I had the chance to get away in November. Getting away is good for everyone, and I really needed it. My rock-solid friends, Amin and Gary, invited me to stay with them in Vancouver. And they gave me the grand tour. Food, hiking, biking, strolling, arts, cooking, shopping and exploring. We didn’t slow down but to sleep at night, and it was a magnificent gift. Following is Part 2 in a series of journal excerpts from the long weekend away.
Day 2 –midmorning, Vancouver
As Amin and I drove to the trailhead at Deep Cove for a hike this morning, convertible top down and coats zipped, I looked up into the sky, where unusual November sun filtered through the cedars. That mountain road, those sun-laced trees and the easy silence as Amin drove had us both feeling such peace.
In the next moment, Kylie Minogue came on Amin’s ipod and, though he rushed to find a better song for our reverie, I stopped him because, well, it was a remix. We commenced car dancing. And laughing.
We were headed for the trees. The glorious, sky-high cedars and firs who’ve lived longer than my great-great-greatest grandparent. We crossed the Capilano Suspension bridge and went way high up into their canopy.
The oldest trees, I learned, their bark is thick enough to withstand a forest fire. We hiked over their roots, which cover the ground in a squiggly pattern of wood emerging from dirt, and unlike most other hiking trails I’ve ever walked, our feet made no sound when treading. Not like the crunch-crunch-crunch of decomposed granite. Soft, deep, dark, needle-paved earth. I could almost feel the forest around me saying, “We got you, Emily. We got you.”
The peace of nature was interrupted by the squawking of a large group of tourists, presumably a big, extended family taking an adventure in the woods. At the top of the trail, on a rock outcropping overlooking Deep Cove, Vancouver and the Pacific, five twentysomethings from the group cackled and screeched loudly as they sat overlooking a scene that, to me, inspired reverence and reflection. And silence. But they didn’t stop talking the entire time Amin and I sat there. All I could do was laugh. And I laughed so hard. Here I was in the mountains to recharge and revel in their stillness and the everpresent soundtrack is the high-pitched, uneven cadence of valley girl Chinese.
Earlier in the hike, shortly after passing a sign informing us of bridgework being done, we heard the sounds of indie rock echoing from a creek bed. Moments later, we approached five young Carhartt-clad forestry guys sawing and hammering a new passageway across the stream, rocking out to Liz Phair. We looked at each other and laughed. Between the loud tourists and the blaring boombox, it was all paradox.
And then there was the angry bearded gentleman cursing at his toy 4×4 truck as he hoisted it off the ground with one hand, clutching a remote control in his other. “Fuck!” he yelled at his truck. Perhaps it had tipped over? Not weathered the terrain as he’d hoped? “Go ahead.” He growled and moved out of the way for us to pass.
“This is not the experience I had planned for you,” Amin said apologetically.
“No, it’s perfect!” I said, and I meant it. Because a.) I was with an amazing friend, b.) the richest experiences, they are almost always layered, and c.) it reminded me not to be attached to my own ideas of what something should be, but to accept what is. Perfect.
After our hike, a stint relaxing on the banks of Deep Cove and a few bites of a honey maple donut (aw, yeah), we drove back into the city to eat a late lunch at Japadog—Hot Doug’s Asian cousin—where various types of sausages are slathered in Japanese-style toppings like seaweed, teriyaki, yakisoba and bonito flakes. My fries were drizzled in a shoyu-butter sauce. I was so very, very in my element.
Full and happy, we came home, Amin worked quietly in his office and I fell asleep on their couch to the tick-tick-ticking of his keyboard, blanketed in the setting sun, a lush throw and the sheen off English Bay.