Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Vancouver: Capilano Bridge, Grouse Mountain, Granville Market

We had little knowledge of Vancouver and its related attractions. While we were out at bars and restaurants we asked the locals what we should do for the next few days. In every conversation the Capilano Bridge and Grouse Mountain were named as the top attractions.

In a surprise move, we took the Capilano Bridge free shuttle from the center of town. Pam and Stan met us at the Hyatt Regency for the 20 minute drive to the bridge. This was a great service but a little unsettling for us as it was first-come-first-serve and all the shuttle buses for attractions came here to pick up travelers.

From their website: Originally built in 1889, Capilano Suspension Bridge stretches 450 feet (137m) across and 230 feet (70m) above Capilano River. Since then much has been added to the twenty-seven acre park. CLIFFWALK is the park’s newest attraction – a cantilevered walkway clinging to the granite cliff high above Capilano Canyon. Treetops Adventure, seven suspension bridges through the evergreens taking you up to 100 feet (30m) above the forest floor, offers a unique squirrel’s eye perspective of the forest. Guided nature tours, the Kids’ Rainforest Explorer program and the Living Forest exhibit enhance this unique rainforest encounter. Enjoy seasonal musical entertainment and First Nations culture.

The best way to describe the experience is to equate it to a visit to an Ewok Village (without the bears holding spears). Guests climb stairs to reach platforms built around large Douglas-firs and cross bridges from one platform to another.

Pretty much the first thing you have to do is cross the long bridge. Being a holiday weekend, and a perfect Sunday afternoon, the place was crowded. It took a little bit of time to cross the bridge while waiting for families to pass the other way or for the folks in front of us to take their selfies.

We encountered employees running a bird exhibit deep in the forest. We got to see an owl up close.

This was the part in the trip where the cruise ship plague started to take Holly out. She was feeling pretty tired while showing all the symptoms of a chest cold. While Dave and Stan went to see the glass platform overlook she relaxed on a bench with Pam.

The day before we were here they got 150 Mounties to stand on the bridge for a Canada Day photo.

If taking the free shuttle wasn't amazing enough, we took the public bus to our next destination: Grouse Mountain. It would have been very easy if we didn't have to break paper money for exact change (Canadians have dollar coins). Four of us were able to get to the mountain for a cost of ~$11 (US). There was a free shuttle to get us back to the city centre.

Grouse Mountain is a ski mountain that found a way to make money in the off season. The large gondolas transport guests to the top of the mountain where they can participate in activities like zip lining, hiking, watching (sleeping) grizzlies, take in a bird show, and eat. It wasn't as robust of an experience as we were led to believe it would be, but we got a great view of the city and had lunch in a pretty nice setting.

Holly hates gondolas
Mt Rainer in Washington

Since the shuttle dropped us off at Canada Place we decided to hit a bar on the waterfront. Tap & Barrel had a robust beer selection. Unfortunately every Vancouver resident was enjoying the nice weather leaving no outdoor tables for us so inside we went. Holly's coughing got worse and her symptoms were getting stronger. We decided it was best to go back to the room and have her get some rest. We said goodbye to Stan and Pam since they were leaving the next morning.

Dinner that night was the best ramen ever! Jinya Ramen Bar was delicious! We didn't know it was chain until writing this post and discovered there is one in Chicago. Dave picked up a to-go order and we had an in-room picnic.


Monday was our last full day of the trip and the work holiday for Canada Day. Holly was feeling a little better so we decided to walk to Granville Market. It looked closer on the map. The market is a mixture of old and new buildings housing restaurants, shops, art galleries, and an urban market with farmstands, meats, etc.

We spent some time browsing the shops before hitting the Liberty Distillery. Dave had a whiskey flight while Holly tried a Bloody Mary with house-made vodka. It was a nice location with some great design elements. We enjoyed another seafood lunch on the deck of the Vancouver Fish Company before sampling some beers at Granville Island Brewery.

The whole area was crowded because, you guessed it, it was a beautiful holiday weekend. We left the market via cab and got dropped off in the Gastown District to see the Steam Clock. It's a pseudo-attraction that was much smaller than we anticipated.

Since we were this far into the city centre we decided to go back to Tap & Barrel and wait for an outdoor table so we could enjoy the fresh air and watch the seaplanes land in the bay. We had an early flight the next morning so we decided the best option for the rest of the evening was more ramen from Jinya in the room with a bottle of wine while we packed.
Overall we enjoyed our time in Vancouver. While there weren't many "attractions" in the city the area offered a lot of diversity in the environment and in the culture. It was a nice city to just wander and explore.


Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Alaska: Hello Vancouver (Get us off this thing)

After one more full day at sea we finally landed in Vancouver, British Columbia (Canada). Unfortunately we had some issues docking and were not able to disembark on time. We both stared longingly at Canada Place, a mere 10 feet away. Folks on shore were dressed in red and white to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Canada's Independence. We were getting off the boat at Ground Zero of the festivities.

Disembarkment was suboptimal. We were led to the baggage claim area where bags from the same departure group were to be grouped together. Nope. Time to go hunting. Once we found our bags the terminal was a sea of people. More than one ship was in port which meant 1,000s were getting off ships and 1,000s were getting onto those same ships. To make matters worse about 1/2 of Vancouver was at Canada Place for the festivities. We were at a different hotel than our friends because we used hotel points to get a free stay. We figured we'd cab it but the line was horrendous. We hoofed it with our large suitcase, newly purchased carry-on, and dense backpacks.

After check-in we met the rest of the crew for lunch at Steamworks Brewery in the Gastown area. Thankfully the weather was nice and we could enjoy the patio vs eating inside. After lunch we walked to Stanley Park, the city's largest park. To get there we walked along the waterfront, which on a normal day would be fine, but with today being Canada Day we were dodging and weaving through walls of people enjoying the beautiful Saturday. Along the way we stopped at Canada Place to check out the Olympic Torch.

Stanley Park is huge. From one side you can get some great skyline views of downtown, and then turn a corner and you are in the middle of the woods. We decided to check out the Totem Pole Garden and The Rose Garden.

Our group left the park and headed back downtown. The others were not able to check into their hotel earlier so while they took care of that we decided to check out the street festival on Robson Street, the city's shopping district. The party did not live up to the hype of the brochure. We saw a street hockey game and one band. With dinner time approaching we headed towards our restaurant and found a decent (and uncrowded) beer bar. Vancouver had an excellent beer scene - it was hard to find Molson or Labatts on tap because they featured so many craft beers. The rest of our crew joined us at The Butcher and the Bullock for a drink before heading to dinner at Nightingale. Dinner was excellent! We had a great waiter that helped us choose the right craft cocktails, appetizers, and wood fired pizzas.

After dinner we said goodbye to Laura and Lee - they were leaving for home the next morning. We walked back to our hotel, had a drink at the bar and chatted with a man from California, then planned our next few days in town.

Alaska Post List


Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Charities of the Months: Mended Hearts and Eagles Charitable Foundation

Charity of the Month is a way Team Tizzel is helping to support some very worthy organizations. As part of this program, we will dedicate a post to a charity that we will sponsor through the month by donating Holly's training run money.

In December we supported Toys for Tots by donating funds to support logistics and by dropping off toys into a local collection bin.

January and February Charities:


Mended Hearts

Eagles Charitable Foundation

We chose Mended Hearts to honor a friend's father (a U.S. military veteran) that recently passed away. Mended Hearts is involved in giving support to heart disease patients both young and old. Given Dave's conditions from childhood this is an organization that holds meaning to us. From their website:

Our mission is dedicated to “Inspiring hope and improving the quality of life for heart patients and their families through ongoing peer-to-peer support”.

Mended Hearts is a national and community-based non-profit organization that has been offering the gift of hope to heart disease patients, their families and caregivers. To offer this hope Mended Hearts provides a variety of programs.

Mended Hearts

    • Mended Hearts is the largest peer-to-peer heart patient support network in the world
    • Mended Hearts has been offering hope and support for 65 years, visiting more than 200,000 patients every year
    • Mended Hearts provides education, support and hope to all types of heart patients and their families
    • Mended Hearts and Mended Little Hearts has 300 chapters in North America, serving 460+ hospitals
Mended Little Hearts

    • Mended Little Hearts is the largest CHD peer-to-peer support network in the world
    • CHDs are the most common birth defect, affecting nearly 1% of all births in the U.S. – 40,000 babies each year
    • Mended Little Hearts works nationally and in communities to provide peer-to-peer support, education, awareness and connect families with needed resources.
    • Mended Little Hearts volunteers provide direct support to families through its Accredited Visiting Program and delivering 5,000 Bravery Bags annually.

    Our second charity is the Eagles Charitable Foundation. The Philadelphia Eagles recently won their first Super Bowl. This win has special meaning for their fans, the Philly community, and to Holly and her family. Aiding the team in their charitable efforts is a great way to commemorate this victory. From their website:


    Eagles Charitable Foundation (ECF) was founded in 1995, and with the help of our partners and supporters, we have reached more than one million children in the Philadelphia region through health and education programs.

    The organization has recently experienced a number of exciting changes, including a transition from its previous name, Eagles Youth Partnership. Additionally, ECF has amplified its work by expanding access to vision care, as well as increasing its commitment to autism research and services.

    ECF takes its services directly to kids at their schools and in their neighborhoods. Its signature program – the Eagles Eye Mobile – leverages the celebrity and excitement of the Philadelphia Eagles football team, enabling us to capture the attention of the hardest-to-reach children in our region. The organization also partners with local non-profits and leading medical institutions to provide grants focused on supporting autism research and services.

    VISION STATEMENT: Improving health outcomes for children in vision care and autism in the Greater Philadelphia community.

    MISSION STATEMENT: Using our unique platform to provide children in the Philadelphia region greater access to vision care and autism research and services.

    Each organization will receive $125 from us. Please check out their websites and consider donating to two great causes.