Both Natalie and I received our British Columbia driving licenses in the post a week or so ago. We were very excited when they arrived, although that soon turned to disappointment when we looked at our photos and realised that they had taken the worst photos of us ever! We both look like criminals, plus I look like I’m completely stoned, I’m guessing because I was ill that day and had eaten the equivalent of half of London Drugs pharmacy (or Boots if you’re in the UK). We weren’t planning to buy a car in Canada, but we knew we needed access to some form of transport for trips further afield. I had done quite a lot of research before we left the UK about various car sharing schemes. There seems to be three big players; Car2Go, Zipcar, and Modo. Car2Go is great if you’re one end of the city and need to get to the other, but don’t want to us public transport for whatever reason. You can find any Car2Go Smart car, either via the website/app, or if you just happen to see one, then just swipe your car on the windscreen and jump in. You’re charged by the minute (around 33 cents plus tax) and you can end your journey whenever you want and anywhere you want within the ‘home’ area, which extends far enough out of the city to make it worthwhile. Zipcar and Modo are more for occasions when you know you’re going to need a car for a particular time, and you know you’re going to have to bring the car back from where you got it. I ended up signing up for Zipcar through work, as they have a business account, which meant I got $30 free credit when I joined. I’ve also signed up for Car2Go, just in case!
With my new Zipcar card in hand, we planned a day trip up North, through West Vancouver and then up to Squamish. The cost of having the car for the day was $55-something, it would normally be about $88-something but I had $30 credit. It’s worth mentioning that all insurance, petrol, and up to 200km mileage a day in included in the price, so it works out pretty good value for money. On the day we stuck to our original plan pretty closely, although when we reached Squamish we did head further North, so our route ended up something like this:
After packing our picnic we headed to meet our companion for the day, Herman. Zipcar haved named their whole fleet, and today Herman was ours! We jumped in and headed on our way to Deep Cove, which was a short drive away over to the North shore and then East for about 20 minutes or so. Deep Cove was a a really cool little place with amazing views over the water. It seems like a really popular place for kayaking, so maybe we’ll head back later in the summer and give that a go. It started to rain a little so we thought we’d jump back in the car and head towards our next stop, hoping that the rain would stop on the way.
After Deep Cove we headed towards West Vancouver and our second stop of the day, Lighthouse Park. I was just about getting hang of driving again now, so it wasn’t long before we made it to Lighthouse Park. After parking up we took a short 1km (or so) walk to the sea where we were greeted with incredible views of North Vancouver and the Lower Mainland. We climbed up on top of a rock with a good vantage point and settled down for some ham and cheese baguettes!
Shortly after we’d finished eating the sun made it’s way behind some clouds, it got a little cold, and the wind picked up. Within a matter of minutes it felt like we were about to be blown into the sea and washed away in a storm. We decided now that it would be a good time to move on, so we headed down another trail, which ended with an awesome view of the lighthouse. I read the little plaque thing which told me that the lighthouse was one of the first non-First Nation settlements here, it used to only be accessible by boat, and it was ‘re-built’ in 1921 using ‘modern’ techniques. Something like that anyway, my memory is awful so I might have been reading about something else. There were a few drops of rain starting to come down again by this point so we decided to move on towards Squamish. We did make a quick stop at Whytecliff Park but it was still raining at this point so we didn’t stay long.
As we drove further North we were amazed by the views that surrounded the Sea-to-Sky Highway. Before we made it to Squamish we noticed a sign for a place called Shannon Falls. I recognised the name but couldn’t remember where from, so we stopped off and quickly realised that it’s home to a bloody massive waterfall, the third biggest in British Columbia Wikipedia informs me. The pictures we took don’t really do it justice as the sky was white, and photos splashing down the rock face aren’t quite as exciting as seeing it with your own eyes. This area is also where you start your journey to the top of the Stawamus Chief, a 417m high granite rock which towers over the town of Squamish. It’s definitely on our hiking list once we’ve got some proper footwear and aren’t dangerously unfit.
We left Shannon Falls and took a short drive to the retail park in Squamish as we wanted to check out the Walmart there. I was very excited to discover some kind of sporting goods aisle, where we ended up pissing around with all the stuff for about 15 minutes. We ended up buying an umbrella and some pasta sauce, which we haven’t eaten yet. It also hasn’t rained since we bought the umbrella. In fact the weather drastically improved after we left Walmart.
We decided to go against our original plan and keep driving North. We didn’t take the main highway and ended up on a random road, which I now know is called ‘Squamish Valley Road’. Despite looking on Google Maps I still have no idea where this road goes, and I’m glad we turned back when we did. We saw a woman rollerblading on it, two random men walking down it, and a few cyclists. Where the **** were they going?
On the way back from ‘the road to nowhere’, with the sun shining, we saw even more incredible views of the mountains and the Stawamus Chief in all its glory.
On the way back to the city we stopped off a few more times to take in the surroundings, our favourite being Porteau Cove. The sun was shining, the water was calm, and the views were incredible. I spent about 30 minutes or so taking some photos and we just chilled out for another 30 minutes just taking in the surroundings. Despite being right next to the highway it was surprisingly quiet and peaceful. Here are some photos from our stop at Porteau Cove:
We’d been out and about for a long time and we were fast approaching the 200km limit on the car so we decided to head home. As we entered the city we drove over the Lions Gate Bridge and into Stanley Park, which was awesome in itself. You go from an amazing bridge with awesome views over the Burrard Inlet and the city skyline, right into the dark cover of trees in Stanley Park. After a few minutes you emerge from the other side of the park and you’re right in the city!
We dropped the car off and popped to the liquor store to grab a few drinks (I’m particularly enjoying the Granville Island Lager I bought, it’s also one of the beers we tasted when we visited Granville Island). All in all, it was awesome, and we’re both really keen to get some proper walking shoes and explore more of the great outdoors that British Columbia has to offer. Here’s a few more random pictures from our day.