Canada
Jack Polole Plaza

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13 travelers at this place:

  • Day3

    Day 3

    August 13, 2017 in Canada

    It rained last night so really cleared the air! No smoke from the wild fires in Vancouver anymore.
    Cycled around Stanley Park - about 10 Kms. Beautiful ride around the sea wall and then into the forest. From there we cycled along the river to Gastown - very touristy!

  • Day14

    Venturing around Vancouver

    September 5 in Canada

    Although we still had to be up early to get to our first point of call today, it was still a day with some free time to catch breath, eat less and even put feet up for a short while. That should not be read as a lazy day. It was rather a rich day of taking our time.

    Breakfast was on the top of Grouse Mountain, looking out over Vancouver. It was the usual sumptuous feast and I finished off my sampling of the fare with a gingerbread biscuit in the shape of a bear with chocolate dots for his facial features. We had arrived, after a short bus trip from our hotel, at a gondola, which they call a tram, and this took us to the top of the mountain. Our Australian guide met us and took us to our breakfast. Yet again we found the Aussie accent strongly represented in Canadian tourism.

    If it seems that travelling to the top of a mountain by bus and gondola, to be met by a guide, for breakfast, seems a little overkill ( after all, how much assistance do we need to find meals?) , well that is not all we set out to achieve.

    Yes, our quota was well and truly met today. We saw, not one, but two grizzly bears this morning, one coastal bear and one inland variety. They were wild bears and would be able to decapitate an adult human with one swing of their enormous paws, with claws as long as ten centimetres. According to our information, a bear like this can run 64 kilometres an hour for a sustained period of time if needed and desired. Usain Bolt, the fastest man on earth today, can manage only 43 kilometres an hour and can't sustain it as long as the bear. Fortunately these bears, while certainly active, were not inclined to want to run. They are coming towards the end of their summer, are filling up quickly and will be heading for hibernation soon, so were more interested in not over-exerting themselves but ate grass and roots to fill their bellies. Another thing that stood in our favour was that both bears were males and there was no female about. We have learned of the blinding power of testosterone on rational thinking and so without females getting involved in the mix, we found this did not cause an issue for us. Equally, had one of the bears been female with a cub, then our lives could have been in danger, because NOTHING gets between a mother bear and her cub.

    The one other thing that kept us safe in this outdoor wilderness space was that the bears were behind a fence, well fed and familiar with humans. Both bears (Grinder and Coola) were found starving as tiny cubs, one so small he had to be fed intravenously until stable. Neither had grown up with a family to teach them the ways of the wild. In one case, the vet who found one of them by the side of the road and who waited and waited for the mother to return, rescued and restored the tiny cub and is still acting as his vet to this day.

    The bears are fed a good diet for bears but not so regularly or habitually as to form a pavlovian psychological dependency. They are not fed live food, but our guide said she certainly could not guarantee the safety of any squirrel that entered the bears 5 acre enclosure.

    The bears had to be taught how to hibernate, which seems a tricky thing to do, but they now have it worked out. They hibernate for about five months. This should not be understood to be sleeping though. They wake most days, stretch their limbs to avoid atrophy, eat a little something, then go back to sleep. Ross felt this sounded exactly like the perfect life and not dissimilar to his own.

    The bears can never be released or they would most certainly die. They will never be brought a mate because the presence of a female would cause them to fight and potentially kill each other. At the moment they are good friends and play with each other as cubs might. No captive bred female would be able to manage two males and it would be cruel to bring in a wildborn female and enclose her as the boys have been. So their lives will continue this way until they both die of natural causes.

    When we farewelled our largely disinterested furry friends, we caught the gondola down again. Those of us who entered the gondola early, became dismayed by the number of people joining us. After all, we were hanging on a steel cable! More and more poured in and then we saw the sign above the door "Licensed to carry 95 plus one people" That is 95 passengers and one driver. We were within the limits but I could not imagine 95 people on board and was pleased when we got to the ground.

    Once down and on the bus again we began a tour around Vancouver. Our first stop was at the Capilano Suspension Bridge. Now, when I hear Capilano , I immediately think of the honey we can get back at home. The one in Vancouver is a name that is a kind of translation from a First Nations man who first held this land. Over time, various people have owned the site but most have maintained or improved on it. Now there are some lovely gardens, a collection of some very fine totem poles and a suspension bridge that is strung across a chasm with a waterfall called "The Plume". This bridge replaced an earlier rope and plank model built by the early peoples, but is still a suspension bridge that requires careful management when crossing the river. It is not for the faint hearted.

    Ross went across to the other side, but I had caught sight of some maple trees that had begun to turn and I was determined to get the colours. When we arrived in Canada we were told this might not happen this year. It had been dry and many of the leaves had dried off rather than changed colour. So, when I saw a few making the change, I knew this to be my next goal for today. I am very pleased that my hunt located several trees in the throes of change and I had a wonderful time selecting and photographing these leaves. They have special significance for me because my Canadian friend, Lorraine's, last message to me before she died, only weeks ago was , "I hope the maples are great for you." Thank you Lorraine. I have the photos. They are dedicated to you.

    Ross, on the other side of the chasm was learning about two more interesting wildlife stories. One is the banana slug. This slug is native to this particular area and lives on the trees in this park. It is bright yellow and can be as much as 30 cms long. The dry weather had sent them into the undergrowth, so here we were, not getting photos again. They sound quite distasteful! The second story was one where the Irish tour guide said they had to close the park recently because the trout in the pond had attracted a young black bear that was now sitting in the pond catching and eating a delicious meal. He could see no reason to move away from this feast and eventually had to be chivvied away so the park could open.

    Our bus tour resumed after lunch and took us through Stanley Park. This is a large and very popular park. Many public amenities are drawn to this area and the people were there in numbers. It is liberally sprinkled with statues, but the best set of statues I saw were by the waterfront. It was a series of about 14 chrome statues of a laughing man. It was the same man with a cartoonish face but each element of the installation showed him in a different position, all clearly laughing. I missed the artist's name, but it was very popular when first installed, so that when offered to the community for $1m and the government couldn't justify the expense, a philanthropic couple bought it for the community. I really enjoyed it and I think if I lived in Vancouver, I might visit it too.

    We also drove through a region in the city called Gastown. All sorts of things popped into my mind about the potential origins of this name, but it turns out, an early resident was called Gassy Jack Deighton and the name eventually morphed into Gastown. I still don't think I would like to live there. Imagine your address. Yes, I live at 4 Bloated Place, Gastown. I think not.

    By 2.30 we were all tired. Ross and I were particularly tired because our neighbours in the room next door were particularly roudy, rude and I suspect a bit violent last night. They were a group of males who seem to have arrived somewhat under the weather and had got to the pushing and shoving stage. They eventually settled down at about 1 am, but our sleep was compromised. By 2.30 this afternoon I was in need of a nap. Ross went to the Post Office to send home a package of souvenirs we had decided not to continue carrying, while I tried to nap. When he got home I got up and did some drafting of today's blog while he napped.

    By dinnertime, our farewell to Canada dinner, we were both a little more refreshed and able to enjoy the company of our fellow travellers.

    Tomorrow takes us on board our boat for Alaska. We have been warned that because it is in American waters, the border security will be tight and lengthy, including the taking of fingerprints. I feel a little resentful of this intrusion but accept that this level of security is a price that must be paid for the tiny few who wish us ill, and the mighty power behind ensuring that they do not succeed. Now it is time for bed. I am a little concerned that already the residents of the room next door are making loud noises. Can we be so unlucky as to get two such neighbours in two nights?
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  • Day60

    Powers or Kirk?

    March 31, 2015 in Canada

    Just discussing with a friend which Canadian actor have had the bigger influence on the world with his performance: Mike Myers as Austin Powers or William Shatner as James T. Kirk.
    I go for Kirk. ;-)
    Ah yes, I was at the hairdresser today. The damage is not too big. Actually the result is quite satisfying...I feel relieved. :-)

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Jack Polole Plaza

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