Small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.



Instead of arriving to our new home and spending the next few days unpacking and getting settled, we decided to put our time to better use and headed up to Vancouver for a few days. Adam was stuck at home working, but my sister-in-law (who helped us move up here) and I headed up with our two boys to have some fun in Canada! Two days into our new home and we had already skipped the country!

This was the first time out of the country for both kids which we seemed to find more exciting than them. Despite it only being a two hours drive, my sister-in-law really wanted to take the train so we got up early Tuesday and took a four hour train ride up along the coast. It ended up being a good choice with beautiful views all along the way.

When we arrived, it was spitting rain but we didn't want to let that stop us. We headed to the hotel to drop off our bags and lighten our load. After a quick stop at the hotel, we made our way to the UBC's botanical gardens for a tree top adventure. We walked through the lush gardens with huge ferns, tons of flowers, massive trees, and branches that looked more  like ropes.

We entered into the tree top canopy just about the time the rain stopped and ended up having the whole place to ourselves. 

Landon loved the canopy and quickly made his way from tree to tree while the rest of us tried to steady ourselves on the swaying bridges. 

We moved from bridge to bridge at a steady incline and soon found ourselves pretty high above the ground among the tallest of trees. Breathtaking and a bit scary! When we were finished, we made our way back towards downtown, had some yummy sushi, then went back to the hotel so the boys could swim for a bit. We enjoyed the cloudy 9:30pm sunset from our balcony too. We had a great location right in the heart of downtown.

The next morning, we made our way to Grouse Mountain just North of the city. It was a cold morning and pretty grey, but were not going to let it stop us. Getting up the mountain takes a gondola ride and a chairlift, but between the two are a number of activities. We got off the first gondola and arrived just in time for it to start hailing. So we headed in the lodge to wait it out with some hot chocolate.

It was still spitting a bit, but the ranger talk about the two resident grizzly bears was beginning so we braved the elements to learn and see these magnificent creatures up close. And up close we got! At first the two bears were about 30 feet away from the fence, but as the ranger continued talking they each got up and came down and started eating grass right next to the fence. This meant we were just about three feet from a massive grizzly bear. It was amazing and a little intimidating to see them so up close. Their claws alone were bigger than my fingers.

After the grizzly talk, we headed over to the raptor area for a show. The first raptor was the bald eagle which flew around and then landed on a post just a few feet away. It was speculator to see this beautiful bird so close and thrilled the boys. They also brought out a barn owl, turkey vulture and gyrfalcon. It was all too neat!

Then we made our way over to a lumberjack show which was a little silly, but the boys loved it. They climbed trees poles, had a log battle and did some funny skits. Worth watching for sure!

By the time the show was over, the skies had cleared and the sun was out. We took the opportunity to head up to the top of Grouse Mountain on the chair lift. For the first time we could see all of Vancouver below and it was stunning!

When we got to the top the views were spectacular!!! We had chosen the perfect time to crest the summit as a final few clouds parted and the views were unlimited. We hadn't purchased tickets to the top of the windmill, but once we were at the base of it, we all wanted to come up for an even better view.

Lucky for us, we were able to buy the additional tickets at the base and it was totally worthwhile. Not only were the views amazing, but it was really cool to actually be inside a windmill. The wind had stopped so the blades were not rotating, but the 360 degree views were just amazing!!!

The girl working at the top said in the clearest of days you can see Mount Baker and Mount Rainier. I made a note to be sure and bring Adam back just to see that. 

We spent a lot of time looking around and the boys asked the girl about a
million questions stumping her more than once with their pointed questions. They definitely enjoyed the windmill more than the views, but whatever gets them interested.

We eventually came down from the windmill and headed back down the chair lift. Once again, the views were spectacular and what started as a cloudy day ended up being perfect. We got a bite to eat at the lodge then rode the gondola the rest of the way down the mountain.

Our next stop was the nearby Capilano Suspension Bridge. I had heard mixed reviews so I didn't have high expectations. We arrived just after 5pm which not only meant tickets were 20% off, but it seemed the crowds had really cleared out and for such a popular place we really didn't have a lot of other people around.

First, we made our way to the suspension bridge and conquered our fears. 

At least some of us... others were still a little afraid of the 460 ft long swinging bridge that was a mere 260 ft above a rushing river. 

On the other side, we walked the boardwalk, got up close to a blue heron, and did another tree top walk 110 ft above the forest floor. This seven bridge walk was much more sturdy feeling than the one we did the day before so we breezed right through it.

They had given the boys an interactive activity book to do along the way which kept them interested and learning. Once completed they received pins similar to the junior ranger program. Things like this are such a great way to involve kids.

When we had explored all aspects of the far side, we crossed the bridge once more and made our way to the cliff walk wehich was a suspended balcony on the cliff side. By now, we really had the whole place to ourselves and explored the cliff side structures at leisure.

We finished exploring just as the sun was beginning to set and made the trip back to our hotel on the bus. I don't think I've ever been to a city with as great and easy of a bus system as Vancouver. It made getting around for us two women and kids a piece of cake! By the time we got back to the hotel it was after 8pm so we grabbed a quick dinner then headed back to the hotel for a night of wrestilng...boys...

Our last morning, we packed up our bags and headed out to spend our last few hours exploring a little more. I had learned of a Dutch pancake house so we made it our first stop of the day. Of course we all had to get the pannekoeken a Dutch pancake thinner than their American cousin and similar to a crepe. It was a simple iced pannekoeken for Landon, cinnamon apple pannekoeken for Taylor, peach and raspberry pannekoeken for Katherine and Strawberries and Creme for myself. Add to that an order of sausage and Candian bacon and two mimosas for the adults and we were in Dutch pancake heaven. Seriously!!!

Afterwards, we headed to Granville a small island in the heart of Vancouver to check out their public market and Farmers market. Despite being absolutley stuffed from breakfast, our senses were constantly tempted with the sights and smells from all kinds of food.

Inside the market you could buy hot pot pies, cheese, flowers, macaroons, honey, salmon (and the cedar to cook it on) and everything in between. The fruits and veggies looked so fresh and many vendors made ornamental towers from the oversized cherries. Thank god for our full bellies and small backpacks or else we may have been more tempted to buy things. We escaped the market with only a few honey sticks for the boys.

Just across the street was the kids market where $8 bought us some rest and the boys unlimited playtime on a three story indoor playground. 

They burned off their breakfast and got out some energy while having a blast with the other kids whose parents needed a break too. Just before 2pm we started making our way back to the Amtrak station for our ride back home to Seattle. That still sounds strange! We stopped and got a bite to eat as well as a few coloring items to keep the boys occupied on the train ride home.

Despite being in Vancouver not much more than 48 hours, we had a wonderful time. From the breathtaking train ride, to the plethora of fun activities, and new experiences, we packed as much we could into two days. With two young boys, we really centered our time around fun activities for them, but it's ovbious that Vancouver has so much more to offer. Being only 2 hours away by car, I look forward to many, many more trips to this amazing city. Goodbye for now Vancouver, this is only the beginning of our time together!

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