Sunday, 16 October 2011

Vancouver Gems

Back to Vancouver, October One: Highlights: Stanley Park hosts miles of forest with a few surviving
old cedars, hydrangea and rose-filled gardens, first nations totems, harbour view pathways across
crystal waters, wetting our appetite to explore the city. Tour planes take off regularly and fly above
the silhouetted ships heading out to sea.

Granville Market, seaside farmer's stands and prepared foods stretch many aisles inside the old building.
Of particular interest for the palette and olfactory senses were the amazing shellfish and salmon, and haddock; incredible cheeses,brilliant flower stands and fresh fruit and veggies featuring "giant" grapes as well
as fresh figs and dates. (oh, and for the meat lovers: myriads of sausage, steaks, pate and Scottish bacon)
The narrow streets around the market housed artists and craftspeople of all sorts. The quality was high and
inspiring. Dixie joined us for a beer sampling at the Granville Brewery but chose H2O as her beverage of preference.

University of British Columbia houses a unique Japanese garden, a tranquil setting whose gates were
unlocked for us even though the high winds may have sent a branch crashing down. The Museum of Anthropology has an amazing collection of totem poles, carved and painted boats and masks. A treat, was
viewing the Bill Reid Raven-Creation sculpture, one I've been sharing with students for years but never
enjoyed in person. We also ventured down the billion stairs to Wreck Beach, know for it's hippie
clientele and "Bathing Suits Optional" The beach was grey and chilly and the only bare bottoms we viewed were a few summer images on-line when "things" were in full swing!

We had a few socked in days of rain and fog, as promised by the locals. Squamish was our next home base
where we hiked to the foot of Shannon Falls, 3rd highest in BC; lunched at the rustic Howe Sound Brewing Co.gazing out on the amazing white, black and grey granite Chief Mountain, a draw for climbers. Took a personal boat tour of the Squamish Harbour with skipper Chris. As a local, working on the harbour for
thirty years, he was wealth of stories from landslides to logging lore and history, to mining disaster tales.
As we passed cliffs coloured with copper, native rock paintings, seals lazing about on the log booms, small tugs mightily towing, bald eagle, and herons, we were treated to spectacular views of snow capped Mnt.Atwell and Garibaldi. Skipper Chris taught us all we need to know about logging, which logs in the huge log booms go where. Some are exported, some for pulp and paper, some for cedar shakes. We now know how logging grants are doled out and how much they cost, all this and more in an hour and a half boat tour.

Whistler,so often seen packed with enthusiastic sports fans or drunks during the Olympics, was the town we expected. Great chalet-inspired buildings and modern condos in nature's colours, manicured gardens and maple trees turning red.  Shops were all high end sports equipment with an art gallery or coffee shop thrown in now and then, the place was swarming with mountain bike "Cult" members, decked out in incredible
gear including helmets with built-in cameras and expensive bikes of all shapes and colours. As we embarked on our long cable car journey up Whistler Mountain, we could look down on the bikes swerving and speeding around the muddy trails, some starting their challenge in the fresh fallen snow at the top! Olympic rings and many Canadian flags remained as remnants of Vancouver's Olympic Fame. Google the Peak to Peak Gondola to get a sense of the magnificent journey we had high above the forest, ski trails, river and town of Whistler from Whistler Mountain to Blackcomb. Once there, everyone went a little snow crazy.
making angels, throwing snowballs and building snow sculptures. We used some "loaner" ski poles to assist
us with the "slip factor" as we hiked further up Blackcomb. We were lucky to have a blast of sunshine for the views and to counteract the 0 degree temperatures. Dixie happily spent the day frolicking with some of her own kind at a doggie daycare in rural Squamish.


  1. Love all of this - and am very jealous of the farmers market description! It sounds amazing!! Photos please!!

  2. pho-tos! pho-tos!...sounds amazing..deep sigh