We have been desperate to travel around America and Canada since we moved here but circumstances have meant that we haven't made it further than an hour from here.
When we were thinking of where to go we decided it should be somewhere that was at the top of our wish list, somewhere we wouldn't necessarily take the kids and somewhere with enough adventure to keep us amused whilst being relaxing at the same time....
So we boarded a plane in Chicago and 4.5 hours later landed in Vancouver!
Our first view of the snow capped mountain, peeking between the clouds:
Vancouver airport is beautiful:
Not only was there exhibitions and this huge wooden eagle, but there was a 2 storey, ceiling to floor waterfall, a kids play structure at the departure gates and a huge stuffed moose (more on him later!)
Our second view of the mountains:
As a treat, Jeremy booked a convertible Mustang as our hire car for the trip. We jumped in, put the roof down and set off!
Our journey took us through downtown Vancouver, through Stanley Park, over the Lions Gate Bridge and onto the Sea-to-sky highway up the mountain to Whistler - a ski resort at the base of Whistler and Blackcomb mountains.
Lions gate bridge:
Yes Jeremy let me drive for a little while!
The wing mirrors project this image on the floor.... Cool!:
On the way up the mountain, we stopped to see the 70 metre waterfall at Brandywine Falls.
It was breathtaking but my vertigo stopped me getting too close!
I could get used to views like this:
We actually travelled on my birthday so we had a few treats in the hotel when we arrived.
We stayed at the Four Seasons:
The concierge left me a plate of cupcakes, complete with candles:
And we joined the BBQ out on the patio and washed it down with my favourite cocktail - a strawberry bellini:
On the first morning we had a trip booked to go and see the bears. There are about 60 or 70 bears that live on the two mountains and a man called Michael Allen studies them. The only person in the world doing a study like this. So he takes people out morning and night to see the bears, where they are living and feeding.
We started on Whistler Mountain and drove up through the downhill ski slopes. The first bear we saw was Echo who is 5 years old and the daughter of Ellie:
We carried on up the mountain and I suddenly spotted a bear out of my window. It was Olivia who had 2 cubs who were up a nearby tree. They are safe up there (male bears can kill them to force the mums to mate) and they were happily playing. I needed binoculars to see them so unfortunately no photos. We stood there for a long time just watching her. Michael said she was used to him and the noise of his 4x4 so she was very tolerant and pretty much ignored us.
She was just beautiful. Working her way round the grass, chewing on dandelions. I couldn't believe she was only about 20ft away. Such a surreal experience.
And then we moved to Black comb mountain where the Olympic bobsleigh run was.
Whilst I was in the hospital with Toby, I spent the 2 weeks watching the Olympics in between visits to Special care so it was very special for me to be able to see the track.
We saw 4 bears on this mountain. Rosie who is 20 years old. We saw her feeding on the way up and then on the way back we saw her asleep on a rock. We had to be really quiet as she would be at her most vulnerable when asleep. I was trying so hard to be obedient but I only went and fell out of the 4x4! D'oh! She didn't stir so I got away with it!
And then Michelle (8 years old) who was playing with her cubs. They were adorable! We watched for quite a while but then some kids on the ski lift shouted and it spooked her. In no time they were off and up a tree!
It was a beautiful sunny morning but as we made our way up the mountains, it got quite chilly!
We were driving around for over 3 hours but the time flew by. It was an amazing experience.
I wish I'd had a better camera, but can you believe I managed to get these pictures on my iphone?!
I could not get enough of these views:
We ended up quite near the top of the mountain - a mere 1400ft!
Bears, chairs and automobiles... Where are the chairs?! Well after the bear tour, and after we had warmed up, and after I had insisted that I would not, under any circumstances go on a chair lift or cable car.... we did just that!
But I will save that and the stories of Vancouver for another day as this has turned into a very long post and I am not sure if you are still awake!