Took a drive today up to Whistler, BC, 100 K north of Vancouver, site of the 2010 Winter Olympics. The drive was spectacular. I never realized that only 50 miles north of Vancouver there are mountain peaks with snowcover year round, even what looked to be some glaciers. Very impressive.
The road from Vancouver to Whistler is Canada 99, which in this stretch is known as the Sea-to-Sky highway. At one point, an inlet of the ocean stretches out in front of a range of snow-capped mountains. It is scenery I didn't know existed this close to the coast.
Whistler itself is a typical ski-town in summertime. Lots of very determined 20-somethings with their toys--bikes, skateboards, hiking gear, bungee cords, the whole gamut--ready to tackle nature. It is almost comical.
The Olympic village is very large.
I prefer the marine scenery back at sea level.
Just outside the Vancouver harbor to the west of downtown, dozens of huge cargo ships sit waiting their turn in the harbor underneath the Lion's Gate bridge, Vancouver's equivalent of the Golden Gate. Every now and then, one toots its horn, which I think would deafen an entire small town if it were ever done from the top of the water tower. The echo goes for miles and miles.
This is a graceful city, an unhurried city. People wait until the walk signal before crossing, even if no cars are coming. People are friendly and generally kind in a more outgoing manner than you find in Minneapolis.
One difference: Although marijuana remains illegal in Canada, it is smoked openly on the streets of Vancouver, and there were pro-legalization advertisements on the sides of the city buses. City buses driving around festooned with huge pot leaves!
And the world turns.