Travel Date: Friday, May 13th, 2016:
After saying goodbye to my dear friend Janet, I boarded the plane at Comox Airport heading to Vancouver.
Goodbye, Vancouver Island!
The views of the ocean and landscape were a beautiful distraction during the short flight.
As we reach the mainland, we hover over the city of Vancouver and Richmond.
We fly by the surrounding neighborhoods around Vancouver. I think that is the Burnaby or Metrotown area, but I’m not 100% sure.
We circle around. Soon we will land at the Vancouver Airport with a picturesque backdrop of the mountains and the skyscrapers.
Hello Vancouver. It is great to see you again.
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.
We drop off his son at his parent’s house, and drive across the various neighborhoods of Vancouver.
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.
We arrive, and park near the entrance.
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.”
Fortunately, Gavin purchases us two tramway tickets.
We hop onboard for the ride.
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.
As we rise, the landscape of the Greater Vancouver area changes.
And on the other side of the tram, I am again reminded of Alaska.
We get off on Peak Chalet
, and walk towards the observatory.
Unfortunately, I did not realize The Observatory
is a five-star restaurant, and requires reservations. Whoops! Fortunately, there less expensive to free options around.
Gavin and I walk around reviewing the various landscapes, and trying to find a good vista point to sit down at.
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.
We observe the changing vistas of Greater Vancouver area. Notice the lights of the city slowly coming to life.
Clouds, clouds, and more clouds.
I managed to capture some panoramic perspectives.
We decide to leave just after sunset, and while there is enough light. Goodbye Grouse Mountain.
We head towards the tram “Skyride” entrance.
There is a long but quickly moving line of people.
We get on board the tram, and begin our descent.
Between the time we leave the vista point and head to the tram, the city lights come alive and nightfall hits.
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
We stop at a vista point, and park the car.
And gaze at the Great Vancouver area from the west side of Vancouver.
Time to head back home!
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.
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 🙂