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Vancouver and Squamish, BC, Canada

The idea of taking the ferry at night turns out to be a beautiful decision—the setting sun slowly waving its goodbye in the background as I stand on the ferry deck is a gift of beauty and farewell from the island that captures my heart.

By the time the ferry gets to Vancouver, it is close to ten at night, and the darkness of the night is about to take over. Luckily, there is a pull-out which is only a five-minute drive from exiting the ferry. I parked head-out just in case I needed to escape quickly. There is only one track and one car in the parking lot. I got ready for the night on the ferry, washed up, and set everything I needed to climb to my bed without exiting my car. I had a good night's sleep and I felt safe. I am getting comfortable with my intuition to deal with situations as they arise. The traffic noise wakens me by five a.m., but I don't mind. Starbucks is open, and I have plans to start my day at Winskill Aquatic and Fitness Centre (open at six a.m.) in Tsawwassen for a swim and a shower; all for $7(Can). I call that a terrific, refreshing, early start!

I am not a city girl, period! The bigger the city, the more I feel I do not belong and am uncomfortable. However, certain cities I do want to visit, and Vancouver is one of them. You can imagine my relief for the fantastic opportunity when Laurie offered to show me her city. She picks me up from my hostel (HI Vancouver Downtown), and off we go. I could not experience Vancouver in a better way. Laurie, drove me around through Vancouver neighborhoods and shared her vast knowledge. We stop at Gastown to see in action the Gastown Steam Clock (from Google: Built in 1977, this well-known, antique-style clock is powered by steam & whistles to tell the time). We stop at the Totem Poles collection at Stanley Park; the Thunderbird House Post is my favorite. I love Laurie's suggestion for lunch. We hop on a little ferry to Granville Island Public Market which is an indoor market featuring fascinating food and produce stores. Lunch was a fun and delicious experience! After five hours of a private tour of Vancouver, I felt I had seen it all. Honestly, I couldn't ask for a better way to experience Vancouver. Thank you, Laurie, from the bottom of my heart, for your time showing me Vancouver. When I return to the hostel, I rest for an hour before heading out to explore on foot the downtown areas.

I am heading to Squamish later in the day. This morning, I am crossing the famous Lions Gate Bridge to North Vancouver to walk on the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge and hike in the park. Since I don't appreciate crowds, I chose to avoid visiting Capilano Suspension Bridge. One more stop before I need to get going; I don't have all day since I still need to figure out where I will spend the next two nights. My next stop is Cypress Provincial Park. I drive up to the ski lodge to hike Bowen Lookout Trail. The overlook is magnificent, but I feel that in a few years, the trees will block this view, so hurry up and get there! :) Without too much thinking, I buy a ticket for the chair lift for the scenic view ride. Only as I lower the bar, do I recognize that I am calm and relaxed. That is quite an improvement! :)

I knew the drive to Squamish was going to be beautiful. My friend Jennie told me about it and I also read about it and checked it out on YouTube. However, I can only understand it once I experience it with my own eyes. What an absolutely stunning view!!!

I feel incredibly blessed and grateful for this journey. I took a courageous risk to leave the comforts of my home and give myself a chance to see and experience nature with my own eyes. I have truly been rewarded for it!

It's a Saturday, and I know my chances of getting a camping spot at Stawamus Chief Provincial Park is low. Only when I got to the park did I understand you need a miracle to find a site. In the summer, the park is popular with climbers & hikers. I do find a parking spot at the parking lot for the "walk-in camping." Even though a big sign says you can't sleep in your vehicle, it is obviously just a suggestion. I am pleased I found a place for the night, but until the sun is down, the hot sun is blasting on me and my car. Since I can be stubborn, I often walk to the shady campground section to see if anyone has returned to their site and is leaving tomorrow morning so I can take their camping spot. Stubbornness can pay off sometimes! Now that I don't have to worry that my ice will melt in the hot sun, I can start my hike to Stawamus Chief. The hike has three peaks and is only about four miles long, but it's very steep. Only when I am halfway up the mountain, my plan to do all three peaks takes on a new perspective. This hike is strenuous; I take it slow and steady. I have a list of my own "my most challenging hikes," and this one undoubtedly makes the list. The last part of the hike includes a leader and chains as you climb up the granite mountain toward the top. Remember, going up is not a problem for me, the down is what terrifies me. I feel confident I can handle it, and I did!

Choosing to hike only the first peak is a good reason for celebration. As I was climbing up, I felt I am in a silent debate between the "old me" and the "new me." The old me wanted to push harder and conquer, but at what price? I am so pleased my "new me" is wiser and egoless. I don't feel I missed anything. Living in the moment only simplifies and enriches my life.

On my way down, I come to the intersection of the peaks splitting. A young couple asked me a question that led us to forty-five minutes of conversation about travel and our love for nature. Doro and Thomas are from Germany on a three week vacation. It is so good to know that no matter where people are on this planet, we all have something that connects us all: nature. I wish we just knew how to respect and cherish it more.

The campground is a short walk from Shannon Falls. After resting from my morning hike, I stroll along the path to check it out. I am not sure if it is the size of the waterfall or the direct sunlight on it, but this massive waterfall has such a pure white color that it can fool your imagination into thinking this is a Milkwater fall! :)

I go into town to get some groceries. I like it here. Squamish is a small town with a peaceful landscape of mountains. Before I cook dinner, I put up my shower tent for a much need cleaning. By now, taking a cold shower is not a big deal; the result is much more important. I also chose to wash some of my clothes since I plan to do my laundry next Saturday to avoid the weekend crowd on the trails.

I am at Squamish Library about to turn off my laptop, as I realize I have been writing for the last four hours and enjoyed every minute of it.

Okay, time to get back on the road! I am so looking forward to my upcoming hikes in Whistler.

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