Travel Date: Friday, May 13th, 2016:
After saying goodbye to my dear friend Janet, I boarded the plane at Comox Airport heading to Vancouver.
20160513_171232
Goodbye, Vancouver Island!
20160513_172729
 The views of the ocean and landscape were a beautiful distraction during the short flight.
20160513_172838
As we reach the mainland, we hover over the city of Vancouver and Richmond.
20160513_174910
We fly by the surrounding neighborhoods around Vancouver. I think that is the Burnaby or Metrotown area, but I’m not 100% sure.
20160513_175056

We circle around.  Soon we will land at the Vancouver Airport with a picturesque backdrop of the mountains and the skyscrapers.

20160513_175257

Hello Vancouver. It is great to see you again.

20160513_181914

My high school friend and classmate Gavin lives in Vancouver. The last time I saw him was in Dubai, just before he and his family were leaving to immigrate to Canada.

In the interim, we barely kept in touch. Through facebook, we were able to reconnect and see each other. He picked me up from the airport, and we picked up right where we left off after “21” years. There is so much of living between us to catch up on.

20160513_183127
We drop off his son at his parent’s house, and drive across the various neighborhoods of Vancouver.
20160513_184012
20160513_191037
20160513_194010
We decide to catch the sunset at Grouse Mountain; also known as the “Peak of Vancouver”. It is north of the city of Vancouver, and overlooks the Greater Vancouver area.
20160513_194809
We arrive, and park near the entrance.
20160513_195420
20160513_195533
Access to the top of Grouse Mountain is serviced by a Swiss Garaventa aerial tramway. Like all good touristy places, there is a fee to use it. Optionally, you could walk or run up the Grouse Grind hiking trail, also known as “Mother Nature’s Stairmaster.”
20160513_195624
Fortunately, Gavin purchases us two tramway tickets.
20160513_195745
We hop onboard for the ride.
20160513_195727
I am immediately reminded of the Mount Roberts tramway experience in Juneau, Alaska. Ironically, the guide indicated that this tramway was indeed similar to the one at Mount Roberts.
20160513_200440
As we rise, the landscape of the Greater Vancouver area changes.
20160513_200243
20160513_200432
20160513_200709
And on the other side of the tram, I am again reminded of Alaska.
20160513_200239
20160513_200659
We get off on Peak Chalet, and walk towards the observatory.
screenshot_20160513-205105
20160513_201013
Unfortunately, I did not realize The Observatory is a five-star restaurant, and requires reservations. Whoops! Fortunately, there less expensive to free options around.
20160513_201103
Gavin and I walk around reviewing the various landscapes, and trying to find a good vista point to sit down at.
20160513_201254
20160513_201228
We head inside Lupins, and grab some relatively inexpensive casual dinner.
20160513_202938
20160513_202900
Out the Lupins restaurant area, there are a lot of seats both indoors and outdoors. Many of the outdoor seats by the edge were occupied. Our timing couldn’t have been better. The weather was getting colder minute by minute, and some of the patrons headed indoors. And then, we found a good spot.
20160513_210017
We observe the changing vistas of Greater Vancouver area. Notice the lights of the city slowly coming to life.
20160513_203948
20160513_205448
20160513_210202
20160513_210522
Clouds, clouds, and more clouds.
20160513_203935
20160513_204739
20160513_210133
I managed to capture some panoramic perspectives.
20160513_203523
20160513_210429
We decide to leave just after sunset, and while there is enough light. Goodbye Grouse Mountain.
20160513_210752
20160513_210831
We head towards the tram “Skyride” entrance.
20160513_210934
There is a long but quickly moving line of people.
20160513_210955
We get on board the tram, and begin our descent.
20160513_211145
Between the time we leave the vista point and head to the tram, the city lights come alive and nightfall hits.
20160513_212055_001
20160513_212215_001
20160513_212358
We get back to the car, and drive for a bit towards Cypress Mountain via Cypress Bowl Road. We talk about my interested in running and his interest in cycling. Gavin shares his personal story of unexpectedly losing his wife to cancer, raising their new born, and his goal of cycling from Vancouver, British Columbia to Seattle, Washington for charity: The Ride to Conquer Cancer.
screenshot_20160513-221654
We stop at a vista point, and park the car.
20160513_221755
And gaze at the Great Vancouver area from the west side of Vancouver.
20160513_221134
Time to head back home!
20160513_222056
We drive back to his parents house. I will stay the night there, sleep for a few hours, before waking up early for a 6 AM flight back to Richmond, Virginia.
20160513_224913
Reflections:
So many moments and things to appreciate today:
  • Childhood friendships that continue to grow despite long lapses of time and distance.
  • Time spent reconnecting with Gavin, his son, and his parents.
  • The various views of Vancouver from different perspectives and with different lighting
  • Tram tickets and dinner.
  • A comfortable bed, warm water, and shelter: place to stay. Every time I travel, and I am a guest, I am reminded of the blessings and gifts given by others to me.

Thank you Gavin and family. It was a wonderful experience. I cannot wait to come back again for a future visit … during the summer 🙂

Expenses: $0.00