Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Exploring Grouse Mountain

On my recent trip to Vancouver my friend Julie and I visited Grouse Mountain which is in North Vancouver.  Due to rain forecast every day (which didn't happen...yay!) we saw a window of sunshine on our first day together in Vancouver so decided to "do the mountain" first.   I don't think I had been there since the 80's and boy has it changed.  To make life easier we purchased the Alpine Experience which enabled us to get a shuttle bus direct to the mountain from downtown.

The ride on the cable car up the mountain was smooth and it was a good size.  We got some great views.


We saw all sorts of beautiful chainsaw sculptures on the way up the trail towards the mountain's attractions.







As you can see there was still snow on top of the mountain which meant we couldn't wander as far as we would be able to in the summer.  Still...it was lovely up there.

We then stopped in to see the grizzlies...more on them later... our pass included a ride on the chair lift.  Something I don't think I've done since I was a child...it's been a long time anyway.  I have never downhill skied - it's has never been one of my ambitions in life so I never bothered.  I prefer more inexpensive sports - like my own two feet!






The Eye of the Wind - it cost an extra $15 to visit so we declined.

Must admit I was a bit nervous getting on and off but it was fine!

Now you get to meet Grinder and Coola!  Both are bears that were rescued as cubs in 2001 and now make Grouse Mountain their home. Due to being so young when they were rescued they would never be able to cope on their own in the wild and as they are not afraid of humans...well not a good thing for bears... Grinder was found wandering along a logging road in British Columbia dehydrated and weighing only 4.5 kg.  His mother was never found so they will never know why he was alone.  Even though he is smaller than Coola he is the dominant bear.  Coola was orphaned when his mother was struck and killed by a truck.  Coola had two siblings but he was the only one to survive.  He is an easy going bear and lets Grinder take the lead.






Grinder grinding on a carrot. Their diet is supplemented with veggies.

Coola likes to stay cool and spends a lot of time in their pool!
All too soon it was time to say goodbye to "the boys" and the beautiful mountain (after sharing a Beaver Tail which is a delicious combo of hot fried pastry and sugar/cinnamon in yes, the shape of a beaver tail)  and head back down on the tram...next destination Capilano Suspension Bridge park....

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Whizzing through

Well kind of....had a fantastic weekend in Vancouver.  Rain was predicted every day but we didn't see any - sun, sun and did I say sun?  I came home with a sunburn!  We explored Grouse Mountain, the Capilano bridge area, took a day trip on the ferry over to Bowen Island, said hi to the creatures at the Vancouver Aquarium and took in the Granville Market followed by a long stroll around the seawall in Stanley Park.  It was truly a fantastic weekend.  Oh and lots of good food as well....

Back late last night, work today, laundry and unpacking (sort of) tonight....work for the rest of the week and then Saskatoon this weekend for a half marathon (eek!!) ....need I add it's all go.  I may get to work on my blog early next week, we shall see.

Oh and yes, let's not forget a week from tomorrow I head west to Banff for five days.  After sitting at home for three months (a long time for me) it is nonstop for a few weeks.  I am loving it!  However I do know my physical limitations so I am trying to have R and R in between.  I am a bit of a gad about but I do like my down times as well and I think my body is saying "down girl!"

So I'm off to bed but here's a bit of a teaser until I start telling you all about my adventures in Vancouver...

Wally says hi

This guy says please drop back to the blog next week and we can really get close and personal.



Thursday, May 8, 2014

A visit to Holland Park

London's parks are called "the lungs of London" and indeed they are.  As I've mentioned (many times) before my favourite is St James Park in central 'touristy' London but I adore them all.  In one of the world's busiest cities you feel like you are in the country...well almost....well even better than the country because when you get fed up with the peace and quiet there is always a coffee shop or a bus ten minutes away!  My kind of country!  One park I haven't visited too much but have fallen in love with recently is Holland Park.  It is a little bit harder to find - in the borough of Kensington and Chelsea...ie:  the "posh area".  It is very wild in some areas and ornate in others - we will visit the Ornate area - specifically the Japanese garden known as Kyota garden.  I can't find any reference to it on the internet but years ago I was told that if you saw your double walking in Holland Park you would die within a year.  Luckily I didn't see anyone remotely resembling me! 

So off we go!  We get off the tube at Holland Park and start walking through a very elegant area. 
Almost there - yes definitely an affluent area.



Let's have a snoop at Holland Park Mews - a row of former stables now probably used for holding porsches and beemrs rather than horses with living quarters upstairs.  Definitely worth "a bob or two"!!! I would love to live in someplace like this if I was rich.

Cute tortoise sundial - put here especially for my sister who loves them.

Beautiful Kyoto Garden

Heron just hanging out.

Waterfall in Kyoto Gardens

Peacocks wander around the gardens

Kyoto Garden

Peacock gossip time - or is she giving him a "right bollocking"? 

Stunning Kyoto garden

Kyoto Garden - do you see all the birds just hanging out?

Unique sculpure in the garden -the building behind has a lovely cafe for a cuppa and piece of cake or a nice warming bowl of soup. 


Oversize chess board

Sun dial

I hope you enjoyed our visit.  Holland Park is a little more difficult to get to but well worth the trip.  It can be accessed on the London Underground (the tube) with a little walk - either Holland Park from the north (my preference) or High Street Kensington from the south. 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The magic of Cape Mary's Ecological Reserve

On a 48 hour trip (I was in Halifax and got a kick ass seat sale there so could not resist!) to St Johns Newfoundland in  late May 2010 I took a day trip down to Cape Marys Ecological Reserve which was arranged through the hostel I was staying at.  This rookery for northern sea birds is the most accessible in North America and Bird Rock is the third largest nesting site and the most southern of colonies of northern gannets. Indeed, it is one of the most spectacular seabird rookeries in the world.  I had been in the area in 2008 but was too lazy to drive that far...as it turned out just as well as the weather was not that great - I am so glad I waited and had this very special day.   I was SO  lucky - the weather was chilly but glorious and sunny.  I can't describe the feeling of sitting on a rock overlooking the sparkling waters of Placentia Bay, watching the beautiful gannets swooping all around me and being in awe of the absolute beauty of the area.  As long as I still have my mind it will be one of my fondest memories - absolute magic!!!  I didn't want to leave. 

So come along with me (and don't stand near the cliff edge - that wind is pretty strong!) and imagine the strong North Atlantic wind blowing through your hair, the salty smell of the sea, the sound of the waves and the shrill cry of the gannets ..if you don't like birds...well maybe you had better stay in the visitor centre!

 














Cape St Mary's is a two hour drive south of St Johns and well worth the trip.