Vancouver Slowly Won Our Hearts
I must admit that I may have been one of a small number of Canadians who are not in love with Vancouver. I have visited Vancouver over the years a number of times for both business and pleasure. David lived in various towns on Vancouver Island (Victoria (Esquimalt), Sooke, Qualicum Beach) for many years and we would take the ferry over to Vancouver. And while the mountains ringing the city were beautiful in the sunshine, it always felt as if rain and dull grey were alway right around the corner. I was not sure I could live in the grey and often damp cold. But the Vancouver forecast improved for us this year!
Our first visit of 2015 was for two weeks at Christmas. One of our kids goes to university in Vancouver and the other two grew up in British Columbia and head back every year at Christmas. All 3 of the children would gladly call Vancouver home. We spent much of the two weeks huddled in our hotel room, escaping to visit with the kids when they weren’t with their friends or when the rain stopped long enough to wander around town.
Travelling to Vancouver at Christmas was really expensive and we vowed that next year we would spend the money to go someplace warm instead. We figured we could take the 3 kids south with us and spend not much more than we did for our 2 weeks in Vancouver.
Vancouver For An Extended Stay
In June we flew to Vancouver for the first of many visits to support our 22 year old son who had just been diagnosed with cancer. That is another journey to write about – but a tale for another day. Booking last minute, we were dismayed to find that there was not a reasonably priced hotel room to be found in the city and we were exiled to Langley (up to an hour drive east of Vancouver) for the first week of our stay. While it was a major pain to drive into Vancouver every day, we did get a chance to explore the Fraser Valley and we have found many spots that now get return visits when we are in Vancouver. We had not previously been in Vancouver for a long visit in the summer and this year the weather was hot with no rain during our whole stay. The Vancouver forecast improved on this visit. Maybe there were parts of the year that were not grey!
We flew back in July for a week of physician consultations and then in August needed to return for an extended stay while our son went through chemo. Since we knew we would be in Vancouver for at least 10 weeks, we decided to drive across the country from Toronto. Choosing to take the U.S. route rather than drive through Canada, we enjoyed the road trip across the Midwest U.S., did a detour to see Mount Rushmore, stopped for 2 days in Spokane and then pushed on to the Pacific Coast.
It was a long 10 weeks but by mid-October we packed the car and headed for home. We had enjoyed our expended stay as a local in Vancouver. The weather in August through October remained warm and sunny. Our condo location let us get out to explore. Since we had driven across, we brought our bikes with us and learned to appreciate how truly bike-able Vancouver is! It should not be surprising that the Vancouver forecast improved even more for us!
While we were in Vancouver we even got to slip away for a long weekend to visit Albuquerque and see the amazing hot air Balloon Fiesta. It was a quick visit but something that had been on our list for some time and something that often got missed because we normally were travelling in Europe in the fall.
Little did we know that 3 days out of Vancouver we would get a call to come back to Vancouver. Chemo had been unsuccessful and a major complicated surgery was needed. Since we had a few weeks before our son would be recovered enough from chemo to be operated on, we decided to take the long loop back. We had returned to Spokane to enjoy the Chinese Lantern Festival and would continue on for a U.S. National Park tour through the diversity of Yellowstone, then both the North Rim and South Rim of the Grand Canyon and finally a detour through Yosemite. It was a quick tour and one shadowed by fear and sadness, but it was great to get a taste test of these outdoor treasures.
Since we were back in Vancouver for another 6-8 weeks, we went back to the same Airbnb condo. It was a neighbourhood we knew well and was close to the hospital. With 2 bedrooms there was room for all of us post-surgery. The weather had turned wetter and our mood was more grey and gloomy, but the great mountain view out of our condo window offered changing scenes all day and night. We became true Vancouver locals, not hiding indoors in light rain but bundling up for a walk along the seawall to enjoy the False Creek neighbourhood we had come to know. When the sun came out, we with everyone else could be seen walking, biking or sitting huddled under the large heaters on outdoor patios. We learned that even in the “off season”, the Vancouver forecast improved.
The Vancouver We Came To Know
We were in Vancouver for the better part of 6 months this year, travelling around the west coast of Canada and the U.S. as summer turned to fall. While we were here to deal with the most awful thing that parents could face, we tried to enjoy our adopted city and not hide away and wallow in despair. We needed to enjoy the time with our son and to keep living. While we waited for test results, a surgery slot, the next chemo appointment and for a long surgical recovery, we took advantage in our down time to explore Vancouver and the surrounding area:
5) A whole series of day trips to Vancouver’s North Shore – North Vancouver, Lynne Valley Canyon, Deep Cove and Horseshoe Bay
7) A day spent at a skydiving drop zone reminiscing about the things that I used to do
8) One longer trip to enjoy eagles, hot springs and the Sasquatch in the Harrison area
9) A lot of time exploring Vancouver by bicycle
10) And got to love the False Creek area of Vancouver
As early December rolled around, our son was able to manage on his own and we were ready to pack once again to start our road trip back to Toronto. But we were sad to be leaving Vancouver! The Vancouver forecast improved so much during our 6 months that we are now considering whether Vancouver and the west coast might be our next major relocation. At this point we are not looking to give up our new renovated lake front condo in Toronto but when we move next, we would consider following our kids to the west coast.
Vancouver – do you love it or hate it? Has the Vancouver forecast improved for you when you visited for an extended stay?