I sprang out of bed at 7.30am after my 3.15am post-skype bedtime for an early morning pickup by Laura and Harper who were taking me on a very exciting adventure! It’s one of the great cliches about Vancouver that you can snow ski in the morning and water ski in the afternoon and it’s true. There we were out the front of my place in t-shirts with armfuls of jackets for our trip up to Grouse Mountain.
Just a 25 minute ride away across the Lions Gate Bridge (whose eponymous stone guardians were proudly wearing Canucks jerseys) to the base of the mountain where we boarded the gondola that would take us to the top. The doors opened to reveal a familiar snowy scene although nowhere near as cold or snowy as I’d seen it before. None the less, there was no shortage of the white stuff, I turned to Laura and simply said “you know you have two children to look after now!” as I rushed forward just to get my hands on it!
Amongst other things, Grouse Mountain provides a refuge for endangered wildlife including grey wolves lower down the mountain (we couldn’t spot them today) and two grizzly bears, Coola and Grinder, up the top. They are just coming out of hibernation. We walked up to their winter enclosure and I was astounded at the size of them and at being so close! I had seen grizzlies in the wild in Alaska but not at such close range or I dare say I wouldn’t be here today! They didn’t seem the least bit bothered by us as they went about their business.
From the massive to the miniature, my attention was drawn to the snowbank behind us by a dark flash against the white backdrop – chipmunks! So tiny, so cute, so fast! It was a wildlife wonderland. I heard a nearby Canadian comment that you could tell the locals from the tourists – they were craning their necks to see a high circling eagle while we were crowded round asking Chip and Dale if they were ready for their close up.
Although the ski season seemed to be at it’s end, the chair lifts were still running to ferry people up to the peak for a better lookout or to visit, as we were, the newest attraction – The Eye of the Wind – an energy turbine with a viewing platform up the top.
The chair lift itself was a thrill, being a snow-loving-non-skier it was a rare treat for me and it was Harpers first time ever – we were both very brave and did exactly as Laura told us. Safely deposited at the peak we then had a bit of a hike through the snow to reach the windmill. Now I have a very close relationship with gravity, its best that nothing comes between us like wheels, skis, boards of any kind and slippery, shifting snow. I don’t like falling over despite my many years of extensive experience at it so I was a little apprehensive as Laura expertly ploughed ahead carrying a three year old. I sucked it up and strode as confidently as I could and I’m proud to say, I didn’t fall once!
We got to The Eye of the Wind, went up the lift to the top and enjoyed the views and my third glass floor experience for the trip. Clarity wasn’t great but I took a few photos before heading back down for the return snow trek which was equally as upright. My gyroscope is working!
By the time Laura and Harper dropped me off, the snow had melted from my shoes and the lack of sleep kicked in so I indulged in a little nana-nap before heading out again to get dinner on Commercial Drive, the backbone of an eclectic urban village with a bohemian edge. I just grabbed a burrito and meandered home for some light entertainment before my next Skype date at 2am with the 3 M’s – Madiba, Marlon and Matthew. In my absence, Matthew has taken over my Monday night Madiba Minding so it was a good opportunity to kill 3 blokes with one stone.
I’m going to assume there is no need for me to elaborate when I say this was an emotional call. Although I miss my entire family, Madiba is the closest thing I have to a child of my own and this was also the first time I’ve actually spoken to Matthew since I left. I really tried to put a brave face on it for Madiba but my grief was pretty evident. He went off screen for a moment and I heard Marlon say “she can’t see you” – he was hugging the computer! He patted the back of the screen for the rest of the conversation. It bought me equal measures of comfort and of missing him all the more.
We spoke from 2am-3am, I cried from 3am-4am before sleep finally put me out of my misery.