Sunday, July 5, 2015

The Summer We Became Canadian - Week 1

We've officially been residents of Squamish, British Columbia for a full week now, and we really did hit the ground running.

After meeting at the Seattle - Tacoma International Airport (following three weeks of Brian 'living' back in Boulder - almost forgot what the guy looked like and drove like) crossing the border, and navigating our way though Vancouver, we arrived at what would be our home for the next five weeks, an awesome little condo with view of The Chief.  Apparently, air conditioning is not a thing in BC, and the temps have been in the low to mid 90's since we've arrived, so it does get a bit toasty during the day - though we have an amazing breeze on our amazing porch.  Brian is working while we are here, so while he types away during the daytime hours, I lesson plan, read, and relax in the sun.

form our patio, we have a magnificent view of The Chief 

into the woods...

Monday brought with it some devastating news.  After an evening out bouldering, our first big to-do while here, I returned home to find numerous alerts on my phone.  My parents and my brother had been trying to contact me to let me know that my Grandma Unit had unexpectedly passed away earlier that evening.  I was overcome with guilt - for the worry they had in trying to contact me (I have wifi when we're at the condo but cannot make or receive calls), for being so far away when something so tragic happened, for enjoying my evening while my family all learned of this heartbreaking news.  I was a mess the rest of the evening, absolutely consumed with questions, fears, and a sadness that comes when someone so dear to you passes.  I wanted, more than anything, to be with my parents, to hug my brother, to hear my dad's voice, but I was in another country...on vacation.  I do believe this is something I will struggle with for a while.

Tuesday night called for some clearing of my head.  Brian sensed it as well and agreed to go on a run with me - probably not his favorite thing to do.  We drove to nearby Alice Lake Provincial Park and made a nice, relatively quick 5K loop before sitting by the lake watching the sun sink behind the mountains in the distance.  I really, really enjoy running, and the flat, serene trail that weaved through the woods and into the campground was entirely calming.  After our run, we found a bench by the lake, and Brian and I talked about my grandma, who I affectionately called Melvsie, and talking about her helped.  Watching the sun shine on the water helped, too, as it reminded me of many a summer evening spent up north with my family, and particularly the summers I spent with my grandma and grandpa.

Wednesday evening we were back climbing again, and the thought of it was a bit strange, as our first climbing adventure had ended so sadly for me.  That evening, however, was a good one.  We returned to some climbing we had found the previous time out, and we did some exploring and found new climbing, too.  And we capped the evening off with a walk downtown to check out the Canada Day celebration.  For us Americans, people watching is best done with gelato, so we stopped at the local gelato shop, too.

Thursday evening, we made our way to the top of The Chief via one of the steepest trails I've been on in a long, long time.  It was a lot of walking straight up hill (either on wooden stairs built into the terrain or on giant rocks piled up to make a stairway).  More than once I thought about how nice it would be to be sitting in a cool, air conditioned house - or at my pool l- instead of slogging up the hillside, but once we reached the top, I let go of being bitter about all the hard work.  The view more than made of the for hour of stepping up, up, up.

the ocean from atop The Chief

atop The Chief 

Friday was a holiday for Brian, and because he didn't have to work, we got up early to beat the heat and went on a morning bouldering adventure.  We went to a different part of the forest, where filming of a movie had just wrapped up.  We saw only one other person the whole time we were climbing - and that was when we first arrived. It was extremely nice to feel like we had the place all to ourselves.  It was quiet, relatively cool, and lots of fun.  In the afternoon, we walked to the harbor and stopped at a local restaurant for an early evening drink - cheers to the holidays!

Saturday was spent at Stanley Park in Vancouver.  The park is expansive and there is plenty to see and do.  We walked along the sea wall, we visited a lighthouse, we saw the totem poles, watched ships move in an out of the harbor, ate ice cream, and exchanged holiday cheer with other Americans we saw sporting their red, white, and blue. On our drive back to Squamish, we stopped at the marina at Horseshoe Bay, and it was a little like being back in Italy.  The smell of salt water and fish, the sound of the water lopping against the docks,  the quiet conversations -- it was idillic.

the Lighthouse

cairns on the beach 
Horseshoe Bay 

strolling along the Pacific at Stanley Park - Happy 4th of July!
Our first weeks was a good one here in Squamish, and we have big plans (all tentative because, let's be honest, we don't exactly commit to one, singular plan very well) for the next several days, one of which is our ninth anniversary.  There's even talk about where and how we will spend next summer - residents of South Africa, maybe?!

Here's hoping all is well in the good ol' US of A!

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