Postscript:You know you’re home when….

Having experienced politeness of motorists in north America, who without fail, gracefully gave way to pedestrians, whether on crossings or not ……and we usually acknowledged the  patience of drivers….

……. D stopped to give way to a well- dressed woman in Canberra city this morning ( less than 24 hrs after arriving home)…..to be abused verbally, facially and with gestures to get ‘the f@$* out of her way and move on’, which he promptly and sadly did.

Ethical dilemma: if D sees her on a bus, does he offer her his seat?

PS. D thinks that ‘f@$*’ was what she was saying.

 

The Last Post (this trip)

Day 49. Thursday 6 October.

A very special day for our family.

7 weeks ago today we left home and we’re on the flight home at midnight tomorrow. It is time to be back home with those we’ve missed (we’ll need to do some much shorter travel to catch up with some of them as soon as we can manage it).

Horseshoe Bay is a very small jumping off point for ferry services to Vancouver and Bowen Island – and not much else. A few shops, including a couple of very promising fish and chip outlets. The bus ride was much longer than we’d anticipated, and even though the driver thought he was Daniel Ricciardo, we just missed the 12.10 ferry (admittedly, we could have arisen earlier). Next ferry not until 14.35, so plenty of time to tour the town….and again…..and again.

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Bowen Island is advertised as a place for arts and crafts. Very low key and it was quiet today, no doubt due to the drizzle and the close of the season as winter threatens. Again, the trees, the hills, little pockets of bays….beautiful.

Back on West Van in the early evening. Tried for a fish and chips meal that we’d been hanging out for at a fancy restaurant called Troll’s – great name. But a 30 minute wait put us off so headed for the ‘Best Fish and Chips in Town’ café across the road – the cod and chips was indeed great and came in record time.

The return bus ride was on the Express. The friendly driver said that the rain would set in for a week. This is really the first inconvenient rain we’ve had on the whole trip – not that it really inconvenienced us today. First stop was ours, so home to begin packing. We’ve organised for our bags to b picked up at 10 AM and delivered to the airport at 7.30 PM – hope we see them again!

A Grouse Day

Day 48. Wednesday 5 October.

Rain forecast today and tomorrow, so today opted for Grouse Mountain (must have been named by an Aussie) as the outlook was marginally better. A good decision.

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Caught up with a couple of friends on the way to the bus – a squirrel, a Steller’s Jay and a couple of American Robins. Although threatening darkly occasionally, the day ended in brilliant sunshine. And the Vancouver bus service has continued to impress, with a couple of legs connecting seamlessly. Every journey has had a friendly driver giving greetings & farewells & traveller info.

 

By the time we arrived at Grouse, options for extended (extending?) activities were limited. T was keen to try ziplining, but the only single vacancy (D wasn’t having a bar of it!) wasn’t until 2.30, and we thought, wrongly as it turned out, that our last bus was at 3.10. So we were left with the ride to the top (almost) of the mountain and some free extras.

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The view from the top (4000 feet) was as spectacular as you’d expect, but pretty much just back over Vancouver and its waterways.

 

 

 

img_5119From there, a visit to visit two orphan grizzly bears, saved from being put to death over a decade ago under the policy existing at the time. They have prospered in their new home, and have in fact learned instinctively things their mum would have taught them: hibernation, diet and coming out of hibernation for example. Although these two will never be released into the wild because they have become too familiar with humans, the results of the experience and the opportunity to study them has changed the policy about killing orphans and they are now carefully reared before being released into the wild. Great story. And that was a close as we got to a Grizzly – and that was quite close enough!

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The Cuddly Bear is probably a lot safer.

 

 

 

 

 

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Caught some films, and the one on BASE jumping with wingsuits caught T’s attention – she now fantasises that ziplining is a bit too tame for her. D hasn’t changed his view in the slightest.

 

Then to the last attraction – the lumberjacks. This was classic vaudeville, with double entendres and dad jokes galore. Notwithstanding, the lumberjack skills of the two players were pretty impressive. The only downside was that both T & D sat on a bench with long cracks, holding water, which meant both came away looking like their nappies had leaked.

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Stayed on the return bus to get to Lonsdale Quay, with a nice, short walk along the waterfront before getting some absolutely divine duck and quanciale salami, with hints of cinnamon (and some brie to accompany the leftover pecorino). Pre-dinner drinks reached new heights. Tonight’s dinner is a humbler fare: pork loin (not $40 per kilo).

Gastown

Day 47. Tuesday 4 October.

Rain overnight, although not heavy, but enough to defer a trip on one of the gondolas to see the sights from on high: much to D’s relief. Gastown, the original hub of Vancouver, beckoned. After its golden years it had deteriorated into a ‘skid row’ but shop owners, residents, the authorities and other concerned citizens worked to resurrect its past glory. That has certainly worked, and it is now a very stylish/hip part of town, although there were plenty of beggars and homeless on the streets further along to the east.

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A few minor, personal successes. T found some fabric she’d been chasing across North America and D had a haircut. Looks good, doesn’t he? The barber took liberties: persuading D that he’d look younger if his locks moved in the opposite direction (after 60+years, really?) When he emerged, T couldn’t work out what made him look different, (sophisticated, she said), so D revealed and the barber wanted feedback. Let’s see how old habits go….

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These establishments were everywhere. were warned at one stage not to go further east than Carrell Street – that was the dividing line to the dangerous part of town. Needless to say, we inadvertently did, but were not threatened in any way, nor felt any danger. But we did see encampments literally – in several places, where tents and makeshift accommodations had been set up.

 

 

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And, in the distance, a hotel sign caught the sophisticated D’s eye.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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And we did see Gastown’s famous Steam Clock – and waited for the quarter hour chime, that sounded just like the trains that had seemed to follow us around our motorhome tour!

Tree Hugging

Day 46. Monday 3 October.

The obvious question: why put yourself through this? Over the next four days we have three trips planned that involve heights – suspension bridges, cliff walkways, tree top walks gondolas, skyways – and that doesn’t include the flight home! The first of these was completed today – the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park that incorporates three of these tortures: suspension bridge, tree boardwalk and cliff walk. T ventured into many viewing positions that D refused to: one couple offered to take a photo of the two of us on an overhang, but D politely refused. They were amused.

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But, putting aside the hordes of other selfie -snapping tourists, it was a lovely experience. Again, the public transport system made it easy to get to and from – we even adjusted our plans while there, courtesy of the free wifi.

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We now have 3 major firs sorted: the Western Red Cedar, the hemlock and the daddy of them all, the Douglas fir, which goes hundreds of feet skyward, without a branch, then has a topknot canopy. Lots of water needed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fish for tea – fresh Icelandic Cod at $25 per pound. Our maths was woefully inadequate – we assumed that this equated to $ 11.34 per kilo (that is, 1 pound = 2.2 kg), but in fact it was $ 55 per kilo (that is, in fact, that 1 pound = 0.45 kg). Ouch! And it was the cheapest fish in the Ambleside Fish Market!!!!!!!!! We bypassed the wild salmon and the yellowfin from Hawaii. We must enjoy this.

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And remember:

A Slow Day

Day 45. Sunday 2 October.

The past 6 weeks have caught up with us – a 1030 AM rise. Today was going to be a rest day, and what better way to rest than to visit Walmart? We’ve pretty much sorted out Vancouver’s public transport system, so were able to do transfers etc. easily to get there. The system, by the way, is terrific, and has regular services even on weekends.

Coffee at Starbucks in the absence of anything else on offer – and it was (surprisingly) very good. Will have to reassess our prejudices! On the return trip T walked ahead as D ducked into the local centre looking for a barber. As she toiled up the hill, pulling a wheeled bag, a car with two women in it stopped to ask if she was alright and whether she needed help. This is amazing!

By the time we got back to our temporary home, it was time to walk to the beach in the late afternoon cool air, although the sun was still shining. Passed the sporting fields and a women’s soccer game: these fields have had almost constant occupation since we arrived.

Fishermen in waders were casting nets into the sea from the beach. A bit further on, the pier has been renovated since its original construction in 1912 as a ferry terminal and now is just used for recreation and fishing.

img_5831  There were quite a few fishermen (and women) trying their hand: and all appeared ethnically Chinese. Crab was the preferred catch. Signage described the regulations re size and hours for catching; no nighttime crabbing! And again cooperative: one fishermen went out of his way to provide advice to a fisherwoman on baiting her hook, and the right hook to use.

 

He later introduced himself to her, so could well have been fishing for a different sort of catch. Not much caught that could be kept legally – one chap was cleaning some fish as we departed and D looked, looked again at what appeared to be trout, and asked what kind of fish they were. Trout. The fisherman had been to a local lake, caught the (undersize) trout and then come to the pier to fish some more. He was sensibly cleaning the fish there rather than doing it at home.

A walk home via esplanade shopping (restaurants mostly) and real estate windows revealed the $ necessary for West Van….1 bedroom/bathroom apartment….$500k! 4 bedrooms/3 bathrooms…..2.5 million+. This confirms some overheard conversations about real estate while travelling the buses. We won’t be buying and staying on, much as we have come to like this city and its people.