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Hacktreks Travel

Hacktreks 2

First Chapters

Summer in Vancouver at Playland and the PNE

It’s not a case of when or if – pigs will fly at the Pacific National Exhibtion in Vancouver this summer.
Roll up Roll up take a step back in time. Join the Carney, it’s back in town. Guess the pigs weight, it’s rodeo time, meet sheep, goats, cows and thrill to dogs jumping through hoops - their great 25th year. Yes these are the dogs they used in the hilarious movie , 'Best in Show' and this is where it was filmed. So you know these dogs really can do thier stuff.

It’s not exactly ‘Meet me in St Louis’ and Judy Garland sports a midriff exposing a navel ring these days and probably makes eyes at the girl next door, nevertheless, everyone comes to the fair. It’s a hokey, quaint event, some kind of relic, but innocent fun, fun the way it used to be. Candyfloss, Elephants Ears, sticky toffee, things for the kiddies and a swing band for the old folks…
Come to the Marketplace. Buy magic mops, bargain chamois leather, sit down and try Dr Ho’s vibration machine and massage away your problems. (Actually I really did and I’ve had this nagging headache for days now). My sister actually bought a kit (including batteries) for $229 and now uses it every day. She swears it will cure all her ills and , y'know, it might.
Of course there are things that you probably shouldn't buy; shiny things, watches for ten bucks, buy now -throw away later.

Get out of there already; head for the animals. It may not be your kind of fun to watch breeding sheep being auctioned (they seem to go for around $300 a pop) but it’s for real. Sadly, I couldn’t stay for the cows being auctioned, as one took it in its head to chase my sister around the auction ring and she fled terrified. Suddenly you understand that bullfighters are so incredibly utterly stupid!
In the ante-chamber you can find, well… lots more cows actually and pigs, more sheep, the odd llama and bunny rabbits, it’s a domestic zoo in there and lots of very dedicated kids nurture them with patience (that they probably don’t have for their parents or siblings). Every year lambs and other babies are born at the PNE and it's all rather cute actually.

Finding your way out, you past tractors; old ones and some new German ones that my sister (ever observant to such things) noticed a kiddie seat in the cabin. No kidding. German’s think of everything – get ‘em young, eh.

We skirted past beer tents, hamburger stalls and psychics who will reveal all (no fear – not with my sister present) and headed for the House of Dreams. Every year at the PNE they run a lottery for a dream home. This year’s home, temporarily erected at the fair to be moved to the sunshine coast thereafter, is impressive and pleasantly old fashioned. It’s a Victorian home replete with a cedar verandha all around it, something I love about Victorian homes.

We joined a huge line-up and everyone in the line has paid for a $25 buck ticket, so they are going to make a killing with this house. It’s got a pretty impractical staircase winding into the hallway, but that aside, the living room is interesting, vaguely ornate with elegant ceiling rebates and detailing. The kitchen is practical and really well fitted out by The Brick, a local chain and although I don’t like electric room heating because it tends to ‘dry’ the air, there are four gas-fireplaces, one in the huge master bathroom. (Which is a first for me). There are two huge Jacuzzis, three bedrooms and a big rec room above the two-car garage. The exterior is finished in vinyl, which looks cheap but lasts, so it’s practical, if lacking in aesthetics. The interesting features are the rubber tiles on the roof, made from recycled tyres. They really look like old style roof tiles and are good energy savers,with low heat transfer. So they should be cool in summer- insulate in winter. They look like slate but are resistant to moss with a 50 year warranty. Interested? Go-Green Roofing Products Inc. No web site but if you are interested email them at Sensibly they also fitted the American style Englert leafguard guttering which should be mandatory fitting in BC. It has taken how many centuries to evolve guttering to eliminate leaf clogging? You can find them at
Inside the floor tiles are jade natural slate from China from and the great thing is that all the fixtures and fitting come with the house, so if you win, you can move in and dump the stuff you wish you’d never bought anyway.

So why go on about the house? Because actually it’s the most authentic thing at the show, though they may not know it. A hundred years ago, around when the PNE first started at this Hastings Site, the Victorians (or Edwardians then) were busy perfecting the factory built house. They were supplied all over the world, wherever instant towns were required. Every gold rush would sport them and if you go to Silver City, Nevada, they still stand today. Complete mansions in tin with wooden floors, tiling, wallpaper, everything prefabricated and shipped out to Kimberley or Nevada or Alaska and they survived. So here at the PNE, the prefabricated home is being reinvented by Britco. Good styling, durable materials, (even a dog shower) built in vacuum system and security, everything you could ever want in a home and it will just last forever. Built in seven sections and transported to the show where it was reassembled, it will eventually wind up on a half acre lot by a harbour. The prices range from $400,000 to $600,000 cnd. If you want a home in the Pacific-Northwest that will certainly outlast the conventionally built houses, contact them for info
Did I buy a ticket? You bet. Will I win? Yeah right.

The PNE is old fashioned, to be sure, with talent contests, odd foods, the roller coasters next door at Playland, dog jumping and Lipizanner dancing horses, but it’s the nearest you can get to being in the late 19th century and as such, long may the sheep be auctioned and sisters get chased by cows. Long live the PNE.
yes the Lipizzaners are here at the PNE

Open till September 2nd 2002.
Getting there: On Hastings and Renfrew. It also includes Playland where kids can thrill to the roller coasters and assorted dangers. Take the Hastings Bus or 29th Avenue or 135 SFU from Downtown Vancouver.
Cost $8 dollars – a bargain.
Sponsors The Province newspaper

(This was written in 2002 - This year 2003 Mad Cow Disease may affect the animal attractions and SARS everything else - but here's hoping everything will be back to normal soon - eh?)

© The Editor August 2002

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© Hackwriters 2002