How the Cookie Crumbles

Life and scribbles on the far side of SIXTY-FIVE


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Rocky Mountaineer: Freight Trains and Mountains

A cute story:

 We passed through a small town called Canoe. A Mrs. Diane Lund lives there in a lemon-colored house along the Rocky Mountaineer route. Each time a train passed, she stood outside on her front step to wave the train on.

 The train people wondered how she knew when the Mountaineer came through because many freight trains also pass through daily. Turns out, her dog Cedar knew and barked its arrival. The lady joined her dog outside her front door. 

~ * ~

We pulled over for a freight train. Minutes tick-tocked. Twenty minutes later (or less), it finally passed on a track I guesstimate around six feet away.

As the attendant handed out Rocky Mountaineer journals, we dared inquire about having to pay for dinner sans voucher the night before. Prepared, the young lady gave us a card with a number to call. I’m sure we paid a lot less (out of pocket) than what the voucher was worth. We’ll see.

Around 9:15 a.m., we passed through Sicamous (means squeezed in between, a First Nation’s word). By 9:30, the bar opened—an hour earlier than the previous morning. What? It’s not Sunday brunch (too early) nor is it Saturday; it’s vacation time! What the heck. I decided on a Caesar.

As we whooshed from Revelstoke to Field, the altitude rose 2500 feet. Trains travel year round here with plows out front, snow at times 40 to 50 feet deep.

Trains pass through a lot of forests and outside of towns. Some time ago, I had considered taking a train across Canada. I no longer believe I will. I hate being closed in and not free to roam. I’m bored. The narratives are too few by our rail car attendant. YouTube or National Geographic can give me a similar experience. I need to walk, touch, feel, and smell. Passing by is not good enough for me anymore.

Finally lunch: Spinach salad with a mustard dressing, cranberries, and julienned apples. Delicious. For the main, I chose pork (it came in two generous pieces) with roasted cauliflower, risotto and a log of squash. I could have licked my plate.

So many Kodak moments—too many to choose. After a while, I became overwhelmed and bug-eyed and their beauty knocked my breath away. How many pictures do I want or need? At times the train travelled too fast. Some of my best efforts produced flashes of unrecognizable digital smears instead of identifiable images of trees etc. Already, I was pictured out. Running from one side of the train to the other, begging ‘excuse me’s’, and avoiding bumping or stepping on other passengers knocked me for a loop.

The scenery changes from dense trees or sparse and thin ones; to charcoal mountains capped in glistening snow; to brown running lakes; to water rushing with ice crystals.

Someone hollered there was a swimming bear but I missed it due to the train’s speed.

Next on September 28 – Rocky Mountaineer: Mindboggling Views

© 2018 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

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Vancouver Again: What Now?

As promised, the store stood tall and proud, its windows reflecting a dull sky. I picked up a decent brand familiar to me, which happened to be on sale. A dollar saved is a dollar earned, is it not?

We walked and walked for miles and hours beneath an overcast Vancouver sky. I kept forgetting where we were and had to remind myself this was not Toronto where the buildings seemed dwarfed by the giant ones here. Tired, we trudged past Joe Fortes Restaurant, a landmark seafood restaurant and chop house, and a popular attraction with actors and people in the music business. It is said you never know whom you will bump into. Of course, one must make a reservation. Instead of waiting in line, a patron walks right in. Especially when new ships come into Vancouver Harbour, I heard this is a hopping place.

The hotel at last; I was ready to kick off my shoes and catch a snooze. By six or so, we ventured out to dinner across the courtyard to Café One in the other tower. Why hadn’t anyone suggested we bring sunglasses? I snapped awake from my lethargy at the sight of the foyer’s bright orange walls right and left. A seating area on one side encouraged relaxation and Wifi. On the opposite side, a bar and baby grand invited patrons to enjoy drinks and music but not open for business this early.

Most tables were in front of a wall of windows, which overlooked lush and soothing greenery. A sign suggested waiting to be seated. Were we with such and such tour? Yes. The wait staff person could not find the special and abbreviated menu for some time. Seated at a table for two I noted the crisp and flawless white tablecloths and sighed sinking deeper into my chair. The menu found, I ordered roasted chicken breast, which came with various scrumptious baby beets and sweet snap peas. The baby greens salad was not good. The restaurant mildly busy, service wasn’t bad.. I took our time with coffee and Mary with dessert.

Stuffed, we headed back to our room for a little reading and TV. Nothing interesting on so we prattled on as females will. Mary kept reading, then decided to try out the pool. No robes in the closet, she called the desk and a nice man delivered two robes on hangers within minutes. How is that for service at a large downtown hotel with 746 rooms and suites?

I tried out the high bed and chose the softest pillow. Why do they have so many? Though too many lights on, their distraction soon lost all significance as I melted into dreamland.

Vancouver Quick Facts:

  • Population: 2.4 million
  • A working not residential city
  • Expo 1986 put Vancouver on the map
  • Expected 15 million people; 22 million came
  • Prince Charles and Princess Diana opened Expo
  • Princess Diana fainted after a 3-hour tour of Expo
  • A jump in immigration by 60,000 followed Expo from Hong Kong due to 1997 repatriation to China and the 1989 Tiananmen Square situation
  • Pushed up real estate prices
  • http://thelasource.com/en/2016/05/02/expo-86-the-bubble-that-never-burst/

~ * ~

Next on June 20th – Vancouver: A Bus Tour Anyone?

© 2018 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles


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Vancouver Again: Now What?

We’re in the South Tower (the other is North) so not sure where east or west is until the sun moves across and down later. We unpacked, checked email—heaven to have working internet again—and contacted home.

The sun broke through the clouds, sending ribbons of welcome heat. Confined on board ship four days with three landing days only, we strolled the neighborhood for the exercise and fresh air. I’m not used to towering buildings and kept forgetting where we were, although I had thoughts we were in Toronto.

I had forgotten my face cream at home. Why do I always forget something important? My poor parched wrinkles scrunched tight, screaming for nourishment. We passed a couple dollar stores. No suitable cream, but I picked up a couple inch-and-a-half diameter tins of nail polish remover pads. (Perfect for travelling.) Just used one a couple days ago—still good.)

I also pounced on an oversize sunglass case. It was a steal; I had to have it. I hate shopping but I don’t mind impromptu roaming through strange stores at times. Considering I had not purchased anything in Alaska except gifts for the family, fridge magnets, and some postcards, this is big spending for me.

While we waited at a red light to cross the street, Mary asked a young girl who had a ring in one nostril—a hippie-type, not a goth—about restaurants close by. She recommended Vera’s, a burger place. “Just up the block. . . better than MacDonald’s,” she said.

A guy next to her asked, “You want MacDonald’s?”

“Heck, no but thank you.”

We ordered at the cash register. The burgers were thick and juicy. The French fry servings were about the size of a handful, the young woman told us. Good thing Mary and I decided to share an order because they were more than we could eat after the filling hamburger. Had they been extra nice since we were visitors from Ontario and no one else was in the restaurant? They had no coffee, only milk, pop, and water. Before hitting the sidewalk, we inquired about a wine/liquor store. The young woman smiled so wide, I worried about her face. “Next door,” she said, pointing.

The store carried VQA bottles, beyond our price range. The first bottle I spotted was only $89.00. Yikes. We did find a couple shelves of reasonable prices. The two guys who unpacked and shelved other bottles stuck up a conversation. When asked if they had down-to-earth labels. I heard them roll their eyes as we hot-footed it out of there. We hit a Shoppers Drug Mart and a grocery store. All I wanted was a sample size jar of something practical for the short term and settled on Ponds Cold Cream.

I have made a short list of items (during this trip) I plan to keep in my suitcase forever: a pair of earrings, face cream, a shawl, nail polish remover tin and a corkscrew. I already have one I borrowed in China.

Following my $1.79 devil-may-care expenditure, Mary asked a passerby with white tape on his nose where the liquor store might be. You won’t believe this.

“Around the corner ahead,” he said. He appeared embarrassed about the tape and explained he lived each day to the fullest because of his upcoming surgery but did not explain what that entailed.

~* ~

Next on June 13th: Vancouver Again. What’s Next?

© 2018 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles


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North to Alaska: Last Day and New Horizons

Sunrise had been forecast for 5:00 a.m. but with last minute checking and rechecking everything ended up in our suitcases that belonged, we missed taking pictures.

Vancouver on the Horizon

Neither Mary nor I had checked what time the Lido Market would be open for breakfast, but she suggested we order in. An excellent idea. I had scrambled eggs, sausages, bacon, toast, and coffee. Mary’s choices were a fruit plate, cottage cheese, muesli, and coffee. A soft knock on the door announced breakfast’s arrival. What a feast. Food that needed to be hot did not disappoint.

The kitchen staff called, “Did you enjoy your breakfast?”

“Indeed. Excellent. Thank you.”

Later, Mary called to have our trays removed. Unlike hotels, halls on ships are narrower and likely to cause tripping hazards if anything other than luggage is left outside. Once again, someone came lickety-split.

As we waited for expedited disembarkation announcement, Mary could not find her key card, without which she could not leave the ship. She called the Reception Desk and an attendant promised a new one. While she raced to pick it up, I worried how long she may be held up. The fusspot I am, I grit my teeth and worried about missing our proper exit. Finally, she returned and we pushed and pulled our luggage out the door. Only about a dozen people stood around with us, some with carry-ons but no luggage. Within minutes, a solitary uniform pointed forward. We offered our key cards for scanning, and out we zipped. “Keep the card as your souvenir,” said the scanning lady when finished.

It’s as if everyone had already gone ashore or was this a ghost ship? No one ahead and no one behind. We scurried downward, were directed by a silent figure with a smile and a wave to proceed straight down the length of the airport building. No customs and no questions. How strange. Just us two: no crowds or foot traffic. It felt special being an expedited passenger but surreal, and I wondered why anyone exiting the cruise ship, whether to catch their flight, hop a bus or taxi to their hotel, wouldn’t get off like we had. Why go to the trouble of putting your bags outside by midnight and then wait inside the airport to claim them?

Part of our itinerary included a taxi and driver upon our return to Vancouver. No sooner had I inquired about this, three women came forward, one a trainee. Our taxi awaited. The rep handed a voucher to the driver and we sped through Vancouver traffic to the Sheraton. The weather continued overcast; smoke-colored clouds hung heavy and low, more like a dismal fall rather than past mid-May.

Within ten minutes or so, the taxi arrived at Sheraton Wall Centre. Already registered at the hotel as part of the holiday itinerary, our key cards were ready and we headed to the seventeenth floor, sans luggage. The bags arrived before we did. Impressive.

~ * ~

Next on July 6thVancouver Again. Now What?

© 2018 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles


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North to Alaska: Art Auction Confusion

I woke at 6:45, anxious to start our day. A dry deck faced us; the ship rocked beneath our feet.

After breakfast, I intended to get the rigmarole of going ashore the next day out of the way. I sorted through the forms and luggage tags. We had a couple options: independent or expedited and chose the latter as we fit all the criteria, the times fit better, and I’d rather pull our own luggage off the ship than leave it outside the door before midnight and have to wait to collect it upon arrival in Vancouver. Mary stopped by the front desk to collect printouts of our accounts. I spent more than I’d anticipated. How easy it is to spend money when all you have is a credit card. I should have disregarded an internet connection as a necessity, considering we had so much downtime.

Mary signed us up to attend an art auction. Not up my alley but the promise of a glass of champagne was a good incentive. Upon registration, a nice woman handed everyone a number and three stickers, which we were to affix to paintings we favoured.

When the fellow responsible to display the next painting for auction, he snapped off the stickers and mashed them. I saw no point in the stickers unless the ones with the most were brought out first or was the exercise to engage would-be buyers?

The champagne must have been a special purchase. Only one glass per customer. My mouth puckered with the first sip, but I managed to work at it until the glass was empty. Swirling the glass gave me something to do while I slid lower in my chair, bored. The auction did not heat up; a few painting sold, but the bidding was low and unexciting.

Tummies rumbling, we scouted out to lunch. Upon our return, lo and behold, the auction still rambled on. Mary did not win anything though she purchased a wad of draw tickets. At the end, as loyal attendees, another woman handed out white 10 by 13-inch envelopes. Mary opened hers right away. She disliked the print of a moose and daring as ever, she asked for an exchange. She made a face at the print of single cottage in a field of wildflowers in her hand and hinted at trading with me, but I liked mine. I decided to love my modern print or would someday and planned to buy a fabulous frame it might deserve. Teasing aside, I did—I DO—like it.

Duet Night (print) by Charles Lee

The rest of the day we wandered the ship, saying goodbye to new friends. For the third and last time, we enjoyed dinner at the Rotterdam with plans to enjoy Elliot Finkel, a piano entertainer in the theatre. The members of the audience loved the fabulous and popular Disney show tunes he played, but the show lasted only 45 minutes. Two guitarists, a drummer, and a female keyboard player accompanied him.

The show over, we had plenty of time to catch the sunset. Announcements earlier mentioned 9:29 and then 9:15 pm as sundown. Thank goodness, we were early, yet we still missed it. The sun slid into the ocean in the split second I blinked. What a disappointment. A fellow passenger caught it and said, “The sun slipped behind the mountains and into the ocean like it had been in a hurry to go to bed.”

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~ * ~

Next on June 29th – North to Alaska: Last Day and New Horizons

© 2018 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles


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North to Alaska: Creek Street Shops and a Tram Experience

As we left Dolly’s house by the back stairs, Mary noticed the guide from the tour we latched on to in Juneau. We scrambled to join the group, wondering how much we’d missed. As we joined the people clustered around the guide, Mary talked to a woman in an unobtrusive jacket with an emblem on the breast. She tsked the tour did not belong to the cruise but was an independent. We mentioned there had been no problem in Juneau. “We’re almost finished so I guess you can stay.”

She led us down a path to the shops on Creek Street and the tour was over. At least the drizzle had stopped.

I laughed at the many advertisements for the shops. Mary wanted to take the tram ($2.00 USD) up a high hill for a fantastic view of the town. Whoever had given her information about it said the entrance was up the hill. Which hill? “Are you sure she meant this hill.” I hated wasting my time. On and on we trudged. No tram entrance. The hill levelled out; we accosted a couple coming toward us, who did not give specific directions but pointed down the hill. We stopped at one of the shops, then asked another passerby. Back to the tourist-filled sidewalk, we meandered through the same shops for the third time.

“There it is.” Mary had the look of someone who knew where she was going all along. A family of five joined us. Maybe because the Cape Fox Hill Tram happened to be red, I immediately thought of Dr. Who and his telephone booth. The buttons for operation are the same as you find in an elevator. The over 200-foot incline took about minute before we stopped more than 100 feet above the harbour.

We had no idea what we’d find at the top. Straight ahead double doors enticed us into a lobby, which appeared to be a hotel. Fantastic seating with deep sofas and chairs faced a working gas fireplace and a switched on flat screen. Out the back door were gardens and more totem poles. On the other side of the lobby, magnetic food smells and brewing coffee drew us in. The best seats by the windows overlooking Ketchikan were taken, but though almost noon, the restaurant was not busy. I felt invisible as no server approached our table until Mary lassoed a waitress for the Wi-Fi password. I only wanted a simple coffee. Not Mary, who perused the menu; muffins took her fancy. When a waiter finally stopped by, he said they had none.

“But they’re on the menu. What kind do you have?”

“I’ll check.” He disappeared. We waited and waited. We waited some more and grabbed a waitress, asking after our server. Mary’s blueberry muffin finally arrived. It wasn’t oven-warm so we decided it hadn’t just been baked because service had taken so long and we’d been told they had none.

We caught up on email, ate, drank and left money for the food and left. Who has all day to wait for service?

Traipsing back to Creek Street and the many quaint shops, I no longer found them appealing and voted for a return to the ship for a proper, if late, lunch.

The day finished with an enjoyable viewing of LaLa Land in the ship’s theatre. Prior to seeing the movie, I’d heard there were opposing camps regarding this production: those who love it and those who do not. I loved it. Popcorn arrived late once again, during the latter part of the movie and we were drawn to pinch a bag each on the way to our room. One last look outside confirmed we had missed the sunset again. The skyline appeared bruised in shades of purple, pink, orange, and yellow.

Night, night.

~ * ~

If you’ve never tried it, here’s a chance to see what a tram is like.

Next on June 22nd – North to Alaska: Art Auction Confusion

© 2018 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles


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North to Alaska: Snooping Around

We arrived late for lunch with no idea the buffet would be closing soon. No one blocking the food, I managed to take these pictures of various stations.

The buffet servers work eight months on the ship and return home for the remaining four.

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A boom-boom disturbance overhead disrupted after lunch coffee. No other patrons seemed worried or appeared to pay attention. A couple noticed my bewilderment and the man explained there was a basketball court overhead.

“You’re not pulling my leg?” Mary asked.

“I’ll bet my lunch that’s the sound of a bouncing basketball.”

Mary giggled. “You’ve no lunch to bet.”

The sun struggled to brighten the day but dark clouds had other ideas, thrusting it into the background. Huddled in our jacket collars, we jogged a couple laps around the promenade deck after lunch—three and a half laps = 1 mile. A biting wind forced us back inside. Had the weather cooperated, we would have logged a few miles more. We passed a few pairs of walkers, a meditating woman on a blanket (b-r-r), and another one practicing yoga. Three men in white overalls painted the outside deck walls. Phew. I gagged on the fumes, though we were outside. I wondered why none wore masks against the toxic vapors. Seems Health and Safety rules do not apply to painting with nautical paint. Or is this a non-issue since all the workers are from poor countries and nobody cares? Shame. Shame.

I had my heart set on a generous feed of fish and shrimp, but we were late arriving. The buffet had run out. More arrived after we’d finished a fish dinner and Mary scooped up a half dozen to share. I’ve only had shrimp that huge once when I purchased them for a New Year’s Eve dinner party years ago. Thank goodness, I hadn’t invited the neighborhood.

Tummies happy, we searched for advertised entertainment. The Hudson room offered a piano/violin duo and inviting deep chairs but the music didn’t suit our mood—too sedate.

Next, we discovered the duty-free store. A female employee in the jewelry area talked us into sticking around for a free draw in ten minutes. She tore off matching tickets: one for each of us and the twin for the bin. We figured with only a half-dozen participants, we had an excellent chance of winning something. Soon the employee hooked 50 or 60 male and female shoppers and those waiting for the piano bar to open. Ten minutes turned into a half-hour.

What a setup. The person with the winning number had 30 seconds to open as many boxes as they could manage in an effort to extract one containing a jewelry surprise. Soon, a couple of the ‘winners’ asked if there were indeed prizes as the first handful were not lucky. The employee threw the empty boxes back in the bin to encourage deeper digging. What felt like hours later, we left empty-handed and yawning. Six happy winners dispersed to the bar. The lounge singer behind a ¾ wall crooned for some time to clinking glasses and the murmur and hum of energetic conversation.

It had been a long day fighting bitter winds, moody clouds, and noxious paint fumes. The first full day surrounded by nothing but water and food drew to a close. I wished for my pillow to hasten our time of arrival in Juneau the following day.

~ * ~

Next on April 13th – North to Alaska: Yay!  Juneau Ahead

© 2018 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles


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North to Alaska: First Day on Board

While we had been at dinner our first night, someone emptied the garbage and deposited complimentary black, reusable (Holland America branded) bags on the beds. A basket of mixed fruit awaiting our arrival yesterday included a sheet to tick off new choices. New fruit decorated the small pedestal table by the loveseat.

I woke in the night with a queasy stomach. In the early morning, it was truly upset. I wondered if it had anything to do with the food last night—not the four measly ounces of wine, surely. I managed to rally though, food again on my mind or was it my stomach talking?

                                                     Water, water everywhere

Nervous about strangers going through our things, we hung the privacy sign outside our door before going to breakfast. It appeared everyone on the ship came to eat at the same time, at the same restaurant as if all the others were closed. We squeezed in next to another couple who were from Washington State. A Michigan couple joined us: a stunning, warm, and fun loving Peruvian woman; her American husband was less so.

Talked out and full after eating—three cups of coffee for me—we explored levels four and five. Guess what we found. A lending library. I drooled over the books despite having packed my own and we each took out two. Why? Maybe because we could. When would we have time to read? No matter. Preparedness is my middle name.

After much finagling, we figured out how to plug in Mary’s phone (an ordinary plug over the room’s desk. Sheesh.) Lucky I brought my (plug) converter as the other one would no accommodate the plug for my iPad.

The hair blower hid in the desk drawer not on the shelf in the bathroom as we turned the room upside down looking for it. Success was useless as the too large prongs refused to fit any of the outlets, even the one in the bathroom.

The privacy sign had not deterred the stateroom attendants from knocking after we returned from breakfast. They insisted on doing up the room—protocol and all that—though we suggested we’d look after the room. The incompatibility of plug and hair blower developed into a hot topic with the attendants. Their efforts failed, too. They promised to bring another one and told us to put this one back in the drawer.

“Won’t the next people have the same problem?” I asked.

Mary later solved the mystery by trying the outlets over the desk again and good thing as no one brought another dryer throughout our seven-day cruise. Some things you cannot be shy about. A working hair dryer is a must.

An announcement came over the PA system after lunch:

  • 334 nautical miles from Vancouver
  • 467 remaining to Juno
  • 10:30 tonight, between Canada and U.S. border
  • At 2:00 a.m. the clock will go back an hour.
  • Naturalist talk outside at scheduled times. (Too damp to attend)

I had a salad for lunch and a pizza slice. I should have stopped at the salad. Orange cheese on pizza? Awful. Awful. The dough, black olives, onions, mushrooms etc. were okay—no, they were tasteless. This did not taste like pizza and I can make no comparisons. Mozzarella instead might have helped.

~ * ~

Next on April 6th – North to Alaska: Snooping Around

© 2018 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles


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North to Alaska: Vancouver Lookout

We repacked our bags in readiness to leave for the ship before noon and raced off to downtown Vancouver. Included in our Alaska trip were tickets to visit Harbour Center Lookout Tower. Jean double-parked and we hopped out lickety-split as the impatient traffic was horrendous. An attendant at an information desk gave directions to another elevator as the one across from her was down. Great. A good opportunity to get lost as we also needed to find a Ladies and the street floor teamed with busy, bustling humanity, everyone with an agenda. Mary surprised me by not stopping at the many stores we passed. “Maybe later,” she said, “if there is time.” Was I hearing her right?

The elevator had room for about three more people. We whisked up 28 floors in no time, though I had no idea how many floors there were upon our arrival. This skyscraper of a Lookout Tower opened in 1977 and is the sixth tallest building in Vancouver: 147 meters tall (160.761 yards or 482.283 feet). Good thing I’m not afraid of heights (liar) and only suffer claustrophobia in small spaces.

All I can say is wow! The whole top floor was made of glass from about chest-high. Had the glass been lower, I would have raced to the elevator and hugged the floor on the way down.

I photographed all the plagues below with accompanying pictures. They are not my own but are part of the exhibit at the Lookout. Credit goes to various people and organizations as shown on the plaques.

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Taken from the 28th floor, the harbor is still breathtaking. (Photos two and three below are my own.)

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Quick Facts:

  • British Columbia is larger than any U.S. state except Alaska
  • It is four times bigger than Britain
  • The size of France, Germany and the Netherlands combined
  • 637,699 square miles
  • 2014 Population 647,540
  • Average summer temperatures 72°F; in winter 43°F
  • Snow about 2.4″ per year
  • Ranked best city in the world to live
  • Ranked most expensive city to live
  • University of British Columbia largest in Western Canada (campus and students)
  • UBC created 1908; first lecture 1915
  • Relocated to Point Grey 1925
  • Well-known for medical and engineering programs
  • One of top 40 in the world
  • UBC home to 41,000 undergrads
  • UBC home to 10,000 graduates
  • Hosted Olympic games 2010
  • Last World’s Fair in North America in 1986
  • Della Falls highest in
  • 75% is mountains (3280 feet above sea level)
  • 60% is forested
  • 5% suitable for growing crops
  • The National Geographic tree is in Stanley Park
  • 98 feet in circumference, considered largest of its kind in the world
  • Sitka Spruce, (The Heaven tree) is 800 years old
  • Some cedars in the park considered over 1,000 years old

Included here are just a few of the zillion pictures I took.

~ * ~

Next on March 9th: North to Alaska: Bye-bye Vancouver

© 2018 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles


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North to Alaska: A-Hiking We Will Go

To be fair, I should include what little I know about this Vancouver hiking group. Friends added friends and the group expanded due to similar interests and bonding.  All my family has met them on several occasions during our visits to see sister, Jean. Warmer and more generous people I have never met.

They invited me to what?

A hiking we will go © Jon Nightingale

Towering, impossibly straight trees framed our path and filtered penetrating May sunlight through new leaves and branches. The clean scent of fresh air, cedar, ferns, fir trees, and dry dirt in our path path greeted all comers. Now and again, birds twittered, but quiet reigned except for the odd low-keyed conversation. Other hikers passed in both directions. Heaven.

 

The path began more or less three-people wide on the level gravel-covered ground. At times, we stood aside for other passers-by. A small incline rose up and up till I was breathless and heaving. Was I out of shape or what?

The majority of the seasoned hikers slogged ahead at a brisk pace compared to sisters Jean and Mary, Liz, and me. Jean suggested we slow our pace as we needn’t keep up with the others. The going became rough: stair-like ascent over roots and stones for footholds. Where the trees grew thicker, the roots were wet and the hiking trail muddy and water-soaked. Treacherous doesn’t describe it. Unsteady, I kept my balance—just. Was I up for this?

I can. I can. I can. © Jon Nightingale

I worried how we’d get back to the parking lot though we hadn’t gone half-way, which happened at Jug Island Beach.

Jean and others pulled out snacks and water. Mary ripped off shoes and socks to cool off ankle-deep at water’s edge. The cool temperature discouraged swimmers—still too early in the season. Logs, rocks, and sand offered seating for all who chose to relax or catch their breath. We four arrived much later than the rest of the group.

Though I had a sneaking suspicion, I had to ask. “How do we get back?”

“Same way you came.”

Blast. Back over the wood stairs, rough stairs of dirt and stones, both minus handrails. Going down was easier than going up and I made it. Liz joined the rest of the group as we three sisters stayed together on our return. Whether altitude or lack of sleep, Jean asked permission to help when my legs refused to maneuver a tricky spot while on my hunches. Yes, she pushed me there.

At one point, Mary noticed we were in unfamiliar territory. We’d wandered off the trail. Funny about the timing. Jean and I gazed around, struck with the same thought. Seeing no other hikers for several minutes was daunting.

We shared our misadventure with a couple with an obedient Doberman, with whom we crossed paths. They confirmed we were back on track.

A man from our group passed by, who had made a last minute dash to the facilities following picture-taking. We were gone when he came out. Having no idea which trail we’d chosen first, he struck out on his own. Rotten luck. Alone, he made record time and now passed us on his second trail in.

A parking lot peeked through the trees, but which one was it? Passing hikers pointed to the curve in our path, which snaked to the road across from the lot we needed. Neither of us had a clear recollection of crossing the road at the start of the hike.

Decision made we’d ditch the second hike, we found Ralph had scored the last picnic table for return hikers. The sodden grass squished beneath our runners as we squelched our way toward him. At times, our shoes sank low past the soles. Canadian geese ambled about as if they owned the park, children laughed and hollered and ran. Tense parents kept an eye on them while unpacking picnic lunches.

The sun bright and weather spring-like, a chill breeze ruffled our hair. Grateful for a place to sit, I dropped to the bench. Jean suggested Mary and I snooze in the SUV till the second round of hikers returned. Though tired, closing my gritty and burning eyes was enough. I could not sleep.

I came alive when talk of lunch at a pub surfaced through the half-open SUV window. I’d lost all track of time but my tummy had not.

~ * ~

Next on February 23rd – North to Alaska: The Peoples’ Path and more

© 2018 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles