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All posts for the year 2013

Didn’t sleep well.  Missing home and family a bit, and very sad for the missing kittenface.  It wasn’t raining though, so thats a start.  I feel like it rains a lot here in Winter.   Not even proper rain, but often just grey and drizzly.   Time to go to the rockies I think, where it will be cold, but at least we’ll have snow, and wilderness.

Station

Station

Trains

Trains

We went with the Hostel over to the Lynn Canyon Park area, where they have a suspension bridge over a very pretty canyon.  There is a small area of woodland kept around it, so you can walk over the bridge, and then up and down the river, without much indication that there is a major city nearby.   Except for the people, always seems to be a lot of people at all the parks we have been to, I think simply because they’re near cities, and popular.  I guess it didn’t help either, that around 40 people from the hostel were there :)

The main suspension bridge is across quite a deep gorge, 50 metres deep.  There didn’t seem to be a limit to the number of people who were allowed on the bridge at once, so it was a bit of a nervous walk for me, with well over 20 people making the bridge sway.

The bridge that was ridiculously, scarily full.    I hope they don't have a people limit, coz there were a lot of people

The bridge that was ridiculously, scarily full. I hope they don’t have a people limit, coz there were a lot of people

Dale on a bridge

Dale on a bridge

A cute little waterfall

A cute little waterfall

The waterfalls were pretty, and there was a slight woodland mist writhing through the trees.

A pretty canadian river

A pretty canadian river

I found a rock

I found a rock

Bright green droopy moss

Bright green droopy moss

Dale cannot hide in the moss with his new jacket

Dale cannot hide in the moss with his new jacket

Boots

Boots

We wandered up the river to 30 foot pool.  Perhaps that is how big it is?  It is a area of spread out calm water, before the river moves off over rocks.  It is very clear, you can see to the bottom, and is a forest green colour.    If you look upstream, the canyon before the pool is very deep, and there is a waterfall feeding it.

Pretty river

Pretty river

River.   The hardest part of the day was taking pictures of the pretty without other people in the background.

River. The hardest part of the day was taking pictures of the pretty without other people in the background.

30 foot pool

30 foot pool

Waterfall, hidden up a gorge

Waterfall, hidden up a gorge

We walked up the stairs, back around to the bridge, then down to the twin falls area.  This was pretty amazing, with a couple of falls, and a mass of water being chuted down between rocks, to fall in a frothy mass of white at the base.  Massive tree trunks were lying on the rocks to the far side of the falls, where they had been moved in high water, then settled.

Waterfall

Waterfall

Base of the big waterfall

Base of the big waterfall

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The whole area was lovely, it made me think of typical canada woods that you see on tv, all pretty trees, rocks, and flowing river.  Many of the trees were covered in a thick layer of draping moss, bright green in the gloom.

We got to ride a ferry and some buses, we are definitely figuring out how to ride the buses, with the immense help of google maps on my phone.

We awoke at a decent hour, showered, ate, and moved our stuff to our new room (we had to move back into shared dorms), and headed off through town.   We had recently learned that once you purchase a bus ticket, you can use it for an hour and a half, so you can hop on and off buses, which is great.  We bussed down to Stanley Park, this time to go to the aquarium.   Now, the aquarium, you say, its just fish, and we’ve seen fish before.. But nope, this aquarium is pretty cool.
They were really quite busy, it was a Friday, but it is the holiday period, so no idea how busy they usually are.  There were quite a lot of people.  They have shows running every half hour, on various interest points in the aquarium.   We walked straight into the sea otters talk, and it turns out the otters we saw the other day are not even a little bit big enough to be sea otters, so they must have been river otters.  Still cute, but not quite as awsum.   I think the west coast of Vancouver island is a good place to see sea otters.   They have three at the Aquarium.  They are quite large, can apparently weigh up to 45kg.   They have an amazing amount of hair on them, and even when in water, the layer of hair closest to the skin is still dry.  They use hair (unlike other sea mammals, who use a layer of fat – blubber) to keep warm in the freezing and wet.  The one we saw was super cute, the trainers were feeding him heaps, he would grab each bit and then lie on his back, floating around like a little raft, and eat his food.  He uses his huge  paddle like back feet to keep up the right way, but he made it look super easy just to lie there.

Sea Otter

Sea Otter

After the otters, we wandered for a bit, then went to visit the seals.  They were doing training, and made them jump up and down, and give kisses for food.  I unfortunately didn’t get any pics of the kisses, but they were cute!

Sea Lions

Sea Lions

My favourite part of the aquarium were the Beluga Whales.  I didn’t even have a clue they were there, but they are amazing and pretty, and very very white!  They are weirdly lumpy, but quite agile for their size.  They can wiggle their forehead bump, and can make quite a lot of noises.  It is hard to take pics of beluga with our little camera, most of them came out very white.

Beluga

Beluga

Trainig with the keeper

Trainig with the keeper

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The other parts we saw were the beluga show, where we got splashed, the Dolphin show, where they jumped amazingly high, and the seal show, where they were super cute.

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The dolphins have a lot of trust in their trainers

The dolphins have a lot of trust in their trainers

I was a bit sad about the dolphins in the small enclosure, but it turns out most of the animals they have in the aquarium are rescues, have been hand raised, or for whatever reason, can’t actually be released back into the wild, as they would likely not be able to look after themselves. One of the dolphins had pretty much no pectoral fins, as she had lost them in a fishing net.   The keepers had to teach many of the animals how to properly act like they should.

This little guy liked to swim upside down

This little guy liked to swim upside down

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Hi thar!

Hi thar!

The aquarium also had a couple of snakes, including an anaconda, which is a constrictor, and was in the process of constricting and eating its food while we walked past.   There was an amazon section, warm and humid, that has sloths and monkeys, and a big section on frogs of the area.  The other section was the British Columbia area, where they had tanks made up in the type of fish and plants you would find in particular areas around Vancouver.  There were a lot of cool anenome and starfish, and they had a whole jellyfish exhibition, which was neat.

We must have spent about 6 hours there before we decided we had seen enough, and made our way home.  We had a lovely view of a waterfront and pretty lights.

 

Caiman.  He looked like he was a stuffed caiman, but he was breathing.  So just likes to sleep in awkward positions

Caiman. He looked like he was a stuffed caiman, but he was breathing. So just likes to sleep in awkward positions

Ssssssnnake

Ssssssnnake

Ducks, that like warm

Ducks, that like warm

Weird little fish that sit in the sand

Weird little fish that sit in the sand

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anenome

anenome

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Om nom nom

Om nom nom

Jellyfishes

Jellyfishes

Lions mane jellyfish

Lions mane jellyfish

 

Downtown Vancouver

Downtown Vancouver

Downtown Vancouver

Downtown Vancouver

Downtown Vancouver

Downtown Vancouver

Tuesday we sorted out our food for Christmas, then joined some hostel friends for a visit to the Christmas market.  That was very festive, with heaps of stalls, with many toys and creations from Germany, Austria, and a few from closer.  There was hot cider and mulled wine, and many great foods.  We tried a German pretzel and some candies.  There was a carousel, and a man playing the accordion, and a lady accompanying him on the cowbell.   It was a pleasant evening, and set the mood for Christmas.

 

Christmas market

Christmas market

German toys

German toys

German toys, pretty cool!

German toys, pretty cool!

Beer steins

Beer steins

Handmade crockery

Handmade crockery

TIn soldier

TIn soldier

German sausage

German sausage

More cowbell

More cowbell

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We spent the rest of the day when we weren’t eating or visiting the market, skyping family in NZ/Aus.  It was lovely to talk to everyone, but very weird, as it was Christmas Day for them.  I felt a bit sad at first, but it was great to talk to everyone, and it made the 24th seem like xmas to us, so we had xmas day the same time as everyone else.

the 25th was a very relaxed day.  We ate food, watched movies: ‘Die Hard’ at the backpackers, and then we went out after dinner to see ‘Catching Fire’ at the theatre.  There were quite a lot of people at the theatre, and a lot of people at the backpackers restaurant, all making xmas in whatever way they could.
I found the most delishus cider, an apple and ginger one.  Excellent.

 

Boxing day was all about sales, we bought many things, including a snowboard, bindings, snowboard pants, waterproof overpants, and delshuz amazing down jackets… never thought I would own a puffer jacket, but it is amazing, like a snuggly sleeping bag I can wear in public!  Yay!

 

First day in Vancouver that has been sunny, and apparently 9 degrees c outside!   Tropical!  We are going out for another tour, this time in the sun (it has been drizzling since we arrived).

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What a silly building

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We walked down to Stanley Park, through the christmas park, and then walked around the sea wall.

People from the hostel.  The sun was very bright

People from the hostel. The sun was very bright

Downtown Vancouver

Downtown Vancouver

GIngetrbread house

GIngetrbread house

A very tall and red reindeer

A very tall and red reindeer

reindeer

reindeer

Lights

Lights

It must have been about 20km by the time we got home, but it was pretty fun.   Lots of pretty views, of the different parts of Vancouver, and the mountains behind.  At one point we saw otters, which made me very excited (I had spent much of the day on San Juan looking out for these little guys).  There were three of them, and we saw them first swimming.  They would dive down, their little tails sticking up in the air until they disappeared.  They surfaced, and swam to the nearest rock, where they proceeded to place their crab on the rock, and then eat it.  All of it.  Didn’t take long, and they didn’t seem to care about the shells or the fact that the crabs were still alive.  They also fought each other over the crabs, and one was just rubbing himself on the weed on the rock.  Maybe he wanted to smell like crab.  At the time I thought they were sea otters, but after meeting sea otters at the aquarium, I deicided they were river otters, as they didn’t seem big enough for sea otters.  ALso, they got out of the water a lot.

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A bridge

A bridge

Swimming otters

Swimming otters

Otters

Otters

OTters

OTters

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An eagle!

An eagle! (very tiny!)

There were heaps of large ships waiting in the harbour, perhaps for the right time to come in?  I counted at least 10 just waiting.  The sun was low in the sky, nearly setting at about 4pm, and we finished our walk and made our way back to the hostel.

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Sunset

Sunset

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Silly little heron was sitting in the swimming pool

Silly little heron was sitting in the swimming pool

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Ships, wating..

After a quick nap and dinner, we joined a couple of the other hostellers to go out to the christmas market, but that unfortunately had a line that stretched (literally) halfway around the block, so we went back to the park instead.   At the park, we got to visit the Christmas area, where they had a squillion lights, scenes and decorations set up, and they had a cute little xmas train, that takes you on a 10min ride around a track, through even more squillion lights and scenes.  It was so bright, and very very pretty… if I had to compare it to anything… In Rotorua on Xmas eve, we would get the list of houses participating in the christmas lights trail, and we would drive around and visit them all.  That was pretty cool.   This was like all those houses, plus every other house decorated in Rotorua, all in one small area.  They even had a 6m tall reindeer.   Hot chocolate and apple juice and gingerbread and all sorts. ‘

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There was a large snoopy walking around

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Excited about the train!

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All the trees were wrapped in lights

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Little train

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Canada!

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Lights reflected in water

Lights reflected in water

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Red nosed Reindeer crossing

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Snoopy

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Displays

Displays

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Lights

Lights

Red reindeer

Red reindeer

Sign!

Sign!

 

Sunday I did some photoing/blogging, then we went with our hostel for a tour of Granville Island, which is apparently a big tourist destination, though I hadn’t really heard of it.  It used to be icky and industrial, but they cleaned it up and now it is artsy and contemporary, with workshops, an art school and a market with large amounts of delishuz food.

The L was broken

The L was broken

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A pet store!  Resides in an old train carriage

A pet store! Resides in an old train carriage

 

No one technically lives on the island, as it is a public place, but there are a number of house boats (boat houses?  Literally, houses floating on the water, anchored to a dock.  Like, full 2 storey proper built houses) that are located tied up to the island, but not actually on it.

The edge of the island, the start of the floating houses

The edge of the island, the start of the floating houses

Floating houses

Floating houses

We wandered around there for a while, then did a bit of a walk to find me a wool shop. Bought stuff for a project, then we caught a bus back home.  Finally managed to make our own dinner, and had a quiet evening in.

 

Totem pole carving

Totem pole carving

A flag on a hill that coveres a bunch of rubbish

A flag on a hill that coveres a bunch of rubbish

This is stuff they didn't want to move when they revamped the island, so they put it here and painted it.

This is stuff they didn’t want to move when they revamped the island, so they put it here and painted it.

Boat taxis!!!

Boat taxis!!!

Vancouver, and the cute little boat taxis

Vancouver, and the cute little boat taxis

 

Woke feeling super sleepy, wandered around Vancouver, checked out some of the shops, figured out what other clothes we need so we don’t freeze here, and was still super sleepy.

Outside the main stadium

Outside the main stadium

Walking over one of the bridges

Walking over one of the bridges

The evening we went to the lantern festival, which marks the Winter solstice.  It started with a small group of people walking down the street, following a few guys playing instruments, drums and a saxaphone.

The guys who led the people,  playing their instruments

The guys who led the people, playing their instruments

Lanterns

Lanterns

Was interesting, but didn’t seem that big a deal.  We stopped in a park, ate pies and had a drink, then the marching line continued to the next park.  Here there was a roped off area, and a whole pile more people were congregating.  There, a group of fire dancers performed, with feats like a burning hula hoop, fire poi, and fire eating.   It was a bit surreal, surrounded by the lights of the city, with fire and snow.  You can’t see from the picture, but they had a post in the ground that was pretty much just embers, they must have lit it on fire earlier, and were using the embers now to light their poi.

Fire dancing

Fire dancing

Later on they had a lantern labyrinth, which was pretty cool, and a few other things going on: making light drawings with rice and stuff, and a planaterium, and a lot of artists doing performances throughout the night.

Lantern Labyrinth

Lantern Labyrinth

Lantern Labyrinth

Lantern Labyrinth

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People making the pattern

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Light drawing creation

Light drawing creation

The final one we saw was a group of three people doing trippy music with a keyboard, guitar, drums, or a digeree doo.   That room was all dark, with a crazy lit up balloon tree, and large lantern flowers.  A bit trippy overall, but quite relaxing.  People were just lying around enjoying the music.

Balloon tree

Balloon tree

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Mac and cheese pizza, nom

Mac and cheese pizza, nom

We awoke to a world covered in a lovely blanket of white.  The flakes had fallen softly all night, and there was a snowy glow in the air.

Snowing!

Snowing!

Our super cute little cabin

Our super cute little cabin

My phone had decided it was in Denver before I put it in flight mode for the night, as no reception, so the alarm was all wrong, decided a to wake us up at 5am instead of 8.  Back to sleep for a bit, thenwe were treated to a delishuz breakfast of blueberry pancakes with real maple syrup.  After breakfast we got driven in the 4wd truck, slowly to town through the snow.  It was very pretty, with the fields all covered.

The drive across San Juan Island

The drive across San Juan Island

Friday Harbour, pretty as a postcard

Friday Harbour, pretty as a postcard

We  picked up our tickets and caught the ferry from Friday harbour to Sidney, which was exciting, as it was where we were entering Canada. It was a bit more sad in Sidney, with the rain interspersed with hail and cold.  We got offered a ride to the other part of the island where the next ferry was, which was about 15mins drive, but we got stuck in customs for ages as we were getting our work permits, so we didn’t get our ride.  We walked the short distance (short yes, but 20mins walking with the packs and the snowboard in the rain was a bit of a pain) to town in the rain and hail, and managed to catch the bus.  We had to run to catch it,which isn’t that pleasant with packs, but we made it.  Most of the buses in both the us and Canada seem to like correct change, which is a pain in the bum.   Luckily the bus guy accepted American dollars, and the bus took us across the island to Swartz Harbour.  We got on a much bigger ferry, that headed off to Vancouver.
People told us that the ferry would be a lovely way to enter Canada, such a pretty way, to enter by sea… but we didn’t see a thing, just mist and cold and rain.  Off the ferry, onto a bus, then off the bus and on to a train, then off the train and a wee walk to our backpackers.  We are staying at the Samesun backpackers.. is not as nice as the Green Tortoise in San Fran, but it will hopefully do.
By the time we arrived we were pretty tired, we lay around for a bit, got dinner and then went to sleep

 

The view out our window in Vancouver

The view out our window in Vancouver