Kelowna had been great, everything about it, from start to finish, could hardly have been bettered but there was still more to see and do. We arrived back at The Mountain RV Park mid afternoon on Monday. Laura picked us up after she finished work and we went to her house for dinner. We were quite happy in the knowledge that the final week of our holiday was going to be at something of a lesser pace. Not too much driving and staying in the RV at our Squamish base for most of the week. This of course meant we would have lots of time to spend with our daughter. We shared a bottle of wine, the prize winning Rose from The View Winery, before taking a leisurely stroll to get our first real look at the Squamish River. Laura dropped us off back at the park. The anticipation about Tuesday, at least for me, was extremely high.
While in Canada my daughter has been working for the Canadian Outback Rafting Company, they organise all kinds of waterborne activities, from leisurely floats in winter to view the Eagles that congregate along the Squamish river to extended rafting and camping expeditions taking in the wilds of Alaska and Northern British Columbia. In the summer they concentrate on taking inflatable rafts, crewed by up to 8 people, white water rafting down the Elaho river and into the upper Squamish river. Laura had booked us both on this trip. I wont bore you with the details of the comedy of me getting into a wet suit, or how uncomfortable the ride in the bus to the start point of the adventure is. All of that pales into insignificance once you are seated in the raft following the safety talk and making ready for what turned out to be scary, extremely exciting and a great deal of fun, all at the same time. There are plenty of rapids to negotiate and the “pilot” and accompanying safety kayak paddler are skilled and very knowledgeable. Bursts of intense paddling, which some were far better at than others, were interspersed with short floats past some of the most fantastic scenery imaginable. One of the finest sights is a wide range of granite cliff where waterfalls descend in a sort of “mini Niagara”, legend has it that an Indian mother cries for her lost child who threw herself from the cliffs rather than marry a man from another tribe who she did not love. When she jumped, because she was of good heart, The Great Spirit turned her into a butterfly but her mother didn’t see this happen and weeps for her lost child to this day. A wonderful and unforgettable experience, the only drawback being I didn’t have my camera with me, just as well given the amount of water we shipped on our 3 hour trip down river.
Following a chill out pint and a shower we got changed and picked Mrs C up from Laura’s apartment, white water rafting not being her “thing”, before we set off for Whistler to eat and visit the cinema. The girls opted for Book Club, which they said they enjoyed. I went to see DeadPool 2 which, if you like that sort of thing, is darkly funny and very tongue in cheek. It isn’t as funny IMHO as many of the audience seemed to find it, one group of young women, cackled, slurped huge amounts of coke and digested huge mountains of popcorn for the duration of the film. They were sat along from me and I had to pass where they’d been when I left the cinema. Their seats, the floor and the surrounding area looked like a land fill site.
The exertions of Tuesday and the opportunity to spend a whole day with Laura meant that Wednesday was going to be a relaxed affair, brunch and shopping in Downtown Squamish, a walk, dinner and then Norman Rudys Pub for quiz night. Downtown Squamish is an interesting place, for many years according to some locals it had been known as Squampton, due to the numbers of undesirables that had made it their stomping ground but in recent times but, due to the growth of adventure tourism it’s image and the quality of its shops has, I think, improved. There are the usual retail businesses and diners you might expect to find in small town Canada along with a smattering of “trendy” boutiques. The two shops that I enjoyed visiting most, apart from the diner where I had pancakes, bacon and maple syrup (an acquired taste) were The Mini Flea Market which is a wonderful Aladdins Cave of a place, full of all manner of bric-a-brac, artworks, music, furniture clothing and other ephemera; just along from this place is the Squamish Native Art Store, owned by a lovely guy called Murray McCorriston. Murray was very helpful, I told him my budget and said that I wanted something I could easily carry back to the UK. There was a framed painting on his wall of a killer whale, the work of a local artist called Ben Houstie and I used this as an example of what I wanted. He had two pieces by Ben, which he hadn’t had the opportunity to get framed yet, and he sold me one of them for $60 which I thought was an excellent price.
After we’d eaten and shopped we took the short drive to a local trail which extends out into Howe Sound, we stopped on the way to pick up a couple of things at the local supermarket where I managed to get the picture of the butterfly which is at the top of the postcard. Maybe it was an Indian princess, who knows? . There were lots of seals playing and fishing in the tidal part of the Sound; this is where the Squamish river enters the Pacific ocean. Anglers were setting up and at the end of the spit is a kite surfing school which was quite busy. Kite surfing is an impressive thing to watch, I wasn’t tempted to have a go though. Once again we’d done something different and although it was quiet and relaxing it still felt like an adventure. We paid a short visit to The Squamish Railway Museum on our way back to Brackendale. A fascinating and quirky look back at how the railway played such a big part in the opening up and continuing growth of Canada. Well worth a visit. After a salmon dinner at Laura’s we made it to the pub where we managed to win the first half of the quiz (prize a round of drinks), play some pool and get to know some expats who told me that they wouldn’t want to live anywhere else in the world. I told them they’d obviously not visited the Lake District, but I knew what they meant.
Laura had to be in Vancouver for the afternoon on the Thursday so we decided to alter our plans slightly and instead of going into Vancouver on the Friday for the last leg of the holiday we’d spend another day in Squamish to give us a bit more time with her. The plan for Friday afternoon had been to go to Lynn Canyon but we went there on the Thursday instead. Lynn Canyon hides, in plain sight, in North Vancouver. Another Canadian Park of temperate rain forest it is yet one more of the “must sees” on any trip to Western Canada. A suspension bridge over a deep canyon affords access to several trails, some more difficult than others, which run alongside the river, there are also several waterfalls, pools and some deep gorges. In the last 24 years more that 30 people have died and scores more have been injured cliff jumping in this park, as you walk the trails you can probably understand why. We only had 3.5 hours, which meant we didn’t get to see as much of this fantastic place as we would have liked but it was well worth the effort. Laura picked us up and I drove back, the road from Vancouver to Squamish is a very twisty affair called The Sea to Sky Highway, even without her accident I can understand why she isn’t too keen on driving along it at least twice a month.
Rain had been forecast but we managed to get back to base and have our evening meal before it started. Honourable mention here for The Wigan Pier Fish and chip shop http://www.wiganpier.ca/ in Squamish. Owned and run by Lancastrian ex pat Greg Venables it’s been open for 23 years selling traditional fish and chips to ex pats and locals alike. The quality is excellent, the “crack” is good and I think every fish shop should have a beer tap on the counter so that a quick half can be had while waiting for your order. The rain eventually started at 10 pm and carried on for the next 24 hours, we spent our time during Friday daytime packing and getting ready to take the RV to its drop off in Vancouver. Friday night saw us eating and having a couple of beers at a “trendy” vaguely tapas style restaurant called The Joinery, perfectly acceptable but expensive for what it was. This was to be the last evening we would spend with Laura for some months and there was a bit of a cloud hanging over us but we talked about how great a time we’d had and how good it had been to see her. There were tears when she dropped us back at the campsite.
Still to Come;
A Short Break in Vancouver
© Colin Cross 2018