Archive for August 1, 2010

Days 62 and 63: Vancouverian Wanderings

August 1, 2010 3 comments

Location: Vancouver, British Columbia

I have been pretty spoiled since crossing the border on Thursday night.  I’ve had Will’s apartment to use as my own, and I’ve quite enjoyed having a base to operate out of for the past few days.  Travis, Will’s brother, has kindly taken time out to show me around the area and share in a few meals.  Travis and I get along real well, and he’s taught me a lot about the area and about Canada, in general, and even answered my stupid questions:

  • What is a ‘Canuck’?
  • What’s the significance of the maple leaf?
  • Is Steve Nash a national hero?

Speaking of Steve Nash, I showed Travis one of his great Vitamin Water commercials.  For your enjoyment:

One of my favorite lines: “People say, hey, you don’t want to swim with sharks. But I’m faster than sharks, so it’s not a big deal.”

My first full day in Vancouver, Friday, I spent some time down near the water and walked along Jericho Beach.  Unfortunately I didn’t have my camera with me, but it was the first time I ever sat at a beach and saw snow-capped mountains in the distance.  Pretty amazing, and the weather at the beach was great.  Travis later told me that there are times in Spring where you can golf, go to the beach, and go skiing all in the same day. 

I met up with Travis later in the day and after dinner we did a good amount of walking, touring the downtown area.  Vancouver is a very pedestrian-friendly, very bike-friendly city.  Never before did I see so many cyclists out at midnight on a Friday.  And the city is quite clean and easy to get around in, if you don’t mind a few hills here and there.

We had plans on Saturday to do some hiking, but that wasn’t until later in the day so it allowed me the morning to run some errands.  This apartment I’m staying in is quite conveniently located, and I could easily walk to the post office, a couple fresh fruit markets, and a photography store where I needed to get a photo for a travel visa.  Coincidentally, the people running the photography store were from Taiwan, so I had a nice time conversing with the folks about my time in their country.

In the late afternoon we made our way to Grouse Mountain.  Travis drove, so I got to take some photos of downtown Vancouver as we made our way to the mountain.

The hike was to the top of Grouse Mountain, called the “Grouse Grind.”  I was warned beforehand by my brother Mike about how strenuous the hike would be, and I was told I’d be soaked with sweat not long into it, but also was promised the views at the top were well worth it.  So I was somewhat mentally prepared, but it still was quite a beast of a hike.  Not terribly long, mile-wise, but just always going up.

Travis before the hike

Feeling optimistic about the Grouse Grind

So we set off for the top.  Fortunately it wasn’t incredibly hot out, because in no time we were sweating.  Not only does it go up and up, the steps are often fairly high up so you’re taking big steps each bit of the way.

up and up

we were both pretty soaked just a 1/4 of the way up

keeps going

the light at the end of the tunnel

Made it!

As I was told earlier, the hike up to the top was well worth it.  About an hour and 20 minutes after starting the hike, we were treated to the outstanding views of Vancouver, the English Bay, and Vancouver Island.


We spent some time walking around the top of the mountain.  There were giant wood carvings to check out, a grizzly bear habitat (unfortunately no grizzlies to be seen), and a ski lift that took you to the very peak of the mountain.

Windmill at the peak

View near the windmill

The ride back down the lift was particularly scenic.

the mountains of Vancouver Island in the distance

Fortunately, Grouse Mountain has a gondola system, so we didn’t have to hike back down to the bottom.  We took the gondola, got back in the car, and made our way back to Will’s.  Saw this nice sign as we got closer to downtown:


Found some great pizza for dinner, and then it wasn’t long afterwards I was ready for bed.  On Sunday, Will’s landlords – Rose and Peter – offered to take Travis and me out for Dim Sum brunch.  Haven’t had Dim Sum in forever, so that will be a great meal before this trip goes further north.