masqthephlsphr: (OUAT3)
Last of the pics. The Sculptor and I had the opportunity to head up to [personal profile] midnightsjane's farm and see her horses and the new house. Bonus trip to Fort Langley afterwards.

Fraser Valley

Thanks to [personal profile] midnightsjane for letting us visit!

North Vancouver, including Capilano Suspension Bridge

Still pretty sure the forest area around Capilano Suspension Bridge is where they film forest scenes for OUAT and Highlander.


Jul. 17th, 2014 04:05 pm
masqthephlsphr: (borg)
More of Vancouver.


Stanley Park

Steveston and Gastown sans fannish comparisons

masqthephlsphr: (EmmaFire)
With bonus Highlander.

Anyone who's watched OUAT, Highlander, X-Files, Continuum, or a dozen other made-in-Canada TV shows will recognize Gastown. It is the semi-gentrified "hip" neighborhood along the waterfront in downtown Vancouver. Like such neighborhoods in many cities, you can turn a corner and go from a trendy shopping area to a dodgy skid row. Most of the OUAT "Manhattan" scenes were filmed in the Alexander/Powell/Carrall street triangle.

On-screen and off-screen photos follow. Warning: Image heavy. All screencaps courtesy of

OUAT takes Manhattan )
masqthephlsphr: (Emma4)
During my vacation, I visited Storybrooke. Er, Steveston and Ft Langley, BC. Most of "Storybrooke" is located along Moncton and Bayview streets between Third Avenue and No 1 Road in Steveston. This quaint little Richmond area burg appears to have embraced its alternate identity (hey, tourist money!). Although filming had not yet started, some of the buildings retained their "Storybrooke" signage. Others were disconcertingly Steveston/Canadian.

Actually walking the street and seeing where everything is relative to everything else gives you a three-dimensional context when you go back to watch the show. In each new scene, you can orient yourself and say, "The characters are near X. Yep, there it is." It also makes you notice how often the show uses shipping pallets stacked against walls to hide the Steveston signs. ;)

Another thing you start to notice upon rewatch is when the same business is sometimes named one thing, sometimes named something else in different episodes. Perhaps the name changed in real life, or maybe they just didn't bother covering up the real name in early episodes.

On-screen and off-screen photos follow. Because I really am that geeky. Warning: Image heavy. All screencaps courtesy of

A visit to Storybrooke )
masqthephlsphr: (trees)
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful place to visit. Also? Tasty.



Vancouver Island
Warning: Farmer's market porn!


Jul. 10th, 2014 03:58 pm
masqthephlsphr: (art)
Finally getting my vaca pics sorted. It feels like, between the Sculptor and I, I had thousands of photos to go through. Yet somehow, after I cherry-pick through them, I have so few to post. Erm. Anyway, the first two days were spent in Seattle:


Chihuly Gardens

Underground Seattle

masqthephlsphr: (OUAT)
Saturday was our last full day in Vancouver, and the last full day of our vacation. We started out the day heading across the Lion's Gate Bridge to the Capilano Suspension Bridge. This is a neat little nature preserve just twenty minutes from downtown. A beautiful, beautiful forest area I'm convinced is somewhere around where they filmed many OUAT and Highlander forest scenes.

 photo P1090607_zps7a0b388d.jpg

The main attraction is a narrow suspended bridge high above a river that takes you from the highway side of the river to the forest side, where there are lookout spots, a birds of prey exhibit, and lots of steps, tree platforms, and mini-suspension bridges to climb amongst the trees. The main bridge has a tendency to sway a lot under two-way traffic, with heavy humans staying to one side or the other. My mom tells me my siblings and I were all afraid of this bridge as kids. Well, I'm still afraid of it as an adult (especially with wise-ass teenagers on it thinking it's fun to jump up and down).

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After a nice nature walk/climb, D and I headed back into the city and had lunch down in Gastown, then returned to Stanley Park to visit the Vancouver Aquarium. This is a very active aquarium with Sea World-like shows and exhibits. We saw everything from whales to sharks to penguins to otters to frogs to jellyfish. Quite worth the trip.


Jul. 5th, 2014 08:00 am
masqthephlsphr: (OUAT3)
This just in: apparently I have racked up a *&^%-load of roaming data charges on my Android tablet. I just assumed, as was the case in Holland/Germany/Switzerland, I would have no internet access on the tablet unless I was hooked up to a hotel's wifi. I still managed to get GPS in those countries, and nothing else, while out "roaming." This is not the case in Canada, so without a "data plan" for this fair country, I shudder to think of what my bill will be. AT&T has disconnected my data usage, and I can't get them on their 24/7 phone line "due to the holiday."

*checks calendar*

Yep, not the 4th anymore, guyz.

Anyway! Storybrooke, that all-American town, is in Canada, so international roaming applies. Both on tablets, and on foot. Yesterday, D, [personal profile] midnightsjane, and I headed down to Steveston. This little fishing village is worth a trip even if it didn't double as a familiar TV town. Very cute along the waterfront. We wandered down the main drag and saw Granny's Diner, Mr. Gold's shop, the Storybrooke bakery, the Storybrooke Pet Hospital, and the "library" (sans clock tower, of course). It was pretty non-crowded, being a Friday, which was good, but I was dismayed as we approached Mr. Gold's shop to see a big crowd in front of the store. I thought, "is this how it's going to be all these fans crowding things so we can't snap photos?"

It wasn't "fans", but no--it wasn't filming, either (which starts later this month). It was, however, the OUAT crew scoping out the set for some future episode. So that was fun.

 photo P1090496_zpsaccdcd71.jpg

More pics of Storybrooke later.

After our tour, we sat down for a yummy seafood chowder lunch, then headed back up to the city. We dropped Jane off at her place, then continued downtown. Our afternoon plan was to visit the Vancouver Art Gallery. That did not take up the entire afternoon, so we wandered back down to Gastown to give in to a few shopping impulses we'd managed to shake off earlier in the week. For only the second time on this trip, we got a spit of rain. It was mostly been sunny and beautiful this week.

Thanks MUCHLY to [personal profile] midnightsjane for being such a helpful, fun, and gracious host!
masqthephlsphr: (mountain)
I had asked [personal profile] midnightsjane if the Sculptor and I might be able to hitch a ride when she went out to the Fraser Valley farm (they call it a "farm", I'd call it a "ranch") of her friends Sue and Jack, and she kindly obliged us. Sue breeds horses. Jane owns two of the horses and helps out with the chores. Considering Jane's also an ICU nurse, I have to admire how healthy and active this woman is!

The only big chore for the day (besides the usual mucking of stalls and moving the horses between their stalls and the grazing field) was a visit from the farrier, who cleans and trims the horses' hooves and reshoes if necessary. We petted horsey noses and watched them get their "pedicures," then toured the new house Sue and Jack are building on the property, which is going to include a basement apartment for Jane. Quite impressive, even though it is yet a insulated skeleton.

Afterwards, Jane drove us to a nearby town called Fort Langley, which still has its tiny downtown from the 1800's. We had lunch in a bookstore cafe and wandered a bit around the shops.

Jane returned us to the city around 4 pm, and we bathed and napped, then took out our own rental car to visit Stanley Park. This is a sprawling, active park comparable to Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, complete with hiking and biking trails, an aquarium, and other activities. We spent some time looking at the totem pole display and taking pictures across the bay of North Vancouver.

Our trip back to the hotel took a long detour down Beach Avenue to Pacific Boulevard and into some dicey neighborhoods to the east of downtown (this is what happens when you try to find Kingsway without a map!) Finally hungry for dinner after our big late lunch, we headed back to the hotel and wandered the neighborhood until we found a place for soup and sandwiches.

 photo DSCF3511_zps75f89d4a.jpg


Jul. 3rd, 2014 08:10 am
masqthephlsphr: (Baelfire)
Lake Cowichan (7/1)

 photo DSCF3459_zps6473a6d3.jpg

Averill Vineyard, Cowichan Valley (7/1)

 photo DSCF3453_zps6ea16d6d.jpg

The bulk of our Wednesday was taken up with traveling. First, Nanaimo to Victoria to return our rental car, then a bus to Sidney to catch the ferry. From there, we caught the Tsawwassen ferry to Tsawwassen, BC (natch), then clambered back onto the bus again for the trip up to downtown Vancouver.

All of this is very scenic. We did not get the chance to see the Saanich peninsula by car while we were tooling around the island, so it was nice to travel through it on our way out of town. The ferry is a commuter ferry, so cars and busses drive right on--parking on the lower levels, shops and restaurants and seats on the upper levels. This ferry curves through several of the smaller islands off Vancouver Island, and the weather was great.

 photo DSCF3495_zps495469ff.jpg

At the bus station, we claimed our new rental car and drove into the wild and crazy streets of downtown Vancouver. We had some time to kill before our room was ready, so we headed out to wander a bit around Gastown, and found photo ops for several Highlander and OUAT filming spots as well as numerous souvenir shops all decked out in red and white.

The main event of the day, though, was meeting up with [personal profile] midnightsjane for pizza right in the heart of Gastown. Although dinner had a few awkward accompaniments (screeching freight cars on the nearby tracks, the restaurant playing "Jaws" on their television), the company more than made up for it.
masqthephlsphr: (trees)
Tuesday was our one and only full day on Vancouver Island. After a bit of a sleep-in, I headed downstairs for the Continental breakfast, only to find our hotel, like the last one, didn't have one. Well, there was only one response to this: Tim Horton's, stat! Luckily, there was one within a ten minute walk of the hotel. The only downside--no soy milk for Deborah's coffee (in fact, the befuddled expression of the server upon asking was priceless). I returned towards the hotel, looking for a Starbucks I'd Google-mapped just for this possibility, but couldn't find it and returned to the hotel. The hotel restaurant serves Starbucks, so I asked them for coffee with soymilk and was rewarded with the very same for free to make up for my harrowing morning mission.

Fed and caffeinated, Deborah and I headed out to wander the waterfront near the hotel. Quite a nice area with shops and condos, including the aforementioned Starbucks. Deborah wanted to visit the Nanaimo Art Gallery, but it was closed for Canada Day. Instead, we headed out on the road to visit Lake Cowichan, which is a beautiful area mid-island. We stopped at a farmer's market for a lunch of veggie sandwiches and shrimp gumbo soup.

And, wouldn't you know, after the turn off towards the lake, we ran into another vineyard! So we stopped in for a bit. Vancouver Island has some very good white wines and berry wines (that's wine, not liqueur--big difference in the more subtle, dry flavor). Less so the red wines we favor, but we still had fun.

At the lake, we found a quiet, shaded hiking trail to wander on for a while, then visited a little historical museum. Our return trip took us past the farmer's market again, where we found sweet strawberries and English peas. Dinner back near the hotel was a delicious Indian cod curry. Our Naniamo hotel had a bathtub, which I took advantage of both nights.
masqthephlsphr: (holiday)
Monday morning we were off bright and early to catch the Victoria Clipper to Vancouver Island. The trip was a little foggy in spots, but otherwise pretty smooth and picturesque.

The ferry terminal in Victoria is right next to a vibrant area of shopping and restaurants and parks. We spent a while getting a car to tool around the island in, then found a seafood restaurant recommended by the Budget Rent-a-car clerk. We had grilled salmon and clam chowder, then wandered around a bit to find ice cream, an ATM, and a drugstore to get a few necessities.

Our hotel is in Nanaimo, which is a drive along a curvy road with pine trees on both sides (and occasional glimpse through the trees at the Strait between the island and the mainland). We visited a few of the wineries on the way, although many were closed, since they are open only on weekends, or Weds-Sunday. We also stopped at a farmer's market to get nibbles for dinner.

Our hotel in Nanaimo is right on shoreline, with a view of many tinier islands off the east side of Vancouver Island. Quite a nice view:

 photo DSCF3434_zps8d214304.jpg
masqthephlsphr: (tarawillow)
Sunday we slept in. Even me. I had trouble falling asleep (not my usual brand of insomnia). Our hotel is on Fourth Avenue, the major route of the Gay Pride parade, which was gearing up as we passed by on our way to the Space Needle. At the very end of the street, still pre-parade, a half dozen people with placards started marching, letting all the gathered crowds know they were going to hell. The crowds were polite about this, mostly finding it amusing.

We proceeded to the Space Needle. I have a slight fear of heights that I developed post-9-11 after hearing about people trapped at the top of the twin towers jumping out of windows. Ahem. Anyway, the Space Needle isn't all that tall, so it we just enjoyed the view and tried to see distant features through the binoculars.

Our tickets were for both the Needle and the Chihuly Gardens, so we went to the gardens next. What is remarkable about the gardens is less the glass sculptures and more the interesting plants and flowers growing amidst them. I had never seen black grass before. The plant colors are all chosen to compliment the glass in interesting ways (or vice versa). One of the fun things to do there is get a photo of the reflection of the Space Needle in one of the large glass marbles. Do it right, and you can get yourself in the shot as well.

After the Gardens, we went in search of a restaurant for lunch. The parade was in full swing at this point, so we took another route back hotel-ward. In retrospect, it might have been fun to catch a bit of it, as George Takai (Mr. Sulu from original Star Trek) was the grand marshall. But the parade was vey crowded, and in my oinion, much too commercialized these days. We found a Thai place for lunch, then returned to the hotel to cool our heels for an hour.

The afternoon plan was to take "Bill Spiedel's Underground Tour." Pioneer Seattle was pretty much marshy swamp land, and the city was eventually forced to fill in the land above the high tide level, leaving remnants of the old city one floor down from street level. This left many lumber-braced "tunnels" under the city for storage, smuggling, and speak-easies. After the tour, we returned to the hotel with a deli dinner and breakfast (no Continental breakfast in our hoity-toity hotel), and relaxed and packed for the next leg of our journey.


Jun. 29th, 2014 08:24 am
masqthephlsphr: (trees)
Vacation! Day one had the Sculptor and I heading out at 4 AM (blurgh) for a 6 AM flight. Flight was pretty non-eventful, and Seattle came as a chilly, wet shock after dry, hot Arizona. Not unwelcome, mind you, but there's something in the brain (okay, *my* brain), that refuses to believe other places can have different weather than what you're used to where you live. Hence me insisting on running around in a leather jacket in Chicago in July ten years ago when I was still a San Franciscan.

Saturday, we were both exhausted from little sleep the night before, so we kept our day to wandering around the downtown Seattle area. The Sculptor had an art gallery she wanted to visit. We headed down Third Avenue to the gallery, then back up on First Avenue. First is a lively waterside street with art galleries and shopping. The Seattle Art Museum is on that street, and has a really eclectic collection of modern art and indigenous museum pieces (some actually old, some art by contemporary locals). First Avenue ends at a big farmer's market complex, Pikes Place Fish Market, which is a cross between Fisherman's Wharf SF/Santa Monica Pier. In other words--a crowded, touristy food-and-shopping place. We packed into the crowds like sardines, and had seafood in a restaurant that overlooks Puget Sound. Gorgeous.

 photo P1080879_zpsff121cd1.jpg

One thing we did not anticipate--didn't even think about--was a particular complication in staying in a downtown hotel in Seattle on the last weekend in June. The Pride Parade is going right past our hotel today. Our plans, of course, are stuff like the Space Needle and Chihuly Gardens. I haven't been to a Pride parade in jeesh, close to twenty years now. Partly because I've "done all that", and partly because Pride isn't celebrated in Arizona on the last Sunday of June. It's in April. So *that* explains the abundance of rainbow flags that greeted us on the light rail trip in from the airport yesterday.

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