A relatively short drive and very quick border crossing took us from Woodinville, WA to North Vancouver, BC where we stayed with more good friends, Tim, Lisa and their delightful 5-yr daughter, Isabella. They have a lovely home situated within walking distance to so many beautiful places. Our first afternoon, we walked through their nearest forest park where Isabella introduced us to her secret Fairy Garden, the evening was spent as with previous friends, catching up.
The next day we headed out to Grouse Mountain where I had one of the best experiences of my life. Grouse is a local ski resort that also has a wildlife sanctuary housing 2 Grizzly bears, Grinder and Coola. They had just woken up from their hibernation and were in a smaller enclosure while their larger one was being prepared. You all know how much I love bears and my joy at being within 6 feet of these magnificent creatures was almost overwhelming. My smile never left my face and I pretty much had tears in my eyes the whole time. What a way to start our wildlife experience being that close to these beauties, when normally we would never want to be that close to one in the wild. It was just the most amazing experience, the memory of which I’ll treasure the rest of my life.
They were orphans found by loggers in two different areas of British Columbia about 20 years ago. They were very fortunate that Grouse Mountain agreed to create a sanctuary for them, otherwise they would have been euthanized. Once their normal enclosure has the snow bulldozed out of it and the fence put back up, they have about 5 and half acres to roam in and are kept as wild as possible. Their food supply is augmented, but they never see humans putting the food in the enclosure. Their extra food is also dependent upon what’s happening naturally in the area. A good salmon season means lots of salmon for them, a bad salmon season means little or no salmon for them, just as it would be if they lived in the wild. Besides all the people looking at them through their fence, they have no human contact, they do get veterinary care, but are always tranquilized before the vet goes into the enclosure. I’ve only added one of my many videos to this blog as dealing with their size is cumbersome with limited internet access. I’m planning on making a special webpage for them once we get back home and will post the link in this blog.
Our day continued with a nice walk to the Lynn Canyon Suspension bridge and then along the Lynn Creek for a bit. Waterfalls, cascades and a lively bubbling creek set within another fascinating rain forest and all within a 20-minute walk from Tim and Lisa’s house, this is what it means to have the great outdoors in your own backyard!
The following day was a washout with lots of rain, so we did some catchup on a few of life’s tasks and started planning out our next few stops. We had originally planned on spending 3 nights, but the forecast for our next stop (Whistler) was for cold, rain and snow, so we took our gracious hosts up on their invitation to stay a couple more days. Isabella was so pleased that she’d have more Lola time and I’m pretty sure the feeling was mutual.
The next day Tim took us to one of their favorite areas within Stanley Park. We walked along the shoreline taking in the coastal views Vancouver is so famous for. We then took a cutover trail through the rain forest which brought us out near the Rhododendron Garden, which was in full bloom and just lovely. Much to Conrad’s delight the garden was also right next to the Brew Pub, so of course we had to have a beer and a bite to eat. Our final stop on the Stanley Park tour was to walk out to Vancouver hottest new tourist attraction, a grounded barge that has had way more than it’s 15 minutes of fame, thanks to social media. And no, it did not belong to the Evergreen shipping company.
On our final day we went to a Trade Fair, which had booths and exhibits from all sorts of safety and rescue related organizations. Conrad and I scored some styling Bear Safety hats and Isabella got to get up close and personal with an ATV. It was nice to see this type of fair being geared completely towards children.
From the Trade Fair, we headed over to the Cleveland Dam and took a nice hike from the Capilano River bed to the top of the dam where we enjoyed a lovely view of the Lions, a pair of pointed peaks in the North Shore mountains. We capped the day off with Conrad’s delicious spaghetti bolognaise and a somewhat late final night with a few beers and lots of laughs.
Thanks again to our wonderful hostess and host, there is nothing quite so special as spending time with good friends with the extra bonus of all the tour-guiding.