Right now Vancouver is a buzz with the 2010 Olympic Games. Some events are taking place almost on my doorstep. Everywhere you go you see the signs. There are people wearing red and white scarfs, mittens, sweat shirts and other Olympic attire. Vehicles are supporting flags, stores and businesses are dressed for the occasion too. There is something going on somewhere all of the time with entertainment being offered for people to enjoy in communities around the Lower mainland.
At anytime Vancouver is a beautiful city. The summers are usually pretty good with regards to weather with lots of outdoor activities and entertainment. Normally in the winter and early spring you can go skiing in the morning at one of the local mountains and be practicing your golf swing on one of the local golf courses in the afternoon. You have the majestic mountains to the North side and the ocean to the South.
Typically in February we would still be getting new snow falls on the mountains, but wouldn’t you know it…this year the big Olympics year we have less snow on our mountains than normal for this time of year. 2010 is a year that the extra snow would have really been appreciated. There are times when local skiing can go on until May but by then many of the skier and snowboarders are often ready to move on to the next season’s sporting activities with boating, fishing, hang gliding, motor biking, mountain biking etc often leaving the snow on the mountains for the tourists only to enjoy.
There are lots of interesting places to visit here in Vancouver from Stanley Park with its many vantage points for photo opportunities, multitude of trees and plants, rose gardens, the Malkin Bowl Theater, its totem poles, and horse drawn rides around the park. Not to forget the aquarium with the Beluga whales, cute otters and other creatures. There are artists that you can watch paint and sell their pictures in the open air of Stanley Park.
Very close by you will find the downtown area with its many shops and fine dining restaurants. Gas Town is a popular place with tourists as well as Granville Island Market. At Granville Island you will find interesting gifts, you can see glass blowing, and other crafts being done, it’s a great place if you are looking to find something unique.
On Vancouver’s North Shore there are a number of great places not to miss; including Capilano Suspension Bridge and if you are in good shape and up for a challenge there’s the Grouse Grind an extremely popular but challenging hike up to Grouse Mountain. Most tourists will prefer to get to the top on the gondola. Grouse Mountain is somewhere that I always make sure that my first time visitors experience.
You may even see some bears. I have seen bears several times from the gondola. One time during the months of May I saw a mother bear and her 3 little cubs directly below us on a decent in the grouse sky ride. I am told that it is unusual to see a mother with 3 cubs. One of my favourite times to take a trip up Grouse Mountain is on a clear day during the early spring when there is still snow on the mountain. We went up one Xmas time and it was really magical, we went for a sleigh ride through the beautiful snow laden trees. There was an outdoor skating rink, Santa’s workshop, real reindeer and a fire pit where you could go warm up, not to mention the huge Xmas tree in the foyer of the beautiful lodge. It’s great to go in and have a hot chocolate while looking out at the beauty of the winter scene and over the city.
The other time and maybe my very favorite is during the summer. I like going up late afternoon or early evening when you still have the sun and warmth, you can take a walk, visit the Theater in the Sky or relax on the huge deck. This is a time when you can really appreciate the beautiful panoramic views. If you look to the East you will see the magnificent snow capped Mount Baker against the blue Sky and then to watch as darkness starts to fall; the city lights come to life like sparkling jewels, it really is a beautiful site to see.
Today is February 14th Valentine’s Day and I took a couple of pictures near my home. It could certainly be mistaken for April or May. Just up the street the Cherry blossom Trees are already pink and about to come into full bloom. This time last year or at least no more than a couple of weeks earlier I took some other pictures at my son’s home which is about half an hour from where I live. What a difference!
It just goes to show all the planning in the world cannot control the weather.