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Monday, September 22, 2008

A DAY ON THE MOUNTAIN

In all the years I've lived here in Vancouver, it took me until this week to make a trip up Grouse Mountain on the gondola. The last time I remember going up the mountain was years ago, when I was 14, accompanied by some young German students who teased me when I tried out my German language skills on them. This time, I was with another German friend, my young travel companion, Patrick. It was a good opportunity for me to finally make the trip up the mountain.

The gondola Skyride starts at the base of Grouse Mountain at about 300 metres and climbs to 1100 meters in twelve minutes. Quite thrilling as you sway above the treetops, and except the day was a bit hazy, a great way to see the panoramic view of the city and Georgia Straight.
After you arrive at the top of the mountain, there are several activities that you can enjoy although a couple of them, such as the Born to Fly movie at the Theatre in the Sky and the falconry demonstrations were finished for the season. We did enjoy the amusing lumberjack show where two loggers demonstrate various skills.
At the Refuge for Endagngered Wildlife exhibit we saw the two resident grizzly bears roaming around in their natural habitat. Once we went down the mountain again, we stopped to see the timber wolves in the Wolf Habitat near the parking lot.

We roamed around the mountain, enjoyed the glorious scenery and had a picnic. There are several restaurants on the mountain and a souvenier shop. But we had come mainy for the
thrill of the gondola ride and the lovely mountain scenery. There are trails you can hike, and for the hardy fit hikers, you can come up via the famous Grouse Grind rather than take the skyride to the top. Of course, in winter there are plenty of sports to participate in: skiing, snowboarding, skating, and sleigh rides.

You can also go on guided nature walks, helicopter rides or zoom over the treetops on the zip-line.

Your admission to the gondola includes some of the activities on the top.
For more information visit their website at www.grousemountain.com
Be sure and take your camera because there are plenty of photo ops!


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A KAYAKING ADVENTURE

An old camp song kept going through my mind as my kayaking tour guide and I paddled across the serene water of the Indian Arm.
"My paddle's keen and bright,
flashing with silver,
swift as the wild bird flies,
dip, dip and swing..."

It's actually a canoing song, but it helped me keep the rhythm as we glided through the water.

Before we had set off for our adventure at the old heritage settlement of Woodlands, near Deep Cove on the Indian Arm inlet, Peter, the guide, gave us the basic instruction for paddling and kayak safety. Kayaking was a first for me. I'd so often watched kayakers plying the waters around Vancouver but had never imagined myself out there exploring the coastline.

I was given the opportunity by Peter Loppe, who guides nature adventures around Vancouver with his Lotus Land Tours. We're lucky here on the coast to live in such a nature lover's paradise. Lotus Land offers personalized guided tours for nature lovers of all ages, even if you're inexperienced like me. Besides kayaking, you can also go on whale watching safaris, floatplane adventures, wildlife viewing excursion and guided tours around the city.

From our starting point at Woodlands, we paddled across the Arm and along the shoreline while Peter explained the eco-system and sea-life. A few curious seals popped up around us checkiing us out but not coming too close. We had a little lesson about the various types of star-fish that clung on the rocks, and the types of algae and sea growth. It was a beautiful, sunny September day. There was hardly a ripple on the water which made for a pleasant kayak journey up the Arm.
We came ashore on one of the tiny Twin Islands. A lot of other kayakers were there, some of them splashing in the water enjoying the mild day for a last of the season swim in the sea. We beached the kayaks along with all the others that were there, and hiked to a secluded spot where our guide prepared us a delicious salmon barbecue.
I can't think of a more pleasant way to spend an afternoon. This kayak adventure was one of my most memorable experiences and now I've tried it once I'm sure I'll go again.

You can book tours with Lotus Land Tours by checking their on-line site at
http://ww.lotuslandtours.com or email info@lotuslandtours.com

You'll be picked up from your hotel or residence iin Vancouver and on your way to your adventure destination your guide will give you a guided tour of the region. In all the years I've lived in Vancouver I hadn't heard of Woodlands, one of the earliest settlments on the Indian Arm. There's always something new to learn and plenty of exciting adventures await you here on the Pacific Coast.


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