Bear viewing was a brutally early start and I drove as the sun rose up to Whistler for a 5.45am start. There were three of us in the car on the trip and we saw loads of bears. It was brilliant. I loved just sitting and watching one bear potter around eating grass. I learnt so much interesting stuff about bears from the lady who also worked in bear study and ecology. I was amazed to hear that around 10 nuisance bears a year are killed there. She said sometimes moving them works, but that they can come back, become someone elses problems or die of starvation if they are older and less adaptable. I also learned about Spirit Bears – white black bears who have evolved to be white as they mostly eat salmon and white is harder to see above the water if you are a fish.
After the bears, I headed to the base of Whistler mountain and got the lift up to take the Peak to Peak Gondola acceoss to Blackcombe Mountain and back. The Peak to Peak was impressive – I think had I not seen so many incredible sights lately it would have been even more breathtaking! How incredibly ungrateful I feel for saying that! It was great though and the mountains were covered with thick white snow still.
I was up so early that I felt ready for a sleep by the time I had some food and pottered around Whistler. I wanted to head back to Cleveland Dam for a nap in the sunshine, but there was a huge traffic jam. After two hours stuck almost at a stand still, I had crawled far enough to reach a layby that conveniently had a beach nearby if I went accross some old train tracks and a golf course. I had a swim in the sea and sunbathed and chatted to people on the beach. A couple of other traffic jam refugees had also made it there. Such a strange place where I can be in a winter wonderland in the morning and sunbathing in the afternoon a couple of hours away.
By the time I made it back to Downtown Vancouver, it was late. I stayed at the University which was okay, but a downgrade from my lovely room in Squamish. Cant really complain though at $35 a night. I stayed here for my final two nights. There was no wifi in the rooms, so the main reception foyer was full of people in their pyjamas using the internet. Very strange.
It was time for my second go at Whale Watching. Back in Steveson and better prepared for the open water breeze, I settled in with a packed lunch and a cup of tea ready for the excitment. Success! Luckily, this time we saw whales. Lots of whales. Killer whales. Groups of them, mums, dads, babies! The guide knew which whales we were seeing by their marks so could tell us roughly how old they were and who was who. There were whales all around. And more boats. The guide said the whales have never been bothered by the boats and there are strict laws enforcing how close boats are allowed to go. We saw lots more sea lions hanging out on big buoys.
Back on land and I was off to see a old chum. Before the adventure began, I met a friend on one of the moving to Canada Facebook groups and we met up before coming here. That was two years ago and we were filled with excitement and questions and plans and no idea what would happen in the end. He visited Toronto and is now living in Vancouver, so it was nice to see him and catch up now we are closer to the end of the adventure. We went to Kitsilano Beach for some chat and sitting in the sun. It was really lovely seeing a familiar face.
The final day in Vancouver and my excellent luck with the weather came to an end. Oh how it poured! I still had a few things to do before getting a 10pm flight back to Toronto. I went to the Vancouver Police Museum which was interesting. It was small compared to some others like the Mob Museum in Vegas, but it had some cool crime stuff and props, particularly in the old morgue part of the museum. Unfortunately, there were strict rule not allowing me to open the drawers that hold the bodies. I kind of wish I just did it. There were preserved body parts that were once on display with a travelling circus. They showed bullets and stab wounds through various body parts. There were also preserved foetuses from illegal abortions – though I actually looked and it amazed me how real it was and not like a blob. It is still legal to abort at this size in England.
After the museum, I drove around the “dodgy” part of town. Vancouver has rare Supervised Injection Site where Substance Abusers can go to inject safely. I wanted to go and look around, but was told it was benefit week and there was no space on tours available as the opening hours are extended. This is a shame as people have been trying to get one of these opened at home. There was a memorial wall on East Hastings Street for memories and photos of people that have overdosed. The area was horrifying. Absolutely horrifying. I saw two blue light ambulances within two blocks. It was clear that the busy street was crowded mostly with active users. The shops looked closed up, but as I crawled along and looked closer, it was just that they all had bars on the windows and doors, but were still open. The whole place was so incredibly sad. I was amazed at Toronto when I first arrived, and the amount of people who clearly have mental health issues on the streets, but this was a whole other level. I just dont understand how a city can let it get that bad – I wanted to open the boot and give out my clothes and go buy food to give out to people.
My day was not all doom and gloom, I was off in search of a donut my friend had told me about. Deep Cove. A really pretty lovely little seaside village with boats and cute little shops and cafes. Im not normally a fan of donuts unless its a Krispy Kreme, but the donuts here were phenomincal. And warm. So, so good. I managed to have a little walk around on the beach, but it was too wet to do the hiking trails when I had to get a plane.
My final stop was Wreck Beach. I have heard all sorts of things about Wreck Beach. It was raining, so I can not possibly comment on the optional clothing policy or anything else. The beaches in Vancouver seem to have big telegraph poles and logs on them laid out. I love it as it gives you are little area, your own space so its not quite so sardine like. The steps down were insane, so I asked someone after walking along the beach for a while if there was another way up. A chap who called himself “Mike, the mushroom guy” who seemed to live on the beach in the summer showed me where the cliff path was. It was insanely steep and good hard work, but infinitely more satisfying than those steps would have been. The mushroom guy was very friendly and slightly redeemed the previously mentioned unfriendliness from Vancouverites.
My flight home was uneventful. I didnt sleep. There was a gorgeous sunrise getting in to Toronto at 6am. I was determined not to mess up my sleeping by sleeping all day, so I went home and resolved to have a quick power nap. Then slept the day away!