Experiences in British Columbia: Week 1

By Emma

So we have now been here exactly seven days and a lot has changed since we last posted! I think the jet lag is pretty much over for all of us, which thankfully was not too painful. We have explored lots of different parts of the Vancouver area and clocked up thousands of steps. My FitBit has told me I have managed a huge 10,200 steps more than last week, averaging 17,000 a day! Tom has been a trooper, keeping up with us most of the time with very few complaints! He has pretty much memorised the train and bus network, gleefully advising on routes, spotting the different trains and noting their numbers! We think the anorak is not too far behind!

The main lessons/experiences we have so far are:

Finding accommodation is challenging!

Craigslist seems to be the best place to look for accommodation, but very few people respond to email enquiries! This means that, while we have identified three areas we think will be good to live in, we have managed to visit a grand total of one property! This was not even large enough to fit the three of us plus bags, so was a ‘No’ straight away!

Tonight we have implemented a few new strategies to try and break this trend – including:

  • setting up an email alert when new postings are available, so hopefully we can get our email enquiry to the advertisers near the top of their list;
  • sending emails from both my official work account and James’ gmail, may be one will get a response!
  • Tailoring the emails so one indicates a smart professional who is looking for a place (I know, no-one will guess it is us!) and the other indicates a happy, small family (again this may not be a full reflection of reality!). Again hopefully one of these is acceptable enough to elicit a response and at least get us viewings or just a response would be nice!

If anyone has any other tips on what we can try and do please let us know!

Forest fires are raging in British Columbia

There was a small headline on the BBC a short while before we left, but the scale of them and the fact they are on-going was not really apparent. This means that several of the National Parks are closed to visitors, including the ones we had planned to visit this coming week. So ‘new holiday plans’ has been added to the to-do list. Although in light of our current failure to find an apartment, this may not be such a bad thing! We have however managed to sign up to Modo, a car share scheme here which looks really good. That was one of the easier things to complete this week and we will report back on how we get on.

Port Moody has an annual ‘Ribfest’

This involves a lot of meat and lot of BBQ sauce and giant style bake-offs between various groups of bakers all clamouring to be voted ‘No. 1 for Ribs’, ‘No. 1 for Pulled Pork’ etc.

It was no place for vegetarians, Tom has now re-christened the town ‘Pork Moody’! It was quite a fun evening though including locally brewed beers, some good live music and a chance for Tom to try out climbing for the first time!

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Tom’s first climbing experience!

Great views from the 1st peak of Stawamus Chief

So, apparently Stawamus Chief is the 2nd largest granite monolith in the world (1st being the Rock of Gibraltar) and it has a really popular hiking trail along it which we did part of this weekend.  There are three peaks and we walked to the first which is 610 m high. It involved a lot of very big steps and some sections of ladders and chains on some of the rock faces. Tom ws like a mountain goat up and down the rock faces, but found the big steps a little more challenging.  James managed to skid down one of the steeper drops and sprain his finger, but nothing serious and we all got to enjoy the incredible views and cheeky wildlife!

After coming back down we headed to the nearby Shannon Falls, which is 353 m high and the third highest waterfall in BC.

We had a lovely lunch next to the river before heading to the nearby café for a well-deserved ice-cream (also learned this week, Orio cookie ice-cream sandwiches are pretty good!).  The visit was topped by our first sighting of an Eagle, well two in fact, although no picture evidence of these.  We have definite plans to hike the 2nd and 3rd peaks later in the year, so more pics of these to come.

In other news:

As one of the things we are hoping to do over the course of our stay is to see a lot of wildlife, I thought it might be a good idea to start a wildlife count here. So far then we have:

  • American Bald Eagles: 3 (2 @Stawamus Chief + 1 over the house in Pork Moody)
  • Bears: 0
  • Whales: 0
  • Racoon: 1 (@ the Lost Lagoon, Stanley Park)

And finally – the swings in Stanley park are pretty good!

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