Thursday, May 8, 2014

Having Fun Around Vancouver With My Mom

I've said it before that having visitors here in Vancouver is a fabulous reason to be a tourist in my own city. My mother's visit this past weekend was no exception! Before she arrived, I made a big list of potential things we could do. By the end of her visit, there were several items crossed off - plus some bonus activities that I hadn't even thought to put onto the list!

After arriving from Seattle in a rental car on Thursday evening, we hilariously (not) spent about 20 minutes circling all around my neighborhood looking for a visitor parking spot before we gave up and parked her car in a parking garage for the night.

I'd taken Friday off from work so that we could spend the day exploring. My big idea was to take her to Capilano Suspension Bridge, which is a big suspension bridge inside of a great wooded park in North Vancouver. There are shuttle buses that leave from several points throughout Downtown Vancouver that will take you right to the bridge for FREE, and we were fortunate enough to score the best bus driver ever for the trip - a lively, microphoned gentleman by the name of Jimmy (who I hope to never forget). Once at the bridge, it is a big costly to gain entrance - $35.95 for adults - but completely worth it. BC residents: For the price of an adult admission, you'll receive an annual pass that will allow you free entrance into the park for the next year! Just show a BC-issued piece of ID at the Visitor Center. This is an awesome perk and you would be a damn fool not to take advantage of it! I've gone to Capilano Suspension Bridge three times now on my initial $36 purchase.

Anyway, enough about the cost of admission - here's a bit of what you can see on the inside of the park!

Here is the bridge itself, which you can walk across to get from one side of the park to the other. 
It's 450 feet long and 230 feet above Capilano River below:

Capilano Suspension Bridge
Once you cross the bridge, you're in the middle of a beautiful rain forest of tall green trees, ferns, and both dirt trails and boardwalks leading you throughout the park. Looking up, you see that there are also bridges strung high up in the air between the trees - the park's Treetops Adventure!

Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, Treetops Adventure
.  treetops adventure, featuring ya girl... me!  .

This is the "Cliff Walk" - a walkway built directly into a cliffside. The walkway juts right out from the cliff over the Capilano Canyon below. Not for chumps.

Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, Cliff Walk
Later that day, we stopped into the Vancouver Marathon's Health, Sports, and Lifestyle Expo, where marathon runners could collect their race packets and check out a bunch of vendors. There, I saw more "energy food" than I ever knew existed, tried coconut water for the first time, and was given a free pair of socks. Not bad.

On Saturday morning, we went to Abigail's Party for breakfast (one of my favorite breakfast spots) and then set off on an adventure to try to get to Grouse Mountain for a ride on the mountain's Skyride gondola. We knew it was rainy with no view at the top, but we happily took the gondola up the mountain anyway...

Grouse Mountain, Skyride Gondola

Grouse Mountain, Skyride Gondola

Once at the top, there is a lodge with lots food options, a theater (where we watched a few short films about the mountain), a gift shop, and a large fireplace that was a perfect place for drying our sopping wet shoes later that afternoon. Through the lodge, there are a series of paths leading hither and yon (there are plenty of random things to do up there), but the activity we were most interested in was checking out the grizzly bear habitat.


Grizzly bear on Grouse Mountain
Two BC grizzlies (one from the West coast and one from the inlands) have been taken care of by the people here for about 15 years now. The two bears were hanging out in their "post-hibernation" fenced-in habitat area that day. We spent a good amount of time watching them and taking pictures. I'd never seen a bear like that before - especially not that close!

Grizzly bear habitat on Grouse Mountain
Sunday was marathon day! I dropped my mom off at the starting line around 7:45 in the morning and then headed back to my apartment to wait till her part of the race was running through my part of town. Around 10:30, I headed out to join the crowds of people cheering on the runners who were passing through my Kitsilano neighborhood. About an hour later, I spotted my mom coming through:

My mom running through the Kitsilano leg of the 2014 Vancouver Marathon

She was looking pretty good, if you ask me! This was at around the 25 km mark (in Canada, marathons are marked in kilometers instead of miles, and 26.2 miles is about 42.2 kilometers), so she still had quite a ways to go. But looking good, nonetheless! After I saw her here, I made my way to the finish line downtown, to make sure I wouldn't miss her finishing. Here's a look at the course map...

2014 BMO Vancouver Marathon course map

I did manage to see her finish, though she didn't see me or hear me yelling for her amidst the crowds... 

2014 BMO Vancouver Marathon finish line
That isn't her official time, I'm sure she'd want me to tell you. I think that her official time was closer to 4:25. I'm sure she would also want me to tell you that her best time for a marathon is 3:14 (ish... I might be off by 5 minutes or so).

She was pooped after the run (obvi), so we took a cab back to my apartment and put her straight into a hot shower. It was a rainy, chilly day, so she was chilled to the bone after running 26 miles! After relaxing for most of the rest of the afternoon, we took a walk to Granville Island so she could see the Public Market there (it's amazing), and then we enjoyed a delicious dinner at The Sandbar. If you've been reading my blog for awhile, you might know that The Sandbar is one of the best restaurants in Vancouver - a top notch place to get incredible seafood. I ordered a few oysters, and an entree of scallops and prawns in a citrus cream sauce, served with coconut rice and vegetables. #nom

Monday morning, bright and early, my mom get into her rental car and set off back towards the US to catch her flight out of Seattle. It was a great trip - I'm so glad that she got to see the beautiful place that her daughter has been living for the last year and a half! I will return the favor next month, when I take a trip back to Massachusetts to visit as well as attend a wedding AND a bachelorette party. Speaking of which... I have some fun outfits to plan for that trip. Hey-o!

Do you have any visitors coming your way soon?
Any trips planned for yourself this summer, or weddings to attend?
What's your favorite local place to take a visitor?

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  1. Looks like you had a great time!

  2. woah bear!
    and yay for fun times with mom! which reminds that i need to call mine....
    ive been to Sandbar a couple of times. the seafood there is really good! usually i go for a special occasion or when its Dine Out.
    A Beautiful Zen

    1. Ahh I will need to call my mom tomorrow too for Mother's Day... We tend to mostly go to The Sandbar when we have visitors - so we can show off the delicious Vancouver seafood!

  3. Wow, I have never been that close to a grizzly bear!
    I worked at the Trading Post at the Capilano Suspension Bridge for three years and it's a great place to be! Beautiful park for sure! And yes, that perk of getting the annual pass is great if you know you'll have family and friends visiting!

    1. The grizzlies were so cool to see! You've got to get up to Grouse to check them out! And that would have been so cool to work at Capilano and get to hang out in that park all the time. The oxygen there must just be outstanding ;)


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