One of travel’s most lasting gifts is the permission it gives us to depart from our accustomed routines. In our daily lives we cannot allow ourselves the luxury of not doing laundry or not driving the carpool or not having the tires rotated. And no matter how much we may love the people who benefit from our daily chores, these jobs take time and energy. Consistency and routine are important to the ordered life, but in my mind, order needs to be balanced out from time to time with a little adventure.
In my household my long suffering husband does the majority of the quotidian chores: mowing the grass ( I’m allergic), paying the bills ( I may not remember), checking the swimming pool water ( I don’t like science), and taking care of the vehicles.( It wouldn’t occur to me, except to put in gas.) He keeps himself so busy that I have to go look for him if I want talk to him about something, and usually find him diligently performing some thankless task. And right after that he will have another very important task which must be done only by him.
Of course I have my own designated chores such as cooking, gardening, organizing, and supervising. Supervising takes lots of time. But by now we’ve worked out who is the most natural person say, to dust. Don’t ask my husband to do that unless we find out the President will arrive at our home in thirty minutes, and even then he’ll try to convince me that if he were to strategically arrange our coffee table books, no one will notice the fur growing on top of the furniture.
With our various responsibilities we often spend the bulk of the weekend days completing our tasks alone, There never seems to be enough time set aside for the “we” of us, for the couple. That is why I so savor our vacations as well as the memories of them. It’s nice to set aside the time for ourselves, and even nicer to reflect on how we spent our time together after we’re back and again caught up in the demands of the real world.
I have shared some of our June 2012 Vancouver pictures here in previous posts, and today we’ll see pictures of two more play days there. The first play day is the Sea to Sky train, and the second is bicycling Stanley Park.
Neither of us had been to Vancouver before, so whatever we did there was a first for us. When reading about activities we had to choose among the many “must do” recommendations to try to see what seemed the most important to us. We both agreed we could not miss the train ride from Vancouver to Whistler.
If you go to Vancouver, know that the railroad offers various trips, but we only had time for the up and back day trip. The ticket price includes a bus ride to the terminal. We had read that the railroad workers were on strike, but the only sign of that was a group of picketers we passed on our way in. We were welcomed cordially onto the train as a kilted man played the bagpipes in the railroad yard.
Once in transit, a festive atmosphere ensued as the passengers tried to eat the ice cold, brickbat Indian bread called bannock which was included in the breakfast. A German tour group was in our car, and though I don’t know the language, facial expressions are the same in any language. For the next three and a half hours the train chugged in a leisurely fashion up the mountains to Whistler. Guides let the passengers know when good photo opportunities were approaching. We were free to then rush into the observation car, wrapped in blankets they provided, to crowd up to the edge of the open car for a photo. Adults and energetic children made their way up and down the aisles to be on time for some beautiful view we were about to pass. Others followed, because they didn’t want to miss anything.
Now. The route is gorgeous, offering stunning views of the Howe Sound, the Cheakamus River and the general environs. The train is clean and well appointed also, and in the United States we don’t get to ride on too many luxurious trains. Plus we love to ride trains. So for us it was a win all around, except that it was hard to get good pictures from the moving train. Now you will know why I took so many pictures of the side of the train!
We were dropped at our destination with instructions as to what time to be back for the return trip. Whistler is a ski town, but we weren’t planning to ski, and it was too cold to do the other fun outdoor activities they had to offer. After our boxed breakfast, lunch was our first priority. Then, fueled by a good lunch and draft beer, we tended to the second issue: I was freezing to death.
My husband had worn a heavy sweater but I had only a thin shirt and thinner sweater. All morning in the observation car the wind had pierced through cracks in my blanket armor. I was not going to go back through three more hours of that. I have to have the right equipment when I travel. I just do. Luckily the Whistler ski shops had all manner of cold weather accoutrements available to wear in June. We fitted ourselves out proudly with Whistler hoodies to erase all doubt as whether we were tourists. I can assure you I do not spend many afternoons with my spouse inside retail stores, so this was a real treat.
The return three and a half hours was much more subdued. I didn’t see many people in the observation cars. Some folks were snoozing. I wanted to sleep too, but four older ladies behind me who each occupied an entire seat of her own, carried on a loud, uninhibited conversation about new grandchildren. So we snuggled, bundled in our sweatshirts, full, warm, and grateful, and eavesdropped for all we were worth.
The next day was the day for Stanley Park. For various reasons it had previously never worked out for us to rent bikes and ride when we have traveled, but this day we scored! Stanley Park was just a short but brisk walk from out hotel. Renting bikes was easy at one of the many bike rental stores that surround the park. After I finally mastered the art of getting on the bike, a skill only acquired after I jumped on it the wrong way and fell on my tailbone in front of a group of people, we rode all through the park – in the woods, up hills, down hills, on the seawall, around the marinas. For long stretches we could ride as fast as we wanted, just as I remember doing as a child, with the sun and wind on our faces.
About halfway through the park, we found the Stanley Park Teahouse, where we ate the hearty lunch we deserved after all our exertions. We deserved a beer as well. I would have loved to eat dinner there because the Teahouse location, an officer’s mess during World War II, has been voted the best sunset in Vancouver. Maybe next time!
We got to the edge of the park and went down a street to see if there was anything else we had missed. And what did we find? The Lawn Bowling Club! I saw a sign that said “Open to the Public” so we wheeled right on in. A game was in progress. I don’t know lawn bowling etiquette, but we thought total silence on our part was the most respectful stance. Doesn’t this look like fun?
Alas, no one asked us to play. Probably I didn’t have on the right shoes anyway. I didn’t want to call a lot of attention to myself, but I had to get a few pictures of this cuteness. Somehow the combination of the pristine British expat- seeming lawn, the adorable elderly bowlers, the lush gardens, and the ships in the harbor in the background just thrilled me to pieces. I might need to retire here and join the Club.
After returning the bicycles, we trudged back up the hill we had merrily hopped down earlier that morning on our way to the park. Tired but happy, we saw just the sign that expressed everything we felt:
That’s right. Don’t say, just cool! Just have an adventure together! Whether close to home or far from home, it matters not. At the end of the day you will have new memories and stories to enjoy forever.