Today's objective was to see the snow. The Vancouver skyline has all these snow capped mountains for a back drop and since the public transport can get you half way up the nearest one, the call of the snow ball fight was too much to resist.
This call was particularly strong for a couple of Aussies. Where I come from, snow is approaching mythical status, it is at least on the endangered list. It's said to appear on mountains only several hours drive from Melbourne for a couple of days each winter. Back in the old days, it wasn't unusual for Mt. Kosciusko to have snow all year round, but that was before the warmest years of the warmest decade in recorded history. Guess that's why they call it global warming. So the thought of being able to reach the snow within an hour was tantalizing. We headed north.
North Vancouver : Where the city meets the widlnerness
We reached the base of Grouse Mountain without a hitch. It was there that we found the hitch. The cable car to the top was not operating due to the high wind, and the walking track to the top was closed. Since no one knew when the wind would die down, and since there are few duller sights than a stationary cable car and an empty car park, we left disappointed.
To further our disappointment we made the mistake of seeing Capilano Bridge. The story is that someone built a suspension bridge across a gorge. The tragic ending is that someone decided to turn it into a theme park. It's tacky and touristy in true carved wooded Indian style. (*) Truly a mecca for Japanese tourists who liked the pirate ship on Lake Ashi. There's nothing on the other side worth seeing and the only ride is standing on a swaying suspension bridge. (Although by the time you've handed over your money and walked through the turn style, you're already beginning to suspect that you've been taken for a ride.) Again we left disappointed.
A bit further north from Capilano Bridge is Cleveland Dam. This is basically a water catchment for supplying the people of Vancouver with something to shower in. It's a dam across the gorge that Capilano Bridge spans a few kilometres down stream.
The dam itself is nothing special. The highlights are standing over the outlet watching the water crash down into the gorge and checking out the great view to the north of more of the snow capped mountain variety. The other side of this dam is an untouched area of forests with a few walking trails through it. All up a vastly more satisfying experience than Capilano Bridge and there was no entry fee.
The one disturbing thing about the place was the public toilets. Nope,
no graffiti, no drug users, not even dirty. The urinals were set to permanent
flush and the room had an electric heater on. Do these people have cheap
electricity and water to burn or what? I suppose it makes sense in a cold
climate. If it gets too cold in there then not only do the pipes split
as the water freezes, but you would also have the problem of people getting
stuck to the toilet seat. No laughing matter there.
That evening, in the process of picking another restaurant within walking distance of the guest house, we found a scary thing. The Canadian version of a pedestrian crossing.
Picture this: A main road, three lanes in each direction, 70kmh zone and a pedestrian crossing. No lights, just two thin lines across the road and a sign hanging overhead with the walking people symbol on it. It works like this: it's dark, it's raining, you step out onto the road and hope, really really hope that the cars stop. Is this a sneaky way of eliminating the walking genes from the Canadian gene pool? A literal tourist trap? Or just a game of chicken? My theory is that there are hidden cameras at each crossing and someone, somewhere is making a "World's Worst Pedestrian Crossing Accident" show.
The pedestrian crossing gods were with us while we were in Vancouver and we got out alive. If you are reading this message, the pedestrian crossings haven't got me...
It didn't rain in Vancouver today.
* - The author has nothing against carving, wood or native Americans. Individually. (back)