vancouver part 1: flying planes, crossing borders, + watching the olympics

once upon a grand ol' time, i went on a lovely most-all-expenses-paid excursion to lovely vancouver, british columbia (canada! so exciting!). a handful of us got a group scholarship grant to finance our trip to the week-long 2nd annual international freedom + focus fitzmaurice voice conference (just click on the link there for more info)! i flew separately from ohio, but was greeted once i got into vancouver by some of my favorite fellow theatre majors, taylor, katie, and taryn, as well as our fab professor, stephanie breinholt.

wake-up time was pretty early (aka didn't really sleep the night before, oops), as my first flight of the day was leaving at the crack of...5:50am. eesh. but i was so! incredibly! excited! i promise.

our plane anxiously awaiting being boarded directly outside.

my get-up for the trip: carry-on suitcase, new backpack (from charlotte russe), + camelbak waterbottle. the perfect traveling triumvirate!

don't worry, i sat right next to the pilot and we totally bonded pre-flight over our love for travelling. or maybe he was catching up on some zzz's. either/or.

finally the sun began to creep out over the edge of the earth (okay, barely) but they let us out of the terminal so we could make the cute little walk to board our cute little plane!

snoozed most of the way from columbus to houston, but who's complaining? sleeping on planes (or just sleeping in general) is one of my all-time favorite things. ever. ask anyone.

bush statue, first thing i saw in the terminal post-de-boarding my first plane in houston.

other exciting houston airport sightings:

huge longhorns.

a chapel! on a sunday! how thoughtful of them.

the BEST real real food i've ever had in an airport!

...seriously. so hungry looking at this fatty-filled "real" goodness. yummmm. there's bacon in there too, don't worry dk. i wouldn't ever eat just cheese and bread and egg. crazy.

i kept myself quite entertained (via my favorite new iphone! aka where all these photos are from) watching clips from the london 2012 olympic opening ceremonies...aka really just watching sir paul playing the crowd favorite "hey jude". AH. you. guys. honestly. what is NOT to love about this 70-year-old man?!

this was the coolest part of the video they showed (thank you, screen shots!). they did a fade-in of abbey road! love. it.

okay okay okay. after a good long while of eating my crossianwich/falling even more in love with my all-time fave beatle, i boarded my second plane, off to good ol' seattle, washington!! can you believe i'd never been to the pacific northwest before this trip?! IT. IS. PERFECT. but more on that in a few posts when i cover my entire day spent in seattle on my trip home...most on that later.

cruise ship check-in? why don't we have one of those in the port columbus int'l airport?

diva expresso. seattle (as i learned) reeeeeeeeally does love their coffee. i promise you.

AND their art. wall-to-wall-totally-mostly-random-but-completely-100%-awesome art. this was only the beginning of the mosaics i saw while i was there (even just for a brief while)!

okay, this is one of the most genius ideas that seattle has ever had. a mini subway-thing that goes straight to/from the seatac airport (hardly even had to step outside, just had to walk a bit of a ways through the parking garage) + stops at like 12 different cities along the way?? and only $2.75 for a one-way shot?? practically too good to be true! especially with no stopping for traffic since it's on its own track? GENIUS, i tell you. pure genius.

i saw so much pretty seattle scenery + artwork on the way! i'll stop talking for now and just let you back in my fancy + classy iphone photos from my window seat on the soundtransit.

(okay one more note, do you see the space needle in the lower left-hand corner of this next photo?? you can click on it to make it bigger. it looks so tiny compared to all those other buildings, but i PROMISE you, it is HUGE in person! more on that in a later post too, double promise!!)

ah, safeco field! home of the mariners. love me my baseball. but i didn't have any time to catch a game, i was too busy hopping off the soundtransit at the international district in seattle, just about a 30 minute trip from the airport (that would have been so ridiculously much $$$ + time, had i opted to take a taxi or bus). this was my first chance getting to step out + really explore seattle...to say i was excited to step out of that station and into the sunshine was the biggest understatement of my young lifetime.

...and check out how far i got to walk in the great pacific northwest outdoors!

okay okay, kind of lame. i know. but (1) i knew i'd have more time at the end of the week to really explore seattle, and (2) i was on a tight schedule to get up to vancouver on the third leg of my trip...starting at the lovely (and seemingly indefinitely under construction) king street station, shown below...

...catching my first-ever amtrak bus, all the way over the u.s. border into canada! whee!

i killed some time while there, google+ hanging out (again, thank you iphone!) with my favorite family members (just missing anna!), going from sitting in the train station, and even once i got on the bus! thank you 3G, i owe you my life for helping me stay connected everywhere i go. what did i ever do before you?!

i said goodbye to my family after another little while of chatting, and then took one more photo of the station (+ beautiful mural on the wall...literally they are EVERYWHERE in seattle! ruth you would just love and just love, honestly!) as the bus started pulling away...!

i filled out my fancy form to let me cross the border (no photo on that one for security purposes, even though i totally took one + uploaded it...! good thing i caught that one last minute, whoopsie), and we were on our way!

some sights from the journey from seattle ---> vancouver, b.c.

the border! eek!! we were in the far right lane, since we were on a huge honkin' amtrak bus. but believe you me, the lines to get through border patrol seemed to go on forrrrrrrrrrrevvvvvvvvvverrrrrrrrrr. for real.

once we pulled our wee little (huge) bus up to the right stall, we all had to hop off, unload our luggage with us, and walk inside this huge lobby-looking area to get our passport + forms checked out.

hi canada! you were so close at this point!

anxiously waiting one-at-a-time for a canadian police officer to call us up + ask us questions to ensure we weren't illegals or trying to sneak into canada...i was only slightly nervous when mine looked at me funny when i told him i was there for a theatre + voice conference in vancouver. yeesh man, gimme a break! i'm a first time border-crossing solo traveller! and i don't even look ethnic! the nerve...

okay just kidding. meaning, that totally happened. but he was nice enough to let me (and most of our bus-mates) pass...there was one guy who didn't quite get past security because he was a little rowdy (note to self: always respect the golden rule. otherwise your negative attitude will land you a few hours with the canadian police while your amtrak bus leaves you behind at the border).

...but! most of us DID make it! so we loaded our luggage back up under the bus, boarded it ourselves, and we were off, riding into the sunset (practically quite literally, thank you beautiful northwest!) and on our way to vancouver at last!

i didn't take many photos of the rest of this day, but suffice it to say that it was about an hour-ish to get from seattle to the canadian border (i suppose it's also the u.s. border...just depending on how you look at it. or just mostly both....i digress), and just slightly less than an hour-ish to get from the border to the station in vancouver!! i hopped off, made my first canadian phone call to get a taxi to pick me up, and rode about 5 minutes in the taxi to get me safely to our hotel! i was greeted by taylor, who had just gotten engaged the night before (literally! in vegas! which is where she's from, so it's not all too crazy that that happened that way. but still awesome) so we talked and squealed about that for a good long time until katie, steph, and taryn eventually showed up, by about 11:30pm sunday night. 

phew! travelling straight from 5:50am (EST) until 10:00pm (PST) can take it outta you, trust me. so we all hit the hay, and got up nice + early (7am?) to head off to the first day of the conference monday morning!

where i think just taryn had a breakfast pastry to start off the morning...! but it looked adorable. hence the photo!

ah, and for introductions' sake, taylor is in the blue pants, taryn in the pink, katie smiling with her black bag draped across her, and stephanie is in the background pointing up at the sign like a model. the end. onto the conference!

okay, you guys. it was AWESOME. yoga clothes + yoga mats + zafu pillows gaLORE. and just mostly lots of awesome people! and this was our scene for a week STRAIGHT. basically, awesome.

we had a great warm-up and opening discussion, but then by lunchtime it was time for the party to really get started. they catered a salad bar, delicious wraps + treats, and even provided a live band (awesome drummer man, pictured in the background of the photo below) and EVERYone was having a dang-good-time, dancing out all our energy post-lunch (well, just a lot of it. we were excited, okay?!).

steph breaking it down so hard, my iphone couldn't even keep up with her moves:

drummer guy! his hands moved too fast for iphone to capture. seriously, awesome. 

while that was all quite entertaining, the rest of the day flowed just the same. the rest of our workshops + discussions were AMAZING + crazy eye-opening with catherine fitzmaurice, "the originator of fitzmaurice voicework, 'a comprehensive approach to voice training' that is taught in acting schools, studios, workshops, and private lessons throughout the United States and the world" (wiki), and her son, saul kotzubei. we did some exercises and by 6pm we were filled with excitement for the rest of the week, but equally starving and itching to get out and explore this beautiful city for ourselves!

we headed back (the 5-10 minute walk back to our hotel from the building where the conference was being held) to change and grab some monies + then headed down to the lovely gastown (just another 10 minute walk from our hotel, just in a different direction) for dinner + exploring!

GORGEOUS gastown! ahh. i miss it. so so pretty.

we stopped to eat at this delicious place whose name i cannot remember for the life of me (oops) (editor's note: it was called the water st. cafe, and i talk about it briefly in my vancouver: pt. 3 post here) and i got some mega yummy spaghetti pasta. if you don't believe me, just look at the mound of parmesan cheese photo below

taylor + taryn looking gorgeous as ever.

stephanie, katie + i.

we explored for a bit while longer, walking around this cute little part of the city close to the waterfront. then decided to call it a night once it started getting dark. we headed back to the hotel...just in time to hang out, chat, + watch the fab fierce five snag the olympic gold in the team all-around in gymnastics! way to rock it out ladies!

is it just me, or does mckayla (center) just never look very happy/emotional/anything? even gabby didn't quite strike a smile until after the star-spangled banner had ended...hm. it's okay. i still like them. so you should, too.

whee! we weren't exactly in london, but vancouver, british columbia, sure had given london a run for its money by this point. we fell asleep pretty soon after this, and before we knew it, it was already tuesday!

stay tuned for the ensuing days in posts to come. (:

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