How the Cookie Crumbles

Life and scribbles on the far side of SIXTY-FIVE


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Vancouver: Grouse Mountain and a Little Politics

The return walk across the far-reaching rocky bridge was not as intimidating as upon our arrival at Capilano. The skywalk complete, we checked out the (tourist trap) gift shop. I didn’t buy anything. Before we searched for our bus, Mary hankered for an ice cream cone (expensive), though the line was long and the clock was tick-tick-ticking to departure.

Another adventure coming up closer to heaven. Next stop, Grouse Mountain. Unlike the cable car in this video, ours did not allow personal space or movement. Stuck in the middle, I avoided vertigo since I could not look down.

Quick Tips:

  • 15 minutes outside downtown Vancouver
  • Gondola 3700 feet above the city
  • Breathtaking views
  • Grizzly Bear habitat
  • 2008 Mountain Ziplining begins
  • 2010 Olympic Games
  • Learn to snowboard on Grouse Mountain
  • Mount Seymour known for snowshoeing
  • One must be in good shape to ski on Whistler Mountain
  • https://www.grousemountain.com/web-cams/chalet-cam

During our visit May 18th, 2017, the tables and umbrellas were under snow unlike in the webcam link above.

A recent snowfall necessitated a hasty cleanup. Here is Mary, tiny beside the towering snow.

We were off to visit the bears.

A huge, two-story building on the property houses restaurants, shops, gardens with a patio and a fantastic lookout and an observation area:

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The cable car would not leave till every last person on the mountain squeezed into our car. This time I was crammed against a bit of window, wedged in so tight, I did not manage to capture any pictures. Mary was more successful.

Mary grabbed a robe and headed to the North Tower to the pool she had researched. Because the 3rd floor had been roped off to the catwalk due to some big deal Liberal party goings-on, she had to find another entrance.

Taking a change of clothes to the pool hadn’t crossed her mind. She returned across the parking lot in the bathrobe. She soon returned, describing the swarms of security personnel roaming the hotel property

Mary dressed for dinner but not till she tried on all the clothes in her luggage. Maybe she knew something I did not. I was starving after a full day outside and anxious to eat. The doors to the North Tower were locked, warning signs posted saying so, and cordoned off. Security men in suits scrutinized our persons as if we were criminals. Mary inquired how we’d get inside to Café One and our dinner. With a lazy smile and a slow-moving hand, one of the men unlocked the door.

We waited for the door unlocking again after eating. Two security men’s conversation was more important than our escape to our hotel rooms. Soon as the doors opened, hooting and hollering drew our distracted attention: a demonstration on the hotel’s front lawn. Whoopee. Not a huge crowd, maybe a hundred angry citizens, but they made enough noise for hundreds.

Spectators gaped while placard grapplers shouted their displeasure with Prime Minister Trudeau’s. Ahh. The security measures became clear. We heard our PM was in the same building where we’d eaten. The day before Mary and I snooped upstairs of the restaurant. Large conference rooms were setup with refreshment tables. Maybe setting up for this day’s conference? Days later when I checked my laptop for news of the demonstration, I found this video regarding the $750.00 fundraiser the PM attended at our hotel.

https://bc.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=112844

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Next on August 10th – Vancouver: The Rocky Mountaineer

© 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.

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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.

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

© 2018 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles


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North to Alaska: Will We Make it to the Airport?

When my sister, Mary, and I booked this trip, by way of Vancouver the year before, I’d been gung-ho. The day for departure had arrived, but my heart wasn’t in it.

The afternoon before our flight, I booked a taxi online, then called by evening to check the booking with a human being. Everything was fine. We were set.

When I go away, I use Gravity Pet Feeders (one for each cat with kibble and one full of water for both). That taken care of, Mary and I watched a movie when Dickens waddled to the sofa and sank into the carpet at my feet. His breathing laborious, heavy, and shallow, terrified me. Was he knocking on heaven’s door? What timing for a vet visit so close to our flight. Dollars spun in my head. I picked him up. His eyes were dull and half-mast. What to do? We analyzed the circumstances and an Aha moment struck. Unbeknownst to me, he and Lady Gaga thought they’d arrived at Kibble Heaven and gorged on the mountain of food before it disappeared. Dickens stuffed himself to bursting and had to wait it out. Lady Gaga, ever a lady, pushed away from the tray sooner than he. Just. An hour later Dickens’ breathing better, we toddled off to bed, I wrestling he’d make it through the night; Mary off to sweet dreams. Dickens isn’t her cat.

I never sleep well before a trip. Worried about the scheduled taxi pickup in the dark hours of the morning—more like the middle of the night—I woke up at 2 a.m. sleep gone. My bedside alarm finally jolted me out of a doze two hours later. The travel alarm I’d specifically purchased as a backup had failed. Mary’s phone alarm rang first. Good save.

Forty-five minutes isn’t a lot of time to get ready and out the door but we managed. Dressed, beds made, breakfast choked down, dishes rinsed and deposited into the dishwasher.

As I scrambled, the phone rang with an automated message that our taxi was in transit. Five minutes later, another call: the cab waited in the driveway. Mary gobbled her cereal as did I. My bags were already upstairs by the front door; hers in the trunk of her car.

What is it with taxi drivers with his personal items in the trunk, leaving little room for passengers’ bags? I’ve seen it happen before. He didn’t know how to position them to close the trunk. Exasperated, I leaned in and made them fit. Our carry-ons came into the back seat with us. I had asked for the $35.00 flat rate to the local airport. Agreed. You have to ask for it. Mary and I each kicked in $20 for a five-dollar tip, considering the ride lasted 15 minutes and the storage shortage in the trunk.

An airport attendant, mere feet from the door we entered, approached right away and helped with printing the boarding passes and luggage tags. The agent told us to bring our luggage to the conveyor belt and goodbye bags. They weren’t even weighed. How does that happen? Wow! Mary over-packs coming and going and fussed about paying extra for an overweight bag.

What a difference between Hamilton Airport and Toronto’s Pearson, or are domestic flights less complicated? A previous domestic flight we’d taken from Toronto was nothing like this one. No hassles: no crowds, long lines, miles to walk, and no belt or shoe removal. The Waiting Area was one minute away from—what else?—a Tim Hortons. Mary needed a coffee; I held off a few minutes. Fumble fingers me almost tossed the hot liquid all over myself when I did. How I managed a quick save, I’ll never know.

“What was that?” Mary asked with a smirk. A few minutes later, she up-ended her coffee on the table where her brown overflow carry-all/purse rested wide open with now wet contents. After our boarding passes had printed, the lovely attendant mentioned boarding would be late about an hour. Our Direct flight to Vancouver needed to be refueled and prepared for return there. I wondered why our boarding pass and the electronic posting still say 6:25 a.m. Mary had checked if the plane would be on time the previous night as you’re supposed to. Confirmed. Flight time not changed. By 6:40, the overhead flight information flashed:

Flight 241 departure 6:25 a.m. Delayed. Estimated 7:25 a.m. 

Thank you.

Our waiting area for Gate 3 had a scattered dozen souls. An announcement over the loudspeaker apologized for a minor delay: some valve(s) had to be replaced. Valve(s)? Didn’t sound minor to me. I believe in transparency, but this was scary news. Why were valves mentioned at all? And don’t say they are a minor fix. What’s minor about them? They all feel major to me since we’re to lift off into the sky.

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Next on February 9, 2018: Where’s the Easy Button?

© 2018 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles