Unexciting, Non-Adventure

I saw the ad weeks ago and was excited ever since. I’ve been dying to do some exciting outdoor stuff in Vancouver and knew (I KNEW!) The Outdoor Adventure & Travel Show would be the show to help me do it. Woo!

Grabbing an equally excited friend, we excitedly went to the venue, excitedly bought our tickets and excitedly burst through the doors of the convention centre.

And that’s when all the excitement ended.

For a show with the words  “Outdoor Adventure” and “Travel” in it, you would assume  interesting and, well, exciting, right? Well you shouldn’t.  To put it in perspective, the most exciting thing about the show was the free bag of Old Dutch potato chips we got on our way out.

So what was I expecting, anyway?

New ideas! Fun (and preferably local) activities to do on the weekend. Affordable would be nice but outside the box would be better. I already mountain bike, snowboard, hike, camp, ice skate, roller blade, box, kick box and run (well light jog). Gimme something else to do.

Enter the boredom

Soooo many booths. And they all look the same. Oooo! maybe it’s like a maze and if you can find your way around you win a prize? No? Just confusing and maze-like by accident. Oh. Call me lazy (because I can be) but I didn’t want to have to use a map to navigate my way to the one booth I came to see anyway or to have to figure out where I was in the large room without the incentive of a prize for my efforts.

The lows

Free stuff

Free stuff? Yes, usually a highlight anywhere, the Motts Garden Cocktail booth was giving away huge cups filled with tomato juice – I mean garden cocktail. Now I love tomato juice (although I’m used to it including vodka and a celery stick…) but even I couldn’t stomach two and a half cups of the stuff in one sitting. Sure enough, one booth over, there were piles of half filled cups all over an empty table.

Adventure slide shows

As per the website:

See breathtaking slide presentations, and hear from seasoned adventure travelers as they share incredible stories of the thrill of adventure travel!

Yes, that’s what a true adventurer wants to do. Hear about other people’s fun times and thrilling lives. Complete with a slide show of static pics?? Whoa. That doesn’t sound boring at all!

Even the cafeteria/food services area was un-adventurous. Nowhere was there Eagle meat burgers, Dodo bird flavoured potato sticks or even Unicorn taquitos.  The most adventurous item on the menu – hot dogs.

Whose booth is this anyway?

If any of the following booths cause your breath to quicken, your heart to skip or your pulse to race…then you lead a very boring and sad life:

  • We introduce to you…The Safeway Pharmacy booth
  • The Province Newspaper booth– I like the province newspaper and read it all the time, but I also like Entertainment Weekly, O Magazine and the daily 24 hours newspaper. My point – none of them belong at the outdoor adventure/travel show.
  • Canada Border Services Agency boothreminding you of what you can and cannot travel with (still have that ‘no weapons’ rule? Party poopers!)
  • Canadian Diabetes Association booth????
  • Canadian Food and Inspection Agency booth – ????
  • Green Party of Canada booth????

The highs

Campink – Pink camping gear! We all know we can get camping gear anywhere  (ever heard of M.E.C or Walmart?) so you really need to give me some kind of incentive to buy it at the show and lug it all home.

Answer: Make it pretty and colour it pink.  A unique twist on an original product.

I don’t even need to go camping to use this stuff either. I will happily find a use for a bright pink flantern.

You'll go perfectly with my neon green living room set!

Surfsister – surfing lessons on the beach. They provide the wetsuits and gear so all I have to do is show up. Sweet. That’s how l like all my activities – pre set, exciting, and requiring little more than for me to show up (kinda like a good first date). Now while I’d prefer if they were in Vancouver (they’re in Tofino, BC – a 4 hour trek away), they tell me the reason for the Tofino location is because they need an ‘ocean’ and ‘waves’ in order for us to surf.

Bah humbug. Call me when we can start surfing ‘inland’ or in a ‘wave pool’ (which is a really good idea so somebody invent that!)

On the other hand

iparaglide – It’s the newest thing I want to try – paragliding!  I went to the show specifically to see what price I could get and where they were located (the office address is located downtown which sort of didn’t make sense…).  Turns out that beginners paraglide off a big hill/slope located 2 cities to the south of Vancouver and then after we get better we get to paraglide off a mountain located 4 cities to the east of Vancouver. That (out-of-the-way locations) and it’s pricey are two of the reasons I decided to put my wallet away. Starting in the hundreds, I also have to add in the cost of renting a car to get to the various public transit-unfriendly mountains.

Boo.

So although I love adventure and I crave excitement and I live for something fun to do, it seems I still have no problem doing anything fun and adventurous…

As long as it’s within my city limits.

And for free. 😉

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Why should polar bears have all the fun?

Hypothermia: In cold weather, your body may lose heat faster than you can produce it. The result is hypothermia, or abnormally low body temperature. It can make you sleepy, confused and clumsy. Because it happens gradually and affects your thinking, you may not realize you need help. That makes it especially dangerous. You can get it from being cold and wet, or under cold water for too long.

Hypothermia can lead to death if not treated promptly. (source)

Date:            January 1, 2010

Time:          2:30pm to 2:31pm

Weather: 5 degrees with heavy rain

Over 1500 adventure-bound Vancouverites took to the icy waters of English Bay beach off the pacific ocean on New Years day 2010 for the 90th annual Polar Bear Swim. Spirits were high as everyone gathered on the cold, wet sand decked out in lavish costumes, homemade getups, and other outfits that can only be described delicately as ‘obvious cries for help’.  From clowns to Vikings to Viking clowns, the scene was an eclectic showcase of Vancouver’s free spirited individuals. Several news teams and thousands of onlookers were also out in full force; cameras aloft and working away like red carpet photographers.

You can certainly take pictures of it, write about it, talk about it, watch it on TV in a news clip and maybe even view it live on the beach but nothing beats actually doing it. First hearing about this crazy event from a friend, I decided to go out and finally see what all the fuss was about.

Like me, some of you may have falsely believed you can simply waltz onto the beach, slip into a swimsuit and then jump in the water and be done with the whole ‘polar bear thing’. To you I say: “You fools!” There’s so much more to it than that. Fortunately, my trusty guide and invitee took me under her wing and showed me the way of the Polar Bear.

Step 1: The Ensemble

What a sweetie, he asked me if I wanted to blow on his horn for the photo, shucks!

Basic swimsuits are fine (for amateurs, scoff, scoff) but purists know the whole point of the chilly dunk is letting go and giving yourself up to the experience.  Something you can only do in a getup. The more ridiculous or outrageously hilarious you look, the better for our amusement. For some reason, self-realization is actually enhanced when you’re wearing Viking horns and a diaper.

Ensemble Tips:

–         The brighter the better

–         Accessories are a must

–         The crazier the better

–         Yes, your birthday suit IS considered an ensemble

–         Whatever you choose, have fun with it

my roomie's stuffed polar bear donning my apparal. Working it!My trusty guide helped put an ensemble together that made me feel like a free spirit (the self-realization part is that I also realized I looked like a fool). It involved a tiara (for the princess in me), Mardi Gras style necklaces (a must for all free spirits), red, glittery pom poms (to cheer on other free spirits), sparkly makeup (got washed off in the pouring rain) and a whistle (not part of the costume, simply used to scare off anyone who gets too close to your ‘free spirit’). And voila, step one complete.

Step 2: Getting There

You’re better off walking or taking a taxicab but your best bet is always public transit. Reminiscent of the parking situation during the fireworks shows during the summer, there’s nowhere to park and traffic moves at a standstill at best.  Also, get there early. Gigantic crowds have a tendency to move slowly when you’re in a rush. The event was slated to start at 2pm. Arriving promptly at 2:20pm, we only had time to toss off our jackets and shoes, strip down and get right into the melee on the beach (another tip – arrive ready to jump in). This meant our socializing was limited to after the plunge only and not before. Surprisingly, it’s easy to meet new people when you’re wearing a wet t-shirt and bathing suit bottoms.

Step 3: Taking the Plunge

Again, the naïve amongst you might believe you can simply walk up to the ocean, dangle your feet in the water and be done with it.

Tsk tsk tsk.

This is where the experience of your guide is key.  Mine had me step back several feet from the water and told me to run like heck and jump in. For first timers, it’s one way to ensure they get all the way in. No second-guessing when you’re up to your waist in 7-degree water and change your mind. Toe dipping is also not an option. Full immersion up to your neck or nothing!

You’ll be surprised, when you first walk out of the icy depths, at how warm you feel.  It washes over you almost immediately and you’re tempted to jump back in the water and splash around a little longer. Instinctively, you want to towel off and get changed into the dry clothing you packed (another tip!) but you’ll have no proper motor function right away. The cold water makes buttoning and tying and knotting almost impossible as your system tries to regain its lost body temperature by pulling heat from your hands, legs, fingers and toes. Still wearing a soaked swimsuit and a dripping wet ensemble, I happily traipsed around the beach laughing and smiling and taking pictures with others fresh from their dips.

Step 4: Make it a Memory

There’s no point to doing anything (legal at least) if there’s a: no record of it and/or b: no witnesses to see you do it. Take photos, take names and take note- while everyone you know is probably recovering from their New Years’ eve shenanigans by laying on a couch somewhere and nursing their outdated 2009 hangovers, you’re out here taking a huge, frozen bite out of 2010, yeah!! (also, beware of brain freeze)

Me and only 1500+ others received this 'exclusive' collectible

Also, if any of you are curious about what it’s like to immerse yourselves in water suitable only for polar bears then I suggest you do the following:

  • Fill your bathtub to the brim with water from the cold-water tap;
  • Add 3 cups of ice cubes, 2 cups of sand from the beach and one cup of water from the hot water tap;
  • Stir briskly until the ice cubes have just melted, take a step back and jump in.

Welcome to the newly minted Polar Bear Bathtub club! Just make sure you take a picture and get a witness to see you do it. Otherwise…

It doesn’t count.

sources: Viking – scaq.blogspot.comcrowd shot