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Canadian Odyssey

Updated on April 28, 2013

An aliens view of Vancouver and British Columbia

When I heard that a friend of mine who had emigrated to Canada was getting married over there I decided I was going. Never having been out of Europe let alone as far as North America it was a bit of a leap into the unknown.

To be fair I was a Briton going to British Columbia it wasn't akin to a Tibetan Monk from a remote Himalayan village being dropped in the centre of Paris, however in England we're not used to anything much bigger than a squirrel so all the unnecessarily large wildlife was a concern.


Friendly is the word that springs to mind. As an Englishman I'm not used to excessive friendliness, it frightens me and puts me in a state of heightened alert for other imposters like eye contact on public transport and talking about emotions. Canadians on the other hand will chat about anything to anyone.

In England you occasionally get people who like to talk but often they don't need to have you talk back, in fact if you wondered off and left your coat behind they would talk to that instead, these people generally get jobs as taxi drivers, politicians or my wife. Canadians however seem genuinely interested in you and your opinions, I think its a distraction so the bears can sneak up on you.

Settling in.

It was a sunny September day when we arrived so we decided to go for a few beers and get an early night as the jet lag was setting in. To ensure Karma is evenly distributed in Vancouver they make all the attractive girls work in the bars, I can only assume the lawyers and doctors are ugly.

The first morning the groom decided that a gentle hike would sort our jet lag out. To the layman especially a lazy, middle aged non-hiking layman a gentle hike would go across meadows, along babbling brooks and, at a push, near rolling hills it certainly wouldn't be anywhere that had the word Mount in the name.

So we parked at the base station of Mount Seymore at around 6am. This was, as I discovered later, a sedate introduction into what would go on to be dubbed "The Boot Camp".

Bear count: zero.

The Grouse Grind

In England if anyone found a set of stairs 2 miles long it would be given the respect it deserves and nobody would go anywhere near it. In Vancouver someone found one and instead of doing the sensible thing and fencing it off they walk and sometimes run up it for fun.

It was sold to me as a 45 minute walk up an incline similar in elevation to the Mount Seymore hike, just a bit shorter, after successfully negotiating the previous day I was a bit disappointed by the use of the word "shorter", I needn't have been.

After an eternity of climbing I saw a sign ahead. I optimistically hoped for "Nearly there" and the realistic part of me prepared for the disappointment of "1/2 way". It said "1/4", I nearly cried. Anyway by a process of shame, denial and a race with an eighty year old Japanese gentleman I made it to the top, I beat his wrinkly ass btw.

Bear count: Zero

Garibaldi Lake.

As it turned out the other 2 exertions were just a prelude, an initiation test if you like, to the main event. an 11km/7mile hike up into the mountains with 30kg/70lb on my back.

I felt we had been riding our luck a bit bearwise so I argued for pepperspray, handguns, chainsaws and bear-wrestling hired help but no one agreed so I made my own bearstick out of a 4ft long, 4 inch thick tree branch sharpened to a point.

My intention was, if accosted by a bear, to stab it in the face with my bearstick or more realistically fling the bearstick in the opposite direction in the hope that the bear liked the look of it and go after that instead as I figured that stabbing a bear in the face might annoy it.

Anyway we set off and after about half an hour the first of our party lagged behind, that was OK he'll draw the bears away. After another 1/2 hour I lagged behind but that was OK too because I had the guy behind as bear fodder and the main group ahead to flush 'em out, they would have to broadside me if they wanted me so I waved my bearstick defiantly.

I continued my solitary trek through the pleasant pine forest with the sun now dappling the hillside. Tame birds and chipmunks fed from my hands, I resisted the urge to stab them in the face as I fancied my chances if it came to a fistfight. The climb levelled a bit and I passed small waterfalls and crossed bridges over clear streams.

All at once I turned a corner and suddenly it all made sense, all the blisters and aching joints, I saw the view you can see in the first picture below and thought to myself "oh yeah, get it now".

The lakes up there have a fine particle called glacial flour that is so fine it is suspended in the water giving a sensational blue hue that my phone camera has not done justice to. We camped around the lake for a couple of nights, swimming in the lake, seeing the Milky Way and resting for the second leg of our trip when we would be moving base to Whistler for the actual wedding but that's another story. Maybe I'll do a sequel lens if people like this one.

Bear count: zero.

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Any Nice Comments

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    • goldenrulecomics profile image

      goldenrulecomics 4 years ago

      It looks like you really had a lot of fun!

    • Swisstoons profile image

      Thomas F. Wuthrich 4 years ago from Michigan

      Enjoyed your lens! I've never been further west in Canada than the "Soo," but Windsor is right across the Detroit River, so I'm no stranger to Canadian hospitality. They're a civilized lot! Easy to tell a Canadian by the accent. The Canadian National anthem is "O Canada!" I've always thought it should be, "Canada! A?"

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Liked and Pinned - I have been to Vancouver, BC once and would like to go back!

    • Magda2012 profile image

      Magda2012 4 years ago

      I enjoyed reading this article, very informative and also humourous. Great pictures too. You can visit me in China and meet the Panda Bear :)

    • renewedfaith2day profile image

      renewedfaith2day 4 years ago

      Visually stunning. I have to visit sometimes.

    • Fit And Fab profile image

      Fit And Fab 4 years ago

      I like your sense of humour and sense of travel style. Glad your encounter with bears was as low as encounters with monsters under the bed. :-)

    • ian-patrick-716 profile image

      ian-patrick-716 4 years ago

      @Lakegirl LM: Thanks, I'll put a poll on the lens.

    • Lakegirl LM profile image

      Lakegirl LM 4 years ago from Australia

      You will have to do a follow up lens now. Thoroughly enjoyed reading so far.

    • VspaBotanicals profile image

      VspaBotanicals 4 years ago

      Really beautiful. Canada happenss to be on my to do list as well.

    • profile image

      poutine 4 years ago

      Glad that you enjoyed a "small" part of Canada.

      Next time, try Quebec and Ontario. You will get plenty of excitement there and

      beautiful scenery.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      ...and congratulations on your purple star! :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      What a trip you give us as we read your rich and very fun insights and writing style. You seem to say what's in your thought bubble as you went along. I'm glad you resisted using your bear stick on the little critters and am glad you didn't have the opportunity to try it out on Mr. Bear....I have never heard of a chainsaw being successfully used against a bear attack and they can get very heavy to carry up and down those long hills for sure. That view is totally worth it...delightfully written and beautifully done! :)

    • ajgodinho profile image

      Anthony Godinho 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      LOL, enjoyed reading about your adventurous trip to Vancouver. Oh yeah, Canadians love to talk and can be extra friendly, especially up north. Glad you got a chance to taste a slice of Canada, eh? :)

    • ian-patrick-716 profile image

      ian-patrick-716 5 years ago

      @junecampbell: Thank you, it was great fun, I hope to go again one day.

    • junecampbell profile image

      June Campbell 5 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      I am laughing and laughing. What a great sense of humour you have. I live in Vancouver. The Grouse Grind is the only one of those trails that I have experienced. And just once! As for the bears, I carry bear bells. They jingle when I walk. I was told recently that the bears have now learned to associate the bear bells with dinner bells. This is a concern. I have no idea what a bear stick is. Unless the stick is the size of a Douglas Fir, I can't imagine how that would help ... but probably that's just me. Hope you enjoyed your visit, by the way.

    • GardenerDon profile image

      Gardener Don 5 years ago

      I was thinking of a "nasty comment", but I see this is just for the "nice ones. Oh well! You're trip was to my favorite city of anywhere I've been (& I've been everywhere man!) My style of exercise in Vancouver is a bit more sedate however, a walk around the seawall of Stanley Park, followed by an ale or three at the bar in the "Sands" hotel in English Bay - complete with pretty bartenders!

    • ian-patrick-716 profile image

      ian-patrick-716 5 years ago

      @Loretta L: :) No I guess bearstick isn't a common euphemism.

    • Loretta L profile image

      Loretta Livingstone 5 years ago from Chilterns, UK.

      @ian-patrick-716: Haha, I'm glad I popped back. That made me laugh. I didn't realise there was a double entendre til I saw your apology.

    • ian-patrick-716 profile image

      ian-patrick-716 5 years ago

      @Loretta L: Sorry that other reply was totally innocent. I realised how dodgy it sounded after I'd posted it.

      I promise not to get anything out if I see you on a bus.

    • ian-patrick-716 profile image

      ian-patrick-716 5 years ago

      @Loretta L: Thank you. I might even get my bearstick out. ;)

    • Loretta L profile image

      Loretta Livingstone 5 years ago from Chilterns, UK.

      Oh dear, I am a very friendly Brit. You will probably shuffle discreetly away from me if you ever see me in a bus or train. I talk to anyone and everyone. Nice lens though, beautiful pics. Looks like you had a wonderful time.

    • ian-patrick-716 profile image

      ian-patrick-716 5 years ago

      @sybil watson: You're very kind. Are there any bears in Hawaii?

    • profile image

      sybil watson 5 years ago

      I love the way you write! If you think Canadians are friendly, you should come visit us in Hawaii - you might even get hugged and kissed. I look forward to reading more of your lenses.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      This is where I first touched snow.

    • profile image

      CatJGB 5 years ago

      Ah, I love BC, it's been a while since I was there. And I hear you on the hiking, there are some fabulous 'hills' to get up!