrow I'm headin' south!