Well… This entry is a bit belated, given that I’m posting it after I’ve already been in the Cook Islands for 5 days, but nonetheless, the remainder of my stay in Vancouver clearly needs documenting.
When we last “spoke” as I recall, Juliana and I had just returned home on a Wednesday night from seeing the Corb Lund Band at the Railway Club. So. On to a pleasant, if physically taxing Thursday.
(Still Not Many Photos… Genius that I am, I deleted most of the Vancouver photos [Juliana still has them on her computer and is going to burn a CD, so they're not lost for good.])
I woke up at a reasonable hour (for once) and decided to leave Juliana alone for a bit (she’d already explained that, as much as her vacation was meant to allow her to spend time with me, there were at least a couple of other things that needed doing.)
Thus I made my preparations to head out to Grouse Mountain (a ski resort north of the city, and one of the higher peaks nearby.)
It was a very long ride on transit to the base of the mountain, one that included trolley buses, ordinary buses, as well as a “Seabus” a regularly scheduled passenger ferry that comes every 1/2 hour and crosses from downtown to North Vancouver.
Once at the mountain, I poked around a bit and found the trailhead for The Grouse Grind, a 3km trail that has close to a 1000m vertical and leads up to the top of the mountain. I was very entertained by the profusion of warning signs, telling people to climb at their own risk, bring adequate water, consider their level of fitness before climbing and on and on and on. These signs appeared not only at the start, but also along the path on the way up.
With all this in mind (though not deeply in mind… I’ve been on MUCH harder walks than this) I started out. The trail winds through some beautiful forest, and occaisionally allows for a nice view of the city through the trees as well. There were many others doing the climb as well, ranging from families with children, on up to individuals who were clearly going purely for speed (there are punch clocks at the top and bottom where you can insert an individualized “key” and have your “Grind times” recorded.
In the end, I enjoyed the walk, but perhaps I was a bit too focussed on proving to myself that I was in good shape for my upcoming (much longer) treks in New Zealand and Australia. I made the climb in 61 minutes, comfortably below the 90-120 that the trail guide suggested as normal.
The top of the mountain afforded a great panorama of Vancouver, and also hosted a lumberjack show, many huge woodcarvings, and a nature trail through the forest.
After spending an hour or two at the top of the mountain, I was ready to head down. I’d originally planned on walking down, but eventually decided to take the cable car, since it was getting late and I’d already planned to make dinner for Juliana and Alex that night.
The next day, Friday was an overall lazy one. I spent the morning/early afternoon around the house with Juliana finally leaving for about 2 hours to do laundry. Upon my return, Juliana and I began to prepare for the small party she’d planned (partially in my honour) that night at her house.
All went well at the party that night, and a good time was had by all, including pretty much every person I know who currently lives in Vancouver. I don’t know if it’s a testament to the goodness of the party, or just that I’m writing this a week later, but I can’t seem to come up with any good stories about it…
(I absolutely love the ellipsis. My favourite piece of punctuation without question, even if I my use of it isn’t always strictly correct.)
On to Saturday. The late morning and afternoon of Saturday was spent at Wreck Beach, this time with not only Juliana and Alex but a huge crew of other people including Dan Furst, Alexei, Alexei’s girlfriend (apologies, your name escapes me at the moment), as well as Meghan and Graham, two friends of Juliana’s from Toronto who I’m also acquainted with.
It was another gorgeous day at Wreck Beach, made somewhat more interesting (if not more fun) by one of the regular police inspections. There’s something a bit incongruous about four fully clothed police officers (bulletproof vests and all) walking along a beautiful sandy beach through a sea of (mostly) topless and nude sunbathers and swimmers. (me swimming at Wreck Beach)
After a bit more frisbee playing, swimming and lounging in the sun, it was time for me to depart the beach in order to meet up with Cindy, Nick and Steve (see A Visit to Montreal,) friends of mine from Montreal who also just happened to be in Vancouver at this time.
We had dinner at an all-you-can-eat sushi and Korean barbeque restaurant, and all left stuffed full of food. This left us in a position to do nothing any more active than to spend the rest of the evening sitting around on a (different) beach with the Montreal crowd and some friends of theirs from Vancouver. We lounged around on the beach until late into the night, talking, joking and just generally soaking up the last bits of the Vancouver atmosphere we could on this, our final evening in the city.
Eventually we decamped from our original beach spot and headed downtown to get nearer to the Montreal group’s hostel and to grab some late night food. After our feeding was completed we headed to (yet another) beach to sit around for a few more hours and say our goodbyes. As it turned out, we discovered that our flights were at similar times, and decided to head to the airport later that morning (not much later though. It was, by this time, about 3:30, and we had to leave at 9:00.)
I ended the evening with a walk home to Kitsilano with one of my friends of a friend, Courtney, who also lives there, and who entertained me with her conversation and pleasant company, and who amazed me by her ability to make the long walk in terribly uncomfortable looking shoes with half the sand in Vancouver in them.
Upon arriving back at Alex and Juliana’s I discovered I’d failed a bit in my planning. It was now approaching 5:00am, and my hosts were long asleep. I had the choice of being a thoroughly ungracious guest and waking them up at this ungodly hour, or of finding somewhere comfortable to sleep on my own. I opted for the latter, and after a quick refill of my water bottle, made myself a comfortable bed on the back porch. (In retrospect I should have known that they wouldn’t have minded being woken. These were, as I’ve mentioned earlier, another in the streak of spectacularly kind and understanding hosts that I’ve experienced on my trip thus far.)
I was awakened around 7:00 or so by Alex opening up the back door and inviting me in. After a short nap in somewhat more comfortable surroundings, I woke up and started to pack. 9:00 came FAR too soon, and I was barely able to get everything ready by the time my companions for the airport trip arrived. I felt rather guilty about not giving Alex and Juliana a better, longer goodbye, but I was keeping my ride waiting, and so after a couple of quick hugs, handshakes etc., ran out the door.
We arrived at the airport with little time to spare for Cindy, Nick and Steve to catch their Montreal flight, especially with Steve wanting to include a 2 metre long birch walking stick he’d picked up while hiking on Vancouver Island as part of his checked luggage. Thankfully they did make their flight, leaving me to check in for mine and get to the departure gate with time leftover (enough time, in fact, for me to spend the last of my Canadian money on a ridiculously expensive airport lunch. Normally I can’t bear to pay airport prices for things, but since I wouldn’t be needing my Canadian cash again soon, it didn’t sting quite so much this time.)
So. With a full belly, and very fond memories of North America in my head, I was ready for the next big step of my journey… A 20 odd hour trek (including a 5+ hour a stopover in Los Angeles) to the Cook Islands.
I’ll write again soon from the Cooks, with the story of my first week (or so) here. Until then, I’d just like to thank Juliana and Alex once more for being such super hosts (rave reviews to both of them. Rave Reviews!) and to thank all of you once more for reading.
Tags: North America