Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Flame

After our exciting time at the curling events, including the extra end for Canada and Japan, we still wanted to see the Olympic Cauldron with Mom, Dad, and Caroline. We waited for a shuttle to the train station. We ended up on the shuttle with some friendly people that we had met while waiting in line. They admired our red, white, and blue mittens, hats, and US flag stickers on our faces. As we began our shuttle ride, some Canadian children sang the Canadian National Anthem. Then, our new friends, said, "now we need to sing the US National Anthem." It was very sweet. And they sang it with us. It was a kind gesture, and really cool that they knew our Anthem. We had sung a little of theirs, but mostly hummed along. There were a few tears seen and snuffles heard on the shuttle that night.

Dana sent along a bunch of Flathead Lake pins for us to trade or give away. I gave a few away that night in the train station. Then, as we boarded our train, I received my first trade. It is a pin for the Canadian National Curling Club! I love it!!

We took a nice long train ride to a station near the cauldron. Well, near, but still far enough that we were all hoping it was a shorter walk. Mom was still making it, but clearly in some pain. And, we again were hoping for a public restroom. We were again denied. So we kept walking.

We walked along Canada Place. It is a beautiful architectural delight, especially at night.

Above is an entrance to Canada Place. We did not spend enough time trying to get the perfect shot of one of us holding up the world.

You can imagine how cool that photo could have been. Well, if we had taken it from the side with the large windows without panes...ha!

Oh, those Canadians. They even decorated the construction cranes! Go Canada!

It was an impressive Olympic Cauldron. Especially cool, since Vancouver 2010 was the first Olympics to have TWO cauldrons. They had built one that they lit inside the BC Place Stadium at the end of the Opening Ceremonies.

This shot is taken through the chain link fence. Before we got to Canada, I had heard about the protesting for the flame to be freed. That is, not behind a chainlink fence a couple hundred feet in front of the cauldron. "Free the Flame!" "Free the Flame!" "Free the Flame!"

Me posing with the cauldron. I would have liked to have been closer...

The Grant and Pedersen clan pose at the end of a great day.

The Olympic Flame as the backdrop for Mom and Dad (Eternal Flames).

BFFs -- Cookie,Jen, and Joelf

I'm still Red, White, and Blue at the end of our first day!

Ahhh, the end of a long and wonderful Olympic day...zzzzzzzz

Saturday, March 27, 2010

A Wheelchair, Americans Surrounded, and an Extra End in Curling...SWEET!

After the Coke House debacle, we divided up our group. Lisa and Jeremy were not interested in the Irish House, so they decided to make their way to the curling venue and meet us there. Allison and I could not fit in the cab with Mom, Dad, Jen, and Care, so we decided to hoof it. When we were a couple blocks away, Jen called (I had confiscated Mom and Dad's phone by this point)to let us know that the line for the Irish House was a 3 hour wait. Obviously, we decided to skip that. I decided that if I make it to another Olympics, I will set aside at least one day with no events to check out some of the houses. Allison and I carried on to the curling venue. On the way, we saw something that I had never seen before, a steamed burrito shop. It sounds...ummm...not good. To be fair, I did not try one, so maybe they are delicious. Afterall, according to their name, they are a Canadian original. We caught a train and then decided to walk to the venue from there since we had quite a bit of time before our "at least one and one half hours before the event" target arrival. Allison and I made it to the venue and decided to have a little photo shoot. Though the picture is dark, Allison is holding up his recent purchase, a cowbell. It was not official, so Allison got two for about 1/2 the price of one of the official Oly ones. And it made a great sound! By that point, I had committed to wearing the knitted hat for the rest of the night. Due to my terrible hat hair, once I put a hat on, I wear it until the end of the day or until I can shower and try to restore what little hair I have left. I was also fully committed to red, white, and blue. This included light up necklaces and glittery flag face stickers courtesy of Dawn, a lei, an Olympic tee, the mittens and hat, and even a flag draped over my shoulder (truly, I was mild compared to some of the fans!) I tried to capture some of the beautiful Vancouver 2010 logos and colors, Jen's favorite colors! Allison and I took our time taking photos of each other and the scenery...then Jen called. I had assumed that Mom, Dad, Jen, and Caroline were already inside since they had been in a cab. Wrong assumption! Jen was a little frantic on the phone. The cab driver was a real jerk and had dropped them off several blocks from the curling venue, and on the back side of the venue. Wow! Mom had struggled to make it to the where they were on the opposite side of the venue entrance. Jen asked me to get a wheelchair and come find them. I told her I would do it. I asked one of the friendly staff members (they truly were really friendly every where we went)for some assistance. Then she walkie talkied to someone else. Then there were two helpers. One said, "well, we aren't supposed to let the wheelchairs go out of the secure area." I must have looked really desperate. The other worker said, "couldn't he give us something of his to keep?" I instantly had my driver's license out. She agreed. She said that she would meet us on the other side in about 15 minutes. Mom and the group were at the Athlete's Entrance. We would not be allowed to bring Mom in at that entrance, we would still need to push the wheelchair around the two blocks to get to the official visitor entrance. Fortunately we had arrived very early! And, thankfully, we had taken so many photos and not entered the venue. For if we had, we would not have been allowed to exit and reenter. Ahhh, the Athlete's Entrance. Jen and Care were especially excited since they had had glimpses of some of the men's curling teams. Above are some of the straglers, mostly coaches and managers, etc. Then the women arrived. Above is Team Japan. We were waiting for the wheelchair. Mom was in a folding chair chatting with the helper at the athlete's entrance. And, Team Sweden. I knew they were good. And, they were Team USA's competition that night. The wheelchair arrived. We got mom to the entrance! And, we even had time for some more photos. The group posed for some fun! We had a nice Olympic fan take this photo for us. Caroline with the G-Ma and the G-Pa. I may have overstated the banner a little--but these Montanans love curling!! Mom shows off the fabulous mittens!! As soon as Lisa heard that Mom was hurting, she had suggested a wheelchair and the hopes of a special entrance gate for our whole group. Well, when it actually turned out that way, Lisa did not even get to enjoy the experience. But, the rest of us did. We finally saw the mascots. We attempted to join the line for photos, but we were denied. The mascots were getting ready to go inside the venue. We were never that close to them again...wah, wah! But, we found out that Lisa and Jeremy were ahead of us and did get some photos with the wonderful mascots. Miga!!!!!!!! I really thought Miga was the most adorable. And, Quatchi!!!! Big, cuddly Quatchi! There were awesome art intallations all over Vancouver. These were sculptures outside the curling venue. Really incredible! The inside of the curling venue was not quite as impressive. The seating and stadium part was nice enough, but there were just rows and rows of port-a-potties in the one side area. It was not a pretty picture, and Mom was way less than impressed. She could not imagine a large stadium without "real" bathrooms, or at least running water to wash near the port-a-potties. We all survived and eventually found yet another hotel lobby bathroom. That was pretty much our M.O. throughout our time in The Upper Couv. I found these Canadians inside the venue. Whenever I saw some great patriotic (from whatever nation) gear, I tried to take photos. The Canadians were always out in full force since it was their home turf. That day, they were especially decked out since the Canadian Men's Hockey team was playing the U.S. team...The game ended after we were inside the curling venue. And, the U.S. Men was pretty interesting to be surrounded by some angry, but mostly gracious Canadian fans. One Canadian jokingly said to Allison and me in our red, white, and blue, "who let you guys in here?" I asked this couple if I could take their photo. They agreed. Then I recognized that I had seen the lady interviewed at one of the curling events in that same hat on TV a few days earlier. I mentioned it to her, "did I see you on TV?" She coyly replied with a smile, "maybe." Nice! I don't know why or if she is famous...but I'm going with that she is semi-famous. Apparently Mom did not get the memo to lean forward and look left...she's hidden between Caroline and Dad. Some shots of the curlers warming up. They got to practice a little before the actual matches began.
Below is a video of the opening of the match. Since curling originated in Scotland, bagpipes were played as the teams entered for introductions.

Some members of the group were more ready for the photo than others. Mostly ready can see Mom's eye there peeking around Care's hat... Mom and Caroline were very ready in this one! And Caroline looking adorable. She looks like a kitty to me, so cute. The beautiful Olympic ice at the curling arena. So, how do they get the designs in the ice? anyone? anyone? Then, the curling got underway for real. Above, the Americans are moving a stone in against the Swedish team. They were not a dynamic team, eventually conceding the game...oh well.

This is a video of how excited we were when they made a good shot against Sweden.

In the foreground, the women from China are really sweeping that stone against Canada. This turned out to be the most exciting game to watch. And, it was great since it was the closest sheet (lane of ice) to us. I'm showing off my mittens. See how they echo the flag on my cheek? Jen is a pretty clever girl. They estimated that about 2/3 of the crowd of 6000+ were Canadian. It really was a sea of red.

I took this photo of the big screen because I thought it was cool to see the curling stones up close. It was helpful to have the views like this since there were three matches going on at the same time.

I tried to get a video of the group, but they were not prepared. And, they were "engrossed" as Lisa put it...

"With Glowing Hearts" was the motto of Vancouver 2010. It comes from the Canadian National Anthem, 'O, Canada'. The curling games were in full swing. And, they were getting exciting... and intense... and nerve racking... It even became a nail biter... I took this one of all of us in the moments of intensity. Caroline captured this one of me pondering life's questions and the curling teams. Here is Team China and Team Canada trying to figure out the best strategy. It was awesome to be in Canada's house as their team ended up playing an extra end after tying the game. Canada's skip, Cheryl Bernard, in the back of the photo, is really trying to line things up.

Here we go Canada, here we go!!

Unfortunately, it was not meant to be for the Canadians that night (hockey or curling). But it was still a really cool experience for all of the fans of curling! You definitely get your money's worth at a curling event! Especially when there is a ty breaker! Yay curling!