Vancouver Highlights

I leave Vancouver early tomorrow morning. How do you lose two weeks? It feels like I just got here.

The highlight of my visit was an overnight trip to Whistler with Meeg and Kris this past weekend. We wandered the village, drank beer and ate chicken wings, and took full advantage of the lodge’s sauna, hot tub, and swimming pool. It’s truly God’s country up there — everything about it is spectacular, including the price of housing. I had to laugh when I came across a real estate listing in the local paper — $1,195,000 (yes, that’s one million) for a modest home, and the ad was quick to point out the income potential from the rental suite made this property “a great value”. Good grief, can you imagine some first-time buyer with a million bucks to spend turning to his wife and saying, “yes Gladys, this is a good one because we can rent out the basement and cover some of the mortgage” !?

cheakamusOn Saturday we did a wonderful hike to Cheakamus Lake, a glacier-fed lake in Garibaldi Park just outside of the village. It’s an easy 3km hike to the lake, though the 8km drive from the highway to the parking lot was a bone-shaking 4-wheel drive experience. The scenery is … fantastic. I never forgot my first and only visit to this beautiful lake about 10 years ago, and was very glad for the opportunity to visit again.

The path wound through a forest of gigantic cedar and douglas fir, ancient trees big enough to make you feel like a small child, full of wonder. Bear scat on the trail added that extra frisson of excitement, and though I appreciated Kris’ lough calls to warn off any lingering grizzlies, I secretly thought he would have chosen something better than “Here Bear! Here Bear!”. To the left I’ve snitched a picture from the Web to show you just how lovely this place is — I’ll post my own pics as soon as I can. I did come across a gorgeous large clump of bunchberry (a very small relative of Dogwood) in bloom, some wild orange lilies, and what I think are orchids. I’ll post those pics too when I get settled long enough to download them from my camera. Fortunately we started early, because by the time we turned around and made our way back to the car, hikers were coming at us by the dozens. So much for a pristine wilderness experience!

IMG_1572cOn the subject of grizzly bears, today Meeg and I took the gondola up Grouse Mountain today, and visited the two resident cubs — Grinder and Coola. Though the two orphaned bears are surrounded by what can only be described as a “tourist trap”, Grouse Mountain is adamant that it’s all in the name of science and education, not marketing. Well, I have my doubts but have to admit they seem like happy bears in a nice enclosure, and it was cool to see grizzlies up close. With an electric fence between me and them, I can say with all honestly that they are extremely endearing. Powerful, magnificent creatures, and cute.

Bye Meeg and Kris, I’ll miss you!