Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Cycling the BC Parkway to Central Valley - Graffitti, cowboys and spawning salmon!

Exploring the lower mainland by bike is always a treat, and today was no exception.  We decided to begin our trip at the New Westminster Quay and head into Vancouver via the BC Parkway.  This multi-use urban trail is 26 kilometers long and follows the Expo Skytrain line from Surrey, to New West, South Burnaby and into Vancouver.

 The heavy fog that had blanketed the lower mainland for days magically lifted and we were treated to a bright, crisp, sunny fall day.  The colours of the leaves were magnificent and we enjoyed the sound of them crunching beneath our tires as we pedaled along.

View of the Fraser River near New Westminster Quay
Signs on dedicated bike paths....AWESOME!

It was another day of contrasts - industry along the river and rail lines, graffiti, high end condos and homelessness, yachts, shopping malls, sports fields, restaurants, bars and people, people, people!  We saw it all.  It truly is remarkable that in a few short kilometres a cyclist travelling along the urban trails can pass through numerous municipalities and experience both the highs and the lows of our communities.

Anything in a size seven?

Brilliant Fall colours

Approaching downtown Vancouver

Was there a George Clooney sighting here?

We cycled along the waterfront to English Bay and Stanley Park enjoying the Sunday morning sights and sounds.  As we approached Canada Place, Rob noticed DeDutch Pannekoek House conveniently located right on the seawall.  The breakfast menu seemed to have his name on it so we had to stop.  Rob simply could not MASH one inch further.  It was such a warm day that we were able to sit outside on the patio and enjoy our breakfast as we watched the float planes take off and land.

We decided to experiment and try a new route out of downtown.  We followed the Dunsmuir bike lane to Adanac and then began the climb out of Vancouver toward Simon Fraser University.  We were confident that we would be able to find our way back to the Central Valley Greenway....and after a few stops and starts that's exactly what we did!

Heading uphill towards Simon Fraser on the Frances Union Bikeway

The highlight of the day was on the Central Valley Greenway. As we entered the park there was a sign warning folk to be cautious as there was a bear in the area.  We thought that was a bit unusual...after all we were in the middle of Burnaby.  However,  as we pedaled along we could hear splashing coming from the stream below and quickly deduced why bears might be hanging out!  The salmon were putting on a show.  We hopped off our bikes and made our way down to the stream to watch the epic battle.  Salmon were coming up the stream in waves as they fought their way against the current.  It was inspiring to watch.  Credit to the restoration crew who has been working to restore the habitat!

Salmon fighting their way up Still Creek to spawn

Steps to help the salmon along their way

As usual the day ended far too quickly!  To celebrate the salmon sightings we stopped for a gelato....chocolate of course!  Another perfect day and perfect ride.

Guilt free Gelato break....life is good!

Giggle of the day:

As we came to a red light on Main Street near Science World, a young gentleman pulled up beside us and exclaimed "HOWDY PARTNER!".  He was dressed in full cowboy gear....boots, hat, jeans, vest and sheriff's badge.  (in fairness, we were in downtown Vancouver AND it was the weekend before Halloween).  The young man pulled a 26 ounce bottle of scotch out of his bike basket and asked if we would like a swig.  How generous!  We did notice that half the bottle was missing. We weren't sure if he was on his way to or from the party....or just keeping the party going.  Before we could ask, he gave a hoot and a yippee and was back on his way.  

Map and Route tips:

Burnaby bike Routes  http://www.burnaby.ca/Page386.aspx