Maybe it’s the incredible weather, or maybe it’s that we’ve only been here a couple of weeks, but it still feels to me like we are on vacation.
Every time we run in the morning, I can’t wait to get to each cross road so I can try to glimpse the Sound and Olympic Mountains. Each time I drive to the store I am awestruck by the towering Cascade Mountains and the occasional clear shot of the snow-covered and gigantic Mt. Rainier. This part of the Pacific Northwest is absolutely beautiful.
Despite all we have to see and do in our new backyard, we are trying not to plan too much in advance. Instead, we just see what we feel like doing when we wake up on the weekend. This Friday I got an itch to see some of Vancouver, and since the weather called for mid-70s and sun, we decided to make the two-hour drive to British Columbia for a day-trip.
Things to Do in Vancouver
My quick Google search resulted in hundreds of things to do in Vancouver–clearly you could spend weeks or months exploring– so I tried to just pick a few that were a ways from town since we had the car. I have a feeling we may take the ferry to Victoria and Vancouver at a later date so I thought we should reserve the downtown activities within walking distance of the port for another time.
It took a while at the border crossing, but once we were through we buzzed right to Grouse Mountain, which is north of Vancouver. The mountain is open year-round with things to do every season. We bought tickets for the Skyride, which is a large enclosed gondola that zips up some cables to the main attractions on the mountaintop, as well as the Peak Chairlift, which is a large ski lift that takes passengers to the very top.
We managed to time the Skyride just right and there were only about a dozen of us on the ride up. It only takes five minutes to get to the top, and the ride is breathtaking– you soar over the trees and up the mountain, taking in incredible views of Vancouver and the Salish Sea.
At the top is a mini resort– restaurants, shops, attractions, shows and more. We weren’t as interested in the tourist activities as we were in just walking around and looking out over the scenery below.
However, the wildlife refuge was the exception. There are acres of protected land for some of the animals they have rescued, including Grinder and Coola, two huge grizzly bears who were nearly lost as cubs.
They certainly recognize the voice of their caretakers– as one began talking about how they found and rescued each bear, the bears came lumbering out of the woods and started putting on a little show where we could see them!
I could watch them for hours– they are so big and powerful, and yet so playful.
Here are some of my favorite moments:
I can understand why people approach them when you watch them eating and hanging out– their noses have a life of their own, and they are pretty sociable together. I can also understand why people get killed approaching them– their claws are gigantic and on their hind legs, they are seven to eight feet tall!
After taking a few photos and just watching them for a while, we hopped on the ski lift for our ride to the peak.
I think I’m developing a small fear of heights as I get older.
I still love roller coasters, but just hanging out in the sky without much holding me to the seat bothers me more than it used to when I was younger.
Despite my nerves I sucked it up and held on for dear life during our ride to the top. I even managed a one-handed photo of my husband, who couldn’t care less about dangling in the air with a small, unlocked bar serving as the only thing between him and the forest floor 100 feet below.
I thought I was ok until we came to a stop. As much as I didn’t like moving through the air, I really didn’t care for just swaying in the air.
Unlike an actual ski lift, people were coming back down right next to us, and the poor guy across from us didn’t like stopping either. He started rubbing his stomach and asked us what was going on. We couldn’t see anything so we didn’t really know. He had a thick Indian accent and continued rubbing his belly.
“This is not good for me,” he said. “Me either!” I shouted, just as we started to move again.
I managed to keep it together the rest of the way to the top. We will keep my fearful muttering between me, my husband and our lift. (Note: The ride down was much better– probably because I didn’t die on the way up.)
And, the view was totally worth it.
There were several things to do from the peak, including riding up to the viewing deck of the windmill, zip lining across the gorges and tackling the ski slopes in the winter. We took pictures before riding all the way back down so we could grab our car and move on to our other Vancouver adventures.
Here are a few more photos from our time on Grouse Mountain: