The love story goes like this...
Labor Day weekend, 2008, my good friend Rasheed visited me from Philly. He wanted to go to Las Vegas because he's never been, so we drove out there. One night after dinner, I didn't feel like going to the club, so I went back to the hotel while Rasheed stayed and partied. That night, he met a woman visiting from Vancouver. The next morning, Rasheed and I had a discussion about long distance relationships. While I've been involved in a couple before, Rasheed didn't believe it could work. I simply told him to keep an open mind, don't have any expectations, and just treat the process as making a new friend across the country. June 2009, Rasheed and the woman he met in Vegas, Andrea, started dating seriously. On January 1, 2010, Rasheed proposed to Andrea, and they became engaged. Rasheed told me he actually bought the ring only a month after he and Andrea got together! I kept teasing Rasheed that not only did he get involved in a long distance relationship, but an international and bi-coastal one, too. Rasheed and Andrea were getting married on July 16, 2011 in Vancouver, Canada. When Rasheed and Andrea visited me last month, they asked me to marry them in Las Vegas after Andrea's visa goes through. I feel so honored to marry this lovely couple later this year here in the States!
I decided to make this my yearly vacation trip and included a visit to Seattle after Vancouver. I was in Vancouver in October 2010 for work and didn't have a lot of time to explore around. This time, I stayed for a few days and explored different parts of town. I had three missions while in Vancouver: 1) Rasheed and Andrea's wedding, 2) Eat as many Japa Dogs as I can, and 3) Visit Whistler and do the zipline.
I purposely booked the Sutton Place Hotel in downtown Vancouver because there is a Japa Dog stand right in front of the hotel. Andrea laughed so hard when I told her this. I arrived Friday night after work. I told Rasheed when he picked me up at the airport how much I was waiting for Japa Dog to open the next day. My first meal in Vancouver was their Spicy Cheese Terimayo with wasabe mayo on top. Oh how I missed this!
I had a few hours of free time before the wedding, so I went exploring the town. Here's Robson Square.
I kept walking down Robson Street and came to their public central library. The building immediately reminded me of the Roman Coliseum. The interior was beautiful also.
Then it was time to get ready for the wedding. I don't really know how make fancy do's with my hair. It took me half an hour getting my hair right, but it turned out pretty nice. I was all proud of myself. :D
I got this dress while shopping with my friend Loren. She also recommended the Swarovski Crystal earrings I was wearing which I received many compliments on (thanks, Loren!). Loren loved this dress and asked me to take a picture of it, so this one is for you, Loren.
I met Rasheed's Mom, aunts, friends, and coworkers. When his Mom found out that I was "the one" who took Rasheed to Vegas. She asked me to tell the story again and wanted to take a picture with me. She's so funny!
Rasheed's son, Nadir, was the best man. When I first met Rasheed, Nadir was just 4 years old. I still remember hearing Nadir yelling in the background when Rasheed and I talked on the phone, "Daddy! Look at me! I'm Superman!" I can't believe Nadir is 10 years old already. Rasheed is a wonderful father and he did a great job raising Nadir. Nadir also gave an excellent speech. He did a fantastic job as the best man. :)
Here's the gorgeous couple! Andrea was a stunning bride! I met up with Andrea after the ceremony. We hugged each other and both got emotional and teary-eyed. We couldn't believe that a fun casual trip to Vegas would have turned out this wonderful.
Then, it's party time! Rasheed and Andrea asked me to bring my dancing shoes, and we had a helluva good time dancing afterwards.
Rasheed and I doing the "Money Dance," which is a Filipino tradition.
The next day, Andrea texted me and said they were coming to Japa Dog in front of my hotel, so I met up with them. This was their first meal as husband and wife, and it was Japa Dog. :D I tried the Edamame one this time and it was yummy.
After I parted with the newly weds, I went over to the waterfront to my favorite chocolate cafe, Mink. I chilled and had a cup of their delicious dark mint hot chocolate.
They have excellent chocolate bonbons with interesting flavors. My favorite is the rose & hazelnut.
I bought a box for Andrea and Rasheed, a box for my friend Patty in Seattle, and a box for myself. :)
After the refreshment, I walked down to Canada Place and then to Gastown.
By then, I had been walking for about 2 hours non-stop. There's a Japa Dog stand in front of the Waterfront rail station, so I picked up their Gokudare dog as a snack. While waiting for my Japa Dog, I met a man visiting from NYC. He had just arrived 40 minutes ago from Seattle. He took the train up and I was taking the train down couple of days later. I talked him into trying a Japa Dog and we walked to the seawall to enjoy our snack.
This is our view while chowing down on our Japa Dogs. Nice, huh?
Of course, I had to visit the Olympic Caldron. :)
Later that evening, Andrea's parents hosted a party to send off Rasheed and Andrea to San Jose, CA the next morning. Rasheed had been wanting to move to LA for years. I told him to put my address on his resume and he was able to find a job in San Jose and relocated in March from Philly, on two-week's notice! That's a whole other interesting story. Needless to say, 2011 has been a fantastic year for him.
Lovely night view from my hotel room. It was 9:30pm and the sky wasn't completely dark yet.
The next morning, I took the Greyhound bus and headed up to Whistler. I saw a black bear sitting by the side of the highway chowing down like it's nobody's business en route to Whistler Village. It was too cool. After getting to Whistler Village, I took a gondola ride up to Whistler mountain.
It was nothing but snow up there!
Then, I hopped on the world's longest unsupported Peak 2 Peak gondola ride connecting Whistler mountain to Blackcomb mountain. Being a Monday, there wasn't a lot of tourists. I got a whole gondola to myself.
Nothing but snow in Blackcomb, too!
After a quick lunch at Blackcomb, I headed up to Seventh Heaven where elevation was over 7000 feet. Since I don't ski or snowboard, this was my first time riding on a ski lift.
I was walking on glacier in the middle of July! In the northern hemisphere! And it was cold! I couldn't feel my hands after awhile.
We were told that the Canadian national team was practicing up there. If you look closely, you'd spot two guys doing tricks flipping around on their skis. It was amazing to see.
After taking in the beauty of Whistler and Blackcomb, I started heading down.
And I spotted my second black bear of the day!
And the third! I learned that it was bear mating season so they were roaming around everywhere. I also saw my fourth bear climbing a slope on my bus ride back to Vancouver later that night. I was so excited.
Next, I went on a zipline ride at Ziptrek Ecotour. I had been wanting to do the Whistler zip for years after I went on one in Cabo San Lucas in 2007. We passed by the Olympic luge track on our way.
Look at all the ziplines!
I'm ready to go!
About to zip across the longest line on the tour: 1100 feet! I screamed my head off zipping across!
Here's yours truly zipping 1100 feet in the air. WARNING: Turn down your volume, I'm quite a screamer. :)
One of our guides, Kyle, showed us how to do an upside down zip on our last zipline.
Well, I tried. I had my feet up but then I just decided to do the "dead woman" pose and swam around in the air. Hey, at least I went hands-free.
I was famished after 3 hours of walking and zipping. I found this restaurant called "21 Steps" in Whistler Village and decided to splurge. It was an excellent meal! I tried their small plates. These fried goat cheese with lavender honey were out of this world!
Orange braised pork ribs with mustard sauce. The meat fell off the bone and it was so flavorful. I even sucked on the bones. They were THAT good.
Seared scallops with mango chutney and cilantro oil. It was so good that after the scallops were gone, I was dipping bread in the sauce to clean the plate.
I saw that they had chocolate espresso mud pie on the dessert menu and went for it. Mud pie is my favorite dessert and it did not disappoint. I ate it all! My server was very impressed with my ability to eat. LOL!
Right before I left Whistler Village, I saw this rainbow and smiled. Rainbow is my secret language with God when He tells me that He loves me. :)
The next day before leaving Vancouver, I went to Japa Dog's mothership restaurant on Robson Street. I tried their Negi Miso dog with curry fries. Gosh I'm going to have Japa Dog withdrawal next week.
I had to visit my favorite place in Vancouver before leaving town -- Granville Island.
Public Market on Granville Island.
The perogies were still calling out my name, so I had a snack.
I hopped on the train and headed down to Seattle that evening.
I'm back in the States!
Amtrak's Cascade line that goes through the Pacific Northwest had breathtaking views of natural beauty.
After 4 hours of train ride, I arrived in Seattle. See my next blog.
View the entire Vancouver photo album here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/purplejoy/sets/72157627111840613/with/5966565226/