Every year my mom, sister and I travel somewhere for a few days to reconnect and have some fun. The location changes each time and this year we went to Vancouver BC. It had been a while since I’ve been here. I know Canada is a place that almost feels like part of the U.S., not necessarily like another country but if you haven’t been in a while, you may want to reconsider it. We stayed in downtown Vancouver and the heart of everything. It’s like Seattle, but not nearly as much traffic, a lot cleaner, and everything was if not an easy walking distance, very beautiful and scenic. The time passed and you didn’t realize you’d just walked five miles. We trade off planning the days and it’s itinerary.
The first night, my mom bought us tickets to Shen Yun, the Chinese dance troupe. You’ve probably seen the advertisements all over Facebook and YouTube. If you haven’t seen them…go! It was remarkable and the dancers, absolutely incredible. It told a really cool story from ancient times and not even performed in China anymore because the communist party views it as, “a threat to its ideology,” and has tried for decades, to erase it. However, this small group came together to revive and produce it through their practice of Falun Dafa, “a spiritual discipline based on the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance.” The company also endeavors to show the life of its people in communist China today. It really was beautiful, entertaining, tragic, graceful and at times, very funny.
The next day, my sister got us tickets to go on an amazing whale watching tour. It was the first trip of the season for Wild Whales Vancouver on Granville Island, and we hit solid gold! First, we climbed into these huge red insulated suits, before climbing aboard an open-air boat. It was a really warm day and I couldn’t understand these huge suits we had to wear, thinking they were a bit of overkill. Then they started the motor and we began to zip across the water. Okay, I have to admit, it was cold! I didn’t know we should’ve been bundled, or at least wear a hat! After a while, it truly didn’t matter though because we were on the whales. We saw thirty, yes THIRTY Orcas and Humpback whales in five pods and that apparently that doesn’t happen very often. They were amazing! I have tried to be on a whale watching tour where you could see an Orca close and have never been able to see them anywhere but as a small dot, way out in the distance. Two of the males had dorsal fins that stretched up to the sky over six feet tall. They were all traveling extremely fast in groups to hunt and find food.
We also saw a massive quantity of Harbor Seals, Stellar Sea Lions, and Californian Sea Lions. Their unworldly groans we absolutely wicked, as they fought for turf on the rocks. Finally, we saw some bald eagles and blue herons, as well as other sea birds. I just learned the bald eagles have come off the extinction list, which is absolutely wonderful! And for any of you that know the Heckman family they are extremely close to our hearts. So, even though we were dressed like some sort of NASA astronaut, it was frigid and more than one person was hanging off the back feeding the fish, overall it was a truly beautiful, fun and exciting day and I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again, not for a millisecond.
The next day was a free day and we decided to go back to Granville Island and explore it. If you haven’t been there in a while I highly recommend you go. There are street performers everywhere. We found out that they have to get up at 6:00 am and draw lots from a bag, as to where they get to perform. Highly talented, they ranged in genre and character. There’s a huge covered fresh market, not unlike Pike Place, minus the beautiful flowers and fish throwing, but several fantastic restaurants. Then there are the shops. Beautiful handpainted painted silk scarves, Native American art, iron works, papery stores, tours, books, jewelry, crazy weird eclectic shops, candles, and other artisan offerings. The really cool thing about it is its a lot of stuff you can’t find elsewhere.
My contribution was on the final day. We went to their famous Vancouver Aquarium. It houses some of the most incredible displays of jellyfish I’ve ever seen. The tanks were enormous and the creatures looked other-wordly, as their golden bodies floated against a beautiful cobalt blue backdrop. The aquarium also had fantastic live shows on the dolphins, seals and sea otters. It really was a great way to end since we’d had gorgeous weather and that last day decided to rain.
I love this time I get to be with my mom and sister. We don’t get to do as much together and it’s a time I look forward too. Here are some pictures I thought you might enjoy!