Vancopalypse & The Monday

Vancouver downtown during the Vancopalypse, from North Vancouver, BC | Treensbert Churchmouse, 2020

I woke up on Monday, and woke up confused. It happens often when you’re days off are resolutely not when the actual weekend is. I live on a loud, prominent street in downtown where I can generally tell the day of the week by the sounds outside. This time it sounded like a Sunday, but it wasn’t. The cars were quieter, the traffic lessened. When I woke up on Tuesday (so my Monday), it still sounded like a Sunday. Yes, the COVID-19 precautions were taking effect.

I also rewrote and altered this post about three times now, because of how quickly things are changing. Every day something is new and different. Considering change generally brings madness to likely half the population, I think everyone is doing great. Pat yourselves on the back! You’re doing well, with or without toilet paper.

On Monday I went to a cafe before my shift started because it’s generally emptier than the rest around this area, and because it was still okay to go to certain establishments at that time (if they were emptier). This cafe is the best because in even normal conditions (so, non-COVID-19 ones) it still obeys the 2-meter rule easily. It’s in the business of downtown and it’s always half empty, at least. I don’t know why, but it’s amazing since normally everywhere else is full. That, by the way, is why I’m not telling which one it is (yes, I’m mean like that). Anyway, on Monday, I could do this. Now they’ve shut more things down and I think this cafe must be shut down by now too.

Empty street in Yaletown neighbourhood, due to Covid-19 virus social distancing, Vancouver, BC | Treensbert Churchmouse, 2020

The streets were dwindling down with people on Tuesday and Wednesday, looking bare and abandoned. Now, they are even worse. The SkyTrain was nearly empty when I went to work and everyone was careful to keep away from one another. Those stuck abroad were hurrying to fly home. I work at a hotel where our occupancy had dropped dramatically (despite these last travelers). I checked in six people in eight hours one day, though I had a nice, steady rate of one person per hour for the first six hours (that’s not normal). Some people came in with masks which makes one even more nervous even though you know it’s probably a precaution (I think).

I tried to be smart about it and bought an N95 box of masks a few weeks ago (and apparently they ripped me off, so that’s great). A few days back, I tried one of the masks to mold it to my face (it’s supposed to follow the contour of your nose and I wanted to be prepared). It turned out that what I didn’t think about was the size of the mask. It went past my chin. I’m not exactly a tiny person, so that’s saying something. That said, the mask is now completely useless to me and not returnable, though useful for those with big heads. I am now on the hunt for people with big heads who might need one.

Anyway, I spent about 80% of my time at work cleaning my station at work and washing my hands. Even though tourism and people traffic has slowed down, I was exhausted by the end of it all and likely due to all the cleaning. I recently read an article where it says that a certain type of person enjoys cleaning because it gives them a sense of accomplishment. If I have ever needed to determine this fact, I can only say that I am certainly not one of these people. This (cleaning) scenario is my eternal hell.

Today is Thursday, and I am now on call for work (for four hours per shift, also not normal) and only if our occupancy rises. In other words, I have no work, because our occupancy won’t be going up magically. I can’t even blame the management considering we were truly doing nothing earlier. Thus far, the options we’ve had for EI (Employment Insurance) have been helpful however, so at least there is a chance I would not be getting absolutely nothing for income. If you’re Canadian, here’s a link to how to apply for EI (it’s a Global News article, but it lists a few simplified steps on how to apply and has a link to the required site). If you need help creating spreadsheets to track your expenses, let me know because they are enormously helpful in keeping up with one’s finances (and I happen to love making them).

But aside the hope of some future spreadsheet fun, the world has become a somewhat nervous, anxious place. Therefore, the following is the bit of our little apocalyptic wanderings from Monday, when people were still somewhat moving around (today the streets are even quieter, so I take it that no one is moving anywhere whatsoever). It’s something not entirely about the virus, anyway. Well, sort of.

I have decided to call it

The Monday

On my Sunday (so, on The Monday), we headed out for food shopping and a bit of a view, something my partner suggested. It was an isolated kind of trip, aside the food-buying, which is naturally the idea these days. We went to a Save-On-Foods in North Vancouver because we thought it might be less pillaged, and I was kind of surprised.

For one, people were walking around completely normally (I expected them to be shuffling from isle to isle in dodgy, rodent fashion). For another, everything was somehow harder to find. We had a list of things we needed and some items simply weren’t there. We passed shelves of canned goods that were fully empty and the toilet paper/paper towel isle was completely empty but for a few boxes (no surprise there).

If someone told me the apocalypse would happen, I would never believe that people would be fighting over toilet paper. In the Walking Dead, they fought for medicine and guns. Although apparently the gun hoarding had started in Canada too now (??) and I’ve honestly no idea what these people are thinking. Whoever thought Canadians were nice, think again. We’re now apparently arming ourselves if you take our toilet paper. But I think this TP madness falls primarily on the western part of civilization, since I know certain cultures use bidets (much healthier for the bum and better for the environment!) – bidet sales, by the way, are now soaring. Maybe this all really does fit in with the Walking Dead. People with the flu do look like zombies at times.

Anyway. Things were missing (we were in a grocery store and I went off on a tangent). I went to get frozen veggies (the kind us lazy people add to sauces) and they were all gone. I found two dilapidated boxes of something vegetable-like and that was it. Below is a picture of the frozen-isle section and it shows a reflection of the shelves across from the empty (though you can barely tell) shelves that used to hold the frozen veggies and in case you can’t zoom in and tell, it’s all ice cream. So: the apocalypse so far is not all so bad! No veggies, but it has all kinds of ice cream, and all untouched! If you hate vegetables, you might get through this just fine.

Dilapidated frozen vegetable shelves at Save-On-Foods, North Vancouver, BC | Treensbert Churchmouse, 2020

The empty shelves and the hoarded objects didn’t surprise me, but what did was what was untouched (besides the ice cream): produce. The fresh fruits and veggies that greet you when you first enter a grocery store, they were all untouched. I’ve found at times that there were wares from that section that were nearly all taken, leaving only the knobbiest of specimens, but this time the usual mountains of produce all seemed kind of full to me. I understand people are hoarding for when they will be locked in their houses, but right now there are a lot of fruits and vegetables that are waiting to be eaten (and full of vitamins that strengthen your body). Just saying.

Afterwards, we drove up to the Highview Lookout, which is on a zig-zagging road up towards Cypress Mountain. It’s on your right as you go up the hill towards Cypress where a small parking lot opens up. There’s a small outhouse and a cement wall. Maybe you can sit on this wall but I would not suggest traipsing on the other side as the ground might not be stable. You can tell this by the fallen rocks and trees that are strewn below. Being a mountain, and being a wetter climate, and being on the Ring of Fire, you can imagine there are light quakes and other motions that cause rock slides, etc, making the ground also kinda funny at times. From here, however, you can see quite far.

We went up there because the days had been clear and let’s be fair, higher ground is better in case this virus alters from a flu to producing zombies (so you could see them coming). From here we could see the Lower Mainland and all that encompasses Vancouver, really, strewn out. Although a bit of cloud was there this day to keep the view from being pristine. There was a good number of cargo ships waiting in the Burrard Inlet, you could see downtown Vancouver on its little separated bedrock from the mainland of Metro Vancouver, and you could even see as far as the US, where you could see Mount Baker (you’ll need to squint, the haziness interrupts).

(Left to Right, Top to Bottom) (1) Downtown Vancouver, (2) Cargo ships at Burrard Inlet waiting to be loaded, (3) Mount Baker in the distance, all from Highview Lookout (Cypress), North Vancouver, BC | Treensbert Churchmouse, 2020

The only downside of this viewpoint is that it’s not at the top of Cypress, so that if zombies did start coming down on you, you wouldn’t be able to see them coming from above (they’d also likely be dressed in ski gear and possible helmets, so might be harder to dislodge). We also didn’t bring weapons with us, but groceries (though we had vegetables, so some zombies might run from those, who knows). There weren’t many people up there too so the two-meter rule was easy to accomplish, and it was a nice reprieve from sitting inside. On the way back we crossed the Lion’s Gate Bridge (same way we took to get there).

The Lion’s Gate Bridge has its own history, though most forget it in lieu of there being an enormous amount of traffic on it and people getting stuck on it. It took a while before its construction was finally accepted, which happened in 1933. The construction of the bridge proceeded from March 1937 until its completion in November 1938. This was all when people ran normal, infection-free lives. Must have been nice.

An engineering contractor, Alfred J. T. Taylor, was considered the visionary behind this project, but what surprised me was that one of the main financial backers for its construction was the Guinness Brewing Company. Vancouver was just growing back then and their aim was to bring access to the British properties in West Vancouver. (Thus far, it seems we have a lot to thank the breweries of the past for, which I find mad, but also understandable.) The bridge was named after two peaks visible from Vancouver, called the Lions. Charles Marega, a prominent sculptor from Vancouver at the time, was the one who sculpted the two Lions that even today guard the entrance to the bridge from the Stanley Park side. They were the last public sculptures he had produced.

In 1955 the provincial government bought the bridge, and in 1963 it stopped being a toll bridge (the Guinness Brewing Company made it a toll bridge to help with the building costs, not the government, which I had initially thought). In the 1990’s it was nearly demolished, but somehow pulled through. Since it had first been built, it had been widened, allowing more lanes of traffic now and is used extravagantly every single day. It was somewhat empty during the Vancopalypse, though.

(1) Crossing the Lion’s Gate Bridge, (2) View from Lion’s Gate Bridge towards Burrard Inlet, all from Vancouver, BC | Treensbert Churchmouse, 2020

There are a few fun facts about this bridge. In 1986, the Guinness Family added hanging lights to the bridge for the 1986 Expo (World Fair), as a gift. (In 2009 these lights were replaced with LED lights because those reputedly have a 12-year time span.) The bridge itself was officially opened on May 29th, 1939 by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. And, what I still don’t fully understand, Alfred J. T. Taylor’s baby shoes are apparently sitting inside one of the sculpted lions on the Stanley Park side. I don’t understand why baby shoes, but those, apparently along with a story of the bridge itself, sit inside one of the lions now. You can try guess which one when you go by there (eventually, that is, as you shouldn’t leave your house now).

(1) Lion’s Gate Bridge when it still had a toll, (2) Lion’s Gate Bridge today with its LED lights | (1) From Forbidden Vancouver website, (2) From UBC Endocrinology website, taken by Breay, 2019

When we came home, we put away groceries, etc, and settled in for dinner. Now, I understand that most people have hoarded all possible rice, pasta, meat (like that man who had a cart-full of all meats possible), and whatever else lasts, but you really need not to through all the trouble. Here is a little fun interesting info on how the Germans do it.

For six years I lived in Munich (south of Germany, in the province of Bavaria). Most people think Beerfest when I mention Munich, which is annoying. I generally think of the city, the mountains, the people, and the food. The food. Anyway, we had to make do however we could while we bought our groceries, but it’s the German version of feeding that comes in useful here.

This particular Monday evening, we had for dinner Brotzeit, which literally translates as bread time in English. It’s a collection of buns, bread, pickles, fresh vegetables, boiled eggs, cheese spreads, pates, sausages…I mean, literally easy, simple things that you likely have sitting in your fridge right now (and easy to put together). Brotzeit is way better in Germany (I like their food more, so I’m biased), but it’s also a simple way to feed people, allows intake of vitamins (important during an apocalypse), and can allow you to make your dinner more varied, especially if certain items are missing since certain people have taken them all (shame on you, your mothers would be appalled).

We boiled a couple of eggs, put out smoked salmon, some European wieners, cheese, red pepper, pickles, and made an olive oil/garlic mix that we put on toasted bread (there were also sauces and horse radish, etc.) It sounds weird, but we obviously didn’t eat all these things together in one bite, but in bits and pieces. It’s sort of like a multitude of different varieties of taste that you could have in different bites, which is great. It looks like only a little bit of food but it actually turned out to be filling. It also works when one of you has one stomach and another of you has four stomachs, so that everyone can reach their prime level of fullness (and not that one of you is full, and one of you dying and can’t move and needs to be carried to the couch and left to digest for several hours).

Brotzeit, Vancouver, BC | Treensbert Churchmouse, 2020

Oh, and we had Ajvar! That is the best. It’s a red pepper spread that goes on bread, or with whatever you want it to go with, and if you get the right kind, it might just be the sexiest spread you’ve ever gotten. Anyway.

The nutrition part is useful here since you could squeeze in all that helps keep your body strong and healthy, and you need not go to canned food and Mr. Noodle soups. If you don’t want to catch this virus and spread it to those who might truly die from it, the point is not only to social distance yourself and hide inside, but also to stay healthy. No one seems to be mentioning that part at all, but it’s a big part too. Your body needs to fight the virus, and it can’t do that without its own kind of weaponry. That said, get your vitamins, eat a variety of foods. While our grocery stores are scrambling to re-stock (and we aren’t running out of food from all I’ve read, so be patient), you might as well try having Brotzeit.

So, that caps The Monday. Then there was Tuesday, and Wednesday, and now it’s Thursday. The situation in Vancouver has vastly changed in only these last four days, which is intriguing to watch even though it puts most of us under a sort of house arrest. There will be no more wandering around unless it’s imperative (such as grocery or pharmacy runs), and it’s understandable since numbers of sick people are skyrocketing. Well, for now. It might all change again tomorrow.

I don’t mind the isolation since I’m able to stay at home for a scary amount of time and be happy with it, though I do mind the part where I have no income. Certain bills still need to be paid, and my strata (even though they do squat) still needs to be paid, but it will all resolve itself in one way or another and we’ll all just have to sit tight for a time. For now though I’m actually hungry just because of the last part I’ve written so I might just start my day with that, considering there is nothing else to do.


Sources & Links:

Cypress Mountain website | Global News article – EI Information and Links | Highview Lookout – location of viewpoint on way to Cypress || Lion’s Gate Bridge: Heritage Site – Vancouver Heritage Foundation | Creators Site – Vancouver Creators Information | Forbidden Vancouver Site – Pieces of history of old Vancouver ||



Tell me when there’s more!

Published by Treensbert Churchmouse

I'm a European-born individual, raised on the west coast of Canada in beautiful BC, and a Vancouverite at heart. I love the world of city, sea, and mountain we are lucky to have, thanks to many years of some proper tectonic plate action. Vancouver is a vast, thriving west coast city, balanced perfectly with the peace of the wild surrounding it. That said, I love to explore, but also to escape! I'm a writing and travel enthusiast and have a good foot wedged into the tourism industry (it only follows, if one is a travel junkie). I hope to share what I see and learn about my experiences with those who might like to try the same.

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