Big trees, big mammals, and big masks.

I finished my PhD Candidacy Exam last week, and on Thursday Pete and I headed to Vancouver for a short vacation before he starts work and I begin my frequent summer travels. This was a completely non-work-related trip and we were unplugged for a few days, which was nice. This was my first time to Vancouver. We did a lot of sightseeing, ate some great food, and stayed near English Bay Beach, which was really nice. We miss the ocean!

An attempt to go whale watching in an open zodiac boat was a bit of a bust due to bad weather, but before having to turn back we did get to see some California seal lions (the smaller and darker sea lions in this photo) and a few Stellar’s sea lions (the large individual itching his head).

Luckily, we were able to get our cetacean fix at the Vancouver Aquarium. This isn’t the largest aquarium I’ve ever been to, but it certainly had a lot of really unique displays, especially focusing on the amazing marine life of the rocky shores around British Columbia. This photo is of Pacific white-sided dolphins performing a few jumps during the short but informative show. There are also belugas (including baby belugas, and now you all have that song stuck in your head), sea otters, a nice tropical area with an aviary, and a very fun 4D version of Planet Earth: Shallow Seas.

I have a fairly strong interest in Northwest Coast culture (e.g. the Haida, Tlingit, Gitxsan, and Kwakwaaka’wakw). I love stories about Raven, I love the artistic styles used throughout the different nations, and I think totem poles are amazing ways to tell stories and histories. You can see a lot of Northwest Coast art and totem poles around Vancouver, such as the totem poles at Stanley Park and the Capilano Suspension Bridge, but if you really want to get a feel for the different cultures and meanings of the art, you need to go to the Museum of Anthropology at UBC. This is just one of many cases showing some of the masks and other items in their collections.

You can’t go to Vancouver without visiting the truly stunning Stanley Park. I was amazed to learn that this forest was logged only a hundred years ago. I can’t imagine what it will look like as an mature old growth forest.

Ok, I guess I did come across a few archosaurs during my visit…

I will also admit that I was jumping up and down with excitement when I found this place! How cool is that?

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