But not before explaining why Gabriel and I went to Vancouver BC in the first place. Here's an explanation I wrote up this morning of why we went to Vancouver at all.
When Gabriel was 9, he had to do a "Country Report" for his 3rd-grade class, which included a written report and a project. He picked Canada as his country, and much to my relief, for the project he chose a cooking item over a diorama or clothespin doll.
One of his library books on Canada had a recipe for Nanaimo bars, which we made together and he gave out to his classmates as part of his Canada report presentation. They were a huge hit! He's been a fan of Nanaimo bars ever since.
When Gabriel turned 10, I told him I'd take him on a special "10-year-old Trip," to a place of his choosing. He chose Vancouver, because he wanted to go to Nanaimo for Nanaimo bars! I thought that was a GREAT idea. There are many many things to do in Vancouver with a 10-year-old, but our first priority was to see Nanaimo. What better way to do that than with a seaplane ride and kayak tour? Then we walked to downtown Nanaimo in search of Nanaimo bars, and found them at a waterfront coffee house. He had two.
We've also visited Grouse Mountain, and did a sea safari and rented a speedboat in Horseshoe Bay -- and found Nanaimo bars in various coffeehouses every day
And that is how Nanaimo Bars brought us to Vancouver -- I can't think of a better reason! We've had a great time here and will be back.
The photos accompanying the above message:
That's what I sent to the manager of the seaplane company, which he wanted to send to the Nanaimo Daily News. And sure enough, about 10 minutes after we got home in Sunnyvale, we got a call from a reporter who wanted to confirm all the facts, and we told him the whole story. Of course we did a lot more in Vancouver than just gobble up pastries, but the Nanaimo Bars were the inspiration! So Wednesday's paper should have a story about the kid from California who came to Vancouver BC just for Nanaimo bars!
SO much more to write - we had such a GREAT time even allowing for such a short one -- a truly memorable trip indeed. I need to do a photo book right away or it will get lost!
Some of the things we did:
Walked around Coal Harbor, which was within walking distance of our apartment suite, and where the seaplanes take off.
Took a seaplane trip to Vancouver Island (where Nanaimo is).
Took a seakayak tour around Newcastle Island, starting in Nanaimo Harbor.
Walked around Nanaimo City in search of Nanaimo Bars in Nanaimo (!)-- and found them. Yet Gabriel still felt the need for chocolate ice cream afterward?!
Then the seaplane trip back to the mainland. This time I got to sit up front with headphones and ask the pilot questions. That was great!
2nd day: Grouse Mountain, where we took the SkyRide tram to the top. There we caught a comedy lumberjack show/demonstration that Gabriel found so funny that we caught a second showing later. We took a (slooow) chairlift to the peak for views and an opportunity to see the resort's advanced wind turbine ("Eye of the Wind"), a grizzly bear habitat, and the tail end of a bald eagle demonstration. We saw the eagle way up close, that was amazing.
Chair lift to the peak.
The "Eye of the Wind" turbine. This generates 25% of the ski resort's power.
On the observation deck of the turbine. Lots of people clinging to the center -- not a place to be if you're acrophobic!
Then the Lumberjack show, encore. It made me miss my Dad; this down-home kitsch was right up his alley. Gabriel LOVED this simulated "competition" between two lumberjacks.
After Grouse Mountain, we walked around Vancover's "West End," and found a thriving community around the beach, park, and my favorite, countless Mediterranean restaurants and bakeries. Yum! What a place -- beaches and ski resorts within 30 minutes of each other (traffic allowing, and it's bad).
Our 3rd day was back at sea: Starting from Horseshoe Bay, a sea safari trip (2 hours on a high-speed Zodiac boat), with great descriptions of what was around Howe Sound. This Sea Safari is windy, rough and cold enough that they seriously suit us up.
All kinds of high-speed, wet fun! Plus seeing lovely things you can only see from the marine perspective. We caught a bald eagle awaiting its prey, for instance.
After the Safari, we rented our own speedboat!!!!
Turns out driving a boat is easy, but seamanship (like, which way are the waves and wind going) is far far harder. We managed to make it back without capsizing somehow, but that was tricky. When we were in calm waters, I let Gabriel drove the boat. I think that was the highlight for him.
After returning the boat, we went for a well-deserved lunch in our only restaurant of the trip, where Gabriel got fish'n'chips and loved it.
In the early afternoon, we got back to our lovely suite in Vancouver's West End, where I went out for a short run to investigate more of Stanley Park.
Vancouver is such a fantastic place, especially if you're a dog-lover, foodie, bake-ie, openly gay couple, wheelchair user or bicyclist. Huge populated beaches with freelance musicians abound, right next to a lovely park with trails, lagoons and the best kid-waterpark I've ever seen. And this is all a few minutes away from several ski resorts.
Our last night for dessert, more Nanaimo Bars!
The day we left, it was raining, reminding me that we got SOOOOO lucky with weather.
We all knew I'd fall in love with Vancouver BC, but so hard?! It's as close to paradise as it gets! Real photo album on FB coming -- get your accounts together!! :)