On my way home!
Trip Start Jan 29, 2008
13Trip End Apr 30, 2008
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Our first day in Vancouver I went for a bracing walk along the seafront down to a tiny pier where tiny boats come and shuttle you across the bay to Granville Island. It's a cute little place full of arty shops and a farmer style market. If you know me you know I can't resist these places, my spending spree in San Fran well forgotten. In fairness though, I did spend my money on presents (you'll have to wait and see!) and some food for dinner from the deli's. They sold gorgeous olives and fresh bread and cakes...
On the Saturday Eamon, Lois's boyfriend was due to fly in and so we had a leisurely morning and headed out to the airport. After a quick bite to eat back at Hazels and when Eamon didn't collapse from jet lag (he seemed remarkably bright - one too many red bulls I think) we decided to head out to Grouse mountain. The sun was out and it was a lovely day. It has to be said that Hazel was very good in volunteering her car for our use, very good and very brave. You get a cable car to the top of the mountain which was covered in snow, although it was clear at the car park level. At the bottom they have a wolf enclosure - they're just like big shaggy dogs and not that scary... and at the top of the mountain they have two orphaned grizzly bears, although they were hibernating and you had to get snow shoes to go out to see their enclosure, so no scary animals at all. One of the bears is called koula though :)
We headed back down the road to the dam and Sarah decided to try driving - we survived!!! The dam was quite cool and we went for a walk along the river. We saw a couple of big salmon in there - I think Eamon would have gone in after them if there hadn't been a ten foot sheer drop to the river and I'm pretty sure we saw a bald headed eagle too - we just saw a flash of white zip past us at one point
We all did our own thing the next day - we decided to give Eamon a chance to recover and give the love birds some time on their own. I decided to use the time properly - I slept in, only leaving the house after lunchtime and then I went for a facial! My face felt like I had three months worth of grime on it so it was a real treat. I was quite healthy though and went to investigate a bit more of West End Vancouver. I walked along the beach front and down to the harbour where all the rich guys have their boats. It's a really green city and it's very relaxing. Everyone seems to be out and about getting fresh air and exercise, even if it is a leisurely walk along the beach. It's a nice time of year to visit too, it's not too cold but there's definitely a bite in the air that lets you know you're still alive. It's all so green as well, with bluebells and daffodils starting to show in the gardens around Stanley park. I think the sea actually has a calming effect on me now, now that I've conquered my fear of the deep that is. I did debate going scuba diving here too, but I think the cold is just a little bit too much for me, I think I'd die of shock after being to Thailand and Fiji, maybe next time though.
After a days breather we hijacked the car again and headed up to Whistler for an overnight stay. With the time we have it would have been too much of a strain to try to get to the Rockies, but it's a great excuse to get back here soon. So we stuck closer to home but still got to see some magnificent mountains. The drive up was great, view points pretty much the whole way up once you got on the highway and the sun was beating down on us
The next morning we were up fairly early and out, back into whistler with Sarah driving again. She was starting to get a grip on it at this stage and we got into town and I dropped them off for their zipline adventure. I did a little bit of window shopping, I was hoping to find a couple more presents up there, but all I could find was ski gear and I didn't know anyone back home that I wanted to buy presents for that skiied. Also those clothes are fairly bulky and my rucksack is very full, although I could have got thermals, but I don't think anyone wants them as a present, so that wasn't much good.
I headed up to Pemberton up highway 99 to my trail ride and the drive was fabulous. There was a lake on the side of the road partly covered in ice and a sprinkling of snow on top of that and surrounded by mountains. I found the ranch no bother and was quickly embarrassed by 1) turning up too early and 2) having brought the exact money for the ride but forgetting I was supposed to add tax to it (all prices here are quoted excluding tax - a real pain). Anyhow, Tamara let me off very kindly and she quickly had Flash and Fizz tacked up in the Western saddles and ready to go. The horses aren't very big so that was a relief to start with, I'm a bit out of practice when it comes to horses. We headed off across the fields, me on Fizz heading towards a mountain across the way while I asked questions about the horses and tried to sound knowledgeable and experienced on horses. As we got up close to the creek Tamara sent her two dogs out ahead to scare any ducks out before we arrived on the horses. She said that her season for trail rides hadn't offically started as yet and the horses weren't getting regular exercise and could be a bit skittish - oh great, where are the breaks on this thing again? As it turned out Fizz was quite happy to watch Flash's heels up ahead and plod along while Flash took the odd jump sideways at a shadow in the hedge
We headed up a tiny trail, if you could call it that, zig zagging up the mountain. It was fairly steep and we had to keep giving the horses a breather after each little sprint. They were out of shape and lets face it, one of them had me on its back, I'd be breathing hard too. Tamara apologised, she said that she had only just started cutting out the trails for this season so there would be branches overhanging the trail and holes in the track where she hadn't filled in yet. Apparently this woman walks across to the mountain before the start of each season with a chainsaw and a bag of sawdust and hikes up the mountain to clear the trails - Dad would love to have her working on the farm with him, a lot more hardy than any of the girls he was blessed with. This isn't a small mountain either. It took us two hours up and down, I have a lot of admiration for her.
When I wasn't concentrating in balancing right in the saddle to make it easier on the poor horse and had chance to look around it was just amazing
We headed back to Vancouver that evening where Hazel very kindly put us up once again