Travel Blog: Vancouver, Canada

Canada, eh?  Oh yeah! 

Snow covered mountains with crystal clear lakes at the base, we've all seen these majestic photos floating around Pinterest or your Facebook feed on Monday mornings, you know the photos that make you reconsider all the jokes you ever told about that guy living in his van down by the river.  Well it just so happens I got to visit the birth place of so many motivational posters, the west coast of Canada. Besides the awesome landscape scenery we also have the city of Vancouver, a city that took hockey so seriously that they rioted after losing the Stanley Cup a few years ago, my type of city! 

Once crossing the boarder and losing all my beloved free LTE/4G internet on my phone, we head towards Vancouver, normally less than a hour to the border but due to horrible timing we get stuck in a totally different type of traffic.  All those people I curse driving around Florida during the winter months are now making up the masses on the road, and they aren't any better at driving in their native land as they are when they are visiting Florida.

We decided to stay at an AirBnB since we wanted to stay in the city but didn't want to pay $300-400 a night for a room.  Besides not having Air Condition, which isn't a popular thing in the Pacific Northwest, was amazing.  The owners, a couple of brothers, have some 15 different properties around the city, and thus must have a discount plan at IKEA.  They made a 400 square foot studio apartment completely comfortable and it almost made us envious of having such a small footprint yet completely participate and modern. 

Our first night consisted of heading to a Canadian grocery store similar to Whole Foods just a block away and stocking up on the only 3 things Canada is famous for, Kraft Dinner, Maple Syrup, and Beer. "...I'll tell you another thing, their beer sucks."

On our second day we took a drive to Capilano Suspension Bridge Park and Grouse Mountain which is just outside of Vancouver, about a 20 minute drive from our Air B&B.  

Our first stop was Capilano Suspension Bridge Park which can yield some amazing photo opportunities.

This is one of those easy to get to, easy to walk around, and fairly priced spots just outside Vancouver so thus the amount of people make a lot of the features less than enjoyable.  We went on a sunny Friday on a holiday weekend and found it to be completely overrun with people. Thank god we went before Pokemon Go was released! 

Although the amount of people in the park was a bit of a disappointment from a photography stand point, there were still plenty of good photo opportunities if you focus on framing and have a little patience for people to clear out a bit.

Here's an example of a wide angle shot on the Cliffwalk.

...and if you wait a couple of minutes you will find a gap in the people on the bridge but more than likely you will have to zoom in a bit to frame them out.


After dodging the crowd at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park we decided to check out Grouse Mountain. The selling point was the lazy shuttle to the top of the mountain in the form of a cable car.  

Call me morbid but while riding these skyride I always attempt to figure out the best way to survive if the cable snaps, so far I haven't figured out a plausible survival plan besides landing on the morbidity obese lady standing next to me that doesn't respect my personal space bubble.

Upon arriving at the top of the Grouse Mountain we venture off the guided paths and start exploring the "Off Limits" area because what fun is it to follow the rules in another country?

We found a closed personal sky lift which was scheduled to reopen next week after the winter shut down.  Just past the sky lift was an amazing panorama of downtown Vancouver.

The steep decline of the mountain allowed for a fun photo opt.  

After successfully flying off the mountain and back we got back on the tourist path which led us to a bear's den. 

...they were fighting over a piece of wood, note to self: don't get between a bear a stick.

The bear's den or pen was pretty large, at one point with proper framing and cropping I made it look like we saw this bear in the wild, it got a couple of funny responses when I texted it out to friends and family.


On the way back to the skyride I ran into a little bit of America trying to fly back home.

Our next day's adventure lead us in the car for a two and half hour drive north to Joffre Lake, which is home to three lakes actually, lower, middle, and upper Joffre Lake(s). 

Our drive actually took about 4 hours after going about 45 minutes out the way when GPS and cell phone service died and me being a guy refused to stop for direction before admitting defeat and pulling into the only store we saw in the last half hour just to learn we missed a turnoff a ways back.

Upon our arrival we parked in a lot a 1/2 mile down the road and hiked up to the trail head.

Jaclyn is using the FujiFilm X100T, a lightweight rangefinder which was my sole camera on the San Francisco trip.

I brought a Canon 5D Mark iii with a 16-35mm f/4 and a 85mm 1.2 for some select portraits, as well as my travel Manfrotto tripod and ballhead.

A sobering reminder that although this trail is well hiked, it is still the wild.  A missing couple "Be on the Lookout" notice nailed to a tree at the trailhead.

The hike up from lower lake to middle lake was steep and lacked much sight seeing.

After about an hour of hiking we see the trees start to open up...

Behold...Middle Joffre Lake, the thing that occupies many Pinterest boards!

A quick stop to take some more picture and share a meal with my new friend.

After wrapping up our lunch we start to head toward Upper Joffre Lake, which is only about a half mile,  On the way I see a waterfall and decide to go off the path to get a closer shot.  Something about going where you're not suppose to go always draws me in and having Jaclyn there to remind me I probably shouldn't climb out on the fallen tree is always a good thing too.  After our Smokey Mountains trip I just had to look over at Jaclyn and she knew exactly what I was thinking and before I could say anything she said "don't".  Ah the voice of reason.

After getting my little photo op out of the way we continue on the path which leads us over a couple of wooden bridges and some carved friends.

...and some less than optimal paths.

After hiking through some halfway melted snow which was more or less blocks of ice that tested our balancing skills, we arrive at Upper Joffre Lake.

Again, I found a better place to take photos off the path.

I even talk Jaclyn into coming down to take some photos of each other.

After taken in the fresh air we head back down the mountain, off towards our next adventure, where ever that may be.