After yet more Mario Kart I headed out with Ivan to check out a couple of bars and head into downtown Vancouver to see out the night. We began at the liquor store, picking up a small bottle of vodka to get us going before catching the Skytrain to the Fogey Dew in Lougheed. It was about nine thirty by the time we arrived and there was what you would call a reasonably sized queue that barely moved for the forty five minutes we were stood in line. After several excursions from the queue to keep the alcohol topped up, Ivan, myself and Ivan’s other friend Chris decided it was time to bail and head downtown. We picked up Mike on our way through New Westminster and joined up with Ivan’s friends Monica and Montana in another queue for hostel bar The Cambie. Ivan and I slipped through the hostel entrance and got stamped but we agreed with the others to head to Shine, a bar/club we’d picked up free tickets for and found no queue. Once stamped here, Ivan and I went back to The Cambie for a cheap drink and I found the place to be less than desirable.
We ended the night in Shine and Mike somehow managed to convince his friend Curt to come pick us up and take us home which was a plan only dampened by my attempt to faceplant the pavement.
The following morning was greeted with the expected haze of a hangover. Eventually Mike, Ivan and I made it out and we headed to Fat Burger, a place which claims to be the last great burger stand and I have to admit, even their vegetarian burger was pretty good.
That evening we had agreed to take it a little easy, picked up a six pack each and went back to Mike’s. The plan was to stay in and get a game of Settlers of Catan going. As a fan of strategy games. Having been told by many friends at home about how good the game is, I was pretty excited to get playing. Zack and Curt joined us and we got down to it.
After picking up the rules quickly, the strategies didn’t come to me until a little too late and after a tight run in with Mike, Ivan claimed victory. As the game came to a close Ivan’s friend Larissa turned up, we finished Catan and were introduced to Russian card game; Durak. Ivan insisted that we had played in Sweden but I had no recollection of it. The night drew on and eventually it was decided to call it a night. Curt offered to drive Zach home and I went for the ride as there was talk of going for a Slurpee on the way, something I was yet to enjoy.
Our drive took us through Stanley Park and across the Lions Gate Bridge before heading into North Vancouver to drop Zach off at home. By this time the sun was beginning to rise and Curt wound down his window and we could already here the birds. Bed was definitely in order.
The next day Mike called Curtis and they came up with a plan of what to do, which began with more Slurpees. Curt drove us out to the hills that surround Vancouver and after parking up we caught a site of a black bear with her cubs. She didn’t stick around for long, or so we though at the time, so Mike and Curtis took me up to what they claimed had once been their second home through summers gone by. What I found was a crystal clear pool in the woods, with a zipline over the top and a rope swing that shot right out over the water.
When we arrived, the zipline was stuck over the middle of the pool and Curt was convinced that he could get it back. He wasn’t wrong, he managed to get it down and he walked it up the high end and then spent plenty of time debating as to whether or not he was going to get on and cross the water. After a little encouragement from Mike and I to the tone of fifteen dollars he stripped down, padded up the ropes and took the jump. Sadly, he didn’t take the plunge and after a little hard work managed to cross to the other side.
We made our way back to the car and noticed a lot of people with large camera lenses hanging around the area we had seen the black bears but this time they were in a much better position and we stopped a little longer to watch them play around on the edge of some woodland. It’s quite magical to see such a large mammal so close, especially with her two cubs running about around her.
Our next destination was Grouse Mountain. I’d been told by Ash and Karla in Calgary that the Grouse Grind would be worth checking out. Mike had told me that it would be a pretty casual hike and that trainers would be fine and it would just take a little under an hour. This was almost accurate, it was a little more challenging and we made the summit in an hour and seventeen minutes. The record time for the season is somewhere around thirty minutes.
I had mixed feelings towards the grind; we’d passed some people kitted out in shorts, running trainers, and plenty of water but we’d also watched a couple of guys in their late fifties race past us. I think at the end though, we all agreed that we were out of shape but the climb was definitely an enjoyable experience.
Once at the top I was starting to feel the cold but we decided to take a look around and we were certainly glad that we did. One of the chairlifts for the ski slopes were running and we thought we’d better go and check it out.
I wasn’t expecting to reach the peak of any mountain on my stay in North America but this was an opportunity. For five dollars we could take the chairlift up and we rose through the trees and the fog.
After checking out the views the cold started to get too much for all three of us and we decided it was time to head back down to the top of the Grouse Grind so that we could make our way right back down to the car park.