Since James loves Canada and Sean and I had never been, we decided to take a day trip up to Vancouver, B.C. which is only a couple hours’ drive from my house. We had no issues crossing the border in either direction, and the drive generally has little traffic until you get up to the border itself. We went up on a Thursday and didn’t have to wait more than 20-30 minutes on the way there or back.
Sean and James weren’t sure about crossing the border with their travel visas, and they filled out something called an Electronic System for Travel Authorization, or ESTA for short. However, the border patrol only asked them where and when they flew in, where and when they were flying out, and how long they would be in Canada for. Now we’re confident that we should be able to take a day trip down to Mexico without issue as well when we’re in San Diego.
Once we crossed the border James was dying to use the bathroom so we stopped at the first place we could find: McDonald’s. Canada has a weird habit of taking brands the rest of the world has and making them their own by adding a maple leaf to the logo. I observed this with McDonald’s, Red Robin, and various other places while we were there. Since we were already stopped at Mickey D’s, Sean and I decided we might as well get lunch. Sean tried out their poutine, which he said was just as good as you would expect McDonald’s fries smothered in gravy and cheese curds to be. I went for the chicken nuggets and we unanimously agreed that the Canadian barbecue sauce isn’t as good as the American.
After that it was only about a half hour drive into downtown Vancouver. We found a parking garage and started exploring the streets. We walked down Granville Street and went into the mall, looking for a pair of boots that James loves and can only find in Canada, but we had no luck. We eventually ended up at Malone’s Taphouse and stopped for a few pints. I had a piña colada beer which had a nice pineapple flavor to it, and the boys both got something called the Electric Unicorn White IPA which they liked a lot.
By that time our parking was up so we rushed back to the garage and headed to the Capilano Suspension Bridges. It was a bit pricey to get in, even with our student discounts, but it was well worth it. We did the cliff walk first, since the main suspension bridge looked a bit crowded. We were treated to spectacular views and dizzying heights.
The main suspension bridge was bouncier than we were expecting and moved a lot as people walked across. That being said, I never felt unsafe on it and even enjoyed jumping and bouncing around, probably to the dislike of everyone around me. Even Sean, who is somewhat afraid of heights, enjoyed it. We did the tree walk on the other side, which was a series of small suspension bridges high up in the trees, as well as all the other little trails they had. It was a bit on the touristy side, but still a lot of fun and I definitely recommend it.
We decided to spend our last few hours in Vancouver at Stanley Park, where we walked around the Lost Lagoon. We had great views of downtown from the other side of the lagoon, and the boys encountered their first raccoon. We also saw some Canadian geese, which seemed appropriate.
We stopped for dinner at a place in Blaine, WA, just across the border called Pizza Factory, which was surprisingly good. We got home that night around ten.
The next day we decided we were up for more Pacific Northwest beauty so we went for a hike at Snow Lake, near North Bend, WA. It was a fun, rocky hike with waterfalls throughout where the boys stopped to fill up their water bottles. It was icy cold, delicious, and the boys didn’t get any weird diseases from drinking it.
The whole hike was about 7.2 miles roundtrip, and we gained 1800 ft., to reach the highest point with the view of the lake at 4400 ft.. There were several patches of snow we had to walk across, especially as we neared the top, even though it was warm and sunny out. Good hiking boots are a must for this hike. The boys were in their regular shoes and kept sliding around on the snow. By the end their feet were soaked from walking through the waterfalls. Sean rolled his ankle a few times on the way down.
But it was all worth it for the spectacular views at the top. The lake is aptly named, as it was covered with snow and ice, giving it an unusual look in the summer. We ate lunch at the top, and some friendly chipmunks tried to steal our food. We also ran into a small garter snake on the way down, which was harmless but still gave the boys a fright.
All in all, the boys loved the hike, and still refer to it as one of their favorite parts of the trip so far.
Want more? Read about our next set of adventures in Seattle Part Two: Soccer and Barbecue!