8/30/2011

Answer Me These Questions Three

Yesterday dawned bright and early, with all of us sleeping til the late, late hour of 7 am. (Hey, we got to sleep til 10, finally...just in the wrong time zone.) When we were biking around Stanley Park, we saw several gaggles of Canadian Geese and I asked Tim, half-joking, half-serious if they were simply called geese here (as the Canadian seemed a bit redundant.) He commented then that it was probably also just called bacon, and what we call bacon was probably called American bacon. We had a little laugh and moved along. Then, we toddled down to breakfast and they had scrambled eggs and bacon in the chafing dish. I opened it up to get some and, lo and behold, their bacon was in fact Canadian bacon...simply labeled bacon. Aside from laughing to myself, I was rather disappointed, because eggs and ham is not really my style for breakfast. When I see bacon, I start thinking bacon (like *our* kind of bacon). So it was a bit of a let down. For the record, the doodle also does not like bacon in Vancouver...mostly because he also is not a big ham eater.

The view out the window as we ate let us see some of the beams for the stadium rising into the sky. There was a man doing some repair work on one of the beams way up high that I pointed out to the kiddo. He was thrilled and amazed and asked, "Why is he so small!?" I bit back the reply that he was an Oompa Loompa and instead explained distance and perspective a bit, but we chuckled about that for a good bit of the day.

After breakfast, we came back up, got ready (yes, we're that family that comes down to the hotel breakfast with bed head in clothes that have clearly just been thrown on in order to be presentable) and, after considering our options, decided to walk to the nearest pick up point for the free shuttle to the Capilano Suspension Bridge. It was only a 15 or so minute walk, and given that we had to wait 20 minutes for the hotel's free shuttle anywhere in downtown to take us to the sea bus (which would then take us to the bus terminal wherein the public bus would take us to the bridge) we figured it was a reasonable use of our time. Plus, as I mentioned yesterday, Vancouver is a nice city for walking.

We got to the Hyatt just as the shuttle turned the corner and zipped away. Missed it by that much. We wandered down to the stop anyway to see where we could wait (it being on a 15 minute schedule) and there was a young man (being all old and everything, I can now call people in their early 20s young people with a slight quiver to my voice) who worked for the Hop on Hop off buses who was able to sell us our admission to the bridge and call ahead to reserve us a spot on the next shuttle (which I guess just guarantees that it stops to pick us up). We wandered up to the Starbucks on the corner (yes, they're on every corner here, too) to buy some water to carry with and then made our way back to wait for the shuttle. I was actually pleased that we got the shuttle we did, because the one we missed was just a regular old bus. The one we rode was a trolley.

The drive to the bridge is about 30 minutes and it takes you through Stanley Park and then across the Lion's Gate Bridge. As you cross the bridge, you get this lovely view of Vancouver.

If you look closely, you can see Tim's reflection in there as well.

I expected the bridge to be in a wilderness type area on the side of the mountain far removed from civilization. It is, in fact, in the middle of a really pretty residential area (which probably costs a pretty penny to live in, but still) and not all that far from the city, so probably considered suburbia. Still, once you enter the gate, you'd never know you were anywhere other than the great outdoors.

As is my habit, I sat us down for a picture in front of the big sign saying where we were. Tim has perfected the art of holding the camera out and up and snapping reasonably good photos of us and the background, so we were all set to do this...and the camera wouldn't turn on. A quick look showed the happy little phrase "change battery pack" flashing across the bottom of the screen. Swear words I wasn't sure I remembered flickered through my mind because I had thought about charging the battery the night before but figured it was fine and so didn't. Tim was calm and said surely there was a gift shop that could sell us a disposable camera. I wanted to whine about how then we'd just have real pictures not digital ones and all the various annoyances this would cause, but instead I just stomped after him trying very hard not to sulk (which is tough when you're as mad at yourself as I was). Our old camera could also take AA batteries...not so this one. On the other hand, this one fits in a pocket and the old one did not. Still, Tim took the battery out to check that this was, for sure, the case (it was), we found the disposables, and then the camera started working just fine because apparently the battery just needed to be reseated. I bought a disposable anyway, just to guarantee that we wouldn't need it and we went back for our picture in front of the sign.

From there, you get a little tour of the history of the bridge that I would have enjoyed spending more time in, but, well, 3 year old. They do make it fun for kids in the wordy parts by giving you a passport map with six stamps that you have to find and collect. So we found the history stamp and then moved on to the little Totem area where they talk about the native culture a bit. I'm unclear how, exactly, this figures into the bridge, but everyone in Canada seems particularly proud of the native cultures and totems, in particular, so that's fine. The doodle loves the totems. Stamp acquired.

Next up is the bridge.




If it looks like it's long, narrow, and sways a lot, that's because that's all true. We strapped the doodle on my back in the Ergo (which I brought along for the sole purpose of this stop on our touring) and weeble wobbled our way across. It's absolutely breathtaking.



When you reach the other side, they have a little rain forest expedition with wooden trails and walkways that take you through and up and over and then they have a tree house that the Swiss Family Robinson would envy. They also have some birds of prey in aeries (and they have ranger talks, but we missed those). We spent about two hours on that side of the bridge.






We crossed back over the suspension bridge, this time the doodle wanted to walk. So we let him (holding mommy's hand while mommy tried very hard to shake the vision of the bridge flipping over from her mind. Why I had no problem with him on my back but very nearly hyperventilated while he was walking I have no idea.) Then we had lunch and made our way to the cliff walk.

The cliff walk is even better than what it sounds like. It's an 18" (or so, definitely less than 24" though) walkway that arcs out around the side of the mountain. You walk over seeing various gorgeous views, some of them straight down as several areas have glass bottoms for you to stand on. The doodle was in heaven.





After that, there is a fun walk through another rain forest-y area with a focus on water conservation (Canadians are very eco-conscious, you see that just about everywhere you look) and then we hit up the trading post and some ice cream before collecting our certificate (that you get for finding all the stamps on your passport) and making our way to the public bus up to Grouse Mountain (for the last half of the day.) I think, perhaps, I'll do that as a separate post - stay tuned.

3 comments:

Lynellen said...

If, by the phase "It's breathtaking", you actually mean hyperventilation from agraphobia-induced panic, then yes, i am sure it was quite lovely.

Rachel said...

I'm glad you guys are having fun! It sounds lovely except for the bit about heights!

Gwynne said...

Wow! I'm very impressed with 1) your motivation to do this whole trip using public transportation (WITH A 3 YEAR OLD), and 2) your ability to walk the Cliff Walk and the suspension bridge (WITH A 3 YEAR OLD)! You deserve major bonus points in the adventure travel category. :-0