A September 2004 trip
to Vancouver by Idler
Quote: Vancouver's natural beauty is reflected in its buildings of glass and steel, in the surrounding waters, and in the kindness and civility of its people.
Hotel | "Tropicana Suite Hotel"
What was most appealing was that for a budget hotel room price, we got a simple one-bedroom apartment. Four people could conceivably share the apartment, though I think it would be a bit cramped. With one of us taking the bedroom and the other the sleeper sofa, we had plenty of room to spread out. Great views from the large, floor-to-ceiling windows in the living room added to the sense of space.
Although the décor was a bit dated, the housekeeping staff did an excellent job. Every wood, tile, or glass surface sparkled. The apartment had a slightly retro feel, with the swirling pastels so popular in the '70s offset by dark green carpeting. Artsnletters proclaimed the sleeper sofa, which had undeniably seen better days, as being reasonably comfortable, while I found the firm double bed very much to my liking. The bathroom, though not large, had plenty of counter space and a spacious tub. We made ourselves right at home, enjoying the sense of privacy the apartment afforded, yet, at the same time, enjoying our epic late-night gabfests. We found TV cable coverage of the weather reports and baseball games another "make yourself at home" touch that we appreciated.
What I liked best, though, was the gleaming white kitchen, which I promptly stocked with breakfast essentials and snack foods. Two coffee packets were supplied each day, which was generous, though for some reason, dishwashing liquid was not. I enjoyed getting up in the morning, making a pot of coffee, then sitting with a bagel and juice and looking out over the city, still in my jammies. This routine fed into one of my favorite illusions when I travel: that I live in the place rather than just visiting it.
Our one grouse was that, although I had requested a nonsmoking room, we were given a smoking one. This was partially my fault, as when I arrived, I made a big deal about each of us needing a key. For some reason there was only one suite available with two keys. I think the pleasant desk clerk simply overlooked the fact that that suite wasn’t nonsmoking. However, I had already unpacked by the time I realized the room smelled faintly of cigarette smoke. Rather than requesting another suite, I simply opened the large windows and aired the place out, but it might have been an issue if it had been too cold to do so.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on October 12, 2004
Tropicana Suites Robson
1361 Robson Street
Vancouver, British Columbia V6E1C6
Artsnletters and I take the no. 10 bus to Hastings Park after an "I can’t believe I ate all that" dim sum meal in Chinatown. Still in a digestive stupor, I ponder the racing form, mulling over the peculiarly compressed descriptions of horses’ race histories. "What on earth does filedtomence mean?" I ask Artsnletters, who quickly supplies, "Failed to Menace." I rummage through the racing form, vainly looking for an abbreviation key, then resign myself to wagering according to my time-honored system of deciding which horse "looks like he’s having a good day."
Artsnletters, who hasn’t been to a track since childhood, proves more adept at deciphering the racing form. But she gamely goes along with my established racetrack rhythm, walking over to the saddling enclosure and listening intently to the announcer’s pre-race analysis, all the while scrutinizing the horses as they’re paraded by. For the first race, we both like the looks of a lanky grey filly, but she trails dismally throughout the race. I pick the winner in the next race, which boosts my confidence, but I placed the bet to show rather than win and end up making all of about eighty cents on the bet. "I should’ve had more confidence in that horse," I say, and resolve to bet more boldly.
This plan backfires, though, in subsequent races, as the horse I pick to win places second and the horse I pick to place comes in third. Artsnletters, with what we laughingly call "beginner’s luck" (only we both know better), picks winners back to back in the third and fourth races, including one thrilling win by a scrappy-looking gelding named "Golden Pursuit," who comes roaring out of nowhere to pick off front-running "Won Handsome Devil," who has led the field from the starting gate. It’s a classic "Seabiscuit vs. War Admiral" moment, with the gutsy chestnut besting the heavily-muscled odds-on favorite.
"YAAAYYY, WHOOO-WHO!" We’re both so thrilled at Golden Pursuit’s finish that we’re jumping up and down at the rail, waving our programs wildly in the air. I even momentarily forget that I’d bet on "Won Handsome Devil" as we lose ourselves in celebrating the underdog’s victory.
Neither of us picks a winner in the last race, but it doesn’t matter. Repeatedly, as we wait for the bus and then ride back to our hotel, we shake our heads and say, "Man, that was SOME race!"
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 12, 2004
Hastings Park Racecourse
Pacifc National Exhibition
Vancouver, British Columbia V5K 3N8
+1 604 254 1631
Attraction | "The Museum of Anthropology"
Terrified by gigantic Raven and the vastness of the world, the creatures refused to leave the clamshell. But then, in the words of Haida artist Bill Reid, "the Raven leaned his great head close to the shell and with the smooth trickster’s tongue…he coaxed and cajoled and coerced the little creatures to come out and play in his wonderful, shiny, new world."
Entering the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia transports me into the realm of the First Nations, a complex world peopled by shape-shifting creatures and ancestral spirits. The Great Hall of the museum is filled with totem poles and monumental figures from cultures I’ve never heard of: Kwagiutl and Gitxsan, Saanich, and Tsartlip. I feel I’m slipping sideways as I contemplate these foreign, enigmatic objects.
One piece emerges as my North Star, helping me get my bearings in this terra incognita. That piece is Bill Reid’s "Raven and the First Men," a compelling sculpture that dominates the museum’s rotunda. Reid describes Raven as a self-centered, incorrigible catalyst of cosmic change. He creates not through intent, but because he simply can’t help himself. Foremost among his many appetites is curiosity.
Now looking at other pieces throughout the museum, both ancient and modern, I perceive a continuity, the same underlying playfulness and lyric flow. What strikes me is how resilient these cultures are, how well they adapt to conflicting realities of the modern world, and how they transform themselves effortlessly, much like Raven, who assumes various shapes as he investigates or gets out of trouble.
There is too much to take in on one visit, including a stunning exhibit of abstract paintings by Haida artist Robert Davidson, a mind-boggling collection of artifacts housed in a vast open storage system, and, unexpectedly, an excellent collection of European ceramics. Each merits a separate visit, but today I focus chiefly on the Raven in his myriad forms.
Before leaving the museum, I stop by the bookstore and buy a collection of old Haida tales, The Raven Steals the Light. Each night in my hotel room I read these tales, chuckling over the mishaps of the First Men and the antics of that perennial troublemaker, Raven. By the time I leave Vancouver, the totem images I see everywhere seem less cryptic. Now, rather than elegantly stylized abstractions, I see Raven and Eagle, Beaver and Killer Whale, Wolf, and Sea Serpent – creatures from a time when humans and animals had not gone their separate ways.
And it seems to me that we’ve suffered from making the distinction.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on October 12, 2004
Museum of Anthropology at UBC
6393 North West Marine Drive
Vancouver, British Columbia V6T 1Z2
Attraction | "The Vancouver Art Gallery"
"You’ll recognize the art gallery - it’s an old courthouse used a lot as a set for X-files," my friend said while giving me directions. Indeed, the building looked vaguely familiar, but what caught my attention was vast Robson Square just across from the gallery. Almost deserted on a Sunday afternoon, this public green-space with cascading waterfalls is surrounded by glass buildings reflecting some of the older buildings nearby.
I blanched at the gallery’s admission price, C$15, but I’d say it’s worth it if patrons take full advantage of what the museum offers. There are dance and music performances, public lectures, and other arts-related events, as well as a reference library open to the public and an art-for-rent program. The gallery takes an active role in encouraging visitors to get involved with the artistic process. It truly is a public-spirited gallery.
I had the good fortune to visit on one of the gallery’s monthly SuperSundays, held on the third Sunday of each month. Geared especially towards families with children, a SuperSunday will appeal to adults as well. All throughout the gallery, baskets of drawing, painting, and collage materials were set near benches and tables so that visitors could create their own art. A number of people were sitting throughout the museum, quietly sketching or painting. Several groups of children were completely absorbed in projects in the rotunda area, weaving bright strips of paper and cutting fanciful shapes for collages.
I was tempted to join in when I saw materials set out near a forest painting by Emily Carr, one of B.C.’s best-known artists. The dark, brooding quality of the painting stirred something in me, but a sudden fear of exposing my inadequacies overcame me, squashing my desire to sketch swirling shapes in response to the painting. I also had my little list of things I wanted to do that afternoon and drawing wasn’t on it.
Now, looking back, I’m ashamed of having given in to such a silly qualm and regret that I didn’t spend an hour or so doing something more meaningful than dashing through the museum in search of art to enjoy. In the words of Taras Grescoe, "To stop being a tourist, sometimes all you have to do is start standing still."
Indeed, as I leave the gallery, I take the following words stenciled on the ceiling above the escalator as a personal admonishment:
Vancouver Art Gallery
750 Hornby St.
Vancouver, British Columbia V6Z 2H7
Attraction | "The Vancouver Aquarium"
It imprinted itself on my subconscious, however, and hence the unsettling dreams. Now, however, I can see the formerly mysterious creature has a name, the wolf-eel, and I read the description of its characteristics and habits. After watching it glide innocuously along the bottom of its tank for several minutes, I become certain it will make no further nocturnal appearances.
Those whose imaginations are fueled by thoughts of what lies in the cold waters of British Columbia will find the "Treasures of the B.C. Coast" section of the Vancouver Aquarium much to their liking. Great tanks of nacreous green sea anemones pulsate in artificial wave surges, delicate nudibranches, transparent jellyfish, and colorful echnoderms flaunt their rococo forms in a variety of tanks, while awed visitors stand before the massive Pacific Coast tank teeming with a cornucopia of sea life.
Kids are encouraged to have a Ribbiting Experience in a playful exhibit on frogs, while the ever-popular shark display draws its share of visitors who respectfully regard its restless, and possibly hungry, residents. There are warm-water fishes, as well, in the Tropical Zone, not to mention the almost compulsory section on the Amazon Rainforest, which I find rather uninspired, though perhaps I’ve merely become blasé after having seen several similar exhibits elsewhere.
But the stars of the aquarium are undoubtedly the marine mammals: seals, otters, dolphins, sea lions, and beluga whales. I catch the tail end of the beluga whale show, then spend a rapt half-hour or so watching the trainers continue to work with their charges. I’ve been on whale watches and seen killer whale shows, but none of those experiences were as captivating to me as the belugas, with their engaging faces, complex vocalizations, and fluid grace.
After the training session has ended, I go to the underground viewing area to watch the belugas underwater. Lacking a dorsal fin, their movement seems more an ectoplasmic glide than a swim, an illusion accentuated by their ghostly white color. Watching the hypnotic water ballet of the beluga whales was, in my opinion, in and of itself worth the not insubstantial price of admission.
845 Avison Way
Vancouver, British Columbia V6B 3X8
Attraction | "VanDusen Botanical Garden"
It’s a bit of a ride from downtown on the no. 17 bus out to the garden, but I’m dropped of right at the garden’s entrance on Oak Street. On this lovely Sunday afternoon in early fall, the 55-acre garden is a natural choice for an outing. There are young parents pushing strollers across the wide lawns, courting couples holding private conversations in quiet nooks, and retired people chatting amiably as they stroll along the winding paths. Views of the nearby cloud-capped mountains provide a stunning backdrop to the scene.
Summer’s horticultural glories have largely faded and most of fall’s are still to come, but I enjoy exploring the garden’s numerous collections. There are great swaths of plantings in rhododendrons, beeches, camellias, and other plants that do well in British Columbia’s rainy, benign climate. There are several areas which pay tribute to Vancouver’s large Asian population, including a Sino Himalayan collection, a stone garden, and a colorfully painted Korean pavilion. As I pass by the Elizabethan shrubbery maze, I hear the delighted shrieks of children running on the other side of the tall yew hedge.
After exploring the west side of the garden, I make my way eastward, stopping to appreciate the bright red berries hanging in great clusters on mountain ashes. Then, after taking only cursory notice of a rather nice collection of dwarf conifers, I hurry on to the delights ahead -- a series of small ponds and lakes. The mahogany reds, burnished oranges, and clear amber hues of Japanese maples are reflected on the surface of Heron Lake, and it’s little wonder that a number of people have stretched peaceably out on the lawn near the water.
With little time remaining before I must take the bus back to meet my friend for dinner, I press on ahead, skipping several no doubt noteworthy sections devoted to specific geographic regions. There seems to be an area devoted to just about every place on earth in this garden; you can pick a spot on the globe and find a fairly representative garden here.
But the highlight, for me, is at Livingstone Lake. There, sunlight plays over the mists from a fountain, forming a faint rainbow. Set on its own small island and framed by the rainbow’s arc, a Japanese maple’s artistically twisting boughs form the perfect object for quiet contemplation.
Van Dusen Botanical Garden
5251 Oak St
Vancouver, British Columbia V6M 4H1
+1 604 878 9274
The Korean proprietor of Stanley Park Cycles seems pleased when I tell him precisely what I want: a simple, five-speed bike with up-swept handlebars, a bell, a basket, a helmet, and a lock. The whole setup runs a modest $21 for the day. The bike shop man sees me off with a wave, and soon I’m pedaling along the seawall in Stanley Park.
Two days before I’d trudged slowly along this path, but today I breeze casually along on my shiny, blue bicycle. Billowing clouds are reflected in the unruffled surface of Coal Harbor, and the sun glints off the steel and glass facades of buildings downtown. Boats docked at the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club are lined up in rows, their masts aligned with nautical precision. I happily pedal along, stopping occasionally to take photos. The day stretches before me, full of possibilities.
I stop near Prospect Point to take in the view. A forlorn-looking raven lands nearby and eyes me hopefully. I’ve always had a soft spot for ravens, so I rummage in my daypack and produce a Cadbury bar. "Here, Scruffy. Want some chocolate?" The raven cautiously hops closer as I unwrap the bar, then flaps off with the prize I toss to him. He’s soon back for more, however, and I’m pretty sure he ends up getting more than his share.
It takes less than an hour to cycle around Stanley Park, which gives way to English Bay Beach. As I approach Burrard Bridge, I contemplate crossing over to Granville Island on it, but the roar of traffic overhead discourages me. I know there are ferries to the island, but I’m not sure where they dock. Luckily, at this moment, I come upon an outdoor café, and there, relaxing in the sunshine, is a friendly-looking woman who looks like she might know the answer.
Gisèle Michaud not only knows where I can catch the ferry, but she provides me with extensive tips on the best route to take as I cycle around Vancouver. I begin to feel guilty for taking up so much of her time, but she seems happy to talk, and soon we discover that we having something in common. We both are language teachers – she teaches French to English speakers, and I teach English, sometimes to French speakers. We laugh at this coincidence and swap the rueful anecdotes teachers share with one another as a sign of solidarity.
I’m sorry to have to part from such a delightful new friend, but with the information she’s given me, I have a better idea of where I’m headed. By my reckoning, it will take me the rest of the day to get there. "Goodbye!" "Au revoir!" I’m back on the bike and headed for the ferry, which docks just as I reach the landing.
Two dollars takes me across the water to Granville Island. The market by the pier is crowded with people enjoying a sunny day on the waterfront. Street musicians serenade people along the pier, and children squeal with delight as clouds of pigeons descend upon them when they hold out breadcrumbs. It’s a festive scene, but it’s tricky making my way through the crowds with my bicycle. I lock the bike up and take a brief stroll through the covered market, but I’ve got the urge to keep going rather than dawdle. I find the bike path once again and head west, toward Vanier Park.
I pass the Shakespeare festival Bard on the Beach tents and the Maritime Museum, then pedal along a long stretch of sand at Hadden Park, all the while following the signs for the Seaside Bike Path. The route becomes less straightforward as I approach Kitsilano Beach, petering out not long after I pass the immense public swimming pool. I contemplate going inland, joining the traffic headed toward Jericho Beach, but the idea holds little appeal after the traffic-free hours spent on the bike path. Instead, after stopping a moment to take in the gorgeous view of downtown Vancouver from Kitsilano Park, I head back toward Granville Island, retracing my path.
It’s nearly 2pm when I reach False Creek, a peaceful area of upscale condominiums and chic, waterfront homes. The seaside bike path as it runs through False Creek is a pure delight, and although many visitors sing the praises of biking in Stanley Park, I’m equally, if not more, impressed by this stretch paved in red brick winding through this scenic community. Here’s where I’d live, I tell myself, if I lived in Vancouver. The fantasy builds as the path goes on. Yes, and I’d surely have a sailboat just like that one docked over there, and a little dog I’d take for walks along this winding brick path. I’m torn between getting a pug and a cocker spaniel. It’s a tough decision.
Suddenly, the bucolic waterfront community gives way to a gritty industrial area. I’m still faithfully following the signs for the Seaside Bike Path, which should take me all the way around False Creek and back along the other side. There are fewer people around in this area, which lasts about a mile before ending near the modernistic geodesic dome of Science World. I’m back in an area with verifiable landmarks. I stop to get my bearings, straddling my bike as I wrestle with the map.
"What kind of bike is that?" I look up to see an athletic-looking man with two small children in tow. "Umm… I’m not sure," I answer feebly. But it doesn’t really matter; it’s just something he asked to start a conversation. He’s curious about what an obvious tourist is doing all the way down at this end of False Creek. I tell him I’m taking photos for a travel journal on Vancouver I’m planning to post on the internet. "Oh, then I know where you should go -- Wreck Beach," he says with a wicked gleam in his eyes.
"Oh, sure, take photos at the nude beach," I counter, feeling pleased I’ve detected this insider joke. "I’d be real popular if I showed up there with a camera."
The two children are tugging at his arm, urging him to take them to the science museum, so I wave goodbye to yet another friendly Vancouver resident and am on my way. I’m intrigued by the gleaming glass complex up ahead, which turns out to be the Plaza of Nations. A work crew is setting up for an outdoor concert, the sound system blasting an upbeat tune, Sting singing
I’m an alien I’m a legal alien
I’m an Englishman in New York
Past the gleaming high rises near Coopers’ Park and all along the waterfront near Yaletown, the song echoes in my head. I try to come up with a version that involves an American in Vancouver, but it just won’t parse. Before I know it, I’m back by the café where I met Gisèle Michaud earlier in the day, but now the café is crowded with bright young things yakking on cell phones. I cycle on by, amused by my nostalgia for something that took place, what, four hours ago?
I pedal back along the long stretch of English Bay, and then cut across the southern end of Stanley Park. I stumble across Lost Lagoon, nestled like a secret in the heart of Stanley Park. It seems like a good time get off my bike and walk a bit. The geese and ducks are enjoying an afternoon siesta by the lagoon, while one swan, his head tucked under a wing, seems sound asleep as he drifts on the water. That’s the life, I think, living in Stanley Park without a care in the world.
It’s approaching the witching hour of 6pm, when I have to return the bicycle, but there’s still time to take one last ride along the waterfront at Coal Harbor, where people sit on benches dreamily watching seaplanes land and take off. By my reckoning, I’ve covered some 30 miles or so on my little blue bike, and while my legs and back ache a bit, I’d go further still if the bike were mine. With considerable regret, I take it back to the shop, giving it an affectionate pat as I hand it over to the assistant.
Still, once I’ve walked down Robson Street and then over on Denham Street to the waterfront, the undulating seawall path seems downright inviting. Stanley Park, which is at least as large as downtown Vancouver if not larger, combines aspects of a civic playground and a wilderness retreat. And it is full of entertaining diversions, both in the interior of the park as well as all along the seawall path running along the outer perimeter of the park.
First, there are splendid vistas of downtown Vancouver from across Coal Harbor, and then the Totem Pole collection punctuates the skyline. The Nine O’Clock Gun (a cannon fired each evening at, you guessed it, 9 o’clock) comes next, followed Brockton Point with its squat, red-and-white lighthouse, and then a life-like statue of a "Girl in a Wetsuit" perched on a rock offshore. As I approach Prospect Point, a cruise ship leaving its mooring at Canada Place emits a long, deep bass TOOOOOOOOT and heads towards Prospect Point, slowly approaching and then going under the impressive span of Lion’s Gate Bridge, which links Vancouver to the northern shore.
Pedestrian traffic thins considerably after Prospect Point, which is more or less the halfway point along the circuit, though I note more fishermen, mostly Asian men, carrying nets. They banter companionably as they head home with their catch, pulling their homemade carts loaded with buckets, rods, tackle boxes, and other paraphernalia behind them. Cyclists and roller bladers glide by on a separate path running adjacent to the path used by pedestrians and joggers. This separation of foot and wheeled traffic is one of the many well-thought-out aspects of the park.
There are numerous benches, too, throughout the park, as well as all over Vancouver. By the time I’ve rounded Prospect Point and am approaching distinctive Siwash Rock jutting high out of the water offshore, I’m in need of one of these benches, which I sink onto gratefully. At this point, I’m running on nothing more than fumes. Blankly watching sailboats and container ships crisscross the coastal waters, I deliberate how much further there is to go. I consider cutting across the wooded heart of the park but haven’t got a detailed map and darkness is approaching. On I plod, past Third Beach and Second Beach, finally coming all the way around to the other end of Denham Street, the circuit of Stanley Park complete.
Do I sleep well that night? You betcha.
The following day dawns overcast, soon giving way to showers that increase in intensity throughout the day. Luckily, I’ve planned a day indoors at the Anthropology Museum at the University of British Columbia, but getting there involves more walking than anticipated as the bus drops me off a good distance from the museum. The campus is filled with students hunched under umbrellas, sometimes in sociable pairs or trios, as they scurry to class.
Everyone, in fact, seems to have an umbrella but me. I have a more-or-less waterproof jacket and a baseball cap that keeps the rain off my glasses. After a certain point, I no longer care how wet my feet are. It isn’t cold or windy, so I take my time squish-squish-squishing across campus, wishing (as I often do) that I’d had the opportunity to properly enjoy college, my long-distant undergraduate days nothing more than a blurred recollection of long hours in minimum-wage jobs combined with as many classes as I could squeeze in on the side.
But here I am in the rain, much too old for anyone to mistake for an undergraduate, entertaining a fantasy. Yes, I’m on my way to my pottery class. Perhaps afterward I’ll to join some friends hanging out at the Student Union... As I splash along the sodden pavement, I think of what I’d do if I were young and could do it all over again.
I’d buy an umbrella, that’s what.
After visiting the Anthropology Museum, I deliberate heading back to the campus bus platform, but it seems a shame to come all the way out here and spend only a few hours. I notice a sign for Nitobe Memorial Garden and remember having read that this Japanese-style garden is well worth a visit. Following the sign, I pass through a wooded area alongside the Asian Studies building and find myself before a little kiosk in front of the entrance to the garden. Not unsurprisingly, I seem to be the only visitor, and my soggy apparition in front of the kiosk startles the woman absorbed in paperwork behind the glass. After collecting a modest fee, she hands me a laminated guide to the garden and I enter.
Here I find enchantment. In seconds, I become convinced that all Japanese gardens should be viewed in the rain. There is a more subtle palette on a rainy day, more variations on the infinite shades of green. The moss carpeting the forest floor glistens with beads of water, the delicate maple leaves tremble with rain, and shallow pools form in the crevices of stones. Thousands of raindrops fall onto the lake, echoed by the cascade of droplets falling from the tree branches, the soft patter of rain on the wooden bridge, and the trickle of rivulets running along the garden paths.
Wet feet or no wet feet, I wouldn’t miss this for the world.
On yet another day, I don my remaining dry pair of shoes and take a stroll downtown. All along Coal Harbor I admire the gleaming structures along the waterfront, modern hotels interspersed with apartment towers. There’s a sophisticated vibe in this urban setting, which feels more laid back than a U.S. city, more in tune with the needs of its residents. Everywhere there is water – in the harbor, in cascading fountains; and where there is not water, there are shiny glass surfaces. The tree-lined parks and streets are spotlessly clean, adding to the city’s livability. It’s a magical place that has risen here on the shores, dense with glass-and-steel buildings, yet still feeling wonderfully spacious.
Walking along the perimeter of Canada Place, with its soaring white "sails," I feel as though I’m on the deck of a ship, an illusion furthered by the great cruise ships docked alongside the complex. Throughout the downtown area, older buildings are intermingled with and reflected in the surface of new ones. The delightful Marine Building, with its art deco frieze of sea creatures, is just across from a glass complex with rounded edges that houses the tourist information office.
There’s a lively street scene, too, adding a human dimension to all the glass and steel. On a Friday night, fashionable Robson Street is thronged with animated twenty-somethings spilling out from cafés and restaurants onto the street. The old courthouse building that houses the Vancouver Art Gallery is a gathering point, with street artists performing on the steps of the building, street vendors peddling their wares, and chess players plotting their moves on benches nearby. And then there are the fringe elements found in any large city, the street people huddled in doorways or a group of crazed evangelicals hoisting signs proclaiming, "REPENT SINNERS! CHRIST DIED FOR YOUR SINS."
No, Vancouver isn’t utopia, but it comes just about as close to one as this inveterate stroller has ever seen.