We didn't have all that much time in the Vancouver area during our vacation. The first few days were filled with wedding-related activities and at the end we were quite tired. So we didn't end up doing a lot of really touristy-type things... but we did manage to see some of the more natural area attractions.
The first one we saw was Capilano Park, and we actually went there on the morning of the wedding as a way of relaxing. There's a famous suspension bridge there that is the tallest and longest of its kind for some area. The park also has a Treetop adventure thing where you can walk on raised boardwalks among the trees, and there are more regular paths as well. We'd thought that the park would be a lot bigger, given that the bridge was so long, but it turned out not to be all that big at all.
We did enjoy seeing everything that was there, but we would've liked to have paid less. Non-BC residents pay $30/entry while BC residents pay $20.10/year. It was still busy even with the high cost, I guess because it's a tourist attraction. I was much better at swinging the bridge than the kids were; I figured out right away that all you have to do to swing it is make sure that you place your foot just to the outside of where your hip is (ie, take wide steps). The bridge will start a-swinging. I didn't do that for too long, of course, because they don't like it when you do that.
When we got back to Vancouver, the first place we visited was Lighthouse Park in West Vancouver. It was pretty, with a working lighthouse and many paths. We wandered around there with Ian's parents, looking at things and trying to stay shady - it was hot that day. After we'd seen Lighthouse Park, we decided to drive down Marine Dr to nearby Ambleside Park. It was also pretty; we walked around there for a bit, looking at trees and stuff. It was quite relaxing.
The next day we went to Stanley Park. It's a very big park and there's no way a person could see the whole thing in one day, so we didn't even try. We chose to drive there with Ian's parents since there were a lot of us, and our GPS (we bought one for the trip and it was very, very useful) took us the most direct way, right through the Downtown Eastside. It's not a good area by any means but it seemed to have been cleaned up a bit since I was there over 20 years ago. I heard that they were giving homeless people one-way tickets to Edmonton or Calgary, and if that's true, that will have contributed to the lack badness that I saw. They've clearly also tried to clean up that area in time for the 2010 Olympics.
We did make it to Stanley Park and parked next to the lighthouse there. While we were there, some guy was filming some other guy photographing a topless model. Lots of people stopped to watch. We went for a little walk around that area, getting good pictures of the Girl in a Wetsuit sculpture, and then decided to park nearer another part of the park to see the hollow tree and Siwash rock.
The paper map of Stanley Park showed parking by the hollow tree, but the map lied. The 4-car parking lot used to go right to the foot of the tree but is closed off. You see, the hollow tree is a very large, dead, hollow stump. And it's falling down, as dead, hollow tree stumps are apt to do. But there are people who think that the hollow tree should be restored - even though it is not at all possible to completely restore a large, dead, hollow stump that's falling over. They want to put up all sorts of infrastructure things that they claim people won't notice. They've posted 10 "reasons" why they think the tree should be saved; among those reasons is that people saw it before and want to see it now.
Honestly, I can't believe that anyone would think that it would be a good idea to restore the damn thing. If they fix it, it won't be THE hollow tree anymore, will it? How is the "restored" tree better than, say, a replica? Or a plaque with a lovely picture? I also have trouble believing that anyone has actually given them money to do this! I just don't understand people. What a waste of money!
If you can't tell, I'm very strongly against restoring the hollow tree (I think it's a stupid idea, really, in case that didn't come across). I ranted about this when we were there, too. Now that I think about it, my friend had died the day before... so it is possible that I was relating the preservation of something clearly dead to my newly-dead and already-missed friend. Once people are gone, they're gone, and nothing can bring them back. Nothing lasts forever. Why waste money on a tree?
After that we decided to go down and see Siwash rock. There's no easy trail to get there and we weren't sure which way to go so we ended up backtracking. But it was definitely something to see. It's a very cool flowerpot-type island (well, that's what I call them, anyways - I'm not entirely sure that's what the proper name is).
It turned out that we were near Third Beach so I went and dipped my toes into the water. I tried to dip my toes in different bodies of water as much as I could, but the water was often too cold for me to want to keep doing it. That day was so warm that the cool water felt nice on my feet.
After getting back to the hotel and having a bath and a nap, we had dinner with a friend/former roommate of ours from university. He's doing well - he and his girlfriend have just got a car and are planning a trip. he's also looking for a house, like we hope to be doing (I guess they're at that age?). He's much the same person as he's always been and it was good to catch up with him. He's about the only person that I know, aside from Ian, who would think that saying only "braaaiiinsss" to a child - until they start walking - would be funny. Imagine a little toddler, toddling unsteadily about and saying "braaaiiins! braaaiiins!" :) Most people think that would be ... not funny. Maybe even the opposite of funny.
Moving on... the next day was our last day there and so we didn't want to do too much. We decided to go to Lynn Canyon Park, which is just like Capilano Park except that it's free. And the bridge and trails are different, with less structure. We had a lovely stroll through the trails there.
When we got to the water, we overhead one of the park people talking about the news the night before. These days were the start of a heat wave in Vancouver and the news recommended that people cool off in the water; I think it also showed someone jumping into the water at Lynn Canyon. The park person was very upset that they would show such a thing, because three people had died this year already jumping into the canyon. I know it's a silly thing to do, but I guess there are people out there who wouldn't think twice about jumping into a canyon from above.
After wandering around Lynn Canyon for a while, we headed for Deer Lake park in Burnaby. The wedding had been held here and we'd wanted to see more of it. They have a working carousel from the 1920s there, which looked interesting, but you had to pay to get in and there were already schoolkids in there. So we nixed that idea and just walked a trail around the park and the lake there. On the way, we saw some eco-sculptures, which are sculptures made of plants on a form. There are something like four sites in Burnaby but we only saw these ones. I'd have liked to have seen the rest.
By the time we finished the walk around Deer Lake, it was hot and we were done... so we went back and had a rest. That evening Ian's brother and his new wife served us a very yummy dinner and we left the next day.
Have you seen those Air Canada commercials where the people are tracing things in the air? And it turns out that they're tracing a pod-thingy on a plane? We flew home on a plane that had them; we were on a 777, which turned out to be a pretty big plane. The jet engines under the wing are ginormous!
The plane had those pod things in first class and rows of 3-3-3 regular seats in economy. The pods looked like they might have a little bit less leg room, and they are definitely designed for single travelers - it would be hard to talk to your neighbour in one of those. Which is a good thing, maybe :)
I think the seats in economy were slightly wider than in other planes but there was less legroom. Instead of having the lifevest right under the entire seat, leaving space under every seat, the lifevest was under the entire front half of every seat. So you couldn't fit nearly as much stuff under the seat as normal, since you only had half as much space there, and you couldn't hook your toes on the steel bar under your seat and sit that way, because the lifevest was vertical and flush with the front of the seat. There is a whole lot more overhead storage to compensate for the lack of underseat storage, but I would've liked a bit more leg room. And I'm short!
And that was the end of our vacation. Overall, the trip was amazing and I'm so glad that we took the time to see everything that we did. I wish I'd been up to seeing more but looking back, we saw plenty! I would very much like to see Stanley Park again, and to walk the seawall around its perimeter, and I'd like to see Burnaby mountain and maybe Grouse mountain as well. And while I'm kind of glad that I didn't do a lot of shopping, I would've liked to have seen some interesting stores in our travels. Next time.
I did get through the pictures and the ones from the Vancouver area are here. There are some updates to the plants and animals here as well. Thanks for your compliments on these pictures! I can't take all the credit for them, though, because Ian took most of them and I just chose and cropped them. I am glad that you enjoy them.