We decided to spend a couple more days in Vancouver before heading south again. And we did a kid swap - the first night the boys spent the night in the RV with us at Dogwood RV Park and then the girls stayed at their place the following night. A night of peace and quiet for tired parents, celebrated in style at a Korean restaurant.
After collecting Jen and the kids (unfortunately the library was calling Dave), we headed up Grouse Mountain the first day, in bright sunshine. Grouse is literally on the fringe of Vancouver and caters for skiers in winter and daytrippers the rest of the year. We had a great time - first a big gondola car whizzed us up the mountain, picnic lunch at the top, a walk to the grizzly bear enclosure, a raptor show including a young bald eagle, a chairlift to the lookout at the summit, a Vancouver film and a lumberjack show (woodchop/logrolling demonstration). A full day of fun.
Jasmine's view - My favourite part of it was seeing the 2 grizzly bears close up. They were orphans that had been rescued as cubs. The lumberjacks were really good and one of them fell in the well.
Our second day we spent on Vancouver Island. This time it started off wet but as we caught the ferry the sun came out. It was funny riding a BC ferry so soon after leaving our cruise ship. It was comfortable and scenic, with some tiny uninhabited islands and some bigger islands with lovely houses nestled amongst the trees.
We saw the world famous Butchart Gardens in peak Spring bloom. The sunken garden in an old limestone quarry is a highlight, with tulips interspersed with other flowers, weeping Japanese maples, and a dancing fountain. The Japanese garden is also delightful. In every direction there are magnificent flowers of all colours, beautifully laid out.
We also had a look at Victoria, which is the capital of British Columbia. It is all low-rise and historic around the waterfront, with the Empress hotel (complete with ivy growing up the walls) dominating the scene. We were interested by the busy seaplane service, ferrying passengers by air to all sorts of interesting and remote islands and coves.
After that we had to say goodbye to our friends - sadly. As Jasmine says - it was hard to say good bye but we managed. It was really such a bonus to spend time with them and enjoy some of the sights and the experience of the cruise together.
It was pleasing to find our trusty RV where we had left it, although it didn't seem quite as big and exciting after our luxurious cruise as when we had first started out. We worked out the whole van is about the same size as our cabin was on the ship. And now there are menial things like washing, shopping and cooking that one doesn't need to consider on a cruise.