This is the second in a series of posts chronicling the adventures of Lil' Louie, the smaller, plush-ier version of everybody's favorite hockey-loving blue bear, as he goes around the world to meet Blues fans in every corner of the globe. To catch all of his previous stops or to hear the genesis of this project, see here.
Today's adventures come to us via Matt, usually one of our SoCal Game Timers, who recently got to take a quick vacation to Vancouver. Which was very fortunate for us, as this turned into our only chance to get Lil' Louie to Canada (so far). You can follow him on twitter @LeGardien.
I'm not one of those guys with a bucket list that involves seeing NHL hockey in every single building around the league, but I admit I am one of those guys who will try to catch a hockey game when I'm visiting someone. Therefore, upon receiving yet another invitation from my friend living in Vancouver to come visit, my first impulse was to see when the Blues would be in town. It's Canada, after all. People will wear a hockey jersey to a wedding if their team is still playing in May. An opportunity to see the Blues play in a country as mad about hockey as I am can't be missed. I saw that the Blues would be in town in October and again in March. It was already mid-September but I saw that flights to Vancouver around the date of the Blues' October game were almost $100 cheaper than usual, so I had to pull the trigger. It was a sign.
It was only a week or so after I booked our travel I saw the call to action from the folks at Game Time Revue looking for Blues fans around the world to host Louie and share their stories. On a lark (OK, maybe I'd drank a few scotches that night), I decided to offer up a trip to Vancouver for Louie. I've been following Game Time all the way back to the mid 90s when my mother decided to buy me a subscription to the rather interesting bit of reading material I always brought home from Blues games known as "The Game Night Revue", Game Time's previous incarnation. She never really put it together that the magazine I would be getting every few days was written about a game that already happened, but that's my Mom for ya. I still loved reading the Top 10s and whatever musings had made it to press "in spite of Jeffio's liver." Fast forward about 18 years or so later and I'm still an avid Blues fan and Game Time reader, now living in Los Angeles, a city which pretty much had forgotten about hockey during the dark years between the last sighting of Barry Melrose's mullet in Inglewood and their first Stanley Cup. I try to see the Blues play here whenever I can, or even down in Anaheim when I feel like sitting in terrible traffic and surrounding myself with people who you instantly associate with the word "Bro." Louie likely wouldn't fare too well in either of those buildings, but I had higher hopes for the hospitality of our friendly neighbors north of the border.
My friend lives in the scenic Sunset Beach area of Vancouver, which is right on English Bay. It's a great place to live if you're into outdoor activities like bike riding, volleyball, kayaking, and getting stoned. Seriously. The whole beach smelled like a Widespread Panic show.
The view from our seats. We paid about $30 each including the fees, which is a little more than I'd like to pay for upper bowl seats, however it's "Canadian dollars," which I had to keep telling myself the entire trip.
SCENE: Packing for our trip
HER: [looking at Louie in my bag] What is that?
ME: Uh, he's Louie. He's the Blues mascot and he's coming on our trip.
ME: Because I'm a hockey loving dork and he's coming along for a Blues fan blog I am writing.
And this is why she is my Fiancée.
During intermission they treat you to a nice slideshow of player photos on the ice rather than something like people being shot down the ice on sleds in giant slingshots.
For "upper-bowl" concessions, I thought the carving board sandwiches were a pretty gourmet touch.
Because I'm a goalie, and this guy's jersey is great. [EDITOR'S NOTE: I agree. Now that hat on the other hand...]
After the game, we spotted this guy in the Gastown district rocking an Alex Pietrangelo jersey. His name is Phil and he was visiting from St. Louis. I'm not sure if he's a Game Time reader, but if anyone knows him, please send him over! Gastown is one of the older sections of Vancouver, with great early 20th-century architecture and ornate street lights that that you can see in the background.
The Gastown area was probably our favorite part of Vancouver thanks to it's wonderful variety of places to drink, which we did quite a bit.
Lots of drinking that weekend led to some very lazy mornings, but thankfully on Sunday we were able to watch the daytime Blues-Jets game, and another victory (huzzah!). You may think Louie is sharing a Bloody Mary with me, but it's actually a "Caesar," which is what the Canadians call their version of the drink. They also make it a tad differently, but it's hangover relieving properties are the same, however.
Tops on the list of things to do in Vancouver is rent a bike and ride the excellent bike path along the sea wall, as well as Stanley Park (pictured). Stanley Park is named after the same Lord Stanley who gave us the Stanley Cup, arguably the most badass trophy in all of sports. Setting aside this amazing section of land as a public park was one of the other great things he did.
Sharing a nice farewell moment with Fin, the Canucks mascot, at the Vancouver airport on our way back to LA.
Vancouver is an amazing city. If you ever get the chance to visit, I highly recommend it, especially if you can catch a Blues or Canucks game. You've got lots of great outdoor activities at your disposal like bike riding, kayaking, hiking, or skiing in the winter. There's also the beautiful urban center filled with terrific artwork, bars, and restaurants to explore. Plus this time of year you will still get days where you can wear a t-shirt and not freeze your ass off, which I don't think you can say about any of the other Canadian NHL cities. Sure, I'd still love to see Montreal, Toronto, or Edmonton (just kidding, Oilers fans), but Vancouver was a wonderful experience I was lucky to share with Louie.
Lil' Louie will return in an Oregon-themed romp entitled either "Hipster Halloween" or "Endor on Earth." Or maybe neither of those things. For information on how you can get Lil' Louie to visit your corner of the globe, see the original post here. Although be warned, if you wish to sign up now you'll go to the back of the line, meaning you probably won't get to see him until at least April.