The sky was cloudless and the air was warm today, and, more important, it's the second day of a four-day weekend (Canadian schoolkids get both Good Friday and Easter Monday off), so Stanley Park was full of families and couples. Dazzling spring scene
We joined the crowds for our Long Walk: from the apartment to the Park, around the seawall, and back to the apartment. We went through the tunnel under Georgia Street, and then watched one-, two-, and four-oared shells getting ready to have some rowing fun in the marina. Then we passed over the overpass up to the life-size bronze statue of Governor General Lord Stanley dedicating his park to people of every race, color and creed. Even a century ago Vancouver was such a melting pot that Stanley felt compelled to urge tolerance upon his audience.
The signs of spring were everywhere: blooming trees, leafing trees, fresh-mown grass, spring flowers. We walked up the hill through a dark evergreen forest. Plaques were set next to trees in honor of British, New Zealand, and Canadian airmen who trained in Canada and gave their lives in World War II. Sailboat scene
In a little while we came to the steam railway, driven by the Easter Bunny, pulling four or five cars full of kids and their parents or grandparents. We walked around the train ride, past statues of bears and mushrooms, then live sheep, and a beautiful peacock. Then down through a huge grassy park with families picnicking and playing ball and thoroughly enjoying the playground.
This brought us to the water's edge, and we started our circumnavigation. The paved seawall path is broad, with part reserved for pedestrians (who can walk in either direction) and part for bikes and roller bladers (who go counterclockwise only). As dedicated -- and occasionally jostled -- pedestrians we were happy to note that wherever the path narrowed the bicyclists dismounted Siwash Rock and walked their bikes, obedient to the signs. Brass plaques in the seawall mark out the mileage - it's about five miles all the way around.
Most of the beach around Stanley Park is rocky; a few people had descended the steps in the seawall and walked around. It was low tide, and in one particular location we saw hundreds of purple starfish waiting for the tide to come back in to submerge them. Boats moved in and out of the harbor. Overhead the Lions Gate Bridge seemed impossibly high and lovely. We looked across the bay and saw the aerial tramway up Grouse Mountain. There didn't seem to be much snow on top; we imagined the spring skiing and snowboarding will soon be over.
We found ourselves overhearing peoples' conversations as they walked by. We heard family talk, lovers' talk, work talk, tourists' talk, getting-to-know-you talk, dreaming talk, and talk in foreign languages. Sculpted rock towers
Then there was Siwash Rock. The Indian legend has it that an unselfish person was turned to stone as a reward. Some reward! It's about 50 feet high, and only good climbers could reach the top. There was a plaque dedicated to a teenager who climbed up in the 1960s, dove off at low tide, and was killed when he hit the rocks beneath the surface. Almost at the end of our walk, we came upon an area of Stacked Rocks. A guest book and a cap to hold contributions sat on the sea wall. The sculptor was busily at work, aligning his next rocks.
The swimming pool was not yet open. The sign says it can hold 1,924 people; we wonder how they got that number.
We wondered if we'd make the circuit, but of course we did. It took us from 1:00 to 4:00, and the warm sun and walking made us shed our jackets. But it still hasn't hit sixty degrees.
Stanley Park is much loved by the citizens of Vancouver, and for good reason. On a summer holiday weekend -- say Canada Day -- it must be absolutely packed with people enjoying the outdoors.