A Weekend in the Mountains

We woke up early on Monday, rented a car, and set off for Whistler Mountain. Whistler is a ski resort, about 75 miles from Vancouver, where many of the Olympic events will be held in 2010. It is just as fun a destination in the summer, where there are all kinds of activities to do – hiking, ziplining, rafting, you name it. There are also a few ways to get to Whistler – you can take a train, you can take a sea-plane. We opted to drive so that we could keep our own schedule.

The drive up was beautiful – there was a bit of construction as the freeway is being widened in preparation for the Olympics, but it didn’t distract from the scenery. We passed a few waterfalls on the way up and made a mental note to stop and see them on the way back.

We arrived in Whistler Village, the main resort area, at lunch time, so we stopped at one of the cute restaurants with an outdoor patio for some food. 

The first thing that struck me about Whistler was all the mountain bikers! The mountain is an amazing bike course in the summer, and there were just hundreds of young people with helmets and kneepads on, with bikes in tow, wandering around the town. 

After lunch we went and bought tickets for the gondola, which would take us up the mountain. These were small gondolas, almost like enclosed chair lifts, – so we had one to ourselves. It was a 25 minute ride up to 6000 feet. We could see all the bikers below, and then as we started to get higher and higher, the scenery became more and more breathtaking.

Riding the gondola up Whistler Mountain

Riding the gondola up Whistler Mountain

At 6000 feet, you depart the gondola, and can either hike around at that level, or take a chair lift up to the peak which is 7000 feet. We wanted to take the chair lift up so badly, but at that height, the mountain is just covered in snow. We were both in shorts, and doing the chair lift we just might freeze our asses off, so we decided against it. Instead we hiked around for about two hours – it was absolutely beautiful up there. 

We headed back down the mountain on the gondola after a good hike, and stopped for a gelato. Then we wandered around all the shops for a while before getting back into the car and heading back towards Vancouver.

On the way home, we stopped at two waterfalls – Brandywine Falls and Shannon Falls – both were incredibly spectacular. We also pulled off the road to a vista point and took some photos. It was such a beautiful area.

Taking photos

Taking photos

Train tracks

Train tracks

Shannon Falls

Shannon Falls

Watching the sun go down over Whistler

Watching the sun go down over Whistler

The next day we drove over to Lynn Canyon Park, which is in North Vancouver, with the hopes of braving their suspension bridge and then doing some hiking. Unfortunately their suspension bridge was closed, though, so we decided to drive over to Capilano to their suspension bridge and park.

The bridge actually looks scarier when you are looking at it from afar than it is when you are walking on it, although it does move quite a bit. On the other side of the bridge, we walked around the forest and went through some smaller suspension bridges which connected a number of the tree tops. It was fun and I can now say that I have crossed this:

Capilano Suspension Bridge - 250 feet high, 450 feet long

Capilano Suspension Bridge - 250 feet high, 450 feet long

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On Wednesday we went back to Granville Island to check out all the shops and galleries that are there, and then yesterday I had a lovely spa day, and a rare night off work, which I used to relax – I went back to the Whip for dinner and then watched a movie. Today is all about packing up trunks, as our time in Vancouver is coming to an end. On Monday we fly to Edmonton.

It has been such an amazing month. Not only was it a much needed break from all the travel, but it was a fantastic city to get to know, and being able to take advantage of all the outdoor activities the city and the surrounding areas have to offer, was the perfect summer break. I definitely recommend coming here if you are ever looking for a good vacation spot! 

That’s all for now – see you in Edmonton!

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Keeping Busy in Vancouver

There is so much to do in Vancouver. It really is a great city – it reminds me a lot of Seattle. The parks are beautiful, the surrounding mountains are gorgeous, the water surrounding the city makes for a lot of on-the-water activities, and also keeps the city compact. The neighborhoods are different and eclectic and interesting, and there is no shortage of restaurants or shopping. Needless to say, I am having a great time exploring Vancouver and taking advantage of all it has to offer.

After returning from California last Tuesday, the first line of business was to visit the Granville Market and pick up some food stuffs for the rest of the week. Granville Island is a small piece of land that juts out into Falls Creek, the body of water that separates the southern part of mainland Vancouver from downtown. Granville is not really an island, but it is surrounded by water on three sides, so I guess it sort of seems like an island when you are on it. You can take a little water taxi there from downtown, or access it by car or bike from the mainland side. There is a great public market there, like Pike Place Market in Seattle, where we stocked up on produce, salmon, bagels and all sorts of other goodies. The rest of the island is sort of an artists’ enclave. There are tons of studios and galleries and shops, which we didn’t really have time to explore, so that is on the agenda for next week.

On Thursday I had a completely girly day. I watched a chick flick in the morning, then went and got a pedicure and rode my bike up Main Street to visit a couple of yarn stores in the area. Then I made dinner for myself. Lovely!

On Friday Ryan and I finally had the opportunity to bike over to Stanley Park, which I had been looking forward to since we arrived. Stanley Park is a huge park on the northern tip of the downtown peninsula. It is surrounded by water on three sides and has gorgeous views all around it of the mountains and northern Vancouver. There are beaches on the western coast which are great places to watch the sunset. The park has a bike/walking path all around it called the Seawall, and also many interior trails. We biked all around the perimeter and then explored one of the interior trails. It was a gorgeous day. The park is truly one of the most magnificent things about Vancouver.

Northern coast of Stanley Park

Northern coast of Stanley Park

Totem poles

Totem poles

One of the beaches

One of the beaches

Lilypads on Beaver Lake

Lilypads on Beaver Lake

We found a sushi boat place for dinner on Friday – rounding out a great day!

Saturday and Sunday were the usual two-show days, nothing spectacular to report.

On Monday we got up early and rented a car, and drove south to the ferry station, where we boarded a ferry to Victoria. I’ve never driven a car onto a ferry before – that was pretty cool. It’s amazing how many vehicles those boats can carry, including tour buses and semi-trucks! We ran into Graham and Cara on the boat, on their way to do the same thing as us – visit Butchart Gardens and downtown Victoria. The ferry ride was beautiful – it took about an hour and a half, but just flew by. The scenery through the islands was spectacular, and just walking around the ferry was pretty neat too – it came complete with a cafeteria, lounge, gift shop, video arcade, and lots of different seating areas. There was also a wildlife presentation  given by a guide on one of the decks.

On the ferry

On the ferry

When we got to Victoria, we set off to Butchard Gardens, stopping briefly to eat a picnic lunch. The Gardens were amazing. They were originally the site of a limestone quarry and cement factory, but the wife of the guy who owned the factory gradually started beautifying the land. When the factory closed the gardens grew and eventually became a tourist destination. Besides walking around all the opulent gardens (there is an amazing sunken garden, as well as a rose garden, a japanese garden and many others), you can also get high tea at Butchart. 

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After visiting the gardens, we drove down to the southern part of Victoria where the downtown area is. We were a little underwhelmed by the actual town – I think we were both expecting it to be different than it was. I had read that it was a very English town, with lots of little shops and pubs. Instead we found it to be very touristy with lots of shops selling t-shirts and things, and not as historic and quaint as we had hoped. There were a few cool buildings though, including the parliament building and the Empress Hotel. We had dinner at a pub, and then headed back north to the ferry terminal.
The Empress Hotel

The Empress Hotel

Victoria Parliament Building

Victoria Parliament Building

We wanted to time out the return ferry ride with the sunset, and we did just that – the sun going down was amazing, and I got a lot of great pictures. As we were snapping shots, Ryan all of a sudden yelled, and I looked to see two pods of killer whales in the inlet we were sailing through – there were about twelve of them. It was crazy to see them out in the wild, and soon there was a big crowd watching them. I forgot all about snapping any photos until it was sort of too late, but I have a few of fins and tails sticking out of the water. It was a great end to the day.
Whale fins

Whale fins

Sunset from the ferry

Sunset from the ferry

On Tuesday we had plans to visit the Capilano Suspension Bridge, but decided that we needed just a resting day instead. We’ll try and get to the bridge next week. At work that night we had a visit from one of general managers from New York, who had a meeting with all of the company to talk to us about various things on the horizon – like our engagements in Alaska and California, the couple of lay-offs that we have coming up, and also the re-tech of the show in October with a new set that will be easier to travel. It was all very informative and nice to have the information that we have been speculating about for months out in the open. It was also reassuring to hear that the changes to the physical production of the show will not be as dramatic as rumor had made them out to be. Hopefully they will just make load-ins and load-outs easier on the crew, and will cut down the truck numbers.

Yesterday a large group of us from the show went to North Vancouver, to Deep Cove, to go kayaking. It was a beautiful place to be out on the water, and it was a wonderful day. Kayaking is hard work though! We were out for three hours, and getting back in against the wind took all our strength and stamina. There were a lot of pooped company members at the show last night!

Deep Cove

Deep Cove

Today we have understudy rehearsal, so I have a break from all the activities. I can’t believe we only have a little over a week left here! The time has flown by. There is so much more to do…I’ll have to see what I can do to cram it all into next week!

Happy Canada Day!

Our first full day off in Vancouver coincided with Canada Day. It was glorious! Here’s a peek at what I did…

A little knitting on the balcony in the morning.

Lunch (a portobello mushroom burger) at the Templeton on Granville.

Went to Canadian Place and saw a lot of people dressed like these two.

Went back to our super cute apartment and hung out on the balcony with Lu.

Then Ryan did some grilling.

We went back to Canadian Place that night for some fireworks.

On the way home, we stopped for a drink in Gastown.

Perfect Day!