20.06.2010 - 25.06.2010 17 °C
After a few days of staying at Jericho Beech just outside of Vancouver itself where I had spent my time shopping in Vancouver and walking back to my hostel, hiking around the University of BC and the forest area behind it and also hiring a bike (luckily) on the only sunny day in the time I was there and riding to Stanley Park along the beach, I decided to go on a Moose tour. I chose the biggest and longest tour as I wanted to see as much as I could with the least amount of effort on my behalf. One of the main reasons to go on a tour if you think about it. That was as much organising as I did really. I paid little attention to where I was going and for how long. You really don't need to know those things until you wake up in the morning. Even then I tended to be a little sketchy on the details.
The first part of my tour was to Vancouver Island. My tour guide was Joline (only the good names come with a theme song) and there were 19 of us on this tour. Being that this was my first tour I did not fully appreciate at the time how cool it was to have such a big group who got along as well as everyone seemed to. The first part of the tour was two nights in Tofino. Pretty much everyone in the group decided to go on the tour of the hot springs and the whale watching. The boat was this oversized blow up dingy with a motor. It was awesome. We were all dressed in massive red jump suits that also act as life jackets if you fell overboard and big yellow rain jackets. This makes for great photos, especially when you ad the black beanies we all had. Luckily I was one of the tallest people in the group and was grinning like an idiot, so I am pretty easy to pick out in all of the shots.
We saw a few whales and even got to see one lift it's tail as it dove down for a breath. As much as I love whales, I think I got more of a kick out of the ride itself. If you get sea sick, this is probably not the boat for you. Blow up dinghies can go surprisingly fast, and do slightly sickening snakeys in the water The hot springs were beautiful. There was a steaming hot water fall that ran into three pools in the rocks before joining up with the ocean. We had about two hours to sit here relaxing and enjoying the water. It was kind of like a spa without the bubbles. The springs were actually so hot you could not sit in the water for very long because you just over heated. Of course all the Aussies tried to better the situation by making suggestions like a hidden fridge for beers, cushioned chairs, cup holders, a wide screen tellie for the soccer..... I am so glad I got to go with this group. People I talked to later did not enjoy their trip to the springs and I realised this came down to the people they went with. It is amazing how much of a difference the people are with can shape your experiences.
Our third night on the Vancouver Island tour was to Victoria. I enjoyed walking along the foreshore here and even stopped at a pub with a Vancouverite and talked to locals with missing teeth while watching Australia win their only game in the world cup. For me however Victoria was not one of my highlights of the tour. It is a small city with some nice features, but I was more looking forward to all the activities I was able to do as part of the Moose tour.....
.....and what better place to do these but Whistler!!!!! (Insert exciting music here please). No wonder this place is full of Aussies, it is just so damned cool. Beautiful scenery, mountain biking, quad bikes, zip-lining, white water rafting, skiing, snow boarding (though these last activities are usually easier when there is snow I am told). I decided on zip-lining (even though I was not sure entirely what this was when I paid for it), the peak to peak on the gondolas and the bungee. The bungee seemed like a much better idea when I was paying for it the day before I actually had to jump. But I had decided after paragliding in Italy I was chasing a big adrenaline rush, and this was how I planned to get it. There were five people on this tour from the tour of Vancouver Island and I am so glad they were there as I had not really gotten to know any of them over the first three nights. Once again, it was the people I was travelling with that made the biggest difference.
The zip-lining was awesome. Nothing like zipping through the tops of tree and over lakes attached to nothing but a line. The name flying fox seems slightly less logical now. I completely surprised myself by not being nervous stepping onto each run despite how high up we were. This mislead me slightly into thinking I may be conquering my fear of heights. The peak to peak was also a relaxing experience, especially since all you really had to do was sit there as you moved between two mountains. I did see my first black bear here!! Very cool! The best bit, there was no way he could get me all the way up there!! Whistler really is a beautiful place, I wish I had spent longer there. I hope I get the chance to go back in winter in one day.
As we drove out of Whistler the last stop on our trip was the bungee. There were three of us doing it, the trainee tour guide Trevor, Urs (the coolest 21 year old on the face of the earth - I can say that now that my brother is 22) and me. I was not even feeling that nervous, I watched Trevor jump and swing back up so high on the other side of the bridge I thought he might hit it. Then feeling barefoot and brave (probably not a sport for the barefoot and pregnant) I said I would go next. As I got to the edge of the platform I think I had kittens. Luckily, all of this was caught on camera. I have never felt so terrified or freaked out in all of my life. Clearly my fear of heights was not as done and dusted as I had thought. I actually freaked out so much that I made them unhook me and said Urs would have to go first. Luckily the guy who was in charge was completely understanding as he pushed me aside saying angrily he really didn't care and it made no difference to him if I jumped or not. I can see why he works with people. On my second attempt he was clearly still a little peeved as I did not get the chance to jump, I was pushed. Honesty this guy was not the best people person I have ever met, but in saying that if he had not pushed me I would never have done it. There is no way.
The feeling of falling when doing a bungee jump is not as exhilarating as parachuting, and nowhere near as graceful for me as I thrashed my arms and legs around in some completely useless attempt to stop myself falling. That is the weirdest natural reaction I have ever seen. What does that do exactly? I could also hear this loud annoying noise; it took me a minute to realise it was me screaming. And I could not stop myself even once I realised. That was the first fall. Rinse and repeat for the second fall. I was shaking when they pulled me up, but smiling. It was an incredible experience, and I am proud that I have done it given how many times I have said very honestly that I would never ever bungee. But I have done it now. And I will never ever do it again.
On the way back to Vancouver that night we were stopped on Lions Gate Bridge by critical mass (a massive bunch of people on bikes stopping traffic to protest the use of cars over bicycles). This caused a massive traffic jam that lasted a long time. Given that Rachel and I had been sitting there dying to use the bathroom for about an hour at this stage, there was only one answer: run to the end of the bridge and pee under it. I am oddly proud of this. How many Canadians can say they have done that? Well, girls at least.