Summer has arrived in Vancouver. The sun has been shining for at least the last seven days in a row with no sign of rain. The clouds have lifted, allowing the normally opaque outlines of the mountains to fully emerge in vivid grandeur. Sadly, it won’t last long with rain set for the next couple of days.
My tourism partner in crime, Angie, has taken off for a few weeks in Europe, so I am left to navigate my final ten stamps solo-ish. Lucky for me, I’ve got a few lovely individuals to call upon to help me complete the challenge. Initially, my plan for this weekend was to go downtown and hit up all the hotels that were participating to collect the last of them. As Saturday grew nearer and the sunshine did not appear to be letting up, I became less enthused by that idea. The flowers and greenery in the city are on full blast making it seem appropriate to check out the UBC Botanical Garden with Rebecca and VanDusen Botanical Garden with Jenny.
First, UBC Botanical Garden. This was initially on my list for the first weekend of the tourism challenge, however the rain nixed that. The always charming and informative Rebecca tagged along. I’ve found I enjoy doing these kinds of things with her. She has a wealth of knowledge on plants, rocks/sediment and trees and birds. While she frequently claims “don’t quote me on that” in reference to naming a plant, more often than not we discover the plant in question to be tagged as she had accurately described.
We spent almost two and a half hours wandering the expansive garden grounds, making our way through forests of Asian, Pacific, Mountain and other regions of the world. Garlic, chives, rhubarb, asparagus and broccoli grow in the community garden that is overlooked by the most charming pathway overgrown with fragrant wisteria.
A tiny hedge encircled Physic Garden which hosts a number of plants and shrubs once and still thought to contain medicinal properties including rosemary and dandelion.
Weeping pines flow quite like fountains in the pacific forest, scattered with enormous cedars and more local flora and fauna. As we hit the edge of the property we notice ropes hanging from the trees- a rope obstacle course. Not a part of the garden, but something I want to look into for the future.
The final part of the challenge at UBC Garden is to traverse the tree top walk. Bridges composed of metal grate beams suspended by netting connect the trees and take you higher and higher. They are slightly angled so you cross maybe seven beams in total to get to the highest point. Once you reach the mid- point a spiral staircase takes you to a viewing deck where you are still maybe 75% of the height of the largest trees in the forest. The entire bridge and viewing deck are suspended and swinging as people blunder across. It left us feeling quite uncoordinated, and my bag got caught on the rope netting more than once.
Next up, I was set to meet Jenny at VanDusen Botanical Garden. Jenny doesn’t know about plants like Rebecca does, but she does enjoy taking a good selfie or two. We frolicked our way through this garden like children, making our way through the maze, taking funny pictures on tractors and smelling the flowers.
It was the peak of heat by this point in the day. Anyone who’s traveled with me to a location that has any kind of significant heat knows I don’t do well in it for extended periods of time (Kerry). Despite the heat, we found shade in groves of flowers, and trees.
One thing I found during this day was that my photography skills in these settings are not as good as I thought. With the bright lighting, contrasted by shade coming off of trees in combination with the wide variety of shades and colours, my eye was distracted. My photo taking skills are intermediate at best, but going through some of the shots I took were unexpectedly blurry or unfocused (not literally). I lost Jenny in a lot of these shots- she became difficult to find among the incredible pinks, greens and reds.
Some things to work on for next time.
June 1st is my last day to collect stamps. Five to go!