Life is full of tough choices. You’re constantly asked to choose between chicken or beef, boxers or briefs, Cats or Cards. On my last day in Vancouver, I was faced with a similar difficult decision. Should I kick back and enjoy another round of Fanny Bay happy hour oysters or should I try to tackle the infamous Grouse Grind? Against my better judgment, I decided on the latter–a 2.9 km vertical hike up the face of Grouse Mountain. After a 2800 ft elevation gain, 2830 steps and 55 minutes on “Mother Nature’s Stairmaster”, I’ll readily acknowledge that these old man muscles don’t work quite as efficiently as they did a decade ago. Regardless, the views from the summit back toward the city were stunning and a totally perfect way to cap off a fantastic trip.
Besides difficult choices, life is also full of wonderful experiences. Ultimately it’s not really about the things you obtain or the accomplishments you achieve. It’s all about sharing life’s precious moments with those you care about. I’ve done just that for the past 6 days–traveling to Vancouver with family to visit family. It just doesn’t get much better than that.
Vancouver is a beautiful city but the sights and sounds were magnified ten-fold because of the experiences with family. The Grouse Grind was neat, but it was exceptionally neat because I hiked it together with my sister and brother-in-law. The Asian meals were delicious, but they were spectacularly delicious because I shared them with my cousins. The Taiwanese hot pot and beef noodle soup, the Vietnamese pho, the Japanese ramen and the Chinese dim-sum were all elevated to a magical level beyond description as part of our communal odyssey. I’ll always remember my brother and I writhing with culinary orgasmic joy as he concocted a traditional breakfast of rice porridge, salted duck eggs, fermented tofu, and pickled cabbage–definitely an acquired taste but a taste nonetheless developed and refined by our unbreakable bond of growing up in a traditional Chinese household. Or how about that day when chef Michael and sous chef John took over my sister’s kitchen to craft a heavenly seafood cioppino accompanied by a delectable clam linguini and scrumptious mezzaluna pasta–our mouths watering as we greedily devoured every home-made morsel just as the Gators were simultaneously devouring our beloved Wildcats.
Despite those instances, my favorite aspect of this trip was still traveling with my nephew Gabriel for the very first time. His quirky grin with budding incisors, his fluttering eyelids as he attempts to wink, the patty cake hand motions and slobbery kisses all framed against the backdrop of doting family and the Vancouver skyline. These are the indelible images and unforgettable memories I’ve tried my best to share with anyone who’ll take the time to read about them. I hope all of you, like me, have truly savored every single moment on this trip together with my perfect little traveling buddy. We’ve had a blast but all good things must end. We’re tired, stuffed and now just one plane ride away. Watch out Lexington–Prince Gabriel’s coming home.