Twin Peaks, Vancouver Island and Vancouver

We saw a bear. For the past two months we’d been hoping to (safely) see a bear and, on the last possible day, we saw a bear.


After getting off the train (or “detraining” as they call it in the biz) in Vancouver we spent a few days catching up with friends, eating salmon, and doing washing.

I was first in Vancouver 10 years ago on Lucy and my first trip together. At the time I had a very sweet tooth and was still not completely used to eating seafood. When we were at Granville Island Public Markets, Lucy told me to try some of the salmon maple candy. I heard the word candy and expected sweet. Instead I got fishy. Lucy, of course, loved the stuff and has been dreaming about it ever since. Ten years later we were back. I ate and enjoyed some — my tastes have changed but also I knew to expect candied salmon rather than salmon candy. A small shift in perception but it makes a difference. Lucy, on the other hand, bought and ate almost enough to last another 10 years.

Seagull caught a crab

After visiting many (many!) of their stores across North America we were finally in the home of Lululemon. On a very cold and windy morning we went shopping and I was freezing because I was underdressed. We came across the Lululemon Laboratory and long story short I now have a prototype jacket which is lovely and kept me warm for the rest of the holiday. In Canada you don’t shop hungry or cold.

Bikes and bits
Hockey under the highway | Basketball in a business building
Mountains, buildings, river

We hadn’t discovered Stanley Park last time we were here, but this time we had a car and Google Maps and it was much easier to explore. What a wonderful place! Beautiful and green with lots of lakes and beachfront areas and paths to walk around on. We saw seals and squirrels and ducks, but failed to see otters or beavers — even in Beaver Lake.

Stanley Park

Well before we arrived our Airbnb hosts had warned us not to mention Airbnb. We were guests. Airbnb was not appreciated in Vancouver. Uber, likewise, was not in operation in Vancouver — whether for political or market reasons I’m not sure. But it was strange, after travelling for 5 months in 9 countries and using both these services extensively, to be suddenly without. And it felt a bit unwelcoming to see signs everywhere decrying short-term rentals. Thankfully our host-issued fake IDs worked perfectly and nobody suspected a thing.


Twin Peaks aka Snoqualmie

We popped over the border and suddenly had to do mental maths to convert miles-per-hour to kilometres-per-hour to stay under the speed limit. When we pulled into a side road it took me a little while to remember that the speed limit of 25 was really about 40.

We were there to stay here:

The Welcome to Twin Peaks sign was removed by some locals who didn’t like people coming to visit. When we checked in to the hotel the receptionist handed us a Twin Peaks map.

“The only thing that’s not there anymore is the sign.”

“Yeah, we heard it was vandalised,” said Lucy, who had done her research.

“Vandalised?” the receptionist said. “That’s a nice way of looking at it. They drove over it.”

“Not Welcome in Twin Peaks”

I’m less of a fan than Lucy, and was also feeling sick and grumpy, so some of the locations didn’t really mean much to me. But it was very cool to come across this:

The sheriff’s office is actually right near the old mill, which is now a rally driving school so not accessible.

And we had a couple of meals at the RR Diner which was cool because it was done up again to film the latest season so it looked every bit the part. It had burnt down years ago — arson — so if we’d come before they renovated it wouldn’t have felt like Twin Peaks.

The cherry pie, however, was not damn good.

Seattle down now

Popped in to Seattle again for the night. Not much to report — I was proper unwell now —but Lucy found the new Amazon domes.

Vancouver Island

On the ferry across to Vancouver Island we saw White-sided Pacific dolphins. They looked like tiny orcas. It was very exciting. Otherwise there was a lot of kelp floaty things which made it hard to know if you were looking at something more interesting than seaweed.

In Victoria we went to a restaurant that started out really promising then became kind of disappointing and finished with us seeing a mouse.

Japanese Garden at Royal Roads University

We went for a walk along the beach and on the headland saw a massive flock of pigeons near the carpark. We went closer and saw a girl feeding them, holding out her hand so they’d land on her and eat the seeds. I think it was the first time she had tried it. It worked a little too well. By the time we got there she had pigeons sitting on her shoulder and head. She shooed them away and the air was filled with flapping wings and fluttering feathers as the pigeons circled up and around to try again. We left, taking care not to walk beneath the cloud of poop waiting to happen.

We were very excited for Tofino. Lucy had done a lot of research and planning and got us a great beach-front room at what was expected to be their winter storm season. We had a great view of the beach and waves and ferocious weather.

I, however, was still sick. As Lucy would later say, while sick in a pokey apartment in Osaka, at least I had been sick in a nice place. I spent the next few days in bed while Lucy went out exploring the beach and forest within walking distance when the weather was calm.

Then I recovered enough to take us to different sights.

At the end of our time in Tofino the rain had well-and-truly settled in, and we had a long drive ahead of us across the island to head back to Vancouver. We settled in and set off.

Then we saw the bear.

A few cars had slowed down in front of us, and I saw a dark figure on the road.

“Bear!” I shouted, slowing down.

“It’s a bear!” Lucy shouted.

I pulled over and we watched the bear stroll along the road. Once the road was clear the other cars drove away.

“Go back!” Lucy instructed.

I reversed the car to keep the bear close by. Lucy rolled down the window.

“It’s just here,” she said. The bear had gone into a ditch by the side of the road and was about a metre away.

Another car pulled up next to us. “Everything okay?” the lady asked me.

“Yes. There’s a bear here!”

“Well, you can’t stop here,” she told me. “It’s inconvenient.” And they drove away.

The bear crossed the road behind us and wandered into a stream. Lucy passed me the camera and I snapped a bunch of photos but I had missed the perfect shot of the bear standing in the water. The best photo we got was the bear crossing the road. But holy hell who cares? We saw a bear!!

Back in Vancouver

After all the excitement we were back in Vancouver in another apartment that didn’t allow short-term rentals. Our Vancouver friends were now sick, too, so we couldn’t see them. We just did our final bits of shopping and washing, had some delicious dinners, and prepared for our final country.

This is a very lucky 17 storey building
Train safety
Vancouver Airport is very aesthetic

It’s business time

There were two big groups of high school students from Japan catching our flight from Vancouver. When I say students, they were all in suits and dapper coats and better-dressed and better-behaved than the rest of us. But still, the Japan Airlines check-in staff member apologised that the domestic cabin was going to be full of students and gave us an upgrade to business class.

My feet don’t reach the seat in front | One of three courses for dinner | Help yourself to water, wine and snacks

Heck of a way to make us feel welcome, Japan.

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