Sunday, August 12, 2018

A Quick Eploration of the Vancouver Area

We left Pitt Meadows at about 6:00 AM this morning. Clouds covered the blue skies for the first time on this trip as we made our way back into the US. Linda was amazed at just how easy the border crossing was. She is always nervous as we cross through into a different country or return from an adventure outside the states. I always get her little speech about only answering the questions asked; don’t tell the border guard your life story. Look them in the eye and don’t giggle. Like I said, all went smoothly and we were cruising back along I-5 in our first wet mist in almost a month.
Smoke from the Silver Lake fire west of Spokane.

At Everett we retraced our original tracks turning east, driving back over Hwy 2. Through Index, WA and up over the Stevens Pass we had high clouds, but as we crossed the summit, the skies cleared and we drove on under cloudless skies. Leavenworth was gorgeous! The last time we visited this area was with our friends Jacquie and Grant, but the smoke from forest fires grayed the sky. Linda and I smiled thinking about the last visit with our friends, but it made us a bit sad that our visit up their way ended so soon.

Entering the Sea to Sky Gondola.
Five days ago we arrived at Jacquie and Grant’s place to explore an area of British Columbia in which we had never visited - Pitt Meadows, BC. Where is Pitt Meadows you say?  Let’s start just before you get to Blaine, WA. on I-5 going north.  We took the truck crossing route and crossed at the Pacific Border Crossing. It is much smaller than the Peace Arch crossing, but it was on the fastest route to our destination.

Climbing 3000 feet above the valley floor.
Pulling up to the border area we saw before us six access lanes filled eight to ten deep with cars and trucks waiting to face the border guard, answer their questions, and proceed into Canada.  Spinning the wheel, we chose lane #6 and settled in waiting our turn.  Bennett luck prevailed and we sat there watching every lane flush car after car into the Canadian highway system. Our lane moved at a snail’s pace. Fifteen cars entered Canada to one car from our lane, and each of the vehicles from our lane faced the border person for no less than ten minutes of questions and inspection.

Grins and giggle on the gondola.
As we neared the front of the line we realized why we were moving so slowly. We chose the one lane where they were training a new border guard, and she was taking her time and asking all the questions from the “Book of Crossing the Border Questions” that she could remember.  When we got up to the booth she asked a bazillion questions, most of which didn’t really seem to make any sense that we could understand. Questions like: “Where are you visiting? Have you been there before? How do you know these people? Do you walk to school or take your lunch?” etc., etc., etc. It went on forever, and then she handed our passports back and said “Ok.”
Suspension bridge at the gondola station.
Once across the border we hightailed it straight on Hwy 15 to Cloverdale, and took a right onto Hwy 10. From there we went on to Langley and turned left. North across the Golden Ears Bridge, through three traffic circles and then a final left turn and we arrived at Jacquie and Grant’s lovely home.

Once there we settled in and reconnected with our friends, ate dinner and played a few cutthroat games of Skip-Bo. Jacquie and Grant brought out the adventure schedule and we checked out all they had planned for our visit. Eager to begin, we agreed on a morning start time and went to bed.

Linda, Grant, and Jacquie enjoying the views.
Our first day of exploring led us through North Vancouver and up the Sea to Ski Highway to Squamish, or if you read First Nation Squamish, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh. (Yes, look it up.) We rode the Sea to Ski Gondola and at the top hiked around a few of the trails. The day was quite hot, even 3000 feet above the valley below. There were beautiful views everywhere! I took a million photos as we strolled along the trails.

The silty glacial waters entering the Howe Sound.
Back down on the valley floor we drove into Sḵwx̱wú7mesh and ate a wonderful lunch at the Shady Tree Pub. Our next hike was just off the highway on the way back toward Vancouver. We stopped at Shannon Falls and got more great pictures. I will tell you now that the photos do not do the falls justice. It was spectacular!

By this time we were finished sightseeing and we headed back home to Pitt Meadows. It was at this point that Linda and I started realizing that travel in and around the big city of Vancouver is an art in itself. Grant maneuvered through the traffic, predicting slowdown points, choosing lanes based on flow and marking arrival times from his vast database of past travel. To Grant, it was a game, or a challenge, to move smoothly from Pitt Meadows to, and return from, each of our destinations. We were amazed!

Back at home we made our next plans, ate and played Skip-Bo.

Leaving the house at about 9:00 AM gave us our best shot at a stop free journey to our next area of exploration, West End Vancouver or Stanley Park to be exact. I would explain Grant’s driving route, but we had a bit of a snafu and we flawlessly changed plans leading us into the Capilano neighborhood.

Climbing the granite rock faces of the area.
This is Grant’s hood! We traveled back into Northwest Vancouver to the Capilano River Regional Park. Our paths lead us past the house where Grant grew up and into the neighborhood where he spent his youth chasing around and getting into trouble. (Not really, it just sounded good.) We started by checking out the Cleveland Dam which holds back Lake Capilano the watershed for West Vancouver.

After the dam visit we drove down into the park and visited the fish hatchery where we saw quite a number of fish staging to spawn and give up their eggs. There were many paths and trails around this area and Grant lead us to a huge tree stump where he had spread his father’s ashes upon his passing. It was a beautiful and quiet spot, a place his father loved.

Shannon Falls.
Driving south we entered Stanley Park via the Lion’s Gate Bridge. Our first photo opportunity came at Prospect Point in Stanley Park. At this point you look out and see Lion’s Gate Bridge over the entry to Vancouver Harbor from Burrard Inlet. We traveled from Vancouver Harbor out under the bridge when we took our Alaskan Cruise on the Holland America ship Volendam. I grabbed a photo from our Alaska trip album to show the two iconic views together.

Photos just can't capture the beauty.
We parked at the Second Beach parking lot and then walked along the seawall by the English Bay Beach and the Sunset Beach Park. People-watching was at its best as we strolled down the concrete path. Artists and sun seekers lined the path. We stopped at some giant metal art figures. The theme of the art was basically having fun in life and the huge figures clearly created a fun mood.   A small ferry boat took us across False Creek to Granville Island Public Market. There we ate lunch and went shopping.

Lake Capilano in the foreground, Lions in the distance.
Our big purchase for the trip was a dish towel for the truck camper. Several stores had good sales going, but neither Linda or I found anything we had to have. We were a little disappointed because we figured that if an item was 30% off, we would be actually getting 60% off due to the currency exchange rate. Maybe we should have done more shopping.

Grant guided us back home and we picked up some take-out pizza for dinner.
Checking out the views.
Our final excursion was a short drive northeast of Pitt Meadows on Friday. Golden Ear Provincial Park is one of Grant and Jacquie’s favorite shoulder season get-aways. The campground is located on the shores of Lake Alouette and within a 35-minute drive from Pitt Meadows. We drove through the camping areas checking out the sites. After our tour, we parked in a lot north of the campgrounds and hiked up Gold Creek to the Lower Falls where we took some great photos of the waterfalls.

Looking down river from the fish hatchery.
Lunch was our next stop and we enjoyed a grand meal at a small pub that overlooked the Fraser. We loaded into our car and drove back to Kanaka Creek on the mighty Fraser River. There we took a quick walk to the Fraser so that we could tell anyone who asks that we have been to that muddy rivers bank.

We returned home and everyone found something quiet to do. I chose a nap, of course. We ate dinner and played our last games of Skip-Bo. Linda and I packed up the best we could and then we went to bed, sad that our visit was ending.

Heading up to spawn.
As I alluded to above, we left early, drove long and arrived home tired. The only thing that happened on the return trip occurred after we had driven through Wenatchee. I was cruising along the Hwy 28 immersed in our latest book on CD when Linda looked up and said, “Winchester? Wait, what happened to Quincy?” I said “Huh?” Linda said, “You lost Quincy! When did you go through Quincy? You were supposed to turn at Quincy!”  I said, “What?” “You lost Quincy! How did you miss our turn?”

Looking upriver from below the hatchery.
So we passed through Winchester and eventually came to the “Oasis in the Dessert” Moses Lake. There we connected with I-90 and made our way home. I guess we will never find Quincy. For that, I am a bit sad.
Our hosts, Grant and Jacquie.

Looking out at a sailboat regatta West Vancouver.

Lion's Gate Bridge from Stanley Park.
View from below taken in 2013. 
English Bay in Stanley Park.
Inukshuk, human-made stone sculpture.
Balancing stones near Inukshuk.
A-maze-ing Laughter, Morten Park sculptures.

Aquatic Centre Ferry Dock.
View from Granville Island Public Market.

Amazing spider web.
Can you see the Dragon head?
Lower Falls on Gold Creek.
Fraser River.


Bridget Hill said...

Dennis says he loved the spider web pic best - ha ha ha. What a great visit you had. Thanks for the great pics.

Dean Bennett said...

Yes, we always like to try and find something Dennis can appreciate. Very hot during our visit, how's island life? :-)

Bridget Hill said...

Temp is great. Smoke has drifted back in but mostly had been beautiful. We get pretty settled on this island. Love participating in island life here. Maybe next year you guys cAn wander this way :)). Love to you both.