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Vancouver by Bicycle

I’m in Vancouver, Canada.

I’ve been other places this summer, too: New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Utah, Arizona, Alaska, and Oregon.  Those trips, however, were jam-packed with families, weddings, friends, and action!, whereas this trip has involved a lot of downtime, which would explain this sudden flurry of Canadian blogging activity.

Today Jeni had the afternoon off, and we packed our bikes in the station wagon and drove across the Lionsgate bridge into Stanley Park and Vancouver proper.  Stanley Park is 1,001 acres of trails and trees, some hundreds of years old.  It’s a round peninsula of sorts on the edge of the city that protrudes into the Pacific Ocean.  There’s a five and a half mile seawall path around the park, and Jeni and I joined the dozens of other bikers, walkers, and in-line skaters in circumnavigating the park in the late afternoon sun.

Seen from the seawall:

– The Vancouver skyline.  Quite pretty, actually.  Being a relatively new city, the skyscrapers look very similar.  Each of their thousand windows reflect the blue sky and the blue ocean, sending friendly, aqueous light out into the city and surroundings.

– Mt. Baker, an enormous snowy gumdrop all the way across the border in Washington, USA.

– The local Coast Mountains, three of which are ski areas, all of which are steep, green, and rocky.  Rising straight up from sea level to 3, 4, and 5,000 feet, they dwarf the shiny, blue downtown buildings.  I said “Wow,” and “Beautiful!” more than I’ve ever done for a city-scape.

– A sea lion, bobbing near the cement sea wall, tearing into a big, pink fish with its teeth.  Its slick head, large eyes, and slitted nose made it look alien, and kind of scary as it ducked into and reemerged from the water, chewing.  In other alien encounters, numerous, huge freighters anchored well off-shore reminded me of mother-ships in a futuristic novel.  Poised.  For protection?  Or for attack?  Waiting, either way.

It was a lovely way to see a city.  The path was flat and even and made me feel like a hero on the bike, and helped bolster ideas I’ve had recently about attempting some long-distance cycling trips.  Also: spoke with a German (Austrian?  Swiss?) man, about 55ish, who was at the beginning of a bicycle trip from Vancouver to San Diego via the 101.  He was asking advice on some local attractions.  A nice moment; a meeting of like-minded travelers on a sunny trail overlooking the Pacific.  My backpacking soul reached out and touched this man’s and found inspiration.  I don’t ever want to stop traveling.  I’ll need to do some practicing on UP-hills, though, if I want to be serious about this biking thing.

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