Sunday, August 6 – Our final full day in Vancouver. This was the most discussed day in planning the trip, as we had to debate several locations to squeeze in. Would we use the whole day to go to and from Victoria, seeing its beautiful gardens for a couple hours? Would we head over the Vancouver Island to enjoy what it had to offer? Should we make the drive up to Whistler to see what it looks like in the summertime? In the end, we decided we would travel to nearby Grouse Mountain, where on the way we could stop and cross the Capilano Suspension Bridge, an incredible 459 feet long.
There was just one problem, we assumed, with this plan. I’ve yet to mention that upon our arrival in Vancouver, we were met with news of massive forest fires a couple ours north. The fires had created a haze over the city that made the mountains across the quay, and even North Vancouver’s highrises, difficult to see with crisp clarity from our hotel room. In the days that preceded Sunday, Erin and I sort of convinced ourselves that it would be too hazy up at Grouse Mountain and the surrounding areas to enjoy nice views, or perhaps ingest some bad air. Instead, we opted for the lower altitude mountain area of Lynn Canyon National Park, which our hotel staff recommended. It, too, had a suspension bridge, which felt dangerous and exciting to cross, albeit at a more modest 157 feet. To get to Lynn Canyon, we were to take a Water Bus across the key to North Vancouver, and bus from there. Thinking we were in store for an expensive ferry ride, we were pleasantly surprised to learn that the “Water Bus” came with the same bus rates as Vancouver’s metro buses. We used the same “Compass” card (like L.A.’s “Tap” card) we had used on the Sky Train.
Landing in pleasant, similar looking North Vancouver, we decided we would stop by for lunch before heading back for the Vancouver Pride Parade. As it so happened, the weekend we chose for our trip happened to correspond to Vancouver Pride weekend, a cause we naturally wanted to support.
Up to Lynn Canyon we went. It was truly beautiful. The area is considered a “young forest” given the heavy amount of logging that took place there 100-125 years ago. This made sense as soon as I took a closer look at the trees, for which many were certainly 100 feet tall, but most looked “skinny” by traditional “forest standards” the average person probably pictures in their mind. We were joined on this walk across the bridge and through the woods by dozens of families, and culminated in discovering the nearby pools filled by area waterfalls. On our way out, we visited the Nature Center and learned about a variety of taxidermic local birds and animals, as well as indigenous plants and trees.
Ok, we were running a little behind, but if we can get a quick lunch in North Vancouver, we can make it back for most of the Pride Parade downtown. We were told it started at 1:00. We lunched at a really nice place that we took as a small, British Columbia-specific chain restaurant. The food was great and the people were nice, but this kind of nice meant REALLY…SLOW…SERVICE. Nevertheless, we were back on the Water Bus for our 15 minute ride back to the Harborfront by about 1:30. A 20 minute walk from there, we would be at the heart of the parade!
Well, there sure were a ton of rainbow clad folks on the closed off streets when we arrived, but apparently, the parade started at NOON, and had ended just before our arrival. So while we did march up and down the street with celebrants, we missed the official parade that we took so much “pride” in supporting. A light pall of guilt washed over us, but we were pretty wiped from our hikes, and decided to rest back at the hotel and rally for activity later.
That evening, we finally hit the Yaletown area so rich in restaurants and other culture. And wouldn’t you know it, it was filled the folks that had earlier been marching, so we felt as though we were still among the crowd celebrating Vancouver Pride. We thoroughly enjoyed a nice meal at “Earls,” a very cool Yaletown bistro. One couple we met, Steve and David, say they hit Earls after the pride parade every year as a tradition. So we knew we were in a legitimate Pride stop! They were waiting for their table, as were we, and actually had friends in town from our own Long Beach, CA for Pride Weekend.
We returned home to tidy and pack up a bit, sad to be leaving Vancouver the next morning (which, it turns out, was “British Columbia Day,” a provincial holiday), but feeling incredibly fulfilled by the enjoyable experiences we had in this wonderful, cosmopolitan (suck it, Steven Miller) city.