Saturday, June 22, 2013

Bears to beavers

Our last full day in Canada began early, with a 6am meeting with Geoff the bear man, who took us up the mountain through the fog, checking - well, I was going to say the traps, but that's not right: the opposite, the meadows where the black bears come to graze. And there they were, four of them, the first an unknown female, on her own; then another, shaggy Alice who was nervous - with good reason, as a young male, brown and eager, was after her, sending her galloping down the hill as he came into sight, big and brown; and then another female with a splendid thick black coat.

Though Michael Allen is better known, Geoff was great, full of knowledge, stories and opinion, and the 3 hours passed very quickly - he would have extended the time if we hadn't found bears, but he knew just where to look. Forget about using that cliche alternative to 'yes', by the way: bears poop everywhere, including right in the middle of a parking lot.

Then we left Whistler, its peaks still shrouded in cloud and unseen by us, sadly, and took the bus back down Howe Sound, which was muted and blue and pewter, and lovely. Though Whistler was busy, Vancouver was really humming, as the weather improved and everyone was on the streets and in the parks and on the water, enjoying the sunshine - as you would, if you lived in an apartment as so many do. They were out walking with dogs and kids, on paddle-boards on False Creek, cycling, skateboarding, sitting enjoying a jazz (spit) festival, and thronging Granville Island's market stalls, shops, restaurants and cafes.

Further along the Creek, near the silver sphere of Science World, as the first day of the dragon-boating festival got sociable, we finally found what I've been looking for for days: a Beaver Tails van, making deep-fried pastry topped with cinnamon sugar, apple, maple syrup icing... a Canadian specialty since 1978 and clearly super-healthy. And delicious!

So now we're at the lovely and luxurious Fairmont Waterfront, in a classy room overlooking the grassy roofs of the Convention Centre and across the harbour to where the sun is taking its time in sinking, the sky behind the Coastal Mountains going a deeper and deeper saffron. Beautiful.

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