Crossing The Border
Our first moments in Canada started out pretty rough. I like to think we’re living a pretty simple lifestyle on the road. Said lifestyle, however, was surprisingly complicated to explain to Canadian Border Patrol. I guess when you don’t know the answer to where you live, what you do for a living and how much you have in savings, you can come off as slightly suspicious. Our incompetence resulted in having to wait about 45 minutes while border patrol searched the truck for “drugs, weapons and child pornography” and drilled us with more puzzling questions. After they finally let us across the border into Vancouver, the Canadians redeemed themselves by offering us the one thing America can't: Ketchup chips. We stopped almost immediately at the nearest convenience store to finally satisfy our year-long craving and then decided we should probably fast the rest of the day.
Vancouver was a really cool city. We booked a hotel for two nights at The Waldorf so we could get some work done, spend some time touring the city, freshen up and prepare for the long trip to Alaska. We knew we would ultimately be without cell service along the Alaska Highway, so we laid low our first night in Vancouver to catch up on some things. We were really craving Chinese food (that fast sure didn't last long) and could not have been in a better place (save for China) as Vancouver has a strong asian influence and had endless options for takeout. After hastily reading a few reviews and salivating over the menu, we ordered from Dinesty Dumpling House, which is famous for their soup dumplings. Of course, we ordered soup dumplings (but not nearly enough) as well as handmade lo mein, pork buns and green onion pancakes. Everything was delicious.
The next morning, we set out for Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, a pretty well-known (and expensive) attraction. Again, this was one of those places where the pictures make it look awesome, but in reality, it’s flooded with tourists. However, it was priceless watching Mila freeze and army crawl across the suspension bridge as it bounced beneath her. Later that evening, we learned that Vancouver isn’t exactly accepting of our four-legged children, as city law prohibits dogs from joining you on a restaurant patio. But we were starving, so we left the pups in the truck and grabbed dinner at Earls Kitchen + Bar. We then called it an early night, picked up some local sour beer at the shop beneath our hotel and enjoyed the comfort of a king-size bed and cable.
Golden Ears Provincial Park
After checking out of the hotel the next morning, we hit up this cute local coffee shop across the street. Great coffee and breakfast wraps, I would definitely recommend visiting if you’re ever in Vancouver. I believe it was called Moondollars. Ah, wait, no…Starbucks. Yeah, I think that was it. We sat there a few minutes using the free Wi-Fi to figure out where we were headed next. We had originally wanted to do the Sea to Sky hike and gondola, but it’s not exactly dog-friendly, so we kept looking. Golden Ears Provincial Park was only about an hour from Vancouver and looked promising. The campground was pretty busy, but we managed to find a nice spot to set up camp. There was no information on how to pay, so we figured we were in the clear. Unfortunately, the park rangers drove around later to collect money from all of the campers — a whopping $35 CAN for one night.
We read online that there were supposed to be a few trails we could access from the campground. We found one unmarked trail and decided to follow it. It was probably only a quarter-mile long and ended at a cliff overlooking Lake Alouette. We weren’t satisfied with this short adventure and the empty beach below looked too appealing to pass up. We had to get down there. Matt held onto tree roots and climbed his way down first. But as is always the case, getting the dogs down was a bit trickier…or should I say dog, singular. Getting Mila down to the beach was like getting Gilbert Grape’s mom out of the house. Getting Bosley down, on the other hand, was like intercepting a pass from Tony Romo (super easy). Regardless, we all made it down safely.
Half of the beach was sandy and gradually got deeper like any normal beach. The other half had a few large boulders and cliffs then plunged into deep, crystal clear water. Matt had considered snorkeling, but decided he couldn’t pass up this Golden opportunity for some great cliff jumping. Per usual, Mila couldn’t resist a good swim, this time with a Canada Goose…which she chased all the way to the other side of the lake.
In the morning, we woke up with our sights set on Alaska. The trip was off to a great start as Matt spotted his first black bear just as we were leaving the campground - or at least he claims he did. We swung by Tim Hortons to caffeinate and were on our way to the Last Frontier!