Sites of Vancouver – A Trip Report

Vancouver is about 140 miles (2.5 hours) north of Seattle. As mentioned in our Seattle review, Boeing tour in Mukilteo serves as an excellent stopover, about 30 miles from Seattle. Border services were a breeze. Highway 99 from the US border is a 4-lane road until it crosses Oak Street Bridge into Vancouver proper. The 30 km stretch through city traffic to North Vancouver via Lions Gate Bridge past Stanley Park can take upwards of an hour especially during commute hours.

We were in for a treat beyond words on our drive into and around Vancouver downtown the first day. The fall foliage in all shades of green, yellow, red, and purple both near and far turned ethereal under the cumulus clouds ignited by the setting sun. The hint of moisture left behind from an earlier rain made for a wonderful play of colors and amazingly this Kodak moment lingered till the sun disappeared from the horizon. This was indeed a chance sighting - in stark contrast, our second day in Vancouver dawned bright and clear.

Our overnight reservations were in North Vancouver (Capilano Road), about seven miles north of the city. It is a great location, for a number of attractions are easily accessible from there. The rates were a bargain at about $85 with breakfast part of the deal. In fact, this was the sole area where we found Vancouver to be less expensive than the US. While this may seem surprising, the reality was that compared to an all-time low exchange rate of 62 cents for one Canadian dollar in the beginning of 2002, Canada was about 70% more expensive for US visitors in 2009 – then, US dollar traded at only a very slight premium to the Canadian dollar.

Capilano Suspension Bridge built in 1889 continues to be among Vancouver’s most popular tourist attractions. Located at 3735 Capilano Road in North Vancouver, the site sitting on 27 acres of rainforest land and structured like a theme park is privately owned. Tickets were $26.95 Adults and $10 Kids (6-12) after AAA discount. The main attractions in the park are:
  1. Story Center, Kia’palano, and Totem Park – The area boasts the world’s largest private collection of First Nations of BC totem poles – the park owners in 1930 invited the First Nations people to position their story poles in the park and thus launching the totem pole theme in the park. These poles are maintained in the same condition they were received. The story center and the cultural center (Kia’palano) complete the theme and give the visitors a glimpse into the lives of First Nations people.
  2. Bridge – A few steps from the story poles is the Capilano Suspension Bridge - a rope bridge supported by anchors of 13 tons of concrete at both ends. The setting with the bridge suspended over the canyon (230 feet) and blessing the trees below is dramatic. The bridge itself is 450 feet long and gently sways in response to the pressure applied. We happily set forth with the seven year old in lead but after the half-way point our older one stepped up to lent her strength. The second half gets progressively steeper, but we all easily made it to the other end. A group of high spirited school boys were behind us and they tried their level best on getting the bridge to swing to their steps much to the chagrin of the employees. Even with that, none of us felt any touch of vertigo.
  3. Treetops AdventureThis is the park’s newest adventure that opened in 2004. It offers a walkway through seven pedestrian bridges suspended between Douglas fir’s. Elevations on the bridges reach 100 feet above the forest floor. Although the attraction claims to provide a squirrel’s eye view of the forest, the adventure part is really more for smaller kids. There is an ecosystem of life in the canopy of the rain forests, but unfortunately this attraction is not geared towards glimpsing that. An engineering achievement sure to please any environmentalist is that the observation decks are designed and built around the Douglas fir tree trunks without damaging them in any way. Overall, the kids really enjoyed this "adventure" and we rate it really relaxing.
  4. Canyon Lookout – Certainly the most excellent views of the Canyon and the river are from here. The best part was spotting salmon fighting its way upstream. We went prepared and the binoculars paid dividends.
About six kilometers up from Capilano Suspension Bridge is the Grouse Mountain (6400 Nancy Greene Way), the local ski slope and what is considered as the peak of Vancouver. Though small (212 Skiable acres, 26 runs, 5 lifts), it is a popular resort (1.1M visitors per year) partly due to its proximity to Vancouver. Lift tickets and rentals were pricier than its counterparts at Lake Tahoe (Adults 19-64 - $55, Youth 13-18 - $45, Kids 5-12 - $25, and Senior - $45, Ski Rental Package: Adults - $42, Kids - $26, Parking - $5), but the timings (9AM – 10PM) also allow for nighttime skiing. The resort also offers a General Admission ticket which was overpriced in every sense - Adults 19-64 - $37.95, Youth – 13-18 - $22.95, Kids 5-12 - $13.95, $2 discount for seniors. It included access to the following activities:
  1. The theater in the sky – plays the short film “Born to Fly” in high definition featuring the scenic beauty of BC with its mountains and peaks in all its glory.
  2. The refuge of endangered wild life – There are two habitats: a 5-acre Grizzly Bear habitat shelters two orphaned grizzly bears atop the mountain and a smaller habitat at the base of the mountain provides sanctuary to two gray wolves (aka timber wolves and tundra wolves). The grizzly bear habitat is accessible only with the General Admission ticket while the timber wolves are a short hike from the base of the mountain and can be accessed without the gondola ride up!
  3. Access to snowshoe trails – rental ($20 per person) is additional. Beginner lessons start at $69 per person.
  4. Access to Ice Skate Rink – rental ($10.50 for adults and $7.50 for kids plus $2 insurance per person) is additional.
  5. Sleigh Ride – Takes you around the snow-covered mountain forests in a cute sleigh, if conditions permit (good snow coverage over all areas of the plateau is necessary for this to operate – check mountain report or ask at the counter before purchasing the general admission ticket).
During the peak holiday season (November 28 to December 24), there are some special programs. Overall, we rate this resort just average although there is a huge convenience factor for the locals.

Our tour of Stanley Park was a very hurried one - one could easily plan a day of relaxation here. Stanley Park is a huge thousand-acre park with the most popular feature being the nine kilometer seawall path encircling the park, used extensively by bicyclers, pedestrians, and inline skaters alike – two paths, one for bicyclists and skaters and the other for pedestrians. From Capilano, it is the first exit past the Lions Gate Bridge. The highlights include the Brockton Point Lighthouse and the Totem Poles. The park also has a huge collection of various statues and plaques. One distinct feature of Stanley Park compared to other parks of comparable size in other cities (Central Park in New York, and London’s Richmond Park) is that the entire landscape takes on a natural feel as most of it is still virgin forest land. Stanley Park hosted a Children’s zoo until 1997 when it was closed following a referendum. The park is still the site of Vancouver Aquarium, the largest in Canada.


Our final leg of the trip was a round-trip drive on the Sea to Sky Highway (Hwy 99 also called Squamish Highway and Whistler Highway) to Whistler. Whistler Blackcomb Ski area was the location of the 2010 Winter Olympics and preparations were underway in full earnest during our visit. The highway itself received a face-lift with a concrete divider along with other major improvements. For years, the stretch was referred to as the Highway of Death, as a combination of narrow lanes, absence of dividers and barriers, speeding, etc had resulted in many loss of life. With the improvements in place, the drive is much safer, but following speed limits and being wary of conditions is still paramount. The drive to Whistler is about 100 kilometers and can be covered in less than two hours (not including stopovers). The sight is representative of the renowned scenic beauty of British Columbia (BC) and is reminiscent of the drive around Big Sur. Highlights include the Shannon Falls (third highest in BC) and an associated 200 acre provincial park, the Brandywine Falls provincial park, and the Britannia Beach community which hosts the BC Museum of Mining at the site of the old copper mine.

There is a general perception that Canadians are much more laid back and extremely friendly. We joined the choir during our Eastern Canadian Road Trip, but during this second visit we nailed it – Canadians in the service sector have more of a pleasant disposition, but when it comes to the actual service provided, our US counterparts are on par or better!

Last Updated: 11/2012.

No comments :

Labels

401k ( 15 ) Abad Turtle Beach ( 1 ) Abrams Capital Management ( 5 ) Acoustic Electric Guitars ( 1 ) Acoustic Guitars ( 1 ) ACT ( 1 ) Activist ( 4 ) Address Change ( 2 ) Advanced Placement ( 4 ) air asia ( 2 ) airlines ( 2 ) Akre Capital Management ( 17 ) Alex Roepers ( 5 ) AP ( 4 ) apartments ( 2 ) Appaloosa ( 15 ) ARIUS ( 1 ) Arlington Value Capital ( 3 ) Atlantic Investment Management ( 5 ) Ayemenem ( 1 ) Bangalore ( 3 ) Bangkok ( 2 ) Bannerghatta National Park ( 1 ) barbuda ( 2 ) Battery Park ( 1 ) Baupost ( 2 ) Baupost Group ( 17 ) bay area ( 2 ) BDCs ( 3 ) Benjamin Graham ( 2 ) Benjamin Graham Model ( 2 ) Berijam Lake ( 2 ) Berkshire Hathaway ( 29 ) best sites ( 9 ) Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation ( 12 ) Bill Ackman ( 19 ) Bill Gates ( 13 ) Blue Ridge Capital ( 12 ) Blum Capital Partners ( 12 ) books ( 4 ) Boone Pickens ( 2 ) BP Capital Management ( 2 ) Brave Warrior ( 3 ) Brave Warrior Advisors ( 12 ) british honduras ( 2 ) Bruce Berkowitz ( 19 ) Bruce Fund ( 11 ) Camcorders ( 3 ) canada ( 4 ) cancun ( 3 ) CANROYs ( 7 ) Cantillon ( 12 ) carl icahn ( 9 ) Carl Ichan ( 8 ) casino ( 3 ) Casio ( 2 ) CBRE ( 2 ) CEF ( 2 ) Charles Akre ( 15 ) Charlie Munger ( 13 ) Chase Coleman ( 12 ) Chou Associates ( 17 ) Christmas gifts ( 7 ) Christopher H. Browne ( 7 ) Chuck Akre ( 12 ) Cisco ( 2 ) Class Action Settlements ( 2 ) CLEP ( 1 ) Coatue Management ( 12 ) Cochin ( 2 ) coin collecting ( 266 ) collectibles ( 266 ) Consumer Product Reviews ( 29 ) cook islands ( 2 ) coonoor ( 2 ) Covered Calls ( 2 ) credai ( 4 ) Daily Journal ( 13 ) Dalal Street ( 8 ) Dan Loeb ( 10 ) DAT ( 1 ) David Abrams ( 5 ) David Einhorn ( 22 ) David Swensen ( 17 ) David Tepper ( 15 ) David Winters ( 15 ) DCF ( 2 ) Digital Piano ( 3 ) Dinakar Singh ( 12 ) Donald Yacktman ( 10 ) dry bulk shipping ( 2 ) Duquesne ( 17 ) Education ( 37 ) Edward Lampert ( 13 ) Egerton Capital ( 12 ) Egypt ( 3 ) Elementary Education ( 10 ) Elementary School Textbooks ( 5 ) eReaders ( 2 ) Eric Mindich ( 12 ) ESL Investments ( 8 ) ESPP ( 6 ) ETF ( 2 ) ETN ( 2 ) Eton Park ( 12 ) Everyday Musings ( 58 ) Exam Prep ( 7 ) Exiting the rat race - how to? ( 19 ) EXPLORE ( 1 ) Fair Value Estimates ( 4 ) Fairfax Financial ( 4 ) Fairfax Financial Holdings ( 14 ) Fairholme ( 19 ) Fairpointe ( 12 ) Family Office ( 4 ) FD Laddering ( 1 ) Financial Independence ( 93 ) Fisher Asset Management ( 10 ) Flash Camcorders ( 3 ) flat ( 4 ) flats ( 2 ) Flip ( 3 ) Francis Chou ( 17 ) free ( 17 ) frugal ( 3 ) Frugal Living ( 34 ) Fund Holdings ( 736 ) futures ( 2 ) FVE ( 2 ) gambling ( 3 ) garmin ( 2 ) Genting ( 2 ) george soros ( 21 ) giveaway ( 15 ) Glenn Greenberg ( 16 ) Glenview Capital ( 10 ) GMAT ( 1 ) Google ( 2 ) Gotham Asset Management ( 7 ) gps ( 4 ) GRE ( 1 ) Greenlight Capital ( 22 ) Guitars ( 3 ) Half Marathon ( 2 ) Hawaii ( 2 ) Hedge Funds ( 755 ) HELOC ( 1 ) High School Education ( 7 ) High School Textbooks ( 6 ) HOA ( 3 ) hobby ( 17 ) holiday shopping ( 7 ) Holidays ( 3 ) Holyland ( 11 ) Home Improvement ( 2 ) home ownership ( 5 ) Homes ( 18 ) Homeschool ( 18 ) Houses ( 2 ) Housing ( 3 ) Hykon ( 2 ) Ian Cumming ( 15 ) Icahn Enterprises ( 6 ) india real estate ( 5 ) Infinuvo ( 6 ) Insurance ( 2 ) invesco ( 17 ) investing strategies ( 2 ) Investment Portfolio ( 94 ) Investment Research ( 10 ) Investments ( 7 ) iRobot ( 5 ) Irving Kahn ( 10 ) israel ( 5 ) Jason Maynard ( 10 ) Jefferies ( 2 ) Jeffrey Bruce ( 12 ) Jeffrey Ubben ( 12 ) Jerusalem ( 2 ) Jim Chanos ( 12 ) Joel Greenblatt ( 7 ) John Armitage ( 12 ) John Griffin ( 12 ) John Paulson ( 17 ) Joho Capital ( 15 ) Jordan ( 3 ) Joseph Steinberg ( 9 ) Julian Robertson ( 4 ) Kahn Brothers ( 10 ) Kakkanad ( 4 ) Kanyakumari ( 2 ) Kawai ( 2 ) Ken Fisher ( 10 ) kerala real estate ( 5 ) Kids ( 49 ) Kids Yamaha ( 3 ) Kindle ( 2 ) kochi ( 8 ) Kodaikanal ( 2 ) Korg ( 2 ) Kraft ( 2 ) Kuala Lumpur ( 2 ) KWA ( 2 ) Kynikos ( 12 ) laptop ( 5 ) Larry Robbins ( 10 ) Las Vegas ( 2 ) Leon Cooperman ( 13 ) Leucadia ( 2 ) Leucadia National ( 13 ) Lone Pine Capital ( 9 ) long ( 6 ) long call ( 2 ) long puts ( 3 ) Lou Simpson ( 15 ) LSAT ( 1 ) Mahabalipuram ( 2 ) Malaysia ( 3 ) Marathon ( 2 ) Mark McGoldrick ( 10 ) Markel ( 13 ) Mason Hawkins ( 4 ) MCAT ( 1 ) Melinda Gates ( 6 ) memorabilia ( 266 ) MFP Investors ( 12 ) Michael Dell ( 14 ) Michael Price ( 12 ) Middle School Education ( 4 ) Middle School Textbooks ( 3 ) Mini Notebook ( 2 ) MODUS ( 1 ) Mohnish Pabrai ( 21 ) mortgage ( 2 ) Mount Kellett ( 10 ) MSD Capital ( 14 ) Music ( 6 ) Mutual Funds ( 5 ) mysore ( 2 ) Nelson Peltz ( 9 ) Netbook ( 3 ) Notebook ( 2 ) numismatics ( 266 ) O-Duster ( 1 ) Oahu ( 2 ) offers ( 2 ) Ole Andreas Halvorsen ( 10 ) Omega Advisors ( 13 ) online tax ( 3 ) ooty ( 2 ) Options ( 4 ) Pabrai Fund ( 17 ) passive income ( 7 ) pattaya ( 2 ) Paulson & Company ( 7 ) Paulson and Company ( 9 ) PEG ( 2 ) Pershing Square ( 19 ) Phil Fisher ( 5 ) philately ( 283 ) Philippe Laffont ( 12 ) Piano ( 9 ) PLAN Test ( 1 ) portfolio ( 4 ) Prem Watsa ( 17 ) product reviews ( 13 ) Property Taxes ( 2 ) PSAT ( 1 ) R2I ( 24 ) R2I Finances ( 3 ) R2I Housing ( 5 ) Raising Kids ( 41 ) Rat Race ( 15 ) RBS Partners ( 11 ) reading ( 5 ) real estate ( 6 ) Reducing Expenses ( 2 ) REIT ( 3 ) Retirement Portfolio ( 9 ) Reviews ( 81 ) Richard C. Blum ( 12 ) Robert Bruce ( 12 ) Robert Karr ( 15 ) Robotic Vacuum ( 4 ) Roland ( 2 ) Roomba ( 10 ) schooling ( 2 ) Sears ( 8 ) seeking alpha ( 2 ) Services - Reviews ( 33 ) Seth Klarman ( 19 ) Shipping ( 5 ) Shopping ( 3 ) short ( 5 ) short calls ( 2 ) short put ( 2 ) short puts ( 2 ) short selling ( 6 ) Ski ( 5 ) Sled ( 4 ) Solar Stocks ( 13 ) Soros Fund Management ( 14 ) Southeastern Asset Management ( 4 ) Southwest ( 2 ) spin-offs ( 2 ) SQ Advisors ( 15 ) stamp collecting ( 283 ) Stanley Druckenmiller ( 17 ) Statue of Liberty ( 2 ) Stephen Mandel ( 9 ) Stock Analysis ( 84 ) Stock Investments ( 4 ) Stock Portfolio Updates ( 6 ) stocks ( 3 ) summer ( 2 ) tax ( 5 ) TaxAct ( 2 ) TaxCut ( 1 ) Teacher's Editions ( 5 ) Technology ( 4 ) Test Prep ( 11 ) Thailand ( 3 ) Thekkady ( 2 ) theme park ( 2 ) Third Point ( 10 ) Thomas Gayner ( 13 ) Thyra Zerhusen ( 12 ) Tiger Cub ( 25 ) Tiger Global ( 13 ) Tiger Management ( 12 ) Time Square ( 2 ) TOEFL ( 1 ) TPG-Axon ( 12 ) Travel ( 278 ) Travel Reviews ( 82 ) Trian Fund Holdings ( 9 ) trip report ( 21 ) TurboTax ( 3 ) Tweedy Browne ( 10 ) Vacations ( 28 ) value investing ( 12 ) ValueAct ( 5 ) ValueAct Holdings ( 6 ) Vancouver ( 2 ) Video ( 3 ) Viking Global ( 10 ) Wallace Weitz ( 10 ) Warren Buffett ( 29 ) Wayanad ( 4 ) Weitz Investment Management ( 9 ) wilbur ross ( 17 ) William Von Mueffling ( 12 ) Wintergreen Advisors ( 15 ) Yacktman Asset Management ( 10 ) Yale Endowment ( 17 ) Yale University ( 7 ) Yamaha ( 7 ) YDP ( 1 ) YPG ( 1 )